Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Obeying, Honoring, and Sustaining the Law"

My Elders' Quorum President Buddy and I, as High Priests Group Leader, at the Multi-Stake Priesthood Training
with President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
This will be blogged in at least two parts. As I was able to ask a question and have it answered, I thought I would start with that as it reflects current concerns expressed on this blog. The question may not have been articulately posed, and I can't remember exactly, but it went something like this:

"Over the past few months or years we have all felt the heartbreak of people leaving the church because of a crisis of faith or some other conflict with the church. Much of this seems to be people who have self-departed, but there is a serious problem I see in the extreme right-wing views of some members who have not left. We lost both politically and legally on same-sex marriage and we can live with the church's own standards and are protected in them. But there are some who claim that the Supreme Court is evil, the President is evil, and some have gone to the extreme to face down the federal government at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. I know one of those people up there who was a member of a ward when I was bishop. I helped get him to the Temple and I had no idea he had such anti-government sentiments. Now he faces the real possibility of being shot or shooting someone else and it tears at my heart. For disclosure, some of my stake people know me, but I am an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior and have tried for 32 years to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. There are some in the church and even in my family, while not nearly extreme as those at the stand-off, still believe me some kind of apostate just for working for the government. [laughter] But what can we do to help these people who are on the extreme right wing and don't seem to listen to anyone?"

President Ulisses Soares of the Presidents of the Seventy had said in opening the question-and-answer period that there were good questions and excellent questions. The good ones were like "Where is Kolob? - Good Question, but we're moving on." Excellent questions would be those that required some thought relative to our priesthood duties to bring souls and families unto Christ through saving ordinances.

He said my question was "excellent," then referred it to our Area Seventy Authority, Elder Gene R. Chidester. It was a bit difficult to listen intently and take notes but the gist was that we have a mandate to minister to individuals both spiritually and temporally. We are to discern what is right when we preach the gospel by the Spirit and to invite others to receive the Spirit.

At some point Elder Soares came back in and said that while he was a Brazilian, he didn't have much to say directly on the political or constitutional questions. He referenced President Nelson's recent message to Young Single Adults. He said there are 15 men who are prophets, seers, and revelators  [I think he was referencing more the church policy on same-sex marriage and children]. He said that if we stick with what the prophets and revelators speak, we will be guided and safe.

He, or maybe it was Elder Chidester, mentioned the very strong statement the Church made condemning the armed militants in Oregon and that they were not in anyway sanctioned by the Church or its teachings.

Elder Soares did say directly to me, in a very Brazilian way, that it would be my example and my love for others that would have influence on them for good. [Hence, I lovingly blog.]

Then I saw President Nelson rise from the other side of the podium. My attention quickened.

Off the bat he hit Article 12 of the Articles of Faith right out of the park:
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
He said that we believe in sustaining the law of the land wherever we live. There is great protection to be obedient to the laws of the land. We may not agree with the laws, but we have ways to change the laws through the proper process.

He told of trying to sleep one night in the Philippines when there was a rebellious crowd gathered in the streets to oust their President. They were undermining their own Constitution. They were successful but soon had to oust the next president.

We work with the leaders of nations. We are to go to all the nations not just to those who waive the American flag. In fact, that is now the minority in the Church. He meets with government ministers all over the world and hears how our members are the best citizens of the country. He feels as if his buttons would burst. Finally, he said:
"We don't act as Latter-Day Saints if we don't sustain the laws of our own Country"

That's all the answer I needed.

see my outline of the entire training session here.

Now before any of you start up with me how President Obama is flouting the laws through executive orders, please be aware that the court challenges are coming in on these. Some he wins, some he loses. Just last week he won a court victory that his environmental executive orders are within the framework of law enacted by Congress [FYI, the Congress ducks many hard calls by delegating rule-making authority and general enforcement to the executive branch - it's political gamesmanship, sure, but that's the Constitutional system of checks and balances we've been given.]

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