Finding Fault With the Priesthood
Below is some wise counsel that was first shared in The Juvenile Instructor March 1, 1892. – It could very well ring true to countless similar situations today.
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It is with extreme regret that the presence of the spirit of fault-finding is noticed in the midst of Israel. This is not the first time this arch enemy of the Saints has tried to force an entrance into the household of faith, that he might stir up the inmates to rebellion. When journeying from Ohio to Missouri the fractious and unruly spirit made its appearance in Zion’s Camp, and was quickly detected by the Prophet Joseph, who in a mild manner, rebuked the brethren and told them that unless they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord a scourge would come upon the camp. But his counsel was unheeded, and a few weeks later, according to the word of the Lord through the Prophet, cholera broke out in the camp and raged fearfully for several days. Sixty-eight of the Saints were attacked with the dreadful disease, and thirteen died.
The same cause always produces the same effect, and, knowing this, we feel it our duty to warn the Saints against a persistent indulgence in finding fault with the Priesthood of God. We know from our own experience that the Saints in the nations of Europe have the most exalted opinion of the presiding Bishopric in Zion, and believe at least the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are not far from perfection ; but when they come here and find that these men are simply mortal like themselves—subject to and often overcome by temptation—they conclude that they have believed in vain and are ready to return to the lands from whence they came. In fact we now recall to mind the case of a young man who emigrated to Zion some years ago. He had been here but a short time when he began to notice what he termed ” inconsistencies in the Priesthood,” in consequence of which he began to look upon that body with daily lessening favor and respect. It is a true saying that ” the man who wants to beat a dog can always find a stick,” and so in the case of this young man. He went out to look for faults ; he seldom came back without finding them—even sometimes in places where they did not exist—and he finally came to the conclusion that a universal apostasy had taken place in the Priesthood. Zion had now no charms for him, and he resolved to return to his native land, which resolution he carried into effect. He took back with him most unfavorable accounts of the Saints and their leaders, whose failing he used as a means of justification for his return. We followed him across the Atlantic ; we watched his after life, and, while taking no pleasure in doing so, we bear testimony that in less than twelve months from the time he left Zion, he had become one of the most debased and debauched of men, a companion of men whose names were a disgrace to the community in which they lived.
This is only one out of the hundreds of cases which could be cited, where men, in rising up and finding fault with the Priesthood have incurred the displeasure of God, and been turned over to become targets for the buffetings of Satan.
It should be borne in mind that the authorities of the Church lay no claim to perfection, but admit that they are burdened with infirmities, by which they are sometimes overcome. The most obscure member can testify that since he or she became identified with the Church temptations innumerable — temptations which they had never before experienced — have been placed in their way to hinder their progress in the gospel, and if the powers of evil are so much concerned over an obscure individual, who holds no priesthood or position in the Church, how much more concerned must they be over those who are placed in authority and called of God to teach and lead His people? The gospel requires no blind obedience, but it does demand, and justly, too, respect and reverence to be shown to its ministers, and no man can disrespect the Priesthood of God and glory in the gospel.
How thankful we should be for an inspired Priesthood to carry on the work and prevent us from being carried away with every wind of doctrine, and instead of harping on the failings of these our brethren let us seek for their best points : but first of all let us learn to correct our individual errors, and if we do this we will have little or no time left to comment on those of our neighbors.
W. A. M.