Saturday, April 30, 2011

Seeking to Do His Will

Today, I was blessed to witness the baptism of a husband and wife. They had received the LDS Missionaries and learned about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and desired to follow Christ's example in being baptized by immersion in His name. Having had swim lessons at an early age and feeling very comfortable in the water, I am not sure I appreciated until today how scary baptism by immersion can be to a non-swimmer. Even though the water in the baptismal font was warm and only waste deep, there is rich symbolism associated with the act of immersion that can cause a bit of anticipatory anxiety.

We know that Baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in addition to that, baptism also symbolizes our complete submission to God. Allowing one of God's servants to hold you under water, trusting that he will bring you up again does require a bit of faith in and of itself.

However, thinking on this further, baptism as well as other gospel ordinances, symbolizes our rebirth, devotion, and commitment as children, followers, and disciples of Jesus Christ. Life is short in comparison to eternity and this life is not about seeking our own pleasure. This life is not about getting what we want, or doing things the way we want them to be dome. What this life is really about, is seeking out and doing the will the the Father. Christ summed it up in the Garden the night before His death when He said, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.'

The wisdom in complete submission to God, and surrendering our own desires is that our desires can be manipulated by our environment. Many of the things we want are a result of what we see on TV, or what we see our neighbors have. However, when we sacrifice to attain these superficial desires, most of the time, we are left dissatisfied and just as empty or even more empty than at the start. Too often, what we think we want does not satisfy. Even if we could have it all. Also, seeking our own will makes it easy for Satan to enslave us. Without God we have no real imagination, and our sights are limited and our choices can be limited by a controlled media and society.

However, when we give ourselves to God, then we seek His will and not our own. Christ says to take His yoke upon us because His burden is easy and His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. we are taught in the Book of Mormon to never labor for that which is of no worth, or for sacrifice for that which does not satisfy. Rather, we are invited to lose ourselves in the service of others and thereby find ourselves. Or in other words, we are instructed to "forget [ourselves] and go to work." The New Testament again invites us to lay up in store treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt, and where thieves cannot break in and steal. And we are taught that we are not to set our hearts upon our riches or the riches of others.

The truth is that we don't know what we should desire. We don't know of ourselves what will bring eternal happiness and joy. To often, our happiness just centers around having more than the others around us. When what should really bring us happiness is tirelessly sharing what we have with others so that others have the same blessings we do.

Seeking our own pleasure, and doing our own will has a name (do as you will). It is called pride. I am not taking about the kind of pride where we are proud of a job well done. What I am talking about is the pride in the scriptures which is described by Pres. Ezra Taft Benson as "enmity towards God". too often we want to do things our way, and just want to do what we want to do, when we want to do them, and how we want to do them. However, this life, which is very short compared to eternity, is the time we have to prepare to stand before God and be judged. And a major part of our testing here during this Earth life is to prove us whether we will seek to do the will of our Heavenly Father. This is the purpose of life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Defending Proposition 8

While the LDS Church supported the passage of California State Amendment Proposition 8, the following is not necessarily LDS Doctrine.

First off, I do not support the government interfering with the decisions of 2 consenting adults so long as those decisions do not negatively affect a 3rd party. Along those lines, I have no problem with recognizing same-sex civil unions. And, while I do not agree with this lifestyle choice, I believe that same-sex unions should provide those unionized every civil, medical, legal, and tax right, and privilege that traditional marriage provides-- except one. This one exception involves biological children as the 3rd party whose rights are often overlooked and ignored. It is this one exception that differentiates traditional marriage from civil unions.

In 2000, the people of California passed a state law by ballot proposition 22 to preserve traditional marriage. In 2008, the California Supreme Court declared that Proposition 22 was unconstitutional and overturned it in favor of same-sex marriage. Later in 2008, traditional marriage was voted for and defended a second time by the citizens of California. However, this time, the law protecting traditional marriage was made an official State Constitutional amendment (Proposition 8). The Supreme Court of California has had a much more difficult time attacking this constitutional amendment since they only interpret the Constitution (Law of the People) and have sworn to defend it even if they don't like part of it.

However, the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution requires equal protection and treatment by the law for each citizen. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution also contains the Due Process clause which has been interpreted to mean that States cannot pass a law that denies any citizen life, liberty, or property without due process. So, enemies of Prop 8 are wanting to use the "equal treatment" clause to destroy Traditional marriage. However so far, the federal government has considered the issue of traditional marriage to be an issue for the States to decide.

You cannot defend traditional marriage, if you do not define traditional marriage correctly. Traditional Marriage is not just about man and woman living together. You don't need to be married to do that. Traditional marriage is about producing and raising biological children with a both a father and a mother who provide proper roll modeling and a proper environment for a child's psycho-social development. Traditional marriage is about preserving the right of children to be born into a family with both a mother and a father. Traditional marriage is about the right to produce and raise biological children (adoption is debatable).

This focus on the rights of producing and raising biological children and the rights of children is what sets Traditional Marriage apart from Civil Unions. Civil Unions can enjoy tax benefits, inheritance benefits, hospital decision making, etc, etc. The only thing that differentiates one from the other HERE and ETERNALLY is the right to produce and raising biological children. (I believe the difference between eternal civil union and eternal marriage in the next life will be the right to nurture spirit children)

But much water has flown under the bridge with respect to rampant illegitimacy, gamete donors, surrogate mothers and advanced fertility. This may be a losing battle. It is easy for enemies of traditional marriage to compare and defend same-sex marriage with other failures and weaknesses in our society.

So far, it seems that the defense of Traditional marriage have avoided talking about the right to produce biological children, because this would lead to a discussions on other issues. Instead, most proponents try to defend Traditional marriage by fear-mongering that governments could deny Church tax-exempt status or prevent Church authorization to perform traditional marriage if they did not also perform same-sex marriages. However, the US government cannot currently dictate to private organizations who they must and must not include. Therefore, I am of the opinion that these fear arguments are distractions from the real issues, and potentially do harm to the cause.

In case you were on Mars yesterday, Prince William (Son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana) married Kate Middleton. The bride wore a beautiful wedding dress whose designer happened to be homosexual and who tragically committed suicide. The political statement I believe was an attempt to shine light on the mismatch between the homosexual lifestyle and our traditional Judeo-Christian values. This mismatch in some cases, can result in strong negative feelings. If those negative feelings are internalized, a deep depression can result. On the other hand, if those negative feelings are directed outward, then a person may become resentful of the part of their cultural values that alienates them or at least become very politically motivated to change those cultural values. Judeo-Christians have difficulty in changing traditional values because we believe those values were given to us by God.