Archive for the ‘persecution’ Tag

Overcoming Opposition

Reading, “The Test,” President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session

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I’m not sure if it’s just because that is what is on my mind, but so many of the talks on Sunday seem to deal directly with the church being persecuted and how to deal with it.  Perhaps knowing that church would be getting some bad press in the coming months, God inspired the leaders to help us be prepared.

Early in chuch history, the Mormons were driven out of Nauvoo and forced to trek across the continent in order to find a place where they could practice their religion in peace.  In Missouri especially the Saints faced all kind of hatred in the form of mobs, murders, physical violence, destruction of property, rape, and so on.  The church sought redress for these wrong through the United States government but were denied.

However, even after all this, President Packer tells the story of how the Saints honored the constitution and the country they lived under.  They held dear the command to be subject to the government and so put aside any thoughts of revenge or rebellion and simply went on with their lives in a place where they could be themselves.

I had many ancestors who were a part of this history.  Even if I didn’t, as a member of a church I am part of what they worked so hard to preserve.  I feel that if I am to honor their work and sacrifice, I should follow their example.  I should live the gospel no matter what others do or say, and refrain from sinking to the level of those who would defame our church and its members.

Today I am going to get out our pocket copy of the constitution and read it, in order to remember what it was that my ancestors were honoring in it.

President Packer’s talk was mostly a history and not so much preaching, so what did you get out of it?

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The Truth of God Will Go Forth

Reading: “The Truth of God Shall Go Forth,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

In the past couple of weeks the Mormon church has gotten a lot of bad press.  First of all, the success of proposition 8 in California, which clearly would not have passed were it not for the efforts of the church, has led many to protest the church’s involvement.  Second, the Jewish coalition to remove victims of the holocaust from the records of the church recently broke off talks and made a public statement demanding the church stop all proxy work for the dead.

When we see the church we hold so dear being criticized so strongly by those who disagree with us, it can be upsetting.  However, Elder Ballard’s talk speaks of hope in spite of persecution.  In his talk he outlines the growth of the church, even in times when we were much more hated and desipised than we are now. Nothing will stop the work of God, as he says:

God has spoken through His prophet and announced to the world that “the Standard of Truth has been erected” and that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” That is undeniably and indisputably true. We have seen it for ourselves, in decade after decade, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the time of President Thomas S. Monson. Persecutions have raged. Calumny and lies and misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade from the time of the Restoration forward, the truth of God has gone “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” The little Church that started in 1830 with just a handful of members has now grown to more than 13 million Latter-day Saints in many different nations around the world, and we are well on our way to penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country, and sounding in every ear.

While it would be too lengthy to repeat, I found the history of the growth of the church to be very inspiring and would encourage you to go read it.

Elder Ballard ended his talk asking members to continue to live the gospel, and to rise to the challenges of our day and time.  He says,

he Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.

I cannot think of a specific thing I can do today, other than generally living the gospel, that directly pertains to missionary work.  However, this talk did remind me that President Monson specifically asked us as a church to pray for missionary work to be able to go into countries where it is not currently welcome.  So, today I am going to once again put that in my prayers, and hope to remember to do so in the future.

What can you do to help the church continue to grow, as Elder Ballard says?

Christian Courage: Responding to Criticism

Reading: “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

When our faith, which we hold so dear, is attacked by others we may feel the need to rise up in defense of our faith.  However, Elder Hales encourages us not to simply respond in kind, but to react to attacks the way the Savior did: with lovingness and with words appropriate to the situation, which is sometimes no words at all.

Elder Hales calls the way we repond to criticism “one of mortalitiy’s great tests.”  He encourages us to seek the guidance of the Spirit in our encounters:

As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.

For the past several days I have been thinking a lot about Proposition 8 in California.  The church has gotten a lot of cricisim, and, to be honest, I can see why people are so upset.  To them, it looks like we are just being bigoted and discriminatory.  I have been thinking and thinking trying to come up with a way to explain our position that shows that we do not hate gay people, but rather we feel that homosexuality should not be accepted as equal to marriage by society.

Ultimately, though, I could not come up with a way to explain it.  It all comes down to having a testimony of the gospel.  The heart of the issue is that we believe that homosexuality is not right, and that is something that we and them could never agree on.  Without a testimony of the gospel, they will never understand our position.

So, what do I do?  I feel the best thing I could do is not to argue with those people.  Rather, I should try ever harder to live the gospel.  If I become more Christlike, and show through my behavior that I do not hate gay people, then they will see the genuineness of our position. If I shun hateful debate, and instead extend loving service at every opportunity I can find, than at the very least they will come to see that we are good people, even if we do have “strange ideas.”

It seems to me that if all the members of the church lived the gospel perfectly (totally impossible, I know, see all my talk on perfectionism) that we would never have a public relations problem.

Today I commit that the next time I have the chance to talk to someone about our position on homosexuality, I will do so with peace and do my best to respond with the Spirit, showing my love for all children of God.

How do you keep your cool when you’re responding to criticism of the church?