I personally loved Elder Oak’s talk about the importance of serving God and not allowing the things of this world to become idols that draw us away from him. I know his words on controversial social topics such as abortion or gay marriage struck some as controversial, but I sustain him as an Apostle of Jesus Christ and know that he speaks truth. I was especially struck by what he said about the potential for future discrimination that members of the Church may face because of our positions.
“In this determination we may be misunderstood and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority… to serve god, and like our pioneer ancestors push our handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.” (Around 14:00 into the talk)
In recent years I have heard this thought expressed repeatedly. We are living in a remarkable time where religious freedom is yet protected in a way that it has not been at any point in human history. In America, people are more free to believe, preach and practice than probably any time or place in human history. Persecution for faith seems like a thing of the past at least in the western world.
And yet, past often serves as prelude. In particular the persecution of the early saints as well as the persecutions that preceded the coming of the savior in the Book of Mormon may yet come to pass in our day. I doubt that I will ever have to choose between my faith and my life as did Joseph Smith and countless faithful members. However, I do not doubt that I will have to chose between my wife and a job opportunity, or my faith and a friend that I care about. Such choices will increasingly face those that seek to live righteously.
We each must be prepared as Elder Oaks suggests to push or handcarts and persevere in our faith.