Nearly everyone has experience with weeds (thorns, thistles, briars, and noxious weeds). They come in many varieties. Basically, weeds are a wild plant that grows where it is not wanted in competition with other desirable plants. The scriptures teach that weeds torment humankind for a purpose, the Lord told Adam “cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” (Moses 4:23).
How are weeds helpful: “for thy sake“? A fundamental doctrine of Mormonism is that there must be opposition in all things. Without opposition there is no growth. Weeds are opposition.
To Joseph Smith in the afflictions of Liberty Jail, the Lord said, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7), “and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 122:8). To Alma and his people who were brought into slavery to the Lamanites we learn that “the Lord seeth fit to chasen his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day” (Mosiah 23:21).
Opposition in the Internet Era
With the advent of the internet, church members are encountering a new kind of torment. Like thorns, thistles, briars, and noxious weeds torment agriculture, revised information about church history and doctrine can torment testimonies.
With the internet, church members are learning things they never knew about church history and doctrine. For some church members this is as threatening to their testimony as the winter weather was to lives of early Mormon pioneers. And like the early Mormon pioneers were required to deal with the realities of crossing the plains and settling in the west, the current generation of Mormon internet pioneers are required to deal with the reality of assimilating revised information about church history and doctrine.
Dealing with Mormonism’s Thorns, Thistles, Briars, and Noxious Weeds
I would like to offer a few suggestions for church members who are or will be “tormented” by the thorns, thistles, briars, and noxious weeds that are found in church history and doctrine.
As a returned missionary in the early 1970’s I was excited to learn all I could about church history and doctrine. BYU offered many resources to aid my study. I also made friends with a wide range of students and teachers who were well versed in church history and doctrine. In addition, I had access to the “underground Xerox” where collectors of LDS sources would exchange documents with one another. Before long, my document file grew very large.
I was astonished and troubled at some of the things I learned. My youthful, naive assumptions were being assaulted. My Sunday School view of church history and doctrine was altered by a raw, rough, unvarnished study of Mormonism.
It is not my purpose to provide details of what I mean by raw, rough, unvarnished view of Mormon history and doctrine. There are other websites for that purpose.
I knew in the early 1970′s that the day would come when “uncorrelated” church history and doctrine would someday be headline news and be like thorns, thistles, briars, and noxious weeds to church members’ testimonies.
I’ve had 50 years to sort things out. This is one of the reasons I started a blog nearly 15 years ago. I desire to let church members know that there are answers to the questions troubling them. It breaks my heart every time I learn that another church members has fallen away. It isn’t necessary. There are answers to the questions that are troubling them.
Following are a few things I would like to pass on that have proven to be helpful. The list is not in any particular order.
1. What we’re experiencing today was prophesied years ago by Heber C. Kimball—here.
2. Church historians who best understand history and doctrine are not blown away—here.
3. Many of our assumptions may need to be reviewed—here. (Skip down and begin reading where he talks about assumptions).
4. One of the best sources available for answers to difficult questions about Mormon history and doctrine is a detailed article that is being written by Sarah Allen—here.
5. Using the Book of Mormon to navigate problems in church history and doctrine—here.
6. Church article on the priesthood ban—here.
7. For me, the very best source of help has been prayer—here.