Friday, June 26, 2015

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ

Well, folks.

I can't believe it's almost been a whole year since I've been home.  I guess that's what time does, though—moves forward.  And the older you get, the faster it goes.  I mean, I'm only 24, but for a student still in her undergrad, that's pretty old.  It's all relative.  Age is relative.  Life is relative.  Families are relatives.  I'm still learning how to be an adult, but thanks to my time serving as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been able to recognize what really matters in life.

So what does matter?

The bible teaches us that the first and great commandment is to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind... And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:37,39).

President Ezra Taft Benson said, "The great test of life is obedience to God...  The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.  The great commandment of life is to love the Lord" (April 1988 General Conference).

But what does loving God mean?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated in the October 2009 General Conference, "Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship."


Love means faith.  Love means obedience.  Love means discipleship.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage throughout the nation, 5-4.  CNN stated, "In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court on Friday ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory."  A victory?  That's what this is—a historic victory.  Winning.

Chief Justice John Roberts stated, however, "If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."  Celebrate this victory, yes, if that is what you desire—but it has nothing to do with the fundamental principles upon which this nation was organized or governed.

President Barack Obama said "Americans should be very proud," because small acts of courage "slowly made an entire country realize that love is love."

Love is love?  "Winning" had to prove to our country that love is love.  Love is love, indeed.  But what does that really mean?  Has our view of love strayed so far from the true course that the citizens of this free nation have forgotten what love is?  Must people prove what love is?  Do people have to win?

God has stated plainly and simply, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

What was the first and great commandment?  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind" (Luke 10:27).

Love.  If we truly love God, if we really love Him, we will obey.  Obedience.  Obedience to His commandments.

Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?  Yep.  Destroyed.  Gone.

Genesis 18:20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Not many have read into the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to realize WHY it was so wicked.  A couple scriptures give us a glimpse into that:

Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Romans 1
 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

One does not need to be a scripture scholar to understand what these verses mean.  Acting on homosexual feelings is contrary to the commandments of God.

We ALL have challenges.  We ALL have temptations.  We ALL have weaknesses.  However, God does not condone acting on those feelings, or those temptations, or those weaknesses—no matter how great the desire.

I have many friends who live with same-sex attraction.  I love them, as I love all of God's children.  They are some of the kindest, most hilarious people I know.  However, I do not support them in homosexual behaviors.  I cannot even begin to comprehend the struggle they go through, but I know that Jesus Christ knows.

Preach My Gospel states, "As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

I don't know why people on this earth were chosen to struggle with same-sex attraction, especially knowing the doctrine of Christ, that marriage must be between a man and a woman, but I do know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can make all things right.  That does not mean those feelings will be taken away, or that it won't be a life-long struggle, but I know that someday, all that is unfair about life will be made right.  Just as the people of Alma, God may not take away our burdens, but He will strengthen us in our trials if we put our faith and trust in Him:

"And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15).

God strengthens us because He loves us.  Jesus Christ suffered for us because He loves us.  We all have trials and burdens, worries and weaknesses, but that does not mean we can give in to immoral behavior because of human nature.  But also because we have a responsibility to obey does not mean we can judge others because they sin differently than we do (Dieter F. Uchtdorf).  We are ALL children of God.  A loving God.  A loving Heavenly Father.  He loves us.


We come back to that word.  Remember what Christ did when the woman was taken in adultery?

John 8
 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus did not condemn the woman who had disobeyed the laws of God.  But neither did he condone her actions.

"Go, and sin NO MORE."

Christ himself said, "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance" (D&C 1:31).  We cannot continue in sin.  "And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance" (Alma 45:16).

Sin pulls us away from God.  Disobeying the commandments never brings us happiness.  Obeying our OWN rules or our OWN heart does not mean we are in line with God's will.  Showing love in OUR way, if it is contrary to God's commandments, will not please Him, and therefore will not bring us lasting happiness.

"Wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10).

However, the Lord states, "Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven" (D&C 1:32).

God is merciful.  He is loving.  He canNOT allow sin.  Not even the least degree of allowance!  But He loves His children.  ALL His children.  We all may have different beliefs, different desires, different struggles, different definitions of love.

But the true definition of love remains the same: "If you LOVE me, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS."  Obedience.  Obedience to God's commandments and laws.

God's laws are unalterable.  Absolute truths are absolute.  Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth.  That commandment continues today.  There is one way to do that—marriage between a man and a woman.

I love all of God's children.  But first I love God.  I love Him with all my soul, heart, might, mind, and strength.  I believe in obedience.  Exact obedience.  I believe that no matter how popular something is in this world, obedience to God's commandments is what truly matters.  I teach obedience and support obedience.

Obedience brings faith.  Faith brings love.  Love comes from faith.  Love comes from obedience.  Happiness comes from obedience.  Happiness comes from love.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it (Mosiah 2:41).

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I "claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of [my] own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may" (Article of Faith 11).

God's children can do as they wish—that's why we have agency, God's first gift to man.  But I am not afraid of sharing my opinion on controversial matters and showing my support for God's immovable commandments.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "It is one of today's great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals."  I claim my rights to disagree with public policy, but also allow others to share their support.

"'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice.'

"The Church has outlined its doctrine and position on marriage in the document The Divine Institution of Marriage."

Elder Dallin H. Oaks also told us in the October 2014 General Conference, "As followers of Christ we should live peacefully with others who do not share our values or accept the teachings upon which they are based."

I respect those with differing views from mine, but I will also continue to teach and promote the doctrine of Christ.  I believe in God's commandments.  I obey them.

These things I know:

The family is ordained of God.
Marriage is ordained of God.
Marriage is between a man and a woman.
Love of God is the first and great commandment—before loving our neighbor, before the love of a spouse, before love of children, before family and friends.
Obedience is love.

Love for God.

Love of God.

Love means keeping God's commandments.

I love God.

I love Him.

Love wins.


"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16).

"Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.

"God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.

"He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.

"What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.....

"We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him.....

"Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.

"Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.

"Love is the way of the disciple."

>>Dieter F. Uchtdorf