We who enter the virtual village of Nauvoo do so in order to associate freely with fellow Saints and converse on all topics in the light of the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ. We share the experience of life and service in branches, wards, stakes, and missions. We come here to share what we have learned and to learn from each other so that we can better serve the Lord and our fellow beings. "Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversations, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings." (D&C; 108:7)
In order to attain this goal, we agree to the following principles:
We believe that the Lord directs his Church and teaches his Saints through revelation. Scripture the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price hold a unique position of universal authority over the beliefs and doctrines of the Church. Official statements of the First Presidency hold unique authority over the conduct of Church affairs. Other official and published statements of General Authorities, especially those sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, carry special weight. In Nauvoo, General Authorities are always spoken of with the respect due their office.
We who take part in Nauvoo believe that Joseph Smith's accounts of his visions and revelations are objectively true; that the Book of Mormon is a genuine history written by the prophets identified as the authors within the text and translated with divine aid by Joseph Smith; that the living prophet has the authority to declare the mind and will of the Lord pertaining to the Saints and the world today. Those who do not share this testimony have many forums for their ideas and for public debate about these issues; Nauvoo is reserved for discussion of matters of interest to those who have already decided to follow the prophets on all matters.
We take part in Nauvoo as equals. No one in Nauvoo has any more or less authority over matters of belief than any other -- no matter what office he holds or how powerful his friends are. Name-dropping is not pertinent to our conversations, because all are brothers and sisters in the gospel. We bring to the discussion such knowledge and ideas as we have gained through study and experience, but none of us seeks special privilege for our ideas. We may demonstrate our ideas through reference to scripture or the published works of prophets, as well as through personal stories or our own best reasoning, but if our source or authority for an idea must remain secret, then we should not contribute to the discussion at all.
We accept the principle that it is possible for Saints of good will to disagree in their interpretation or understanding of many matters, but we approach all disagreements with humility, knowing that while we prefer our own ideas and feel them to be well-supported by scripture and the prophets, at all times we humbly admit the possibility that our own understanding may be flawed and that further revelation may reveal things that put our present ideas in a completely different perspective. As a principle of courtesy, we assume at all times that everyone is acting for the best of motives.
We reject the spirit of contention. When someone else's posting seems to us to be contrary to the gospel, we never attack or impugn the motives of the person posting, and we avoid direct and offensive refutation. Rather we set forth our own different understanding of the principles involved, and trust the wisdom of the citizens of Nauvoo and the directing Spirit of God to guide readers to the truth of the matter. Rather than stir up anger or agitation among our fellow citizens, we work to maintain harmony and create understanding. Our goal is to set forth our own ideas and learn from others, never to prevail in an debate or argue another Saint into silence or submission.
We do not discuss in public postings that which belongs in the temple, or that which is known only among a select group. Nor do we quote phrases found in the temple ceremony, unless those phrases come from a scriptural source and we cite the scriptural reference after each phrase that is used in the conversation.
Nor is Nauvoo a forum for members to convert one another to their own secular beliefs. We accept that good Latter-day Saints can be found in any one of a number of political parties, that they may adhere to different dietary or health practices, or that they may personally espouse any one of a number of conflicting socio-political agendas, but Nauvoo is not the place to browbeat others with those agendas. As long as behaviors are not specifically proscribed by the scriptures or the general authorities, we give others the agency to choose for themselves how to live their own lives.
We welcome humor, but not sarcasm, cruelty, or light-mindedness about sacred things.
All Saints are welcome, regardless of age, nationality, race, sex, educational level, career, geographical location, calling, degree of kinship to General Authorities, length of experience in the Church, missionary service, or any other grouping, and so we do not use slighting references that would cause needless hurt to any group of Saints. We are a diverse group, and we rejoice in our diversities because our different experiences can enrich the whole. Nevertheless, we seek unity, not division among us. We stress our commonalities rather than our differences.
We refrain from using language that is generally regarded as coarse or blasphemous.
Most of these principles can be expressed in familiar words: We influence each other "only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile." (D&C; 121:41-42) But what if one of us should feel "moved upon by the Holy Ghost" to reprove a brother or sister? We follow the admonition of the scripture, adapting it to our situation as a virtual rather than physical village: We communicate with the individual first by letter. If in that private communication we do not achieve harmony, we take the matter privately before the administrators of the board. At no time do we "reprove with sharpness" on the public boards, because not only does it harm the person we reprove, but also it harms all others who, seeing the sharp reproof, will be intimidated into not speaking freely lest they provoke a similar response.
We citizens of Nauvoo freely agree to these principles. Our compliance with this compact is a condition of our citizenship, and therefore of our ability to witness and contribute to the continuing conversation of this virtual village. Allowing our name to remain on the Nauvoo roster constitutes agreement with these principles.
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