Mormon Church ‘satisfied’ with Boy Scouts possibly lifting gay youth ban

I really like the Boy Scout’s decision ūüôā It is very reasonable and will bless the lives of gay youth.

CNN Belief Blog

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) ‚Äď The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it was ‚Äúsatisfied‚ÄĚ with the Boy Scouts of America‚Äôs move to consider no longer denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.

In a statement Thursday, the Mormon church called the issue ‚Äúcomplex and challenging‚ÄĚ and said it believed the Boy Scouts were making ‚Äúa thoughtful, good-faith effort‚ÄĚ to address the issue.

‚ÄúWe are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues,‚ÄĚ the statement said. ‚ÄúWe appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future.‚ÄĚ

The Boy Scouts of America said last week it would consider a proposal that would no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation but would maintain its ban on…

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What is a Sealing- A guide for the uninitiated

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I will be getting sealed in the Draper, Utah Temple on May 4th for time and all eternity. Being a convert, however, I have a lot of family and friends that wonder what a sealing is and how it actually differs from a regular marriage ceremony. I thought I would write a brief post explaining what it means to me to be sealed and why it is so special. 

 

Marriage is always a very special and important occasion. Two people that love each other always hope that their marriage will be successful and that they will never again be apart. Yet, most marriages come with an expiration date built in. They are consummated ’till death do you part’ or based on some other such limitation. After death, there is no longer a promise.

The difference between a regular marriage and a sealing is that a temple sealing is not merely done for time or ’till death do you part.’ When one is sealed in the temple that marriage is able to continue forever. There is an explicit promise that the familial bond will continue beyond the grave. Indeed, in the eternities there is a promise that Jessica and I will be married and continue to have a family. We will be able to enjoy each other’s company and love.

Indeed, God has promised that

And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.

That means that those that have been sealed will continue to grow as a family even when they leave this world. Their children will be theirs eternally.

A prophet of God, Gordon B. Hinckley, express my feelings about this really well.

Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant His sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it.

That is the basic idea as far as the theology. What about the practical nature of what happens in the temple.

This is a sealing room… On May 4th, Jessica and I will both be dressed in all white. Jessica will be wearing her wedding dress while I will have on a white pair of pants with a white tie and a white shirt. We will also be wearing certain symbolic articles of clothing which are in many ways similar to things that Orthodox Jews wear during services such as a Talit or a Kippa. These articles are symbolic of our relationship to God and remind us of the promises that we have made.

We will kneel across from each other at the altar and grasp each other by the hand. Behind us, there will be a reflective mirror on either side of the room. Because of their position each mirror will reflect the image of the other. Looking at them, we will see our reflection repeating over and over again. This will symbolize the eternal nature of the marriage.

The individual performing the sealing ( sealer) will ask us whether we are ready to have each other as husband and wife. He will tell us about some of the promises of God that God has for us. He will remind us that together we will be able to be an eternal family. He will encourage us to live righteously and remember God in all that we do. By the power of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, he will seal us as a family forever.

The ceremony will be very simple and we will only have a few members of family present. There will be no dancing or music in the temple. No food. There will be a reception later for friends. However, in the temple the focus will be on each other and on our relationship to God.

I am so excited to be married in the temple. I have a strong belief that the temple marriage is ordained of God and that it can be eternal. I am so excited to begin my journey with my eternal companion ūüôā

Here are a couple of great resources abut the temple:

First of all, there is a Journal from 2010 specifically dedicated to the temple.

I especially recommend this article by President Gordon B. Hinckley entitled Why These Temples?

Also, here’s a talk about Celestial Marriage by Elder Nelson (an Apostle and well renowned heart surgeon.

Elder Cook- Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness- General Conference


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This week has been a stark example that we living in a chaotic world in which peace has been “taken from the earth.” Lest we forget that Satan still has immense power over the hearts of men, the Boston Marathon Bombing this week served as a stark reminder. I was strongly struck this week by the bombings because it hit so close to home. I used to work five minutes away from the finish line. When I saw pictures or Watertown, Cambridge and Boston under lock down, I was reminded of the time I spent there. Likewise, this week saw a fertilizer plant outside of Waco, Texas explode, (my fiances father lives in Waco though far enough away from the plant that he was completely safe) poisonous letters sent to the president and so many other tragic incidents.

Likewise, this has also been finals week and so there has been a lot of stress. For the past couple of days, I had been filled with anxiety about a mistake that I made which could have had very detrimental consequences. Marriage plans are also stressful though also very exciting. In short, there is a lot to be stressed and anxious about. That is why, I so strongly appreciated Elder Cook’s remarks about the peace that can come to each of us as a disciple of Jesus Christ even as chaos reigns in the world around us.

Elder Cook prefaces his remarks by saying that he will talk about the role of Jesus Christ in “helping each of us obtain lasting peace” For me, the concept of lasting peace is really a beautiful one. Since joining the Church of Christ, this is one thing that really changed for me. I am much more content with life in general and much more consistently so. I have far fewer ups and downs because of the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life.

Elder Cook talks about a couple of incidents that really touched him such as the Newtown school shooting, his meeting with members in war-torn Ivory Coast, and the events of September 11th. He recalls how quickly “feelings of peace and safety can be destroyed.” The truth is that life is far too fragile. In an instant, things can change it dramatically. If we live remembering how precious our life is, we will be able to more fully appreciate all of the blessings that we have.

He tells the story his son on 9-11. They lived three blocks from the World Trader Center, and as they realized the city was under attack they made their way to the stake center ( where the temple now is) at Lincoln Center. Elder Cook emphasizes that in these last days the stakes of zion will be a defense and “a refuse from the storm.” I really have found the truth of these sayings both temporally and spiritually.

A couple of years ago, when I was working in Boston doing door to door fundraising for a non-profit organization, I was very discouraged. It was a cold and rainy day and I felt completely alone. As I walked in Arlington, Ma, I realized that I was near the Boston Temple. As I walked along the road, I saw the familiar spire in the distanced and the sight of the temple helped me feel at peace and know that God was mindful of me. The temple was a beacon of safety and peace. Likewise, today, when burden filled as I came to sacrament meeting I instantly felt at peace.

Elder Cook emphasizes that there is a difference between person peace and world peace. When Christ was born, the heavenly hosts declared ‚ÄúGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Yet, in the aftermath of those remarks, Herod slaughtered the innocent infants, John the Baptist was beheaded and even the Savior of the world himself as betrayed and crucified. Christ’s coming and his sacrifice did not take away human agency. Evil will still reign in this world for a time.

Christ emphasized that he did not come to bring world peace. Indeed, Christ declared

” 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Matthew 10)”

Since joining the church I have seen a lot of conflict. I have had family members upset at me, friends desert me, and a myriad of difficult decisions that never would have come my way had I not begun to believe in the savior. The path is not free of thorns. He that himself wore a crown of thorns did not promise that. Instead, he promised something much sublime. He promised to help transform us and fill our hearts with peace.

Indeed, President Joseph F. Smith emphasized that this inner transformation is essential and that we can never have world wide peace without it. “There never can come to the world that spirit of peace and love ‚Ķ until mankind will receive God‚Äôs truth and God‚Äôs message ‚Ķ , and acknowledge his power and authority which is divine.”

I used to be part of the anti-war movement when I was in Boston. I would go to anti-war rallies and attend prayers for world peace. I used to think that I was making a real difference in reducing conflict. Since then, however, I have realized that while praying for peace is valuable, peace will never come without an increase in faith in Jesus Christ. Without God and without purpose in life, peace will always be fleeting. When the doctrines of Christ are ignored, peace will always be the casualty.

Elder Cook reminded us that “We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness. This peace is a promised gift of the Savior‚Äôs mission and atoning sacrifice.”

That peace is one that is rather inexplicable and hard to describe to those who have not felt it. It is deeper than temporary relief from stress or anxiety. Indeed, it is “an abiding deep happiness and spiritual commitment.” One day on my mission stands out as one of the starkest examples of this peace. That day, was the day we were supposed to call our parents for Mother’s day (one of two times in the year). My father had gotten mad at me and decided not to talk to me that day. I had set up a call with my sister instead, but because of time zone miscommunication she called me at 4 am and spent the time criticizing me for my bad choices in serving a mission. I got off the phone with her broken. I didn’t know what to do. As I sat there, I poured out my heart in prayer to God and was overwhelmed with a sense of peace. I opened up my scriptures randomly and found myself reading Psalm 27

4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

When I read that last verse, I was overwhelmed with emotion and the spirit. Even though my heart was full of anxiety and pain, I felt a deep peace. I knew that God was mindful of me and that everything would work out. I knew that as long as I longed for righteousness and to be with God, he would never ever forsake me.

President Heber J. Grant described the Savior‚Äôs peace this way: ‚ÄúHis peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness.‚ÄĚ

Indeed, it is amazing how quickly the savior can heal us and help fill us with love. It is incredible how quickly hatred, fear and prejudice melt away replaced with love and charity. Christ is quick to head our cries.

Elder Cook emphasizes that the victims of Newtown, and the members he met on the Ivory Coast were filled with the savior’s peace despite all that was happening around them. Indeed, they knew that “the Savior’s Atonement would overcome and compensate for all the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace.”

Elder Cook then spoke about the sources of peace. He reiterated that true peace can never be found in worldly ways. It is not found through riches or amassing great amounts of power. It is not found through great stores of knowledge or through entertainment and technology. Those things can not lead to lasting happiness or peace. I found that this is so true. When I was an undergrad, I was studying in a great university, had good friends and a lot of opportunities, but I still felt I was missing something. I still felt restless and like I was searching for something so illusive and mysterious. It was only when I found Jesus Christ that I found a source of peace and contentment.

Ultimately, it is the atonement of the savior that brings us lasting peace and allows us to experience ‘peace of conscience’ which is essential to happiness and contentment. In other words, we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to have faith followed by repentance, baptism and becoming lifelong disciples. The Holy Ghost transfoms us as we continue to participate in Christ’s Church and partake of sacred ordinances:

“The Church is a refuge where followers of Christ attain peace. Some young people in the world say they are spiritual but not religious. Feeling spiritual is a good first step. However, it is in the Church that we are fellowshipped, taught, and nourished by the good word of God. More importantly, it is priesthood authority in the Church that provides for sacred ordinances and covenants that bind families together and qualify each of us to return to God the Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom. These ordinances bring peace because they are covenants with the Lord.”

Elder Cook also spoke beautifully about the peace that comes from temples. The temple for me is the connective glue holding together all the peaces of my testimony. As in the Psalm which I quoted above, my one desire is to be worthy to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. I am excited to be sealed in the temple and for the joy and peace I feel whenever I go to the temple.

Elder Cook powerfully retold a story from the dedication of the Suva Fiji temple which occurred while the country was under martial law. The peace felt inside the temple is strongly contrasted with the tumult outside. We too live in a time of wars and rumors of war. War and conflict surround us. We need to have a refuse in the house of the Lord and have the savior in our own hearts in order to feel peace in these times.

Christ’s parting word’s to his disciples powerfully resonate

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.‚ÄĚ

I know that he is the source of peace, the rock and redeemer of Israel. I am so grateful for all that he does for me every single day. I bear my testimony that he lives and loves each one of us.

For Peace at Home- Elder Scott- April 2013 Conference

All week, I have seen friends on Facebook post quotes from Elder Scott’s Conference talk. Elder Scott has been one of my favorite Apostles since he came and spoke while I was in the MTC and gave an incredible discourse on¬†receiving¬†revelation. Still, this talk hadn’t stood out to me too strongly when I first listened to it. On re-read and watch however, it’s depth and spiritual power really impressed me. Elder Scott has a degree of depth in some of his comments that ¬†at times seems unmatched

Elder Scott begins by talking about how with our world moving at an even more frantic pace it is ever more important to have a place of refuge where we can go to recharge both physically and spiritually. I have personally found this to be so true as I am in the midst of frentic studying for Law School exams. Coming home and spending time with my fiance and unwinding is so necessary. Human beings are not meant to work without ceasing. We need time to unplug and be at rest.

Many voices from the world in which we live tell us we should live at a frantic pace. There is always more to do and more to accomplish. Yet deep inside each of us is a need to have a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and reenergize to prepare for future pressures.”

I’ve noticed that this is a common theme of Elder Scott’s as he often speaks about finding those places and opportunities needed in order to¬†receive¬†personal revelation. There are of course many places to get this needed spiritual boost, and Elder Scott has in recent years given extensive talks about the Temple and scripture study for those very reasons. However, Elder Scott emphasizes that the ideal place for this is in the home.¬†

I love that Elder Scott emphasizes that any home, no matter how atypical the arrangement, can be a place of peace if that home is centered on Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord Jesus¬†Christ, for He is the source of true peace in this life.”

¬†Elder Scott suggests that the way to have a Christ-centered home is to first and foremost “Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do.” As I am about to begin my own family, this is a really important consideration for me. When making decisions, especially large ones, it is so important for Christ to be at the center of it all. Elder Scott emphasizes that the basic building blocks of a Christ-centered home come from regularly learning about him and from him through prayer, family home evening and scripture study.

I’m sure you can identify the fundamental principles that center your home on the Savior. The prophetic counsel to have daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, and weekly family home evening are the essential, weight-bearing beams in the construction of a Christ-centered home. Without these regular practices it will be difficult to find the desired and much-needed peace and refuge from the world.

I think these little details can be the hardest of all to actually do consistently, which is why I appreciate that Elder Scott emphasizes that we should not rationalize away our failure to do these things, because upon little things truly rests large consequences. Elder Scott also emphasized the importance of steady and consistent observance “More importantly, simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings.” I hope that as I start my family it can likewise be built upon the rock of Jesus Christ and bolstered by these regular practices.

Elder Scott next emphasized the divine potential that each of us Рespecially those born in this generation- have. He emphasized some interesting doctrine about the pre-earth life that does not get expressed all that often 

In the premortal life you proved to be valiant, obedient, and pure. There you worked hard to develop talents and capacities to prepare yourselves to face mortality with courage, dignity, honor, and success. Not long ago you came to mortality with all of those magnificent capacities and endless possibilities.

It’s interesting to think that our strengths, and also our weaknesses were already with us in the pre-earth life. This life is a wonderful individualized test for each one of us. Each of us are where we need to be in order to develop our talents and overcome our weaknesses. Yet, as Elder Scott emphasized, Satan is trying to exploit our¬†weaknesses¬†and make us fall short of our divine potential. Satan is miserable and wants to make as many of us miserable as possible. He seeks to confuse and distract us from the things that truly count.¬†

Elder Scott makes clear that technology can be a wonderful tool for good or an instrument from evil.

You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.

I experience this phenomenon as I blog about Mormonism. There are so many wonderful and uplifting writers that bear testimony with conviction. Likewise, unfortunately, there are so many blogs that are overcome with cynicism and doubt. Reading those blogs, especially those written by disaffected members, saps and drains the spirit. Even though I know better, I still find myself reading those kinds of blogs out of curiosity, but reading this talk has made me more aware of the importance of distancing myself from that kind of filth. Intellectual curiosity is a virtue, but Satan can also exploit that and turn it into a liability. Being on the Lord’s side in all things truly is the key.

I loved that Elder Scott emphasized that viability of scriptures on Smart Phones and Tables as a way to receive revelation. However, he also emphasized that these things do us no good if we do not use them. With digital scriptures I have found it sometimes harder to sit, ponder and reflect because I am quickly drawn to something else ( playing a game, checking my e-mail etc…) I also loved Elder Scott’s suggestion that we turn to our scriptures as often as we text

Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.

Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized.

This also reminded me of the wonderful suggestion of Elder Ardern of the 70 a few years ago: ”¬†Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text.” I know that I am guilty of being far quicker to text than to read, ponder and pray and so this is a¬†challenge¬†that seems tailored for my needs.

Elder Scott next emphasizes what he declares as an absolute law for getting the power of God into our lives. When an Apostle declares that something is an absolute law, that is a good sign that his advice is really truly important:

I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. It defines the way obedience and service relate to the power of God. When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God‚ÄĒpower to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord. His power is a fundamental component to establishing a home filled with peace.

As Elder Scott suggests, the way to have the Lord’s presence more fully in our lives is to go out and serve. I saw this on my mission in a myriad of ways. One transfer late in my mission, my companion and I were having a bit of difficulty getting along. In our first couple of days, things were a bit rough. We then set a goal to fast and pray for unity and to go out and serve as hard as we could. After a couple of weeks, we developed a really great friendship and companionship. We saw so many miracles unfold as we worked to serve others, serve each other and serve the Lord. I know that this is an inspired principle that works exactly as Elder Scott suggests. When we lose ourselves in service, we are endowed with power from on high and able to do so much more than we ever could on our own.

As I learned on my mission, when we have that power miracles happen. Elder Scott emphasizes that people will be drawn to what they see and feel when we are living a Christ-like life of love and services I often wondered when I first joined the Church why so much time is spent talking about the home and family rather than an emphasis on social justice or helping the poor and needy. Only since my mission have I really understood what is meant by the saying ” No success can compensate for failure in the home” As Elder Scott makes clear, one of the most meaningful things we can do to bless the lives of others is build a christ-centered home. Indeed,. He suggests that examples of Christ-centered homes will ultimately be one force that will change the world for the better:

“One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.”

Elder Scott tells a story about how spending time in a Mission President’s home helped a young elder who had grown up without a family learn about the importance of family. This story actually reminded me a lot of my own mother. Even though she was not a member of the church, she was always reaching out to others and doing good. She was quick to help those in need. During middle school, I had a really good friend who had a really hard family situation. My mother treated him almost like her son at times. She helped his family out in many ways both temporally and just by showing them that she cared. My home embodied the principle taught by Elder Scott:

Do all you can to have just such a home. Reach out to those living in adverse circumstances. Be a true friend. This kind of enduring friendship is like asphalt that fills the potholes of life and makes the journey smoother and more pleasant. It should not be a resource used to gain personal advantage but a treasure to be appreciated and shared. Welcome into your home others who need to be strengthened by such an experience.

I am truly grateful that I grew up in such a home where love abounded. I am eager to be able to build my own home where that love can be coupled with the teachings of the Savior. 

I love that Elder Scott continues beyond this point to offer a few words of advice and counsel to those whose family situation is far from ideal.

 

I offer some final thoughts for those who love a family member who is not making good choices. That can challenge our patience and endurance. We need to trust in the Lord and in His timing that a positive response to our prayers and rescue efforts can occur. We do all that we can to serve, to bless, and to submissively acknowledge God’s will in all things. We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet. With faith we can know that this straying loved one is not abandoned but is in the watch care of a loving Savior.

Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues.

When you feel that there is only a thin thread of hope, it is really not a thread but a massive connecting link, like a life preserver to strengthen and lift you. It will provide comfort so you can cease to fear. Strive to live worthily and place your trust in the Lord.

 

I love the emphasis here on patiently serving others even when they are falling short of where they want to be. The emphasis on recognizing the good in others is so fundamental. It is easy to see the bad in others and to criticize but a lot more rewarding and meaningful to see the good. With my non-member family, this is a principle that I am trying to live. It is also key to never lose hope because God will eventually answer our faithful prayers ( in this life or the next) and those we care about will be blessed by our perseverance and diligence. Our faith hope and charity truly is that life preserver that will help those we care about stay afloat among the increasing spiritual and temporal dangers of our day.

Finally, lest we become discouraged because of all the things we are expected to do and fall short of, Elder Scott ends with a wonderful promise from the Lord 

 

We need not worry if we can’t simultaneously do all of the things that the Lord has counseled us to do. He has spoken of a time and a season for all things. In response to our sincere prayers for guidance, He will direct us in what should be emphasized at each phase of our life. We can learn, grow, and become like Him one consistent step at a time.

We all fall are imperfect in our¬†strivings¬†to love, serve and build a Christ-centered home. We are all balancing far more than we can ever do perfectly. Yet, the Lord’s promise is that as we try we will¬†receive¬†great power from Christ and that. I was today released from my calling as a Ward Mission leader and as I reflect on my service I knew that even though I had not fulfilled my calling as perfectly or diligently as I would have liked ( being engaged and in law school has that effect) that the Lord was pleased with my service. He loves each of us and wants us to be happy and at peace. With Elder Scott I join in bearing my testimony that God is pleased with us as we strive to do good and as we try to build a firm foundations upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I bear testimony that living an obedient life, firmly rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, provides the greatest assurance for peace and refuge in our homes. There will still be plenty of challenges or heartaches, but even in the midst of turmoil, we can enjoy inner peace and profound happiness. I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the source of that abundant peace, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What is Marriage? Same-Sex Marriage Panel at BYU 4-10-13

Today there was an extraordinary panel at BYU entitled “What is Marriage?” I took really detailed notes and I am including them below. These three individuals spoke very articulately about why we need to stand up and defend the traditional understanding of marriage as a man-woman union meant to help raise children. For the past several weeks, I have been pretty gloomy about the prospects of defeating the same-sex marriage movement. Indeed, I used to think it was inevitable. This event helped me realize that nothing is inevitable. If supporters continue to¬†fearlessly¬†speak out in favor of marriage things can change. We can get pro-families passed and stem the rtide of growing divorce, cohabitation etc. Yet, fighting same-sex marriage is key because it is a watershed and once passed there really is no going back. I am dedicated to speaking out in favor of traditional marriage and in favor of religious freedom no matter the costs

_____________________________________________________________________

What is marriage?

Sherif Girgis- Yale

The argument for keeping marriage between men and women is not one rooted solely in history and its not one based on disagreement with homosexuality. It’s also not a religious argument.

 

There is a ‚ÄúPre-theological truth‚ÄĚ which reflects something about the human good. It reflects the truth about human nature and what makes people live and live well. It shows the wisdom of divine law and gives you a deeper appreciation for it.

 

Usually this debate is settled by a very different framing…One of ‚Äėequality‚Äô. If marriage is a good thing then equality says give it to more of them on an equal basis. That framing settles the debate in favor of Same-Sex Marriage. It makes it hard for defense of traditional marriage.

 

Everyone believes in equality and marriage on an equal basis. But we disagree about what marriage actually means.

 

If there is something different about gay unions that would make them different from marriage it would be harmful to include it in our definition of marriage

 

What is marriage?

 

Definition being offered by SS Marriage advocate is that marriage is about love and union. The thing that distinguishes marriage from friendship is really just one of degree and romance. It’s based on a emotional connection.

 

That vision of marriage must get marriage wrong. It can’t explain other features of marriage that everyone appreciates. For instance need for permanence. That would be an arbitrary hang up from tradition based on the new definition. If you lose the romance there is no reason under that thinking to keep the marriage together.

 

Sexual Exclusivity also does not make sense. For some, exclusivity may or may not foster their emotional bond. Open relationships may be better in some ways. Exclusivity becomes arbitrary and unnecessary

 

Monogomy also does not make sense. You can have an emotional connection with 3 or 4 people rather than just one.  They can want all the same benefits and the same relationship.

 

Even the notion that marriage is a sexual relationship at all doesn’t make sense. Platonic bond can be intense enough to meet this standard.

 

This is not just a conservative position but something that is increaisngly being admited by those that support same-sex marriage. For instance, there is the statement ‚ÄúBeyond Marriage‚ÄĚ that scholars have released. Argues recognizing any of those things as marriage. Deliberately temporoary, multiple partners, non-sexual etc… We just disagree about whether these things are good or bad.

 

Unifying idea of comprehensive unity best explains marriage. Common activity towards common ends with a unifying commitment.

 

Common Activity- In friendships there is unity in heart in mind, but only in marriage is it comprehensive. Your person includes your body and for that reason any total union would include bodily union (Sexual activity- ‚ÄúOne Flesh‚ÄĚ). United in one bodily union towards a single end. Only possible in sexual intercorse. They become actively coordinated towards the end of reproduction. They truly become ‚Äúone flesh‚ÄĚ

 

Common End/ Goods- Relationship of marriage is ordered towards the whole range of goods that comes about in domestic love. Its the act that makes new love and new participants in every aspect of the good. Marriage and the relationship itself is communal deepend or enriched by the bearing of new human beings and helping to bring them to maturity.

 

Comprehensive in the commitment that it requires because of that sense of completeness. Means permanence and exclusivity.

 

Contending vision is a much narrowed and watered down vesion of this marriage.

Why should the state be involved in that?

 

What harms would come from redefining marriage?

 

Ryan T. Anderson- Heritage Foundation, Witherspoon

 

Policy implications of this

 

What happened when marriage was redefined for the second time- Introduction of no-fault divorce. Before that marriage was understood as a permanent bond only severable by abuse adultery or abandonment. The law now taught that marriage need not have the expectation of permanence. Law taught culture and culture influenced belief and action.

 

Activists opposing no-fault divorce did not have same sex relationships on their radar or anti-gay animus at all. They were committed to fighting a false idea of marriage that was being promulgated by the state. All the ills that came from it such as divorce and cohabitation and etc… First generation of marriage activists were writing about this (Gallhager and Blankenhorn)

 

In 2003 the change to same sex marriage was the third big redefinition of marriage. Will making fathers ( or mothers) optional make marriage less valuable?

 

What social function does marriage play and what does it do for a political communtiy ( our society).

 

Marriage exists to bring man and woman together to raise children in unity. It brings people together that otherwise would have a tendency to fragment. It doesn‚Äôt happen just be happenstance. Cultural signals are needed and law can either strengthen or weaken those signals. No-fault divorce weakened those signals and so will ‚Äėgenderless marriage‚Äô

 

Marriage is based on idea that men and women are different and that both are needed for a child. Question is will a father stay with a child? Marriage is an institution that makes it much more likely that a husband will stay with his wife and child. Mothers and fathers bring different and complimentary gifts to  the life of the child.

 

Fathers are essential to ensure that kids are behaved. When father‚Äôs leave you see increased criminality and violence etc… 5x more likely to drop out in school 9x more likely to end up in prison etc…

 

Marriage is meant to bolster and support children. Under marriage social science has seen that children do best when raised by married biological mothers and fathers.

This can explain why state cares about marriage. If its all about love life, state should not be involved at all in marriage. It is involved because it is the last intrusive least invasive way for children to be raised in happy families.  Welfare state and child poverty rises when families fall apart. Marriage limits government and protects a flourishing community by doing a better job than the state could ever do. Does it without criminalizing anything.

 

A gay couple can live together, go to a liberal church and be married etc… The question now is whether the state will change the definition of marriage and use state power to redifine the institution. The state has an interest in the marital relationship because it is what can connect children to their mothers and fathers.

 

What would be the harms if we have gay marriage- Concern is not about the gay couples that will marry and have children, but about what vision of marriage will be articulated in society. Is marriage just about intense emotional union or something more. If the former it will make marriage more about the needs of the parents than the children. Nothing in society would hold up idea that children are best with a mother and a father. In fact, the opposite would be true with the state opposing a notion that one is better than the other. We can see that in examples of religious liberty concerns. Catholic Charities in MA  and IL not allowed to adopt children because they advocate this notion.

 

Deeper concern that once you get rid of one of the pillars of marriage, the others become arbitrary. See push for plural, open and other marriages. Pledge of permanence is also at risk…Some want to make marriage like a renewable contract/lease. These things will logically follow once you see marriage as just a personal relationship. Regardless of personal views, it will be a disaster for the public policy that we want society to support. Those other relationships do not have the same externalities that necessitate state support. They actually make fragmented families more likely. Purpose of supporting monogamous families is undercut by a move to viewing these things as arbitrary. If its all a matter of lifestyle choice, that will have dire consequences. We do not want the law to teach that this vision ushered by the sexual revolution is the one that is right.

Robert P. George- From Harvard

 

No University in the country is more supportive than BYU. There is a great admiration for the LDS church and the willingness of members to stand up for the institution of marriage despite the slings and arrows that come. He is grateful that we are willing to bear the cost of discipleship. By our fruits we have shown ourselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Marriage is an interesting and great idea. It is a profound human good. One so profound that one would think it thought up by a divine being. Yet, it is pre-political and even before the church.

 

If human beings did not reproduce sexually…Would anyone have thought up the idea of marriage. Probably not. If human babies were born fully developed like Sharks would marriage exist? Probably not.

 

(Aside about how nice it is to see a baby in the audience and how rare that would be at Princeton)

 

This says a lot about what marriage is. It has a lot to do with procreation and childbearing. Bringing man and woman together as husband and wife and conferring upon children born the profound blessing of being reared as part of a family. Marriage is the institution that unites man and women to be husband and wife and mother and father. They each make distinct contributions to the enterprise of childbearing. It is terribly important to realize that it would be an error to suppose that this is a debate about who is allowed to participate in the institution. This is the error that fills the marriage debate. If the definition proposed by same-sex marriage proponents is true, same-sex marriage is the logical outcome. We all agree on equal dignity and equality. The question is what is marriage and we will not get close to resolving this issue unless we answer that question. Here is where there is on offer to our generation and this nation two options:

 

The conjugal understanding v. The Revisionist/ Romantic Companionship Model.

 

On the first view (Conjugal view) marriage is distinct and set apart from other forms of friendship because it is the form naturally oriented towards having and rearing children. It’s also the union that would naturally be fulfilled by child rearing. This is not to suggest that marriage is only for children Those on the other side miscategorize that. Marriage is an intrinsic valuable human good for husband and wife to be in that type of union. You can have those benefits even if the woman is beyond child bearing age. That’s why historically the state has recognized the marriages of infertile people even if that was known and known to be permanent. On the other hand, non-consumation was regarded as an impediment for nullification of the marriage. That is the conjugal understanding. There is a link to procreation but its not a means to an extrinsic end alone. It makes sense of all features of marriage.

 

We have an understanding for instance, that adultery is a sexual affair and the sexual nature of marriage can best be understood by the Conjugal marriage view.

 

Polyamory or the notion of people being married to each other is the antithesis of the conjugal bond. This can not be a true marriage by the conjugal understanding.

 

The revisionist view treats marriage as purely a partnership or companionship. Children are incidental. That view can not make sense of the features of marriage.

 

Revisionist understanding simply can make no sense at all of the factors of marriage. Things like monogamy and child rearing is of no objective significant but just a preference.

 

Our clear headed and candid friends on the other side make the same point. They are saying exactly the same thing. People like Dan Savage and many academics have clearly expressed this viewpoint.

 

This isn’t a slippery slope argument but it’s just an argument about the principels that define marriage.

 

Questions- Unwillingness of conservatives to stand up for the issue. What about people like Blankenhorn

 

Answer- Get some backbone and stand up for what you believe. People on the left are putting careers on the line and so they may be scared to speak out. Talking about basic institution of society upon which the wellfare of children, communities and society rests. Symptom and not a cause. Sexual anarchy and out of wed-lock children has led to a lot of problems for society. The origins are in family breakdown. We‚Äôve known that since the 1960s. Back then the rate was under 5% in the general population. You see all the ills that were predicted. If you want to fight poverty…change the marriage culture. Rebuilding the family is essential. People began to see that until the same sex marriage movement arose.

 

Prevailing will not win all fights, but it will allow us to continue to fight to rebuild the marriage culture. Once we take that step of recognizing same sex marriage there is simply no going back.

 

At the height of the sexual revolution people did not want to speak the truth about these consequences. People lost their backbones and didn’t stand up. The result was an abandonment of the poor and vulnerable.

 

Questions-  Maggie Gallhager explains that marraige is a private promise made in public. Gives societal cues. Will same sex marriage bring more confusion-?

 

Answer: Yes, it would further enshrine in our law the vision of marriage as just between consensual adults and not about the children.

 

Would call into question all those traditional norms.

 

There are good well intentioned people that believe it will have the effect of reducing promiscuity among gay cultures.

There’s a word you will hear a lot more of as marriage changes- Heteronormativity. People will argue that those norms are being imposed on people unjustly

 

Question- Won’t same sex marriage invigorate marriage culture.

 

Changing labels will not lead to excitement about marriage at all.

 

Look at what is writing in Beyond Marriage- They see it as clearly as we do.

 

Question- In this day of relativism how can one take a moral stance

 

Answer-That’s a question for the other side which uses moral terminology to criticze those that support marriage.

 

Question- What impact would this have on religious institutions?

 

Answer- Church would be left to perform marriages as they see it, but as Obama Admin sees religious liberty that‚Äôs about as far as it would extend. It would not extend to businesses such as the florists or photographers sued etc… Business owners would not be protected and would see law coming down against them. Religious liberty protections should protect more than just the freedom to worship, but that‚Äôs not the case. Look at what‚Äôs happening with contraception. There‚Äôs a notion that you have to leave your religion at home.

 

In canada we have seen ministers called before human rights commissions simply for speaking from Leviticus. That isn’t expected here because of our more robust notions of speech, but once people are by law discriminating there are a lot of ways to deal with them. The speech isn’t shut down, but there are so many other civic disabilities imposed on them (licensing, accreditation, government contracting)

 

Bob Jones Case relating to racism is a harbinger of that. Religious traditions would likewise be treated. Also, think about the disabilities that would be imposed in culture. If someone finds out you are opposed to same-sex marriage will it be treated the same as someone who has racist views today. Consequences are just beginning and they will be profound. We can’t give up on marriage and retreat to the defense of religious liberty. It won’t work.

 

Question- What Valid argument does the opposition have?

 

Answer- Conjugal view is not discrimination and its not bigotry, however the conjugal definition was essential abolished 50 years ago. As such, now that you have embodied in law alternatives you’ve got to be consistent and support same sex marriage. You’ve already yielded in the matter of principle so you have to go all the way, but gay marriage wasn’t even on the radar at the time. If we can prevent marriage from being redefined out of existence we can be at the forefront of bringing back the traditional understanding of marriage.

 

Question- In pop culture now there are so many references to gay marriage. Is there a eugenic alterior motive to the sudden influx of gay marriage in the culture?

 

Answer- No..Sanger was a eugenicist and was involved in the development of modern sexual norms, but I do not attribute bad will to anyone on the other side.  They think the way they think because we have to a significant extent already permited the conjugal definition to erode.

 

Question- What can be done? Is it too little too late?  What will be the impact on religious liberties?

 

Answer: There‚Äôs a ‚Äėpost-christian myth‚Äô that replaces the notion of a divine judge and providence. It‚Äôs the notion of history as a person and a judge. This is the basis for the notion that you don‚Äôt want to be on the wrong side of history. This notion is that a future consensus makes something right. It suggests we don‚Äôt have freedom in society to chose one path or another. Future is not fixed it is chosen. You can chose based on information. It‚Äôs not lost and it‚Äôs not a done deal. It‚Äôs no more certain than marxism was to succeed or that abortion wcould never be stopped. What will make it certain is believing that it is certain. Then, the only people that can influence others will be silenced.

 

The view of history being fixed is absurd. History is open and it is up to us. The key thing to convey to us is that we should not be intimidated or bullied into silence. You may suffer consequences, but you are ‚Äėsaints‚Äô Saints should be willing to pay the cost of discipleship. Only way its inevitable is if we permit ourselves to be bullied into silence

 

Question- What can be done in the grassroots

 

Make the argument. It’s not that it has been made and rejected, but it hasn’t really been heard. There are thousands of campuses and most students have not heard the philosophical sociological or theological argument about marriage. We have to get out and make the argument. Groups are springing up in college campuses to equip student leaders to make an argument for a humane view of sexuality and norms of family. They are not popular but are highly respect when lived in practice.  

 

The other side has to speak in terms of inevitability because its not really so. So many states would not side with same sex marriage in our lifetime. That’s why they went to the court. But there aren’t five votes for that right now. The rulings may not be in our favor, but we are not going to get a roe v. wade type ruling on marriage. That means the conversation will go on for years. That means each of us will have an opportunity to speak out for the truth. We can speak out and write op-eds and advocate for the truth. It’s what Christ came to do.

 

It’s all up to us, but we don’t have to have a 5 or 50 year manifeto. The key is fidelity and fidelity to our vocations. The first thing we have to do is live up to the vision we are holding up to society. Stand up for the cause, pray, blog, speak to those you know. The example is the abortion movement which sprung up with legal arguments, crisis centers, intellectual movements to make sure the arguments got made. Only way that rich variety of response happens is when people discern their vocation and then do it.

 

BE BOLD. Don’t be reckless but be bold. Don’t go into the debate not knowing what you are talking about, but act and not be intimidated once you have done your homework and understand what is at stake. You don’t need to achieve the level of mastery that the speakers have in order to be a contributing person to the debate. Someone has to stand up and point out the errors and make the case. You don’t have to have a whole course to do so.

 

Even as you are speaking out, continue to educate yourself and turn to the best sources. You will sharpen your wits, abilities and arguments.

 

No one in this room does not have a contribution to make to this cause. It’s our duty to make that contribution. If it weren’t something as important as the institution on marriage we could let it slide. But marriage is so fundamental and upon it everything else depends. Its about rebuilding a vibrant healthy marriage culture.

President Uchtdorf- Four Titles General Conference Priesthood Session April 2013

While I have enjoyed some of the brief recaps of talks that I have seen from Liveblogs, I haven’t yet seen a lot of blogs that engage in full analysis of a conference talk. I want to try to blog about the talks from this past General Conference. I am going to aim for at least one per week in an effort to cover all of the talks (or at least all my favorite ones) before the next conference.

I am going to begin with one of my favorite talks which is President Uchtdorf’s Priesthood Session talk entitled Four Titltes

President Uchtdorf begins by commending all those in attendance and especially the young men. He hopes that they will find belonging, support, and friendship among their fellow priesthood holders. I find that this is a really significant blessing of the Church of Jesus Christ. When I first came to church I was impressed with the level of support and friendship. Right away, and wherever I have traveled in the world I have felt like I belonged. I used to always tell those I taught when they were baptized that they were entering into a global family, and that is so true.

Elder Uchtdorf speaks about how we all identify ourselves with multiple worldy titles. While those titles are at times important, it seems to me that we can be a little too status or title obsessed in society. Whether I graduate Manga Cum Laude or just Cum Laude, for instance, is a title that will stick with me on my resume for the rest of my life. Yet, these titles are ultimately not of eternal significance. I doubt that when I stand before God he will ask me what my law school GPA was. President Uchtdorf’s talk was a great reminder that some times are divine, shared by all of us and simply matter more than our earthly titles do.

President Uchtdorf highlighted four titles that are common to all Priesthood holders:

1) Son of Heavenly Father- This knowledge has really blessed me so much since joining the church. I am grateful for the knowledge that God loves me like a father. This knowledge has, as President Uchtdorf suggested, changed the way that I look at myself and at life itself.

All of us do not live up to our divine title and potential. Satan wants us to feel ashamed and to define ourselves by our sins Yet, President Uchtdorf emphasizes that we have no reason to feel bad when we fall short. President Uchtdorf compared us to a small toddler trying to walk and yet falling. God like a parent does not criticize or scold us for our faliure but praises us for our efforts and small victories.

At times, I think this metaphor is especially apt for me. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes say unkind things or act without thinking. At other times, perhaps the metaphor of a rebellious teenager applies better as I do things  preemptively thinking I know best. Either way, Heavenly father responds to us with tender mercy and ever loving kindness.

Like¬†President Uchtdorf, “I do not believe in a God that sets up rules and commandments and waits for us to fail only so he could punish us” God in the end of the day will look for all opportunity to bless and serve us. President Uchtdorf emphasizes that God will be there supporting us and send help for us when we struggle. I have seen this reflected in my life as I have been blessed with wonderful friends and support. Whenever I stumble, God has sent someone to help me along the way. Right now, I am especially blessed with a fiance who is my best friend and source of great comfort in difficult moments.

2) Disciple- Even though we are imperfect, all those who are trying to serve Christ can be called disciples. President Uchtdorf suggests that being a disciple means that we do not allow our imperfections to cause us to delay repentance or to put off things needed for our growth. In the church, we will always be challenged to do things and always fall short. President Uchtdorf mentions that the church is not for perfect people, but for imperfect people just like us. Indeed, I have found that the church is structured in such a way that the Lord gives us a chance to lead however imperfectly The wonderful thing is that he takes even our seemingly inadequate efforts and magnifies them for his gain.

President Uchtdorf next explains that this works because of the Atonement. Indeed, without the atonement life would be a “dead end road without hope or future”. Thanks to the atonement life is “an¬†ennobling¬†and inspiring journey.” As I have reflected upon recently, I think this is something that members sometimes fail to grasp. Indeed, because of the atonement we should feel confident on our life’s journey. The atonement is like an insurance policy that we regularly use throughout our lives and which overall gives us peace of mind. Without life insurance we would go through life scared of being sick or injured, while with it we can live normal lives not paralyzed with fear. The same is true in my opinion about the atonement. Because of the atonement we can be unafraid to get out there and try to do good. We can serve knowing that while at times we will falter, the atonement will be there to magnify our steps and guide us along the way.

President Uchtdorf next makes a really unique point. He emphasizes that while the atonement is there to make us like Christ, it is not there to take away our identity or ‘make everyone of us out of of a single mold.” We are all unique individuals and President Uchtdorf strongly emphasized that should not judge those that are different or assume that they are more or less pleasing to God. I think that this is one thing that we really see¬†modeled¬†in the Quorum of the Twelve. They are all very spiritual, but have very different speaking styles, points of view and etc.. No one would say that Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf are alike, but neither is more pleasing in the eyes of God.

I love that President Uchtdorf explicitly emphasized diversity and especially of the political kind. The Church “thrives” on this kind of diversity. Here at BYU, I have seen a lot of people with more liberal views belittled and insulted, and President Uchtdorf makes it clear that is unacceptable. One is not more ‘righteous’ because he belongs to one party or another, or has one culture rather than another. As long as we are striving to keep God’s laws and to become more like Christ, we are all in it together.

President Utchdorf emphasized that on our personal road from “bethlehem to golgotha” there may be times when we want to give up. The path can be harder than we would wish for. We musth ave the courage to follow Christ even when the cross seems too difficult to bear. We will be reminded that we are not perfect yet, but let us be steadfast and constant disciples and never lose sight of Christ. We walk towards him one imperfect step at a time. This part of the talk really resonated with me. There have been moments of sorrow on the journey as a disciple which have been almost overwhelming. Times where I wanted to cry and wondered if it was truly worth it all. Yet, I witnesses as does President Uchtdorf that God will help us all along the way. In the darkest moments, he is always there for us.

3) Healer of Souls- Those¬†ordained¬†of God are called to practice the healer’s heart. In all that we do ( be it home teaching, or priesthood callings) we need to seek to be healer’s and bind up the wounds the exist in others. This really resonated with me as well, because it reminded me of a part of my¬†patriarchal¬†blessing which speaks about my ability to uplift, bring knowledge to, comfort and heal those with spiritual, physical or moral wounds. I am grateful that as a missionary I was able to serve people with all my heart. I saw hearts healed and spirits¬†uplifted¬†as I ministered. I am grateful that the Lord uses us even though we are such imperfect servant to bless his other beloved children.

“We carry in one hand a ¬†vial of consecrated oil to feed the sick..In the other a loave of bread to feed the sick and in our heart the word of God which heals the soul.” I love this imagery of the disciple carrying the things needed to comfort and heal. This image is a nice counter-point to the warrior metaphor which is very common (Indeed, it was the subject of Elder Hales wonderful priesthood talk). It seems important to remember that we are at war with sin and¬†Satan¬† but that we are doing so often like medics rather than as bombers. Our purpose should always be to rescue and inspire in all that we do.

4) Heirs to all that he has- This is a marvelous concept that the church really emphasizes in an inspiring way. President Uchdrof quoted from Romans 8 which is one of my favorite scriptures:

 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sonsof God.

 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I love how as disciples of Christ, that means that we are eventually going to¬†receive¬†all that he has. ¬†Yet, the only way that it is possible to¬†receive¬†those incredible riches is built on a foundation of Christ. If we try to do so ourselves, we end up with nothing or at least nothing that has any lasting value. President Uchtdorf emphasized that it just doesn’t make sense that we waste so much of our time, talents and means to acquire wealth or the latest technology.

Serving God and our fellow man will challenge us and transform us, President Uchtdorf emphasized. I have found this to be true. When I have lost myself in service, the spirit has been able to touch and change me. The spirit that works through us also works within us and helps us become more Christlike.

No Priesthood holder should ever feel overlooked and unwanted. We are certainly not unwanted by our father in heaven. We are all needed by the church. Even though we are weak and foolish God has chosen us. When God works through us no one and nothing can stand against us. We all have something special to contribute and God can magnify that contribution. РHow true it is that every single person can be used by God to further his work. I marveled on my mission and since that even those without formal education or rhetorical talents are able to give amazing talks that pierce the soul or serve in a way that changes lives.

President Uchtdorf also declared that we are all called to the work. We do not need to wait for a calling to act. Turn to God, study his word and get to work. I love this, I think sometimes we are too focused on what title we have in the church rather than our title as disciples of Christ. If we remember that title, we will have all the authority and motivation needed to get out and serve with all our heart.

We all have our own part of God’s symphony to perform. Even if we fail to perform our part the work will go on, but if we do God will pour out a blessings so large that we will not have room to¬†receive¬†it. If we rise up to our potential we can be a force of God for our family, community, nation and world. As we do so we will grow and develop until we reach the measure of the statute of the fullness of Christ and inherit all the father has.- How true this is…God’s work will go on with or without us, but we can make a¬†noticeable¬†difference in the lives of those around us. I don’t think we are fully aware of the difference our righteous examples can make. People really do notice us and our light. They notice as we strive to serve and to become more like the savior.

President Uchtdor blessed us that as we study the titles of the priesthood, we will discover a divine wind behind our backs carrying us to our heavenly destination. He also ended with his emphatic testimony that we mare important, loved and are needed. I also know that these things are true..I have felt his concern for me personally. The creator of the universe knows and cares about me. I am grateful to be a bearer of his priesthood and feel this power and authority working through me and lifting me upward.

Saturday LDS General Conference Reflections- April 2013

I was blessed to be able to attend the Saturday A.M. and Priesthood sessions live in Salt Lake City which was a really wonderful experience. I watched the P.M session in a chapel in the Joseph Smith Memorial building which was a pretty good place to watch it as well ūüôā

I really enjoyed conference immensely. First of all, the big news story of the day is of course that Sister Jean Stevens gave the closing prayer at the end of the Morning Session. Her prayer was sweet and the crowd in the conference center did not really react in any discernible way to the fact that a sister was giving the prayer. I was glad that she gave the prayer because there is no doctrinal reason for women not to pray.

Overall, I love how the church deals with controversy. They are willing to compromise on anything that is not viewed as essential to the Gospel while holding firm to the things that really matter. Since there was no reason for women not to pray in¬†conference, the Church was eager to change. I’ve seen the same deftness and willingness to¬†accommodate¬†in the reaction to the election, Book of Mormon Musical and all sorts of other controversies. The church chooses its fights with care.

On the other hand, the biggest message for me of conference today is that while the Church will compromise on unessential things, it is firm and steadfast on matters of doctrine essential for salvation.

Indeed, practically every speaker spoke about how the Church’s standards are not the worlds standards and will not chance in response to public pressure or what is popular. So much of what was said today seemed to come as a direct response to the push for Gay Rights, Ordain Women Movement and, attack on the family in general. If anyone was looking for a softened of the Church’s position on homosexuality, this conference should clarify that on matters of morality the church is not going anywhere.¬†

President Packer started out the first session with an invocation of moral agency to overcome whatever temptations the adversary puts in our way. Elder Ballard clearly explained that doctrinally men are the ones given the priesthood authority even though all have access to priesthood power.Elder Bednar hit it out of the park with a wonderful talk explaining the doctrine behind the Law of Chastity. He powerfully decried sexual sin of all sorts and affirmed that our standards will not change even as the world shifts.

The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality, Elder Bednar explained. “Intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents are blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God ‚ÄĒ and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes or secular philosophies.”

 

In the priesthood session, Elder Hales spoke about the need to put on the whole armor of God as the mores of the world continue to drift from those of the church. He warned faithful members that we will likely face hatred, discrimination and even persecution as we continue to hold firm to the teachings of the savior. He compared those who speak out for truth in our day to the prophets of old including Nephi, Samuel and Lamanite and the Savior himself.

As I entered the vortex of discussion over Same Sex Marriage at the Supreme Court a few weeks ago, I began to seriously wonder if it was worth it to keep speaking out on these issues. I know that I have offended some with my words. While want to maintain friendships, I now realize more fully that I will not and can not compromise on this key issue. True friends would be friends even if we disagreed on a political or social issue.

I am proud of the leaders of the Church for clearly speaking out on topics of such moral importance and for waving a clear and undeviating standard even as the world’s standards continue to collapse.