Monday, November 21, 2011

[Citation Needed]

Have you ever been reading Wikipedia and after it asserts something you'll notice a link that says [citation needed]? It has turned into one of those memes of popular culture that you can bring out anytime you are unsure of someones facts and challenge them to prove the source.

This related nicely to my Sunday School lesson yesterday. The last part of the lesson is about false teachers from within the church. The scriptures in the lesson talks about people who seem pretty malicious in their intent to deceive. I also think that we should be wary of those who might not be maliciously misleading, but unwittingly doing the same thing.

We have quite a few things in the church that are practiced but aren't actual doctrines. Some are harmful, and some are harmless. Like raising your right hand to the square to sustain. There's no doctrine that you need to raise your hand to the square. A quick look at the conference edition of the Ensign shows the apostles in all different states of arm extension (I'm counting this as my citation as well as citing my D&C teacher John Farmer or was it Farmer John...). Though really this is harmless if you ask me.

Something that was a bit more harmful was a cultural practice that only men should pray at the beginning of sacrament meeting. In fact when I was on my mission and became Branch President in a little branch my departing companion and former Branch President told me that he'd been told it was better to have a priesthood holder say the opening prayer and that the meeting just runs better if you do it that way. I think I followed his counsel for about a week and then I didn't. Apparently it was a misinterpreted comment that Ezra Taft Benson made a few weeks before he died. It started to go around with the pass of "doctrine" stamped on it. Turns out it has no doctrinal basis.

Now that I think about it the talks generally follow a wife first then husband. I don't know if Bishoprics ask the man to go last or if that's just how the couples self select their order. Next time I'm asked to speak with Laurel I'm going to have her go last. :)

So my point in the class was that there are somethings that end up in the church that aren't doctrinal and sometimes we need to say "Citation Needed!" It's also up to us to seek out doctrinal bases. I guess that's why we are supposed to continually search the scriptures.

And yes I already anticipate at least one comment saying "Citation Needed" on something I said.