What does a religious person think about Marriage?

Last time, I talked about accommodations and trying to live together in peace with our neighbors. This time, I need to discuss Doctrine. There are many who will disagree, and their voices and opinions can be heard on many blogs, posts, tweets, newspaper articles, etc. This specific article is to try to help those who are honestly looking to understand why a religious person wants to uphold traditional marriage (I’m an English teacher, I have to explain who my audience is 😉 ).

I had a conversation with a friend, we’ll call her Sue. We have a mutual friend, we’ll call him Bob, who identifies as homosexual.

“I can’t believe that you hate Bob!” Sue told me.

“I don’t hate Bob,” I countered.

“I can’t believe that you don’t want him to find happiness!” Sue said.

“I think that he is a wonderful person. I hope he gets whatever happiness he can find in life,” I said. (In fact, long after we had this conversation and well before I wrote this article, Bob asked me to be a referral for a job interview. I gave a glowing report because he has always been a hard worker and he got the job.)

“Then WHY don’t you want him to find love?” she asked.

“He can do whatever he wants and find love wherever he wants. But if you’re asking about what I believe marriage is, then that’s a different conversation.”

Then we had a long talk about what marriage is to a religious person (some of which I will recount here.)

Marriage is NOT something that religious people enter into for legal reasons. Laws of man allowing for taxes, healthcare, adoption, etc. were created LONG after marriage was established. Marriage was first established by God. It is His teaching, His law for morality. His definition of what marriage is. His law to bring children into this earth. He gave marriage as a blessing to His children Adam and Eve so that they could obey His commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (see Genesis 2:24, Genesis 1:28  and the revelation on family). You and I can debate and fight over a myriad of grays (of exceptions and accommodations) against such a black and white law, but unless you understand the LAW, it’s history and reason you will never understand why a religious person feels this way about marriage. It is not our law to change.

A religious person enters a marriage because they are entering a covenant relationship with God and their spouse. That means that God sanctions and blesses our relationship and we work to treat each other with love and respect. Anyone who has seen days of fighting and difficulties can understand why the Godly concepts of sacrifice, harmony, turning the other cheek, grace, and prayer are necessary to bring harmony to the home and stability for the children. I chose a spouse who agreed to bring those ideals into our marriage with me.

Laws that favor marriage have been something that civilizations have been creating for centuries in every culture around the globe. Those laws were not created because human beings didn’t want gay people to be married. The concept of “gay marriage” HAS NEVER previously been part of our society (note that I said that concept of gay marriage, not the concept of homosexuality).

We are in a very interesting time regarding marriage. Right now, in the United States the 6th district court upheld the state’s defense of marriage acts which means that as of this writing, gay marriage is legal in some states and not in others by district court law and very likely to go to the Supreme Court for ruling. My previous question of “which amendment is more important?” will come into play in the months and years ahead. I still feel strongly that it is my right to speak up in defense of laws that I believe are moral. It is my right to vote for people who will write, enact, and create laws that are moral. I will talk more about why moral laws are important to society in the coming days. It’s not as if others are going to suddenly going to stop pushing to enact laws that erode moral living in the name of freedom of choice. As they are pushing to force believers to act in ways contrary to their beliefs, I will talk and persuade and ask for laws that may have them act in a way contrary to their desires. It is our right as God-fearing citizens to speak up for Religion in the Common Square.

I am heartened by the fact that the Catholic Church has called for a colloquium on marriage this month. They have invited 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to come together, “Topics range from the beauty of the union between the man and the woman to the loss of confidence in marital permanence to the cultural and economic woes that follow upon the disappearance of marriage” (Vatican to Host Global Meeting, News Release —  3 November 2014).  We need to work together because the fights that are coming concern all of us. I invite all faithful to join together to pray for these religious leaders as they discuss ideas that will strengthen families and marriages.

 

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Oh Utah! Such a Bitter Battle …

Mom and babyTwenty years ago, I was at BYU as a freshman.  I was on the threshold of adulthood, fresh and barely tested in life’s most difficult trials, and I sat down with a dear friend (we’ll call her ‘friend A’) to discuss polygamy (please don’t shut down – this is not the topic of this discussion). 😉 Anyone who knows the history of the LDS Church comes across this topic at some point and at some level or another, and needs to deal with it.   This friend had no problem with it, which was shocking to me!  So, I began to study the topic and mentally and spiritually ‘deal’ with it.  As with everything, I went to the scriptures and prayer first and was taught by the Spirit and lead to sources that helped to shape my own opinions and ideas.  Excitedly, I ran to share everything that I knew with another dear friend (we’ll call her ‘friend B’).   I had no idea that this issue was, for her, a Doctrinal “Abrahamic Trial” (See Doc. & Cov 101:3-5). 

The more I shared with B, the more she “shut down”.  I finally got to the point, where I had to stop talking about the issue with her because it caused so much anguish.

Let me try to put this idea into a parable (certainly not a perfect one). Have you ever tried to comfort a crying and screaming baby? Sometimes, you just can’t do it and you have to turn the baby over to the Mom (or the Primary Comfort Giver, as the case may be). Have you ever been the mom and watched as someone tried to comfort your baby? You smile and watch, knowing that when they get tired of trying, they’ll give you the child.

I’ve watched B over the years on her path. She chose to go to the Primary Comfort Giver, who constantly says, ‘Come unto me and I will heal you’ (see 3 Nephi 17:7).  She had to get her witness after ‘the trial of her faith’ (see Ether 12:6), and she continues to work with the Great Physician.

With some situations, the only thing that you can do is give the baby back to the mom.

That is not to say that we should not have doctrinal conversations in the fear that we are going to open wounds.  Friend A engaged in a conversation with me that opened up the discussion and put me on a path of spiritual knowledge and understanding that has been a blessing.

Utah, is REELING right now, because of the recent events dealing with SSM and the rule of law (please don’t shut down! 😉 ) – those from this great state open their Facebook accounts or turn on the news and are bombarded with ideas and opinions.  These conversations need to happen.  Yes, we need to discuss with civility on all sides, (which can be difficult with an issue so charged, so personal and so painful) but these discussions need to happen!  And, as we get better and better at communicating and listening, both with the public and, most importantly, with the Father, those conversations will change lives and hearts.  (We will learn, like a grandparent can, how to comfort a baby that is not necessarily our own).

All over this state (and in other areas) people are having opportunities to speak. To bear testimony. To share their ideas and experiences.  They are able to talk about their spiritual journeys.  They are talking about the journeys of their friends and loved ones. Some are experiencing their own Abrahamic trials, and some are excited because they have been taught by the Spirit (which AMAZING and miraculous and they need to be strengthened and share their testimony of it!)  Don’t shut them down by constantly saying  –  “Jesus said love everyone” or “don’t judge” every time a difficult doctrine comes up.  We NEED to talk about the doctrine. We know that some will have hurt feelings (no matter how we phrase things) because it is their Spiritual Abrahamic journey.  We need to hand them over to the Savior.  He will know what to do.  He will know how to “feel after them“. Just as I know how to hold my child exactly right.

Father in Heaven wants us to talk.  He wants us to discuss.  To share our logic. To share our feelings. To share our joy and our pain.

When my children have an experience (going to the dentist, falling off the bicycle, learning to jump off the couch) they want to share it.  I want them to share it, too.  I want them to learn how to express their ideas. When Daddy comes home I say, “Child A, go tell Daddy about your bug bite!” This allows them the ability to think through and process the experience.

We are Spirit Children; we need to talk about our moments in life, the happy, the sad, the nightmares, the triumphs, and the joys.

My children fight, they hurt each other, and they cause pain to each other.  We talk it through together.  My children also love each other, and play together, and need each other, and are learning to be loyal to each other.

In all of the human drama, it is VITAL to talk about eternal families – but it is just as VITAL to talk about THE Eternal Family, because, just as my daughters are learning to hold their newborn sister, we can help Him do His great work.  If He could, if it were possible, if we would let Him, the Savior would bring all of us back to the Father (see John 17).

Decide to Determine Your Change

Easter chickMy daughter was just singing a song with the lyric, “I’m never gonna change.”

That made me think.  What a stupid thing to say, and yet so many songs are filled with a variation of that lyric.  Why do I think it’s a dumb concept? Because, like it or not, we are all changing (just look at yourself in the mirror and see how many wrinkles have been appearing lately).   Now perhaps you feel that the lyric is noble – that it is about holding strong to an ideal.  It’s not.  Listen to the rest of the song.  It’s usually just hot air.

When my husband and I were talking about marriage, he said to me, “Laryssa, I hope that you are not one of those women who think that you can change your husband, because I am not going to change in our marriage, what you see is what you get!”

That actually almost made me call off the wedding.  I told him that if he wasn’t planning on changing in our marriage that there was no point in our being together.  Why would a person not want to change?  Not want to be better? Be content with sitting in the entropy that is life as we get older, fatter, lazier?  If that was his idea of our future, then I wanted no part of it.  If, however, he was willing to allow God to change him, then I was willing to marry him.  I wasn’t expecting perfection, nor was I planning on giving him a laundry list of what he should and shouldn’t do.  I was expecting him to go to the Lord and ask for direction, help, and advice and then work on the answers that he received from the Lord through prayer and study.

Change can be one of the great glories of mortality, if we control the change.  Education, repentance, health, patience, meekness, kindness, charity – all within the scope of our agency, if we would just start baby stepping in the right direction!

Every so often, I see a friend post on Facebook a triumph.  “I have been sober for ___ amount of time.”  “I have been drug free for ___ years.”  That is AMAZING!!! What a testimony to change (and in most cases because of AA, a change with God).

I cannot understand why our media (literature especially) is replete with examples of weakness without redemption.  What a small way to view mankind!  And what’s the point? So that we realize that we are all mortal? Gee, that’s motivating!

It’s the part of immortality inside of us – the spiritual chromosomes given to us by our Heavenly Father that I’m interested in.  Otherwise, why did the Savior make His exquisite sacrifice – so that we could be content to sit on the couch after a big meal and watch the world through our TV? No! He wants us to BECOME something great – better than we can imagine, but it all begins with the decision to control the changes that we have the ability to control.

So use your agency, and sing out “I am going to change, and I thank the Lord that I can!”

A Surprisingly Spiritual Royal Wedding

I freely admit that I am sappy.  I spent my time today sharing in the happiness of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  I was so pleased to be watching an event that brought joy, in the midst of the many tragedies that have been on the world stage lately.

It was also thirty years ago, when I was just older than my daughter is now, that I watched Charles and Diana’s wedding with my sweet British Grandmother who was so patriotic that it left me with a deep love for England and the Monarchy.

Also, I was invited – 😉

The thing that surprised me about the day, however, was the actual wedding ceremony.  I was so edified by the beauty of the traditional Anglican ceremony, the hymns, readings, prayers, and the Bishop of London’s Sermon. I truly felt that the wedding was a testimony of the  importance of Marriage and the sacredness of that Union in the eyes of God given to the entire world.

I know that the depth of the ceremony will not be replayed on the news stations, it was far too religious. 😉  And I highly recommend watching it if you have the time!

For today, I will give you part of the text from the Sermon of the bishop of London.  I set in bold some of the thoughts that were particularly beautiful to me –

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.  

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

You can find the full text here.  The full program from the wedding is downloadable here.  I HIGHLY recommend reading pg 9 – the Welcome and Introduction, particularly the reasons for marriage.

It was a very lovely, very spiritual, and edifying ceremony.  It makes me desire to love my husband more deeply and work on the communication and unity of our marriage with more dedication.