Can one be a good Latter-day-Saint and support gay marriage and abortion?

Can one be a good Latter-day-Saint and support gay marriage and abortion?

Question

Hi Gramps,

The other day I was having a discussion with a long time friend. It was her opinion that she could still be a faithful/good Latter-day Saint while supporting  things such as gay marriage/marriage equality and abortion.  I told her that I disagreed because those two things are contrary to the Lord’s plan. Can you offer any thoughts and or insights?

Kenneth

 

Answer

Dear Kenneth,

Political controversy among members is nothing new in the Church. President Wilford Woodruff noted in 1890 that the Saints “have, in many instances, joined the two great national parties. Campaigns have been entered upon, elections have been held, and much party feeling has been engendered. Many things have been said and done which have wounded the feelings of the humble and the meek, and which have been a cause of offense.” And I should probably mention that this wasn’t a conference address. The prophet included his observation as part of the Salt Lake Temple dedicatory prayer. He pled with the Lord “to forgive Thy people wherein they have sinned in this direction. Show them, O Father, their faults and their errors, that they may … cultivate that spirit of affection and love … one for another, and which Thy Saints, above all others, should cherish. Enable Thy people hereafter to avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.”

Church leaders in our own day have released a similar statement – specifically in the context of same-sex marriage. “Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it.” Our leaders further “affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree.”

If you can’t tell by now, I’m not going to answer your question directly. I think it would be far more profitable for you to continue this discussion with your long time friend. Before calling in a friend to argue your position for you (the very act calls into question how well-formed your own opinion is) try to understand her position. Religious people in many states (including religious Latter-day Saints) vote in line with your friend. Do you know why that is? Converse with her civilly to understand. You don’t have to agree, but you should be able to articulate her thoughts well.

I think this is a worthwhile exercise for all Latter-day Saints. I think as we engage in these discussions amongst ourselves we’ll learn a number of things:

  1. We’ll learn better how to engage in civil discourse and will be able to model it in our communities.
  2. We’ll learn that there are a variety of seemingly conflicting gospel principles that we may have been neglecting in our consideration (Is agency more important than righteousness? Where do we draw the line when we legislate those who have not made the same covenants we have?).
  3. We’ll find that there are some areas where we can bend, and some where we will not. For instance the Church has essentially maintained that abortion is a strictly medical procedure to be performed on members in that context and not as a form of birth control (contrast that with some stricter positions where abortion is always wrong).
  4. We’ll learn more about ourselves and what we really believe as we articulate it.

You’re treading new ground here! I wish you all the best in your foray into convicted civility.

 

Gramps

What will happen to my own salvation?

What will happen to my own salvation?

Question

Gramps,

My husband and I were sealed in the temple 20 years ago and have 5 children. We have been active in the church this whole time. We have been experiencing marital issues for the past several years during which he has broken those covenants made in the temple and has now chosen to leave the church completely. Although I am not without fault, I have kept my covenants and I am interested in remaining active. My question is about what doctrine states concerning my salvation and kingdom placement if I choose to remain married to a man who will not be allowed in the celestial kingdom if he does not repent of his sins in this life. Thank you for your time.

Amanda

 

Answer

Amanda,

May the Lord continue to bless you in your decision to remain active, and may he bless you with comfort in such a difficult circumstance you now experience. As I read your post, I am first reminded of our Article of Faith #2 & 3 which provide insight to your question,

“2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”

“3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

The second Article of Faith allows us to understand that when we stand before the Lord we are only judged according to the choices we have made in this life, and are not judged for the decisions of others. The third Article of Faith strengthens the second Article of Faith by highlighting that a person is individually saved through personal obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. In other words, if a spouse continues to remain faithful to his/her covenants, although their spouse does not, they will in nowise lose their reward in heaven — as long as they have remained faithful to the laws, covenants, and ordinances they have received. Elder Dallin H.Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve provided this counsel:

“We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time workforce. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right.
“Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences” (Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75).

Through my research into your question I was able to discover this article of by member who is in a similar situation as you, “When He Stopped Believing,” and I think you might find some comfort in her words.

To conclude my thoughts, please take the opportunity to read Doctrine and Covenants 132: 43-44

43 And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.

44 And if she hath not committed adultery, but is innocent and hath not broken her vow, and she knoweth it, and I reveal it unto you, my servant Joseph, then shall you have power, by the power of my Holy Priesthood, to take her and give her unto him that hath not committed adultery

 

Gramps

What is the church’s stance on ear gauging and temple recommends?

What is the church’s stance on ear gauging and temple recommends?

Question

Gramps,

Can a teenager lose their limited use temple recommend for wearing the smallest gauges there are?

Julie

 

Answer

Julie,

A Bishop is the only person who is authorized to judge and issue limited use recommends for youth. As such only the Bishop for the youth in question can make the call on that.

Now if I were to speculate about a hypothetical youth and his/her hypothetical Bishop, then I could see the Bishop taking gauged ears as a symptom. As such I could see that Bishop wanting to figure out what exactly it was a symptom of, because that could be much more serious.

In the For Strength of Youth pamphlet under dress and appearance we read:

Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.

Since the main purpose of ear gauging usually is to go bigger, I could easily see a hypothetical Bishop determining that having them is a violation of the Church standards as outlined in For Strength of Youth. The whole point of them is beyond a simple pair of earrings, and more towards disfiguring.

In the end though, the impact on holding a recommend is between the youth and the Bishop, and they should talk about it together.

 

Gramps

 

Can we rely on our parent’s worthiness to get us to the Celestial Kingdom?

Can we rely on our parent’s worthiness to get us to the Celestial Kingdom?

Question

Gramps,

If my parents are sealed to each other and they keep their covenants they made in the temple and remain faithful throughout their lives, can us, as children, still inherit one of the 3 kingdoms of the Celestial kingdom? Even if we break away from the church and don’t keep the covenants? (doesn’t mean I will, just curious) Thanks heaps!

Garrett

 

Answer

Dear Garrett,

I would encourage you to read Elder David Bednar’s article in the March 2014 Ensign entitled “Faithful Parents and Wayward Children: Sustaining Hope While Overcoming Misunderstanding“. In that article, Elder Bednar writes:

[F]aithful parents can invite the power of heaven to influence their children. Nevertheless, those children remain agents unto themselves, and the choice to repent or not ultimately is theirs.

The fact that a child’s parents have made, and are keeping, temple covenants, does not excuse the child from the need for repentance and an individual acceptance of the Atonement of Christ. Indeed, a child’s conscious decision to sin now and rely on their parents’ temple covenants later, will probably make the repentance process even more painful and difficult.

 

Gramps

 

Are those who sell products against the WoW eligible for a temple recommend?

Are those who sell products against the WoW eligible for a temple recommend?

Question

Gramps,

I just want to know your side about members who are selling products against the WOW like tobacco, alcohol, etc. Are they entitled to have a temple recommend?  How about a farmer planting tobacco as means of income? Any enlightenment is greatly appreciated.

dreb

 

Answer

Dreb,

The decision as to whether a person is worthy to hold a temple recommend is between that member, their local priesthood authority and the Lord. Anyone else who thinks they can judge the worthiness of another needs to look to the beam in their own eye and not the mote in another (Luke 6:42)

Now let’s take some hypothetical examples. Let’s say we have those who are doing their best to make ends meet. They have a job as a clerk, or a cashier or a waitress, and as part of their job they have to sell to the customers products that will break the Word of Wisdom. While it is true we do get to choose what job we will take, for many that can be a choice between a job we don’t like, and an even worse or no job at all. For those in this situation it seems clear to me that denying them a temple recommend based solely on their job is not the response of a follower of Christ but more an action of a modern day Pharisee.

The next hypothetical situation is the business owner. He makes the call on what to sell (or plant in the case of the farmer). The sad reality in these cases is that the products that violate the Word of Wisdom seem to be very profitable. The owner/farmer often has a very tough choice. He can carry a product he doesn’t like but represents a better chance of turning a profit, or do something else that carries a greater risk and likelihood of failure and going under.

Some may choose not to sell such things. Others may sell them for awhile and then choose to stop. Still others may choose to carry them always. If we don’t agree with those choices, we have the choice to spend our money elsewhere. That is a judgment we can and should make, but we don’t have any authority to go beyond that.

When we are in a place that doesn’t require us to make such choices, it is easy for us to declare what we would  never do. But to judge and ‘throw stones’ at those who have to, and who make different choices than we think we would, only reveals our own sins and shortcomings.

 

Gramps

 

Can a person file bankruptcy and still hold a temple recommend?

Can a person file bankruptcy and still hold a temple recommend?

Question

Gramps,

Some time ago,  I heard a talk on BYU-TV by an apostle about bankruptcy. He talked about that and temple recommends. I don’t recall who it was, I have searched on the LDS.org site for talks but not there. Does this ring any bells or do you know what the status is on having taken out bankruptcy and getting a temple recommend? I talked to the Bishop and he asked me to find that but I can’t seem to. Is there something?   I know that if you hold a high position as a Institute leader or such that you cannot have that calling if bankruptcy has been taken out. It was out of a failed business, basically no choice. Any thoughts?

D. Wesley (more…)

Is celebrating birthdays and Christmas with Santa a sin?

Is celebrating birthdays and Christmas with Santa a sin?

Question

Gramps,

A family member told me that the way we celebrate Christmas is sinful because:

1. Lying about Santa is a sin that should prevent a recommend as it is willful and ongoing.
2. Celebrating anything other than the gospel is a waste of time
3. Christmas trees and Santa are pagan and detract from the true meaning of Christmas

Is there any talk or reference you know of that can refute this?  Taking Santa and Christmas trees out of the holiday just seems wrong.  He also applies the same logic to the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny. How can you spend a childhood without birthdays and Santa? I do not see how these are sinful.  Please advise.

Conflicted (more…)

Can chastity and virtue be taken?

Can chastity and virtue be taken?

Question

Dear Gramps,

We have heard it taught for years now throughout the church that chastity (or virtue) cannot be taken away but only given away by someone’s free will. Yet Moroni 9:9 has a statement about the wicked Nephites, which seems to contradict this.  Quoting in part: “and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue”.  So we were hoping you could clarify the subject for us. Is it given away? Or can it be taken against one’s will?

Robert (more…)

Will abuse in my past disqualify me from baptism?

Will abuse in my past disqualify me from baptism?

Question

Gramps,

In preparation for my upcoming baptism, my Elders reviewed the baptismal questions with me. When we got to question 4 (about prison, abortion, and homosexuality) they expressed that I could answer the question to them but if the question was yes I would have to meet with additional people who would determine whether or not I could be baptized. At the time I laughed because I hadn’t done any of those things. Then I remembered as a child that I had been abused by members of my gender. Do I need to disclose this during my baptismal interview and will it disqualify me from baptism?

Alex (more…)

How Can I Help My Brother?

How Can I Help My Brother?

Question

Gramps,

My brother had some unresolved sins before he went on his mission and as a result ended up getting sent home when he confessed to his mission president during his first transfer. While he was home he met with the bishop and the stake president on a regular basis.  About eight months later they cleared him to go back on his mission but he decided not to go. It’s now been 18 months since he came home, and during that time he started dating a non-member girl. Now they are talking about getting married later this year. My brother says that she will get baptized and they will eventually get sealed in the temple, but I doubt that will ever occur because she and her family are very Catholic. My fear is that they will lure my brother into complete inactivity in the Church. My parents have taken a very passive role because they say that if they push he’ll just push away harder. What is the best advice to give my brother?

Ryan

 

Answer

Ryan,

My advice to you is to wait for your brother to ask for advice.

He’s more than likely very aware of what challenges he’s taking on. For instance, even though he has been cleared to return to the mission field, perhaps he felt it best to let that part of his life be what it is and move on. He’s not the first, nor will he be the last to experience such challenges in this way.

The same can be said for his marriage situation. In the end there are no specific standards that say one “must” marry a member of the Church. It is recommended of course, but there are countless examples of part-member families becoming whole and sealed units according to God’s will.

What I’m getting at is this; your brother is walking the path of life he has chosen. No, it isn’t the ‘by the book’ process that is available to us, but then Ryan, that’s how life works. We have our agency to choose the path we wish to take. What we cannot choose is the end of that path, or the consequences of that choice.

As it is now, I can see why there is concern for your brother, but take heart and know that God is mindful of him, just as much as all the rest of his children. Yes there is a risk of your brother leaving the church. That has happened plenty of times as well. However those are the possibilities that he faces due to the choices he has made.

Stand as an example

At this point, your best move is to stand as an example of your testimony. Live what you believe and know to be true. Avoid arrogance and hypocricy, remain humble and submissive to the mind and will of God as you continue to pray for guidance.

The Lord will not mislead you, nor jeapordize your family in any way. As you live in faith, you might just be the example your brother’s fiancee needs to see in order to successfully join the Church.

Whatever happens will happen, Ryan, and you have no need to feel accountable in any way. Be there for your brother no matter what. You’ll see the promises of God fulfilled in front of your eyes as you do.

Gramps

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