Testimonies are powerful things. They are your own personal witness of something. The trouble with testimonies is that sometimes they need to be vetted or fact-checked. It is possible to receive witnesses of things that go against the revealed word of God and His prophets. We need to make sure our source of information is a worthy one.
I was disturbed recently by a post I received from a blogger who said that she received revelation in the temple that God wanted her to be gay, take a wife, and be happy. I was blown away.
At first I wanted to argue all the most obvious points, like, ‘then you didn’t get that revelation from God,’ or ‘but it goes against everything the scriptures and the prophets have taught us.’ Then I thought but to what point? A testimony is a nontransferable witness of what you know to be true. If she received a witness of something, even as blatantly false as that, and accepts that witness as the truth then no amount of arguing is going to change her position.
I finally commented on her post that no one can argue with her witness, that was her experience, and her’s alone. But when we receive a witness about something we also have the responsibility to know that it fits in with the rest of what we are taught. The Lord will not tell us to do something that is outside the teachings of the prophets and the scriptures. It is our responsibility to understand that and to know if the witness we have received falls within those guidelines and boundaries.
A good example of someone who understood this principle was Lorenzo Snow. He received the revelation that “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” That was a doctrine that was not being taught at that time, so he said nothing about it until the Prophet Joseph Smith taught it publicly. Then he was free to use his knowledge freely. Even personal revelation has boundaries of proprieties. Just because we learn something new doesn’t mean we are obligated to go spread it around, especially if the Brethren have not taught it or written about it. That is when we, like Mary, the mother of Jesus, keep it and ponder it in our hearts.
Unless this young lady realizes that the witness she received is completely outside of the gospel’s boundaries, and that some witnesses need to be challenged, she will follow that witness and do long-term damage to herself and to who knows how many others. Not all witnesses of things come from God, even if you are in the temple when you receive it, an important point to remember. A witness of anything is a big responsibility, and what we do with that witness can affect generations to come for good or for ill.