Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why we SHOULD care

I've been struggling with whether or not to write something about this.  I hesitate because, as with anything written, it is difficult to convey intent and emotion.  I do not want what I say to be misconstrued, but it is something I feel strongly about.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about California's Board of Education unanimously voting to add LGBT history to their school's curriculum.  Reading about it made me sick to my stomach, and that's what I put on Facebook.  Unfortunately, at the time I did not do a very good job of articulating why I felt the way that I did.  I ended up deleting the post because I did not want to respond to people's comments without thinking through how I wanted to respond in a way that would convey how I felt about the situation.

Before I begin, I want to make it abundantly clear how much love I have for those in the LBQT community.  Everyone has their different trials and challenges in this life.  No matter what decisions we make, we never deserve to be bullied, put down, or mistreated.  We are all children of God, and we all deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy.  I have many good friends who struggle with same-sex attraction, some with whom I discuss this topic frequently.  I have so much love and respect for those who are doing their best in this life to follow God's commandments, and I weep with those who feel the emptiness that comes from not following His laws.  I have blogged in the past about these topics here and here.

That having been said, I absolutely cannot stand by silent while some people's decisions take away the agency of others.  There seems to be a common attitude, becoming increasingly prevalent in society, that unless you agree with me completely or allow me to do whatever I want, then you are disrespecting me.  There is a vast difference between feeling disrespected and actually being treated with disrespect.

I am extremely concerned with the direction the laws in our country are going with regards to tolerance and inclusion.  It seems as though the "rights" (which are, in fact, not rights) that are being demanded by some are taking away the real rights of those who do not agree with them.  One example of this is a bakery that was sued and forced to pay a fine because they did not want to make a wedding cake for a homosexual marriage because it went against their beliefs.  Now, if this had been the only bakery in the country, then that couple's rights would be denied.  If they weren't allowed to be served at all, then their rights would be denied.  In fact, as I understand it, the bakery offered them a cake that did not have the wedding paraphernalia on it.  But that wasn't good enough for this couple, who felt like they were being disrespected.

Another example is the judge who overturned Proposition 8 in spite of the majority voting for it.  Once again, a minority that thought they were being disrespected were simply upset that their way wasn't accepted by everyone.

So with regards to California Board of Education unanimously deciding to promote LGBT history in the classroom in spite of the tens of thousands who wrote in to object, yes, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.  I am sick of Satan winning.  Because that is exactly what is happening here.  Satan is slowly but surely getting people to idly stand by while a sin is deemed acceptable behavior in society.  Truly, the ancient scripture prophecies are coming to pass in our day.

2 Nephi 26:22 And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.

Moses 7: 26 And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.

But why do I care?  Why should we care?  If we let our kids go to school, but then teach them the truth at home, then it shouldn't matter - it's the world's problem, not ours.  Anyway, shouldn't we allow them to have their agency and decide what to choose?  Who am I to tell them what they should or shouldn't do?  If the world wants to teach incorrect principles in schools, how does that affect my family as long as I teach them the gospel at home?

If you look at it from a religious standpoint, don't those who have a testimony and truth have an obligation to share it with others? I'm not talking about forcing people to believe what we believe, but what about this situation: a child is raised in a non-believing home (atheist). They go to school where God isn't allowed to be mentioned, being taught by teachers and other trusted adults that sins such as fornication are normal, natural, and even right. Surrounded by all of that, very few will seek for truth later because they believe that they have it. Even if they do look for it, they could have been spared years of sorrow and sin. But people will argue that raising a child this way isn't harming the child, that it's in fact helping them be "rational" and "logical." But as believers, Colossians 1:26-28 talks about the importance of warning and teaching all men. How can I do that if I'm not standing up for what God says is wrong? If I say, "Well, it's wrong in God's eyes, but sure, why not let society think it's ok."

When we refuse to step up, when we won't say what is right and what God expects, we are taking away their agency to choose.  In not sharing the gospel, our testimonies, the commandments, then we don't allow them to see another way.  Yes, it must be done in loving ways, in non-judgmental ways.  We must make clear that it is about the sin, not the person committing it.  But when we testify of truth, the Spirit can enter, and they can be allowed to exercise their agency.  Until they know what God expects of them, they cannot exercise their agency.  Who are we to take away that right from them?

I've shared this before, but while in Puerto Rico in 2008 during the hype of Proposition 8 in California, we were visited by Elder David A. Bednar, one of the 12 Apostles of the Church. We were invited to have an open question-and-answer session with him, and someone asked why the Church was getting so heavily involved in the debate when usually they choose to stay out of politics. Elder Bednar said something that made a huge impact on me and I will never, ever forget it. He said, "We [meaning the First Presidency and the Twelve] are prophets and apostles. But we are not prophets and apostles for just the Mormon Church; rather, we are prophets and apostles for the entire world. We are the only men on earth with the authority of God to speak in His name. So if we will not stand up for righteousness and tell the world what God's laws are, who will?"

Please remember, every single person is our brother or sister.  Every.  Single.  Person.  We knew them in the pre-earth life.  We were friends.  We laughed together.  We worshiped together.  We shared our fears and dreams and desires of coming to Earth and returning to be together again.  But now many of them are making decisions that put their eternal salvation in jeopardy.  And not only theirs, but others' as well, by having society raise children to think that sins are not really sins.  Like it says in 2 Nephi 2:8, "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah."  Many of our brothers and sisters are kept from the truth because they "know not where to find it" and we must do "all in our power" to share the truth with them (D&C 123:12, 17).

Lest you think that this is all about LGBT and California, this pervasive, evil plan of Satan's is permeating every aspect of our society.  In this election, there are some candidates that are teaching hatred, fear, and even racism.  Though it may seem on the opposite end of the spectrum as the liberal agenda, they are really both of evil design.  I am concerned about the amount of prejudice out there for people based solely on their religion, skin color, and sexual orientation.

Many recent decisions are putting us on a path that will put our religious freedom into jeopardy.  Before you say I am overreacting, allow me to quote President Ezra Taft Benson in the October 1987 General Conference:
"How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven? First and foremost, we must be righteous. . . . Two great American Christian civilizations — the Jaredites and the Nephites — were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?"
Many Saints feel as though religious freedoms won't every be denied.  I imagine that many of the early Saints felt that way, until they were forced out of their homes by mobs.

Pastor Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor who spoke out against the Nazis, wrote this poem:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." 
As Uncle Screwtape says, in C.S. Lewis's classic book The Screwtape Letters:
"It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
“[M]an has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false," but as "academic" or "practical," "outworn" or "contemporary," "conventional" or "ruthless." Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.”
There are so many more scriptures and quotes that I could cite, but I will simply end with this reminder of D&C 18.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him."


If you would like to study this further, here are a few more resources.
"Our Reponsibility to Save the World" Delbert L. Stapley
"Why Every Member a Missionary" Elder Richard G. Scott
"Beyond Voting: Some Duties of the LDS Citizen"
"We Are All Enlisted" Elder Jeffrey R..Holland
"The Past Way of Facing the Future" Elder L. Tom Perry

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