Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts for a November Day:

Today, I was reading in Matthew 9:15 when I noticed a footnote that referred me to the Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 9:18-21.

“Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law? But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law. I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing.”

I was impressed with that last phrase. It seems to underline the Savior’s motivation in all He does. He could have said, ‘because it profiteth ME nothing’, or ‘because you didn’t obey me and I’m getting even’, or ‘because I’m in charge here and I can do whatever I want’, etc., etc. The reason he didn’t accept them was because it would be meaningless to THEM! Therefore, he didn’t want to reinforce a behavior that was worthless to their well-being and eternal progression. He doesn’t make random rules just to show His power. Rather, He uses His power to enable our exaltation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Church and Proposition 8

WHY has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) become so involved in encouraging the passage of California’s Proposition 8?

I can’t officially speak for the church, but as a life-time member, I’d like to offer some thoughts that might give you some insight into the ‘WHY’. My remarks aren’t meant to win your agreement with the church’s position, but rather to help you understand the WHY. To do so, you will need to understand some basic points of Mormon doctrine:

  • First, you should know that the Church has officially stated: “The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.”

  • Sincere men and women faced with the challenge of same-sex attraction may well ask, “Why would God make marriage to be only between a man and a woman?” The Church offers this explanation: “For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary . . . . The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness.” And, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Thus, marriage between two people of the same sex is, by its very nature, limiting.

  • One must also understand that the church teaches that marriage is meant to be eternal and families are meant to be forever.

  • It also helps to understand that Mormon doctrine, as well as scripture, speaks not only of ‘heaven’, but of several degrees of glory within that heaven. The Church’s focus tends to be on encouraging people to aspire to the highest degree of the glory, where people have the opportunity to eternally progress in terms of learning, growing, and continuing to work towards one’s potential. In addition, their marriages can be of an eternal nature - as opposed to ‘until death do you part’.

  • Consequently, eternal marriage, along with the subsequent rights to the powers of procreation (providing mortal bodies for God’s spirit children who are waiting for their turn at mortality), are held in high esteem. They are necessary for the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom. Anything that detracts from that opportunity is limiting to a person’s progress.

  • To anyone who believes as Mormons do, it would be selfish and uncaring towards others to agree with government condoning an alternative form of marriage. This is why the church is involved in Proposition 8 - to foster a society wherein people can be open to reaching their highest potential according to our Heavenly Father’s plan. It is not done out of a wish to limit anyone’s personal freedom. To the contrary, by this way of thinking, government validation of anything less, actually takes away freedom, rather than providing it.

    Now, consider this analogy: A concerned and loving parent encourages a child to go to college. It is not because people who don’t go to college aren’t as good, or that they could’t possibly be happy without a college degree. People who don't go to college are still of just as much value as those who go to college, and they may also be happy. But that parent wants to assure that the child has as many opportunities as possible for personal growth and to pursue his potential. Not going to college could close doors and limit options. Earthly parents want only the best for their children, as does our Father in Heaven, for us.

    But what if - for example - the ‘state’ allowed the selling of college degrees? Would it really be worth anything? Or would it simply deceive a lot of well meaning people into thinking that there’s a viable option to the hard work of going to college - only to find out later that their degree was of limited value (it looks good) but was otherwise meaningless? Additionally, the fact that the state condoned it, could potentially mislead a lot of good people into thinking it was something of value, when they might have otherwise made better choices.

    Perhaps there would be no harm in the degree, itself. The harm would be done by the fact that it would take the place of something of greater value.

    (For additional information, or to read about some of the legal consequences to society, of legalizing same-sex marriage, check out the following website:

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Not long ago I read another novel by Christian author, Karen Kingsbury: When Joy Came to Stay. The story centered around clinical depression. The main character was a Christian who tended to feel that if she were really a good Christian, she wouldn't be depressed. An underlying theme was the role of forgiving oneself as well as others, in overcoming depression.

Amid the sometimes overwhelming number of ‘coincidences’ and perhaps overly beautiful men and women (but hey, it’s a novel), Kingsbury’s books always include a lot of good messages - even profound thoughts - which is why I continue to keep reading them. But in addition to what I learn directly from her books, this one has helped me to expand my perspective on depression.

I remember a Family Services social worker once saying that depression often stems from expecting too much from oneself. As Christians we’re taught that our goal should be perfection - and we too often take that to mean that we should BE perfect - not just strive towards it. We may grow up with ‘this is how I should be’ and then when we’re unable to meet those expectations, we become depressed. We feel we’ve failed!

But is what we expect of ourselves really what God expects of us?

Kingsbury’s books all carry the underlying message, ‘God has a plan for my life’. When I combine that thought with the social worker’s suggestion that depression comes from expecting too much of oneself, I come up with the possibility that maybe what I expect of myself is not what God expects of me. If that’s the case, then if I fail to live up to MY expectations, maybe it doesn’t matter!

Maybe instead of spending so much time beating myself up for ‘failing’ to meet MY expectations, I only need to seek from HIM, what HE expects from me.

NOTE: Just FYI, it’s been decades since I’ve felt really depressed. Nevertheless, there are times when I let something get to me, and with these thoughts I’m more readily able to handle them.