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 🙂
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 — 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.