Monday, May 14, 2012

Over-zealous



I've been wanting to blog about my thoughts regarding North Carolina's new amendment to their constitution which states, “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State”- meaning that civil unions and potentially other types of domestic partnerships will no longer be legally recognized.


I've been wanting to blog about it, but I haven't exactly been able to find the right words. I've always been on the side of "call it anything but marriage". I don't believe that rights should be withheld from members of society. You can't dictate who receives certain privileges and who doesn't when it comes to basic rights. On the other hand, I do believe that God has established the family unit as a sacred place to raise his children. Of course, the family comes in all shapes and sizes, already. Besides death and divorce, adoption, and other situations have changed the modern family to include all types of situations. The nuclear family is no longer comprised of a mom, a dad, and 2.5 children.

I don't know what the answer is. I have gay friends that will make great parents. I don't think that in a committed relationship, a person should be kept out of the waiting room because he isn't "family", or that one half a couple, who knows the other person better than anybody else, shouldn't be allowed to execute a will. Gay couples should be able to live where they want. They should be treated with love and respect deserving to all children of our Heavenly Father. 

But I also stand by the fact that the family is a sacred institution established by God, where with each member holds a special role to be fulfilled.

So I've been thinking a lot about this, and not knowing what to say or how to say it. The only thing I'm not confused about, is that regardless of sexual preference, God loves His children -- nothing can change that.

The thing that has finally got me to sit down and type this up is the Sunday School lesson taught today. We were reading from Mosiah 9. Of course I've read this story before; our teacher, however, put it in to a new perspective for me that I had never thought of before.

The Book of Mormon largely talks about two groups: the Nephites and the Lamanites. Throughout their history, each group of people goes through periods of righteousness and wickedness, just like the Israelites in the Old Testament. The story of Zeniff takes place about 400 years after Nephi and his family have come to the new world from Jerusalem and broke off into the two groups. For four centuries, each group of people have lived in hatred towards one another. In Chapter 10 of Mosiah, there are some six verses (12-17) that explain why, but it can be summed up, "And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them: therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi." (v. 17)

As I mentioned before, this was a mutual dislike and distrust. Just as the Lamanites taught their children to hate the children of Nephi, I'm sure the Nephites taught their children the same. 

The two groups separated because the brothers of Nephi, Laman and Lemuel, were trying to kill him. So Nephi and his followers packed up and left the land they had settled. Zeniff and his group decided that the Nephites deserved that land back. He packed up and headed towards where the Lamanites were, with the intention of spying on their forces and as he says, "that our army might come upon them and destroy them - " but he goes on to say, "but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed." (Mosiah 9:1)

Meaning, he went about spying on the Lamanites and saw that perhaps they weren't as bad as he had been taught all his life. They had families that they loved and cherished. They lived probably similarly to the way he did. 

Zeniff fights among the army he has brought to destroy the Lamanites and prevails against those that want to completely annihilate the Lamanites. And then he says, "And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land..."

Zeniff and his group go into the city and unto the king, and he gives them a city for them to live in. They work hard, building buildings, repairing walls, planting crops, and become prosperous. But they are surrounded by Lamanites, who begin to make problems with them. They are overpowered, and outnumbered. They are heavily taxed.

In the end, the Lamanite king is wily. The Lamanites at this point were a lazy, idolatrous people and they really benefited from the industry of Zeniff and his people. Because of Zeniff's over-zealousness, he finds himself in a terrible position, surrounded on all sides by his enemy. If he had stepped back to realize what the cost of living on the land of his fathers was, he might have avoided the bondage he found himself in.

You may be wondering how the two are related? Or maybe you see the connection that I arrived at. Our teacher asked us what some of the things are in our lives that we can be over-zealous about. We talked about the "eternal hatred" that had become a tradition in the communities of the Lamanites -- and the Nephites. 

We see this tradition of hatred throughout history: Jews throughout the centuries have been persecuted and mistreated; African Americans in America; the different groups in the Middle East; and gays. 

I find it hard to believe that a member of the Church, or a general believer of Jesus Christ could ever sit their child down and teach them to hate someone because they are of a different race, religion, or have made different choices in their life. Hate is such a powerful emotion that evokes all kinds of negative feelings. Hate is a fuel to a fire that should never burn in one that possesses the knowledge of our Savior. And yet, for centuries, there are those that feel they are "fighting the good fight" and trying to staunch wickedness by speaking against it. Those that feel they know what is unnatural and against God and will do anything and everything in order to prove they are on the other side. 


I think we see images like the one above, and wonder how it could have ever been acceptable to segregate two people because of their race. How, as a nation, could we treat people so brutally, so unkindly, and so unfairly (to say the least) because the color of their skin was different?

And now there are people out there who stand on the street corner with signs that says that God hates gays. (I was going to post a picture, but honestly, it makes me sick and I don't want it on my blog.)

I'm here to tell you, God does not hate any of His children.

We need to remember that we are taught about the divine nature of our fellow brothers and sisters on this earth. The Savior is never going to thank you for standing on a street corner shouting that He hates any of his sons and daughters. If you find someone teaching this or supporting this tradition of hate, then you must know that it is not from God; it is simply someone being over-zealous about their convictions on what they think God believes.

Zeniff and his people found themselves in hardships and bondage that they could not get out of on their own. They had to rely on God for the strength to overcome their burdens. They managed to drive the Lamanites out for a while, but eventually, Zeniff's son, King Noah, became one of the wickedest kings who led his people to destruction and killed a prophet of God. Over-zealousness doesn't do us any good. We should stand firm and steadfast in our faith and testimony of Jesus Christ, but we should be sensitive to the Spirit in directing us on just how firm and zealous we should be. 

I am not opposed to states reaffirming in their constitution that marriage is between one man and one woman. (Though, part of me believes that the state, the government, should have nothing to say regarding marriage at all. Since marriage is a sacred institution designed by God, it should be kept to the churches and religious institutions. Let the government define what is a domestic partnership and attach benefits and perks to committed couples of all races and sexual orientations equally.) The fact that North Carolina abolished all other types of domestic partnerships is disturbing in what that means for committed couples who cannot be married. There is talk about the repercussions that may result when it comes to domestic abuse cases, and other negative effects of dissolving all these non-marriages throughout the state. While I support the general idea of this action, I feel that it reeks of over-zealousness which will eventually do more harm than good.

“Jesus Said Love Everyone,” Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 61
Lovingly
Jesus said love ev’ryone;
Treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love,
Others will love you.

Words and music: Moiselle Renstrom, 1889–1956



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