Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Vicissitudes of life

This is one post in an A-Z series of 26 where I am writing about living as a Mormon in the wilderness of Kuantan

The vicissitudes of life describes the constant state of change we encounter. Changes in age, health and career happen to all of us. The vicissitudes I will talk of here are church-related.

The Mormon church has changed a lot since its beginnings in 1830. These vicissitudes are worthy of analysis, sincere questioning and an effort to understand.

Some of the vicissitudes of Mormon history include the implementation of polygamy and its later cessation, the priesthood being extended to men of all races and colours, the method of succession to the Presidency, as mentioned in "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles", age for full-time missionaries, and the essays released on the church website, www.lds.org, albeit hidden away, representing the church's publicizing of previously 'dark' information.

On lds.org, you have to click "Scriptures and Study" ---> "Gospel Topics" ---> "Explore the essays" to locate the newly released essays providing detailed information on issues such as Book of Mormon translation, polygamy and Race & the Priesthood
While such changes may well have received some sort of divine command, it is apparent that they were not wholly decided upon by revelation. Many of these vicissitudes came as a result of fierce opposition by non-Mormons, fellow members and governments, with revelation merely confirming the need to change according to different circumstances.

The fact that the Mormon church is a changing church may demonstrate two opposing sides of a pendulum - to some it shows deceit, bending to the will of the world and its increasing worldliness, and a string of losses to outside influences suggesting a church that is not being led by God, but by imperfect men - on the other side, and to the more rational thinkers, we may note the church's adaptability to changing times and different circumstances, awareness of outside concerns, and willingness to change for the better.

To be honest, an organisation like the 15 million-strong Mormon church would find it nigh impossible to remain stagnant in policy and organisation from the 19th through 21st centuries. Any company would crash if it didn't change and adapt.

As an example, my English company has already adjusted policy a few times in just four years, in response to suit our clients' needs and adapt to our growing size. Without such changes, it would be easy to rapidly become irrelevant and inconvenient.

The Mormon church runs on principles of continuing revelation and inspiration making it reasonable and frankly necessary for changes in policy or stances to occur. Obviously, 19th century stances on race, slavery and equality are entirely different from those of the 21st century, for example.

These church-related vicissitudes often facilitate the increase of light and knowledge on certain issues and provide great learning opportunities.

Sometimes, the changes might be that specific issues are spoken of with more frequency, for example the recent increase in discussions on homosexuality and gay marriage and the church's definition of marriage. The church has a tricky balancing act as it can only change on policy within the parameters of God's standards of living which it declares. For example, the church can acknowledge that people have homosexual tendencies, but it cannot allow such people to be married in its churches or temples as the doctrine of the organisation states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Such couples may freely find an organisation with standards that allow such marriages.

Living in the wilderness, we are away from the hubbub that sensitive topics which have become embraced by the world, generate. Granted, social media brings some of that commotion to us, but it's certainly nice to be away from the crowds of church members where I can formulate more easily my own thoughts and opinions on these important vicissitudes without them being concentrated by popular Mormon cliche.

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