Why is it that when a group of LDS people pray about the same thing, for example, who to vote for, they say they are inspired to vote for a certain person but it isn’t the same result as everyone else, and yet they claim that it is inspiration from God? How can God be inspiring everyone to vote for different people? Please help! I am not one of these people but people I know have left the church because of recent elections and asked me these questions that I cant eloquently answer.
Thank you for this question, as this is an important question for all of us to ponder and think about. A personal experience of mine might help, at least it will show that I understand your dilemma. I was once speaking with an individual who said, “The Lord shared with me in the temple not to vote for [he named a presidential candidate] because he didn’t serve in the military. The Lord also told me to tell everyone he is not the right person to vote for.” Through our discussion he told me all the callings he served in in order to boost his revelation.
The irony – is what you have shared – I had a different discussion with another member who said the exact opposite and that the Lord told him to vote for this unnamed presidential candidate, and that he should tell other people as well.
In light of this, how are we to interpret/clarify what is happening? What we know for sure is that God would not inspire two people with different revelations. This then tells me someone is wrong, and honestly, I am not interested in who is wrong. I am interested in how I feel, what I find important, and what the Church leaders have shared. Every year the Church leadership lets us know that we are to prayerfully consider candidates and then vote. So why different revelations?
1) The most obvious is that we are not perfect beings with regards to revelation. Very few people on this earth have reached what is called a “more sure word of prophecy” — a oneness with God.
2) There are members who are not able to distinguish their personal feelings (strong feelings) and the actual witness of the Holy Ghost.
3) There are members who are not able to separate their political affiliation from truth, and thus their “strong feelings” are interpreted as revelations, but they are solely voting within their political affiliation.
4) We have members who are praying for the best candidate, they are praying to know which is the best candidate in their political paradigm. I mean, if a person is praying between, let’s say, Obama or Clinton, and then they feel they know by revelation which God wants well, this will obviously be a different revelation from the individual from the other platform who is praying to know which is the better candidate between Trump or Cruz. Both of these scenarios would lead to different revelations from different platforms, and both in this case could be correct. This doesn’t mean though that God provided contradicting revelations. On the contrary, God answered their prayer according to the candidates they were asking about, and according to their knowledge and what they were requesting to know.
5) Also, I am hearing a lot in the Church the notion, good information leads to good inspiration. If we could see what God sees pertaining to each candidate I personally believe we all would come to the same conclusion, because we would have all the necessary information to make a right decision. In light of #1 – #4, not every decision is based upon the whole truth, but through a obscure looking glass, and people are doing their best (at least I hope so) according to their knowledge.
I can think of a few other scenarios, but these suffice, and if people have left the Church due to the elections I would ask my friends, “Why would you leave the Church over an election?” My testimony of the Church is not based upon man, or any election, or any temporal affair. My testimony is built upon Christ, and Christ alone. The varying revelations really do not matter to me, because I know no one is perfect, and that the majority of members have not reached a more sure word of prophecy. I am also hesitant to trust in other people’s revelations, especially when people are not bridling their passions within their own party platform.
If a friend tells me they have received a revelation, I simply think to myself, that is great. I have not yet received the same, and according to what I know I wouldn’t vote for him due to this [insert principle or action]. If another friend tells me they have received a revelation and it is different than my other friend, well, I simply just smile inside and continue to recognize we all are progressing in our understanding of what a true revelation is, and sometimes we can easily interpret our strong feelings as a revelation from God. This is in part why I believe God asks us to have a still heart and mind when we approach him.