In recent news coverage of Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell, such as this article in the East Idaho News, people within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may look at the situation as a warning against looking beyond the mark. However, it is important that those outside of the Church realize that they do not represent faithful members of the Church, and that we have been counselled against such fanaticism.
FairMormon member Cassandra Hedelius spoke at the 2015 FairMormon Conference, warning against this very thing. In fact, some of the people, groups, and sites she was referring to are the very ones mentioned in the East Idaho News article.
In 2016, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also gave a warning:
While there are many examples of looking beyond the mark, a significant one in our day is extremism. Gospel extremism is when one elevates any gospel principle above other equally important principles and takes a position that is beyond or contrary to the teachings of Church leaders. One example is when one advocates for additions, changes, or primary emphasis to one part of the Word of Wisdom. Another is expensive preparation for end-of-days scenarios. In both examples, others are encouraged to accept private interpretations. “If we turn a health law or any other principle into a form of religious fanaticism, we are looking beyond the mark.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard said in the October 2017 General Conference:
We must be careful where our footsteps in life take us. We must be watchful and heed the counsel of Jesus to His disciples as He answered these questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man [and I add woman] deceive you.”
Today I repeat earlier counsel from Church leaders.
Brothers and sisters, keep the doctrine of Christ pure and never be deceived by those who tamper with the doctrine. The gospel of the Father and the Son was restored through Joseph Smith, the prophet for this last dispensation.
Do not listen to those who have not been ordained and/or set apart to their Church calling and are not acknowledged by common consent of the members of the Church.
Be aware of organizations, groups, or individuals claiming secret answers to doctrinal questions that they say today’s apostles and prophets do not have or understand.
Do not listen to those who entice you with get-rich schemes. Our members have lost far too much money, so be careful.
In some places, too many of our people are looking beyond the mark and seeking secret knowledge in expensive and questionable practices to provide healing and support.
An official Church statement, issued one year ago, states: “We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.”
The Church Handbook counsels: “Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.”
Brothers and sisters, be wise and aware that such practices may be emotionally appealing but may ultimately prove to be spiritually and physically harmful.
Most recently, in the October 2019 General Conference, President Dallin H. Oaks warned against “speculation by members and others in published sources like books on near-death experiences” and said that “personal spiritual experiences are not to be understood or taught as the official doctrine of the Church.”
The Seminary and Institute section of the Church website has a list of other resources on the topic of “False Revelation and Gospel Extremism.”
It is unfortunate when the Church is represented in the news by people in apostasy. Hopefully we can learn from their mistakes and also show by our example that faithful members of the Church do not have such extreme beliefs.