I like to have all the right answers. But today a guy asked me a question that made my blood run chill. "What would you do if God commanded you to find a husband?"

I told him I honestly didn't know, and the conversation shifted to safer topics. I tried to convince myself that God couldn't do such a thing, as it went against everything I had ever known to be true. But in the back of my mind I wondered about my unanswered question. What would I do? As I thought, I realized that my question was about more than just gay marriage - it cut to the core of living life by the Spirit and following counsel received by prophets. What would I do if the Spirit prompted me to do something contrary to the teachings of the prophets - anything at all? It may never happen. But it has - Nephi was commanded to kill Laban. Abraham was commanded to kill Isaac. And black men were prompted to ask for the Priesthood before the Lord had made it possible. God could prompt me to do anything at all. What would I do?

I know that God will answer any personal question with a personal answer... and so this afternoon I asked Him to help me answer this one - if not for me, for anyone who feels torn between promptings of the Spirit and the teachings of the prophets... torn between wanting to follow God's personal counsel, and knowing how to follow it.

The first thing that came to mind was the importance of knowing the voice of the Spirit. Even the devil can appear as an angel of light... so my first step would be determining if the revelation truly came from God... and would involve a whole lot of fasting, prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, blessings, and meditation.

If the answer still held, and God still prompted me to move forward, I'd go on to the next step. Elder Uchtdorf's talk on divine lines of communication this conference emphasizes that all revelation and truth can and must be reconciled using two lines of communication. That is why we have two lines - so that, in difficult situations where issues are unclear, we can receive revelation from multiple sources.

So I would check using the Priesthood line - talk with my bishop, stake president, and anyone else who could receive revelation on my behalf. I'd explain the situation honestly and sincerely, and ask them to pray and confirm what I had learned from God.

If my Priesthood leaders confirmed what came through the personal line, then I would go forward with faith. If they did not, then suddenly I would be faced with a spiritual paradox. The Spirit tells me to do one thing; the leaders of the Church tell me to do another. Which do I follow?

This is the heart of the matter - do I follow God or His Church?

As I thought through this question, I was reminded of the many talks this conference that referenced the 14 truths about the prophet. Among them, the prophet can speak on any topic... and the prophet will never lead the Church astray. Ultimately this question, and my ultimate loyalty, hinges on one question - whether the Church is truly God's Church, and whether Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. Because if the Church is true, and Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, then what he teaches is true... and the Church has the authority and responsibility to guide how I live my life to enable me to receive salvation. In that case, the right thing to do will always be within the bounds that the Lord has set through His prophets. And if the Church isn't true? Then I have a much bigger problem.

I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet... and I know the Church is true. I've asked, and God answered me... and so I know that God will never lead His prophet astray, and that His prophet has the authority to receive revelation on my behalf. So what would I do? I would continually check the personal line of revelation and do what the faithful black members of the Church did as they waited for the Priesthood. I would follow God's commandment to me as far as I could within the doctrine of His prophets... and then I would wait for God to make the next move.

But my waiting wouldn't be for the Church to change - it would be to receive guidance in my own life to do what was right, paired with a willingness to submit to all His commandments, and prayers for God's oracles. Maybe He would change doctrine... and maybe He would change the commandment He gave me...

Commandments aren't always given with the express purpose of keeping them. I would try to look beyond His commandment and understand its purpose, since God gives me commandments to teach me critical principles of the gospel. In the scriptures there are examples of commandments the Lord never intended His children to keep. Abraham was not commanded to kill Isaac so that Isaac would die; he was commanded to test his faith and prove to himself that he would follow God in all times and in all places. That didn't change the commandment, though... or the requirement for Abraham to be completely willing to follow God no matter what. In my own life the Lord has often given me directions that seemed confusing or strange, only to change directions again in the future.

And so perhaps the commandment was given, not to be fulfilled, but to point me in the direction the Lord needs me to go, today, in order to accomplish His will. Maybe having the goal in mind to keep His commandment would enable me to be a better missionary and share the gospel, or motivate me to become a better person as a whole, so that God could give me more direction.

Ultimately, if God commanded me to do anything against the doctrine of the Church, and I knew the prompting came from God, then I would follow His commandments. I'm grateful to know that the Lord has called a prophet today who speaks to God on my behalf... and that the onus of receiving guidance from the Lord is not mine alone. I would follow the promptings the Lord had given me as far as I could within the guidelines set by the prophets... and then wait and pray to see what God did next in my life - if He changed the doctrine and commandments of His Church, wanted me to simply wait and learn patience, or if He turned me in another direction once I had learned the lessons I needed to learn by moving forward.

It all comes back to that - if the Lord has established His Church as an authority here on the Earth, and if He is guiding the Church through a modern prophet, then I can and must follow the teachings of the prophet to the ends of the Earth, for, in God's words, a prophet's teachings are the words of the Lord, and the prophet is given the ultimate authority to receive revelation in my behalf. If he is a true prophet, then his counsel, as the authoritative voice of the Lord, will always be the ultimate will of the Lord in my life. With that knowledge, I have a lens to see how to follow God's commands in my life.

Thank Heavens for answers to prayers... what began as an awful question became an opportunity to learn an important principle for my life. Whenever I receive any commandment from the Lord, I will do my best to follow it and all the commandments God has given - melding my prompting within the bounds that He has set through His prophets. I will follow Him with faith, and He will take care of the rest.

I forgot one sort of important part. At the moment I realized I would have to wait for God to give further direction - either to me or His prophet, I wondered how that would work. The answer - "You don't receive doctrine for the Church... and so that is not your concern. Keep my commandments, follow the prophet, and I'll take care of everything else."
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