That talk ― the Beetlejuice my generation was weaned on ― was delivered by then-President of the Twelve Apostles, Ezra Taft Benson, to BYU students in February 1980.
The talk is a veritable recipe book for cooking up latter-day idolatry.
Step 1: Heat oven to "Hot Enough to Burn Stubble"
Step 2: [This is the most important step] In place of a Golden Calf, insert 'Living Prophet.'
Step 3: You will know the idolatry is done when you reject the higher law for the lesser.
I cannot help but thinking, as I reflect on President Benson's words and the way they are stridently shouted from the rooftops of our cultural halls and universities today with all the fervor of those who danced with Aaron beneath the golden hooves:
Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.
Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
(Jeremiah 20:14, 18)
I am ashamed; I am sorry to live to see the day when the Lord's people are fed husks and count their bellies full; to see a time when vanity is called faith; when the children of Zion put off the yoke of Christ for vainglory.
In fact, the talk distressed Church President Spencer W. Kimball so much that he had Elder Benson apologize to the General Authorities.
President Kimball feared (rightly so) that this type of message might lead members to "an unthinking 'follow the leader' mentality." (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Signature Books: Salt Lake City, UT, 1997, 111).
Even though Elder Benson retracted his words privately, since there was no public reckoning the message survived (and was even reprinted the following year in the Ensign).
In the ultimate irony, the man who told us to follow the living prophet . . . didn't. He continued to espouse what he thought best despite President Kimball's admonition.
Now the "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" has become an LDS Classic.
That's right: a talk which was deemed heresy 40 years ago has now become the entrenched orthodoxy.
Several years ago as I sat in Church, listening to the typical comments and prophet-worship, enduring another lecture on Home Teaching, the thought whispered in my mind:
"Isn't it interesting how our sacred cows invariably end up as golden calves?"
BETTER: Discontinue Tithing Settlement (Declaration) and remove payment of tithing as a requirement to enter the Temple, since holding the ordinances of the Lord's House hostage to those that pay you money is precisely what Ezekiel called "extortion." (Before we criticize Eli's sons, we better take a good, hard look in the mirror.)
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them [unless they are the child of a gay parent until they are 18 years old and only after they disavow their parent's lifestyle and promise to pay you 10% of their money] in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
(Matt. 28:19, Revised November 2015 Ed.)
The fact the policy was leaked to the news speaks volumes (that's right; we learned about the policy only because someone sent a copy to Mormon Stories, who posted it on Facebook and it was picked up by the news; so you know something stinks when you first hear about it from the anchorman).
Again, I don't understand all the cloak-and-dagger at Church Headquarters; why are they always climbing over fences in the dead of night instead of using the gate? Is it because Jesus stands at the Gate and they are ashamed (John 10:1)?
I remember watching TV with my wife as we learned about the policy on the 9:00 o'clock news. We both looked at each other and knew, instinctively, based on the light of Christ, that this policy was not of God.
After all, wasn't Jesus the one who taught:
Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not [unless they happen to be the unlucky child of a parent who has made decisions over which the child had no say, but let the child answer for the sins of their parents if said sins be gay].
(Luke 18:16, Revised November 2015 Ed.)
While the news made me and my wife speechless, I thought of our loving Savior who appeared to his Nephite disciples:
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized [except those of you who live in homes of great friction caused by the sexuality of your parents, and so as an act of love, do not be baptized; you won't need the gift of the holy ghost in your teenage years; after all, I will send you the comfort of great youth leaders; and do not scoff at having to wear the Scarlet Letters 'GA' ― not as my General Authorites wear it, but for your 'Gay Adult' parent].
(3 Nephi 27:20, Revised November 2015 Ed.)
And finally, who can forget when the Church voted to canonize this dramatic change to D&C 68, in which the Lord enjoins his people:
And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to...be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old [except and excluding those of gay parentage, for whom this revelation is null and of none effect; so you may forget about the '8 years old' part, for, I say unto you, the only children that reach the age of accountability who need saving are those of heterosexual marriages].
(D&C 68:25, 27, Revised November 2015 Ed.)
When this misguided policy was rescinded (sort of) in 2019, I heard many friends and family comment that they were relieved because "they never understood the policy in the first place."
But where were they during the 3.5 years this policy mocked God?