The General Conference Odyssey continues its journey into the October 1972 Friday afternoon session of conference. This week I combine several talks given with the idea that righteous love will help us help one another rise above “normal” into a better, happier lifestyle.
As the sounds of 21st Century voices increase, the world proudly totes that all should be accepting of alternative lifestyles. Freely they sing to love, love all, love anyone. Because homosexuals are convinced their lifestyle is normal, they have to argue at every opportunity to make sure others accept their normal.
“Normal” does not always mean good, and it definitely doesn’t mean righteous. If anything, it is a companion word to “natural,” as in natural man, which “is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19).
I believe we were brought to this earth to overcome our “normal,” put off the natural man, become better, and patiently deal with–and control–our imperfections with God’s help. Our world, in one raised cacophony, demands that we see our normal state as acceptable, with nothing more to reach for. God teaches there is much more over the horizon.
Often, we look for friends who will pamper us, pander to us, and pass lenient judgment upon us. What we need is a friend who will love us unconditionally, yet will demand that we become better. Marvin J. Ashton said, “A friend is a possession we earn, not a gift. ‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you’ (John 15:14). There is satisfied effort in pleasing God and rising above the bar of “normal” behavior.
From the session, Elder Bernard P. Brockbank boldly stated:
“It is important to know that all of the requirements for entrance into the kingdom of God were personally given by Jesus Christ and are recorded in his holy scriptures. There will be many good people turned away from entrance into the kingdom of heaven because they failed to know and follow the Lord’s plan of life. They were more interested in following doctrines of men and commandments of men than they were in following the doctrines of the Lord, as recorded in his scriptures. They were more interested in defending their sect or denomination than in knowing the truth.”
The word “love” has taken a whole new meaning in our day, yet this conference session spoke about love as if they were speaking to our day. We all recognize that Jesus Christ is the very essence of love. If we want to “love” as He did, wouldn’t we “love” everyone, no matter what their lifestyle? The answer to that question is–No.
Marvin J. Ashton said: “A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am but who is willing and able to leave me better than he found me.”
Bernard P. Brockbank said: “Repentance is God’s way, with the help of his doctrines and commandments, to purify and cleanse the mind and body of its weaknesses and imperfections. Repentance prepares the mind and the body to receive the gospel and to take on the divine light of life.”
Joseph Anderson said: “The Spirit of God is operating upon the minds of men and women everywhere. Light and knowledge are being poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth.”
ElRay L. Christiansen said: “Some may wonder why the Lord gives commandments and requires us to enter into covenants with him. … He knows perfectly well what will bring us peace and success in our individual lives and in the world and what will bring the opposite.”
Theodore M. Burton said: “The ordinance of sealing must be performed here man to man, and woman to man, and children to parents, etc., until the chain of generation is made perfect in the sealing ordinances back to Father Adam.”
Eldred G. Smith said: “To receive the fullness of the blessings of exaltation, even eternal life, man must receive all the law and the ordinances of God’s kingdom.”
Ezra Taft Benson said: “The only measure of true greatness is how close a man can become like Jesus. That man is greatest who is most like Christ, and those who love him most will be most like him.”
President Benson continued by asking the $64,000 question: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” If we all asked this question, with pure intent, we would find strength to put off the natural man, repent of our weaknesses, and come to know Jesus Christ; love Jesus Christ. And I believe our lives would be much happier for it.
Years down the road, all sinners will discover for themselves that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). For those who aren’t sure how to stand, hear these words from Elder Holland:
“Hate is an ugly word, yet there are those today who would say with the corrupt Ahab, “I hate [the prophet Micaiah]; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always [prophesied] evil.” That kind of hate for a prophet’s honesty cost Abinadi his life. As he said to King Noah: “Because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. … Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad” or, we might add, provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded, and elderly” (“The Cost–and Blessings–of Discipleship,” Apr. 2014).
“Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.”
This is why I write the words I write. I wish all the happiness I feel in the gospel to all those who desire to accept it. It is a free gift, yet it is one we must be worthy of. The price we pay is the rise above normal.
Here are the other posts from General Conference Odyssey writers:
A Grand Fundamental Principle Nathaniel Givens
God Will Let You Know Daniel Ortner