Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Revisiting: A Standard of Our Own

The classic Book of Mormon icon, Captain Moroni raises the Title of Liberty to rally his followers.

In the October 2015 General Conference, President Monson delivered two messages.  Unless we read in context, at least superficially some of his counsel seems contradictory.  At the Priesthood Session, President Monson counselled in his address "Keep the Commandments"...
The Apostle Paul lists six attributes of a believer, attributes that will allow our lights to shine. Let us look at each one...
I mention the first two attributes together—being an example in word and in conversation. The words we use can lift and inspire, or they can harm and demean.
But then a stern warning...
We read in 1 Corinthians: “There are … so many kinds of voices in the world.”  We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are LOUD voices.
I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety.
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”  We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”

The emphasis in his comments was that instead of heeding the noise of many different loud voices, we must heed the still small voice, promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

Then in his opening address on Sunday, his counsel...
Let us speak to others with love and respect, ever keeping our language clean and avoiding words or comments that would wound or offend. May we follow the example of the Savior, who spoke with tolerance and kindness throughout His ministry.
The apparent contradiction comes with the worldly definition for "comments that would wound or offend".  Many of the sources of the LOUD voices take occasion to be "offended" by almost every word we might say.  They claim to be "wounded" by any mention of the doctrines of Christ.

President Monson cites Jesus Christ as the example of the example of tolerance and kindness, but even Jesus spoke harsh criticisms of those who merited strong criticism.

He did not shrink from harsh condemnation of those who deserved it.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 
Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?  (Matthew 23:14-17)
President Monson certainly understands the intent and message of these scriptures, so his counsel is fully intended to be interpreted from that context. 

We need to continue to promote standards of our own, not compromise our values to speak kindly to soften our words in behalf of those who merit more severe criticism.  It is not a kindness to withhold appropriate sternness from those who try to advocate compromising the commandments of God.  It is not loving to fail to warn those who sin and embrace evil, bringing sorrow and ruin along with them, into the lives of everyone who is touched by their influence.

President Monson's example sets the standard for this.  He does not tone down his rhetoric out of concern that it might possibly offend the LOUD voices.  The guilty will always use the "he offends me" complaint.  They would likely feign offense and bleeding hearts even if he said nothing at all.

Instead, while condemning the sources of evil and ill will with no equivocation, he refrains from employing extra derogatory or hyperbolic characterizations.  Right is right, wrong is wrong, good is good, and evil is evil - it requires no further elaboration or nuance.

An example of making our own voices understood against the competing background was expressed in the April 2015 General Conference by Elder L. Tom Perry...
We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.
On the following Wednesday, the Salt Lake Tribune published a reaction from a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, advocating to promote homosexual behavior, expressing "deep disappointment" in Perry's comments, which it believes "disparage LGBT families and children as 'counterfeit.' "

HRC asserts families which promote homosexual lifestyles "are not counterfeit — they are real and beautiful.  We encourage Mr. Perry and his fellow apostles to embrace the diversity that already exists within their own church, and reject the language and practice of intolerance."

This is exactly what President Monson refers to as "the plague of permissiveness" and "the plague of immorality."

Then there was a more recent incident of an group of atheists demanding that teaching of LDS Institute Classes at the University of Utah must be stopped, claiming that it is a violation of the Constitutional Establishment Clause.  More belittling and confusing voices.

In the words of the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah,
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.  (Isaiah 5:20)
The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.  (Isaiah 29:19-21)
When dissidents and detractors insist that Prophets who speak for God must restrain themselves from speaking offensive words which contradict their own LOUD voices, they are living by the popular standard Isaiah described so long ago.

Our Prophet of today, President Monson, in his two General Conference addresses, sets the example for us all.  Keep the commandments, and be an example and a light.  Not that any softening of God's commandments or any less condemnation of sin is warranted.

No comments: