Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ex-Mormon Adam Lowe Continues To Attest To The Effectiveness Of The LDS Home Teaching Program When Implemented As Designed

Well, I certainly got a bit of a surprise today when the Mormon Times printed a submission from an ex-Mormon. Although the Mormon Times is not an official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it does tend to restrict itself to publishing faith-promoting news about the Church. It is operated by the Deseret News, which is owned by the LDS Church.

But there's a reason. This ex-Mormon, Adam Lowe, did not turn into a drama queen and launch a crusade against the Church. In fact, he continues to praise the LDS Church's home teaching program in this Mormon Times article. That's because his first home teacher, who he identifies as "Brother O", set the example for proper home teaching back in 1986. How did he do it?

-- He always taught very detailed and interesting lessons
-- Challenged the children in the family to memorize scripture verses which they were expected to recite upon his next visit.
-- Always sent cards on family members' birthdays.

Oh, and by the way, Adam Lowe's home teacher was not just an ordinary ward member. He was also a Regional Representative (abolished in 1995; supplanted by Area Seventies). A Regional Representative basically lived out of a suitcase, always traveling, visiting the wards and stakes in the area to which he was assigned. Yet he found time not only to satisfy his additional calling as a home teacher, but to take it seriously.

The example was not lost on either Adam Lowe or his father. When they went out to home teach, they researched the needs of their families. Perhaps they even prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But they tailored each visit to the specific needs of the family. Those who wanted a formal lesson got a formal lesson, while those who preferred a social visit, talking about hunting, etc., got a social visit.

Adam Lowe does not disclose the circumstances behind his departure from the Church. But to this day, the positive examples of home teaching not only by his first home teacher, but also his own father, have stayed with him. He writes:

I'm no longer a believer in Mormonism, but I will always remember the inspiring example of Brother O. Some people view home teaching as a chore, but he had a vision of how the program could touch people's lives. He was also an example of the importance of magnifying one's calling, no matter how small, as he truly believed that his responsibility to our family as our home teacher was every bit as important as his responsibility over several stakes.

Contrast this with the cavalier approach taken by many elders today. Many will wait until the 30th of the month, then make a Hail Mary last-minute visit to punch their ticket for the month so they can go back to their Elders' Quorum President and tell him what good boys they've been. That approach not only makes a solemn mockery of the program, but can inspire cynicism among members, sometimes leading to apostasy and a messy divorce from the Church.

The scriptural foundation of home teaching is the commandment for priesthood holders to "watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them" (D&C 20:53; see also D&C 20:54–55; Moroni 6:4). Through home teaching, priesthood holders join with the Lord in watching over and strengthening Church members. From the time priesthood holders are ordained to the office of teacher, they have the opportunity and responsibility to serve as home teachers. Accordingly, home teachers are assigned by priesthood leaders. They are not called, sustained, or set apart. Home teachers establish a relationship of trust with these families so that the families can call upon them in times of need. They also serve to magnify the ward bishop or branch president's calling, to avoid overloading him with problems. Proper home teaching is effective delegation of a bishop's authority.

Combined with the Visiting Teaching program, which is directed towards the women by the Relief Society, this ensures that individual Church members have multiple prospective sources of help if trouble arises. It may start out as "mandatory friendship", but genuine friendships can arise. Visiting teaching is the heart and soul of Relief Society. The purposes of visiting teaching are to build caring relationships with each sister and to offer support, comfort, and friendship. In visiting teaching, both the giver and the receiver are blessed and strengthened in their Church activity by their caring concern for one another. Scriptural justifications are contained in Mosiah 18:8–9 and Moroni 6:4

Adam Lowe is to be commended for not becoming an anti-Mormon. He's proof that ex-Mormon and anti-Mormon need not be synonymous.

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