On Thursday, August 14, 2014, Elder Russell M. Nelson gave the commencement address at BYU. In it, he proclaimed that true disciples of Jesus Christ are those who defend traditional marriage.
I am going to say a bold thing:
Elder Nelson is Right
To say so is bold because we live in a society that is increasingly hostile to the divine truths about the family. To say so is bold, because people have lost jobs and sacrificed careers as a result of standing up against efforts to redefine marriage. It is bold because the church and its members have faced an intense backlash as a result of following the counsel of the Prophets and Apostles. As Elder Nelson noted, “one of the more demanding opportunities of our time is to stand up for the truth regarding the sacred nature of marriage.”
Taking a stance in favor of God ordained marriage is bold, because as society moves away from the standards God has set, those who follow the teachings of the prophets will be mocked and face persecution. For as a scripture which Elder Nelson quoted reads ““And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Taking a stance for traditional marriage is bold, because those who do so will be labelled as backwards and on the wrong side of history. However, “Disciples of the Lord are defenders of marriage. We cannot yield. History is not our judge. A secular society is not our judge. God is our judge. The future of the marriage and of countless human lives will be determined by [our] willingness to bear solemn witness of the Lord and live according to His gospel.” Indeed, “[m]arriage was not created by human judges or legislators. It was not created by think tanks or by popular votes, or by oft-quoted bloggers or pundits. It was not created by lobbyists. Marriage was created by God.”
Above all, being a disciple of the Lord and defender of marriage is bold because it is personally a personally demanding path. My biggest take away from Elder Nelson’s talk is that truly being a defender of marriage may at times involve speaking out on topics of controversy, but will certainly involve thankless days spent strengthening our families and speaking kind of words to each other. As Elder Nelson explained, the single most powerful argument that we can make is the power of our example: ““Many of your neighbors, colleagues and friends will have never heard logical and inspired truths about the importance of marriage as God Himself defined it. You will have many opportunities to strengthen understanding of the Lord’s side of that argument by the eloquence of your examples, both as individuals and as families.”
Coverage of Elder Nelson’s talk has been almost exclusively focused on his comments on gay marriage. This is of course inevitable, Nevertheless, after listening to Elder Nelson’s talk I emerged more committed to my marriage and my beloved wife. I emerged firmly dedicated to fighting to make our marriage the best it can be. I also emerged committed to fighting for family friendly social policies regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum (for instance, it is shameful that mothers do not have paid maternity leave in this country – certainly a left-leaning position). Fighting for the family requires bold discipleship. It is not simply fighting against something, but standing for something. For those hoping to do so, Elder Nelson’s call was a call to arms. For that reason, Elder Nelson is truly a disciple of the Lord.