Some time ago I was invited to speak at a Stake Conference at which I was presiding, and decided to address a most pressing topic that has been plaguing our dearest Latter-day Saints—even God’s chosen people. For the benefit of all, here is a copy of my remarks:
My dearest brothers and sisters,
How grateful, humble, and meek I feel to address this immeasurable throng assembled here today. Not a single seat is empty within this vast stake center. The house is full, as are our hearts on this glorious and blessed day.
I should like to address a topic of utmost importance. It is a terrible misinterpretation which has been plaguing our people for some time and causing many saints to stumble. This problem involves a grave misunderstanding of our doctrine, one that originates from the adversary himself to lead the children of men astray from the paths of righteousness. I first became aware of this problem some time ago whilst attending a ward Sunday School lesson. A well-intentioned but sadly misinformed teacher stood at the front of the room and blatantly taught a false and misleading doctrine. She said, in effect, that “love is the first law of heaven.” She even attempted to justify this false teaching by quoting from the words of Jesus:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law…” (Matthew 22:37-40)
I was shocked and immediately stood to correct the teacher. (Being the presiding authority, it was my duty to correct false doctrine.) I kindly declared:
“Dearest sister, lest a false doctrine be sown into the hearts of these innocent ward members and grow and fester into a flawed belief, I feel I must correct you. You must not take offense, for the Book of Mormon clearly teaches us that only the wicked take the truth to be hard (1 Nephi 16:2-3). You have stated that love is the first law of heaven, but this is not so. We know from modern-day revelation that obedience is actually the first law of heaven.”
I then turned to the most recent copy of the Conference edition of the Ensign, which I always keep close at hand as a beacon of light to guide my actions, and read aloud from our beloved prophet’s talk entitled “Obedience Brings Blessings”:
“Obedience is the first law of heaven.” (see https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/obedience-brings-blessings)
The sister asked how this could be so, especially in light of the scripture that she had quoted (which purported to contain the words of Jesus). I answered her question with a few questions in return:
“Dearest sister, do you not believe that it is more important to follow a living prophet than a dead one? What is the purpose of continuing revelation if not to give us greater light and wisdom for our time? A true and living prophet who walks the earth today has taught in General Conference that obedience is the first law of heaven. Let us not be deceived. According to our Articles of Faith, we can only believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly. Many errors have been introduced into the Bible by conspiring men. This is why we must follow the living prophet in order to know the truth. Do you think that God would contradict Himself? Of course not.”
For emphasis, I explained to the class members that the correlated doctrine in our lesson manual further validates this truth. I turned to my copy of the official Gospel Doctrines manual and read aloud this confirming statement made therein: “Obedience is the first law of heaven.” (see https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/chapter-17-obedience-a-law-of-heaven)
I then closed by teaching the class members this crucial lesson: “My dearest members, we know that temple ordinances are indispensable for eternal life. Are there any questions in the recommend interview that mention the word love? If love were the first law of heaven, wouldn’t the Lord make this our focus? Instead we are asked if we are obedient to all the rules, laws, and commandments, and to obey all the authorities of the Church. Do we covenant in the temple to love? No, we covenant to obey. And in His Holy House, the Lord undoubtedly has His priorities straight. God requires obedience to all of His divinely-called General Authorities in order for us to obtain recommends and receive the sacred tokens that enable us to receive life eternal. And the Lord has reiterated the vital principle of obedience during Conference through our latter-day prophets as the first law of heaven. Therefore we know with a surety that obedience truly is the first law of heaven.”
After explaining this to the class, I went home from church feeling quite gratified that I was able to correct this false and dangerous doctrine for the members of that Sunday School class. And now I devotedly share this vital lesson with you. Truly, obedience is the first law of heaven. Let us not succumb to the cunning snares of the adversary, who would have us believe that love is the first and greatest law. No, this cannot be. Modern-day revelation assures us that obedience takes precedence. Is it wrong, then, to love? It certainly can be. While we should claim love for all people, we cannot allow our love to overrule our obedience, lest we succumb to the societal trend of “tolerance” and begin promoting sin in all its pernicious forms. And surely one of the gravest of these sins is to place the principle of love above absolute obedience to the the Lord’s chosen mouthpieces upon the earth.
I close by quoting from the inspired words of Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, who further confirmed the supremacy of obedience: “Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. It consists in compliance with divine law, in conformity to the mind and will of Deity, in complete subjection to God and his commands” (Mormon Doctrine, 539). May we ever be compliant, conforming, and in a state of absolute and complete subjection to the laws of our inspired prophets, seers, and revelators. May we ever keep uppermost in our minds our temple covenants and the inspired temple recommend interview questions that permit us to enter therein. May we ever be obedient to “all the rules, laws, and commandments,” including sustaining all the General Authorities, shunning “any individual whose practices are contrary to those accepted by the Church,” paying a full tithe, abstaining from the evils of harmful substances including coffee and tea, and being “worthy in every way,” that we might one day merit the great blessings of eternal life in the great mansions above reserved only for the faithful and obedient, I pray humbly, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.
30 thoughts on “Obedience: The First Law of Heaven”
Obedience coming from the prophet. I remember sitting in sacrament thinking: What if this church isn’t what it says it is? But we are told to have faith and to obey? By who? The prophets, who are human. Can humans have their own agenda? Yes. Should I question? No. Have faith.
Always contradictory and confusing things:
We are conditioned to do what we are told, from a very young age: “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet . . .” Why does the story of Abraham and Isaac give me a bad feeling? If I question the church, what do I have to lose? So much. Family, sense of identity, everything, might as well believe and obey. What if this is all a fraud? My children would be stuck with the fraud. It would just keep going and going through generations. What am I thinking? “Follow the Prophet,” “Sustain your leaders,” “Doubt your doubts,” “Ignore the man behind the curtain.”
What about Nephi chopping off Laban’s head? What about the suicide bombers?
If I question, I am showing God I don’t love him.
Pray. Pay. Obey.
Thoughts during temple recommend interview:
Tithing (payment) is required to get into the temple. Hmmm . . . that’s kind of a red flag, isn’t it? Just go with it. Don’t question.
Thank you for your comments on this “blog.” Let us observe all the commandments that proceed forth from the mouth of God with absolute obedience, that we may receive the blessings promised only to the faithful.
Yes, I’ve felt this same way for a long time. Love is highly overrated, people. It’s about obedience and kissing the ring. Love gets you into the waters of baptism, but only obedience gets you out. Your free agency ends after baptism. It’s about unquestioning obedience from then on. Even if your church leaders tell you to do something that you know is absolutely wrong and goes against everything Jesus would have you do and taught, you get a free pass because your were obedient. Being obedient is more import than doing what is right. Next time you’re driving to church on Sunday, you’d better be there on time. Even if it means letting your widow neighbor shovel her own driveway. You’ve got priorities.
It is only through our absolute obedience to divine authority that we may be sanctified and thus produce the faith necessary unto our eternal salvation in the kingdom of heaven.
Thank you for your righteousness, especially in your prompt church attendance and obedience to the Lord’s chosen leaders. May the blessings of heaven ever be yours.
We need look no further for an example of obedience than our dear prophet Joseph Smith. When the lord needed Joseph to couple with teenagers and other mens wives, he knew it would be so difficult that he sent an angel with a flaming sword to deliver the commandment. Now, whenever I watch women’s beach volleyball on television, I feel the same promptings of the spirit that Joseph must have felt, and my testimony is strengthened knowing the Lord is with me.
Thank you for your example of testimony and obedience. May the Lord bless you, in whatever place you may be in, and at all times and in all things, that you may rise forth in the first resurrection clothed with power and eternal life.
Elder Delaney, I am a Sunday School teacher and am very timid, it’s difficult for me to get up and teach each week. I have never had a General Authority in my class, but I have been humiliated in class by other church leaders. Are you sure this is the right way to correct false doctrine?
We must never fear the truth. Fear is a great tool of the adversary, who seeks to make all people miserable like unto himself. I assure you that your church leaders are not humiliating you so much as boldly declaring the truth of the Restored Gospel for all who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Your Sunday School class should not be subjected to false doctrines because of the fears of the flesh. As you become meek, humble, submissive, and obedient, you will be able to withstand the buffetings of the evil one and overcome your fears, that you may become completely compliant to God’s will as taught through his authorized representatives upon the earth.
Uh. Well, the Lord (God, Jehovah, the Almighty, the Everlasting Father, Jesus, Alpha and Omega, etc.) said to LOVE the Lord they God with all your might, mind and strength. And then to LOVE your neighbor as thyself.
Thank you for your “blog” comment. I perceive from your emphasis and focus on love that you are likely not a member of the Lord’s true and living Church upon the earth—even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Would you please send me your home address in a private message? It would be a great privilege and honour for me to send our faithful young missionaries to your home in order to share the further light and knowledge of the Restored Gospel with you and your precious family members.
Dearest General Authority,
Your words are manna for the hungry soul. I felt so much comfort and hope as I read your talk. I now pledge to obey all the laws of the Gospel, and never to allow any sort of love to “overrule” my obedience and submission to all the General Authorities of the church!
It is vital that we ever keep uppermost in our minds the supreme principle of obedience to the Lord’s annointed in all things.
May you be blessed even as “the dews of heaven” distill upon your soul.
So, let me get this straight….lest I become lost and confused. “Dearest sister, do you not believe that it is more important to follow a living prophet than a dead one?” Apparently you are suggesting that we should follow the living prophet (at the present Thomas S. Monson), as opposed to a dead one (Jesus). Our Lord, and let me emphasize LORD, and Savior, Jesus Christ teaches: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law…” (Matthew 22:37-40) So…is the current prophet suddenly elevated to the status of a Lord and savior and so his words trump this holy person who died upon the cross for us? Or has the savior Jesus Christ been downgraded to be insignificant, because that is what I get from your talk. Please enlighten me if I am mistaken oh wise one.
We place ourselves in a very dangerous position spiritually if we begin to question the Lord’s true prophets. If you are not careful and continue to insist that love is the first law of heaven, this cunning trap of the evil one will carefully lead you down the slippery slopes of sin, and possibly even apostasy from the truth. Our true and living prophet has declared: “Obedience is the first law of heaven.” Are we to question his inspired words? We cannot. In addition, these words are also found in our official Gospel Doctrines manual and have been stated by many other inspired prophets, seers, and revelators for our time. Thus we know of a surety that these words have been spoken by Christ Himself. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and … whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38) Would Christ contradict Himself? Certainly not. Therefore the problem must lie within the flaws of the Bible. Conspiring men likely changed the word “obey” to the word “love,” that they might entrap many otherwise noble souls and craftily deceive them into tolerating the great wickedness of the world in these last days.
President Brigham Young declared: “When a man begins to find fault, inquiring in regard to this, that, and the other, saying, ‘Does this or that look as though the Lord dictated it?’ you may know that that person has more or less of the spirit of apostasy.” (https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-12?lang=eng) If our true prophets have dictated that obedience is first and foremost, then surely it is so. We cannot question this prophetic teaching, dear member.
I also wish to quote an uplifting message from my beloved fellow General Authority, Elder Call, spoken in General Conference: “Be submissive—do not murmur. … The Lord will show us the way, if we will but follow his prophets and Apostles. Do not question their direction! It is as simple as that.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1990/10/follow-the-prophets?lang=eng)
Do you see how simple this is, dear member?
I leave you with this penetrating question: If love were really so important, then why is it never mentioned in our temple covenants or recommend questions? These are the crowning criteria for eternal life, that we might obtain all the signs and tokens necessary to enter the presence of the Father. Of course, we covenant to obey, not to love. Let us not be deceived by the adversary!
May you strive to become humble and submissive to all the General Authorities, never murmuring or questioning, whilst you “obey with exactness” as a valiant member of the Lord’s kingdom upon the earth.
I believe that K. Johns might benefit from the teachings of Elder Packer:
“Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” so that we are not swallowed up in it.”
Doesn’t this imply that love can be transformed into a vice?
Yes, you will always be correct when you follow the teachings of the Lord’s chosen leaders, and what a terrible vice love may become! May you be blessed for your righteousness in embracing the inspired words of our true prophets, seers, and revelators. O that all the saints of God would emulate the Christlike example you have set forth as a lighthouse beckoning unto the world.
“If love were really so important…” Are you kidding me? What planet do you live on? Oh, wait, Kolob… I would choose a church that espouses Jesus’ teachings of love over one of obedience any day. “What?”, you say? Then I must surely be lost and deceived by the adversary….so be it…at least I don’t kowtow to false prophets whose main interest is to reap the monetary benefits of their ever so ‘obedient’ followers.
Even warmer regards with a little love thrown in just for the heck of it,
Dearest reader, (“K. Johns”)
I must apologize for this misunderstanding. I had assumed that you were a member of the Lord’s true Church upon the earth—even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I now perceive from your beliefs regarding the importance of love that you are not yet a member. Please forgive my unawareness in this matter. Will you send me your home address in a private message? It would be a great honour and privilege for me to send our faithful young missionaries to your doorstep to bring the further light and knowledge of the Restored Gospel to you and your precious family members.
Why, Mr. Delaney: I was a member of the so-called true church for more than 30 years. I even sent my first born on a mission to spread the message. However, your words have solidified my testimony that the Mormon church is NOT true and NOT Christian. You say that modern prophets usurp the words of Jesus and so that tells me that you DO NOT follow Christ and if you do, well, then, your prophet/leaders can just adjust/add/supersede/overrule whatever it is he said. Thank you, but, no.
As for sending you my home address….again, thank you for your kind invitation, but I politely decline. Unless of course you would like to send the missionaries so that I may bear my testimony of the untruthfulness of your church to them and discuss the many reasons why it is not what it is purported to be.
May you find happiness in your obedience. I, in turn, will find happiness in loving my fellow man and committing such acts that will bear the fruits of that endeavor.
Sincerely, K. Johns
Thank you Elder Delaney, your message was inspirational. You probably don’t remember me, but we met in Florida, when you were looking over that timberland for purchase. You explained to my sister that the church needed all those hundreds of acres of land, because it was planning to build a temple in the Florida Panhandle someday. It amazing that the Lord looks so far ahead in his plans, since you also explained that it may be a few decades until they get around to it, and that they need those hundreds of thousands of acres, so that the adversary will be confused on where the temple will actually be built on such a large plot. In the meantime, I was happy to hear your explanation that the church plans to use said land to help feed the poor, by raising a mighty crop of pulp trees.
Thank you for your kind remarks. As you know, I meet many members across the world and always endeavour to share my humble testimony of the Lord’s great work which He operates through his divine messengers upon the earth. Upon your suggestion, I will include the discourse I delivered to the valiant saints of Florida in a future “blog” post.
May the blessings of heaven shower upon you, insomuch that there may not be room enough to receive them.
Dear Elder Delaney:
I have a really big problem. I get confused because the living prophets, seers and revelators continue to disagree amongst themselves about doctrinal issues. Whatever can I do to discern?
I will endeavour to address your concerns in a future “blog” post. For the time being, always remember that you will be blessed as you take heed of every word which proceeds forth from the mouths of the most current General Authorities of the Church, and you will never be led astray.
In troubled times like these, if I ever feel doubt or rebellious urges, I always like to remind myself of a little rhyme I once heard as a child:
Believe. Obey. Fight.
The prophet is always right.
Wow. You sir, are one deluded Latter-day Saint to think that any “prophet,” no matter how great or how tin-horn, could change the law that Jesus introduced. You did this woman a great injustice and the class a great disservice by claiming to be more enlightened than Jesus by quoting modern “prophets.” It is people like you who will ultimately be the fall of Mormonism.
Adolph Hitler preached the same message- OBEY- Jesus on the other hand taught LOVE. His entire message was about LOVE. It is a message of LOVE- not obedience. That a ‘modern day prophet’ can jump up and change the message of Jesus is frightening. And one has to question the purpose of this ‘new revelation.’ Power is the reason. And the quest of power is inherently evil. Their is righteousness in love. Not in power and blind obedience. It reminds me of the time we got a ‘new revelation’ regarding the blacks and the priesthood. Never mind it was in the midst of racial turmoil here in the United States. It was a joke then. It is a joke now. Blind obedience is needed to keep the dollars flowing to the corporation of the church. Necessary in order to fund more mall awnings to cover the homeless. Fortunately, the youth of the church have ears and eyes and minds to think. They are leaving in droves. I among them.
“I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34)
“Follow the prophet” — So pervasive is this unbelief, that we’ve now placed the prophet in a place of priority above the scriptures, above the truth, and even above the Lord.
President Uchtdorf stated in 2013 October conference: “…to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us–His imperfect children–and imperfect people make mistakes.”
I will never put my trust in what ANY man says, whether “the living prophet” or a General Authority. I will trust only God with my salvation.
I thank our Heavenly Father for pres. Uchtdorf . . . This church needs him
Of course there is that little problem of the Lord having given Adam and Eve conflicting commandments in the Garden. How could they obey both? Or was he just kidding? Love breds obedience, but obedience does not breed love.
Well, it depends on ‘who’ you’re obeying. For obedience to falsehoods, false scriptures, false prophets, false revelation, false Spirits, or false Christ’s in visions, will just get us damned.
And no matter how obedient we are, if we don’t have Christlike love then the obedience won’t save us.
But, if we have the rare virtue of ‘Christlike unconditional love’, then we don’t even need to be obedient to anyone, for we are thus sanctified & that would also make us a ‘prophet’, that can think, reason and discern ‘truth from error’ correctly all by ourself.
So John was right, ‘all we need is love’.
I believe God wants us to become ‘spiritually independent’, (for to be a God we would have to become that, like when kids grow up to be parents themselves and don’t have to ‘obey’ mom & dad anymore) and gaining Christlike love is the only way to become ‘spiritually independent.
Only those who can’t discern ‘truth from error’ themselves need someone to tell them what to do. If we are dependent on a leader and keep playing ‘follow the leader’, then we will never become as God.
People can become Christlike and worthy of Eternal Life, without ever ‘following or knowing about’ a prophet. They just know what’s right in their heart. Most people throughout the world’s history had to ‘learn to love on their own’ without any scriptures, priests, prophets or church or anyone worthy to follow.