136: Turning Obedience Upside Down

Elder Bruce R. McConkie once proclaimed, “Obedience is the first law of heaven,” which is an interesting statement when compared with Jesus’s declaration that the first of all laws is love. Has the modern Church followed Elder McConkie’s path, overemphasizing obedience over love? More recently, President Russell M. Nelson has proclaimed that “Obedience brings blessings, and exact obedience brings miracles.” 

All of this is interesting, for when we examine that actual scriptural meaning of “obedience” we find that it means nearly the opposite from claims such as these. Can we come to understand “obedience” more like we do mindfulness and love? 

Listen in on this conversation between two Faith Journey Foundation chairs: Mark Crego and Dan Wotherspoon. You’ll be glad you did!

1 thought on “136: Turning Obedience Upside Down”

  1. So glad you guys had this conversation and continue to address the study of this word, “Obedience”. I wish I could have been part of the Latter day lunch conversation about this topic.

    Our use, or seemingly overuse of the word obedience consistently triggers anxiety in me, obedience, if used and understood primarily as compliance is entirely fear based, unsure that the vasal is yet capable of handling their own agency. Obedience, in our early childhood years serves a purpose, as we have not yet acquired enough experience to make choices independently. As children, we are still borrowing wisdom from others and growing to a point where we can apply that wisdom as we navigate our impending independence. Compliant obedience provides safety and security, but if it does not evolve, will be at the expense of any durable development.

    Every time we preach obedience as a stand-alone virtue, we undermine the principle itself. If obedience is just about following orders, complying with the powers that be, then it becomes entirely disconnected from what it’s intended to achieve.

    H.L. Mencken said; “Morality is doing what’s right regardless of what you are told. Obedience is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.”

    I think the strangest thing about our over emphasis of obedience is that it completely undermines our unique theology. We somewhat pioneered that idea of the “Fortunate fall”, we hold fast to this life being a huge part of developing our divine capacity, and yet, what it comes right down to it, we trade growth for safety. We don’t express trust in our people, we just continue to club people over the head with “Obey or else”, or insist that goodness, blessings and miracles or the result of my compliance.

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