In the October 2023 General Conference, President Russell M Nelson spoke to the church membership by way of a previously recorded message. He was unable to attend the conference because he’d injured his back when falling. He was not able to be miraculously healed and even mentioned the considerable pain he was in due to the injury. Most likely he needed a prerecorded message so he could take breaks and in case he went off script they could reign it back in easily, as he was likely not fully cognizant.
As usual, his message announced over a dozen promised new temples and delivered some very short-sighted, mentally harmful, and socially damaging guidance to members of the Mormon church. He issued the charge for members to “Never take counsel from those who do not believe.” He didn’t couch this in any qualifying language (like about church topics, or about your testimony). He doesn’t want any member ever taking any sort of advice from anyone other than a believing member of the church, who in turn ultimately listens to him. He wants all authority to reside in the church and the church leaders.
When someone you love attacks truth, think celestial, and don’t question your testimony. The Apostle Paul prophesied that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
There is no end to the adversary’s deceptions. Please be prepared. Never take counsel from those who do not believe. Seek guidance from voices you can trust—from prophets, seers, and revelators and from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, who “will show unto you all things what ye should do.” Please do the spiritual work to increase your capacity to receive personal revelation.President Russell M Nelson, Think Celestial, October 2023 General Conference
Nelson’s words should be taken for what they are. They create distrust, eggshells, and conflict for mixed-faith couples who ARE making it work.
Who are “those who don’t believe”?
Who is Nelson referring to in this talk when he mentions “those who don’t believe”? What about those with “non-believing” family members and friends or even associates? Parents or grandparents? Children? Co-workers? Boss? Business Partners? Is he saying that believing members who “follow the prophet,” can no longer receive advice from these family members and mentors? Do non-believers constitute all non-members? What if they are believers but not Mormon? What if someone believes in their own form of spirituality? Would this count to President Nelson? Not likely, he wouldn’t want any lazy learners or lax disciples included in his definition of those who believe. He most likely means believing members of the LDS church. He’s not open to any other form of Mormonism or even Christianity. Only those who only read correlated church history and the scriptures and only listen to living prophets. Even when the living prophets may conflict with other prophets (especially those in this last dispensation). Those who don’t believe would basically be anyone who isn’t considered a TBM.
One reddit user received this talk as the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Her response could only be stepping away from such a church that is “captained by leaders who insist that honorable, compassionate people like [her] husband are ‘giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils'” She states she will not tolerate [her] “son being taught to ‘never take counsel from those who do not believe,’ that is to say, his father. A truly shocking thing to be taught in the name of Jesus.”
Hello Bishop, –––––
I’m writing today to inform you that I won’t be attending church with any regularity from this point on. I sincerely regret the inconvenience this places you –––– in particular. I fully intended to help with the program, but after the prophet’s remarks in General Conference this is no longer possible. That talk was the last straw.
In short, it is impossible for me to endorse through my silence a church captained but leaders who insist that honorable, compassionate people like my husband are “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” And more importantly, I will not tolerate my son being taught to “never take counsel from those who do not believe,” that is to say, his father. A truly shocking thing to be taught in the name of Jesus.
The true beauty of the church has always been found at the local level. I have stayed as long as I have because of welcoming and friendly people like all of you. Please understand that neither ––––– or I harbor any resentment towards anyone in the ward. We are not interested in proselytizing efforts, but are hopeful we can continue to participate in social events and service projects.
I felt that directing this email to the three of you was appropriate given my position in the primary and to facilitate logistics for the Relief Society as needed. I am happy to continue to receive ministering outreach, but understand if those efforts are felt to be better served elsewhere.
Thank you all for your understanding.
––––––My Wife’s Email to the Bishopric – Her Shelf Broke Due to Nelson’s Talk – Mawgim07
This also would include other close relationships such as a friend or even a co-worker. What about those believing members who work with non-members? What if their boss or business partner was not a believer? Are they now forbidden from taking council from these important people in their lives? This feels like a step away from “living in the world but not of the world” and more to living in a bubble and not associating in any way with someone who might disagree or have a different belief system.
How hard is this “never” statement? Never is an absolute term, it doesn’t allow for any interpretation. It means zero times and zero conditions. Never is a very long time too. Never doesn’t allow us to take legal counsel from a non-believing lawyer for example, or medical advice from a non-believing doctor.
What constitutes counsel? Advice, suggestions, legal advice, tax advice, safety advice…
What if all members of the church actually followed this advice?
Imagine for a moment that the full membership of the church followed this council from their living prophet and potentially the last words of the 17th president of their church. Assuming all members are full believers, they would never have a non-member lawyer, never have a non-member doctor, nurse, surgeon, accountant, therapist, life coach, physical trainer… etc. This would considerably limit the sphere of influence the church membership could be exposed to, which is likely Nelson’s goal here, but it would also limit business opportunities, healthcare, politics, etc, etc.
What if the whole world followed this? This would change the world into a very divisive place. If no one did business or even talked to people with beliefs that were different than their own. Would the church and the world be in a better place by following this advice?
He’s essentially saying, don’t listen to your doctor if he has a different faith than you. Don’t listen to any political leaders at the local, national, or international level if they have a different faith than you. Don’t listen to any civil servants such as police officers, firefighters, emergency responders, or judges if they have different religious beliefs than you. If a book, news article, or journal was written by someone with a different belief, don’t read it! Stay away from different ideas and different beliefs. If your family members believe differently than you, don’t listen to what they may think. Shield yourself from these darts of the adversary.
What has the church done to clarify any of these questions regarding his statement? Not much, the church newsroom published a summary of his talk and did include the quote.
Thinking celestial helps us view trials and oppositions in a new light. “Never take counsel of those who don’t believe,” President Nelson said. “Seek guidance from the voices you can trust — from prophets, seers, revelators and from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.”https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/prophet-summary-october-2023-general-conference
What he’s really saying is ‘trust us more than your non-believing parent,’ ‘confide in us instead of your spouse,’ ‘only listen to your coach/teacher/counselor/boss/coworker if they’re believers.’ What can believers listen to according to this? The church. The prophet. He’s basically saying, only listen to my counsel. I know better than anyone, I am the example. You can’t trust anyone else, or any other ideas.
He warns listeners to only follow trusted sources. These trusted sources only include prophets, seers and revelators (ie church leaders), and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is invoked here not as your conscience but as the confirming feelings you get when church leaders speak. The Holy Ghost can only speak to you in conjunction and confirmation of what the church teaches you, it will never disagree with the church, according to the church leaders, so you can’t even trust your own ideas, just follow the President’s lead. Pray, pay, and obey.
Let’s just hope that President Nelson’s doctor who advised him to stay home from the conference was a believing member of the church. We hope he’s not giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils about his own recovery.
Who do you take counsel from? Are you planning on following President Nelson’s plea to never take counsel from those who do not believe? Is this even possible? If it is, it may not be possible for long. Is there any way to reconcile this damaging council from a supposed prophet of God? Share your thoughts in the comments below or create your own I was a Mormon profile at wasmormon.org.
- President Russell M Nelson, Think Celestial, October 2023 General Conference