saints on the spot
I received the following question from a really good friend:
Do you think the Lord is testing his Saints to see if they will stand up and be counted? Because we are being counted! When the vote comes down and if “Yes” wins and the Marriage Amendment is added to our constitution there will many people that will hate our church more than ever before. If No wins on the vote then we will still be hated for being a major proponent of this proposition.
Children of the covenant have a particular mission to represent the gospel in word and deed to their family, friends, neighbors, associates. And that’s becoming more and more difficult in our society.
a lawless society
We are quickly becoming like the society described in Helaman 5:2-3.
For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.
Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.
For the most part the people in Nephi’s day could not live within established law except to be judged in violation. We experience this today whenever we see a reasonable law relaxed because there are so many violators it’s argued to be impracticable to enforce.
In this environment we are called upon to teach God’s standard of behavior and point the penitent towards Christ’s atonement for relief.
Christ’s law of love: kindly but firmly
So this was Nephi’s course of action:
And it came to pass that Nephi had become weary because of their iniquity; and he yielded up the judgment-seat, and took it upon him to preach the word of God all the remainder of his days, and his brother Lehi also, all the remainder of his days . . . (Helaman 5:4)
But how is this to be done safely and effectively? Jesus gave his disciples guidance in the Sermon on the Mount that would keep them safe until he called them home as they continued to represent Christian law to a lawless society, one that “could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.”
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:43-48)
I understand this to mean perfect in love for our fellow men, concerned enough for their welfare that we are willing to put ourselves at risk by kindly but firmly representing God’s standard of behavior to them.
a contemporary example
The religion writer for the San Francisco Chronicle cited a member of the Church who represents this ideal: “Several Bay Area Mormons said they would support the right of gay and lesbian unions to have all the rights of married couples. But the word marriage was sacred, pivotal to their concept of families, who can be "eternally united" in the afterlife.
A key church document, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," says that "marriage between man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan." They also believe that children are entitled to be raised by a father and a mother.
Those words speak for Michele Sundstrom, 47, of San Jose, who has been married for 18 years and has five children.
She and her husband gave $30,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign and put a sign on their home. But in response, two women parked an SUV in front of their home, with the words "Bigots live here" painted on the windshield.
Sundstrom believes such responses must come from deep places of pain - and that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, just not the word marriage. Any animosity toward gays or lesbians is wrong, she said. “’There must be such deep, deep, deep hurt; otherwise there couldn't be so much opposition,’ she said. ‘They've lived with this. I guess we're getting a taste of where they live.’ (“Mormons face flak for backing Prop. 8,” Matthai Kuruvila, 27 Oct 08.)