Sunday, June 14, 2009

"The Lord Looketh on the Heart"

(1 Samuel 16:7)

Today in Relief Society we had an awesome lesson! (Yes, I went. How many times have I done this, said I can't do it anymore, but then I just can't stop either. Scott and the older boys went to Sacrament meeting, then Scott came home where I was stuck with sick kids, and then I proceeded to the last meeting.) I'm assuming some of you might have had it as well. It was Lesson 35 from the Joseph Smith manual: "Redemption for the Dead".

As I have struggled to reconcile the feelings of my heart with the teachings of the church, my main source of comfort has been a feeling that God loves every one of us, and that he will judge us according to what is in our hearts and the individual circumstances we face.

From the words of Joseph Smith in today's lesson:
“… While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ [Matthew 5:45.] He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, ‘according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil,’ or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. He will judge them, ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have’; those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right [see Genesis 18:25].”

“God judges men according to the use they make of the light which He gives them.”
The teacher made an awesome comparison during the lesson that I would like to take a step further. Regarding this quote:
“...for ‘how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard, and how can they hear without a preacher, and how can he preach except he be sent’ [see Romans 10:14–15]; consequently neither Jew nor heathen can be culpable for rejecting the conflicting opinions of sectarianism, nor for rejecting any testimony but that which is sent of God, for as the preacher cannot preach except he be sent, so the hearer cannot believe [except] he hear a ‘sent’ preacher, and cannot be condemned for what he has not heard, and being without law, will have to be judged without law.”
she said something like this:
Imagine parents punishing a child for not eating his peas, when the parent has never given the child any peas to eat. The very idea is ridiculous.
Ok, so I want to add my own application: imagine a person being required to marry in the temple, when that person has no attraction toward someone of the opposite gender and therefore can never find someone that they could be with forever. (Sound familiar to any of you?) How can someone meet such a requirement when they have not been given one of the essential ingredients? I suppose you could look at Scott and I and say we are making that very thing work, but I think that the statistics are far greater for those who cannot make it work than for those that can.

Anyway, you all know my view on all of this and can understand what I am trying to say, I think. In a nutshell, God will judge us based on what he has given us, what we have to work with, and what we do with what we have. For some, that is making a mixed orientation work. For others , it is staying celibate and active in the church, and for many, it is finding someone to truly love and have a happy life with, serving one another and loving one another like any family/ couple is supposed to. I cannot condemn that, and though I cannot speak for God, I think that He will be able to see the effort and goodness in that path as well.

I am reminded again of attending the Draper Temple open house in January and a film that they showed us in a church building prior to riding the shuttle bus to tour the temple. In the film, Elder Holland spoke emotionally of how much he loves his wife, and how he cannot imagine NOT having her with him for eternity. The temple sealing ceremony and ordinance takes care of that very thing: sealing us with those we love, to be together forever.

Why should love between two gay men or women be any less precious, any less desired for the eternities? It just doesn't seem fathomable that God gives that to many of his children, but not all of them, does it?

On my way driving to the church for Relief Society, I was choosing songs to go with the lesson at the last minute. I needed one more, but I could not drive and look through the hymnbook at the same time. I prayed for help, and hymn #220 came to my mind. I used it for the closing song and it was perfect following that beautiful lesson. It touched my heart and the spirit was strong, and I hope others were able to feel it as well. But at the very least I felt it, which is good, because I so needed to...
Lord, I Would Follow Thee

1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee—
Lord, I would follow thee.

2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.

3. I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper—
Lord, I would follow thee.

4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother—
Lord, I would follow thee.

Text: Susan Evans McCloud, b. 1945. © 1985 IRI
Music: K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939. © 1985 IRI


Judy said...

Amen to that, sista!! That is how I have always "justified" my leaving the church. Whatever god there is will make it all right and in the end...being a good, kind, ethical, honorable person matters most. That's all there is. Do the best you can with what you have at the time, whether it be parenting or relationships, or spirituality. Just do the best you can. I am trying to do that, as I know you are. Who could ask for more? Not me. And NOT the higher power that I choose to know. Keep on keeping on! You are amazing.

Pieces of Me said...


I taught that very lesson today, and used the words from that hymn. I spent the ENTIRE focus of the lesson the judging others, specifically because I felt the RS president needed a lesson in that. She is my way or the highway type of a person, and managed last week in her lesson to offend EVERY person in the room. Not sure she got the point, will probably get released, but I said my peace about judgeing and we had a really good discussion about the lord judging based upon the heart. Although it was funny I still had one sister, (probably more, she was the only vocal one) who is scared of God's judgement, because she feels like she has been give so much and can never live up to what God has given her. Again she has a very black and white view of a God who loves her more than she can imagine, or more that she is allowing herself to feel.

My favorite quote of the lesson was that God judges men according to the light which he has given the. I truly believe the Lord does not expect perfection from us, but rather that we try a little harder each day. Some days we will be more successful than others, and our challenge is to rise each time we fall, and try again.

We each are given our own individual talents, and trials, designed to increase our knowledge and bring us closer to the savior and an understanding of the attonment. We can't compare our talents to others, nor can we judge the talents or lack there of that others have.

I have to admit I did get a little upset when one sister made the comment that we HAVE to judge because we have to teach our children, and that we can't teach our children good from evil without judging. Yes I do agree that we have to teach our children, but if we are teaching our children to love as Christ did a lot of the other principles fall into place.

Ok, I will get off my soap box. Glad to hear that RS was a spiritual experience for you, to remind you that all is not lost within the Church!