Monday, August 6, 2012

The SSA/Marriage Debate

With all of the debate lately about Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage, I'm reminded of one of my favorite talks: Repentance and Change by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Here's a one-sentence summary: "Repenting means giving up all of our practices - personal, family, ethnic, and national - that are contrary to the commandments of God."

Let it be known that I have only been to Chick-Fil-A once, maybe twice but I can't be sure, in my life, and don't understand what all the hype is about their food, so I don't plan on going there anytime soon as my first choice for fast-food eating. Nor do I think that all the facebook posting and tweeting for or against Chick-Fil-A is doing much good because it's just making people on both sides angry, it seems, without having a real conversation about it.

That being said, this is what I understand, believe, and feel on the topic. (Although I think Elder Oaks says it best in his talk.)

God has commandments. Period. No change in societies' standards will change that fact. It's truth. God is liberal with his love, but not liberal with his tolerance of sin. We sin whenever we go against God's commandments. Elder Neil L. Andersen illustrated this well in his talk What Thinks Christ of Me? when he pointed out: "Even with His love for all mankind, Jesus reprovingly referred to some around Him as hypocrites, fools, and workers of iniquity. He approvingly called others children of the kingdom and the light of the world. He disapprovingly referred to some as blinded and unfruitful. He commended others as pure in heart and hungering after righteousness. He lamented that some were faithless and of the world, but others He esteemed as chosen, disciples, friends. And so we each ask, “What thinks Christ of me?” (click on the above link to see the talk and the scriptural references he's siting.)

Yes, some are born with same-sex attraction (SSA). That is thus a natural part of them. But it doesn't alter God's commandments. We are all given the ability and gift to choose how we will act. He allows us to choose, even knowing that we will make wrong choices. I emphasize wrong because some things are right and some things are wrong, according to God's laws and commandments. Part of the test of this life is to overcome the natural man, to learn to control our bodies, our thoughts, and our emotions. To turn our wills over to God, learning to do his will and accept his timing because that is what will fill us with the peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. I am not even close to overcoming my natural man. I understand through my own experience and trials how hard it is to do. I understand that we are all at different stages in our efforts to do what is right. But, as President George Q. Cannon said, we aren't justified to say, 'Well, this is just who I am.'
"If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth” (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260).

Everyone has trials. Some have been born into their trials, some are given trials later in life or throughout their life. Some will never be relieved from their earthly trials. That doesn't mean we should ever be complacent in the type of person we are becoming or in our efforts to obey God's laws. Every time we "put off the natural man," we allow the Spirit of God to have greater influence in us, on our hearts and minds. That is how we work toward perfection. Our goal should be to always have the Holy Ghost with us as our constant companion, which can only happen by keeping God's commandments, no matter how natural it may be not to.

I love my friends, all of them. I love my God. I want for my friends what God wants for them - to become the best version of themselves and to feel the love of God for them and his approval as they keep his commandments.

*This and this are good reference articles on the church's standpoint concerning SSA and marriage.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tender Mercies

1 Nephi 1:20 "And when [they] heard these things they were angry with him; ... and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty, even unto the power of deliverance."

It's winter here, and even though it hasn't been the usually cold and snowy winter, some days have been bitter cold and some have even been snowy. About two weeks ago, we had one of those cold and snowy days. My car doesn't look or seem old to me, until I remember that a 2000 model car is now 12 years old. Or until something happens that reminds me that I have an old car. Or, as I'd rather think of it, a car that's getting old. Like when my automatic window rolls down just fine, but doesn't roll up just fine. Most of the time, not a problem - I just hold the button in the "roll up" position for a while until it works. But on a cold, snowy day, with your 2-yr old in the back seat, when you have to go to the store that's 15 minutes away, and you start out the drive with your window most of the way down - that's when it's a problem.

Because I'm a little lazy and it's convenient, when I drive anywhere, after I back out of the driveway, I pull up next to the mailbox, roll down my window, and get the mail. No leg movement necessary :). Now, you may be thinking, 'If you knew your window had problems rolling up, why did you even do it that way on a cold, snowy day?' Because, you see, it's never NOT rolled back up after 30 seconds or so.

But on this particular day, it hadn't rolled up after 5 minutes of holding the button. I tossed Jason's fleece hat back to him and cheerfully said, "Put on your hat, ok?" while thinking, 'My poor baby's going to freeze to death!! He's not gonna put on his hat - he's just gonna play with it and then toss it off to the side of his car seat where I can't reach it while I'm driving!'

It was only about 2/3 of the way down. 'Maybe if I roll it down just a spec more, that'll un-glitch it and it'll be able to roll up again.' Nope. Now it was down even farther. And maybe I'm the only one who's ever noticed this, but when you're in the back seat and a front seat window is down, you, in the back, get a whole lot more wind in your face than the person in the front who wants the wind in their face. Even with the heater on full blast, it was getting really cold in there. My poor little guy! Fortunately, with some encouragement, he DID put his hat on. And even though it was just resting in a pouf shape on top of his head, I was glad it was more or less on.

After about 10 minutes, lots of prayers, and constant holding-of-the-button-up, the window was still down.
As silly as it seemed, the only thing I could think of to do was call my parents and ask them to say a prayer, since mine didn't seem to be working. So I called and explained our plight and laughing, asked, "Would you mind saying a prayer that my window will roll up?" My dad said a prayer, with me still on the phone, and I felt grateful to have such good and loving parents. "Well," one of them said, "we hope it works soon!" "Me too," I said. And as we were about to end the call, my dad said, "Have you tried pulling up on the window while holding the button at the same time?" Hmmm, no I hadn't. *unglitch* *slow rolling up* "It's working! It worked! Thank you Dad!!"

We marvelled at the way the Lord had answered my prayer - by prompting me to call my parents. And at the way He had answered my Dad's prayer - by putting that little idea into his head to pull up on the window. Within a minute or two of that last prayer, the prayer was anwered and the problem was solved. Why He chose to do it that way, I'm not sure. But it was still a wonderful blessing to have the window up and Jason and I sealed off from the harsh elements, with warm air filling the car instead of cold.

Seeing God's hand in your every-day life, in the small but important-to-you details, these are the kind of experiences we call Tender Mecies.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

All Things Witness of God

I love this scripture passage from the Book of Mormon. Alma was speaking to a man named Korihor, who didn't believe in God and who was trying to disway others from believing in God. Korihor told him that he'd only believe if Alma could show him a sign. Here's Alma's response (Alma 30:39-41,44):

"Save" here means 'except'
"Yea" is kind of like 'yes'
"Ye" means 'you'

"Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come. And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only. But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true . . . . Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

Alma does show Korihor a sign, but not the kind of sign that Korihor had anticipated. (Click the reference link above to find out what happens.)

I heard on NPR a few weeks ago that renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens, died. They discussed some of his lifestyle and philosophies. It was intriguing, and I'm sure he had plenty to say about Mormons and our beliefs, but what I wondered was, What things does he have as a witness that there isn't a God? Like Alma, I have EVERYthing as a witness that there IS a God. Don't worry, I know the arguments against the existence of God. But it just doesn't add up for me. Anyone who's actually felt his nearness, his love, his peace and joy can't deny his existence. And once you've felt it, you begin to see all the things around you that are His witnesses. And they are everywhere.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

True Happiness

True happiness comes from peace. And real peace comes from knowing you're in good standing before God - that He is pleased with how you're living and with your sincere efforts to become better. Thus, in sin, there is no peace, and without peace, there is no true happiness. (Alma 41:10)

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"The purpose of life is to seek truth and to chose to live it," Craig Belnap, LDS.

What is truth?

Truth is something that was, is, and will always be. It is real, it is reality. It doesn't change through time, through changes in technology, through changes in philosophies or perceptions of reality. Truth is how things really are! And God is the author of all truth.

Satan, conversley, is the author of all lies. He wants us to be confused about what truth really is. He wants us to believe that there's no such thing as truth, or that truth can vary from person to person, generation to generation, from culture to culture. That is NOT true!

God does NOT want us to be confused! He wants us to understand him and his teachings - truth. That is why we can trust him, because he's not trying to confuse us. He loves us and wants us to be happy. He knows that understanding anything facilitates happiness and contentment. Confusion, on the other hand, only creates discord and contention, misunderstandings and wars. God doesn't want that! Of course, there will always be differences of opinion, etc - we are all different individuals - but by understanding truth and God, we can understand one another and how to help each other and we can live in peace and harmony.