Sunday, April 14, 2013

GCBC Week 2: "These Things I Know"

This is the first week of General Conference Book Club! I am excited to get started. I listened to this talk after conference because I wasn't able to watch the Saturday morning session. I really enjoyed hearing all the updated versions of his poem.

Also, Stephanie has created a General Conference Mastery for April 2013 General Conference to fit in with studying a conference talk each week. I think it is a fabulous idea, because I like quotes and I like memorizing things. This week's GC Mastery that she came up with was this quote:
We are free to choose what we will and to pick and choose our acts, but we are not free to choose the consequences.
I was mentioning to my sister the other day that it seems like each Apostle has his favorite thing to talk about. Agency seems to be a topic President Packer likes to preach about.

Did any quotes stick out to you in President Packer's talk? 

These Things I Know - by President Boyd K. Packer

If you are new to General Conference Book Club, click here to find out more. The basic idea is to study one General Conference talk each week between April conference and October conference, and to chat about the talk here in the comment section. You can also link up (using the linky tool below) to your own blog post about this talk. The link up will be open until I post the next week's talk, but if you study this talk later and missed the link up, feel free to post your link in the comment section.


  1. I've been thinking about this talk a lot since I first heard it. I still don't know where I am on some of what he said. I loved his poem, anything like that that has been so many years in the making is impressive to me. I also know that his health hasn't been the best and that he is on oxygen, my Mom commented to me that she felt like he was "uncomfortable" as in physically. That in itself makes me admire him all the more for giving the talk. I will just jump to the part that has me confused and maybe someone else in this GCBC will comment. The part about the "tolerance trap". I felt like it was a clear reference to either SS marriage or possibly civil unions. First, I am still a little confused about civil unions, they were just signed into law here where I live and they are for anyone. So a not SS couple can have a civil union rather than a marriage if they want. Is he seeing this as immoral? I read about it and there isn't a whole lot of difference as far as the law goes, so if a man and a woman enter into a civil union is this an immoral act that shouldn't be tolerated? It might sound dumb but as I said I am confused about it anyway. My neighbor who is an active LDS person thinks that the law is discriminating against polygamysts now since they aren't included, is this what he means by the "tolerance trap"? Then there is the obvious SS marriage issue, who knows what will happen there. My feeling is that it will become legal, even if the current SCOTUS doesn't make it so within the next decade it will be. There are already families of SS people that exist, they are having families and our kids are going to school with their children. Are we to be "intolerant"? For me if you aren't tolerant of a person, or a group then you are intolerant, there isn't really any middle ground. I don't believe that this is what the Savior taught, he wants us to be tolerant and not judge. So where does this leave us? It's kind of a conundrum. I am going to continue thinking about this talk. I would really love to read what anyone else has to say. If this isn't the right group for this discussion then if anyone can point me to where I can find a better place I would really appreciate that.

    1. Missy,

      I think your questions are good ones that each of us has to wrestle with. I will share my thoughts -- but I too struggle with these questions, so sharing is all I can do.

      When I heard (and now read) Pres Packer's comment about the "weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality", I think he is talking about anything that takes away from the family. He spent quite a bit of time talking about how "the adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded."

      I grew up in a non-LDS Christian home where I was taught the importance of no sex before marriage, total fidelity within marriage, etc. But my non-LDS parents now don't have a problem with it. Nor do they have a problem with SS marriage. Their church has followed the trends of society and has accepted those things. It truly saddens me. There is so much empirical research saying that the strongest members of society are those that come from the traditional home. But even if that evidence wasn't there, the fact remains the same that truth (God’s truth) is truth and does not change.

      So what does that mean for me on a daily basis? It means that I love everyone the best that I can, remembering that s/he is a child of God. I try to radiate God's love through me. I don't go around telling people that I believe that they are doing the wrong thing ... but when I asked I share my views.

      I have friends who are in SS relationships. They are neat people. I enjoy talking with them. I learn things from them. I have never had a conversation with them about what I believe regarding marriage or about their relationship but if they asked I would (quickly pray for inspiration) do my best to gently explain that I believe that Heavenly Father has given us truths that allow us to be the happiest. It is our choice whether we follow them but there are consequences associated with our choices. Heavenly Father has said (through his prophets) “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”

      I remember before I became LDS I followed the societal views that abortion was OK. I felt like it was the woman’s body and so if she wanted to have an abortion, that was her choice. I didn’t see it as anything more than that. Then I joined the LDS church and had a good friend explain to me that the real point of choice was earlier – the person made the choice when she had sex that she might get pregnant. If getting pregnant was not an acceptable option, then she should not have sex.

      SSA is certainly a hot topic -- I had a family member direct me to Josh Weed’s blog. Josh is LDS and homosexual but is choosing to not act on those feelings. I highly recommend reading his thoughts … so very worthwhile!

      Getting back to Pres. Packer’s talk … our society today says that we need to be tolerant of everything or else we “hate” or “bash” people. In my opinion we can’t buy into that thinking. We can be loving and kind to everyone but be very sure of where we stand. We are anchored in God’s truths which will not change. I agree that laws will likely continue to loosen and civil unions and SS marriages will probably become more and more the norm. Pres. Packer is counseling us that just because those things are changing with the laws of the land, God’s laws are not changing. We much be internally strong and teach our children truth. Truth does not change and in it is where peace is found. (will continue in next section ... hopefully this isn't getting boring : )

    2. As far as judging, we are told in John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

      There is a JST on that verse where it would say Judge not according to your traditions, but judge righteous judgment.

      And here is the JST from Matthew 7:1-2 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

      And in D&C 11:12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

      We all have to make judgments each day. That is part of life. I believe the Savior is saying that we need to not think that we are better than someone else. I feel Heavenly Father has needed to help me learn this lesson over and over and over again in my life. I used to see someone doing X and I would think, “Oh, I would never do X (and think that I was better than that person).” Then circumstances would change in my life and in a few years I am doing X. For example, I used to think I could write a book on how to get infants to sleep through the night by 6 weeks old, then He gave me a child that didn’t sleep more than 2 hours consecutively for the first 3 months of his life. That super sleep-deprived time was several years ago but I still keenly remember the lesson. You will NEVER hear me coaching someone on how to get their child to sleep through the night. I just encourage and support.

      So from my life experience, I believe we are to LOVE more than anything. When we think we know better than someone else then we are not loving. When look down at people we are not loving.

      I feel so incredibly grateful that I do not have SSA issues in my life. That would truly be a huge trial in my opinion. So when I meet SS people, I love them for the neat people they are. I don’t know what I would do if I was in their situation. I hope I would abstain from acting on those feelings but more than anything, I am grateful that is not my trial.

      Hope my thoughts are helpful. Thanks again for sharing.


    3. Sorry I didn't reply to your comment earlier, Missy! I have been busy with a new baby. I'm glad others responded.

      I was going to direct you to the same Elder Oak's talk that Whitney did. (and Whiteny - plug away! I love when people link to their own stuff on my blog when it is relevant to the conversation! More perspectives help us grow our testimonies! Thanks for sharing!) Here is the link to the devotional.

  2. I have debated over the tolerance idea myself and actually blogged about it recently. I was having a hard time with the SS marriage debate because so many people were blasting that you weren't a Christian if you didn't support it...
    I wrote about my thoughts here from Elder Oak's devotional talk:
    Not trying to "plug myself" but I was having serious issues with following the First Presidency while being bombarded by friends with their opinions, I really felt like Elder Oak's did a great job of explaining it for my simple mind :)

  3. Also wanted to add my favorite quote from Elder Oak's devotional talk:

    "Believers must always speak with love and show patience, understanding, and compassion toward their adversaries. Christian believers are under command to love their neighbors and to forgive. They should also remember the Savior’s teaching to “bless them that curse [them], do good to them that hate [them], and pray for them which despitefully use [them], and persecute [them]."

    As far as my thoughts on Elder Packer's talk, I thought the poem was lovely. And I also liked the idea of staying in the right condition to have the Holy Ghost with us. There are things on a daily basis we can do to be strong, some days I have felt stronger than others... I love learning from someone like him because of his age; he brings so much wisdom, something to be admired and respected.

  4. Thank you all for sharing with me. I love Josh Weed's blog and admire his courage. I was really impressed with how he pointed out that being "Gay" is not his choice, he was born that way, his choice is in how he deals with it. I love how he choose honesty and full disclosure with everyone, his parents and family, his wife, there aren't any secrets. It feels like he is making it easier for people to support him by being so honest. I am referring to his blog post when he "came out" to the world.

    I also appreciate what was shared about the concept of "righteous judgement", I am still learning about this. I think I put up a mental wall to the term and therefore the concept. I have a person in my life that uses those words to justify every kind of judgement imaginable. It was used to illustrate the I am more righteous and better than so and so. It lead to a lot of conflict so I just shut it off. I appreciate that you shared what you did, I think I need to open myself up to it more.

    I am going to continue to study this talk. I keep reminding myself that this is not the first time that the Church has had a conflict with civil laws revolving around marriage. I am going to look back in the Church's history and try to find some personal accounts.

  5. I enjoyed this talk the first time, and have enjoyed re-reading this talk through the week. I appreciated the thoughts above as well. I think that Body K. Packer did a nice job of saying, "We must separate the sin from the sinner." We love everyone, but not always what they choose to do with their agency.

    My first thought about the weakening of the laws of the land were on the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado and then to the law of chastity.

    This talk reminded me of yet another talk that Boyd K. Packer gave at General Conference in April 1976, Spiritual Crocodiles. This is one I had read many years ago as a youth. Through both of these talks, he mentions our predator, Satan, and what he is doing to destroy us through our agency. And then he mentions the way to protect ourselves is to learn how to recognize the Holy Ghost.

    I loved this talk so much. Packer left a wonderful warm and firm testimony in his poem and after that he knows the gospel to be true.

  6. I got my link up just in the nick of time! :) (Although I've still been tweaking it-- I wasn't quite finished when time ran out on me, ha.)

    I really liked Elder Packer's thoughts, and I also love his Spiritual Crocodiles talk that Zoey referred to in her comments. My big takeaway from his most recent sermon was that we may not be able to control what happens in the world, but we can be vigilant when it comes to protecting our homes when we keep the influence of the spirit with us at all times.

    I loved his quote, "There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother."

    The marriage equality issue is so complicated. I'm glad I'm not in charge when it comes to things like that. I have a close family member who struggles with SSA, and it's a real challenge for him in his life. Whatever may happen with the laws of the land, I plan to keep the Spirit as a guide & try my best to love everyone as the child of God that they are. That talk by Elder Oaks is a must-read, in my opinion. Love it.

    Thanks for hosting, Becca! I'm going to try my best to keep up this round of GCBC. :)


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