Can we be loyal to the Lord and critical of the Brethren?

In this month First Presidency Message our Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, asks us to be loyal to the Church. He clearly believes and is teaching here that this is the Savior’s true church, and we cannot be loyal to the Savior while being disloyal to the Church or the prophets who the Lord has chosen to lead it in our day. I would like to add my testimony to his. This is a true teaching. If we want to please the Savior, if we are loyal to Him, then we will love and follow those whom he has chosen to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today. We are traitors to the Church and to the Savior whose priesthood it possesses if we do not support and sustain the Brethren. Specifically, this is what President Hinckley said:

Be Loyal to the Church”Be loyal to the Church. I have a testimony of the truth of this Church. So do you. . . . Nearly everyone here can stand upon his feet and say, ‘I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ and that this is Their work.’ . . . Never do anything which would speak of disloyalty in any sense. Uphold [the Church], sustain her, pray for her, work for her, move her forward. . . . The future of the work . . . lies with you. We need loyal and faithful Latter-day Saints. . . .

“Be loyal to the faith. Be loyal to God. Be loyal to Jesus Christ. Be loyal to the Church of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, you will be loyal to yourselves” (meeting, Kingston, Jamaica, May 15, 2002).

“Be loyal to this Church, my brothers and sisters. . . . I want to give you my testimony that the General Authorities of this Church will never lead you in paths that will take you down. They will lead you in a trail that leads upward if you will follow in faith and faithfulness” (regional conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 5, 2002).

Why are there so many online saints who bellyache and moan about the Brethren and the way they run the Church? Do those who possess this spirit of criticism even know what loyalty is? Do they treat their friends this way? How about their closest loved ones? Of course the prophets are not infallible, but they have been chosen by the Lord to lead the Church today. That means they have been asked by Jesus Christ to lead us ourselves if we are members of this Church.

We made a covenant with the Savior when we were baptized. We promised Him that we would keep his commandments so that he could bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We renew that promise every time we take the Sacrament. Are we going to turn around and break that promise by being unrighteously critical of our prophet-leaders in our daily conversation and on the Internet? Aren’t we commanded to love one another? Isn’t that one of the most important commandments the Lord has given? And isn’t that what we have promised to do when we promise to keep his commandments? And if we are to love our friends and family, shouldn’t we love our Church leaders too? How can we be continually picking away at their faults and supposed sins, and honestly say that we love them? This spirit of criticism that is so prevalent among some online saints is not from above. It is from below. It is from the devil. The Holy Ghost doesn’t inspire us to possess such a spirit of criticism.

I think that we have a big problem in our popular culture here in the USA. We are forgetting what the word “loyalty” means. How can we be loyal to our friends or to our Church leaders when we stab them in the back? And isn’t that what we are doing when we run them down in front of others? Would we do this if they were present? Or do we only do this when we think they aren’t listening? How do we like it when our friends and loved ones bad mouth us behind our backs? That is not being loyal. That is being a traitor to our friends, to those we love, or those we are supposed to love.

Loyalty is all about loving one another. We cannot love one another if we are not loyal to them. We don’t have to approve of everything they do, but we need to defend them and speak well of them. If we fail to do this, if we are disloyal, then we are very unloving indeed. We are lacking charity. And I don’t know anyone who thinks that is OK, not even the most doubting and dissident member of the Church.

We all need to learn better what loyalty is, and how important loyalty is when we love someone. We cannot say that we love the Savior and be disloyal to his Church and those whom he has chosen to lead us. We need to stop being critical of the Brethren. We need to repent. If we don’t, the Savior is going to be unhappy with us even though he loves us. He will feel that we have let him down.

I have a testimony of this. When we are disloyal to the Brethren, we are disloyal to our Savior. We ought to be ashamed of such behavior when we are guilty of it.

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5 Responses to Can we be loyal to the Lord and critical of the Brethren?

  1. ed says:

    John says “Of course the prophets are not infallible”. Hmmm, is stating this ‘fact’ being disloyal? How about if we change the wording a little? “The prophets make mistakes” or “Prophets sin”? Where is the disloyal line?

    How loyal are you – if the prophet came to you and said for you to give him your wife (for all eternity) would you do it?

  2. Loyalty to my children prevents me from criticizing them to anyone who is not part of our immediate family, especially if they are not present. I do tell them how I feel when they disappoint me by not living up to the standards I tried to instill in them when they were growing up. But even then, I try very hard to reassure them that my love for them continues unabated whatever their choices are. And once I have done this, I let the matter drop if I can muster the self-discipline to do so. Above all, I try to avoid anything that might damage my relationship with them especially when I am angry. I know from long experience that some of the things we say, can cause permanent, or near permanent changes in the way we feel about the people we love, and the way they feel about us.

    And while I do not think that my relationships with my Bishop and stake president are as important as my relationships with my wife and children, they are nearly as important to me. So I make a similar effort in my dealings with them.

    With that said, I am not always completely successful in carrying out my good intentions. But I try not to sin and to repent when I do. And I think it is a sin to be uncharitable or disloyal towards my wife, my children, or my priesthood leaders.

    Sometime it is a sin to speak the truth when doing so hurts others and serves no useful purpose.

  3. Kristine says:

    John, does loyalty to your children prevent you from criticizing particular actions they take? There’s nothing in President Hinckley’s statement that suggests that disagreeing with policies or procedures is disloyal. I entirely agree that public, personal criticism of particular General Authorities is wrong, but (as you know, from having this argument with me for, what, a decade now?) I believe it is a part of being loyal to be as truthful as we know how to be, and to offer our best thinking about the practices of the church, as well as our careful obedience to the commandments.

  4. Adam Greenwood says:

    I don’t know about Mr. Redelfs (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt), but God’s church certainly is. And loyalty, even misplaced loyalty, which loyalty to God’s church certainly is not, can be a beautiful thing.

  5. Jacque says:

    John you are a marvelous work and a wonder.

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