The following excerpted talk from one of the Mormon leaders (an Elder of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) demonstrates to Mainstream denominations what needs to be done, what should be done, by Christian leaders when confronted by escalating secular persecution.
What an edifying and inspiring contrast this is when compared with the weak, weaselling compromises of so many other Christian leaders.
From the lecture No Other Gods by Elder Dallin H Oaks, presented at the CJCLDS General Conference October 2013.
There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and childbearing. These pressures have already authorized same-gender marriages in various states and nations. Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness.
Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable.
Our twelfth article of faith states our belief in being subject to civil authority and “in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior.
For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.
In this determination we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.
A teaching of President Thomas S. Monson applies to this circumstance. At this conference 27 years ago, he boldly declared: “Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well.”
I pray that we will not let the temporary challenges of mortality cause us to forget the great commandments and priorities we have been given by our Creator and our Savior. We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men that we stop trying to achieve our eternal destiny. We who know God’s plan for His children—we who have made covenants to participate in it—have a clear responsibility. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life. We must never dilute our first priority—to have no other gods and to serve no other priorities ahead of God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
COMMENT FROM NICHOLAS FULFORD
Nicholas Fulford has left a new comment on your post "Mormon Apostle Dallen Oaks urges the faithful to b...":
I am wondering what form the persecution will take. The state is loathe to interfere in matters of religion, and marriage as a rite within a church will almost certainly not be challenged by the state. What is happening is that marriage as a legal definition has been extended, to include types of union that are not sanctioned by many churches. This does not change the rights of churches to discriminate in terms of who they will and will not allow to participate within their perishes.
This really is a church and state boundary issue, where the state determines what falls within the scope of civil unions from a legal perspective, and churches determine it from a perspective of their teachings and rites. The two do not inherently come into conflict unless either church or state are trying to change the boundaries. (I think that, "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's", is a fine way of delineating the boundaries.)
Therefore, I do not think that Mormons or others will be persecuted for their religious values and the boundaries of behaviour that they accept to be a member and to participate in the church. Where it is liable to become an issue is with respect to discrimination outside the church, (i.e. employment law, housing discrimination, etc.)
There is of course the so-called Fourth Estate, which includes traditional news sources, bloggers, citizen-journalists, and anyone who has sufficient media savvy to have a significant presence in the public arena. The culture wars tend to become trench warfare, and on the fringes it can become particularly vile, (on both the religious and politically correct sides.) So, in this arena, there is an on-going shift away from traditional values, and an intensification of conflict, but not persecution by the state.
@Nicholas - Perhaps because you are not Christian, and because there has been very little about it in the mass media (or at least the news is *framed* differently) - you may not be aware of the extent to which Christians have been persecuted aggressively in the UK and also USA in the past years.
This is not a theoretical matter but includes restrictions on talking about, proselytizing or practising Christianity, aggressive (bankrupting) legal actions from government agencies and pressure-groups, media-fuelled personal hate campaigns with letter campaigns, marches, etc, sacking, fines, and periods behind bars (in the UK at least).
On the international stage, it is possible that the *current* numerical level of Christian persecution and for the past decade has been comparable to almost any time in the past 2000 years except for the Soviet Union.
The mass media are not interested, don't care or approve what is happening; and the Western gvernments are abbetting (with funds and arms) a large scale purge of Christians from the Middle East.
Some hundreds of thousands of Christians seem to have 'disappeared' in Iraq since the war, and there has been ethnic cleansing of Christians from nearly all the "Arab Spring' countries which had, until recently, a Christian presence that had survived since the early years of Christianity.
Then there is large scale violence, confiscation and explusions against Christians (for being Christians) in Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya and other places in Africa; Pakinsan and who knows where else.
My point is that this has already happened and is still getting worse - the question is how much worse it will become in future (and what should Christians do about it).
Elder Oaks (who is a former law school dean and state supreme court judge) gave a short summary in 2011 of some real examples of infringement on religious freedom:
(the summary starts with the paragraph that begins "In New Mexico...")
Of course there have been several similar instances since then.
Non-Mormons may miss the reference to pioneers and handcarts.
The handcart pioneers were Mormons who wanted to join the main body of the Saints in Utah but couldn't afford a team and wagon. So they built handcarts which they pulled across the plains. The death toll was high. Much higher in those groups that left late in the season and were caught by the onset of winter, but even among the groups that trekked in pleasant summer, there were significant deaths from privation and exertion.
They are a watchword among Mormons for endurance in the face of suffering.
Oaks' was not the only talk that warned of a possible return to the days of persecution.
First, thank-you to both Bruce and MC for the links provided. The newspaper articles and the address by Elder Oaks contain much to be reflected upon.
In my original post I was speaking from a perspective of a Canadian and with respect to protections and freedoms afforded in both Canada and the United States with respect to religion. (Elder Oaks speech not withstanding, there is a significant freedom of religion in both countries, and yes I see that other freedoms often create friction that has to be settled by the courts and/or through legislation. I am also aware that some human rights tribunals and judgments have swung too far in accommodating minority positions and can be too politically correct by far, and that this does result in some miscarriages of justice from time to time, and at considerable expense.)
It does not surprise me that in Africa, the Middle East, and North Korea that Christian persecution exists. In North Korea persecution of anyone for anything that is not enthusiastic support of "Dear Leader" is de rigueur. Also, extremism of the Muslim variety is a common thing in the Middle East, Nigeria, and many North African states. Does this mean that the press should ignore the religious context? No they should not. Persecution is persecution, and without regard to whether it be against a religious, tribal, or secular group, the larger view with proper context needs to be reported. I do think that a significant portion of the press does a disservice by not pointing this out. The events in Egypt and Pakistan from the articles provided do to some extent speak for themselves. Even so, part of good reporting goes beyond a simple relaying of an event to provide useful context.
And so, thank-you for your references, which I have read. I obviously have more reading to do to form a more balanced opinion on the international side, and I fully support having religious voices in the public square.
FROM A COMMENT FROM ASDF
asdf has left a new comment on your post "Mormon Apostle Dallen Oaks urges the faithful to b...":
...Seen this way, [same sex] marriage is just a continuation of the sexual revolution. It's true that overturning laws meant to stifle sexual liberty was part of the movement, but the meat of the movement was changing mainstream moral attitudes about sex. It was about getting social approval ...
The laws weren't about legal restrictions so much as a kind of public plebiscite one could point to and say, "see, people approve of my [behaviour]."
To understand the ... movement I think you need look no farther then the centerpiece ...[the] pride parade. ... Having seen a number of these when I lived in NYC its clearly about narcissism, voyeurism, moral inversion for the very sake of it, shallowness...
The stated goal of pride parades is the sin of pride itself. To declare that you, not God, are the decider of right and wrong. And not just privately, but in a giant public celebration dedicated to the self and its base desires which everyone else should be compelled to approve of...
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