But, I do believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, I believe that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove, I believe that the Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and I believe that this is the True Church.
Lately (and partially due to some statements in the media during this fraught political season), I have been thinking on how the teachings of the Church, the Scripture, and my own personal ethical and moral leanings interact with one another. I came up with a central question: Is it more important to obey Church Teachings or to do what you believe Christ would want you to do or to obey that "still, small voice" in your heart? When that thought came to me I felt that was exactly the point. That I need not feel guilty or uncomfortable at certain conflicts.
Do not get me wrong. I am not encouraging inactivity, willful disregard for Church doctrine or prophecy or guidance from the leaders of the Church. I am just saying that listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit must be given priority of place. There are several places where I disagree completely with our Church's (and other churches') doctrine and guidance. Many of the presidential candidates like to paint themselves as the "values" or Christian candidates. However, I think they are not. When it comes to the concerns of the day: gay marriage, abortion, contraception, our Israel foreign policy, health care, economics, etc, I believe that our duty is not the declared objectives of the Religious Right.
Christ (I believe) taught us to the following:
- to love God
- to love one another
- to spread the Word
That's it. He did not teach us to force our teaching on others. He did not teach us to force others to do as we do. He did not teach us to remake society in our image. I believe that our decisions should be based on faith, hope, love, and charity. If you follow these simple values, you will always (I believe) be on God's side. If you find yourself supporting or preaching hate or intolerance, beware. Because then (I believe), you are approaching the Devil.
Some examples of this:
The Environment/Climate Change - God gave us this planet. He charged us with stewardship of this Earth. He expects us to return it to him in good repair. We need to do whatever we can to protect the gifts that God has given us.
Abortion/Gay Marriage - These issues are so divisive and explosive. The things that people say to each other over this issue are very hateful. People need to stop and think. If you are a Christian, wishing people to suffer hellfire and damnation is not what Christ represented. I am pro- both of these issues as a secular matter. What I mean is that I believe that our State is secular and we are blessed because it is. When we persecute others and try to impose our beliefs on all in our society, we are acting like the mobs that killed our Prophet Joseph Smith. We have an obligation to try and educate and persuade others not to engage in such behavior, but I believe that it should not be legislated.
In the case of abortion, illegalizing it would be more harmful than the actual abortions. In the case of gay marriage, I believe it is a case of "equal justice under the law."
Either government gets out of the business of marriage OR all citizens are entitled to it.
Additionally, I believe that Christians and other people of faith demonize and victimize homosexuals far too much. I have come to believe that homosexuality is not a choice, it is a matter of nature. Perhaps God created homosexuals as a test to the rest of us. God created us all different for a reason. Perhaps it is to test us. To see how well, we took His teachings. He taught us to love one another. He did NOT teach us to love one another - as long as you are of the same sex, race, faith, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status as each other.
In a recent Huffington Post interview, former President Jimmy Carter said the following:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.Loving one another isn't easy. There are so many things that make us prejudiced about other people. He sent us down here to learn. To learn how to be holy. Accepting and tolerating those with differences is just our first step to loving them. And love, after all, is what it's all about. The pure love of Christ is pure because it is for us all. Not just for those that follow all the rules.
The Economy / Social Services - For some reason, in this country, the idea of socialized anything isn't just considered wrong and a fiscal mistake, but it is considered evil. This seems slightly wrong-headed to me. Socialism is an economic policy and I do not believe that the Constitution dictates how our economy is to be run.
Applying my moral (and religious) beliefs in this area, it seems to me that the Christian thing to do is to emphasize the individual, not the businesses. Christ helped the less fortunate - the aged, the ill, the young - would He not want us to ensure the security of the least in our society?
These are just a few of my ideas. I am sure that many would have issue with these. Many of my Twitter friends are atheists and socialists. I find myself agreeing with them more often that my friends who are members of the Church or other churches. (However, I grit my teeth when my atheist friends demonize those who believe in God.) The best solution is just to keep our Churches out of the government, and to keep the Government out of our Churches.