Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The God Squad on the Mormons

Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Tom Hartman have a nationally syndicated religious column called "The God Squad." In their latest column, they comfort a worried Methodist parent whose 18-year-old daughter is about to join the Mormons. They write:
We love Mormons and we love the Mormon Church. The church's required year of service for young people is by far the most impressive spiritual youth activity we've ever seen. We're also extremely sensitive to the prejudice directed against many smaller religions (although Mormonism and Islam are the fastest-growing religions in America). Mormons are Christians and they are part of the community of faith that helps the world heal itself from sin.

(Printed in my local newspaper, The Post-Crescent, on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006, p. E-3.)

Nice of them to offer a positive view on the Church. A couple of details could be corrected. For example missionary service is not "required" and is not a year, but either 18 months (women) or 24 months (men). I'm also not sure that it's one of the top two fastest growing religions in America anymore, but there are so many ways to compute growth that I'm sure you can find a way to do that. For example, do you report average growth rate over the past 5 years, 20 years, or 100 years? DO you filter out extremely small organizations where adding 100 members might result in a 500% growth rate for 2005?

But I do appreciate the authors calming down a worried parent who is getting overwhelmed with the fear spread by anti-Mormon literature. Fear and shock is what it's designed to generate, so I really appreciate some calm voices from outside.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw this too and also wondered about the growth question. Given that 8 out of 10 new converts are nowhere to be found a year after baptism, I doubt we are a true growth leader.
-Rod

BRoz said...

What a breath of fresh air!

Anonymous said...

If she marries in the Church, it's likely that her parents will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony, and Mormonism will create a divide between them where one didn't exist.

This has been my experience. I think it's unfortunate.

wanderingrose said...

Those who are LDS but do not hold temple recommends can not attend temple sealings either.

It is a sensitive issue and must be handled with love.

There are things a couple can do that are inclusive of both sides of the family. Sometimes there is a more formal reception with a ring ceremony.

On the flip side of the issue:

My son chose to marry a girl who is not LDS. I was disappointed, I wanted him to marry in the temple, I would not have been able to attend as I did not have a temple recommend at the time, but it was what I wanted for him. (I wanted him to go on a mission too, but that is another topic)

However his wife is a wonderful woman and they are doing as the Lord commands them, in Genesis 2:24, they leave, they cleave, and they become one. I am so happy for them.

Perhaps as parents we sometimes forget that it is not all about us, we need let our children live their own lives.

Bishop Rick said...

The LDS church is supposed to be all about families, but often ends up breaking up families. As I was growing up in the church, I remember hearing the stories of people that were shunned by their families for joining the LDS church. These people were revered as heroes. I agreed with that assessment then, but have a different view now. As I get older, and my parents get older (really just my mother as my father has passed) I feel sad thinking about all the time I have missed with her because I moved to UT, and I got sealed in the Temple where she could not attend, being a non-member.

Its very sad. I am her only son. I wish I could turn back time.

This is a part of the LDS church I do not think highly of.

Walker said...

I do not in any way minimize the pain that new converts/pioneer members have to face. However, I know some personally, some who know full well that their parents will be unable to attend the wedding. Yet they continue to be happy that they joined the church.

If we actually buy into Christ's words in Matt 10:37 (He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me), then, at the end of the day, we know where we should lay our bed.

Shawn said...

My parents were not allowed to attend the temple as non members. We still included them in as much as possible and answered any questions they had.

Several years later after our first child was born, my father turned to my wife and me and stated us how proud he was of who we were and the choices we have made. It was one of the most touching moments in my relationship with my father. It is an example of unconditional love. I intend to reciprocate that support to my children.

As non-members, my parents have supported me, loved me, and continued to be engaged as I try to live my life by higher standards. Shame on any parents who selfishly sever relationships with their children. A parent’s responsibility is to reciprocate the unconditionally love our Heavenly Father has for us. That is what the Church teaches. Some of our children choose lifestyles that go against our beliefs. But we should still love them. Even the father of the prodigal son left the door open, ready and waiting for the time when his son decided to be part of the family again.

To claim the Church breaks families apart (I assume purposefully?) is a big stretch to me. Looking the world over, it seems that critical values are being lost… the affects are reflected in problems ranging from Europe’s declining (and aging) population, to female infanticide in Asia, to the spread of AIDS and other STDs, Hollywood in general, etc. But Hope stems from living a more Christ-like life. And it starts with families trying to live with higher values. The Church is one avenue (of many) that teaches these values. The Church teaches that families can be eternal. And through ordinances for the dead, all of our families can be saved (if members individually choose to accept) even if they don’t believe in or follow Christ in this life time… It is sad that some would blame the Church for their actions relating to other members of their family.



Bishop Rick... Hi again! It's been my experience that the LDS Church IS all about families. I am continually balancing serving others (and the families of other) with my home life. But our family feels very blessed by the gospel. I'm sorry for your pain. If you could turn back time, would you not get sealed to your wife? Have you not had any positive experiences relating to your family because of your membership in the Church? Many of your posts seem to be a negative spin on a positive message. I know you are faithful and trying to get to the "truth" behind each of your questions... I just wish you were having a better time doing it / getting there. :)

annegb said...

Thanks for sharing that, Jeff.

I think I agree with Shawn.

I can see how parents can feel badly about not attending their child's wedding, but it's not the worst thing. I would be more proud of a child sticking with their standards. than, uh, my mind went blank.

Mormanity said...

Shawn, how fortunate you are to have such a loving father. Thanks for sharing.

TedB said...

My wife has many relatives who are not LDS. Also, my best friend in high school was Lutheran. His Dad was a Lutheran pastor. So when my wife and I got married in the Boise Temple, we wanted to find a way to involve these loved ones who could not be present for the ceremony. As others have suggested, we had a ring ceremony in conjunction with a dinner after the temple sealing. My friend's father (the pastor) greeted everyone and gave an opening prayer. My wife's bishop said a few words, my sisters sang a song, and we exchanged rings. It was made clear to everyone that we had been married previously, but that an exchange of rings was not part of the temple ceremony, so we were doing that now.

It was a great experience for us, our family, and our friends.

Charles said...

How can Mormons dispel the myth of rapid growth, given that the numbers of baptisms per year are actually going down and that fewer converts are sticking around for long?

Bishop Rick said...

Shawn,

I am not saying that the LDS church purposefully breaks up families. I do not believe that is the case, and that would be an indefensable stance.

The church does, however, choose to ignore the desires, needs, and rights of non-members and non-recommend holding members. There is no reason to keep family members from attending a marriage. They are not participating in any ordinance, or making any covenants. They would simply be attending what is supposed to be the best day of a loved ones life.

I'm not putting a bad spin on a good thing, I am simply not leaving it out. Many people are willing to overlook the bad in favor of the good, and that is fine. I am sure that the ring ceremonies were enjoyed and greatly appreciated, but I would be willing to bet that they would all have GREATLY preferred to be able to attend the ceremony.

This is an exclusionary practice with no merit, and it is wrong.

Walker,

It is interesting that you choose that set of scriptures to end the debate. That set of scriptures is totally out of context of what Christ's message was. The fact that it was written 50 years after the death of Jesus by and aged man, tells me that those words are those of Matthew, not Jesus.

Love Jesus more than Father and Mother or Child? Set Son against Father, Daughter against Mother?

That is either a mistranslation, or it is simply blasphemy.

I get so sick of people using unfounded scripture to support bad doctrine or practices.

Ryan said...

How exactly does one go about identifying unfounded scripture?

Walker said...

Bishop Rick:

The reason it is bad doctrine is because you have made it so in your mind. Let's write off the idea of scripture altogether (since I could well say the same thing of any verse that I didn't like).

This leads to the question: which doctrines are the "good" doctrines, Rick?

Instead of cutting doctrinal hairs, I would prefer meekness, since it provides a soft landing for hard doctrines very much like these (citing Neal Maxwell).

And I'm afraid that, at the end of the day, that scripture very much fits in with Christ's message. Of course he wants us to honor Father and Mother. But what was the FIRST and great commandment--"Love the Lord thy God."

Anonymous said...

Walker you need to educate yourself on the historical origins of that verse (and entire segment) of the gospels.

Walker said...

It seems to me to be a pretty straight-forward reading, from the cursory research I've done.

However, I'm always up for learning something new.

Walker said...

Indeed, I just checked Clarke's commentary. It's entry on the verse is brief and direct:

"If, in order to please a father or mother who are opposed to vital godliness, we abandon God's ordinances and followers, we are unworthy of any thing but hell."

Far more harsh than my proclivities, but certainly worth listening to as coming from legitimate bible scholar.

Mormanity said...

The scriptures don't always put a gentle politcally correct spin on things, I've noticed.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

That particular segment of scripture has long been controversial due to the fact that it runs contrary to Christ's message of peace, love, and life.

The first and great commandment was the law of Moses that was supposed to be fulfilled thru Christ.

Which doctrines are "good" doctrines?
For starters, those that don't divide families.

Walker said...

Controversial? Certainly. But there it stands. I have seen no historical evidence to cast doubt on its validity. Remember, Matthew recorded the teachings on peace and love too. What makes Matthew more reliable on these points than the aforementioned? Cherry-picking scholarship is poor scholarship.

Scriptures aren't exactly tactful in most things, including family relations. At the end of the day, who reigns supreme? Yes, we must account for Paul's teaching that the unbeliever is sanctified by the believer. But when circumstances absolutely require it, God is the one whom we should please.

Bishop Rick said...

Cherry-picking scholarship is poor scholarship....says who? You? Certainly not an overwhelming number of biblical scholars on this subject.

Please God indeed! First you have the task of learning what God wants.

I don't think he wants us to blindly follow and accept without using our own brains to study and figure out what is right and what is bunk.

Dan the Man said...

Bishop Rick, it seems to me that you have this notion that non-members and non-temple recommend carrying memebers are entitled to everything that members are. This is of course a ludicrous idea. This is not to say treat tempe recommend toting members with more respect, but they do have the right to be in the temple and attending by virtue of their temple attendance.

It is also important to realize that families continue on through eternity- just because a family is "divided" in this life does not require that same division in the next, another reason we have temples. If you could tak to my mom, she would give you quite a lecture on that idea. She was disowned by her parents for about twelve years when she joined the church. But, she had faith in Christ and knew that her family loved her but they were ensnared by the adversary. Today they have come to be more comfortable with us, though still not yet members.

It seems to me your general attitude is to find fault in every place you can, and I will guarentee you will find it if you look for it. As my Book of Mormon professor said, "If you strain for evidence you will find all you need."

I personally have found fault with many things, but when I look back now I can see that often the fault was my own short-sightedness. I was unfortunate enough a while back to be a somewhat rebellious teenager. I searched out the endowment ceremony in an attempt to see what all the big fuss was. I now wish fervently that I hadn't, even though I was convinced that searching out now could do no harm. The fault was not the church leaders in making the temple ceremony secretive or sacred, but mine in not accepting that in due time I would attend the temple and witness it myself.

I hope you can understand what I have written. I hold nothing againsgt you and cannot blame you for your perception of the church's exclusionary principles, however it might help to keep in mind that Christ's church was rather secretive. It wasn't until the 3rd or 4th century that the Catholic church began to claim that nothing was secret and that the gospel should be, in full, preached from the rooftops.

Shawn said...

Hi Bishop Rick!

We can chalk up the doctrine, "a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife" as bad doctrine. It seems rather divisive. Especially with how well wives and mother-in-laws always get along. ;)

How about the afterlife? That's a divisive doctrine as those who don't believe in Christ cannot return to live with God (as far as Christians are concerned).

For that matter, being here on earth divides me from having the best possible relationship with the super-patriarch of families, aka God. I have to now use prayer and scripture study and sit through Church services (inspiring as they may be) to feel close to my Heavenly Father.

...

Sealing covenants in the temple are a very sacred event. It is a proposition that (if you want to believe is true) unifies families for eternity. Combined with works for the dead, even those who fail to follow Christ is this life get a second chance to be part of this unifying work. It is not divisive.

It is incredibly hard to swallow when family members get bent out of shape because they aren't temple recommend holders of the Church. It puts pressure on the soon-to-be newly weds who’s focus should only be on each other and their new life together. Again, temple marriages are a sacred event. If it's too hard to "cleave" unto one's spouse for eternity because of ones family, there's always civil marriage. God blesses those unions, too.

Besides, “excluded” family members could always just take the easy route, become members of the Church, and live temple-recommend worthy lives. :)

-Shawn

Walker said...

"I don't think he wants us to blindly follow and accept without using our own brains to study and figure out what is right and what is bunk"

You know that this approach has been used before, right? The tacit assumption is that what YOU think is right and that what the other guy thinks is bunk. That could be true, but you have yet to back up your claims. You might actually quote these bible scholars you speak of.

And being in the scholarly profession myself, I know that "cherry picking" is NEVER a good thing to be doing in research. It means an attempt to square a circle. Scholars are discredited on these grounds--I've seen it.

With all of the examples provided above, we anxiously await a reason to believe that the biblical record of that verse is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

A mission is required if one wants to be considered a "good" member of the church.

Shawn said...

Never been on a mission. Dang, I'm a "bad" member... better not tell you my calling. :)

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

You are a bit confused here.

Bad scholarship is dipping your bucket in and accepting all that you bring up. No credible scholar would do this.

I am not cherry picking. I am accepting the overwhelming majority (Jesus's message) and throwing out the bunk (this segment of scripture).

Scholars?

How about
Herman N Ridderbos
J. C. Fenton
Francis Write Beare
Larry Swain

the list is way too extensive to list here.

There is a huge number of biblical scholars that don't even think the book of Matthew was written by the evangelist, but rather by someone who was not in Jesus's inner circle (thus not being an eye witness) and relying mostly on the writings of Mark (another non witness).

If you simply did a little research, you might discover just how suspect many of the scriptures are.

adamite said...

Read James 1:5. And if you dig too deep you will have a large hole you can't get out of. Some things you will have to accept on principle and on faith. If we are to tear apart every scripture to get at the roots then we will not have anything left. And that includes all modern scriptures and all of our current leaders' addresses. All God wants us to do is have faith in Him and obey His commandments and to follow Christ's example of love and charity. Keep this in mind and everything else will fall into place.

Anonymous said...

Be careful of attacking the New Testament. Attacking it takes away from Him and what he teaches.

Bishop Rick said...

Dan the Man,

Never once did I say that non-temple recommend holders (including non members) should have the same rights and priviledges as members.

What I said was there is no reason to exclude family members from attending a temple marriage. This is not ludicrous, it is compassionate.

Bishop Rick said...

anon,

I'm not sure if I am attacking the NT, but I understand if you feel that way.

How does examining the origins of the NT take away from the teachings of Jesus?

If there are things in the NT that don't belong, I don't think mentioning that detracts from true teachings.

The NT is what it is. It is a compilation of stories and letters (Mostly from people outside the inner circle of Jesus) that were never intended to be included as scripture. The NT was compiled hundreds of years after the death of Jesus by the very people that you claim caused the apostacy. Many texts were altered, edited, and omitted to suit the agenda of the group in charge.

You would have to be a fool to take any of it at face value without doing thorough research and study.

Faith isn't truth. Truth is truth.
People that say you have to accept something on faith, only do so because it can't be explained otherwise.

I used to accept things on faith, but I can't do that anymore. Too many things that I am supposed to accept on faith don't add up.

Walker said...

At least you've given us something to work with. While these scholars may reject Matthew as a whole, that is not what YOU are doing. You have chosen a scripture that you do not like and decided that it is "bunk." That is a VERY different thing from rejecting the New Testament altogether.

Now if you wanted to argue that the gospels are ENTIRELY spurious, at least that would have some semblance of consistency. However, you say that some verses DO represent the real Jesus while others do not. Why would we accept Matthew in one case while rejecting him in another? Unless we have reason to rank his verses, we must either accept it is an accurate source or discard it because of the chronological difference.

To emphasize, if we are going to discard certain verses while accepting others from the same source, we need a valid reason for doing so, not just that we decided that a verse is bunk because it doesn't fit with our paradigm.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

You are just rambling without offering anything other than trying to discredit me, but that is your style.

When you can't offer any substance, you simply attack the opposition.

Very predictable.

Walker said...

Well, I don't want our exchanges to dominate the post (too much) :) Nor do I want to distract from the gracious sentiments of our Methodists friends more than I already have. Call it rambling if you wish--better a rambler than wrong.

Remember though, it was you who made the argument that Matt. 10:37 was not a legitimate rendition. As historical text critic Frederik Blass noted, in matters of textual criticism (in a reversal of traditional argumenation): the verse must be considered true first and then proven to be false.

Anyway, cheers to you all.

Bishop Rick said...

Walker,

That is weak. I'm trying to have a discussion about the validity portions of Matthew, and all you can say is I'm wrong because this guy said so.

Why not just say, "I disagree with you but I have nothing to substantiate that disagreement."

When you have legitimate answers, you don't shy from discussion.

Gourmandista said...

Rick,

Let me get this straight. You bash parts of Matthew, in part, because he may not have been a direct witness of Jesus, thus this verse is likely to be spurious. Mark (you say another non-witness, I guess depends on who you talk to) is likewise lumped in with Matthew (not to mention the scholarly dislike of the verses at the end of Mark.) I guess we throw out all of Paul's writings, as he was not a witness either.

Then when it comes to the witnesses of the BoM, it is "unclear" whether or not they have seen the plates with their eyes. So their very clear testimony is out.

Then scripture in the D&C is dismissed because it must have been "influenced" by the times in which it was written.

So where exactly is the faith that convinced you to join the Church, leaving your family out of the temple ceremony and moving away from them to Utah?

Gourmandista said...

And of course, as a followup, if many parts of the NT was "altered, edited, and omitted to suit the agenda of the group in charge," why are there still these contradictory verses? Was their agenda contradictory?

Seems to me that this is exactly what the Prophet said had happened, that the NT was taken away from its original meaning to please outside groups. Kind of like Acts 2:38.

May not make a whole lot of sense, on painkillers. Hehe.

Bishop Rick said...

Gourmandista,

You pretty much got it right on Matthew and Mark, but Paul wasn't writing about the life of Jesus, so him not being a witness is irrelevent in this discussion.

There are those, however, that feel that Christianity is really Paulianity, but that is another discussion.

I never said the testimony of the BOM witnesses was out. I just said they saw the plates with "spiritual eyes" as opposed to naked eyes.

When I stated that the D&C content could be considered influenced by the times, I was responding to a request by Walker (I believe) to take the position of someone looking to attack the church. I was not speaking as if that was my view.

That said, I was 16 years old when I joined the LDS church. Had scarcely read any of the scriptures, and was young and easily influenced.

In response to the contradictions in the NT, they are there because they were not caught when written. Simple as that. These alterations took place in 300s. Not alot of educated men back then.

And, you correct. Joseph Smith did say that many plain and simple truths were taken out of the bible, and that is exactly what happened. So you should not get so riled up at my comments about Matthew. I didn't say anything that wasn't true regarding the origins of his writing, and my view on the section of scripture in question is shared by many biblical scholars, so it is not just the ramblings of a mad man.

I must be absolutely horrible at writing my thoughts, because I am constantly misquoted and misrepresented on this blog.

Anonymous said...

You are also appreciated more than you know. :)

Walker said...

Ah, tis more a function of time than of willingness. Last time I stated my argument (must have been stated poorly) in-depth, but it was dismissed as "rambling." So no worries. Catch y'all on the flipside.

And I did have a sincere desire to burden the blog, something I have a penchant of doing :)

Gourmandista said...

Rick,

Just trying to figure out where you are coming from.

"I never said the testimony of the BOM witnesses was out. I just said they saw the plates with "spiritual eyes" as opposed to naked eyes."

Did they heft the plates and flip through the leaves with "spiritual hands?" To me, the testimony appears completely physical, with no spiritual indication whatsoever. Unless you read something into it.

"That said, I was 16 years old when I joined the LDS church. Had scarcely read any of the scriptures, and was young and easily influenced."

No offense, but I would think one would have carefully read and pondered the scriptures, gained a testimony thereof, and then joined. Kind of like the way the Church says.

"In response to the contradictions in the NT, they are there because they were not caught when written. Simple as that. These alterations took place in 300s. Not alot of educated men back then."

Oh, uneducated men like Clement of Alexandria? Irenaeus? Justin Martyr?

Well my point (badly made) was that many of the plain truths were taking out through other means, not wholesale changes being made. Quite easy to do. I have a study bible (NAS), which states that the Greek word translated as "for" in Acts 2:38 should be translated as "because of." Thus rendering the opposite meaning of the verse. The man (Charles Ryrie) has a Th.D. and a Ph.D. Any first year seminarian can tell you (as I was at the time) that the word is correctly translated as "for." Just like the translators of the KJV changing the Greek word "baptizo" to "baptize" since King James had not recieved the sacrament in the full meaning of the Greek.

So be careful with so called "educated" men. They have their agendas (Ryrie, as a Baptist, ironically does not believe Baptism is necessary for salvation.)

So my point is that simple translation/omission can be the culprit for most errors. For example, the Sabbath day appears to be on your list of changes. How simple would it have been to add a verse clearly stating the new day is Sunday. Not hard, even for the "uneducated." That it is not in there says to me at least that it was not some kind of wide scale plot.

And yes, you will find many people who do not believe that Matthew was written by the Apostle. Does not make it true of course. And yes, much was borrowed from Mark, and the source gospel, Q. Or so the theory goes. We know the dating of Paul's letters pretty accurately and he was in touch with many of the apostles. I do not fret for the teaching to be that far off. Of course, that is part of the reason we have the Book of Mormon.

But I am of the opinion that it is mostly omissions and translation errors not so much large scale rewrites and changes. As the Prophet said, "Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors." That statement says to me at least that it was somewhat accidental on one hand.

I appreciate your words here, I truly do. But I guarantee you if you truly study the works of this Church, your testimony will be strenghtened, not weakened.

Bishop Rick said...

Gourmandista,

I'm not going to re-hash the witness statement. I am satisfied with where we left it.

You think I should have read the scriptures, pondered them etc. before joining the church.

Today, that is exactly what I would do, but, as I said, I was a 16 year old adolescent. It was hard enough for me to quit smoking, drinking, and many other things I was doing at the time.

In addition, I was challenged to be baptised during the first discussion even before I recieved my first BOM. I turned down the challenge, but no one seemed to care then that I had not read the BOM or Bible.

Again, regarding the contradictions, it seems obvious to me that they are in there because they were not caught. I don't know why this is even up for discussion.

Regarding educated men, I suppose there were men that would be considered educated for the time period. What I should have said, was there was a lack of educational opportunities (by today's standards) at that time.

Well, if Matthew had to rely on Mark for the majority of his content, that alone is pretty strong evidence that he wasn't Matthew the apostle. Proof? No. But the evidence leans heavily in that direction.

I agree, that some of the ommissions, etc., were accidental, but we also know that books were voted in or out depending on whether they supported the theme that the counsel wanted the Bible to portray. That takes some of the accidentalness away.

Anonymous said...

I know my post is a few months late, but this whole discussion is painful to read. Since when in the church have doctrines been selectable? When has faith been unfounded or taught to be nothing more than blind belief? When has scholarship been the founding method for believing truth?

First off, Truth is learned by means of the Holy Ghost and we are promised that we can know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:3-5) including this whole discussion of Matthew and families. Scholarship is great for affirming such, but will never have the power sufficient enough to convict us of truth. Only through the Holy Ghost do we know such things (1 Cor 12:3).

Secondly, I would hope that know one in the church accepts things simply on blind belief as it seems is being understood to happen on this blog. Faith is not absent of proof, or in more contextually phrasing, assurances. It of course starts with belief that is typically spurred by spiritual promptings and is then followed with our acting on such and ultimately leads to doctrines themselves or witnesses directly from the Holy Ghost. Please, no more mistaking faith with belief or hope because it is so much more than that.

Lastly, I have to say that much of the wars we have over biblical debates, translations, authors and should almost be entirely irrelevant to a latter day saint's acceptance of gospel principles. We all know that every book that has passed through human hands has liability of error including the Book of Mormon, but does that change the fact that the doctrines present are not important for us to know and understand. We have at our disposal modern prophets and, as I mentioned before, the knowledge of personal revelation. So regardless of bible scholar this or that we know a few things. Joseph Smith when translating the inspired version of the bible did not change Matthew and prophets before and since him including Samuel & Micah (OT), Luke (Luke 14: 26), Brigham Young, John Taylor, Spencer W Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and even Gordon be Hinckley have used those exact verses in Matthew in more than one conference address. As to the exact text and translation, maybe it is in error, but as for the principle it is quite clear that the Lord wants us to love him first above all else or rather, to be even more clear, that we should seek his approval and instruction above all else, including the approval of family when it is in opposition to God. If choosing to follow the gospel results in your family breakup then I feel sorry for love in such family not abounding sufficiently to respect another's beliefs. As for those that followed the Lord I will praise them for having the courage to stand for what they believe.

As to the temple ceremony and not allowing family members to enter unworthily or of other faiths, I can sympathize with those situations and can only say that if it were to be any other way the Lord would so specify. In accordance with the temple being his house, He is allowed to permit those He chooses.

Rob Watson said...

Returning to the topic of parents worrying about their children joining the LDS Church... :)

My in-laws, who had a bad experience with evangelical organized religion (yes, my Methodist and other friends, it happens on your side of the fence too), were initially upset about not being able to attend our wedding. However, today my mother-in-law is one of the staunchest defenders of the Church whenever people speak out against it or have completely wrong ideas about what we believe. She's still not a member but she does recognize the positive effects that a temple marriage has over the civil marriages she has watched disintegrate around her in her own family.

When my wife first joined the Church at the age of 15, they told her that they didn't care for organized religion but didn't mind if she chose to join one as long as it didn't cause harm to other people and taught people to be decent, hardworking individuals. They now see that in us and even though we disagree on doctrines, we don't disagree that it has been the best thing for our family.

So, no it doesn't always mean that families are divided. The only families who divide themselves choose to do that on their own. No Church or organization does that for them.