Once again, a Mormon commenter has got me thinking. Our friend ditchu posted this about about missionary safety:
But did they take respon[s]ibility for their own saf[e]ty? If they did then they would have taken upon themselves any blame in the results. If they did not, then they gave up their choice over to the church.
Allowing for ditchu’s never having served a mission and therefore not knowing what is asked of the church’s missionaries, I wanted to focus on the idea of giving our choices “over to the church.”
If you have spent any time at all in the LDS church, you know that the ultimate goal is to surrender one’s will to that of God. “Be ye therefore perfect,” we are taught, and, like Jesus, we are to ask God, “Not my will be done, but thine.”
Apostle Neal Maxwell explained:
The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!
Thus, victory is achieved in obedience and denial of one’s own desires and intellect.
As a practical matter, this kind of surrender manifests itself in obedience to authority in the church. And we are told that such obedience should be unquestioning.
Obedience is a fundamental law of the gospel. It is not only the demonstration of our faith but also the foundation of our faith. But the philosophical standard of the world holds that unquestioning obedience equals blind obedience, and blind obedience is mindless obedience. This is simply not true. Unquestioning obedience to the Lord indicates that a person has developed faith and trust in Him to the point where he or she considers all inspired instruction—whether it be recorded scripture, the words of modern prophets, or direct inspiration through the Holy Ghost—to be worthy of obedience (Elder Robert C. Oaks, “Believe All Things,” Ensign, July 2005).
President Ezra Taft Benson told us that we should always obey the counsel of the president of the church, even if it’s wrong: “Always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.”
In essence, then, the ideal in the church is to give our choice over to the church. To do as ditchu suggests would be to contradict the Lord and his prophets.