There are hundreds of different topics that people discuss with me about which I have no opinion or view. These things matter to others, and in some cases are believed to be vital religious issues for them.
Just a few examples will illustrate:
Bishop John Koyle’s Dream Mine matters to some people. They have invested in it and study what Koyle taught, said and prophesied. I’ve heard them explain their views.
I have heard more than one account of “multiple mortal probations” from those who believe strongly in the idea. Some think it is at the heart of the gospel plan. I’ve heard them but have never been able to reconcile the strongly contrasting forms this idea has taken.
One man believes everything ever revealed since Adam can be extrapolated from the pre-1990 version of the LDS endowment. His complex theories have been evolving, encountering obstacles, taking a detour and reconstituting for years, but he stays on this theme as the basis for all gospel knowledge. I’ve listened to him.
There are many different views of the role and status of women. On one extreme they are breeding stock, of little value other than to be subservient to men and produce offspring. On the other extreme they are goddesses and men are mere brutes, to be endured by the divine feminine as a test in this fallen world; but men will get their punishment in the world to come where women’s true value is known. I’ve heard these various expositions of conflicting views about women.
I’ve attended meetings where strange ideas are taught openly. I’ve listened and tried to understand what the speaker is attempting to teach. There are hundreds of examples, but I will leave it with these.
I can probably explain many of these strange ideas in the same way as they have been explained to me. But the fact I can listen to them, or restate what others have set out, does not mean that I share their beliefs or support their “cause.” I try to understand them, without the need to do anything more.
For me, these wildly varying ideas are important for one reason: I’m trying hard to understand the challenge we face to become “one” with each other. In the most peaceful, enlightened and enduring society (apart from Enoch’s and Melchizedek’s cities) we have only a brief explanation of their social order. But in the description it tells us four times the same important lesson:
4 Ne. 1:2 “and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.” This was a first step. It was not complete. But the people managed to stop their disputes. They may not have agreed with one another, but they were no longer fighting among themselves about their different viewpoints.
4 Ne. 1:13 “And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.” This was a closer agreement where united faith among the people began to bear the fruits of the spirit. It is a second level and developmentally greater than the absence of contention that preceded it.
4 Ne. 1:15 “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” This was yet another stage of development. It came as people’s hearts were filled through God’s love so they would no longer just be avoiding contention, they were now in agreement.
4 Ne. 1:18 “the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.”
The experience these people went through was in stages of progression and development. Over many years I’ve tried to see what the landscape looks like among the different versions of the gospel as understood by widely varying people. I believe them (you) all to be loved by God. I believe them (you) all to be sincere. I let others explain themselves to me, I labor to understand them (you), and let all men go in peace. I believe it is important to allow all men to explain their views, and important to consider this cacophony because of how it separates us from becoming “one” with each other. It is a very real challenge. It is daunting. But it is important to understand as a point of beginning.
I do not interrupt people and challenge everything they say. I do not insist that people change their views to be exactly as mine. If I only tolerated my own view I would interrupt every person in every conversation and make myself an obnoxious mad man.
From time to time there are those who take the views they have announced to me as their belief or doctrine, and associated MY name with it. If they explain their views as theirs, they go in peace. But when they make their belief MINE, and their understanding of things MY understanding, or when it is not true or accurate, then I choose to clarify that I do not share that viewpoint.