What do the prophets say about [insert your hot-button issue of choice here]?

Listen to the prophet[image credit: jordanandemily.com]

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that every once in a while I get fire in my bones about something and I have to let it out. I have to write my thoughts “out loud” and I have to bear my testimony about it and promise the things that I know to be true. Usually it’s about one issue in particular (for example, see the previous catharses about pornography, the power of women , and the sanctity of family). Today it’s about all of those issues and many more. I don’t know about you, but lately my Internet content has been flooded, and I mean overwhelmingly filled, with discussions and commentary and articles and studies and arguments and status updates and diatribes about these issues and many more like them– gay marriage, abortion, vaccination, alcohol laws, government corruption… fill in the blank. The list goes on (painfully so).

If you feel confused and overwhelmed by some of these issues, I just want to tell you that this is the very reason that God gave us prophets. We have a living prophet and apostles, called to the whole world, to speak on behalf of the Lord and make His will known to us. The words of living prophets, like the iron rod in the vision of the Tree of Life, help us have a safe and clear pathway of truth even when surrounded by dark mists and pointing, mocking fingers. Lately, I have felt sadness when I see people I love and admire post things online that are contrary to what the prophets have taught us. I know these people love the Lord, and I think they love and try to sustain the prophet, but I fear they may not be paying attention to him.

This morning my family read from 2 Nephi 32. Verse 7 jumped out at me.  I’ve never marked it or paid attention to it before, but today, Nephi’s words captured the way I feel and reaffirmed to me the importance of practicing due diligence in our study of these issues.

I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

This is what I know to be true: Many people have many different opinions on many different issues, but so does God, and He “revealeth his secret unto to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7) Do you want to know what God thinks about marriage or abortion or pornography? Find out. Take the challenge from Nephi: search knowledge. Sure there are plenty of “experts” and websites out there who are happy to tell you more than you want to know. The answers–the true answers, the right answers–are there for the taking if we do the asking.

Type the “issue” into the search engine at gc.lds.org (collection of general conference talks) and see what the prophets and apostles–whom we’ve sustained as prophets, seers and revelators–have said. A lot of talks and resources will pop up. You may be surprised how much is available. Read all of them. Study them. Ponder them. Invite the Spirit to help you see the issue through spiritual eyes. Like Nephi said, the knowledge is given “in plainness, even as plain as word can be.” Trust that God is using his prophets to help you know the truth. Then cling to those truths. Let them be an anchor to you in a constantly shifting and angry world.

Please. Pretty please. Even the not pretty, begging kind of please. Before you speak out on a major social or political or societal issue, study what the prophets have said about it. The knowledge you find will give you confidence to speak out in truth, and the people in your circle of influence will be pointed in the right direction by your words.

I testify that peace is found and sustained by hearing and studying and following the words of the prophets. I know that living prophets are completely in touch with the issues of our day and that the Lord is not silent on these matters. I cannot articulate how much comfort it gives me to understand how the Lord feels about things that the world is constantly fighting about. I promise that the prophets and apostles are teaching the same things Jesus would teach if He were here, so until He comes again, He has promised that “whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

I know it and believe it so much it puts fire in my bones.

Divinely Appointed Sacred Powers, by Michelle

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.”

And again,

“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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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!

April Fools. Which limerick rules? (Ah, sweet poetry.)

Okay, so we made the domain switch today to http://www.diapersanddivinity.com, so here’s hoping that worked fine.  If you’re reading this, you’ve obviously found me here.  Hooray!

Limericks.  The important business of the day.  It was so fun to read your entries as they came in.  You’ll have to go back to the comments to read through all of them, but here were some of the laugh-out-loud highlights for me:

  • Shantel’s son Porter showing his bum at Family Home Evening, and someone peeing on her in Sacrament meeting
  • Jen and the lady who’s kids are tossing cheerios at church
  • DeNae and her completely-off-topic, but nevertheless very noteworthy limerick
  • Marianne and the fear of FHE
  • InkMom’s awesome also-off-topic but very clever limerick about morning sickness
  • The Queen, because who can’t relate to your kids crawling all over you and dislocating your skirt at church?
  • Tay, with the Star Wars screaming, wiggly little one
  • Erin with the dreaded front row disaster
  • and Becca with the harried late arrival stories

Phenomenal, ladies.  You did me proud.  After much deliberation (and actually stressing myself out about picking my favorites but then reminding myself, “Steph, this is a dumb contest anyway.  No one cares about being on your sidebar, and they already have a stash of chocolate hidden on the top shelf of their corner kitchen cupboard (right?), so just get over it and pick a few you like!),” I chose the following finalists for the Diapers and Divinity Limerick Contest:

Because I can totally relate to the whole arriving late at church dilemma:  Becca

We’re coming in five minutes too late,
in clothes that my children all hate.
They’re squirming and squawking,
the first speaker’s talking,
why must the front bench be my fate?

And because the concept of inside voices is totally foreign to my children, plus because her last line is awesome:  InkMom

Inside voices sound just like air raids
When Sacrament silence still pervades.
Deacons pass water;
Kids muzzled by father;
Goldfish are Reverence’s band-aids.

Because she captured the universal frustration of family scripture study:  Jen

Family scriptures – if we’re talking ideally –
Are meant to be spiritual. Really!
You say that you’re yelling?
The whole thing is smelling?
Then you’re just like the rest of us, clearly.

Because she clearly debates the same issues I do each time Family Home Evening rolls around:  Marianne

Once again it’s time for FHE
My baby is crying for me
My husband is late
My 3 year old’s irate
How dare I turn off the TV?

And finally, because her Sacrament meeting scenario just made me laugh:  The Queen

My twin girls climb all over the place;
Now my dress is undone to my waist.
I guess that’s why Bishop
Looks like he might throw up.
Wish this closing song had a quicker pace!

So pick your favorite in the poll below.  Please don’t feel the need to take this too seriously.  You can select more than one if you have multiple favorites, but you can’t vote for the same one multiple times.  And unless this contest is very, very important to you (?), don’t feel compelled to run a full-on internet campaign to collect votes.  🙂  I’ll close out the poll at the end of the week and announce the winner.  Thanks again everyone.  Fun times!

I have written a limerick below to share some of the joys of our trip home on the airplane today:

In the future I won’t arrive late,
Because the seats that are left are NOT great.
One kid’s on row 4.
One’s by the back door,
And the other is row 28.

“Would you mind sitting here on the aisle?”
They want to behead me, but smile.
So they all move around,
and we finally sit down.
This should be a fun 2000 miles.

The flight actually did go quite nicely,
Thanks to our electronic devices.
We’re home and I’m tired.
The kids are all wired.
And to do it again, I’d think twicely. 🙂

Shut up!

smileI consider myself a fairly confident person overall, but I do have my struggles with self-doubt.  Something about spending the last week at my parents’ home has triggered some pondering in me.  And then when I set goals of things I know I want to be better at, that voice starts a-talkin’.  It says things like this:

When your children sometimes exhibit “unacceptable” behavior, that means you have failed as a mother.

Remember those 12 pounds you’ve gained slowly over the last couple years?  Well, take a good look in the mirror and you can see exactly where they are.  Ha!  Take that, fat girl.

Plus you haven’t exercised once this week.  That means you have no self-discipline and these 12 pounds aren’t going anywhere… they’re probably just the beginning.

Your house would barely qualify as a tool shed in this neighborhood.

When you go to church today and see people from your past, they might look at you and the phrase “worse for the wear” may come to mind.  Sure, smile and be polite, but you know they’re thinking you’ve let yourself go.

Stop making so many comments (two!) in Sunday School.  You’re just a visitor, for pete’s sake.  This is probably why your bishop made you the Primary president… because you just can’t keep your mouth shut in Sunday School and Relief Society.

Plus maybe the stuff you’re saying is dumb and people don’t care anyway.

And then in the mix of all that befuddlement, the Relief Society teacher quoted something she said came from Elder Holland’s talk, “Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence.”  Simply the mention of that title jolted me.  I immediately felt a sense of comfort and acceptance.  My perspective changed and I became accutely aware that the voice I’d been listening to did NOT come from my Heavenly Father.  His voice does not make me feel small or unimportant.  So I jotted down the name of the talk in my notes and came home and studied it.  I just wanted to share a few quotes that have refueled my spirit today:

“Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

“…  I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that He has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored.  “Fear ye not.” And when the second and third and fourth blows come, “fear ye not. … The Lord shall fight for you.”  Cast not away therefore your confidence.”

So, I’m telling that voice of self doubt to shut up.  There are lots of things about me that it clearly does not understand.  Things like this:

  16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
 
“Though we may see ourselves as weak and simple, we all share a noble heritage and can develop a faith that is equal to that of remarkable, faithful women who have gone before us. We have a vital role to play in helping build the kingdom of God and preparing for the Lord’s coming. In fact, the Lord cannot accomplish His work without the help of His daughters.”
smile2So, stick a sock in it, voice of doubt.  I’ve got a lot of important things to do and be, and I simply don’t have time for your nonsense.  Nice try, though.
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Don’t be shy… try your hand at the limerick contest.  TWO days left.  Come on, it’ll be fun.
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Reminder:  As of April 1, this blog will be hosted solely at http://www.diapersanddivinity.com (”wordpress” will no longer appear in the URL).  When that change takes place, the old feed will be reset and you will need to go there yourself and subscribe again (for the LAST time, I promise).  Any previous RSS feed will no longer work.