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Faith Is Not Blind

Sister Hafen: The two of us met years ago as students in a BYU religion class called “Your Religious Problems.” We both solved our biggest “religious problem” when our friendship from that class blossomed into our marriage. For each class, a student would pick a religious question, do research on it, then lead a discussion. We each wrote a short paper on how we would resolve the problem. Some of the students looked at criticisms of Joseph Smith or Church history issues, others looked at doctrine, and some just wondered how to live the gospel better. It was a blessing to explore these questions with each other in an attitude of mutual trust. Our teacher, West Belnap, then BYU’s Dean of Religion, often let us struggle. He wanted us to reach our own conclusions. Yet he knew just when and how to guide us with an occasional nudge. That class helped opened our eyes about our topic for today-- “faith is not blind.” Our experiences since then include Bruce’s service as President of BYU-Idaho, then Dean of the BYU Law School, then the second-in-command at BYU. Incidentally, both President and Sister Tanner were students in Bruce’s BYU Book of Mormon classes. I also taught English part-time at BYU when President Tanner was on that English faculty, and I served on the Young Women General Board a few years before Sister Tanner served in that presidency. We have long admired and loved the Tanners. Bruce served as a General Authority from 1996 to 2010, including our four memorable years in the Pacific Islands and Australia. We also recently served as President and Matron of the St. George Temple. And sprinkled through the years, the Lord has blessed us with seven children and a Pacific-sized boatload of grandchildren.

Elder Hafen: During their growing up years, most LDS teenagers tend to think about the gospel and life with a kind of black-and-white simplicity that we might call “the ideal.” They have a childlike optimism that makes them wonderfully teachable. They trust their parents and their teachers, and they tend to believe what they read. They love EFY. Later on, they love their YSA ward, and they all love getting “likes” on their Facebook pages. In some ways, life at that age is all about getting “likes” and smiley faces. Eventually, however, experience usually introduces a new dimension, as we discover a kind of gap between the ideal and the real, between what ought to be and what is. Think of two circles, one inside the other. The inner boundary is “the real,” or what is. The outer boundary is “the ideal,” or what ought to be. We stand at the inner boundary of reality, reaching out and trying to pull reality—or ourselves--closer to our lofty ideals. We first see the distance between these two boundaries when we notice some things about ourselves or other Church members that aren’t quite what we expected. For example, even at BYU-Hawaii, a brand new student can feel lost and intimidated. Or maybe he brushes up against a faculty member whose attitudes about the Church are more liberal—or more conservative—than he had expected. And when we become acquainted at an adult level with those who have been our heroes, we might begin to see their human limitations. For instance, maybe one of our parents disappoints us in some way. Or we might see a Church leader forget an important meeting or lose his cool when he’s feeling stressed.

At a more personal level, perhaps we pray for needed help, and the answer just doesn’t come in the ways the scriptures seem to promise. Or we suffer a surprise setback with good health, or we bump into an unexpected conflict with a close friend or family member.Much social interaction among LDS young adults takes place at the “ideal” level, because people are trying so hard to look and be at their best. And in both dating and marriage relationships, it is easy to assume that any returned missionary who has a temple recommend won’t have real personal challenges. But in fact, almost nobody’s “real” is in every detail equal to his or her “ideal.” After all, God gave each of us weaknesses that we may be humble. Each of us is a work in progress. So in our desire to find and marry an ideal person, the distance between the real and the ideal can complicate the way we think about others—or how we think about ourselves. We might also run across information we haven’t heard before about Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Or we may encounter something posted on the Internet that challenges our beliefs or raises questions we don’t know how to answer. Such experiences can unsettle us, and we yearn for simpler times, when life seemed more clear. We might find ourselves becoming a little skeptical or we question someone in authority. Not everyone will encounter these things, but as we grow and increase our awareness, most of us do run into some uncertainty or ambiguity.The gospel’s basic teachings are clear and certain. But even some scriptures can seem ambiguous. For example, the story of Nephi and Laban can be challenging until we see how one man could indeed cause a nation to dwindle in unbelief. Or think about Peter on the night he denied knowing his Master three times. Was Peter simply a coward, or—as President Spencer W. Kimball once asked—might the Lord have asked Peter to deny Him to preserve Peter’s future leadership of the Church? And in one scripture the Lord said He can’t look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.1 Yet elsewhere he said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”2

Justice is indeed a divine law, but so is the doctrine of mercy. At times these two principles can seem inconsistent, until reconciled by the higher doctrine of the Atonement. Also, in just the last few years, we have seen laws and attitudes about gay marriage change with stunning speed, profoundly unsettling our culture, the Church, and for many of us, unsettling some important relationships. For centuries, society’s “ideal” norms on this subject were consistent with gospel teachings—and nearly everyone accepted the ideal, even while also supporting the “real” struggles of friends who were experiencing same-sex attraction. But now that the real has been legally re-defined as the ideal, the gospel’s unchanged definition of the ideal can seem to twist in the harsh wind of social disapproval.So as we grow in experience, we will probably encounter some distance between the ideal and the real. Let’s call it “the gap.” We can see the gap in our personal experience, in our Church experience, in the scriptures, and in just trying to survive in today’s world. Indeed, some degree of uncertainty in managing that gap is actually part of the mortal plan, as symbolized by the mists of darkness in Lehi’s dream. Some parts of mortality are certain and clear, of course, as symbolized by the iron rod. But the distance between where we are and where we want to be—the “gap”of uncertainty--remains. Let’s talk now about three different levels in dealing with that gap. At level one, some people simply don’t see a gap. Their perceptions somehow filter out the differences between the real and the ideal. For them, the gospel at its best is a firm handshake, a high five, and a smiley face. Their mission was the best, their ward is the best, and every new day will probably be the best day they ever had. These cheerful ones are optimistic, spontaneous, and relaxed. They can weather many storms that seem formidable to more pessimistic types, perhaps because they have missed hearing that a storm is going on.

Another group at level one sees the gap, but they eliminate the distance between what is and what ought to be by, in effect, erasing the inner circle of reality—thus appearing to remove the gap. They cling to the ideal so single-mindedly that they just don’t feel the discomfort that would come from facing the real facts about themselves, about others, or about the world around them. These innocent ones may be unable to perceive perfection and imperfection at the same time. Or maybe they are just too naïve or too stubborn. Or perhaps the gap asks questions that are too raw, pushing them into denial, which lets them filter out painful realities.When we don’t see the gap or we focus only on the ideal while blocking out the real, our perspective lacks depth. We will think we understand things too quickly, and we won’t be prepared for adversity. Then strong winds can blow us over, because our roots haven’t sunk far enough into the soil of experience to establish a firm foundation. We need to learn how to face uncomfortable realities in order to grow. Therefore, the Lord not only comforts the afflicted; sometimes He afflicts the comfortable.Let us move up, then, to level two where we at least see “things as they really are,” both the real and the ideal. Only then can we begin to deal with reality in a constructive way. And when the shafts of adversity hit us, we won’t be living on borrowed light. If we don’t grapple with the frustration that comes from facing bravely the uncertainties we encounter, we will lack spiritual maturity. If we don’t see the problems that exist, we won’t be able to help solve them. Still, despite the value of a level two awareness, one’s acceptance of the clouds of uncertainty can become so complete that the iron rod fades into the receding mist, and skepticism becomes not just a helpful tool, but a guiding philosophy.

This perspective comes from erasing the outer circle of the ideal and focusing only on the inner circle of reality. At level one, the inexperienced person seems to have all of the answers but just doesn’t know what the questions are. At level two, that same person, perhaps as shallow as before, can have all of the questions, but none of the answers. A little learning, as valuable as that is, can be dangerous. And the ability to acknowledge ambiguity is not the final form of enlightenment.People who take too much delight in their new level two tools of skepticism and analysis sometimes try out their tools in a Church classroom or in conversations with family or friends. They may delight in cross-examination of the unsuspecting, just looking for somebody’s idealistic bubble floating around so they can pop it with their shiny new pin of skepticism. But when we pop those bubbles, we can lose harmony, trust, and the Spirit. We need to look longer and harder at difficult questions and pat answers, but we can’t let our attitude just lurch from extreme innocence to extreme skepticism. Today’s world is full of hard-core skeptics who love to burst the bubbles of those who are stuck in level one, cynically offering them doubt and agnosticism at level two as a seemingly brave new way of life. I once learned a great lesson about how being overly realistic can inhibit the workings of the Spirit.

I had been on my mission in Germany about a year when I was assigned to train a brand new missionary named Elder Keeler. One day when I was away at a leadership meeting, he and another new elder met a pleasant woman at the door but they didn’t know enough German to talk with her. Yet, he said he felt a strong spiritual impression that she would someday join the Church. In fact, he was so excited about her that he forgot to write down her name—or her address. He knew only that her apartment was on the fifth floor—somewhere in the middle of our huge, high-rise tracting area. He was sure he’d recognize her name next to the doorbell, so the next day we dashed up and down polished staircases for hours, but couldn’t find her. When I said we needed to go back to work, his lower lip began to tremble. He said, “but the Spirit really spoke to me about that woman.” I muttered that maybe the Spirit was telling him to write down the name and address.Well, to teach him a lesson, I raced him up some more staircases. And then, about an hour later, we found her -- Renate Wolfart. Forty years later, Marie and I were with Renate, her husband Friedrich, and all four of their children and spouses in the Frankfurt Temple. Friedrich, now a temple sealer, sealed their youngest daughter and her husband. That’s a lesson I can never forget: never erase that outer “ideal” circle.

Sister Hafen: So the best response to the gap of uncertainty is at level three, where we see both the real and the ideal, not only with our eyes wide open, but also with our hearts wide open as well. We can do that, even when we’d like more evidence before choosing exactly what to do. This may mean accepting a Church calling when we’re feeling too busy to take on more duties. Or it may mean that we follow the First Presidency’s counsel even when we don’t understand the reasons behind their counsel. It means we will give the Lord and His Church the benefit of our doubts or unanswered questions. The choice to be believing at this level is very different from mere blind obedience. It is, rather, a knowing and loving kind of obedience. And instead of asking us to put aside the tools of an educated critical mind, this third level invites us to use those tools to make the status quo better, not just to criticize it. To illustrate moving through all three levels, I’ll tell you about Holly. At age 18, Holly was very active in the Church but in an “auto pilot” kind of way. Then someone persuaded her that women ought to hold the priesthood. She was so convinced by this idea that she indignantly resigned her Church membership. A few years later, her college roommate was taking the missionary lessons. Holly decided to sit in. Her heart was touched, and she decided to pray for the first time in years. As soon as she said the words, “Heavenly Father…” she began to cry. Her frosted heart melted. She felt a real relationship with God that she hadn’t known before. She called it “the closeness.” A little later Holly was re-baptized. As she studied and prayed, her “closeness” to Him deepened. Stubborn attitudes grew into trust. Then she said, “The women and the priesthood issue? That doesn’t bother me anymore. I trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.”

Elder Hafen: Understanding these three levels in dealing with uncertainty can help us solve all kinds of problems. This model applies to many realms of personal discovery and growth. But for today, let’s just apply it to dealing with criticism of the Church in the Internet age. Here’s a true story about a friend from Europe whom I’ll call Mattias. After his mission and temple marriage, Mattias raised a beautiful family. He became a stake president. Later after I’d come to know him well, I saw a prominent American news story reporting that Mattias was “grappling with a wave of doubt and disillusionment” because he had “encountered information on the Internet that sabotaged” his religious faith. When the reporter asked what had happened, Mattias said that for years as a Church member and leader, he’d been “living in a bubble and we felt so happy.” Then some of his LDS friends came to him for answers to questions they had encountered on the Internet. He said many of the issues were new to him—such as, how did Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham, why were blacks excluded from the priesthood until 1978, and did Joseph Smith really practice polygamy. Mattias’s problem was not with what had happened in each instance, once he learned the details. Rather, he was distressed that he hadn’t previously known these things, so he felt betrayed. Because I knew and cared a great deal about Mattias, I wondered how these questions could have surprised him. My experience had been so different from his. Marie told you about our BYU class, “Your Religious Problems,” where we learned that asking gospel questions can be a productive way to learn—if we move through all of the three levels we’ve just discussed. We encountered Mattias’s questions years ago—not because we were digging into secret historical closets, but because we and our friends had what felt like a normal college experience for LDS students.

In the Church classrooms where we’ve sat ever since, these issues were not hidden or discouraged. On the contrary, we have often discussed them, always in an open atmosphere of faith. Remember when Mattias said that before these questions came to his attention, “I was just in a bubble, and we felt so happy?” That sentence is actually a good illustration of level one idealism in the steps of dealing with uncertainty. Holly, so active that she was on auto-pilot, at first lived in the same bubble. Then the shock of bumping into level two realism felt to both Mattias and Holly like an earthquake. This wasn’t really their fault—or perhaps anybody’s fault. Their experience may just tell us that in this day of both the Internet and the international Church, we need to do a better job of introducing our children, young people, new converts, and others to the process of learning and applying the levels of dealing with uncertainty. For several decades now, the Church has felt an understandable need to simplify its curriculum, magazines, and other materials so that inexperienced Church members in many cultures can understand them. Because of the common-denominator limitations of that approach, I cheered in the early 1990s when the world-renowned Macmillan Company published the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Those four impressive volumes contain scores of careful articles by qualified LDS authors on all the topics Mattias mentioned, and many others. It has been widely available ever since—it’s been on the Internet for years. I don’t know why Mattias didn’t know about it. If he had, he might have avoided what happened. At level three we are not just optimists and not just pessimists. We are open-minded believers who know that history and life are not always clear-cut and tidy, but our desire is to keep learning and to improve the status quo, not just to criticize it. Let’s consider four suggestions for applying our mature level three perspective to Church critics.

First suggestion: A kind word for faithful questions. Having a curious mind is one of the pathways to understanding and growth. However, there may be some who mistakenly assume that LDS culture disapproves of people who wonder. So when we have honest questions, some of us may feel unfaithful or even guilty. Is it wrong to wonder? I don’t think so. Seeking answers and deeper understanding really can help us grow. As J.R.R. Tolkien said, “not all those who wander are lost.” So let us welcome questions and questioners. Otherwise we could imply that we have something to hide. Remember when Mattias said he’d been living happily in a bubble? If he was, it was not because the Church consciously imposed that mindset to keep him in the dark. His bubble was nothing more complicated than the innocent perspective and habits of gliding along at level one, not realizing that we can grow out of that simplistic world of black and white. Let us move on to the more realistic realm of level two, where we can see life in living color, with rich meanings that we must sometimes search to discover. Then we’ll keep growing into the honest and faithful perspective of level three, where we won’t let the questions we don’t yet understand get in the way of the fundamental truths that we do understand.As you move on to level three, remember that becoming a doubting Thomas is not the end goal of discipleship. Being realistic is better than not seeing reality, but level two realism can easily become a rigid pessimism that also blocks the search for truth. We don’t want to be so closed-minded that we look at the world through a soda straw. But we also don’t want to be so open-minded that our brains fall out. Or as President Uchtdorf put it, “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”3Having a believing heart rather than a doubtful heart is in some sense a matter of personal choice about our attitude. The Lord counsels us gently in D&C 6, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” And in D&C 90 He encouraged us to give Him the benefit of our doubts this way: “search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things will work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly.” In recent years, the Church has posted some useful new “gospel topics essays” on These new essays are more visible than the more complete versions of these and many other topics in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. I hope they will help people notice some of what Mattias missed seeing. That increased visibility also sends a message about the value, in today’s wide-open world, of having open minds and open hearts based on a prepared stance that is as wise as a serpent yet as harmless as a dove. As LDS scholar Terryl Givens said, “There is not a single instance in Mormon history where a fuller version delivered honestly and forthrightly, with [advance] preparation, will not utterly disarm, or drastically soften, the effect of anti-Mormon writing.”4

Sister Hafen: Second suggestion: be cautious about the Internet’s weaknesses as a source of information about the Church. In our student days, anti-Mormon writing was usually buried in hard-to-find places. To track it down, we had to do library research on each specific topic. And other people who quoted anti-Mormon writing were usually those who had some complaint against the Church, but their arguments were seldom convincing enough to earn serious visibility. One of the Internet’s great blessings, yet one of its curses, is that it gives everyone--regardless of age or qualifications--unfiltered access to unlimited information. All of that data--regardless of how reliable it actually is--can seem to have equal credibility. This lets the bloggers at the extreme ends of any spectrum seem as qualified to speak as if they were established experts. After all, their names are right there on Google, just like the real rocket scientists—or sometimes instead of the real rocket scientists.This unfiltered access offers great advantages—but it also invites grave dangers. It may take real effort to check the accuracy and motives of a website’s authors, and we seldom have a Brother Belnap nearby to answer our questions. When one friend was struggling with something he found on-line, we asked if he had also read the work of reliable LDS scholars on BYU, Church, or other trustworthy websites. “Oh I can’t trust those people,” he said, “because they are already biased in favor of the Church.” We replied, “Don’t you think the sponsors of negative websites have a bias against the Church?” Virtually everything on-line, including Wikipedia, reflects somebody’s bias. And the last thing the negative sites will disclose is the bias of their sponsors. Another risk of unfiltered access is that readers can’t know which critical claims have already been discredited. The negative sites’ sponsors certainly aren’t going to tell us. Actually, sophisticated research by LDS scholars has now responded thoroughly to the main criticisms about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the Book of Mormon, and other historical issues. It would be highly ironic if the Internet is producing more casualties from Church critics now, in this day--when the Church’s scholarly credibility has never been higher and access to original Church documents has never been more open.

Third suggestion: let’s focus on the hugely positive doctrinal content of the Restoration, rather than becoming sidetracked with the details of how Joseph received that content. That big picture perspective is central to life at level three. Someone told us he was troubled by questions about how Joseph Smith translated the books of Mormon, Moses, and Abraham. As we listened to him, we thought of the championship golf course at the foot of the magnificent Grand Teton mountains in Wyoming. Imagine a golfer there who spends most of his time looking for lost golf balls in the rough—without even noticing the magnificent mountains. The content—the doctrine and ideas—in those precious books of scripture make me want to plead with my friend, “Don’t lose your way wandering in the rough with your eyes down. Lift up your eyes and see the majestic mountains of truth the Lord gave us through Joseph.” If we assume that Joseph Smith “translated” scriptures the way a scholar would, we misunderstand his role as a Seer. He never said exactly how he translated, but it was clearly a revelatory process. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism tells us that “[I]t was principally divine inspiration rather than [Joseph’s] knowledge of languages that produced the English text of the book of Abraham. His precise methodology remains unknown.”5 That is also true of the Book of Mormon—translated simply “by the gift and Power of God.” But Joseph also told us: “Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.”6And as Richard Bushman wrote, “Unlike the scholarly translators, [Joseph] went back beyond the existing texts to the minds of the prophets, and through them to the mind of God.”7 So Joseph apparently could connect to the original sources from which all other scripture had come, a window into the entire heavenly realm—perhaps the same window through which Moses, Nephi, and John the Revelator saw. The pure and profound doctrines he found there revolutionized Christianity, restoring a true understanding of the nature of God and our relationship with Him; the nature of man—past, present, and future; the Fall, the Atonement, the scriptures, and the very purpose of life. This astounding religious bedrock rings with such glorious truth that it speaks for itself—with such profound clarity that the details of how the Lord gave it to Joseph matters little.

Elder Hafen: Fourth suggestion: cultivate an attitude of meekness. When our idealism has been rattled by abrupt confrontations with realism, our attitude about what has happened is more important than what has happened. Elder Maxwell said that doubting “can either soften or harden hearts, depending on [our] supply of meekness.” Meekness, a softness of heart, keeps the seed of faith alive. When we let adversity harden our hearts, we choke the seed. But if we meekly retain our desire to believe—the attitude that first activated our experiment with the word--our believing heart lets the seed thrive. So when we are jolted by hard experiences, we have a choice. We can either close our hearts to God in bitterness or open our hearts to Him in contrition. By choosing to have a contrite spirit, we bring our whole souls to God and give Him something to work with. As Jacob wrote, without that meek humility, the Lord will “not open unto” us, and “the happiness which is prepared for the saints” will be “hid from [us] forever.”8Here’s what that meekness looks like--another missionary story. We were teaching a bright young American couple named Paul and Wendy Knaupp. They had read and believed the Book of Mormon and were eagerly preparing for baptism. Then Paul’s family wrote him a letter warning him that Mormons were racist, because they didn’t grant their lay priesthood to African men. He and Wendy felt hurt and betrayed. Why hadn’t someone told them about this? Didn’t we know that God treats all people equally? Yet they were bewildered, because they had felt sure that Joseph was a prophet. I was speechless. This was 1962. I had never heard a serious discussion about race and the priesthood, let alone an explanation. But, recalling some fragment from my recent personal scripture study, I blurted out, “Let’s read the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10.” Here we read that after centuries of restricting the gospel to blood Israel, the Lord revealed to Peter that it was time to share the Savior’s message with the Gentile world. This made it reasonable to think that sometime He would open that same door even more fully—which He did in 1978, when he revealed to President Kimball that it was time to establish the Church—and holy temples—everywhere, for the first time in history.

A short time later, Paul and Wendy called to say they had prayed earnestly and wanted to keep talking. Soon they were baptized and eventually raised their family of five children in the gospel. Years later Wendy told me she didn’t remember anything we had discussed on that pivotal night. She just said that after our visit, the gloom had gradually left them and the light returned. Like Nephi, Paul and Wendy had sensed only that God “loveth his children,” even if they didn’t “know the meaning of all things.”9 They were meek and spiritually alive enough to know that the Lord loved them, so they trusted Him. They wouldn’t let the things they didn’t yet understand get in the way of the wonderful truths they did understand. I offer a concluding perspective now from Oliver Wendell Holmes, who described our three level process this way: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity [on] this side of complexity. But I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” The simplicity on this side of complexity is level one. Complexity is level two. And on the other side of complexity is the hard-earned, new simplicity of level three. Let me illustrate. I recently attended an LDS testimony meeting for the women inmates at the Utah State Prison—women separated from their families and from society by serious crimes and serious struggles. One of them said, “When I was a little girl, I often bore my testimony in Church. In my innocent little sing-song voice I would say, ‘I love my mom and dad. I know the Church is true. My Heavenly Father loves me. Jesus suffered for my sins.’

But today, behind these bars, I am saying those same words with new eyes and a new heart. Now I understand what the words really mean. I know the Church is true. My Heavenly Father loves me. Jesus suffered for my sins.” She was discovering the simplicity on the other side of complexity. The simplicity on this side of complexity asks very little of us. The simplicity on the other side of complexity asks everything of us. That’s why Holmes would give his life for it. T.S. Eliot called this, “A condition of complete simplicity/ (Costing not less than everything).” We may need to pay that cost in multiple ways. For instance, we don’t always move smoothly and quickly through complexity to ‘other side’ simplicity. Too many get stuck in complexity. And because complexity is more nuanced and realistic than level one simplicity, some bright people may think that mere complexity is better informed, more honest. Others may think that’s all there is, or that they can’t get out. But remember what Holmes said--moving beyond complexity to mature simplicity is so important that he would give his life to find it. So getting there can be a matter of spiritual life and death. That means it will probably require great sacrifice.

Our friend Holly discovered this level three simplicity after she left the Church then found it again, with fresh, more open eyes. She had come to know complexity, with its conflicts and demands, but now she was meek enough to sense that complexity alone is not enough. Complexity is but the texture, the contrasts, and the oppositions that give context and meaning to our choices and experiences. In that context, she heard the Restoration’s message with new ears. Then she tasted the simplicity beyond complexity when she spoke those simple but holy words with a new voice: “Heavenly Father.” Discoveries like Holly’s are not small ones. They are part of the cosmic pattern of Adam and Eve, who left the simplicity of Eden for the complexity that began with the forbidden fruit. Then they gradually came to themselves, discovering that because of their encounters with complexity their eyes were opened, and if they would repent and call upon God, they could now grasp the joy of full simplicity. They would not then return to the innocent simplicity of Eden but would ascend developmentally toward mature celestial life. Because of Christ’s Atonement, they could learn from their complexity without being confused or condemned by it. In this life they would have joy and would be with Him again. And then they would truly comprehend for the first time the grand simplicity of being with Him and with each other—a fullness of meaning they would never have found in the simple innocence of Eden. In Elliot’s words, “We shall not cease from exploration./ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.”

Brothers and sisters, as we make our way through our complexities, if we don’t press forward by giving the Lord and His Church the benefit of our doubts and uncertainties, it won’t be long until we are unwilling to go down the road of faith and sacrifice at all—the only road that leads to the deep simplicity of wisdom and light. Complexity is valuable, even essential. But those who get stuck there will never know the simple yet profound joy of the Saints. “For ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”10 Our tunnels of ambiguity are there to teach us, not to torment us. And there is light at the end of those tunnels: the Light and Life of the world. Faith is not blind. On the contrary, it is by faith that we consciously choose to grow through the complexity that lets us see with our eyes and our hearts wide open. That’s why Alma talked about “the eye of faith.”11 That special far-sightedness will let us be among those who, in Moroni’s words, had “faith . . . so exceedingly strong” that they “could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad."

[1] See Doctrine and Covenants 1:31, [2] John 8:11, [3] October 2013 General Conference, President Uchtdorf notes that he is quoting the "doubt your doubts" sentence from F.F. Bosworth, Christ the Healer (1924), [4] Email to Bruce C. Hafen, June, 2009, [5] H. Donl Peterson, "Translation and Publication of the Book of Abraham," E of M p. 134, [6] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 419, [7] Rough Stone Rolling p. 133, [8] 2 Nephi 9:43, [9] 1 Nephi 11:17, [10] Ether 12:6, [11] See Alma 5:15; 32:40, [12] Ether 12:19