(November 25, 2015)
There is an interesting phenomenon that I discovered as I read through this Section. I always attempt to focus on who is speaking as I read the scriptures, because that is oftentimes enlightening as to what the Lord is trying to teach us. In this Section, there is no indication that what is being related is revelation (though it might be). It is instead put forward as policy to be followed.
Nowadays, of course, we have a large number of people prepared to leave the Church because a policy was issued that they disagree with. The common refrain is that because it is merely a policy, it isn’t of the same force and effect as revelation (which is true, but not nearly as far as they take it).
As I understand the difference, revelation does not change because truth does not change. The Lord may, if He has revealed a policy, change that policy when circumstances change. But it is not given to us to change them when circumstances change because they were given to us by Him.
Policy, on the other hand, when created by those who are in authority, is no less binding on us than is revelation. The difference, of course, is that it may be amended or changed through decision of those in authority (it does not require a revelation to change the policy on music in Sacrament Meeting, for example).
I will readily admit that this represents my own, imperfect understanding of the difference, but the main thing to highlight is that just because something is policy and did not come from the Lord in a cloud of smoke does not justify us disregarding it. I have both been hurt by those who disregard policy and hurt others by disregarding policy. When the Lord places leaders at our head, we would be wise to follow them.