Original photo : [stu-di-o] by jeanie Photography, via heirloommagazine.com
One of my favorite quotes is from President Boyd K. Packer, who says, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” I love the Proclamation to the World on the Family because it is a clear, powerful, doctrinal document, full of simple truths that are such an anchor in these challenging times.
Of course, as we all know, some of these truths delve head-first into the most highly-charged social and political issues of our day. For example, consider this simple phrase from the Proclamation:
…the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
As many of us have experienced, sometimes it can be extremely difficult to know how to respond to the questions — and even outright opposition and anger — regarding our beliefs and standards.
But as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland recently reminded us (if you haven’t yet listened to his talk, I highly recommend it…as in, go listen to it now if you can!):
“This Church can never ‘dumb down’ its doctrines in response to social goodwill or political expediency. It is only on the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who feels troubled or forsaken.”
There is power and love in truth.
I’m grateful to share two examples from lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that illustrate this power, specifically how the power of truths about morality and marriage that have helped bring people to Christ and His gospel.
My sister told me a few months ago about a (now 17-year-old) young woman named Sarah who, in response to friend’s simple question, was able to talk about marriage and the law of chastity. Sarah kindly agreed to share the story with Proclamation Celebration readers.
Every day in my art class I sat by a group of girls who had never really heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would be tired when class started because I had been to early morning seminary. The girls had a lot of questions about my morning church class. They asked about polygamy, dating, drinking and many other things — because I was the only “Mormon” they had ever met.
One of the girls and I became good friends. Even though our lifestyles were very different, our personalities clicked and we had fun together. Every time we would hang out, she would ask more questions about the Church. When my older brother got engaged, I told my friend about him and his fiancé. She asked me about them and asked if they were both virgins. I said I was confident they both were. She asked why they would do that. I told her we believe that a sexual relationship is sacred, and that they had saved their love to be given only to their spouse. I had only offered her a simple explanation. I didn’t feel like I had taught any sort of spectacular lesson or shared a new insight.
But, after I had said this her countenance dropped. I will never forget the look of sorrow and remorse on her face when she said, “Wow. . . . I wish I’d thought of that.” The fact that abstinence and fidelity was a new idea to her shocked me. I was given a new appreciation for what I had been taught since I was a child.
My friend, who was once so tied down by the weight of her sins has since joined the Church. Her imperfections were washed away and Heavenly Father remembers them no more. Her sexual transgressions, though they were serious, are no more, and she is now leading a virtuous, wholesome life.
I am so grateful for the protection of the commandments and the grief it prevents me from carrying. Not only am I grateful for the sin the commandments save me from committing, I am even more grateful for the cleansing power [of the Atonement]. I testify that virtue truly is power. I know that being virtuous — though it is not always easy, and it is certainly not popular — is truly the way to happiness.
I was also moved by this recent Mormon Women comment in response to the question “Why do you choose to be a Mormon woman?” Dee wrote about how the morals and values we teach, and the Proclamation itself, drew her to the Church:
I choose to be Mormon because I can feel [the] Holy Spirit within me. I believe in The Church and the word I read in the Book of Mormon. I have strong morals and values and The Church has the same type of morals and values I have always held so dear to my heart. I grew up and attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until I was 7 then my mom stopped going. My grandmother has been a member for 32 years and always prayed I would find my way back to The Church. Now, at the age of 24 I have been baptized and live in The Gospel. I love being a member of The Church. I love being Mormon. I love being able to be me and feel comfortable, I no longer feel like the odd one out, I feel like I am back with my long lost family. One of the strongest things I read that made me know this church was right for me was reading The Family: A Proclamation To The World.
As Sarah notes, it is definitely not popular to live and believe what we live and believe. But it’s eternal truth, and there is power in truth. I believe as we calmly, compassionately, and consistently seek for the Spirit’s help to live and share our faith (even in small and simple ways), God can continue calling to His children who, like Sarah’s friend, are still “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:19).
I conclude with the words of Elder Holland…for the next time you have someone ask why it is that a politically neutral church is taking a stand on certain social issues.
“Sensitively explain why some principles are defended, and some sins are opposed wherever they are found, because the issues and the laws involved are not social and political, but eternal in their consequence. And while not wishing to offend those who believe differently than us, we are even more anxious not to offend God.”
“It is only on the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who feels troubled or forsaken.”
I know the doctrine that our prophets teach is true. The Proclamation is powerful doctrine for our day. The Savior and His Atonement are real. The gospel has been restored. I pray that we may have the strength, guidance, wisdom, and charity to know how and where to share these marvelous truths with others.
Michelle is a wife and mom of three. Before marriage and motherhood blessed her life, she served a mission, got a B.S. in Psychology and an MBA (Organizational Behavior emphasis), and worked as a business consultant. She’s been grateful to be a stay-at-home mom since her first child was born. She is currently the managing editor of mormonwoman.org.
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