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.