Jul 14, 2009

Does Mormonism Have Any Official Doctrine?

There seems to be a lot of confusion among Mormons as to what constitutes "official doctrine" in the LDS Church. I've even seen the claim that Mormonism is a religion without any official doctrine. Even if this is not true, it certainly seems that there is rampant misunderstanding surrounding the subject.

Many Mormons equate the following with "official doctrine," when in fact, according to this guide put out by FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research: A Foundation created to counter the misrepresentation and criticism of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), they don't -- in my opinion -- appear to fulfill the criteria for being considered doctrinal:
  • Church manuals
  • General Conference talks
  • First Presidency message in the Ensign
  • Proclamation On The Family
  • Quotes, statements, and teachings from prophets
And then there are certain teachings that were probably considered doctrinal at the time (i.e. polygamy, Adam-God theory, Blood Atonement, priesthood ban), but have since been abandoned by the Church and downplayed in importance. For example, the Adam-God theory, presented by Brigham Young, was later declared to be false doctrine by later prophets. The priesthood ban is now considered to have been policy and not doctrine, even by President David O. McKay, and President Hinckley famously told Larry King that he condemned polygamy, stating that he did not believe it was "doctrinal." Also, the practice of polygamy is no longer considered essential to salvation as was once taught.

Now, going back to the FAIR guide, I have to ask myself: what is official doctrine? Well, it would apparently have to:
  • "...generally conform to what has already been revealed. “
"It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside,” wrote J. Fielding Smith. "The standard works are the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.”

It almost sounds like J. Fielding Smith is telling us that we shouldn't expect anything too earth-shattering in terms of doctrine, since it cannot be in conflict with what the Lord has already revealed in the scriptures. Interesting how he uses the term "man's doctrine." Is he downplaying the role of prophet here, by allowing much larger leeway for error than what is commonly assumed by Mormons who have an infallible view of the prophet being God's mouthpiece?

"Harold B. Lee expressed similar thoughts when he taught that any doctrine, advanced by anyone—regardless of position—that was not supported by the standard works, then “you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion.” He recognized that the Prophet could bring forth new doctrine, but “when he does, [he] will declare it as revelation from God,” after which it will be sustained by the body of Church."

But are the scriptures "official doctrine?" After all, we only "believe the Bible to be true as long as it is translated correctly." (8th Article of Faith) Do we need to allow room for error where the scriptures are concerned as well?

According to FAIR:

"The Prophet can add to the scriptures, but such new additions are presented by the First Presidency to the body of the Church and are accepted by common consent (by sustaining vote) as binding doctrine of the Church (See D&C 26:2; 107:27-31). Until such doctrines or opinions are sustained by vote in conference, however, they are “neither binding nor the official doctrine of the Church."

When was the last time that happened? Seriously, I can't recall a single event. I've seen those who have argued that the Proclamation On The Family is official doctrine. Perhaps I was just to young to remember, but I cannot recall a sustaining vote in General Conference when it was presented.

So, based on the guide put out by FAIR:
  • Does the LDS Church have any "official doctrine?"
  • If you think it does, can you name some "official doctrines?"
  • Assuming that the priesthood ban was a policy and not doctrinal, as indicated by David O. McKay, is the Official Declaration in D&C regarding its cessation "official doctrine?"
  • Do you view the scriptures as doctrinal?

30 comments:

Carol Brown said...

I really do think it is important that Church doctrine conform with the Scriptures, including the Bible. If the Bible (and Book of Mormon and D&C) all state that adultery is wrong, then to practice it, ie. polyandry, is also wrong. If Scripture teaches that the charity, the pure love of Christ, is of utmost important (1 Cor. 13, Moroni 7), then we need to see play a more significant part of Church doctrine.

For too many years, Church leaders have discriminated against people of other religions, races, and belief systems. (Just read some old 9 pre-1950) issues of the Church-run newspaper, The Deseret News, and you find a number of articles that are intolerant and critical of those outside our faith.

Now, the Church seems to be aligning itself with the politcal right, although they can be a contentious and divisive group. Meanwhile, in the United States 40 millions Americans are uninsured and unable to receive basic health care, and yet many in the Church seem to think this is okay and that the issue should not be addressed. In my opinion, this rejects Scriptural teaching, ie. Mosiah 4, James 2.

I am concerned that some of our Church policy is being interpretted as doctrine and driving some of our wonderful Saints out of the Church. Our distaste for sin should never motivate us to stop loving the sinner, including ourselves.

I am happy that the Church is emphasizing grace and the tender mercies of the Savior more, but I would like to see local leaders trained in ways to administer with more mercy as well. I am seeing too many of my friends suffer because their bishops are not showing compassion to them. This needs to be a primary focus of doctrine just as it was when the Savior taught during His life and when He visited the Nephites.

Steve said...

I agree with the Proclamation on the Family not being official doctrine in the sense that it was not presented in General Conference for a sustaining vote (IIRC it was debuted in the General Relief Society meeting in 1995, which unlike the General Priesthood session, is not one of the official sessions of conference. Sorry sisters!) although a lot of people in the church, especially General Authorities and General Auxillary presidencies like to quote from it as though it were officially added to the canon. Maybe it will be someday.

I think it's important, however, to cut the current prophet some slack in addressing principles that conform to the spirit of the law given in the scriptures, even if the scriptures don't mention those things by name because they likely didn't exist yet. A lot of people raised a whole lot of heck over the no non-conservative piercings/tattoos thing when Pres. Hinckley spoke on it (and for the record, I don't agree with it either), but while earrings are mentioned in the OT (even for men, interestingly enough), to my knowledge there's no mention of tattoos anywhere. It's not that tattooing didn't exist back in those times (it did, although its practice was limited to the islanders who invented it and it wasn't known to much of the Christian world until centuries later. I freely admit I'm pulling these facts out of my butt because I'm too lazy to look them up. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), but it wasn't practiced sufficiently in the Christian world to warrant a mention. Kind of like how no General Authority talks about the evils of Heavy Metal music anymore (because right now only me and about 5 other people listen to it). I think it's fair game for a prophet to speak on new subjects as long as the overriding principle is consistent with the scriptures. Isaiah may have truly been a seer, but that gift is pretty rare and it's difficult to communicate when you don't know what words future people will invent for the things you're seeing.

Sorry if this was a long and rambling post.

Loyd said...

I go deep into this in my recent Element article "Challenges of Defining Mormon Doctrine."

One of the main problems ends up being the problem of interpretation. As Joseph Smith said, the problem in pointing to scripture is that everyone can have their own interpretation about what 'doctrine' is contained in the scriptures. Simply pointing to modern revelation and modern leaders does not solve the problem, as there are just as many interpretations of what modern scriptures and leaders are saying.

This of course all begs the question of whether or not scriptures are an adequate source for doctrine anyways. The Bible is largely written hundreds of years after the purported events occured... often under fallacious authorship. Why should those be given any privileged status? Because some 3rd century Christians said so? And who is to say that everything written in the BofM, D&C, and PofGP are true? Are not these authors just as entitled to their own opinions and interpretations?

In my view, there is no such thing as 'official doctrine' and all talk of doctrine should really just be abandoned by us LDSaints.

Hypatia said...

Does the LDS Church have any "official doctrine?"

Good question... I actually had a discussion with my husband about this same exact topic yesterday. I think the "Articles of Faith" are the closest thing to an official (meaning permanent) doctrine or dogma that mormonism has. It's sort of like a religious constitution in a way. Other "doctrines" seem to come and go. But I do believe, that members as well as leaders, hold these to be just as weighty as the AoF.

If you think it does, can you name some "official doctrines?"

I think I answered this in the previous question. :) Articles of Faith.

Assuming that the priesthood ban was a policy and not doctrinal, as indicated by David O. McKay, is the Official Declaration in D&C regarding its cessation "official doctrine?"

I read a quote from the first presidency in 1949 that actually called it "doctrine not policy."

"The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become Members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time."

So I get into the conundrum, of which prophet do I believe? Which prophet is the false prophet? So I conclude that neither are prophets, just men. This is why this question is hard for me to answer.

Do you view the scriptures as doctrinal?

lol. Absolutely not. Everyone picks and chooses. Most mormons eat meat, even the D&C prohibits it, and it has never been repealed.

Kaylanamars said...

I used to think that there were all sorts of official doctrines floating around in the Church...but now as I think about temple recommend questions I don't really think so. We've got some guidelines to follow. But basically it all comes down to basic core beliefs: Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith as a prophet, Jesus Christ as our Savior, chastity, and not being antagonistically "anti-Mormon" and associating with those who are.

I agree that too many believe certain things are doctrine and that leads to intolerance and lack of charity and understanding.

And I really can't view the scriptures as completely doctrinal when Lot's daughters seduce him, Noah gets drunk, and Nephi is so happy to see the Lord blessing the women with the strength of men to endure the physical hardships! (Did he ever try to give birth while in the wilderness? I'm pretty sure they were up for it!)They're written by imperfect men and therefore can't be completely relied upon for doctrine, IMHO.

Seth R. said...

Personally, I find the rest of the Christian world's obsession with orthodoxy to be highly obnoxious. So I consider the fact that the LDS Church isn't similarly concerned to be, frankly, a breath of fresh air.

Basically, it boils down to - if you don't screw with the community - you're in.

Excellent.

Mormon Heretic said...

Hypatia,

That's a fascinating quote in 1949. Do you have a reference? The priesthood ban is a big personal interest of mine, and I always want to learn as much as I can.

I have to say that Pres McKay's statement that the priesthood ban was policy, and Pres Hinckley's statement that polygamy is not doctrinal make it pretty hard to know what is doctrine any more. I thought I used to know.

Richard Bushman makes a big deal out of the fact that Joseph Smith rejected all the creeds (ie doctrines) of traditional Christianity. So, I guess that is a big reason why we can't really rely on what is doctrine any more.

The Faithful Dissident said...

MH, a commenter on Mormon Stories elaborated on that comment here (scroll down to comment #2 by Kempton). The First Presidency certainly called it a "doctrine, not policy" in 1949 (George Albert Smith was prophet at the time). Interesting how the prophet who followed him (David O. McKay) seemed adamant about it being the other way around.

JDD said...

The Church itself recently issued a statement re. what constitutes doctrine. It can be found at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

Mormon Heretic said...

Thanks for the link FD. I'll definitely add that to my collection.

JDD, thanks for the link to the church website. Quoting from there, I think this is the best definition of LDS doctrine.

Based on the scriptures, Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”

Mormon Heretic said...

FD,

Since you have mentioned trouble with "the prophet will never lead us astray", I thought you would like this article.

The Faithful Dissident said...

MH, that was a great link. (My mother passes along her regards, by the way. She enjoyed it as well. :)

I especially enjoyed this part:

It's also important to point out that members who are in tune with the Spirit have the power to protect themselves from being led away. Brigham Young once said, "…if He (God) should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray. … It would be because they deserved it … " (Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298).

How could someone "deserve" to be led away? Brigham provided an answer in another sermon.

"The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray" (Journal of Discourses 6:100)."


Anyone care to speculate on if and when we as a people have ever "deserved" to be led astray? Could the racial prejudices of earlier Mormons (including the prophets themselves) landed them in a place of spiritual darkness where race was concerned? Perhaps members like George Romney were some of these "members who are in tune with the Spirit (who) have the power to protect themselves from being led away."

Perhaps this can also apply to polygamy?

Seth R. said...

"Perhaps this can also apply to polygamy?"

Perhaps. Except that polygamy - theologically - actually happens to be a pretty damn good doctrine.

As opposed to that Mark of Cain stuff, which was just stupid.

Mormon Heretic said...

I think the polygamy stuff is "stupid" (using Seth's terminology) as well. I have posted a few polygamy links on my blog, if Seth or others are interested.

While Hinckley's "off the cuff" remark about polygamy being not doctrinal may or may not be important, I think it will be interesting to see someone like Richard Prince come along and do a biography on Hinckley as was done with Pres McKay. We may learn that there is more to Hinckley's statement, just as there was more to McKay's statement about the priesthood ban being policy rather than doctrine. Remember, McKay's statement was a seemingly "off the cuff" remark as well, that seems quite revolutionary as we look back on it.

FD, I'm glad you and your mom liked the article. Anyone who agrees with me must be a wonderful person! :D

Seth R. said...

If you believe that marriage endures after death, then you logically will have to accept polygamy as at least an option for people.

Otherwise, you're going to have to insist that a widower/widow who remarried and died fully in love with both of his or her spouses will have to ditch one of them in the hereafter in order to live up to your artificial moral standards.

Which would essentially make you a jerk.

Of course, if you don't really buy the whole eternal marriage thing to begin with, that's another matter.

Seth R. said...

I do acknowledge, by the way, the possibility that you are using the word "polygamy" to refer exclusively to "polygyny."

This is an inaccurate, if somewhat common, use of the word. But if it's the gender inequality that you are objecting to, you would have my agreement that it's unfair.

But I wasn't talking about polygyny. I was talking about polygamy - which encompasses both multiple wives AND multiple husbands.

Mormon Heretic said...

Seth, I am talking about section 132 of the D&C which seems to indicate that polygyny is preferred, and polyandry is not. Are you still saying that the doctrine of polygamy practiced by Brigham Young and the FLDS is "a pretty damn good doctrine"?

Seth R. said...

#1. The polygamy practiced by Brigham Young's Utah isn't even close to the modern FLDS.

#2. I'm not advocating for either as a theological matter.

#3. Section 132 actually does imply polyandry AS WELL as polygyny. You just have to read carefully.

Mormon Heretic said...

I know that polyandry is vaguely referenced in D&C 132--perhaps you pointed that out to me before. However, it was never really practiced, so from a practical point of view, polyandry never was granted the same status as polygyny.

Can you please explain your "pretty damn good doctrine" quote. Also, specifically what differences are you seeing between the FLDS and Brigham Young?

Seth R. said...

Oh, things are always worse in practice than in theory.

Like monogamy for instance.

As a core doctrine, I like the idea that a person can love more than one other. It really makes no sense that you'd be mandated to only love one person. I'm fine with it not being for everyone. But for some people, it really is necessary.

Now, as to differences:

1. No "lost boys" (statistically, it doesn't seem to have been a demographic problem in old Utah)

2. Not mandatory for everyone - only a small proportion of the male population ever practiced it in Utah at one time.

3. No compound. Hard to control every aspect of people's lives when they are spread over 100s of miles. The setup of the FLDS is only possible because everyone is stuck in an area the size of BYU campus and forbidden outside contact.

And of course, early Mormons were not even slightly denied outside contact.

4. It was legal under Brigham Young, so you didn't have to hide from the cops. Even when the feds cracked down, there still wasn't the wider societal disapproval. So the vulnerable parties weren't as isolated from resources.

5. 1800s Utah was actually relatively progressive regarding women's issues. Not sure exactly why, but it was easier to get a divorce in 1800s Utah than just about anywhere else in the United States.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Seth R,

I think that the only reason why there wasn't a "lost boys" situation under BY was because it didn't go on long enough. By sheer numbers, polygamy, is/was unsustainable. Even if each man only took one additional wife, it becomes unsustainable and a society will inevitably end up with a "lost boys" situation. But guys like BY weren't just taking 1 or 2 additional wives. We're talking 20, 30, 40+. How is that sustainable?

You claim that polygamy was not mandatory for everyone and that it was only practiced by a small percentage. Todd Compton, Mormon polygamy expert/historian, stated that the numbers were not the 1-5% that is commonly believed by the modern Mormon population, but rather 30-40%. That's definitely not sustainable, in my opinion.

As for it not being mandatory for everyone, it depends on how you look at it. Were they kicked out of the Church for not practicing it? No. But were they considered eligible for the highest exaltation if they didn't? No.

You should really read MH's post, as well as the fascinating discussion that followed here.

Seth, you mentioned the reference to polyandry in D&C. When you said, "Oh, things are always worse in practice than in theory," do you mean that the Church isn't practicing it the way that it was originally intended, meaning that polyandry (at least in the sense of modern temple sealings) should have equal status as polygyny -- which of course it doesn't -- in the Church today?

Seth R. said...

I'm only interested in the eternal core of the principle, not problematic, abortive, or misguided attempts by mortals to put it into practice.

I think original intent is hard to flesh out. Joseph died before he fleshed out a lot of his ideas.

I think in today's cultural context, and in the context of 1800s America, polygamy (both kinds) is very, very problematic. You would have to do a lot of reworking of the cultural context, legal context, and personal emotional context before either would work well-enough to satisfy me that making it openly allowed is a good idea.

Nor do I think it's a good idea for everyone, or even necessarily most people. Nor am I convinced that the view that it was a requirement of exaltation was ever more than the view of a few rogue apostles. It does not seem to have been Brigham Young's view - who made statements that a man could have one, many, or even no wives, and still be saved in the Celestial Kingdom.

But as an eternal principle, I have no real beef with the idea. It is comforting that we can love and be sealed to more than one person, if need be.

Your statement that polygamy in 1800s Utah would have inevitably led to FLDS style polygamy is nothing more than rank speculation.

If someone in the US had decided to abolish monogamous marriage in the 1800s, and there were few such marriages today, would you also be pointing to marriages in rural Sudan as proof of the inherent evil and problems of monogamous marriage?

Some people do, you know.

But the fact is, societies improve. They tend to work out the bugs. And that which we become accustomed to, we cope with. I think it is far from a foregone conclusion that the modern FLDS were the inescapable fate of any society that chose to embrace polygamy.

If LDS polygamy had continued, for all you know, it might look just as good as monogamy does today.

And if it comes to that, I fail to see any problems with polygamy that weren't equally problems with monogamy - which some modern liberal thinkers ALSO decry as a relic of barbarism.

In the end, I'm just puzzled why you seem to be demanding that a man or woman who had two beloved spouses should be required to ditch one of them in the Celestial Kingdom.

Such a response seems uncharitable, to say the least.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"But as an eternal principle, I have no real beef with the idea. It is comforting that we can love and be sealed to more than one person, if need be."

I agree. IF we truly love several people on this earth, lose our spouses through death and find a new one, it's not a troubling idea. Where it gets troubling is when people are getting sealed to people they don't even love, who are already married to other people, who are "sealing away" their children to other men, or who are having scores of children that have to share a single father -- all things that happened under Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

"Your statement that polygamy in 1800s Utah would have inevitably led to FLDS style polygamy is nothing more than rank speculation."

That's not what I said. Modern-day Mormon polygamy may have ended up looking as "good" as they apparently portray it on Big Love. (I've never seen the show, but the impression I've gotten from reading about it is that it's portrays it favourably, yet with its "warts") Although I can't imagine practicing it myself, I don't really have a problem with adults consenting to polygamous relationships, as long as they are not minors, are not pressured into it, and are not already married to another. So I'm not saying that we would have inevitably ended up like the FLDS in every way. What I am saying is that it's unsustainable and that the numbers cannot add up, even if every man only takes 2 wives.

"In the end, I'm just puzzled why you seem to be demanding that a man or woman who had two beloved spouses should be required to ditch one of them in the Celestial Kingdom. Such a response seems uncharitable, to say the least."

That's not what I'm demanding, but you're absolutely right that it's "uncharitable." And yet it's how it stands in the Church today. A young sister loses her husband and marries again, she has to choose whether to "dump" the dead husband and get sealed to the new one, or marry for time only. And if she had kids with the first husband, it becomes all the more complicated. Some widows are hesitant to remarry because of this seemingly impossible situation. They inevitably have to "dump" somebody.

Seth R. said...

I suppose we probably don't ultimately disagree that much.

Your initial language was rather sweeping in condemning polygamy. So I guess that's what I was rising to. If you want to revise that to a condemnation of specific cultural historical practices, I imagine I won't have much beef with it.

However, I think it's easy to bag on 1800s Utah culture simply because it's alien to us and we are far removed from the actual context. I'm not sure either Brigham Young or Joseph Smith were quite as bad as some make out.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I definitely don't think that Joseph Smith or Brigham Young were "bad." I have a lot of issues with things that they did. Some of them I can dismiss with the understanding that they were flawed human beings who lived in another time. Other things trouble me greatly and I'm not able to simply dismiss or reconcile them simply because they declared it was all the Lord's will. To get a good idea on where I stand on the whole polygamy issue, you can read that link to Mormon Heretic's post I pasted into a couple of comments back. I suppose I was thinking back a lot to that discussion when I wrote this post, which is probably what gave the impression in this post of sweeping language, as you pointed out. Anyways, I won't rehash it all here since it's all there on MH's thread.

Jon said...

Here's the problem I see with attempting to articulate what exactly constitutes "official doctrine."

Any statement by a church leader explaining what "official doctrine" is must itself be "official doctrine." You have to presuppose that the statement clarifying "official doctrine" is itself authoritative.

So it seems to me that any possible articulation of "official doctrine" commits circular reasoning. If I'm wrongheaded on this point, I trust that someone will correct me.

I've even heard one LDS thinker, it may have been Blake Ostler, claim that the only way to discern official doctrine is through the spirit. If that's the case, then I don't quite understand the necessity of having living prophets.

Seth R. said...

I view it all as cumulative. Scripture isn't enough. Prophets aren't enough. The Spirit isn't enough. Study isn't enough.

None of them are enough by themselves.

But combined together, I think they do alright.

thefirestillburning said...

Jon:

Let me make an analogy from physics.

At the time Einstein made the conceptual leap to enable him to discover relativity and published, hardly anyone could grasp the implications of what he was saying. There is a rumor among physicists about a reporter approaching a famous scientist of the time and asking whether it was true that there were only five people in the world who could understand relativity. The scientist was silent for a while and then replied, “I’m sorry, but I cannot imagine who the fifth person might be.”

Yet, today, there are thousands of people in the world who understand relativity better than Einstein ever did. They routinely elaborate new consequences of the theory and open up new creative possibilities for society. But none of them would ever have made the conceptual leap on their own.

This gift – new principles to resolve the paradoxes of established doctrine that emerge as new information comes into the system -- can amplify the creative gifts of the other priesthood orders and lay members. But such priesthood remain crippled in seeking those new solutions without someone who can actually make the conceptual leap and generalize the principle.

The “Prophet”, to be both prophetic and a shepherd, must not ignore the paradoxes in established doctrine as they emerge; he must probe them until they are resolved. He cannot merely observe that the paradoxes exist and then retreat behind the mystery of God once the suffering of people due to the paradox is called to his attention. Even less can he disregard one principle as universally subordinate to another as if the paradox did not exist.

I suggest that's why prophets are necessary -- and rare.

FireTag

Mormon Heretic said...

I'm only interested in the eternal core of the principle, not problematic, abortive, or misguided attempts by mortals to put it into practice.

Aren't we all. Unfortunately, mere mortals are all we've got.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying Seth. You definitely have a different definition of this damn good doctrine than most LDS.

Glenn Smith said...

Kind of late to leave a comment or two, but...
Re: Doctrine - lds.org site referenced earlier states:

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

Re: Polygamy and sealings in the millenium and beyond... my personal opinion is that as we gain further post-mortem knowledge of these principles, there will be a great sorting out of eternal "families", that earthly offenses and poor decisions will be mediated by Jesus Christ, that gaps caused by those 'fallen in action' will be joined together. Just as a choice to smoke or drink will be subject to His judgement, a choice of marriage and sealings will be judged.

Re: Carol Brown comment on grace and a Bishop compassion. I infer from her comment that she believes a Bishop administering the disciplinary consequences of ones actions does not show grace or compassion. On the contrary, it shows the greatest compassion for a Bishop to be firm for he wants the penitent to achieve eternal success. The road to successful repentance is one of pain and anguish. A 'slap on the wrist' for a serious sin just isn't enough.

Re: Carol Brown health insurance I recall General Authorities encouraging the saints to purchase health insurance to avoid subsequent debt. Search some talks about debt from the mid-80's. Also, self-reliance is an important principle.