A shout-out to my Aunt for sending me a link to this article. I really enjoyed this man’s article from last week and I think he’s a terrific writer, so I am happy to post his follow-up article for Meridian Magazine.com. I had only intended to post a portion, but as I got reading, I decided to post the entire thing. For me, the lessons learned through out this fight for Traditional Marriage, will most definitely help with other areas of my life. In the on-going legal battle over custody and parents’ rights that my husband is in with his ex-wife, and when I find myself angry at her and the entire situation, I am learning that having patience, love and charity is the best way to handle things. Life can be a fight. There are choices to be made and battles going on around us constantly. We have a choice how we will act and what we will stand up and fight for….and how we will do it. This fight can and should make us all better people, better friends, better parents and better followers of Christ.
“While the protest outside the Los Angeles Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple I spoke of last week was the largest we have experienced, protests and demonstrations have continued � and the hatred of the Adversary has manifested itself in many other ways.”
It had been six days since the first No On 8 demonstrations outside the Los Angeles Temple, and the tom-toms of political activism were working themselves into a frenzy. Anticipation was rampant regarding further widespread demonstrations.
The LA Weekly ‘s blog warned: Tonight, at 5 p.m., endH8now will make a debut of sorts at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard in Westwood. The press release from endH8now says No on 8 supporters can expect a colorful protest,’ [endH8now spokesman] Sanchez promises a big surprise.”
Everything in LA starts with a press release even the debut of hate masquerading as ending hate.
Other venues in Los Angeles were also being targeted: CBS Television Studios, The Grove (an exclusive shopping mall), the radio station KEARTH 101, and others all targets because owners, or high profile individuals within the organizations, were known to have contributed financial aid to the Yes on 8 coffers.
Saints from many stakes had been asked to spend the night at ward buildings and stake centers to protect them from vandalism. While last week’s protest was centered around the LA Temple, last Sunday, handfuls of protesters appeared outside local ward buildings.
During the past week there have been uncountable incidents of the Adversary’s temper tantrums everything from a local LDS lawyer whose firm received threatening phone calls, to hate mail sent to many members who openly supported Proposition 8, to envelopes of white powder delivered to both the Los Angeles Temple and to Church headquarters in Salt Lake carrying the threat of biological anthrax attacks.
These last incidents caused evacuations, closures, and incipient dread in those Church and temple workers who were exposed to the spilled powder. It doesn’t matter the powder tested as non-toxic the fear it caused was incomprehensively toxic.
Stories were shared of LDS youth in California and elsewhere being targeted on school grounds for taunts and physical attacks because of their religious convictions. It is not enough our youth stand out because of their standards. Now they must face ridicule and the threat or application of violence because of their beliefs. Where are those who would rally to them? Ah, that’s right, they are rallying to the cause of the minorities of gay students whom our youth who are not even old enough to vote have attacked with intolerance .
In a Mormon Times column, Orson Scott Card pointed out the integrity of young single adults who heeded the call to participate in the defense of marriage. Many of them suffered bitter recriminations and turned backs. As Card points out these young people were open-minded enough to be friends with people whose lives were so different from their own; but their friends, in the name of tolerance, could not remain friends with Mormons who merely stood up for their faith.
Our opponents in this battle have chosen to call us the haters. That way the label is already taken and cannot be applied to them without making us look like copycat name callers.
Shocked And Appalled
We are shocked by all this because, for the most part, this generation of saints has not lived through this type of persecution. We have become comfortable. After all, we are living in America land of the free this shouldn’t happen to us. But just because it shouldn’t doesn’t mean it couldn’t. All we need do is look to Church history.
However, in the face of the ongoing turmoil, it is perhaps time to step back in an effort to gain a calming perspective.
In regards to the incidents of white powder sent to the LA Temple and Church headquarters, the Church has responded in its usual calm and reasoned manner stating, attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues.
What we need to understand from this statement is the sentiment applies not just to our opponents it is a vital theme for our own actions.
Protecting The Temple
The scenes of people protesting outside the Los Angeles Temple and committing acts of minor vandalism are agitating. However, we must never forget it is Christ’s temple. He is with us there. He is not of this world, and neither are we when we follow him. Rabble at the gate doesn’t even register on an eternal scale.
We can be upset, yet firm in the knowledge Heavenly Father’s plan is perfect and all things work according to it.
I received an e-mail this week from a Los Angeles Temple worker who was on the grounds during the large initial protest. His testimony of the minor miracles occurring in the serenity of the grounds while surrounded by nay-sayers was extremely edifying:
What we saw was the Lord extend his hand to protect His Holy House. His instruments were the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] and others . . . two quick stories: One LAPD officer came to Temple Security and said, “I feel something special here.” Another LAPD officer came to Temple Security and said, “I have always closed my door to your Missionaries. Now it will be open.” There was turmoil and chaos, but the still, small, voice was heard last Thursday at the Temple.
The Lord’s work not only continues during times of chaos and persecution, it expands. In some fashion, we must realize the louder and more ferocious the tantrum thrown by the Adversary and these current events are surely a display of his temper the higher the Christ’s glowing presence rises.
Those who oppose us in this controversy are not evil. They are the same spirits who stood shoulder to shoulder with us, and with Christ, our elder brother, during the war in Heaven. Like us, they freely chose mortality as a way to obtain a body and journey back to Father. They are saved through the same grace, the same atonement, through which each of us is saved.
The Adversary and his minions do not now, nor will they ever, possess a mortal body of their own. Their demonic spirits may flit around the edges of the mob attempting to exert evil influences, but they are not numbered among those brothers and sisters in Christ whose current petulance springs from emotional pain, frustration, and misunderstanding.
While the choices of those opposing us have been different than ours, unless our LDS calling requires us to be a judge in Zion, it is not our place to sit in judgment. And even if our calling requires us to be a judge in Zion, our judgments will be righteous only if made after prayerful searching to understand Christ’s will and are made within the scope of our stewardship.
While we may have chosen to believe marriage is to be only between a man and a woman, this is only one grain of sand on the beaches of decisions we face each day. None of us are complete paragons of virtue. All of us sin. All of us added blood sweating pain to the atonement through which Christ passed for our sake.
As we each desire not to be judged by the unrighteous, so must we refrain from unrighteous judgment.
Our Prophet Joseph Smith points us to the way:
“I am a lover of the cause of Christ and of virtue, chastity, and an upright, steady course of conduct and a holy walk. I despise a hypocrite or a covenant breaker. I judge them not; God shall judge them according to their works. I am a lover even of mine enemies, for an enemy seeketh to destroy openly. I can pray for those who despitefully use and persecute me . . .”
Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 272; spelling and punctuation modernized.
“Father, forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me, for I freely forgive all men. If we would secure and cultivate the love of others, we must love others, even our enemies as well as friends. . . . I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world is a good heart and a good hand. The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a “Mormon”, I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination. . . . It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul.”
” History of the Church, 5:498.
And on the Lord’s work in times of confusion:
“Persecution has not stopped the progress of truth, but has only added fuel to the flame, it has spread with increasing rapidity. Proud of the cause which they have espoused, and conscious of our innocence, and of the truth of their system, amidst calumny and reproach, have the Elders of this Church gone forth, and planted the Gospel in almost every state in the Union . . . It has also spread into England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales”
History of the Church, 4:540.
One sister send an email to Meridian regarding her actions in the wake of the temple protests:
“While at the temple I wrote something on the prayer role (though unusual, it wasn’t meant with any disrespect). I wrote “Opposed to Prop 8” and “Affirmative to Prop 8″. It was my feeling that all of us need the love and support and prayers to our Heavenly Father that we can get at this time. It gave me a feeling of peace and I hoped that through the prayers, I might come to a greater understanding of the hurt the opposition is feeling.”
If we were to all follow this sister’s response, surely the windows of Heaven would open and blessings be showered upon us.
I’m not sure I like the term righteous anger. I think it’s an oxymoron. In LDS terms, I think it is best expressed by stealing a favorite phrase and calling it an oxy mormon.
We are told Christ displayed righteous anger when he chased the moneylenders from the temple. If that is true, then as in many other things, he may be the only being pure enough to be truly righteous in anger. I believe we are wrong to think God’s anger is identical to our own as fallen mortals because we don’t understand correctly the nature of divine anger.
For those of us in this mortal realm, anger and righteousness are most often opposite terms. Righteous anger is a controlled response to an unrighteous situation, however, not the kind of emotional outbursts most of us are all too familiar with.
In another recent Mormon Times column, writer Jerry Johnson points out:
“There’s one oxymoron that should be a bigger chuckle than it is. That’s the notion of Angry Mormon. That should be a real contradiction in terms . . . When we get angry, we turn other people into targets. They flatten out and lose their humanity. Just as soldiers have to de-humanize enemy soldiers in order to shoot them, in order to lash out at others in anger, we must make them less than human in our minds.”
We cannot allow anger to make us retaliate with the same tactics of our opponents. Elder Dallin H. Oaks offers a helpful insight about how we can use prayer to avoid anger and govern our undesirable feelings:
“My widowed mother understood this principle. ‘Pray about your feelings,’ she used to say. She taught her three children to pray for the right kind of feelings about their experiences positive or negative and about the people they knew. If our feelings are good, we are more likely to have appropriate desires, to take right actions, and to act for the right reasons.”
In this case, love is the right reason. When we act out of love, hearts are softened. I think of the LDS woman who approached the protesters outside the Los Angeles Temple to distribute cookies. Her act of love was perhaps the most Christlike action of the day.
Let’s be clear, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hate gays. In fact, the Church acknowledges that individuals may be attracted to the same gender. What the Church cares about is how you act on those desires be you heterosexual or homosexual.
As a member of the Church, you are expected to live the law of chastity. You are expected to keep yourself morally clean in thought and action.
Is this difficult? Yes. Do we sometimes fail in our attempts to live up to these expectations? Yes. Is there a process to redemption and forgiveness when we fail? Without question.
Is all of this exponentially harder if your desires for intimate physical encounters involve the same sex? Absolutely.
A single, heterosexual, Latter-day Saint is not expected to engage in pre-marital sex. But he or she can certainly enjoy physical intimacy once they are married to a member of the opposite sex.
It can be much harder for a single Latter-day Saint who is drawn or compelled toward gay or lesbian relationships. They are not only expected not to engage in pre-marital sex, but must not follow their same-gender impulses throughout their lives. How great are the Saints in this position who understand what is required of them and have the fortitude to stand firm.
How great their reward beyond the veil when all will be made as it should be.
The bottom line remains marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Secular arguments do not trump spiritual imperatives.
Sexual orientation is not a requirement for Church membership. The actions of each member determines their individual temple recommend and righteousness in living.
An Unchanging Gospel
Even if Proposition 8 is overturned in the courts and same sex marriages receive legal secular recognition, the gospel of the Church will not change. Let me repeat, secular arguments do not trump spiritual imperatives.
The gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, and of many other Christian and other faith based churches, do not and will not recognize marriage other than between a man and a woman. This will never change.
Does this mean there may be hard times ahead for for the Church, for individual Latter-day Saints, and for churches and members of other faiths? Without question. Everything we believe will be challenged and attacked.
Our defense, however, is impenetrable.
Our defense is Christ.
What Did We Expect?
Of the hundreds of e-mailed responses received in response to the initial article about the Proposition 8 demonstrations, the overwhelming majority were positive.
However, there was a negative response, obviously from a No On 8 supporter, which came as an epiphany not as the epiphany the writer intended, but as an epiphany of testimony strengthening proportions.
The correspondent’s opening volley slammed his point home in reference to the reaction to LDS members involvement in the passage of Proposition 8.
“Really? What did you expect?”
Well, yeah, I guess . . . what did we expect?
Did we expect the Adversary to stay curled in his hole licking his wounds? Did we expect the pointing fingers from Lehi’s dream to stop pointing? Did we expect the Adversary’s attempts to knock us from the straight and narrow path to simply cease?
What did we expect?
Perhaps a better question is, what should we have expected?
As another correspondent stated, “These are the days we have been warned would come, this is the time we have been being prepared to see, this is the time for greater faith and more earnest prayers, this is the time for us to stand together as witnesses of God and his truths, even if it hurts!”
And another LDS voice sounded clear, “We live in times when sitting on the fence will not be enough. Standing for truth will not be popular or convenient.”
It is certainly not convenient to find ourselves assaulted in so many ways. But as the attacks on our faith increase, as Christianity is derided, diluted, and defamed, we can find strength through our prophets those who have gone before and issued the warnings of these times, and those who lead us in these latter-days.
Let us not expect the path to be cleared and easy. Our prophets are the trail blazers. We must fix our eyes on them, not on the chaos surrounding us. We must expect difficulties and prepare there is the key for them.
Christ expects us to keep him in our hearts, in our countenance, and in our actions. Through him we find the joy that dispels all disillusionment and dismay.”