One of the glorious evidences of the restoration of truth from heaven in these latter days is the presence in Christ's church of true and living apostles and prophets. It is a privilege and a protection for us, as Latter-day Saints, to hear and follow their counsel.
How prophetic are these words from a talk given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in 1978 (see Ensign, February 1979, “A More Determined Discipleship”).
“Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency....President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.'
”This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.
“Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened....Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel....Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat.”
Just as Elder Maxwell prophesied, the day has come when some members of the Church feel that the counsel of the First Presidency and the Twelve is politically incorrect, does not coincide with commonly accepted values or beliefs, or does not appeal to their own beliefs or inclinations. They say in their own hearts, “I don't agree with this;” or “The Brethren do not understand the situation;” or “I believe our leaders are inspired, but not on this point.” These are dangerous statements that put our spiritual safety and that of our posterity in jeopardy.
Please understand, dear brothers and sisters, that safety lies in following the counsel of our living Apostles and Prophets. They do not profess to be perfect individually, but when they speak unitedly as the First Presidency and as the Quorum of the Twelve, their counsel constitutes the word of the Lord who said,
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).“
If we do not immediately agree with the statements of our leaders, may we have the faith and courage to say, ”I do not understand this position of the Brethren, but my family and I will support it because we believe in following the Lord's Apostles and Prophets.“ Just as the Primary hymn says, ”In this there is safety and peace.“