Expletives for God: Insights from a recent Facebook post

*Fair warning, at least one expletive is referenced in this post, not everything below is inspiring*

The Facebook post below was brought to my attention. It was made by someone I do not know, but other information attached to the comment revealed that this person is LDS and that they are referring to recent events and activism within the LDS community. Both of which have gained social and traditional media attention. I have removed identifying information from the comment because who said it doesn’t matter, it is the content and implications of the comment that does.

Here is it:

Expletives for God

At first I was shocked, and dismissed the comment as just a random outburst, but as the comment climbed to nearly 300 “likes” in just a few days, I decided I needed to say something. So in the spirit of all who have recently said “I will not be silenced” and have given a rather loud call for all to be able to share their opinions and ideas without fear – I will proceed with a response to this comment.

I worry about the effects these types of comments might have on some members of the church. I also worry what it might say to those looking at the church from an investigative point of view, or those who do not fully understand or agree with our doctrine. Whatever the case, I feel a duty to defend the truth.

We’ll break the comment into parts.

“I would like to point out that eve [sic], mother of all living, disobeyed…”

I am glad that the commenter wants to get past any fluff and get right to the point. I would like to do the same thing. Let’s review the facts:

  1. Eve is created and put into the garden of Edena)Genesis 2:20-22
  2. She is given commandmentsb)Genesis 3:3
  3. She disobeys God’s commandmentsc)Genesis 3:6
  4. She is confronted by Godd)Genesis 3:13
  5. She attempts to give reason for her actionse)Genesis 3:13
  6. She is punished, cast out by God, for her disobediencef)Genesis 3:16, Genesis 3:23

If you adhere to the entire course of events as laid out by LDS doctrine you will notice that after attempting to give reason for her actions Eve covenants with God to obey His laws. Then the punishment is laid out.

In her attempt to justify her opinion by diminishing Eve, the commenter has not fully considered the doctrines associated with the passage. Yes, Eve disobeyed God – just like every other human that has ever lived on this earth! Each one of us has disobeyed God. Yet the disobedience of one person will never justify the disobedience of any other person. We are expected to be obedient regardless of circumstance; the scripture doesn’t state: “if ye love me, keep my commandments, conditionally”g)John 14:15. We can learn from the story of Eve that, regardless of intent or understanding, disobedience has its consequences. We can also, without making direct comparisons to any individual or group, learn from the story of Lucifer. Lucifer thought he knew a better way. He thought everyone should listen to him. But when he began to pull others away from God, he was also punished. He was cast out from the presence of God. And this punishment was given despite the fact that Lucifer’s plan would have guaranteed the exaltation of all of God’s children.h)Moses 4 Again, regardless of intent or ultimate outcome, when we stray too far from God’s teachings, or when we disobey, there is potential for undesirable consequences.

The story of Eve teaches us this: Even when we do disobey, the purpose of God can’t be frustrated. We are the ones that suffer for our disobedience. But even after our disobedience there is always a way to return to God. Which brings me to my next point.

I am actually excited this was brought up! I never realized that Eve’s experience with the Lord is, in fact, an account of this world’s first disciplinary council. This is an interesting correlation because of the ongoing media scene surrounding recent church disciplinary councils being held. Let’s review Eve’s story: Eve acts in a way contrary to the commandments of God, the presiding authority meets with Eve, they discuss what happened, Eve shows a willing heart to repent and improve, and a course of action is lined out to help Eve return to the presence of God.

Helping the individual return to God is exactly what a disciplinary council does. Yes, sometimes they require a separation for certain spiritual blessing – like Eve leaving the gardeni)Genesis 3:23-24. Yes, sometimes, they are very hard and require a lot of the person – “greatly multiply thy sorrows”j)Genesis 3:16. Yes, sometimes, the plan of action could be referred to as a punishment. Sometimes they also result in no action of any kind being taken. Sometimes they are just for council and nothing else. But every time, as with Eve, the reason for a disciplinary council is to help the person return to the presence of God.

What a great lesson! Even our first parents had a disciplinary council! Maybe we shouldn’t be so afraid of them! Maybe we shouldn’t think they are such a scandal! Maybe we should see the good that they have done for so many people. Maybe we should be thankful to have a full set of tools at our disposal to help us repent. Maybe we should be thankful that the Lord’s church even cares about our spiritual condition.

Maybe, just maybe, Eve shared her experience with her sons and daughters so that they too could learn the importance of obedience.

“f$%(*#)ing GOD”

The commenter is very specific in her wording here. She took the time to work out a series of, less than easy to type, symbols to soften the blow of the chosen expletive – but it didn’t work.

My first concern here was to try and figure out how this word is being applied to God. I took the time to look the word up and read each definition. I then tried to apply each definition to God. I was going to share my results here, but the idea made me nauseous. I will, however, share some of the words found in the definitions: mess, anger, contempt, disgust, cheat, harsh, vulgar, obscene, copulate, coitus, sex.

I could not find any use of the word that seemed appropriate when talking about God. Let’s be clear on who this God is. The expletive is being used in reference to our Heavenly Father. The very father of our spirits – who we really are. The one who went to great, and difficult lengths, to secure our agency so that we could make comments like the one above. But then who also allowed His son to suffer every pain and die so that our comments would not keep us from returning to His presence. Our father who gave us life, who gives us breath, who answers our prayers. Our gracious God, our loving Father.

I am not sure what the commenter could possibly have meant by the use of this expletive, which is considered one of the most offensive in the English language. I just cannot fathom it.

But the use of the word isn’t what actually worries me most. It is the implications of it’s use. Here we have a person who, in her attempt to share some supposed truth from God, separates herself from Him by her very words. We see disrespect to the utmost authority in all of creation. We see a level of respect for God and his ways which includes the use of degrading and grotesque language referring to one of the most sacred gifts given to his children. We see the willingness to apply to God any language necessary to make sure her voice is heard.

The Holy Ghost uses a “still small voice”, this person uses expletives. It is no wonder that this individual would be so concerned about authority. It is no wonder that this person would be willing to defend disobedience by tearing down our first mother. It is no wonder that this person would be so outraged, for clearly what came out of this person’s mouth came from their heart – and thus we have significant insight k)Mathew 15:18.

I would understand it more if it was written “god,  because I can not see any way in which it would be appropriate to use this expletive to describe someone that you actually believe to be deity. Thus in attempt to defend against some perceived wrong, the commenter has forfeited any credibility to speak about the things of God.

“Conscious-driven agency”

Isn’t it interesting that we call to agency whenever we are being, or intend to be, disobedient and want to justify ourselves. “I HAVE my agency!” we cry, when we are wrong, but in reality it is our nature to disobey. If left to just follow our own desires we would travel very far from our Godl)Mosiah 3:19.  True use of agency is found in obedience not disobedience. Obedience because we choose to be, because we understand truth, and because we trust Godm)https://www.lds.org/topics/agency?lang=eng.

The conscience isn’t some biological feature or social construct. The conscience is the light of Christ given to all men, that they may know good from eviln)Moroni 7:16. This “conscious-driven agency” would lead one to follow Christ, it would lead one to truth. It would not lead one to fight against the light. It would not lead one to edit the gospel. It would not lead one to stone the prophets. It would not lead one to degrade God with vulgarity.

It is convenient to claim some righteous form of agency when disobedience is evidence of the misuse of agencyo)Doctrine Covenants 101:78. It is easy to try and justify our actions, we’ve been doing it since the garden of Edenp)Genesis 3:12-13.

Peeking Behind the Mask

This Facebook commenter and those who support this comment have said that they are just asking questions, and being persecuted for it. They often claim that they have felt inspiration to support their particular movement. They say that the church leadership is wrong, that the church needs to change.

But what we see in this comment gives us some insight into other ideas and feelings they have. We see a willingness to twist doctrine to their liking, so that they can sound like they are speaking truth. We see a willingness to try and tear down anyone, even Eve, to lift themselves up. We even see the willingness to disrespect and disgrace God to make our voices louder.

One outspoken individual, whom this commenter supports, likes to say “We will be reverent and we will be respectful – but we will never be silenced”. Again, another insight as the above comment reveals that reverence and respect are not highly regarded in this movement. Sure reverence and respect for those who use flattering words maybe, but not for Eve and not for God.

A Final Thought

For those who are already sharpening their one-liners about not being judgmental. Let me suggest that you further study the doctrine of judgment before you proceedq)https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging?lang=eng. Like the part where we are commanded to judger)Leviticus 19:15, Moroni 7:15, John 7:24, Roman’s 14:13. It is important that we are able to make judgement so that we can discern the truth. And though I do not know this commenter and am not able to judge them specifically, nor should I, the comment has been put out publicly for discussion – and the comment itself can be judged. The comment can be judged for its truth, and the comment itself shows us what a certain people “like”.

Judgement works in multiple ways. Some have judged that the Prophet of God is wrong, that he ignores a great discrepancy in the administration of the church. They have judged that their inspiration is correct and the current organization of the priesthood is wrong. They have judged that some conspiracy has been concocted to silence them.

We have all made judgments. I too have made mine. I have judged that Christ leads his church, that the prophets are true and living prophetss)Doctrine and Covenants 1:38. I have judged that revelation has an order and a process by which to confirm itt)https://www.lds.org/topics/revelation?lang=eng. I have judged that satan is often more deceitful than we give him credit foru)Mathew 24:24.

I would encourage all those caught up by the fabricated controversy of the last few weeks to begin to judge. To judge the words of God against the words of those who rally against his servants. Judge the truth of testimony and scripture against words shared in comments like the one above. Judge for yourself: truth vs controversy.

I myself have done this. And in the end I have judged to follow the prophet, who speaks in this manner: “I leave with you my witness and my testimony that God our Eternal Father lives and loves us. He is indeed our Father, and He is personal and real. May we realize how close to us He is willing to come, how far He is willing to go to help us, and how much He loves us.”v)https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/until-we-meet-again?lang=eng rather than to listen to someone who dismisses their god with expletives.

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Luke Hopkin

Father, wilderness addict, Mormon. I believe that we don't give the gospel of Christ the credit it deserves, it is much more effective, deep, and personal than we often realize. I believe in principles of faith, in doctrine, and in revelation. I hope to bring new insights, and a voice for truth, to the conversation. @lukevhopkin
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References   [ + ]

a. Genesis 2:20-22
b. Genesis 3:3
c. Genesis 3:6
d. Genesis 3:13
e. Genesis 3:13
f. Genesis 3:16, Genesis 3:23
g. John 14:15
h. Moses 4
i. Genesis 3:23-24
j. Genesis 3:16
k. Mathew 15:18
l. Mosiah 3:19
m. https://www.lds.org/topics/agency?lang=eng
n. Moroni 7:16
o. Doctrine Covenants 101:78
p. Genesis 3:12-13
q. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging?lang=eng
r. Leviticus 19:15, Moroni 7:15, John 7:24, Roman’s 14:13
s. Doctrine and Covenants 1:38
t. https://www.lds.org/topics/revelation?lang=eng
u. Mathew 24:24
v. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/until-we-meet-again?lang=eng