Regardless of the actual subject matter of an article, especially on some of the bigger sites, many of the comment sections quickly devolve into arguments over controversial Church topics such as polygamy, perceived errors in the scriptures, or the pre-1978 Priesthood ban for men of African descent. These (and others) topics are not easy to address, and despite thoughtful opinions and well-meaning explanations from members, we don't fully know why these things occurred. Even for a sincere seeker of truth, these kind of issues may cause doubts, weaken testimonies, and lead members and investigators away from the Church.
Personally, I don't know the answers to these questions. For a long time, I wish that I did have the answers. I thought, "Why would the Lord allow these things to distract people from all that is good about the Church? Why didn't He plan ahead of time and tell the prophets to fix these problems before they occurred?" These issues never stopped me from finding comfort and peace in living the gospel, but I'd be lying if I said they didn't bug me or cause me to have doubts at times.
Wouldn't it be easier if these issues weren't there? Sure. Wouldn't it be great if we could all see an angel and handle the golden plates ourselves? Absolutely. Wouldn't it be nice if we could send an e-mail to the Lord requesting an answer to every doubt or confusion? You bet. BUT, despite this, I have learned that these issues don't matter nearly as much as we think they do.
To me, these gospel issues, and any others like them, can be resolved through a personal testimony of two simple things: (1) the reality of the divinity of Jesus Christ and (2) the validity of the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith.
Think about it--you can consider these two items in complete black and white. If they are true, then everything else pertaining to them is true. If you can gain a testimony that Jesus Christ really is who He said He was, you have no reason to doubt that He is ultimately in charge and knows all things. He is either the Son of God, like He said, or He is not. There is no middle ground. C.S. Lewis put it this way:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to" (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).
|Jesus the Christ by Del Parson|
Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, a prophet who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from Moroni's lips, and eventually received at his hands a set of ancient gold plates that he then translated by the gift and power of God, or else he did not. And if he did not, he would not be entitled to the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, nor would he be entitled to be considered a great teacher, a quintessential American religious leader, or the creator of great devotional literature. If he had lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he would certainly be none of these” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant).
|The First Vision by Gary Kapp|