Nearing Kolob

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LDS Prophets and Polygamy: Closely Related?

LDS Prophets and Polygamy: Closely Related?

I found an interesting comment about LDS Church Presidents and Polygamy on NewOrderMormons.org and wanted to repost it here with a few minor changes.

Polygamy has talked about quite a bit recently: Missionaries have reported many investigators asking about it (one missionary even wrote “Why is everyone obsessed with that here?”), we published a page with a number of resources regarding polygamy, and one Mormon blogger was threatened with church discipline for writing one blogpost about it.

One interesting thing to note is that the last Church President who had been a polygamist himself was Heber J. Grant (who died in 1945). Also, Joseph Fielding Smith, who died as recently as 1972, was raised in a polygamous household.

 

 NameBirthOrdinationDeathPolygamist?Notes
1Joseph Smith18051830/18321844Yes
2Brigham Young180118471877Yes
3John Taylor180818801887Yes
4Wilford Woodruff180718891898Yes
5Lorenzo Snow181418981901Yes
6Joseph F. Smith183819011918Yes
7Heber J. Grant185619181945Yes
8George Albert Smith187019451951NoRaised in a polygamous home
9David O. McKay187319511970NoCalled as an apostle in 1906 to fill the vacancy of 2 apostles who resigned in protest over the 2nd manifesto to abandon polygamy
10Joseph Fielding Smith187619701972NoRaised in a polygamous home (son of the 6th prophet)
11Harold B. Lee189919721973NoWrote a poem that praises polygamy in the afterlife (see below)
12Spencer W. Kimball189519731985NoUncle was John Woolley who was part in the group that broke from the church in 1890 over polygamy. Kimball's middle name is, in fact, "Woolley"
13Ezra Taft Benson189919851994NoHad a father that practiced polygamy
14Howard W. Hunter190719941995NoFather was not LDS, but his wife's maiden name was "Jeffs" and is quite closely related with modern fundamentalist leaders
15Gordon B. Hinckley191019952008NoFather had 4 wives (spiritual polygamist)
16Thomas S. Monson19272008NowNo

 

The comment ends with

Nelson, Oaks, and a couple other sitting apostles are widowers sealed to a second wife and are fully expecting to have both women sealed to them in the afterlife. They are theologically polygamist. We will need another century to weaken the connection to polygamy that current leadership still feels.

From here we read:

Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president of the church, also remarried after his wife’s death and was sealed to another woman and was looking forward to a polygamous relationship in heaven. He, in fact, wrote a poem in which he reflected that his second wife, Joan, would join his first wife, Fern, as his eternal wives:

My lovely Joan was sent to me: So Joan joins Fern
That three might be, more fitted for eternity.
“O Heavenly Father, my thanks to thee”

(Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac, p. 17)

Source: NewOrderMormon.org

Who Are Our Leaders? Continued Again.

Who Are Our Leaders? Continued Again.

Last year we published a fairly detailed post about the education of our General Authorities (hint: there are many MBAs and JDs).  After the October 2014 General Conference we published a post about the newly called General Authorities. Those five included two MBAs, two with Masters in Organizational Behavior, and one MD.

Well, we wanted to do an update for the five new General Authorities called last General Conference.

NEW GENERAL AUTHORITIES

The new General Authorities were:

  • Kim B. Clark (1st Quorum of the Seventy): age 66, born in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Economics
  • Allen D. Haynie  (1st Quorum of the Seventy): age 56, born in Logan, Utah, USA. B.S. in Political Science and Juris Doctorate
  • Von G. Keetch (1st Quorum of the Seventy): age 55, born in Provo, Utah, USA. B.S. in Political Science and Juris Doctorate
  • Hugo Montoya (1st Quorum of the Seventy): age 55, born in Fresno, California, USA. B.S. in Agricultural Engineering
  • Vern P. Stanfill (2nd Quorum of the Seventy): age 57, born in Townsend, Montana, USA. B.S. in Agricultural Economics

Things of note:

Journals: To Keep, or Not To Keep, That is the Question

Journals: To Keep, or Not To Keep, That is the Question

President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “From time immemorial the Lord has counseled us to be a record-keeping people”. This has been quoted many times by Church leaders followed with counsel that we should keep journals and records about important events in our lives such as baby blessings, baptisms, etc. As we will see below, though, many church leaders don’t keep journals. They, in fact, have been discouraged from keeping journals.

But first, let’s what one of the strongest advocated for journal keeping, President Kimball, has said about it:

  • “On a number of occasions I have encouraged the Saints to keep personal journals and family records. I renew that admonition. We may think there is little of interest or importance in what we personally say or do—but it is remarkable how many of our families, as we pass on down the line, are interested in all that we do and all that we say. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted.” (General Conference, Oct. 1979)
  • “We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals”, New Era, Dec. 1980)
  • “Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time and maybe the angels may quote from it for Eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings. Your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.” (Teachings of President Kimball, p. 351; Also, New Era, Oct. 1975)
  • “Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal.” (Family Home Evening Resource Book, Lesson Ideas, Journals, 199)

Note that some take that last quote as a commandment, by a prophet, to keep journals.

So, I was surprised to hear Hans Mattsson, in his Mormon Stories interview with John Dehlin, say that Church leaders were discouraged from keeping journals. Could this be true?

 

Hans Mattsson’s Mormon Stories Interview

In Part 2 of his Mormon Stories interview (at 42:30), Hans Mattsson and John Dehlin have the following exchange (added emphasis):

John Dehlin: This is just a random thing. I’ve been told that apostles lately have been told not to keep journals. Did they give you advice about journal keeping?

Hans Mattsson: Yeah.

John: What did they say? If you want to share.

Hans: I don’t want to [name] names.

John: No no no, I’m not asking you to share names!

Hans: But when we’re trained, they tell us that so many journals from the early times of the Church put the Church in a bad position. And the leaders tried to explain why they wrote the way they did, and it’s not doctrine, but still is in the journals. So, one of the highest leaders in the Church said: I threw all my journals away, and I will [would?] never write a journal.

John: Mmmm.

Hans: And then, I guess, you will follow him. Or you said, too bad, or whatever. But usually, you would like to follow him.

John: So you think most Seventy probably didn’t keep journals because of that kind of instruction, maybe?

Hans: If they follow that high positioned leader, they probably wouldn’t. But I don’t know. Maybe they do anyway.

John: OK. But you got the sense that journals were discouraged?

Hans: Yep.

John: OK. I’ve heard that from an apostle as well.

 

Some Leaders Don’t Keep Journals

Even though some consider journal keeping to be a commandment, the non-journal keeping habits of some members of the Quorum of the Twelve seem to corroborate Hans Mattsson’s comments about church leaders being instructed to not keep journals (or at least discouraged from keeping them). Below contains a compilation of evidence and anecdotes that many Church leaders actually don’t keep journals (contrary to President Kimball’s admonition). This instruction began in 1904, but was likely further emphasized by legal expert Dallin H. Oaks after subpoenas were issued and investigations convened in the wake of the Mark Hofmann bombings.

 

Gordon B. Hinckley

In a book called Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (pages 253-254) written by now Assistant Church Historian Richard E. Turley, Jr., a conversation between President Hinckley and prosecutors in the Mark Hofman case includes an interesting admission (or lie) from President Hinckley that he was “an erratic and inconsistent journal keeper.” A few additional paragraphs are included to give further context (emphasis mine):

In mid-March, however, church officials’s attention was quickly drawn back to the investigation. On March 17, Glenn Rowe received a subpoena. With the emphasis on maintaining distance between the church and investigators, the receipt of subpoenas had become a a fairly common occurrence for church officials. But this one was different. It did not order Rowe to provide books or documents. It ordered him to appear as a witness at the preliminary hearing. Rowe was not alone. The next morning, High Pinnock stopped by Dallin Oaks’s office and left a message with the secretary that he too had received one. “Then immediately after he came in,” the secretary wrote in a note to Oaks, “Bill Kirton called asking if you had received a subpoena. I told him no, but that Elder Pinnock had.” Gordon Hinckley had also received one.

Before the preliminary hearing, Hinckley received a visit from prosecutor Bob Stott and David Biggs. Church counsel Wilford Kirton also attended the meeting. Stott later said he and Biggs scheduled the appointment “because President Hinckley was going to be a witness and like every witness in the case, we interviewed him in advance. President Hinckley was no exception.”

Cordial was a term Biggs would later use to describe the first part of the interview with Hinckley. Biggs remembered that Hinckley was asked if they were members of the church. Biggs said he answered that he was a member, though not a particularly good one. Stott did not recall that question but remembered that Hinckley asked if he were related to another Stott the church leader knew. Stott felt Hinckley was trying to establish a rapport with them.

Biggs recalled that they told Hinckley why they were there, and then Kirton began to do most of the talking. Eventually, however, the prosecutors explained that they needed to talk to Hinckley so they could find out what his relationship had been with Hofmann. Hofmann had claimed a close relationship with the church leader, telling people that he had Hinckley’s private numbers and could get hold of him day or night, in the country or out. Prosecutors wanted to know when, where, and how many times Hinckley had met with Hofmann and with Christensen.

Hinckley said he had met about half a dozen times with Hofmann, but he could not recall information about those meetings beyond what he had told investigators earlier. His answers frustrated both Stott and Biggs. “President Hinckley was very little help, extremely little help,” Stott later said. “His memory of the occasions was very poor.”

The prosecutors then asked Hinckley if he had a journal that he could use to refresh his recollection and provide them with more details. Stott later recalled that Hinckley said he did not have a “Day-Timer,” diary, or journal. Biggs recalled that Hinckley said he did not keep his journal on a daily basis. Biggs said they then asked him if he could have his secretary go through the journal to see what it might contain. Biggs remembered that Hinckley either said it did not exist or would not have the information prosecutors wanted.

“When the inquiry concerning Mark Hofmann was in progress,” Hinckley later wrote, “I was interviewed by a number of investigators and I recall that one asked whether I kept a detailed journal. I responded that I was an erratic and inconsistent journal keeper and that my secretary reminds me quite frequently of blanks in that record; further, that I do not ordinarily make detailed records of visits or conversations. I do not keep a ‘Day-Timer.’

 

Boyd K. Packer

Boyd K. Packer’s page on MormonWiki.com states (with citation):

President Packer has not kept a formal journal. Much of his experiences and testimony have been documented in talks and sermons he has given over the years.

The statement above from MormonWiki.com is likely based on the follow excerpt from Turley’s book (page 254):

Biggs later said this response bothered him because the church had long advocated keeping journals. Biggs did not realize how differently various church leaders interpreted the admonition to keep journals. Some kept detailed daily records. Others made only occasional notations about significant events in their lives. Boyd Packer, then senior adviser to the Historical Department, considered the record of his life to be primarily his published talks, the books he had written, his family history records, and the minutes of meetings he had attended. He did not keep a daily record of his life. Some other general authorities also did not.

Anyway, certainly President “Swivel Hips” Packer doesn’t need a journal to remember him when his family living room and art have their own permanent exhibit at BYU’s Bean Museum?

Joseph F. Smith

From Chapter 8 of A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson, the following is an excerpt dated “Wednesday, 5 October 1904″:

Pres. Smith said that he wanted to refer to a matter that had given him much concern—namely, the private journals of the brethren of the council. Many things were written in them which, if they were to fall into the hands of the enemy, might bring trouble upon the church. After the death of the brethren, you cannot tell what may become of their journals, and even now the brethren felt an anxiety in relation to Pres. Geo. Q. Cannon’s journal, who made a pretty full account of everything that transpired in the councils of the brethren; the same with Abram Cannon and others. Elder Jno. H. Smith said that he was very much concerned about this matter and had been for a long time and felt ‘that some action should be taken in the premises. Pres. Winder said that it was very unsafe and risky for the brethren to write down that which occurred in these meetings. This duty belonged to the clerk of the council and nobody else. Pres. Winder moved that it be the sense and feeling of the council that the brethren should not write in their journals that which took place in the council meetings. Carried by unanimous vote. Meeting [p.778] adjourned. Benediction by Elder Jno. H. Smith.

Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie

From Turley’s book mentioned above (page 254) we read:

Bruce McConkie, in his influential Mormon Doctrine, had acknowledged the importance of record keeping but had declared that “there is no particular obligation to keep a daily journal or diary.” In doing so, he had relied on long-time church historian Joseph Fielding Smith, who, discoursing on the duty of church members to keep records, had reflected, “Is it necessary for each one of us individually to keep a daily journal? I would think not.”

 

Richard G. Scott

Even though journal keeping as an apostle has been discouraged since 1904, Richard G. Scott admitted to keeping a (not detailed) password-protected electronic journal during a speech given at BYU called To Learn and to Teach More Effectively:

Have you learned the enduring value of keeping a journal of the very important spiritual experiences or sacred impressions that the Lord has communicated to you? I do not keep a detailed journal of all the events each day, but I try to keep record of some very important matters. The spiritual ones are in a sacred password-protected journal that no one else can access. When I feel authorized by the Holy Ghost, I take some of the truths learned and put them in my family journal or share them in a public message. This is consistent with a principle that the scriptures confirm is true. Some personal matters are for our guidance and edification to help us grow and improve our character, our devotion, and our testimony. These things are not intended for other individuals. Much like a patriarchal blessing is tailored for the person to whom it is given, such matters should be kept reverently protected because of their inherent sacred nature. Any sacred matter that the Lord wants others to know, He can communicate to them directly through the Spirit if they are worthy and in tune.

 

So, Is It a Commandment?

Probably it isn’t, but, stealing from this comment from a post at New Order Mormon, it might be called a “mini-commandment”: a commandment for the average church member from which important leaders are exempt. It appears that General Authorities (especially the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, but also likely the first two Quorums of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric) are instructed not to keep journals while Area Authorities (the other of Quorums of the Seventy) are discouraged from keeping this “mini-commandment.”

It caused my mind to immediately ponder what other mormon mini-commandments the GA’s are encouraged to ignore?? Are they told not to have a years supply or plant a garden? Are they told not to have photo collages around the Proclamation hanging in their home? I need to know what else is off limits!?!

A New Rule (Not Really) For Who Can Get Baptized

A New Rule (Not Really) For Who Can Get Baptized

Last September we published a blogpost called New Mormon Converts Must Pay to be Baptized? which, at the time, became one of our most visited blogposts of all time. The blogpost cited a number of missionary blogs in which a seemingly new rule was being enforced in some areas by the South America Northwest Area Presidency. The “new rule” was, as one missionary put it, that converts “need to pay an offering of tithing before their baptism”. We also updated the original blogpost to link to a news story about Elders Neil L. Andersen and D. Todd Christofferson having visited the area just weeks before the missionaries started mentioning this new rule on their blogs.

Well, we recently became aware of, what we will call, a rule of thumb that Elder Andersen is saying needs to be met before one can be baptized into the Church. What is this new rule of thumb? They need to love The Book of Mormon.

In her blog, one missionary writes about this saying:

And where can we CONOCER more about the Savior? In the Book of Mormon. This other testament of Jesus Christ that testifies of His life, His Atonement, His visit to the American continent to minister to the very ancestors of the Guatemalans! Elder Andersen reminded us that we should not bautize even one single soul who does not LOVE this book.

And how can we help them to love this other testament of the Savior if we don´t already love it ourselves? The people have heard of the Bible. They have read it and SABER who Jesus Christ is from the Bible. But the Book of Mormon is the key to the conversion, because it is really only through the Book of Mormon that they will come to CONOCER the Savior.

It’s been a few years since I performed a baptismal interview, but to the best of my knowledge it doesn’t ask about The Book of Mormon at all.

Is it really important that new converts “love” The Book of Mormon?

Missionary Tip: Jesus is Your Example to Not Get “Trunky”

Missionary Tip: Jesus is You're Example to Not Get "Trunky"

Anyone who has served a mission (and many who haven’t) knows that many missionaries get “trunky” at the end of there mission–meaning they get relaxed and instead of focusing on the missionary tasks at hand they are dreaming and looking forward to getting home.  This often occurs in the last 3-4 months of a mission.

Well, an Area Authority Seventy in Ecuador recently gave some advice to a missionary the he should get trunky and just like Jesus didn’t get trunky at the end of his earthly ministry:

An Area Seventy taught me something really cool on Thursday. Me and two other missionaries are finishing the mission in the next 3 to 4 months and the seventy told us that Jesus Christ performed the Atonement at the end of His mortal ministry and that if he were to have relaxed or been “trunky” we wouldn´t have the atonement. Jesus is our perfect example of how we should work and at the end of the mission we should be doing the most important things that we can do and not get trunky.

This reminds me of the advice given by the wife of Elder Lawrence (a General Authority Seventy) that a missionary shouldn’t leave his area just like Jesus didn’t leave the area he was assigned to during his earthly ministry:

Now for the BEST part. On Friday we had our Zone Conference in Bloomfield, CT with Elder and Sister Lawrence. He is a Seventy. Sister Lawrence taught us about the Scattered tribes of Israel; the lost tribes and about the Blood of Israel as well. She talked about the Savior’s mission and pointed out how he followed the exact same things we do. For example, he never left his area to go preach to the Gentiles except on a few occasions, but he had to get permission from Heavenly Father, just like we need to get permission to leave our areas. A lot of very interesting and amazing things.

Remember, also, that Elder Clarke had a few tips for missionaries after the mission.

Update on President Monson’s Health

Update on President Monson's Health

Yesterday we published a blogpost about Elder Perry skipping a scheduled mission visit to take on more responsibility in preparation for the upcoming General Conference due to the reported “poor health” of Presidents Monson and Packer.

Yesterday, the Mormon Newsroom reported on President Obama’s visit to Utah and his time with four apostles: President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, Elder Perry, and Elder Christofferson. Notably both Presidents Monson and Packer were not there. On that, the Church released the following statement:

“President Monson remembers fondly his visit to the White House to present President Obama with his personal family history in 2009. Because of the need to preserve his strength for this weekend’s General Conference, it was felt that the logistics of meeting away from Church offices, with the walking and the waiting periods associated with a presidential visit, would regrettably not be conducive  to President Monson’s participation.”

Elder Perry Skips Mission Visit Due to Poor Health of Presidents Monson and Packer

Elder Perry Skips Mission Visit Due to Poor Health of Presidents Monson and Packer

Back on March 9th of this year, a sister missionary reported on her blog that Elder L. Tom Perry would be visiting the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission on March 21st. She said:

We found out that Elder Perry will be coming to speak to us on March 21st and we are all preparing by doing that 40 day fast I told you about.  I am very excited!

She first mentioned preparing for an apostle’s visit on February 16th, saying:

As a mission we have an apostle, a seventy, and another General Authority coming to our mission on March 21st and we have been preparing by doing a forty day fast!  We have been Feasting upon the words of Christ, reading the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel everyday, Acting in obedience, Sanctifying through the sacrament, Testifying with our feet, to prepare for it!  We are so excited!

All these missionaries must have been very hopeful and excited to hear from Elder Perry after all that spiritual preparation for his visit. The only problem was that Elder Perry’s visit to the mission got cancelled. One missionary wrote:

We were supposed to have Elder L. Tom Perry come but he was reassigned to a different area, but that is ok.

Why did he miss his visit?  Two other blogs reported it was due to the poor health of Presidents Monson and Packer which required Elder Perry to take on more responsibility for the upcoming General Conference (this weekend).

One blog reported:

I am so grateful for the counsel given at Mission Conference as well. It truly was inspired :) No Elder L. Tom Perry though :( I guess that he was needed elsewhere to prepare for General Conference, because Thomas S. Monson and Elder Packer’s health is not doing well, so he is next in command. It was okay though because Elder Christiansen from the Seventy said the words I think we all needed to hear.

Another reported:

We went back to the So. Stake center for a mission wide conference. Elder L Tom Perry was supposed to have been our speaker but at the last minute he was asked to do some extra things for general conference since President Monson and President Packer are in poor health.  Instead we got to listen to Craig C Christensen of the presidency of the Seventy,  Jack Ward, area Seventy and Daniel Johnson of the counsel of the Seventy.   We all stood when they came into the chapel and they lined up in front of the podium and all 230 of us got to walk past them and shake their hand.  President Christensen asked everyone where they were from.

With these reports of Presidents Monson’s and Packer’s poor health affecting the plans of other apostles, I am especially interested to see how they look and act during General Conference this weekend.

General Authority Admits the Church Is/Was Puzzled

General Authority Admits the Church Is/Was Puzzled

In May 2014, Peggy Fletcher Stack published an article in the Salt Lake Tribune titled Mormon conversions lag behind huge missionary growth. She begins her article with the following:

The stats are staggering.

In the year and a half since the LDS Church lowered the minimum age for full-time missionary service, the Utah-based faith has seen its proselytizing force swell from 58,500 to more than 83,000. That’s a 42 percent leap.

The number of convert baptisms last year grew to 282,945, up from 272,330 in 2012. That’s an increase of — less than 4 percent.

How can that be?

Well, in 2014, she was not the only one asking the question “How can that be?”

Below is a sampling of some blogs that wondered, more or less, the same thing:

The most surprising thing though is that a General Authority Seventy, Elder James J. Hamula of the First Quorum of the Seventy, admitted to a group of missionaries in the Florida Orlando Mission, in August 2014, that the church was also puzzled. One missionary recounts:

The special MLC was really neat because Elder Hamula pulled up a bunch of statistics of our mission and the surrounding southeast missions and pointed out that the effectiveness of our missionary work is double that of the surrounding missions. Elder Hamula opened up to us saying that the church worldwide is puzzling over a problem… although the numbers of missionaries has increased… the number of people baptized has stayed about the same as before… why is that?? He emphasized to us as a Missionary Council that we are to make sure that we “don’t leave anyone behind”. The work is continuing to move forward and that all missionaries have the power and authority given to them to create miracles but that we need to help them be more effective and make sure that they aren’t falling through the cracks with the work hastening and moving forward.

I found this to be a stunning admission and I am genuinely surprised that “the worldwide church” is/was puzzled of it.

Always

Always

Elder Robert W. Hymas visited Memphis Tennessee a few years ago and participated in a stake conference there. In a blogpost titled “Hypocrite”, one stake member there recounts a list of things Elder Hymas indicated “that we always need to remember to do”. This blogger comments, “My thoughts were that it was going to be the standard things like pray, read scriptures…but his responses really touched me.”

Here are the five (touching) things from Elder Hymas’ “always list” (quoted directly as the blogger wrote them except emphasis is mine):

1. Always pay your tithing.
2. Always make your sacrament meetings and partake of the sacrament. It is an ordinance that we can take part in every week and be renewed.
3. Always ask for direction for your packages from heaven. Each of our children are different, learn differently, and have different needs. Pray to know how to reach each of them,
4. Always accept callings. We do not ask for callings nor should we ask to released from callings.
5. Always treat your spouse as they deserve to be treated. And tell your spouse you love them everyday.
When our mind is set to do things, we only have to make the choice once and then there is no question.

Firstly, I don’t know that the order is by importance, but I find it interesting that tithing is the first item listed.

Secondly, #4. This talk was given a few years ago, but since then there have been a number of “faithful” and “believing” blogs that have written about how and when to turn down a calling. I wonder if “always accept callings” is still on his “always list”.

However, you may just want to accept that calling anyway–Donny Osmond doesn’t think you’re a good team (church) member if you don’t accept callings extended to you:

One eternal blessing is that of free agency, however, when we enter into the covenant of baptism and especially covenants in the temple, we in essence commit to become a part of the Lord’s team. If one is on a team and the coach asks him or her to go into the game and they refused, what would you think of that team member? I personally am inclined to accept any calling that would come to me if at all possible and I believe this would be appropriate for any member of our Church. Of course, if I was asked to do something that would greatly conflict with my livelihood, then I am sure it would be appropriate to discuss this conflict with the leaders who are making the calling.

“If I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard!”

"I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard!"

There has been a phrase that has become surprisingly common on missionary blogs. It is usually some variation of “I want to punch [Satan] in the face so hard”. The source seems to be a talk by President Uchtdorf given in the MTC.  Multiple missionaries quote President Uchtdorf saying, “If you want to punch Satan in the face, then preach the Gospel.”

Here are some examples of missionaries talking about punching Satan in the face (all emphases mine):

  • “Our investigator Chanette Scott, solid as can be and ready to come to church, sent us one of the most heart breaking texts I have ever received in my life. No words can describe the feeling best except for heartbreaking, torn apart, let down, and devastating. I just want to make this clear to anyone who is reading this. If you want to know what “Mormons” believe, go to lds.org, Mormon.org, or visit with the Missionaries. Don’t youtube it or go and ask your pastor. The world and especially the internet is so full of lies and deceiving truths, that ANYONE can be mislead. I honestly have never been so down before on my mission. She was doing so great. She believed the Book of Mormon was true, she wanted to be baptized, we were an answer to her prayers. I seriously hate Satan. I hate how he works. I want to punch him in the face so hard. Like I know we aren’t supposed to hate anybody, but we can hate Satan, because all he wants to do is drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless wo. He has no place in his heart for us except to pull us and our thoughts away from our Heavenly father, WHO ACTUALLY DOES LOVE US.” (Link)
  • “I couldn’t really believe Mauro’s answer… I don’t get how BLIND people can be at times to the things of God…. Ugh…… my patience is really tried when people don’t open their eyes. It’s so hard to see people being lead by the hand of Satan… It breaks my heart and makes Elder Purser want to punch Satan in the face when the sons and daughters of God are so easily mislead….” (Link)
  • “We have been focusing on finding lately, since our teaching pool is really small.  We also have been working on working with the branch better by doing FHEs, service, getting referrals, taking members to lessons with us, etc…it has been going pretty well. I’m a bit discouraged this week, but I’m not giving up.  We will try even harder this coming week and we will punch Satan right in the teeth by converting millions of people in Jamaica!” (Link)
  • “I love being a missionary so much – no matter how hard it gets. Since it is the holidays we don’t have to drag members along as much. They are getting more into the missionary spirit. We got in another car crash this week – while going with a member to get stuff from our crashed car. We were rear ended by a semi-truck. Luckily it was going pretty slow, in traffic, so we were only hit going around 3 miles an hour. The adversary may be trying to stop our work, but we kept fighting back. I punched Satan in the face after the crash, by giving the people in the accident Books Of Mormon – and they were really excited.” (Link)
  • “Something that has been keeping me going this week is a quote that Pres Uchtdorf said to us at an easter devotional while I was at the MTC, His whole talk was about the Savior, and about the resurrection. He gave some really good advice to us all. He said, “If you want to punch Satan in the face, then preach the Gospel.”  haha really funny advice, but so true too. I know that each day as we go out the preach the Gospel, we are punching Satan in the face. I really have come to know, this cycle more than any prior, that every effort we give as missionaries is accepted by our Savior, and that as we do the things we have been taught to do, we are 1)making the Lord proud, and 2)punching Satan in the face. Jokes on him though because he doesn’t even have a face. sucks to be Satan, am I right?” (Link)
  • “He went from vibrant and happy, to frustrated and confused. We were so sad. We went a few days feeling numb and not knowing what to do to get out of it. All we wanted to do was cry, but were too shocked and confused to be able to. We had literally watched him feel the spirit, change and experience true happiness. But it was as if he had developed a few doubts and questions in his mind, and the adversary was able to use those to destroy all faith he had ever developed. He is to the point now where he doesn’t even know if God exists. It’s tragic. If I could I would punch Satan in the face so hard! I really hope that his journey in life brings him back to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ one day. I sure have grown to love him. All I want is for him to be happy.” (Link)
  • “Wow. This was an experience I will never forget. Before he spoke we had the privilege of taking the sacrament with President Uchtdorf and the entire MTC. You can imagine the spirit that was there. Wow. Then he talked about the resurrection of the Savior and the story of Peter and how fearless he was after he saw the Savior living again. His whole message was about being fearless. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, “I fear no man”. He also talked about being bold. If we are loving, we can NEVER be too bold! I love that! One of my favorite things he said was “If you want to punch Satan in the face… preach the gospel.” Haha, President Uchtdorf is so awesome!” (Link)
  • On missionary even titled a blogpost as “Punch Satan in the FACE!!”

My favorite may be the first quote above “Like I know we aren’t supposed to hate anybody, but we can hate Satan…”

Punching Satan certainly reminds me of Elder Packer endorsing (“not recommending…, but…not omitting”)  the act of hitting (“flooring”) a gay mission companion in his talk General Conference Priesthood Session talk “To Young Men Only” (October 2, 1976) (also here):

Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.

Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.

It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.

There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.

“But I floored him,” he said.

After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way”

I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

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