Monday, June 04, 2007

Zion, Politics and ER Visits

Can the true church of God be under condemnation? According to Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord refers to the church as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—(D&C 1: 30). So, we know that God is pleased with his church on the whole but he may be displeased with its individual members.

President Ezra Taft Benson in October 1986 general conference in a talk entitled “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion” said, “If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same? Can a small number of us bring the whole Church under condemnation because we trifle with sacred things?” (D&C 84:54–57). President Benson goes on quote one of his own talks from 10 years prior, “So, do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.” (Ensign, May 1975, p. 65).

The Jews of the Old Testament are a good example of the chosen people living under condemnation. Can you imagine living at the time of the Jew’s exodus from Egypt? Lets say you lived in Assyria or Babylon. What would have been your view of the chosen people of God? I’m sure it wouldn’t look too desirable to join up with God’s people while they were wandering around in the desert for 40 years, especially after news of the Red Sea miracle. I can imagine them saying to themselves, “What God saves his people just to have them die in the desert?”

Sometimes, as I took at the church today, I wonder if we as a church aren’t under a bit of condemnation like the Jews. Even though we have the miracles of the First Vision and the Book of Mormon, outsiders may look at us and see a people wondering in the wilderness. Because of condemnation because of a lack of faith or obedience, can it be said of us that "and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isa. 53: 2).

Early in church history the Saints were commanded to build a temple and establish the city of Zion and a New Jerusalem in Missouri. However, Doctrine and Covenants 101 tells us that the Saints did not obey and were driven off their land and out of the state. The Saints finally found their promised land in the West. But, we are told that the society we have built is only preparatory for the Kingdom of God that will be established before the Millennium and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

God has told Zion to "but on her beautiful garments" and "strengthen her stakes" and to be a "city on a hill" and an "ensign to the nations." The true people of God should be an example of righteousness, prosperity, and peace to all the world. When it comes down to it; where we need to start is with ourselves. We need to be an example first. So, I try to remind myself to live what I know to be true and good and hope that my example makes a difference. And I think I have in a few cases. I have a couple thank you notes to show for it. On the other hand, I think which of my failings is adding to the overall condemnation of the Church and the suffering of the world.

See, I work in an ER and I see the consequences and suffering of a great many bad decisions and also the suffering and pain caused by poverty, ignorance, hatred and bigotry first-hand. I treat drug-overdoses, shootings, assaults, rapes, sexually transmitted disease, lung disease from smoking, diabetes from overeating, heart disease from not exercising, car accidents from alcohol abuse, etc, etc. And, I hope one day to live in a better society. And I hope to make some sort of real difference to better our community; not just the "band-aid" fixes I do in the ER.

Many Christians also believe that the righteous of the Earth will one day live in a perfect society during a thousand-year period after the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, only the Mormon Church interprets the Bible to teach that God expects us to actually establish the foundation of that perfect society before Christ comes. That is a lot of responsibility for a church to take on. I think it’s a “cop-out” that some mainstream Christian churches to say that Christ will do it all for us when he comes so why bother. I think that all Christians should tirelessly seek to establish Zion here and now.

So, what would the perfect society look like? Well, the scriptures give us the blue print. They say that in a perfect society there would be no poor among us. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon talk about communities living “with all things in common.” Everyone would be equal in heavenly and earthly things. And only then can the people of Zion, which are called “the pure in heart “ be of “one heart and one mind,” living in absolute peace and prosperity on Earth.

Everyone seems to have an idea of how to build the perfect society and get rid of poverty. We have names for these people. We call them socialists, or communists. We call them neo-cons or secular progressives. Everyone has a different theory about how to go about building a Zion or Utopia. Socialists and Secular progressives say the answer is in government programs and income re-distribution. Capitalists and neo-cons say that we should let the markets work and practice social darwinism (survival of the fittest).

The scriptures have the answer to the perfect society. We have to end poverty. But how do you do that. Do you put the government in charge of everything? If you have a problem, just turn to the government for help. That’s what we call in medicine “symptomatic treatment.” To truly be a perfect society, we have to cure the causes of poverty, ignorance, and bigotry, and hatred and not just cover them up with a welfare Band-Aid or by playing Robin Hood and imposing a mandatory income redistribution program.

To end poverty you need to attack the causes of poverty. The major cause of poverty is illegitimacy and the breakdown of the traditional family. I see the evidence of this everyday in the ER. Children have the right to be born into a family with both a mother and a father. The father should work outside the home and provide for or oversee the temporal and spiritual needs of the children. The mother should work inside the home and provide for the social and emotional needs of the children.

What happens today? We live in a sexually immoral and materialistic society. Single mothers are stretched too thin to be able to fulfill all the needs of their children by themselves. And even in cases where there is a mom and dad, many times both decide to work to fund an extravagantly materialistic lifestyle. And when the children’s spiritual, social and emotional needs are not being met, they are more likely to struggle with depression or turn to gangs, sex, porn, tobacco, alcohol, drugs which then leads to crime, disease, and injury (a visit to the ER). And the cycle repeats itself over and over again.

So, is it is impossible to expect abstinence and chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage. And those people, who I suspect are not sexually moral themselves, want birth control, gay marriage, and abortion. But, encouraging gay marriage may result in less babies, but people who do these things feel guilt and shame, and that leads to depression which leads to addictive behavior, which leads to more visits to the ER. So, these same people say. Well, these people shouldn't feel guilty. It's because of our prejudiced society against women and gays that makes them feel guilty, depressed, and suicidal. And if we would all be more accepting, then noone would feel guilty, we can all have all the sex we want with whomever we want and not have any consequences. This is the flaw in the secular progressive left-wing conspiracy.

What about materialism? Well, the neo-conservative capitalists are no less wrong. And there is just as much of a right-wing conspiracy as there is a left-wing conspiracy. What is it? This side teaches that "I earned it so I deserve it." They want everyone to take responsiblity for themselves. However, they also practive survival of the fittest. This sides, says "He who dies with the most wealth, power, and fame wins." This leads to big businesses who pay CEO's hundreds of millions of dollars but then hire poor illegal immigrants to work for minimum wage without having to subsidize retirement or health insurance programs. Therefore, many poor uninsured do not have access to preventative health care and let little health problems go until they are big health problems and they end up in the ER.

In the end both political extremes point fingers at each other and yell conspiracy while pointing out the flaws in the other's plan. Then they mistakenly use those flaw as justification for their ideology. However, truth is, that both sides are wrong together.

I consider ER visits as measure of the of weakness and ill-health of our society. As our communities weaken; there is more illness, crime, poverty, drug use, depression, suicide, disease, accidents, injury, etc. And that means more people in the ER. I suppose a sick society is job security. But the reality is that seeing countless people suffering spiritually, emotionally, and physically is hard to see. You get numb to it or many learn to laugh at it in order to cope. I just can't laugh at the suffering of others (mostly). So, I try to focus on the Holy Ghost which can bring peace and comfort in any situation. I have a hope that one day that we will all live in that perfect society together. Maybe I'll be out of work.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree. It's amazing how we tend to label evil as either communists, neo-cons, socialists, etc in an attempt to water down the psychological effects the word "Evil" has on our minds. It is said that the only requirement for evil to flourish is for good men to keep quiet and I wonder often, where is the voice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the face of such blatant evil today? Who hath stilled her voice? As often as can be said, Church authorities chide us to not be fence sitters..that we must choose now herewith whether we are good or evil, followers of Christ or followers of Satan...Choose ye now herewith is the constant cry. I am here waiting for the voice of the true light to speakup and lead the way. Lets go...time is short.