Saturday, June 9, 2012

Marriage is Ordained of God

I love my family. I am thankful for a husband who loves me and tells me what a good person I am. A special thanks to my children for teaching me how to be a mom. It's taking me many years, but I'm happy with the privilege that I've been given to be yours. And even though it's taking me years, that's okay because we have the promise of Eternity.

I recently read an article somebody posted on Facebook. 

Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher live in North Carolina. They have been married nearly 86 years. Zelma is 101 and Herbert is 104 (at the time of the article). For Valentine’s Day, they were willing to answer some questions about their lives together. Because of their commitment to the Lord and to each other, divorce was never an option or even a thought in their marriage. They were best friends before they married. They have done what was needed for each other and for their family. To those who are losing hope in finding a marriage partner, they said, “He/she is never too far away, so keep the faith—when you meet him, you’ll know.” The best marriage advice is to respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest, and true. Love each other with all of your heart. Zelmyra said that her husband is a hard worker and a good provider. He’s a good man. They looked for ways to serve each other and they celebrated each other’s successes and shared their accomplishments. They grew together. Their most important reward is their legacy of 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild. With their children grown, they enjoy visiting together on the porch. They have always remembered that God put them together on the same team to be winners. Marriage is not a contest. They learned to compromise and work together. 

In the beginning God created man and woman (See Genesis 1:27Matthew 19:4-5). Because of agency, Adam and Eve were allowed to enter mortality and become our first parents. God ordained that they be married and that their union be blessed with children, even all the families of the earth. In Genesis 2:24 we read, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The same scripture is repeated in Matthew 19:5. Prophets today have also repeated these fundamental truths held by all former prophets in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Because they have the spirit of revelation and the testimony of Jesus Christ, they were able to foresee the dilemma that would develop in our world over the issue of traditional, God-ordained marriage. 

Adam and Eve were good, faithful people chosen by our Heavenly Father in pre-mortality to be our first parents. Like Adam and Eve, all of their children have been given agency. Agency gives us the ability to make choices within the constructs of law to which we are all subject. Agency does not give us the ability to choose the consequences which follow our choices, nor does it give us the right to alter God ordained law.

There are those who have and will call me unkind because I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. They have the sophistry of the day to support their logic. I have my testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s Plan of Happiness for His children. Acting superior by pretending to be magnanimous does not prove one believes in equality. True understanding must stem from having in place a deep-rooted belief system that although we are all children of God, He knows and loves us better than we do ourselves, and although He knows that obedience to His laws is what will bring us happiness, He will not personally impose discipleship. While He must certainly expect that His children also not impose obedience on each other, He most assuredly does not condone the repealing of His laws.

If the world was created, there is a Creator. If the universe is governed by law, there is a Law Giver. I believe that God is the Creator, and I believe that He is also the Law Giver. As His child and His creation, I have no power to re-create Him or to redefine His laws.

This life is a period of testing. It is a time for us to learn how to obey and to learn to walk by faith. It behooves us to do all that we can to strengthen our testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel so that we can help others to also walk by faith. It is only through keeping the commandments that we can gain a testimony of the sacred nature of each commandment. Obedience, or faithfulness, is what produces faith. We cannot expect the faithless to understand faith without inviting them to practice the principles that lead to it. But when one truly understand the promise of the gift of Eternal Life and that it is available to all, then putting our lives in harmony with God’s laws seems like a most favorable choice. I personally am in favor of conforming my life to His will so that I can receive the promised blessings, and I also desire that my brothers and sisters be allowed this choice. We cannot pretend that it’s all right to chase fabricated rainbows for non-existent pots of gold.

Because this life is a period of testing, we all have individual trials and challenges with which we must deal. We all have our quirks; we all have our problems; we all have our temptations. While it is true that God created us initially, he did not mean for us to stay in our infant condition, nor did He create us without the ability to choose. Within us are the seeds of godhood. One of the greatest gifts we have is agency or the freedom to choose. Each day we can redefine and recreate ourselves by the choices that we make, by our thoughts and our actions. To say that we are the way we are because God made us that way seems to be more of a copout than saying the devil made me do it. But life’s challenges are difficult, and we need to be loving and kind, and forgiving of ourselves and others. We need to be patient and we need to be accepting. We need to learn to embrace our brothers and sisters without embracing the actions that we know to be wrong. If we all tried to be more loving and accepting and less judgmental and offish, the world would spin ever more nicely on its axis and follow its orbit with greater ease. To some degree, we are all recovering sinners, in need of guidance, love, and forgiveness. It would be a wonderful thing to have our chapel filled with more sinners. The Lord didn’t come to call the righteous to repentance, but the sinners (See Luke 5:31-32). Because we have agency, we can choose our own attitude each day even when our challenges seem insurmountable. The Lord is always there to help us, and His hand is stretched out still. 

Testimony of the Savior, the Plan of Salvation, and Marriage that is Ordained of God:

I know that the Savior lives and He loves me, and He loves you. He has sent His peace and His comfort to me through the power of the Holy Ghost many times. I have felt His presence with me when I have needed Him here. I know that He is with all of us when we need Him, because He atoned for each of us and He knows and loves us personally. We can take our worries and our troubles to Him (See Matthew 11:28). He will sustain us despite our sins and weaknesses. He will provide a way for our progress and our deliverance. We can and should also turn to our ecclesiastical leader so that he can offer us help and direction in our times of spiritual need. When the dark of night overtakes you, look to the source of all light, Jesus Christ. He will again carry you through to the light of day.

I know that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We have the choice and opportunity to follow God’s laws and to follow His prophets. I know that God is not a respecter of persons and that He loves us all. I know that there are actions, behaviors, and choices that the Lord cannot condone, nor can the Lord’s servants. This is not because He and His servants do not love God’s children, but it is because they do love us. They understand His great Plan of Happiness and they understand the far reaching power and effects of the Atonement. 

I know and understand that there are urges, temptations, and attractions with which many people struggle. Indeed, none of us is free from temptation in our lives. I also know that the Lord has promised us that if we are humble and we turn to Him that he will make weak things become strong unto us (See Ether 12:27). Of this I have a testimony. Some of us may struggle with the same problems and temptations our entire lifetime, but with good attitudes and faith in the Lord, the Lord will carry us through, give us hope, and help us on our journey to become like Him. He has said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30).

I understand that many people have struggled with same sex attraction. The problem is very real, and many are confused about the choices and eternal consequences that are available to them. I do not think that I am showing anyone great love or proper respect by making them believe that same sex relationships are acceptable. I, in essence, feel that if I were to do this, I would be denying the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation and Exaltation that are made available through the Atonement. I believe the Savior’s words to be true. We all must take up our crosses, whatever they may be, and follow Him. If we endure to the end, we shall have Eternal Life which is the greatest gift of all (See Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). Why would I want to deny anyone the opportunity for that gift by telling him or her that whatever lifestyle they choose is correct and acceptable when the Lord and His prophets have said that this is not so?

I am thankful that I personally heard and answered a prophet’s call. Make no mistake, the LDS Church did not write Proposition 8. The people of California did that. And the majority voted for and passed both Proposition 22 and Proposition 8. But when a prophet asked us to support Proposition 8 with our time and our money, my husband and I were happy to do so. We did not need to question if it were the right thing to do, because our testimonies were firmly planted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in His restored Church. We did not have to take a new look or assess if we needed to take a different stand, because we know that the Lord said in His own Preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:38). We also realized that what the prophet asked us to do was in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ according to all the scriptures, with which we are familiar, and the voices of past prophets. 

Will we be asked to do the same thing again? I do not know. But I know that we will be asked to do things that are seemingly just as difficult or even much more difficult. Although many people of all different faiths made up the majority who voted in favor of Proposition 8 and who also donated money and time to this cause, many were offended with our Church’s involvement, among whom were members of our Church. (Some of these have used this issue to become disaffected from the Church and justify their choices to forsake their beliefs and disobey the commandments. Some now fight actively against Christianity altogether.) We need to make certain that the challenges of today do not have the power to make us feel conflicted too long, that they do not have the power to pull us away from the Savior. We have the choice to be humble and prayerful, to seek the Spirit and to remain faithful. 

What are all of us willing to do to make sure that we stay on the Lord’s side in these last days? What do you need to do personally? If you do not have a firm testimony of Jesus Christ, get one. Pray with all earnestness of heart. Read your scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. Find out who Jesus is—He is your personal Savior and Redeemer; and He is mine. Once you know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that He atoned for you, pray to know that His restored Church is true. Pray to know that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration and that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet today. Continue to study the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, and begin to read and understand the Doctrine and Covenants. As you read this book, you will hear the Lord’s voice, because it is His book (See Doctrine and Covenants 18:33-36). Talk to the Bishop, set goals with Him and make promises to your Heavenly Father. Partake of the Sacrament worthily each week. Truly strive to remember the Lord in all that you think, do, and say (and write). Keep the commandments. Stay close to the Spirit and heed His counsel and His warnings. Know that if something is not in harmony with the teachings of the Lord as found in the scriptures or from the words available through modern day prophets, then that thing is incorrect. Use the scriptures, the words of our prophets, and the Spirit of the Holy Ghost as your guide. Do not let lesser sympathies or misunderstandings take charge of who you are or what you can become or of who other people are and what they can become. The Lord is faithful, and great blessings and promises are in store for all of His children who are faithful. 

(Written 1-27-12)