President Boyd K. Packer Passes Away at 90

The Church announced today that President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away peacefully in his home.

I will sorely miss President Packer’s bold witness of Jesus Christ, and of the divinely inspired nature of the family.

I have heard it said, that we should especially pay attention to the prophetic witness of Apostles and Prophets at three points in their ministry. 1) At the start of their ministry. 2) When something is repeatedly frequently throughout their ministry. 3) At the end of their ministry. Thus, it is fitting that in his final general conference talk, President Packer hearkened back to what has been a repeated theme of his ministry. Indeed, President Packer has at least four times over the pulpit used these exact same or substantially similar words. I believe that these words will stand as a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving Christ, his church, and the divine institution of the family:

“Over the years I have frequently taught an important principle: the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity.”

I will also always remember President Packer’s profound testimony of the savior which he bore frequently, but perhaps never with greater power than this past conference.

I bear witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He stands at the head of the Church. Through His Atonement and the power of the priesthood, families which are begun in mortality can be together through the eternities. The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, He has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity.

I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the power of procreation, for the power of redemption, for the Atonement—the Atonement which can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated. The Atonement can put you free again to move forward, cleanly and worthily, to pursue that path that you have chosen in life.

I bear witness that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Atonement is not a general thing that is for the whole Church. The Atonement is individual, and if you have something that is bothering you—sometimes so long ago you can hardly remember it—put the Atonement to work. It will clean it up, and you, as does He, will remember your sins no more. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Standard of Truth Still Stands Strong

I haven’t written much on the topic of gay marriage in recent months because I felt that pretty much everything on the legal merits had been said ad nauseum. I also had little pretension or doubt as to what the outcome of the Supreme Court case would be, though I was eager to see what rationale the Court would use as it created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

This morning, knowing that the decision was pending, I spent time in the temple praying for peace and clarity regarding the opinion. As I did so, I again received a reassurance that I have received frequently over the past several months. Ultimately, while there are reasons to despair over the changes that have swept the nation, we should be filled with hope because the Lord is in charge.

While many are celebrating today, I know that many others are afraid of the impact this decision will have on the Church and the cause of religious freedom.  And many are wondering how to respond as our views increasingly become a minority position. While these thoughts are purely my own, I hope that some of what I express in this post will provide comfort and consolation for those who are anxious as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have frequently warned that when the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage (which it did today), it will be this generation’s Roe v. Wade and lead to a never ending cultural war on the topic. I sincerely hope not. Though I have frequently and strongly spoken up against the legalization of same-sex marriage, I hope that the fighting will recede and that those who see the urgent need to defend the family from decay and destruction will be able to move on to fighting for other pro-family measures.
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‘Personal Prophetic Epistles’

I recently read a striking blog post written by a member of the Church who wrote about her experiences with same-gender attraction. I thought the content of the article itself was notable in part because I think that the discussion of same-gender attraction in the Church is often dominated by the male perspective and it was great to hear from a female member. Ultimately, this individual married someone of the opposite sex and is now happily married to her husband. Although this is absolutely not the course for everyone, I really appreciated her perspective. I’d recommend reading her article in full.

However, I don’t really want this article to be about same-gender attraction or same-sex marriage or anything else of the sort. Continue reading

Learning in the Light of the Gospel and BYU Law School

Robert P. George spoke at the BYU Commencement Ceremony this week where he was given an honorary degree as a doctor of law and moral values. You can watch the whole ceremony here, and read the text here.

George is a well-known conservative author who has written prolifically about religion, morality, and the institution of marriage. He is a powerful voice in favor of a continued role of religion in the public sphere. At his remarks today at BYU, he focused on a message that I thought was both prescient and powerful. He specifically spoke about the purpose of religious institutions of higher education such as BYU and the unique function they serve. While universities more broadly were once focused on teaching and communicating values, today even once nominally religious universities have fully embraced the secular ethos.

George identified four purposes for a university: Continue reading

The Family – The Fourth Pillar of Eternity

During Conference there were a lot of talks about marriage and family. While the talks briefly mentioned current events such as same-sex marriage, they mostly focused on something somewhat different. Elders Christofferson and Perry in particular had very similarly titled talks which focused on the doctrine or the why of family (“Why marriage, why family” and “Why Marriage and Family Matters” respectfully). President Packer likewise talked about “The Plan of Happiness” and in doing so focused heavily on the doctrine of the family.

Twenty years ago, the Family a Proclamation the World declared powerfully to the world our unique theology and doctrine of family. In the interceding years, that vision has only become more and more essential. Yet, we often focus on the details of the proclamation such as teachings about the roles of men and women and lose sight of what this inspired doctrine taught about the nature of significance of the Family in God’s plan.

What I believe we are witnessing today is a great clarification and sharpening of the doctrine of the family brought about by current events and the global effort to redefine marriage. These challenges have led our leaders to ponder and reflect on the true meaning of the family. These challenges have deeply enriched our understanding of the gospel as a familial matter. Much more so than twenty years ago, our leaders today teach not merely what families should be like, but why this is so essential.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie famously taught of the three pillars of eternity as being the creation, the fall, and the atonement. Today, instead of three pillars Elder Christofferson put forward four things essential for realizing God’s plan of happiness. The first three were the same as Elder McConkie’s pillars—creation, fall, and redemption, but the fourth of these pillars is the Family “the setting for physical birth and subsequent spiritual rebirth in God’s kingdom.” Elder Christofferson explained that this is essential, because in marriage we are able to create “in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him.” It is in marriage that we become co-creators with God and therefore enter the path towards exaltation.

President Packer also discussed this theme in his remarks. He emphasized that “The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness.” It is through this power, that “we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fullness of joy, even Godhood.” Being able to responsibly use our power of procreation responsible is the great test of mortality.
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