Fairness for All


Latter-day Saints have been long-time defenders of religious liberty, and have faced the brunt of some of the most egregious religious liberty violations in U.S. history (the Missouri extermination order, the imprisoning of Church leaders over polygamy, etc.). Our scripture and our rich history of sermons and teachings supply us with ample reason to support a strong tradition of property rights, religious liberty, and constitutional restraint.

It is no wonder, I think, that some members of the Church, particularly those with libertarian leanings, have reacted incredulously to the Church’s “Fairness for All” campaign, which they interpret to be a capitulation on some of these core principles. After all, non-discrimination laws — of any variety — are argued to be a fundamental violation of basic property rights. Preventing large housing units from making conscience-based decisions, while allowing small landlords the same rights, seems like more than a compromise; it feels like giving up something important.

As a libertarian myself, I would also resist to the bitter end all of these compromises, were it not for an important fact: prophets and apostles seem to be telling me not to. While also unambiguously telling me to zealously defend religious freedom, they seem to also be saying to do so without taking an inflexible, “winner-take-all” approach. From a libertarian purist’s point of view, this seems like a deep contradiction; but prophets are known for contradictions.

A God of Contradictions

Moses, for example, commanded the Israelites to make no idols, no graven images, etc. This was engrained into the Israelite psyche when a number of them were slain for committing this very sin.

Imagine the choice they faced, then, years later when Moses erected a bronze serpent on a pole, and told the Israelites to look to it, or they would succumb to the bites of the fiery serpents. Honestly? If I were an Israelite at the time, I would wonder if I was being tested. Moses, surely, is playing a trick on us, to see if we would violate the commandments of God in a moment of expediency. Salvation, surely, rests in following the written word and refusing to look to an idol lifted to test and try our commitment.

In reality, though, the opposite was true: Yes, it was a test. But the test was to see if the Israelites would follow the dynamic word of God through His current spokesmen; God wanted to see if the Israelies would elevate an idea, an abstract ideology, over the in-the-moment instructions of God’s authorized servants. Yes, scripture is the word of God; but when we elevate our interpretations of scripture to the level of an absolute, inflexible ideology that God Himself cannot contradict through His own servants, we end up supplanting the living God with dead words. We end up making an idol of what prophets have said in the past.

The truth is, I think that God values political liberty. I think that God prefers absolute, unmitigated freedom of conscience (with whatever reasonable restrictions are necessary to protect from violent extremism and to allow peaceful coexistence, etc.). But I also believe that God has at times asked His people to acquiesce to mortal governments from time to time. In our own history, this is what He instructed President Wilford Woodruff to do — he was prepared to fight the Federal government prohibition of polygamy to the bitter end, until he was instructed to acquiesce by God Himself in revelation. We also have have God’s instructions to Jeremiah (the is the NIV version):

Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.

“‘“If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword,famine and plague, declares the Lord, until I destroy it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’ They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. But if any nation will bow its neck under the yokeof the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the Lord.”’”

I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah. I said, “Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live. Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which the Lord has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you. ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.’”

This is a lengthy quote, but I urge you to read it. In it, the Lord tells the Israelites to subject themselves to the king of Babylon, and to disregard those who elevate national independence over those instructions. He tells them to disregard those who would encourage rebellion, and tells them that if they subject themselves to the king, they will live, but if they do not, they will be destroyed. God — the same God who inspired the Constitution, tutored prophets like David O. McKay and Ezra Taft Benson, and liberated the Israelites from the Egyptians — is telling the Israelites to subject themselves, to not rebel, to comply with the laws and edicts of the king, and to wholly disregard those who tell them otherwise.

My point here is simply that God is a God of contradictions. He can give different instructions at different times. And while some may protest that we are not facing an existential threat, as Wilford Woodruff was, or the Israelites were under Babylon, so it strains credibility that God would today ask us to compromise on anything. But prophets are not speaking only in response to the here and now, but also in response to future threats. They are prophets after all. And so we cannot evaluate their teachings solely by what we see in the current political landscape.

Religious Liberty Today

In short, I cannot in good conscience be a libertarian purist today, if prophets and apostles are asking me not to be. To be clear, this is not to say that prophets are asking us to give up the fight on religious liberty; quite the contrary, they are adamantly and emphatically insisting that we engage in this fight. Again and again, the Church has expressed deep reservations about the state of religious liberty in the world, and have asked us to carry the torch in defending that liberty.

So let me repeat: Prophets are not asking us to give up religious freedom generally. Rather, they are asking us to defend religious liberty passionately and articulately. The main thrust of their instructions today is that religious freedom is imperiled, and that we need to be involved in defending it. However, I do believe that apostles and prophets have instructed us to not be libertarian purists as we do so. We are being asked to defend religious liberty in a particular way.

I’m not basing this solely on Elder Wickman’s remarks this week at BYU’s religious freedom conference, but also on Elder Oak’s repeated comments over the past year, as well as Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson’s remarks last year in relation to the Utah Compromise. And on Elder Rasband’s remarks at BYU. And on a video released by the Church. Among other things.

The message is consistent: Defend religious freedom — but if we take a winner-take-all approach, where we inflexibly and reflexively refuse to budge on anything, we may lose everything. Not just legally, but culturally. In short, the message seems to be that the cultural conflicts we are facing today are only going to get worse, and unless we are able to preemptively disarm our opponents with reasonable compromises, we risk losing those freedoms that are most important to us.

I think they see something — like Jeremiah did in ancient times, and Wilford Woodruff in modern times. No, they haven’t come out and said, “Thus saith the Lord.” No, they haven’t detailed any visions of the future. But I think they see something regardless, and are issuing a warning: Religious liberty is imperiled, and in coming decades, all of our most treasured freedoms will come under attack. And that we must fight now to preserve them. And that we will lose that future fight if we fight the wrong ways in the here and now.

And those “wrong ways” include being wholly unbending, ideological purists. Like the Israelites with the brazen serpent, we may be being asked to give up abstract ideology in the face of contemporary prophetic instructions.

Let’s use an example to demonstrate how this could look in practice. Let’s take the religious pharmacist as an example. Here’s how I think that the “Fairness for All” approach would be applied to the situation. Imagine that I’m talking to someone on the other side of the debate.

An Example

Let’s lay out the facts.

Most people have no moral qualms with using a particular drug (the day-after pill), and believe that it has some really important uses. Those uses, however, depend on timely access — taking it a few days later doesn’t really cut it. And so convenient access may be pretty important. And there are communities where there are only a couple, or only one pharmacy. [There are plenty of communities like this, so while most of us would dismiss this as a fictional scenario, the other side does not.] if that pharmacy doesn’t stock and dispense the drug, access becomes really inconvenient. For groups that value timely, public access to these drugs, this is a problem.

A small (and shrinking) percentage of the population opposes the use of a particular drug on moral grounds, and very, very small percentage of those people are pharmacists. Not all of them care enough to want to decline to participate at all, but a small number of them do. We strongly value the exercise of religious conscience, and we really want to be able to accommodate that small group, and allow them to both be pharmacists and live their faith — if that’s at all possible. If we value religious freedom, then it might be important to address how we might accommodate this group.

So we have a conflict. If religious pharmacists can get exemptions any time they want to, we potentially jeopardize timely public access (a value important to one side). And if religious pharmacists can’t ever get an exemption, we jeopardize the ability of this small group from being pharmacists (a value important to the other side). Sadly, we can’t have it both ways. And right now, both sides of the debate are retrenching and neither is willing to bend. So the truth is, neither side is going to get everything they want.

But we do believe that it’s possible for both sides to get most of what they want. But it takes both sides to be willing to bend a little bit.

So here’s our proposal.

We’re willing to say that faith-based exemptions shouldn’t happen in cases where it would jeopardize timely access to the drug in question. So for small towns in the midwest, where the pharmacist is the only pharmacist in town, accommodations wouldn’t be granted. So if religious pharmacist wants to open shop, he would have to avoid those communities (unless more pharmacies also open shop there). Inconvenient for the pharmacist, sure, but in the interests of public access, that’s the way it has to be. We can debate the details about where the “line” is (10 miles? 50 miles?) later on; that’s an issue to be decided case-by-case.

I’m a libertarian at heart, and I hate the idea of forcing anyone to do anything, so this is bending a lot for me. But I value mutual accommodation and peaceful coexistence more than ideological belligerence, so I’m willing to relinquish my libertarian puritanism if it will advance those goals and keep this ugly social conflict from escalating further.

Under those conditions, would you be willing also bend a little, and accept the idea that religious pharmacists can be granted exemptions as long as it doesn’t jeopardize timely access? Can you admit that it may be possible to accommodate their religious beliefs without jeopardizing public access, in some circumstances?

In this scenario, neither side gets everything they want. But both sides are able to get what they value most. First of all, we get to protect public access to the drug in question. There may be rare occasions where a pharmacy doesn’t have the drug stocked, but only where there’s lots of other pharmacies around. Second of all, we get to protect religious conscience for religious pharmacists. They may have to restrict their business to cities where there’s lots of pharmacies already, but under those conditions, they are able to get a narrow exemption to live their faith.

We believe it’s possible to craft carefully-worded regulations and laws that make this a reality. If that’s possible, would you be willing to join me in supporting this? It takes both of us to be willing to bend a little bit. But the end result is a society where people of differing views can both be accommodated. Can we make that our goal?


Now, back to our point: what this approach does is say, “It’s important for Christians to be able to be pharmacists; it’s slightly less important that they be able to be pharmacists in any and all locations of their choosing.” It places a moderate burden of people of faith, yes, but a surmountable burden (Christian pharmacists must simply strategically locate their practices). It places a slight burden on public access, but also a surmountable burden (they might have to drive to another part town sometimes). But neither group is wholly locked out of what they value most in this conflict.

It’s “giving up” some things — we’re giving up the absolute right to conscience in all contexts, but simultaneously reinforcing the right to it in some contexts. And the libertarian in me would reply with a resounding NO, if prophets weren’t telling us to prioritize and regroup, and to seek out compromises like this that preserve space for people of faith, while also granting detractors some of their less odious demands. And the benefit, hopefully, is that legislation similar to the Utah Compromise will far, far outlast protections that are more forcefully rejected by the opposing side, and end up protecting religious freedom more longer and against more opposition than an “all or nothing” approach would.

I think some reject this approach because they don’t really believe that the opposing side will leave these compromises intact; “nose-in-camel’s-tent”-style, they’ll eventually come for the rest. And that may be true. But we don’t know what the playing field will look like then. And prophets have the most reliable track record on that regards. Like the Israelites and Moses, I think that we should heed them, as they are servants of the Lord. And I think we should disregard those who tell us that this approach is a capitulation — the Lord has not sent them. In my mind, they are as Israelites telling their compatriots, “Do not look at the brazen serpent; this is test. Let’s stick to the words of prophets past instead.” This is a dangerous route.

Let’s take the teachings of the Church seriously on this regards, and defend religious liberty, and to adjust our tone as we do so — let’s seek to put this culture war to rest, by defending what matters while being flexible where it matters least. Let’s disarm our political opponents by being willing to listen to them. Let’s not budge on the most important things, but let’s find a way for both sides to get what matters most to them. I think it can be done in most instances. And where it cannot be done, we’ll gain God’s favor for trying.

29 thoughts on “Fairness for All

  1. Another way of saying it would be, perhaps, “Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Or even the good enough.

    There is going to be a rough road ahead for the very concept of religious liberty. Wisdom would dictate that we pick our battles carefully.

  2. Eventually we’ll be asked to die on a hill. But it’s not this day. The time has passed for that because as you and the prophets observe the people will quickly vilify and take away our rights if they perceive us as too militant. And unfortunately defending our rights and beliefs is what qualifies us as militant in this society.

    It’s the same reason we don’t have the church teaching against social security, socialism etc. It’s not that they were wrong in the past, but we can’t keep fighting losing battles. Society will crumble and we have to trust the Lord will ultimate fight or battles and the latter day saints need to be united and ready to pick up the pieces.

  3. “I think some reject this approach because they don’t really believe that the opposing side will leave these compromises intact; “nose-in-camel’s-tent”-style, they’ll eventually come for the rest.”

    That’s the problem. The bakers, florists, CEOs, artists, and pharmacists that are being punished now are not the only available one in some rural area. They are being sought out specifically to make examples of and scare the rest. There’s no future tense, no “will” in what’s happening. It’s already happened – they’ve gone for the rest already.

  4. I appreciate the original posting, and agree that we must live and operate within our larger society. In the pharmacist example, I would seek a different compromise, if a compromise is needed: exempt small mom-and-pop pharmacists but require larger and multi-location pharmacists to comply. But the point is well taken: we need to approach defending our religious liberty, and that of others, as a matter of some seriousness but without dogmatism. Latter-day Saints seem to love dogmatism, and I hope we can learn a new dance.

    But this doesn’t mean giving in to every demand of our enemy — many of those demands are wrong. We will have to learn what it means to sustain someone else in his or her decision-making role, without condemning him or her for what might have been a very difficult decision.

  5. Ivan: “There’s no future tense, no “will” in what’s happening. It’s already happened – they’ve gone for the rest already.”

    I think you missed the point. Of course they are. And so are we. Both sides are seeking an all-or-nothing approach. The fact that they already want everything was stated right at the beginning of my hypothetical: they want no exemptions. But we’ve also been wanting everything: we want no restrictions.

    If we change our dance, they may change theirs. Guaranteed? No. But if stop asking for no restrictions, they may stop asking for no exemptions. Wouldn’t that be great? Couldn’t we at least try?

    ji: “I would seek a different compromise, if a compromise is needed: exempt small mom-and-pop pharmacists but require larger and multi-location pharmacists to comply.”

    I would certainly prefer this. I’m sure it’s possible to craft a variety of different compromises. I’m not sure how this possibility could assuage concerns over public access in small towns towns, where mom-and-pop pharmacies are more likely to be the only pharmacy in town. But it’s worth exploring, at least.

  6. First of all Thank You!

    I think the suggested compromise is very workable and is very much like what the Church leaders sought for in the Utah Compromise legislation. As the OP points out the advantage of legislation is that it set limits on the debate and recourse (at least for a time).

    I think the only thing that would need to be added to proposed compromise to make it acceptable to many on the “other side” (as the OP put it) is to require those who have an exemption to post a notice explaining what drugs they won’t carry and where those drugs can be obtained.

    I appreciate the thought and effort that went into this post. I really liked the insight offered about the brass serpent experience, that’s not usually the way that event is described or applied. Quite a useful application I think.

  7. “My point here is simply that God is a God of contradictions. He can give different instructions at different times.”

    I agree that he can give different instructions at different times. I do not agree that this makes Him a God of contradictions.

    Rather, I think that it highlights how our cultural world view inhibits us from recognizing His time and the appropriate context. We tend to try to limit God with our limited understanding or our so called “cultural sensibilities” and we (mankind) seem more than happy to try to tell Him how He should be and how His Plan should work.

    God often gives different sets of laws depending on how prepared a people are, or simply for what needs to be accomplished at that time. He often gives preparatory or temporary instructions for the benefit of His children.They may seem contradictory at one given moment, but when viewed through the lens of His Plan and His Timetable, I do not think that they are.

  8. ldsp –
    I think you are missing my point. I’m not advocating an all or nothing approach. I’m all for performing service and being Christlike in our response. However, I think you are confusing “civility” with “capitulation.” There are areas to compromise, but there are areas to hold firm, and the call to be civil is not the same as a call to just let some people be sacrifices for the secular religion that already has made it clear it will accept nothing but our elimination.

  9. Ivan: “However, I think you are confusing “civility” with “capitulation.””

    Ivan, you have REALLY misunderstood me, because I have done no such thing. The word “civility” isn’t even in this article, and I’m arguing that we are NOT capitulating.

    Ivan: “There are areas to compromise, but there are areas to hold firm, and the call to be civil is not the same as a call to just let some people be sacrifices for the secular religion that already has made it clear it will accept nothing but our elimination.”

    Again, you apparently have not understood me at all — I have done no such thing.

  10. I also read all the links you have above very differently than you do. Wickman’s is the only one that seems to be advocating something close to what you advocate. Most of the other links you do are more or less calls for more civility in dialogue and to not fight back in anger. You link to the remarks, but don’t really quote much from them. You seem to be trying to claim greater authority for these thoughts than is really warranted.

  11. Ivan, I think my real point is that we need to re-think the very defensiveness you are displaying towards compromises like I’ve proposed above. Why? Because I think that’s what PROPHETS are asking us to do. If you don’t believe, go read all the links I posted above. And there’s more where that came from.

    Yes, they ask us to be civil — and we can do that without making compromises like the above. But they’ve done more than ask us to be civil. They’ve asked us to not be inflexible as well. I’m not equating them. I’m asking us to do both.

  12. Ivan, then I don’t think we read the same materials. I guess we can disagree, but if you didn’t see anything in there suggesting that we not take a winner-take-all approach, that we strive for reasonable compromises, then I think one of us is missing something.

  13. “Again, you apparently have not understood me at all — I have done no such thing.”

    We’ll just have to keep misunderstanding each other, because stripping away the verbiage and philosophical fluff, that seems to me exactly what you are saying.

    But if I am reading you wrong, then I apologize and I promise I will try to read this post again more charitably (and when I am in a better mood).

  14. Ivan: “We’ll just have to keep misunderstanding each other, because stripping away the verbiage and philosophical fluff, that seems to me exactly what you are saying.”

    Let me say it outright: I believe that we can be civil without making ANY of the sorts of compromises I talk about above (including the Utah compromise, or my hypothetical one). Does that satisfy you? My post wasn’t about being “civil.” It was about making compromises, yes, and doing so civilly — but I have literally torn others apart for implying that they are the same thing. So it bothers me that you think I’m doing that.

    If you think that I’m saying that we should “just let some people be sacrifices for the secular religion,” then, that’s just wrong. Is that what the Church did by supporting the Utah compromise? is that the language you would use to describe Elder Christofferson, Elder Holland, and Elder Oak’s support for non-discrimination laws that stripped landlords in Utah of some of their conscience rights?

    Or is that language you would only apply to people like me?

  15. Perhaps I am being too harsh. As I said, I will wait until I am in a better mood and re-read the post with more charity, and that will include re-reading the linked remarks from the GAs.

  16. Anybody reading this post really MUST read Elder Wickman’s talk and his description of core tenets of religious freedom (that must be protected) as compared to non-core tenet. It seems to me essential that we all understand this perspective as we ponder the nature of religious freedom in society.

    Here is Elder Wickman’s talk again:


  17. Okay, I’ve re-read it. I’ve decided I’m around 85% in agreement with this post, and getting hung up on the 15 or so percent puts me in danger of straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel.

    So, I apologize for my tone and over-zealousness. Overall, there’s great stuff in this post that we should all consider, myself most of all.

  18. This is more of a political comment rather than a religious one, but I agree with Matthew Cochran over at the Federalist, that “conservative moderates have failed to respect their radicals,” and I do think we need our radicals, our ideologues who are freed from the constraints of practicality to reason things out in ‘an ideal world’. They don’t need to be the policy-makers, but we do need them.

    I don’t favor uniformity in approach because you lose too much. Some people are going to be great at fashioning workable compromises, while others are better at sticking to principles, and I think you need both to have a functional movement. It’s best if the two different perspectives are held by different people, since the two strategies are somewhat contradictory.

    The truth is that conservatism has become dysfunctional. I don’t know all the reasons, but I suspect that part of it is this confusion of uniformity with unity. The political Left is more respectful of its radicals and the Right doesn’t even try. I don’t know if this is just the nature of Left vs. Right, or if this is just a characteristic of the current Right.

    I enjoyed reading Elder Wickman’s talk. It’s very good. Still, I do think we should be more respectful of our wingmen.

  19. I wish I had the faith of some posters that the “delaying” tactic that the church is currently engaging will be successful, however I do not believe it will be. At least, not as we currently envision it. I am not remotely saying that the Lord is not at the helm. I am convinced He is, however I believe that the scope of His view encompasses things we cannot currently see. If I had to wager, I’d guess that this skirmishing approach is intended to keep harder hits from coming our way before we are ready.

    A classic tactic of an opponent who perceives that they are militarily, politically or economically weaker than you is to make treaties, bargains or deals that are then repudiated when they are no longer in a position of weakness. Islam has its own unique variant, but this approach has been practiced throughout history.

    Back in the ‘90s, you had Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Widely hailed as a victorious breakthrough for homosexual rights that would never require expansion, it’s no less extinct than the dodo bird. In the early Aughts, we civil unions that would fulfill all the requirements that homosexual marriage advocates could ever dream of. Last year we got Obergefell. I would almost be willing to cover any bet that anyone might like to make that the “Utah Compromise” will be dead within a decade. My optimistic guess is five years, tops. If the Second Coming does not occur within my lifetime, I’d be willing to bet anything that my children will be paying reparations for an institution they had nothing to do with, irrespective of the fact that most of their ancestors were either in Utah or across the ocean when it occurred. Solely because they are white.

    The Left’s tactics, and the name of one of the most important Leftist organizations, comes from an ancient Roman general, Fabius Maximus. Also known as the “Cunctator”, which means lingerer or delayer. His approach was to avoid direct combat with Hannibal’s main force, but instead go after soft, easy targets. Today we would refer to that as “common sense measures.”

    The Book of Revelation refers to what most people know as the “Number of the Beast”, but which is more correctly referred to as the “Number of the Name of the Beast.” It has its origins in an ancient practice known as Gematria, wherein words and names were converted to their numerical equivalents as a means of divining hidden meanings. If you take the dimensions of Noah’s ark and do reverse Gematria, you get the Hebrew letters that correspond to JHVH, indicating that man and animal were not strictly speaking going to be saved by the ark, but would instead be saved by Jehovah’s mercy.

    If you take the phrase “Nero Caesar”, convert it to (I think) Hebrew (but I’m not entirely sure, will have to look it up) and then perform the numerical equivalence, you come up with the number 666. If you don’t convert it to Hebrew and run the numbers directly, you get the number 616. Interestingly, about 1/3 of the manuscripts of Revelation have the Number as 616, not 666. Most commentators believe that the message John was trying to convey and the message that his readers understood was the Beast would be an entity that would criminalize Christianity, up to and including making it a capital crime. Look in the news and tell me we’re not moving in that direction. Even while our “liberal” co-religionists are continually telling us that we have nothing to fear with all the anti-freedom rulings coming down from SCOTUS. Another bet. I would wager that we will see the bulk, if not all, of this come true during my lifetime or that of my children.

    From a strategy standpoint, I’m guessing that the Church and the Lord are trying to provoke a battle of annihilation and are trying to avoid creating a court case that has a chance of winding up at SCOTUS, thereby stripping away what limited Constitutional protection we still have. For as long as possible so that we have the opportunity to prepare.

    Odds and wagers, anyone?

  20. With the globalization of the church, I think we tend to forget that the principles of freedom in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are of universal application. Even while speaking of America as the cradle of the Restoration, I fear whether we place the cart before the horse if we think we can live Restoration principles in our time without any willingness to sacrifice to keep alive the freedom that God brought about in America. We need to have the protection of life, liberty and property to truly practice our religion.
    If I had to wager, I would guess that God is allowing something akin to what happened in Ammonihah where the believers, primarily women and children, were burned.
    God allows us to choose what we will do, sometimes at great cost to our neighbors. I believe that perhaps the General Authorities in this case are in the position of Alma, who explained that God will receive the righteous in glory, even though Amulek wanted to save them.
    The continuing sexual revolution is especially detrimental to the lives of women and children, which is part of why the comparison to Ammonihah fits.

  21. Good analogy Jared. We are already at the point of watching those who choose to remain Christians being beheaded and those who choose to retain their virtue being burned (Yazidi women who chose death by fire over being used by Daesh). The book of Helaman seems to mirror our day. The entire book of Mormon is a textbook for what we need to know. The letter from Giddianhi to Lachoneus found in 3 Nephi 3 is heartbreaking familiar.

  22. I think the example of Daniel throwing open his windows and praying, despite knowing that this religious expression could cost him his very life, encapsulates the faithful bravery regarding core principles that I see discussed in Elder Wickman’s talk.

    Standing back, I think we live in an unusual time when global spread of information and entertainment allows culture to migrate with previously unheard-of rapidity. In part that comes from the rule in entertainment that you have to improve on what has been seen before, making the effects more extreme, the sexuality more lurid, etc. The result has been to persuade many to believe that the ever-increasing extremes are the proper norm.

    I think it is unfortunate that the civil rights movement had to work so hard to get Christians to respect the rights of Blacks. Moderns who wish to normalize their own favored statuses are able to clothe themselves with little translation in the armor of the fight of a prior age. They are able to imagine a future where their favored status is as accepted as the best outcomes for individual Blacks, and even terrible errors that have recently fueled violent anger are seen as harbingers of future bigotry against favored statuses that must be prevented before they ever occur.

  23. If an axe-wielding executioner is determined to chop off your head, then offering your hand as a compromise might be your best option, so I understand the compromises being made by those with the authority to make such compromises, and I certainly support our church leaders in what they say and do on this topic. The church lives within a imperfect world, and those with authority have to navigate those waters.

    But, speaking as someone who is not responsible for such negotiations, I am personally far more interested in removing the axe from the executioner’s hands.

    In other words, I echo Lucinda’s comment on July 11, 2016 at 10:24 pm.

  24. I have learned much from a compromise the Church will soon be making on familysearch. Now, when you enter a man, the sex of his spouse defaults to female. You cannot change it to make same sex spouses possible. However, two people have posted questions on the feedback link in prior months requesting the ability to enter same sex spouses. Both requests have been answered by employees saying this change will be coming. One answer even said Family Tree was designed from the beginning to allow it, so at least back five years ago.
    At first, I was astonished. The database into which we enter names for submission for temple work allowing something so fundamentally opposed by the Church for many years. And in a database solely owned and operated by the Church.
    I do not know the reasoning behind the decision. No elaboration was given. I can speculate that they are allowing the recording of all of God’s children in the actual family structure they live in. I can speculate that this decision was necessary for us to continue to maintain relationships with Ancestry and other commercial sites so important to our members for their research. I can speculate that failure to allow this would subject the Church to expensive and ultimately fruitless lawsuits. I can speculate that this is part of a hold them off until we have activities and buildings and people prepared for the Second Coming in place. I can speculate that this is a signal to our LGBT members that we are listening to their concerns and responding to include them as far as our doctrine allows. But speculate is the operative word.
    Years ago President Benson asked us to read the chapters of the Book of Mormon that immediately precede the appearance of Christ following His resurrection to know how some people survived to greet the Saviour at the temple. The scripture in those chapters that stood out for me was the one where those who returned railing for railing were contrasted with those who became firmer and firmer in their humilty. Remembering that humilty means teachableness, I am trying to leave behind my railing nature and become firm in my humility. It seems a small sacrifice to greet my Saviour some day.

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