Even while stating my commitment to support the change, I commented on another blog that I was hesitant to see “care for the poor and needy” added to the traditional “threefold mission” — the Church, led by the priesthood, is the only organization on earth with the power to “proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead,” while anybody and everybody ought to be caring for the poor and needy regardless of any special priesthood commission.
But as I lay sleepless early this morning — the time I do my best (or sometimes my weirdest) thinking — I recalled comments made elsewhere by those discussing this development: “The poor will always be with us.” “How can we care for the poor without making them dependent on charity?” “If charity is forced — whether extracted from us by a government or by the Church — it isn’t charity, it’s socialism.”
And then I wondered …
Maybe caring for the temporal needs of each other really is a function of the priesthood as much as the other three missions. Maybe the charitable shortcomings of well-intentioned people and organizations are, like the well-meant but insufficient teachings of those without the fulness of the gospel, a result of applying human, not divine, principles and authority.
Will I look back in a year, or five years, or ten, and recognize that prophetic leadership and inspiration — charitable programs and principles taught and implemented under priesthood authority — are as different in character from the well-intentioned efforts of men as are the differences between the other three purposes of the Church and their non-priesthood counterparts?
In any case, I’m no longer in the least reluctant to see a modification to the traditionally expressed mission of the Church. I’m looking forward to seeing what may be proposed by prophetic leadership, and how I can assist.