You are turning one next week and it terrifies me. Not that you are turning one, but that this is the first of many birthdays and each year you will get a little older and learn a little more, both from Dad and me, and from others. Year after year I will have to let go a little more and your world will get a little bit bigger. And you will begin to see a little bit more.
The great and spacious building is bigger and louder than it's ever been. Ridicule and mockery is all around. Both within the church and out. Pretty crazy, huh? President Monson, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when you were born said this, along with many many others, "I recall a time—and some of you here tonight will also—when the standards of most people were very similar to our standards. No longer is this true." (Oct 2011)
He then spoke of an article in the New York Times which included a study on morality. The conclusion being, "“The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste. ‘It’s personal,’ the respondents typically said. ‘It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say?"
These are the beliefs and ideas you will be surrounded by. That morality is a personal choice. What's moral for one, may be immoral for another. Please listen to God, believe you are His daughter and that He has given you commandments, rules, boundaries, whatever you want to call them, to keep you safe from harm. I firmly believe this. Your dad believes this also. I know your Heavenly Father cares about your well being just like your earthly parents. Which is why both of us will always give you rules. Temporal rules and spiritual rules. Please remember this when seeing that great building filled with celebrities, friends, and even family. Turn to God and let Him direct you.
But also believe that God has given us prophets in these latter days to guide and to be His mouthpiece. I know this is true and I know you can know too. If you ask God with a sincere heart.
The ideas in this great and spacious building are ever changing. Today the hot topics are women and the priesthood and gay marriage. When I was little these were rarely, if ever spoken of. I've had to work out my own beliefs and ideas and I want to share them with you.
Back when I was in Junior High, gay marriage entered the political scene. I remember hearing about it and asking your grandpa, "Just because I don't believe gay marriage is right doesn't mean I should prevent others from that. Who am I to judge?" As a young teenager I didn't have much understanding of politics and religion and how they relate. Your wise grandpa, along with neighbors and friends, held a neighborhood meeting for the parents and children to help us understand a little better. He shared this scripture:
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Mosiah 29: 26-27)
This is why we must stand up and be a voice. We cannot let the voice of the people turn against morality.
Many of these moral choices have family and strong emotions attached at either end so let me say this first. It is so important to treat everyone with Christlike love. Do not tease, bully, or say mean things about anyone for any reason, no matter how different or similar they may be to you.
But take a stand. I know this can be done. I've experienced it and I've seen it.
I'll never forget being at lunch after a district meeting talking to a new missionary. He was from California and at the time Prop 8 was everywhere in the news. We spoke about it briefly and he shared his own experience. His parents and family members were all in strong support to oppose gay marriage, yet his grandfather was gay. Even still, their family was not torn apart. There was love and respect. While they had opposing views, nobody was treated differently and they understood and loved each other. But they took a stand.
It can be done. We don't have all the answers. We can't place judgement on how things will work out, but I know things will work out in the eternities.
I am briefly bringing up many difficult topics and only speaking of them briefly. So don't ever shy away from asking me as issues and questions arise. Just like I asked my dad, please come to me or your dad.
This next issue I have a difficult time understanding because it does not come from outside the church, but from within. There is a small group advocating for women to hold the priesthood. Some women in the church believe we should have the priesthood. There has been a struggle with the roles of women in the church and I know practices have started to change, giving women more of a voice which is fabulous! I am no scholar on the topic, but I will say this.
You are just as blessed from the priesthood as your father. You are entitled to those blessings, but holding the priesthood is not your role. I love what someone said (I forgot where or when I heard this) about this issue. Women are given the responsibility of giving life. Men are given the responsibility of sustaining life.
Do I believe women are unique and have different talents? Yes! Do I believe the same for men? Yes! But just as women are unique from other women, women are also different from men. Physically we are different. Emotionally we are different. Mentally we are different. Therefore, we are given different responsibilities.
Embrace your womenhood. Does that mean you have to complete DIY projects and cook a meal every night? NO! But it does mean you can nurture any talents you have been given and use them to help those around you. And you do not need to feel inferior because you don't have the priesthood.
One last little tid bit. Many use the argument that these issues will change. That eventually the church will change the doctrine. And they use history as examples, like polygamy and the blacks receiving the priesthood.
1. Polygamy is a principle in the gospel and just because we don't practice is currently doesn't mean the doctrine changed. There have been times God has needed the saints to practice it and right now is not that time. It was simply outlawed in the US and the church lives by the laws of the land. With that said, don't attempt to fill in answers and speculate where no answers have been given. We simply don't have all the answers and I'm at peace with it but many are not. Take it to the Lord.
2. Blacks receiving the priesthood. Never was there revelation stating the blacks will not receive the priesthood. Many individuals had their opinions, some were wrong, but I didn't live in that time so I can only imagine the difficult challenges and deep rooted ideas carried down from the traditions of fathers. And God, in his wisdom and timing, revealed in 1978 to the prophet "extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church" (Official Declaration 2).
Just like the Savior came to the world with a new commandment, the Saints may be given new commandments still. And some practices will change. Women praying in General Conference, the age of missionaries, and new commandments will be given. Number of ear piercings, Word of Wisdom, etc.
But the doctrine will not change.
The family unit will always be made up of a father, mother, and children.
And men and women will always have the following roles.
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
Please do not let the ideas of the great and spacious building, which is growing larger and larger with the accessibility to social media, sway you to join them. Hold to the rod. Trust in God. He will never lead you astray.
Love God. Love your fellow men. Do not place judgement on those around you. And don't be afraid to stand alone.