Monday, July 03, 2006

Fobsvithing Obediently

Master Fob's thoughts on obedience, as inspired by a discourse delivered in church last week:

Obedience is a valuable tool in raising children. S-Boogie is not quite old enough to understand (despite previous experience) that taking off her own diaper can have disastrous consequences, but she is old enough to understand that she should obey Mommy and Daddy's counsel to not remove her own diaper. Similarly, she is not old enough to understand that running in the street or parking lot could have even more disastrous consequences, but she can understand that obeying her parents when they tell her not to run into the street is a good thing. Therefore, it is in her own and everyone's best interest for her to learn obedience.

This principle extends into adulthood only insofar as God understands consequences that we, like children, do not. I might not understand the full extent of the consequences of killing people I do not like, but I can trust that God does and therefore I obey his commandment that I shall not kill.

This is God telling adults what to do, though, not adults telling other adults. I acknowledge that God often speaks to people through other people. As a self-proclaimed follower of God, it is my responsibility to determine when people are speaking for God and when they are not. Theric, for example, might suggest to me that I eat more raisins. I might not understand why in the world I should eat more raisins, but if I pray about it and I feel that this suggestion, counsel, or commandment comes from God, then I will trust that God knows why I should eat more raisins and act accordingly. If I determine that the counsel is Theric's alone, though, I am under no obligation to follow it and I would appreciate if he would respect that. (The jerk.)

Here's my take on Gordon B. Hinckley's counsel that good Latter-day Saints should not have more than two piercings if female and none at all if male: I honestly have not prayed about it because it doesn't matter to me. I have no desire to pierce my body so I don't need to know whether God considers it a sin. If you have prayed about it and you feel the counsel is from God, please follow it and please ensure that your underage children do so as well. If other adults don't feel that the counsel comes from God, though, and choose not to follow it, I believe it is everyone else's responsibility as decent human beings to respect that. I can't speak for everyone, but I find it annoying when my fellow adults call me to repentance on some counsel or commandment that I honestly do not feel comes from God. Determining what is right and wrong is every human being's right and responsibility and should be respected.

A lot of people explain the piercing thing by saying that it's not really about how many piercings you have but how obedient you are. You are welcome to believe this if you choose to, but it does not fit with my personal understanding of God and the universe. God has plenty of opportunity to teach his children obedience with commandments that really do matter; I can't imagine why he would throw arbitrary commandments at us just to make sure we'll obey the important ones.

So if you are ever speaking at a meeting where the congregation is spread thin and you politely ask everyone to move forward, I probably will comply with your request just because that's the nice thing to do. But please don't try to make a moral issue out of it. I obey God as much as I can, but I feel no obligation to obey people on power trips.


Braden said...

Thank you, Master Fob. I have traditionally disagreed with the view you present here, and I'm now reconsidering.

I'm curious about this bit, though:

"If you have prayed about it and you feel the counsel is from God, please follow it and please ensure that your underage children do so as well. If other adults don't feel that the counsel comes from God, though, and choose not to follow it, I believe it is everyone else's responsibility as decent human beings to respect that."

Shouldn't children beyond the age of accountability have some autonomy in deciding what they feel is God's will? When is the cutoff at which you can no longer tell them which commandments are divine? When they're 18? When they move out?

Anonymous said...


Good comments, Bawb! And except for one small thing, an excellent post from Master Fob, as well. Would that my svithes were worth reading.

That one thing: the raisen issue. I thought we had moved past that, man. And here you are telling the whole internet about it!


WV: hiyup

Katria said...


And that's all I have to say except that I am a slacker in that I have not svithed for some time now.

Tolkien Boy said...

I would svithe, but what would be the point? No one comments on my serious posts.

Oh, and rasin is spelled, um, like that.

John said...

or "raisin", Tb.... :)

About the moving forward thing, this family at a church I went to insisted on sitting in the front row because it was like being closer to God.

Th. said...


That's one of the words I despair of ever spelling correctly.

And how come Mr Fob gets comments on his serious posts but no one else does?

Anonymous said...

Th.--It probably helps that I hardly post at all lately.

Bawb--Good question. I think as children grow up they have a growing ability to think for themselves, and thus should have a growing level of autonomy. 18 is a convenient cutoff point because that's the legal age of independence, but I hope parents don't treat their teenagers like children.


Melyngoch said...

Thanks for taking the time to justify my extraorganic metal bits. (Of course it's all about me.)

daltongirl said...

I agree on most points, except for the part about the prophet. What do you do with the scripture that says "Whether by my voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same"? I don't feel a need to pray about stuff that comes from leaders that have stewardship over me, unless I have a problem with it. I'm not saying I don't feel the need to think for myself--just the need to be obedient to what God says. I guess I'm interpreting how He says it more broadly. In the case of some adult standing up and telling me what to eat more raisins, though, I think you're absolutely right.

And when teenagers act like small children, which happens a lot, they lose privileges. I don't ever think they should be talked down to, though. This becomes tricky when one is trying to help a child espouse a belief. Sometimes compromises must be made.

Saule Cogneur said...

Your views are a little unorthodox, MF. How much did you get away with across the pulpit?

Personally, I agree with you. In further unorthodoxy, I don't think God and the Church are synonymous. More often than not, I think the prophet speaks for the Church, and the Church gives counsel to help us better follow God's commandments. Choosing not to follow counsel is not the same as breaking commandments.

Maybe I'm wrong. It happened once a couple years ago...

Samantha said...

I never move forward when asked to do so. I feel it is my solemn obligation to sit in the back and begin whispering if the speaker is boring. I also feel that I should constantly pass notes on large pieces of neon colored paper throughout any meeting.

I MIGHT move up and cease my immoral conduct if the prophet told me to, I prayed about it, and received confirmation that I should obey.

As for the spelling of "rasin", I believe it depends on the context: are we discussing the dried fruit that looks as if it came out of someone's nose? Or is it the verb form: "rasin' cane", "rasin' children", "House of the rasin' sun..."

skyeJ said...

Does any of you honestly think that the spelling of "raisin", the number of earrings one wears, or whether or not one moves twenty feet in either direction at a meeting has any bearing on one's eternal salvation? Talk about power trips... Loved the post, Master Fob. I can't wait till I can say "Doctor of Philosopy Fob"!

Anonymous said...

God has plenty of opportunity to teach his children obedience with commandments that really do matter; I can't imagine why he would throw arbitrary commandments at us just to make sure we'll obey the important ones.

While I agree to some extent with the sentiment of your post, I think there actually are many scriptural examples of God giving seemingly arbitrary commandments as opportunities for people to demonstrate obedience. Namaan being commanded to wash in the river seven times is a good example. Pretty arbitrary. Certainly, he could have been healed in a more simplistic way, but was required to show faith and obedience. Christ's healings follow a similar pattern of arbitrary requirement before the blessing. Even Adam building altars unto the Lord follows this theme. Or Abraham being commanded to kill Isaac. Or the children of Israel being required to simply look at a serpent on a staff to be healed. Or their only being allowed to pick up enough manna for one day. Or most of the Law of Moses. It's actually a pretty common pattern. So, while I most certainly don't think that one's eternal salvation is necessarily on the line if he or she gets or keeps an extra piercing, I most certainly do think it is a God-given opportunity to be obedient. And, I won't hesitate to say that I think the lack of obedience to such a simple request from a prophet--much like some of the prophetic requests mentioned above in its simplicity--could be (but, of course, is not in all cases) indicative of deeper issues of testimony.

*peers around suspiciously to ensure no one is picking up rocks to stone him then flees quickly*

*comes back panting*

Before I run away like a sissy girl from the impending lynch mob, let me say that I totally agree with the idea that not moving up to the front of the room when asked to do so by teachers is definitely not comparable to directives given by the prophet (or, ergo, God), and is absolutely a case of an ordinary person commanding ordinary people.

*runs away anew*

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, wait, I just reread my comment and, uh, wow. Let me just say that the lack of obedience to the simple command to take out earings is probably equal in gravity to some of the many simple prophetic counsels I don't consistently follow. Like, you know, reading scriptures every day and other such simple things that I personally don't always do.

*descends off of high horse*

TK said...

Very good post. Also, a lot of good comments - to which I can't resist adding my 3 cents (you knew I wouldn't be able to resist, didn't you) - although others have pretty well covered it all.

1- My general response would be, "I guess that's why the brethren keep telling us to READ THE SCRIPTURES and to develop a PERSONAL relationship with the Lord." Apparently, they realize that we need to be able to discern between what God wants us (as an individual) to do and someone else's sincere and well-meaning, yet personal, opinion of what we should do.

2- I think the Lord might allow errors resulting from personal opinions and mis-interpretations b/c it provides a great opportunity for us to learn to be forgiving. :)

3- On the other hand, maybe some of that counsel is equivalent to a parent telling a child not to go near the street! Is there REALLY any harm in just going NEAR the street? Sometimes there's not even any danger in going IN the street! But we love our children too much to take a chance. To just say: 'don't get run over' (which is the REAL danger) isn't enough. We don't want them to even get CLOSE to an environment that MIGHT bring temptation to get at all NEAR to the REAL DANGER!

I agree with your way of handling the counsel you question - go straight to the real source of all wisdom (God).

Kari said...

Hey. We sit on the row behind the deacons but only because my hubby plays the music in church and it makes for a fast leap into the seat next to me so he can hold my hand and stuff. Us being closer to God is just a nice little side benefit.