From the Mormon Newsroom | Church Issues Statement on Boy Scouts of America.
From the Mormon Newsroom | Church Issues Statement on Boy Scouts of America.
Typically, when we read about prosperity and blessings, we read about how those who follow the counsel, will and desire of a loving Heavenly Father receive promised riches. Not the kind that we would understand, however those of heavenly riches as well as riches to continue to bless and provide for those who are less fortunate than us. Christ, himself, taught that where your treasure is, your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). In addition, we read about how we are to seek after the Kingdom of Heaven (v. 33) instead of seeking after the riches of the world.
Today, we witness the great divide between those who are wealthy and those who are becoming more and more impoverish. The last few years, many have talked about the slow decay of America’s middle class where there used to be a healthy consumerism and prosperity. Yet, since the economic and financial collapse, many are acutely aware of a far more greater danger that is plaguing our society. The rich seems to keep getting richer and the poor seems to get even poorer. Politicians are living lavish lifestyles while most families in our wonderful country seem to be making sacrifices to go without. Some who are on welfare utilize their benefits to gain material possessions while others are unable to provide basic necessities in our world today – especially when it comes to the families that are in need of shelter, clothing, and other necessary provisions.
How is it that in our society today, there are those who thumb their noses at God and yet become prosperous and wealthy?
It is a question that I had not thought about until reading Psalm 73. In fact, it is by mere accident that I happened to read Psalm 73 because I spent some time cleaning and organizing my desk. A wallet size picture of the Resurrected Savior appearing to Mary at the tomb was found and I slipped it into the closed Bible that I had on my desk. After some time, I started putting together information for my talk that will be given this coming Sunday and I pulled the Bible down and opened to where the pass-a-long card was placed. I quickly read over the chapter heading and found myself reading the actual text – realizing that much of what this Psalm of David said resonates with what is going on in the world today, more specifically, the spiritual condition of American Society and how far off track most of the people have become.
God is good to Israel—The wicked and ungodly prosper in this world—They will be consumed with terrors hereafter—Those who trust in the Lord will be received up unto glory.
A Psalm of Asaph.
1 Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.
Here is a wonderful and short article on why we as Christians need to reach out to our friends and neighbors who are Muslim. This is especially true given that there are some who utilized Islam to bring terror and fear in the hearts of men. Also, we ought not to ever forget the terror and fear some have taken to utilize the banner of Christianity to bring about oppression and violence to differing groups of individuals.
- My Take: I’m Muslim, and I hate terrorism (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
- Terrorists have darkened Islam’s image, and we Muslims let it happen (theglobeandmail.com)
Originally posted on Hope's Reason:
With the recent bombing at the Boston marathon and the revelation of the identity of those involved as Muslim, there is a danger. I have already seen a number of Christians on social media claim that this shows that all Muslims are terrorists and want to kill Americans. I see this as a problem for Christians.
First of all, I need to make clear that I believe Christianity and not Islam represents the true religion of God. Secondly, I am not a proponent of Chrislam, a blending of Christianity and Islam.
Having said that, I think that many of the people who claim that all Muslims are evil terrorists have never 1) read the Qur’an or 2) taken the time to get to know a Muslim. Many Christians believe that the Qur’an teaches Muslims to kill all non-Muslims when it says nothing of the sort. Also, Muslims are like any other people (including Christians), there are good people and bad people. Sure there are Muslims involved in terrorism. But there have been people who claim to be Christian who have been involved in terrorism as well. In fact just about everything Christians don’t like about Islam is something that Christianity has been guilty of as well.
Larry Hurtado provides insight and commentary on the New Testament and Early Christianity. His latest article provides some interesting discussions on the nature of Monotheism as it was understood among Ancient Jewish and Christian believers verses Christian believers of today. His article is here: “Early Christian Monotheism” | Larry Hurtados Blog.
Hurtado begins the examination that focuses on, what he refers to as, the Terminology Question:
I began by discussing “the Terminology Question”, specifically debates about whether in fact it is misleading to refer to ancient Jewish or Christian “monotheism”. The problem is that (1) the term is of relatively recent vintage (18th century), and, more seriously, (2) that the standard dictionary definition is belief in the existence of only one God (or, correspondingly, denial of the existence of any other gods). All our evidence of ancient Jewish tradition is either inconclusive about whether the existence of other deities was denied, or else is pretty clear that their existence wasn’t denied. Ancient Jews (and Christians) seem to have been more concerned to refuse theworship of other deities, and not so much their existence.
Along with this, Hurtado also differentiates Pagan Monotheism and that of Ancient Jewish and Christian Monotheism:
I respond by noting, however, that scholars seem quite ready to refer to “pagan monotheism,” by which they refer to the notion (reflected in some elite writers of the ancient period) that there is one superior deity over all the others, or that all the various deities are manifestations/expressions of one common deity behind them. This, please note, isn’t “monotheism” (per dictionary definitions), but “pagan monotheism.” I.e., multiple deities are granted, and (very importantly) all are to be given worship. But this diversity is presented as cohering somehow in a common divine essence.
He further states:
So, I continue, if “pagan monotheism” is a valid category (NB, not “monotheism,” but “pagan monotheism”), then I propose that we can also refer to “ancient Jewish monotheism,” by which I mean the notion that there is one deity alone who is properly to be worshipped. I.e., it’s not the existence of other deities that is particularly denied, but instead the propriety of giving them worship. Worship-practice is the key expression of this “ancient Jewish monotheism.” Here, also, this isn’t dictionary “monotheism,” but instead “ancient Jewish monotheism.”
Differentiating the two types of “Monotheism” (Pagan and Ancient Jewish-Christian), Hurtado focuses on the more worship-practice understanding of early monotheism as it developed within the Jewish and Early Christian faith. This description is founded upon the principle understanding that the New Testament teaches of a Triadic nature of the Godhead (which is what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adhere to and understand). Within this Triadic nature of the Godhead, the Father and Son are the rightful recipients of worship. According to Hurtado, this worship-practice that is distinct toward the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is more of a dyadic devotional pattern.
In Early Christianity, the Godhead (The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) were understood as separate and distinct personages that comprised a Tri-unity instead of the more modern acceptance of the Trinitarian viewpoint. On the one hand, The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God and would therefore mean Latter-day Saint Christians believe and accept three Gods who make up one Godhead. Many of our critics attempt to confuse this and obfuscate the truth of the New Testament. Christ himself constantly affirmed his divinity and his divine origins, to include the more blasphemous accusation of claiming to be God of Abraham. Along with affirming His Divine origins and attributes, the New Testament writers attested that Christ also distinguished himself from the Father on numerous occasions.
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me….
John 7:28-29 …I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One True God. You don’t know him, but I know him and I am from Him. He sent me (ERV).
John 12:49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me
John 20:21 …as my Father has sent me…
These are just a handful of passages that show a distinctive separateness from the Father and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. These passages beg the question of who sent Christ? The answer is the Father, however, viewing this answer – is it the Father of Christ that is a Spirit and in oneness with the Redeemer? Or, is it the Father who is separate and distinct? Interestingly enough, one New Testament Passage states that Christ will come in a second time in His Father’s Glory (Matthew 16:27).
Whatever one’s understanding is – the validity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit being separate and distinct from one another shows that this was the more acceptable teaching of Ancient Jewish Christian thought. Today, many hold to a modalistic monotheism that is defined as the Trinitarian doctrine of the Godhead.
Today, an interesting conversation ensued between a fellow classmate and I. As we talked about the class and the quiz, our conversation veered toward what area of study and career we are concentrating to work in. For myself, I am already working in the field as a Chemical Dependency Professional Trainee. Our conversation progressed; he asked me if I would be working with heterosexual couples or if I would also work with same-sex couples. This question came up because of my desire to progress to become a licensed mental health counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist. It is indeed a very interesting question that I had to think about. My honest answer is that I do not know and most likely would not have a problem working with couples – no matter their sexual orientation.
During the course of this discussion, he had asked me about my religious faith because I mentioned that despite my own personal convictions and faith, I am able to put those aside and work with people. I answered that I am LDS/Mormon and that my faith should not be a deterrent for me working with people who need help re-establishing their lives after addiction. As we talked, he asked me specifically my views about Same-Sex Marriage. I answered that there are some inherent dangers to our society that is starting to come out because of the social issue around same-sex marriage. At first, he was appalled that I mentioned the fact of pedophilia is gaining some momentum as being normalized in our society today. At first, he thought I was comparing homosexuality and same-sex marriage with pedophilia. I assured him that I was not comparing the two as being on par with one another; it is a comparison of normalizing sexual behavior and orientation in a new and redefining social acceptance. Meaning, those proponents who want pedophilia normalized are doing so based on the identity of pedophilia being accepted as another form of normal sexual behavior and normal sexual orientation.
According to a Fact Sheet published on b4uact.org’s website, we read the following:
No one chooses to be emotionally and sexually attracted to children or adolescents. The cause is unknown; in fact, the development of attraction to adults is not understood. A large number of theories involving hormonal influences, genetics, evolutionary processes, negative socialization, poor parental relationships, and childhood sexual experiences have been proposed, but most have not been tested scientifically, and none are supported by reliable evidence. In particular, there is no evidence to support the common belief that attraction to children or adolescents in adulthood is due to childhood sexual abuse (Freund & Kuban, 1993; Garland & Dougher, 1990; Hall, 1996; Li, 1990a).
The last two paragraphs provide some sustenance to the understanding of the methodology behind reforming social thinking and cultural acceptance toward the normalization of pedophilia:
Reducing or eliminating attraction to minors is often attempted through reconditioning methods such as aversion therapy and masturbatory satiation, developed in the 1930s to eliminate homosexuality. The goal is to associate attraction to minors with boredom, revulsion, fear, shame, or physical pain. Sex-drive reducing drugs may also be administered (AACAP, 1999; Abel & Harlow, 2001; Crawford, 1981; Hall, 1996; Langevin, 1983; Maletzky, 1991).
Studies of the effectiveness of reconditioning methods to change feelings of attraction suffer from serious methodological flaws, and have led to inconsistent results. The few well-constructed studies have found that they are no more effective with pedophilia or ephebophilia than with homosexuality (AMA, 1987; Freund, 1981; Hall, 1996; Langevin, 1983; McConaghy, 1999).
These very same thoughts, understanding and research mirror the exact movement toward homosexuality as being a normative sexual orientation in our society. Again, as expressed and clarified with my fellow classmate, this is not to place pedophilia on the same level of comparison to same-sex attraction and gay marriage; however, it is ironic that the very arguments employed to normalize and bring about social acceptance of homosexuality as an accepted form of sexual orientation is the very same arguments being employed by those who are seeking the same social acceptance of pedophilia.
What proved even more interesting is his stance against the normalization of pedophilia in our society and even stating that the most vocal people would be those within the Gay and Lesbian communities. He even stated that it is not normative behavior; pedophilia is proven to be a psychological anomaly that is not a normal sexual oriented behavior. As he finished, our conversation ended without further discussion because of a phone call. Despite this interruption, one thing he did mention is that for him, he merely wants the same rights to care for his partner in the same manner that I would want to care for my wife. It is not about the piece of paper, it is about the nature of respect and dignity homosexual couples are seeking that heterosexual couples have established. His perception and thoughts are sincere and very relevant. This brings us to the crux of the divisiveness of Gay Marriage and Same Sex Attraction in our society today.
First, we have to understand the social impact and influence on a more diverse population of individuals. In reality, and as I expressed to my fellow classmate, homosexuals have undergone social stigmatization and being highly ostracized by an unforgiving society: A society that held strong religious convictions on the perception of homosexuality being sinful and not in accordance with the plan and design of God. Thus, on the one hand, securing equality for many homosexuals is not seeking after “special rights”, it is being identified in society as a productive and significant member of society. Even today, some cultures that have high regard for religious beliefs and practices still view homosexuality as a sinful act deserving of capital punishment. Hence, understanding the nature and severity of persecution among those members of our society should cause us to pause and think about our own perceptions and biased feelings. In reality, we should not prevent them the same liberties that others enjoy. This is where I personally believe that many people on both sides of the table talk past one another.
Second, and more significant, how is it that my religious perspective as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints influences my own perception and understanding of the divisive topic of Gay Marriage? Yes, it is highly influenced and I am against Gay Marriage. Does that make me a homophobe and a bigot who does not have any respect for those who are within the gay and lesbian community? It does not. In a professional setting, my own religious perspectives do not come into play in a direct therapeutic relationship. Do I mention anything about religious faith and beliefs? Yes, under the umbrella of spirituality and higher power. There are concepts and principles that I do bring into the therapeutic relationship with the client that would hopefully facilitate a different way of looking at things. Furthermore, my respect for them as a fellow member of society is much more significant than my own religious convictions. In essence, I do not have to agree with a person’s particular lifestyle, however, there is the idea of respect and honoring those individuals that have different lifestyles and viewpoints. In the end, it is all stereotyping and labeling of individuals in a categorical framework.
However, because of my own religious proclivities, and what I have studied and come to believe, homosexuality is against the design and plan of our loving Heavenly Father. Here is where my faith and my convictions differ from those of the general “Christian” faiths. Where they say homosexuality is an abomination to God, my own convictions is that it is not an abomination any more than adultery or any other form of sexual desires and lusts, however, it is not within the scope and framework of our Heavenly Father’s design for His children. This concept goes back to the basic understanding that the institution of marriage is not just a matter of principle and tradition where it is of one man and one woman. The institution of marriage between one man and one woman is an eternal principle that works within the plan of salvation where each individual has an opportunity to come into mortality, to experience mortality and choose for them how they will live their lives. As parents, we are responsible for teaching and guiding them toward the eternal destiny and inheritance that all of our Heavenly Father’s children will receive.
In fact, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came out with the Family Proclamation. Here is the part that talks of a husband and wife’s eternal responsibility and obligation:
HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
It is a sacred duty and honor for parents to bring children into the world. We become responsible for them. If we do not teach them, rear them up in the ways of righteousness and to hopefully make the right choices in this life, we suffer the consequences of our lackadaisical parenting and neglecting of our parental duties.
In addition to the sacred responsibilities of the duties of a husband and wife in child-rearing, the family also is an eternal principle and institution:
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
Today, unfortunately, our society has not sought out the will and desire of a loving Heavenly Father. In fact, one of the arguments against heterosexual marriage from Gay Marriage advocates have a ring of truth to it – how can homosexual marriage threaten the heterosexual marriage if heterosexual marriages are no longer held in high regard anymore? The answer to this question is a look at the normalization of all types of sexual behaviors. At one time in our country, it used to be a crime to be caught in the act of adultery. Today, adultery and infidelity occur on a daily basis. Pornography is proliferated in various forms throughout mainstream society today as a socially acceptable normative behavior. Sexualization of our young girls through sexy advertising to look good creates adverse behaviors and perceptions to our young girls who do not measure up to “social beauty expectations”.
Even the Center for Disease Control came out with a study on the harmful affect male-to-male sexual relations has on society. According to the CDC, the most prone to new AIDS/HIV cases are African-American males who engage in male to male sexual relationships. These are men who identify themselves as Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (CDC Report Fact Sheet, 2013).
Therefore, while the discussion is valid and there are those in committed relationships that are same-sex oriented, the eternal principle still remains – the ordination and sacred institution of the family is between a husband and wife who honor their covenants and rear up children in the ways of the Lord. Social acceptance may change, and with validity to show tolerance and acceptance of those who identify themselves as gay and lesbian, this does not take away from the efficacy of truth that God’s eternal plan is for the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:36) where our destination is beyond this mortal existence. We have an eternal inheritance to become like our Heavenly Father, to overcome the oppositions that we face in this life and to be seated upon the throne with Christ and the Father (Revelation 3:21).
One can accept people of all diverse cultures and perceptions, does not mean that one has to put off their own biased and religious perceptions because of mere disagreements. Hence, why the Book of Mormon calls us all to come unto Christ several times and warns us of the dangers of mortal existence. We have the ability to choose liberty and freedom afforded by the atonement of Jesus Christ, or to choose captivity by the wiles and devices of the adversary. Every one of us will have to stand before our Savior to give an account of our lives and how we conducted ourselves in our mortal existence.
In reality, homosexuality and gay marriage is only a danger to society in that it opens the gateway for other sexual oriented behaviors to become normalized. However, more significantly, gay marriage and homosexuality is a danger to the individual who will have to stand before the Savior and realize the missed blessings and inheritance they could have had in their mortal existence that which they will not have the privilege to enjoy in the eternities after this life.
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