This is a tough post for me to write because I still don't know how I feel about this. Perhaps because the election has already passed, it is no longer relevant what I think. I am, of course, talking about voting on Proposition 102 in Arizona.
I consider myself a pretty reasonable person and always try to understand both sides of an issue, even if I initially don't agree with one side. I also consider myself a pretty orthodox member of the church and think it is inappropriate to criticize our leaders (we covenant not to, right?). With that in mind, I really struggled with this one. Being active on the internet, it was impossible to not notice the church's involvement on California's Prop 8. The church went so far as to provide reasons for why it supported the respective propositions for CA and AZ. For the sake of this post and to prevent arguments over the merits, just assume that I thought that the arguments were weak.
Last Sunday, during a state-wide Stake Conference, President Packer reiterated points of his classic talk called "Follow the Brethren". He briefly mentioned the election and essentially said (paraphrasing) that if we are to follow the Brethren now, we should vote yes on Prop 102. It was rather vague and much of the talk seemed to be more about the fight in CA and less about AZ.
This post is not intended to argue the merits for or against Prop 102 (or 8 for CA readers). Instead, I ask what does one do if they do not agree with the reasoning behind the support? The church of course counsels us to vote our conscience. What if our conscience goes against President Packer's admonition? Does following my conscience mean that I do not follow the Brethren? Do not the Brethren tell us to follow our conscience? Understand, I am deeply conflicted over this and am not intending this to be critical of the Brethren.
I believe that there is safety in following the Brethren. But then I wonder if someone that was critical of the pre-1978 priesthood situation would have felt as if they didn't follow the Brethren at that time. Was that person not ultimately correct post-1978? Putting aside criticism of the Brethren (that would be inappropriate in any situation), should that person have seen himself as unsupportive of the Brethren because of that view?
Jeremy and I were going through some of these ideas earlier today over IM and so I think it helps me to put my thoughts down and solicit feedback. Again, this is not intended to argue the merits of each side. I only ask what one does when they feel that this conflicts with their conscience? I admire those who in the past were able to overcome their conscience and feelings about plural marriage and put their trust in the prophet. I wish I had that kind of faith.
(For what it's worth, when I had to decide, I came to the conclusion that I sustain the Brethren as prophets (even if I disagree) and as such, recognize that sometimes I have to sacrifice my own reasoning because they know more than me. Perhaps this was difficult for me and not for others for this particular issue. In the future, something else could be easier for me and unconscionable for someone else.)