Church Instructions on Same-Sex Marriage

Recently the LDS Church released a statement offering instructions and guidance on Same-Sex Marriage. It is really excellent and I highly recommend it. There have been the obvious patch of critical and supportive reactions. I really liked this article.

There are a number of really good points in it. I’d like to highlight just a couple.

Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.

The first point is civility. We are expected to be civil and respectful. We should also expect the same in return (even if we don’t get it).

The second point is expression of religion. I really like the point that we have a right to express and advocate our religious convictions. Many SSM advocates insist that since our position against SSM is based on religion that any involvement we have is (or should be) nullified. It doesn’t count, because it’s a religious conviction that others don’t follow.

So our convictions don’t count because they’re based on religious ideals. But their convictions are just fine because…?

This country was founded by people with religious convictions. The first bill of rights guarantees the right to express our religion. That includes efforts to shape the law (or, more precisely, to keep the law from being re-shaped). We have the right to promote those measures that we believe are healthy for society even if those ideas are religiously based.

Do What We Can

“Now,” said Peter, as they finished their meal, “Aslan and the girls are somewhere close. We don’t know when he will act. In his time, now doubt, not ours. In the meantime he would like us to do what we can on our own.”

Prince Caspian

I’ve heard a couple very troubling responses to the ruling on Utah’s marriage amendment and wanted to write a couple thoughts on that. These are responses from those who, like myself, oppose same-sex marriage.

Response One: “Well, it was inevitable anyway.”

This is precisely the argument that SSM advocates are pushing very hard, and frankly, I do not believe it. Even my old computer game is smart enough to advise the player to make it seem like your opponent is being routed. That encourages your troops, discourages the enemy, and makes an actual route much more likely.

There are countless examples of groups, communities, nations, and empires who believed something to be inevitable and were found to be quite wrong. Do I really need to list some? Think for a minute and see how many examples you can come up with off the top of your head.

Now, let us assume that it really inevitable. That no matter what I or anyone else does, same-sex marriage is made legal not only in Utah, but across the country.

Therefore what?

Does that mean that we should not let our voices be heard? Does that mean our opinions have no weight? Does that mean that right really is wrong, and wrong really is right and I should just shut up and get with the program? For myself, I want it to be known where I stand. I want to do my part to help in the causes that I feel are important, even if I fail. I think that the very act of standing up for what is right and true is how I can learn to become more like the Savior, regardless of the outcome. And this is one area that I feel is very important.

Do what is right. Let the consequence follow.

Response Two: “Well, I just hope the Savior comes soon”

So do I, and so do all faithful Christians, but again, therefore what? Are you saying that we should do nothing? Just lie back and count on the Savior to clean up the mess when He gets here? Is this how we learn and progress? Is this what the Savior would have us do? Is this what the Savior would do?

I don’t think it is. I think there are many important tasks and efforts that the Savior wants us to accomplish (or at least work on) while we are down here. The LDS religion is an active religion. We believe that we are here to learn and to grow and to help each other. We absolutely rely on the atonement of Christ in all of these things, but that does not mean that there is nothing required of us. Actually, the opposite is true. We have had many exhortations for us to “go about doing good.” Shouldn’t we be doing that?

WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

D&C 58:26-29

As a final thought, consider this quote (and check out some similar quotes):

No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

Sticks or Stars?

“Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat yourself with”

Attributed to  Barbara Smith

I am not a big fan of goals or resolutions generally. In particular I don’t really care for the goals that are often required to be set (and then promptly ignored) at the workplace. You know, the S.M.A.R.T. goals? yeah, those.

I do believe in trying to improve oneself, and when I heard the quote above, I thought, that’s how goals are supposed to be. It’s not something to set and ignore. It’s not something to fail at and then feel like a failure (I think Satan particularly loves and encourages this kind of approach). It’s also not necessarily something that should be followed no matter the cost.

A good goal should be something that motivates you to do or be better. Something that guides you.

So, for 2014, what are the things that I hope to come closer to achieving? What will guide me?

Here are a few of my goals. It’s a pretty standard list, really…

  1. I want to have more meaningful scripture study. Too often I read a few verses or paragraphs when I have a spare minute or two (typically on the toilet, of all places). That’s not feasting on the word. It’s better than nothing, and I expect I’ll continue to have plenty of days when that’s all I get, but I hope to have a greater focus on really studying scriptures, and finding a regular time that I always do scripture study. I get the most out of it when I have time to think and write a few notes about what I am studying.
  2. I want to do more to teach my children the gospel. Typically we come up with some lesson or other for Family Home Evening shortly after I get home. I hope to take a little more time to put something together. I also want to watch for teaching opportunities more closely. In particular, I want to help my children understand the Articles of Faith.
  3. I want to help my wife more with the daily chores and messes. I don’t think I do too badly here, but this is one area where I think husbands can (and should!) always improve. I can be more observant and see what needs to be done and jump in and do it. I should make dinner more often.
  4. I want to be more healthy. I really should be eating better than I am. I also want to keep up a good exercise routine that includes other things besides running (which is my preferred exercise). I have gotten to where I will do a good run a couple times per week in decent weather, and that’s good; but I think it’s time to add to that doing other exercises regularly, particularly to strengthen my back and knees (which running tends to wear down, at least for me).
  5. I want to be more politically active, particularly at the local level. I want to know what’s going on in my city and state, and do what I can to advance those measures and interests that I feel are important.
  6. I want to advance the projects I’ve started. I’m really good at starting new projects, and really lousy at following through and finishing them. If I could make sure that I’ve done something 2 or 3 times each week, I might actually finish something.

So that’s my list for 2014. I’m going to add a calendar item to review this list each month and help me to remember them and work on them, and adjust them if needed. But I don’t plan on beating myself up if I don’t do all of them.