24 July 2011

And That's Why Personal Revelation Is So Personal

Margaret Young has a fascinating series going on right now at By Common Consent (parts I, II, and III) about the past LDS Church restriction on Black LDS receiving the priesthood and temple blessings.  The series is worth reading for any reason, but I was particularly struck by the two very different opinions of two Black Mormons about that restriction described in the first part. To be brief, both base their beliefs on personal revelation and both believe strongly in his individual revelation.  But one believes that the restriction was God's will and the other believes it was not.

This isn't the first time I've come across conflicting personal revelation.  A more personal area for me where I've seen these conflicting ideas is regarding miscarriage.  I know many women who feel intensely certain that babies they have lost through miscarriage are part of their family.  They remember and think about those babies and feel a great sense of loss.  They believe that a child or children they have lost will be part of their eternal families and feel that this has been confirmed through personal revelation.  I do not doubt their revelation and I know it is very comforting to them.

But I feel quite intensely the opposite.  In fact, it is distinctly not comforting to me to think of so many spirits having their complete experience on earth the little bundles of cells that are usually miscarried.  I don't think there are four additional children in our family that I've never met.  I much prefer to think that if there were spirits that were going to come to those bodies, they'll have a chance to go to other bodies, maybe bodies in other families.  I have prayed about this.

So am I right, or are these other women right?  Did God want the priesthood revelation, or didn't He?  There are lots of other examples- vaccinations, different opinions on gay marriage, so many things.  Can we all be right?  And if we can be, how do we get any closer to the truth?

It seems quite often to me that we get an answer that comforts us. We're all so different from each other that there can't be only one right answer for everything.  But some things, things that seem more like doctrine, feel like they ought to have one right answer.  But I'm not so sure that they always do.  And that's why personal revelation is so personal.

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