Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Thoughts On President Packer's Talk

Many people have offered their thoughts on President Packer's talk from General Conference, and I would like to share my thoughts on this topic. I would like to start by saying that I agree with everything President Packer said, but not only do I agree, I know that what he said is truth revealed from God. One of the greatest blessings I have is that there is a Prophet of God on the earth, and I know that God directs through His mouthpiece on the earth.

President Packer mostly reiterated the doctrine in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. That page shows when the proclamation was received: September 23rd, 1995. I am very grateful that my Father in Heaven wants to bless us with the chance to be together forever, and I know that this is possible through marriage in the temple.

Part of President Packer's talk, the part that I'm guessing is what people found most upsetting, was that he taught what is taught at the end of the proclamation: "We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." No matter what we do, we cannot avoid the consequences of sin forever. Eventually, the violation of God's laws brings punishment of one form or another. The family is essential to God's plan, and He will protect it.

The above summarize our beliefs on homosexuality, as well as child abuse, spurning families for alternate arrangements, not taking a marriage commitment seriously, and other things.

What we do not believe, is that bigotry is okay. We do not believe that persecuting someone for sinning is acceptable. Any Mormon, or anyone at all for that matter, who judges someone for participating in homosexuality will be judged for their own sins. Anyone who commits a hate crime or discriminates against another commits a sin, and if you commit a sin and then judge someone for sinning, the Lord himself said that you will be condemned (Matthew 7:1-5).

For some, it may be automatic to say that if you think someone chooses to sin, that you therefore hate that person. I am a sinner, and if you have a natural tendency to sin, then that means you are human: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever." (Mosiah 3:19) It doesn't mean that Mormons believe they have a license to hate or discriminate against you. Simply put, Mormons are not bigoted against homosexuals, and President Packer did not advocate any such thing. Do not look for any Church leader to change the eternal doctrines on gender and gender roles. As the proclamation says: "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

I know that this is a serious matter. For many, it tests their faith to belong to a Church that tells them they cannot act on homosexual tendencies which they likely feel make up part of their identity. For others, and perhaps even more, it tests their faith to belong to a Church that runs contrary to their political views. My friends, I know the difficulty of struggling with the Lord's teachings. I wish there was something I could write to make this easy, but there it doesn't exist. All I can tell you is that when I have made my personal - although completely insignificant when compared to His - trips to Gethsemane, I have made my way out on my knees. I have come to know my Father through these experiences, and what I know of Him is love. He does not abandon His children, whom we all are. I pray that He keep and deliver us all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Mercy of God

Sometimes things don't go how we expect in life, and it can be extremely disappointing. It is natural for someone who believes in God to wonder if he or she has sinned, or why God would let this happen. I have felt this same disappointment, and when I have sought understanding from the Lord He has given me comfort. These verses explain God's tremendous love:

For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.
For the mountains shall depart and the hills shall be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
--Isaiah 54:7-10

I think its easiest to understand these things when we remember who is promising them. It is the Lord Jesus Christ promising His people that He will not forget them. He gave His life for us. Remembering that, and understanding that, will help us not to doubt.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

General Conference

Today is Easter Sunday, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had General Conference - a meeting broadcast for the entire Church. We heard from our Apostles, Seventy, and the Prophet.

The thought occurred to me that it is a tremendous blessing to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection by hearing from His anointed Apostles - men set apart to witness His divinity to the entire world. I know that He lived and died for us. I know that He bore all of our pains, sorrows, and sin because He loves us. I love Him because He first loved me, and I am grateful that He has placed His Priesthood on the earth, along with Apostles and prophets to teach us of His life. I know that He lives!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gospel Principles

For those that aren't aware, church services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last 3 hours every Sunday. This is divided into 3 different parts: Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, and then auxiliary meetings.

Sacrament Meeting centers around taking the Sacrament: the bread and water which symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this meeting is to help all to remember our Savior. This is tied to the promise we make at baptism: part of this promise is that we will always remember Him. All things in our religion are meant to remind us of the Atonement of our Lord; without His sacrifice for us there could be no hope for any of mankind. Therefore, we have this meeting weekly to remember Him.

Sunday School is where we study the scriptures. Everyone attending Church goes to one Sacrament Meeting, but Sunday School is divided into age groups, and in some cases there are different classes focusing on different parts of the Gospel. In general, adults meet together and the youth meet in several different classes to keep them together based on their ages. This makes it so that the scriptures can be taught in ways that make sense for the different classes, because surely a 5 year-old needs a different explanation from a 15 year-old. Each year we rotate which scriptures we are studying: one year we'll study the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price, the next year we study the New Testament, then the Book of Mormon, and then the Doctrine and Covenants. After we study all four, we start at the beginning again.

Auxiliary meetings mean that we meet in the various organizations the Church has organized for each of us. Adult women meet in the Relief Society. The Relief Society was founded in 1842 to aid the poor, and it is one of the largest and oldest women's groups in the world. On Sundays the teaching focuses on the Gospel as it applies to the members of the group and the mission of the Relief Society. Men go to Priesthood meeting, which focuses on serving others worthily through the Priesthood. All adult men go to this meeting because in our Church all worthy men hold the Priesthood; we do not have a paid clergy.

This year both adult auxiliaries are being taught from the manual Gospel Principles. This manual is meant to help us understand the doctrine of the Church. Each lesson is focused on a single point of doctrine. I have found these lessons to be very uplifting, and I intend to start writing about the different things we learn here. The full manual is available on the Church's website.

The plain and precious parts of the Gospel are important for all to know and understand. Many wonder why we would focus on doctrine that most already know or are familiar with. Others find it repetitive to discuss these principles over and over again. The simple truth is that we aren't perfect. If we open our hearts and listen to these essential teachings we will more fully understand the love of God and become more devoted disciples of Christ.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Thought on Death

This morning I read the following scripture:
And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing (Alma 46:39)
It is very difficult to know the state of someone else's salvation, perhaps even impossible in general; however, we know that little children are innocent. When a child dies, it is beyond tragic. I am grateful that the Lord gives us this comfort to know that little children are saved. It comforts me to think that perhaps these innocent ones leave this life rejoicing, knowing that they go home redeemed and ready to inherit the blessings of a Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Prayer is extremely important to me. When I was a missionary, the President of the mission taught me a lot about prayer. The main thing that he taught me was to try to express exactly how I felt to God. If something was weighing on my mind all day, then that something was the most important thing for me to discuss with my Father in Heaven. He also taught me that I should be specific and thorough in speaking with God. This may seem like an awkward idea - trying to have an intimate conversation with someone you can't see, but it has changed my life.

When my wife and I talk about our child (that she is currently carrying) it keeps us close together, because it is something that is very important to both of us. Discussing anything of that nature will bring two people closer together. Everything that is important to you or me is important to God. He is literally our Father. He is like the father we have here, except that He is perfect in every way. I know that He wants us to discuss our lives with Him. He wants us to know Him as a Father. As I have tried to pray as my mission president taught me, I have learned more about how close He is to us. I know that He watches over us and that He is in our lives every day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Family - The Fundamental Unit of Society

I had the opportunity, when I was 19 years old, to serve as a missionary for my Church. I lived in Cape Verde, Africa, for about 2 years; while I was there I met people from Europe, Africa, South America, and also other North Americans. As friendships grew between people from diverse nations, often the conversation would turn to what life was like in these different countries.

I began to notice that many of the other North Americans (in particular those from the USA) often described how Americans thought and acted very differently from how I would've described things. I also noticed that different people from other countries did similar things. After having this experience over and over again, I began to see the difference: in most cases, when you ask someone about their country, they will describe their family to you.

Some families probably are typical of a country, and most are influenced by the country in which they live, but every family has distinct characteristics that come from that family's identity. Sometimes this produced a stark contrast: I met one man from a country with a well-known history of racism, whose culture continues to be stained with racial prejudice. (this is not meant to single out any country, I think it would be a valid criticism of many countries) This particular young man went to school in this country. He was taught the same curriculum, read the same books, heard the same political commentaries, but he was completely open-minded, and not in the least bit racist.

One lesson I have learned from this is that the family has a stronger influence on people than anything else. Our families shape the way that we see the world, and the lessons we learn at home have the power to influence us more than what happens everywhere else. I know that family is precious. Most often families have difficulties, but I know that our greatest joys and the greatest good we can do is with our own family. No matter how the world views us, each of us really is who we are at home.