Monday, April 8, 2013

[Shakes Tiny Fist]

Elder Hales, with his fists in the air, did it for me. 

He recalled, during the priesthood session of general conference this weekend, as a boy being told that the world’s standards were at one point, indicated with a fist held in the air, with church standards at another point, indicated with a second fist. The two were apart, but not terribly so. 

Today, he cautioned, the world’s standards are far away, out the door. 

President Monson, even as I waited in anticipation for him to wiggle his ears, did it for me. 

He cautioned us not to pick and choose which commandments to obey. Why adhere to one and not the other, he asked – a caution against so-called Cafeteria Christianity in which we select the commandments that are easy to follow, rejecting those that are tougher.

And Elder Packer, struggling with his health as he is, didit for me. 

He cautioned us against falling into a “tolerance trap” that I’ll leave him to explain because I don’t want to muck it up: 

The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God’s law of chastity. Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the tolerance trap so that we are not swallowed up in it.

I admit, though, to struggling with some of this, most particularly the tolerance trap. Elder Holland, of course, has an answer to that. Paraphrasing again, he advises that some of us feel it’s more faith-promoting to express doubts than to express faith. I need to show greater faith, obviously. Not that we can’t ask questions – but that we should ask questions in a context of wanting to understand the answers that come, not stand in defiance when the answers that come don’t fit with our preconceived notion of what the answer should be. 

Some tolerance is a trap – because it becomes one-sided. Some are expected to tolerate all while those pushing the toleration are willing to tolerate but little. The hypocrisy of it all stinks to high heaven, and yet those who are in that hypocritical stage can’t see it. 

At the same time, Satan – who is real – tries to push us into making apples-to-oranges comparisons in one of the many ways he tries to get us to shatter the commandments with the logic of men. I came close to that recently, pondering the perceived tolerance of the 1978 announcement of granting priesthood to all worthy male members to wondering why the same tolerance couldn’t be extended to gays seeking marriage. I see now the difference: There was never any doctrinal basis to the priesthood ban, while there is clear doctrinal evidence on maintaining marriage between man and wife, and in no other way. The tolerance trap nearly had me.
That doesn't open up floodgates of hate, however. It just means true tolerance and love. I can love my brother, because he is and always will be my brother. I do not have to tolerate his pornography addiction. There again, the tolerance trap. 

We’ll be persecuted for this stance, that is clear even before we were reminded of that at conference. We can love. We can accept. But we cannot and should not be forced to violate or invalidate portions of the gospel because the logic or tolerance of man dictates we should do so.

Back to Elder Hales. The church and Christ have not moved. 

So lots to think about. I want to maintain an eternal perspective on all of this – because what we do in this life is only a part of an eternity that can be endangered by what we do and do not do here. This is where life becomes a test. I aim to pass it.

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