As this is the month of July, and the 4th of July is upon us, and the anniversary of the United States declaring independence, and forming a new country, based on freedoms and liberty, I thought it would be nice to view some keys points in both the Political, and Spiritual factors of this time of year for Americans. I think on the Garth Brooks song “We shall be free”. If you are unfamiliar with it, I would advise looking it up and or listening to it, and pay close attention to the lyrics, and the truth behind them.
In 1776 the independence of the colonies was officially signed to show their independence. Again, read or re-read the Declaration of Independence if needed, and look at some key points on this. First, the very beginning of the document “We the people…” Not we men, not we white men, not we white men with money, or not we white people. It says ‘we the people’, as in all people that lived there under the colonial rule and establishment. Nothing about gender, race, creed, religion, ethnic points, or anything else.
I should start this off with the point that I see myself a person first, then an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an American, and a moderate democrat. This is just more for full disclosure than anything at this time. This country of the U.S.A. was established under certain rights that would be, and are guaranteed to us. As the D&C states, this is truly an inspired document. In the first Amendment to the constitution, the freedom of religion is guaranteed. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Combine this with the 11 article of faith with states: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may”.
The scriptures throughout all the works speak of the importance of our freedom of choice, and the right to choose. In the church, we call this free agency, and that this agency was granted to us by God, and that a “war” or “battle” was even fought about the importance of this key freedom in our lives. The Revolutionary War and the Civil war were both fought about free, liberty, and guaranteeing choice to all citizens of this land. I write this on the anniversary of the Civil Rights law being signed by President Johnson. It amazes me at times that as a country we had to fight two wars, suffer many years of intolerance, and pass numerous laws to protect the rights that are stated to all, and that are written in scripture time and again, it makes me wonder if we are paying attention or not.
I write about the recent SCOTUS decisions that have occurred and others in the past, also that important understandings of church doctrine at this time. What is important to remember is that the church has never come out and stated that those who are LGBT are evil, or are going to burn in hell, or are abnormal, or subhuman in any way. The church does not ban membership to these people, nor does the church deny the opportunity of the blessing the church offers to them. The church asks that they live under the conditions that the church has established, and to live by the teachings and standards of the church.
The U.S. is not the first country to legalize guy marriage; in fact it is about the 21st. The church is a world religion, not a U.S. religion. The church has had a standard and precedence set long before this decision was made, and will continue long afterwards. The importance and beauty of choice is that it is ours, and ours alone to decide what to do. There are certain liberties that the church has even fought for along side the LGBT communities of the world, including, housing, employment, adoption, and the freedom to just be left alone and live their lives in peace.
So many people are arguing about this decision, and that it is the end of something. Well, it’s been going on in many countries for years now, and I haven’t heard of these places being swallowed up into the sea yet, so I’m not hiding under my desk just yet; unless it’s something Senator Mike Lee just said.
Back to the Articles of Faith; look at the 12th: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. Let us see what the Savior stated on this subject, when He stated “Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s; but render unto God, that which is God’s”. How a truly prophetic statement, and how true this holds on many things, and in many ways. I also want to point out the importance of what the Savior taught, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the lesson to be learned from this. The “golden rule” as it has been called since, but the importance of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The Savior stated that the first and greatest commandment was “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.
Unless I really hate myself, and think that I’m a plague on the world, I certainly should not think this way about others regardless of what they look like, are, live, think, or feel about things. The Savior taught to love the sinner, but hate the sin. When a woman was taken in the act of adultery, and the Savior gave the famous quote of “he who is without sin, cast the first stone” and then told the woman that he does not condemn her either, and to go and sin no more, the Savior was not only outsmarting those who were trying to catch Him in a trick of words, but also taught a great lesson of forgiveness and love towards others.
The Savior chose to forgive many for their sins and wrongdoings. The D&C states “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men”. As Christians, who claim to believe to follow the teachings of Christ, how can we demean our fellow brothers and sisters for their choices? We all choose and have choices in this life. The founding fathers chose to break away and start a new country based on liberty, and freedom. The courts have decided that all persons have the right to choose to marry if they choose.
I choose to support the decision of anyone who wishes to live with and be espoused to someone they love, and be a family in the way they choose to see it. I ask that we all remember, not just at this time of year, but always that we have a choice. We can choose to condemn, or to support our brothers and sisters no matter what they choose. If a person chooses to have an abortion, live with someone you are not married with, drink alcohol, use tobacco, go to mass three times a week, be a vegan, be a gun shooting, elk hunting socialist; we are all children of God, and are all brothers and sisters.
Let us choose to show our love for others, and let us choose the right by treating them with love, kindness, and charity. Let us remember that this life and this country are based on our freedom to choose, and our freedom to live as we choose. Let us not cast stones, and let us not think ill of others. Let us remember that great line from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: “For God loves wondrous variety”. If you do not agree with the things that the law allows, let it be. Remember that 12th article of faith, and move on with your life. You choose what to worry about in your life. I choose to worry about the 3% of things I can do something about; the other 97% won’t bother me.