Saturday, April fourth, I sat with my wife and (some) of our children to watch General Conference on our TV. We have been told to watch prayerfully with questions to receive answers from the Spirit, if not from the speakers themselves. I got both.
In the first session, my question was clear – why don’t we yet have the Brass Plates translated? When will we get them? I’ve heard the rumor that this is due to our wickedness as Saints, but what wickedness? And is that the real reason? Every speaker in that morning session, the Spirit whispered, had the answer.
President Henry B. Eyring spoke to us first, pointing out that we are not doing enough to help the poor. President Boyd K. Packer spoke next, and while he did ramble quite a bit, it seemed his talk was about the need for members to do more to love and honor our spouses and families. Then, speaking as to Sunbeams, Linda K. Burton repeated the same vein of thought as President Packer. Elder Dallin H. Oaks next spoke on our need to do more to feed our spiritual roots; including focusing on the spirit more during rituals and worship, studying the broader Gospel, i.e. we must seek helping others rejecting personal prosperity over Christian living. Then Elder L. Whitney Clayton gave a great talk where he pointed out that “God does not force us to believe. Instead He invites us to believe…”
At this point the needs of the Saints are clear:
- Be more believing/have more faith
- Turn that faith into action
- Make that action more love for our families and our fellow man
- Be more charitable
Seeing that 70 percent of members claim membership in the Republican party, it would make sense that we, as a people, are not doing enough to be faithful by helping the poor. While the Democrats are more than willing to keep Americans oppressed by our welfare system by not giving those on it a clear way out, the GOP – it would seem – would rather these people die in the streets than get help from the government. Rather than recreating welfare system as a step up out of poverty, they seem to prefer moving all resources of aid for working and retired Americans (90 percent of those on welfare either work or are retired – thus have already contributed to society) to the American War Machine, which is not something we, as Christians, should be supporting.
This, however, is only half of the revelation I received from Conference. The last speaker, Elder L. Tom Perry, gave a speech that can only be described as anti-Mormon or anti-Christian. While it is certainly fine to say that we should be a shining light of Christ’s teachings and an example to the world, to claim that we should take the lead in making laws that make our current understanding of the Gospel, which is ever changing as we have seen, goes against our doctrine as defined by the Holy Scriptures.
It is true that SOME are better off economically, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc, in “perfect” families with a father and a mother. Yet this is not always the case. There are and will likely always be families in poverty that are good people, but this is not because a same-sex couple’s family is oppressing them in some way or due to some crime perpetrated by a family with only one parent. There is not reason children raised by single parents or same-sex couples cannot still grow up to be married in the temple.
Elder Perry’s teachings that free agency is somehow immoral or wrong is not only ridiculous but once again goes against the doctrinal reasons for this earthly life. How can we be proven herewith if we have no freedom to chose? Yes, some things; like murder, theft, etc. are universally wrong. However, so is telling other religions who or whom and how to worship. If other faiths wish to allow for same-sex marriage, let us shine a loving light of God’s truth, not Lucifer’s waving arm of forced discipleship.
Lastly, Elder Perry’s statement that “the restored gospel centers on marriage and family” is blatantly false. Our true center is Christ. It is through Him that our families will return to our Heavenly Parents. Some have argued that there can be more than one center. But this too is false. Let’s break down the word via it’s definition.
First, it is a noun. In geometry it is the middle point, the one thing everything surrounds. For us, that would be Jesus Christ, who’s Church this is.
Second, it is “a point, pivot, axis, etc., around which anything rotates or revolves,” again, this would be Jesus Christ as it is His Grace that sustains us and His power that ties us together.
Third, “the source of an influence, action, force, etc.” This too whould be Christ. We are His, and He is the Great Example of how we should be and how we live our lives.
Fourth, “a point, place, person, etc., upon which interest, emotion, etc.,focuses.” Clearly this is Christ, for as Nephi said, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25: 26)
Fifth, “a principal point, place, or object.” Christ and His teachings are our principle point, He is the object of our affection. Where He is is where we long to be.
There is no Center for Christians outside of Jesus Christ.
That said, families are important to us, as members of Christ’s Church. We understand that He is our brother and the We are a family. This is why the other talks in that session make so much sense – they remind us that we must care for the whole of the human family as they too are God’s children just as we are. Families are what fill the circle, yet Christ is and always will be the center.
This leads to the second part of my revelation. We cannot gain new truths from leaders that lead us astray. This isn’t to say that we should not sustain our leaders, as they too are like us -merely human. We should look to their strengths to make ourselves better, not towards their weaknesses to excuse our own bigotry or other indiscretions. As Elder Dale G. Renlund pointed out in the afternoon session, we all look bad if we just look at our sins, in the eyes of the Lord. And Elder Michael T. Ringwood followed him up perfectly, pointing out that it is the good we do that matters, not titles or names.
If we wish to obtain further light and knowledge, we must follow the Spirit to a greater degree and love our neighbors more. We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and as we study more our compassion will become more Christlike. Rather than deifying leadership, we should listen to the Holy Ghost, let Him guide us to that which is right in their words. We shouldn’t allow the weakness of men cover our own weaknesses but all strive to love and serve one another as Christ served and serves us.