Monday, November 17, 2008

Determined Discipleship


Recently, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles advocated the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The Church aggressively supported and encouraged its members to support with manpower and finances, the passage of this initiative. Its aim was to defend traditional marriage by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. This doctrine has been clearly taught by the brethren in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It states, “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.” It continues, “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother…” This doctrine is not hateful, it is not cruel or even na├»ve. It does not seek to hurt or cause damage to others. It is simply a statement of truth, as voiced by prophets of God.

It is disappointing to read accounts of the disgruntled opponents of Prop 8 protesting outside the temples and at churches, and possibly even participating in anthrax hoaxes to a couple LDS temples. It is disappointing, but not surprising that individuals who oppose God’s law would also oppose the church trying to support God’s law. What is more discouraging is the lack of support, both for the original proposition and the aftermath, by some members of the LDS church.

I read reports of so called “enlightened” church members who support gay marriage and I have to scratch my head. They support their position by making inane comments like, “God loves everyone equally” or “it is not our right to deny happiness to anyone”. Of course these statements are true, but the statements are being misapplied to behaviors, not people. God certainly loves everyone, and because of that love he wants them to know his law and live by it which will ultimately bring them true joy and happiness.

These same “enlightened ones” further comment that they “want to be supportive” of gay friends or family members, or “they don’t want to discriminate” which of course implies that the rest of us, including the Prophet, do wish to discriminate and be non-supportive. The truth is, these “enlightened” members likely have one of 2 problems. 1- They lack a steadfast testimony that God makes his will known to his servants the prophets, or 2- they lack the moral courage to stand up and be counted on the side of God and his law, worried more about the potential loss of business, or the thoughts and words of their peers, family or friends.
To the LDS proponents of gay marriage I simply ask, what’s next? If you are willing to cast aside the words of the prophet in exchange for your own faulty wisdom in this matter, where will your arrogance stop? There is safety in the counsel of the prophets. Conversely there is danger in following our own path in opposition to God. It is called apostasy and it does not end well for the individual.

I have included some of the words from a talk Neal A. Maxwell gave 30 years ago. It could not be more appropriate today. Please read and enjoy.

Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb 1979, 69–73
Excerpts from an address delivered at Brigham Young University, 10 October 1978

Discipleship includes good citizenship. In this connection, if you are a careful student of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions—especially when the First Presidency has spoken out—the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. The declarations are about principles, not people; and causes, not candidates.

Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. (See 1 Kgs. 18:21.)

President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ!

We are now entering a time of incredible ironies.

“What the secularists are increasingly demanding, in their disingenuous way, is that religious people, when they act politically, act only on secularist grounds. They are trying to equate acting on religion with establishing religion. And—I repeat—the consequence of such logic is really to establish secularism. It is in fact, to force the religious to internalize the major premise of secularism: that religion has no proper bearing on public affairs.” (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, pp. 51–52, 60–61.)

Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. M. J. Sobran also said, “A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it” (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, pp. 58–59).

This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as un-trendy and unenlightened.

But there is occurring a discounting of religiously based opinions. There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations, in an ironic irreligious test for office.

If people, however, are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear, in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold which grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would we be?

It may well be that as our time comes to “suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41), some of that special stress will grow out of that portion of discipleship which involves citizenship.

If the challenge of the secular church becomes very real, let us, as in all other relationships, be principled but pleasant. Let us be perceptive without being pompous. Let us have integrity and not write checks with our tongues, which our conduct cannot cash.

Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds, which was, till then, unconscious of itself.

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