Friday, October 08, 2010

No Middle Ground

I've been thinking about this post for several months.  Years maybe.  I have held back from writing it, mostly because I don't wish to offend anyone.  And I assure you, offense is not my intent.  But I have felt strongly, for a long time, that I needed to write this, if for no other reason than to make my position known.  I most recently felt the need to write it while listening to General Conference this past weekend.

Consider the following quotes:
"With the right of choice comes the responsibility to choose. We cannot be neutral; there is no middle ground. The Lord knows this; Lucifer knows this. As long as we live on this earth, Lucifer and his hosts will never abandon the hope of claiming our souls." (Pres. Thomas S. Monson -- Priesthood Session)
"We will hold to the principles and laws and ordinances of the gospel. If they are misunderstood either innocently or willfully, so be it. We cannot change; we will not change our moral standards. We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God. If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish." (Pres. Boyd K. Packer -- Sunday Morning Session)
And now, consider the following quotes:
"Prop 8 overturned. It's about time. My religious beliefs shouldn't be concerned with what others are doing. Being LDS doesn't mean being a [jerk]!!" (Jazz Blogger / Person I follow on twitter)
"We believe ALL families matter and we do not believe in discrimination, therefore, our family will vote against Prop. 8."(Barbara Young -- Wife of former BYU quarterback Steve Young)
I am constantly hearing and reading statements like this.  "I'm a member of the church, but I don't agree with the Church's position on gay marriage" or "I'm a member of the church, but I don't agree with the Church's position on homosexuality."  I have heard these statements made with increasing frequency, both from people I know personally, and from people who I am not acquainted with.  President Packer's talk at General Conference on Sunday morning stirred up a whole new wave of this type of statement.  And every time I hear something like this, the first thought that enters my mind is "careful, my friend.  That is a slippery slope".

How do you suppose the Great Apostasy came about?  Do you think that all of a sudden, one day, all of the members of Christ's church just decided that they didn't believe it anymore?  Or they all died at the same moment in time, taking the truth with them?  I don't think that's how it happened.  I think that it was a gradual transition.  Little by little, bit by bit, people started to change things about the doctrine in order to make it fit better with their lifestyles.  The Apostles of the New Testament spent a great portion of their ministries traveling from city to city trying to correct these deviations from the true doctrine.  But one by one, the Apostles either died, or were martyred.  And once there was no one left to correct those who were corrupting the doctrine, it quickly deteriorated.  The plain and precious truths were lost.  All that remained were philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.  What followed was known as the "Dark Ages" -- the longest span of time during which Christ's church could not be found on the Earth.

Going on.  (If you're still with me, *kudos.)

We have been promised that the Church will never be taken from the Earth again, so we don't have to worry about another Great Apostasy.  What we DO need to guard against is personal apostasy.  And I believe that those who question, and openly criticize the Church's position on any issue are putting themselves in a very precarious position.  There are some people who I love and care about for whom I am actually quite concerned.  This is why I say it's a slippery slope.  It starts out with, "Well I agree with everything the Church teaches, except this one thing...", but can quickly become, "I agree with a lot of what the Church teaches, except for these few things...".  Where does it stop? "...and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them carefully down to hell." (2 Nephi 28:21 -- emphasis added)  This is one way that personal apostasy can happen.

President Monson made it clear when he said "there is no middle ground".  It's simple.  Either you believe he's a prophet, or you don't.  Either you believe that the Quorum of the Twelve are chosen servants of our Heavenly Father, or you don't.  Either you believe what they teach, or you don't.  We don't get to pick which parts of the gospel we believe in.  It's all or nothing.  We may not see what the harm is.  I've heard many comments -- similar to the one I posted above -- to the effect of "the church shouldn't be concerned with what others are doing" or "what harm does it do me if two gay men decide to get married?"  I don't have the answer to that.  But I don't need one.  If you always need to be told "why?", perhaps you need to work on strengthening your testimony.  I'm sure people wondered why they shouldn't smoke or drink coffee anymore when the word of wisdom was first given.  Science hadn't caught up with revelation yet.

My point is that Heavenly Father sees the big picture, and we don't.  He tells his servants what we need to know, and they relay it to us.  Do you trust Him?  It does not matter whether YOU can see the harm, or whether YOU can understand the reasons.  If you have a testimony, then hearing it from a prophet of God should be enough.

And for me, it is.

*Seriously, if you made it all the way through this soapbox, thanks.  The first thing I do when I see a blog post this long is scroll through and look for pictures.  If there aren't any, the post gets skipped.  :)