Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let There Be Light!

(find the talk here)

The part of Elder Quentin L. Cook’s talk that struck out to me most forcefully when I have listened to it is this scripture:

“It is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right... If the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come.” (here)

I believe that this holds true in our country – the majority of the people of the United States want what is right and good. But there are minority groups that would convince us that we need to listen to their voices and do what they want, otherwise we are neglecting or abusing their “rights” – but that goes against democracy, and the teachings of the scriptures. The same scripture says “... therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law – to do your business by the voice of the people.” I believe that this scripture is why democracy works.

And this scripture is based on what Elder Cook spends his whole talk speaking about . That the Light of Christ is inherent to humanity – which should give us hope. “It is by the Light of Christ that all mankind ‘may know good from evil.’”

I believe that all men have the Light of Christ, and that gives me hope. I have always been a believer that there is good inside every person – even people who do bad things. Some yield to the natural man more than they yield to the Light of Christ – but that doesn’t mean the Light of Christ isn’t present in them.

Elder Cook points out a very valid question for believers of all faiths - “How under these circumstances [ones in which the power and authority of God questioned and denigrated] can we promote values in a way that will resonate with the nonbelievers and the apathetic...?” This is a question I struggle with daily, as I want to teach good principles to my children, and to other children (and adults) that I come in contact with, but many good moral values that are beneficial to society are rejected when presented in the context of religion. Many people hear “God” or “faith” or other religious concepts and turn off – even to the basic moral values that are highly beneficial to our entire communities.

But Elder Cook says “We ... find the majority of people are still respectful of basic moral values.” This is a little encouraging. However, he goes on to say, “There has always been  an ongoing battle between people of faith and those who would purge religion and God from public life.”

Elder Cook explains that the reason why “the majority of people aspire to be good and honorable”, even when they support no religious beliefs of their own, is because the “[Light of Christ] is given ‘for the sake of the whole world.’”

And that brings us back to the scripture that stuck out to me. I agree with Elder Cook when he says that religious faith “benefits society in a dramatic way” when religious people act the way God would want them to – “when ... they feel accountable to God.”

He goes on to demonstrate the social implications of honesty (a religious concept) and the view that all of God’s children are sisters and brothers (also a religious concept). He mentions that there are some who are “surprised at how critically important religion is to democracy... that in societies where citizens are taught from a young age to feel accountable to God for honesty and integrity, they will abide by rules and practices that, while unenforceable, promote democratic ideals.” Again – bringing us back to the scripture about the voice of the people.

Even our Founding Fathers knew that democracy only worked when the people were educated and morally decent.

“We should both participate ourselves and support people of character and integrity to help reestablish moral values that will bless the entire community... Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced.”

How are you supporting people of character and integrity in your communities and in government in general? Do you believe that all men are blessed with the Light of Christ? Do you believe that most of our society (at least here in the United States) are good, decent people with consciences (i.e., the Light of Christ)? Do you think religious thought has a place in the public forum? How do you promote values that resonate with non believers and the apathetic?

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