Thursday, September 18, 2008

And There Were Few

Chronologically, the first ordinance recorded in the scriptures was the marriage of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. Marriage is, perhaps second only to the atonement of Jesus Christ in importance in God's plan for the salvation of His children.

There are three things that strike me as significant in this event. First, it was our Heavenly Father who sanctioned and ordained the marriage. He commanded Adam and Eve to be one flesh and to multiply and replenish the earth. Second, the marriage took place in the Garden of Eden at a point in time before death had been introduced to the world. It happened before the fall of Adam. Evidently God intended for marriage to be unaffected by death. It was meant to be eternal, as He is eternal. Finally, the covenant was between a man and a woman. In years past, that final point would have been a 'well duh moment' for most people. Today, sadly, there a some who fail to see the significance of marriage being between a man and a woman.

This post will be a defense of marriage from a Christian religious standpoint. That God performed the first marriage should be evidence enough, not only to Christian's but those of other faiths as well.

In three places within the synoptic gospels of the New Testament Christ makes a statement similar to the following. ""If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mt. 16:24, Mk. 8:34 and Lk. 9:23) In Luke, however, there is one crucial word added to this statement. There we read '"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

Our discipleship and commitment to the Lord is not a singular event. Every day we are confronted with situations and
decisions. I guess it is most accurate to say that if we are true disciples then when faced with a situation, we made the decision long ago. One that is in total alignment with God's will.

At baptism we make a covenant "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death, that [we] may be redeemed of God." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:9) That admonition certainly extends to situations where we risk being labeled as 'bigoted' or 'intolerant'.

In the Book of Mormon there is an allegory about a Lord of a vineyard who plants olive trees. (Almost every child in the LDS church He takes great care and concern for the vineyard, but it doesn't always produce fruit as he would like. He tries several ways to save his vineyard and finally as a last resort he sends his servant 'one last time' to reclaim the vineyard for himself.

In Jacob 5:70 we read,"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few." So in the grand finale, the servant of the Lord gathers other servants to complete the Lord's work and it ends up that 'they were few'.

The last time I read that verse of scripture i was struck by how sad it was. At one time I considered labeling that verse in my scriptures as 'the saddest verse' in all of holy writ. I may still feel that way; but the good news is that even though 'they were few', they were successful in their labors and the reclaimed the vineyard for the Lord.

Tonight this seems especially pertinent to me. Earlier as I was traveling home from a meeting I heard a news report about a recent poll taken of 'likely voters' in the November general election. It purported that of likely voters 55% were opposed to California Proposition 8 and only 38% were in favor. I didn't catch the source of the poll and believe that as voters become educated as to the reasons to vote for Proposition 8 that the tide will turn.

Hopefully we will be able to say as Elisha "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." (2 Kings 6:11)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Peoples Republic of America?

I was born in the United States of America. A nation founded with a guiding principle, as stated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg, 'that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'

Sadly, some people in assumed positions of power apparently don't subscribe to this principle. I am referring to appointed lawyers who take it upon themselves to legislate from the bench. The Constitution places the role of the judiciary in a function similar to a baseball umpire. An umpire calls balls and strikes, rules batted balls fair or foul and determines if batters or runners are out or safe. They are not entitled, however, to change the rules of the game based on whim, arguments from players or to placate the opinions of rabid fans.

The Founding Fathers of the United States crafted the constitution to assure that the judiciary would only rule on laws, not make them. These early Americans had just gone through a period where they had been governed by appointed rulers without representation. This was so egregious to these people that they waged a war with the most powerful nation on earth of that day.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, although I have read most novels written by John Grisham. I do, however, consider myself a 'Reader's Digest' student of the law. I took classes in business and constitution law in college and have always been intrigued by history and political science.

In March of 2000 California voters (government of the people) passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, with fourteen words. It read "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." My wife and I worked on that campaign as grassroots coordinators for passage of the initiative. When the final vote was tallied, 61% of Californian's agreed that marriage should be defined exclusively as between a man and a woman. The overwhelming will of the people had been recorded.

In gauging political victories this was a landslide. In presidential elections since 1872 (the first election for which popular vote counts are available) only the 1936 election of Franklin Roosevelt had greater than 61%. He got 62% of the vote in that year.

On May 15, 2008, the California state supreme court voted 4 -3 to overturn Proposition 22. With a stroke of the pen, four appointed lawyers (decidedly not government by the people) momentarily silenced the voice of the people. These things are supposed to happen in other countries, ruled by despots - not the United States of America.

A new ballot initiative, Proposition 8, has been qualified for the election on November 4, 2008. (see This time it is a constitutional amendment with the exact same words contained in Proposition 22 eight years ago. In another post I may discuss the issues pertinent Proposition 8. Today, however, I am working not only to preserve and protect the institution of marriage in California, but in a broader sense I am working to tell appointed lawyers that this is not the Peoples Republic of America. Rather, it is the United States of America - based on a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

That is only one reason that I am encouraging a vote for Yes on Prop 8.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On Touching Oral Membranes

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people probably know us as the 'Mormons', based on our belief in a book of ancient scripture called 'The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ'. One of the unique features of the church is the absence of a paid clergy. Leaders are 'called of God, as was Abraham' (Hebrews 5:4), to serve in various capacities.

Several years ago i was serving as the bishop of our ward (local congregation) and was counseling with a young woman. She had attended a church youth conference during the summer and one of the speakers in a workshop she attended encouraged them to go ask their bishop when they returned home what their policy was on kissing.
The question caught me off guard. I wasn't certain that I had specific policy on kissing, but since she asked I decided to formulate some guidance. I told her my guidance was as easy as 1-2-3.

1 - only ONE kiss per night. I felt that a kiss could be a fitting end to an enjoyable evening, but more than one would send confusing signals to a teenager.

2 - between the kissing participants at least TWO eyes should be open. This would help ensure that thoughts and actions were kept within proper boundaries. I told her that either they needed to agree on who kept both eyes open, or coordinate which one eye each person should keep open while kissing. My suggestion was, if the latter option was chosen, to each keep the same eye open. Right eye staring at left eye might be a little unnerving. Then again, maybe that wouldn't be so bad after all.

3 - no more than THREE seconds long. I loved playing basketball as a kid. If three seconds in the lane was a violation in that sport, then three seconds for a kiss was certainly long enough.

Given a few more years experience and seeing the difficulties that youth can encounter in dating I have added two more 'guidance'.

4 - make certain there are FOUR on the floor. I don't even know if standard transmission cars are referred to any more as having four on the floor -- probably not as my last standard transmission was a five speed. However, the four I suggest on the floor are feet. If between the two participants they have four feet firmly planted flat on the ground, it would make it very difficult to get into a position that is too compromising. I would extend this guidance to all dating situations - not just kissing.

5 - finally I would suggest that there not be a kiss until they had gone on FIVE official dates. I know that kids today don't 'date' the way us old folks did in our youth, but if kisses are to mean anything special, they certainly shouldn't be doled out before the relationship has had a chance to develop a meaning.

Well, that's it for this post. Well, almost. I came across this topical comic strip a short while ago. (If the comic strip is blurry on your screen, just click on it and it will open in a new window at the correct size.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Right Change, but a Steep Price

I have mused over the Barack Obama campaign message focused on change. The more I read of the things he wants to change, the more I believe that we spent 45 years from the end of WWII until 1990 fighting the 'changes' he is putting forward. Mainly his change is to turn the US into a socialist society. While I would be the first to admit that change is needed in the way our country is run, he is going exactly the opposite direction of where we need to be. More government is not the answer. It never will be. Our current need is for statesmen (not politicians) to come forward with ideas to lead America. Which reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently.

I was very surprised last week at John McCain's announcement that he had selected Gov. Sarah Palin (R. - Alaska) to be his vice presidential running mate. I had hoped for Mitt Romney as he is probably the smartest and most qualified person to really change America for the better of any candidate from any party since Ronald Reagan. He is also an adequately fiscal and social conservative. When I read up on Gov. Palin's background I was relatively impressed and felt she represented the type of change needed -- not a Washington insider, someone willing to buck the status quo to effect change, one with true conservative values.

The one thing that bothered me most about Gov. Palin, was one of the things that I admired about her credentials. She is a mother of five children. She understands intimately the issues and challenges facing families in today's world. One of those challenges involves mothers 'being there' for their children as they grow up. This, unfortunately, is a paradox that faces families in modern society. Most people with family values are so busy with their family obligations that they don't have time to participate in the political forum.

And as a society, we need more active participation from them.

This paradox was illustrated vividly with the revelation over the weekend that Gov. Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. While in most respects it is not the public's business, it does show the price that is paid by families where the mother is involved heavily in activities outside the home. I don't know what type of mother Gov. Palin has been. By all accounts she is very attentive to her family and strives to teach them correct principles. Yet I wonder if this situation would have been different with a mother in the home full time.

Again, it is a paradox that has no easy answer. We need more Sarah Palin's in public service. We need more Sarah Palin's at home with their children.