Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Personal Proclamation

In light of recent events, our combined Priesthood/Relief Society lesson today was about The Church's Proclamation to the World on the Family:

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

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.

Most of those close to me know that the issue of gay marriage is one that I have struggled with for a long time. I have members of my family who are gay. I love them and their partners, and I truly desire their happiness and their well-being. How is there place for both the love for them and the denial of their desire to be married in my heart? It didn't make sense.

Since it's been so clearly illustrated that one judge has the power to overrule the majority in our lovely state, I feel that the time for me to be silent and indecisive is past. The words of my bishop echoed in my head long after he said them today: "Don't make this complicated. It is simple."

The simple truth is that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I value my membership as one of my most prized possessions and I've made covenants to protect and defend it. I understand that being truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ means that I am choosing to accept all of its teachings, not just the ones that are easy or convenient. So, for whatever it's worth, I bear testimony, in writing, on the web, with the leaders of this church that the messages contained in The Family: A Proclamation to the World are true and are the only way to achieve real and lasting happiness in this life. 

As I reread this, it seems like it could be interpreted as "blind faith." Quite honestly, I think at first it was. I have chosen, as Nephi did, to say: "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1 Ne. 11:17). That is enough for me.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The holiday season...

A friend of mine posted this awesome video on Facebook today. I'm a huge fan of the original song, and the lyric change in this one is simply beautiful. I can honestly say it's my new favorite Christmas song.

I listened to the song while I was making some mac n' cheese for lunch and I opened the window to see this:

Out my back window

There's something magical about the first snow fall of the season. Ok, technically it's the second, but I wasn't awake for the first one so I'm counting this. I get so giddy when I look out the window to see big flakes falling to the ground. One of my favorite sights is the snow blanketing the leafless branches of the trees. It looks so pure. I watched the storm with lyrics about the birth and life of Christ playing in the background, and was filled to the brim with gratitude. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." How grateful I am for the Christmas season and for the chance to reflect every day on the best gift of all--the gift of a person, a brother, who gave us the ability to repent of our sins and return to our Father in Heaven. Hallelujah!