Friday, May 27, 2016

Perfection and Marriage

When Jesus taught in Matthew 5:48 "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect," I think that it's interesting that He didn't tell us to be perfect like Him. Why is that? After all, He was perfect, wasn't He? Maybe perfection requires more than just an absence of sin and a multitude of good works, though.

The definition of the word perfect has changed some over the ages. The original meaning was that of being finished, completed, or even whole. I think this sheds some light on why Jesus would tell us to be perfect like His father, rather than like Him.

First, Heavenly Father is the finished, complete, and whole of perfection. He is the Father, the great Elohim, the Eternal God. Jesus, while also a God, was still on the earth, still in the midst of His mortal ministry, and as such couldn't have been said to have been finished. He still had work to do.

Second, and this may be a stretch for some, is that Heavenly Father is married. He is complete and whole because He has an eternal marriage partner. When Jesus taught about marriage, he said that "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh." (Matthew 19:5) God instituted marriage from the beginning, and meant for it to be a way for a man and a woman to complete each other. Marriage was to take two halves and make a whole, hence the ability for two to become only one. The only way for two to be one mathematically is if the two are halves. And half of a person can never be whole, or perfect. This could mean that Jesus' teaching to be "perfect" also had application as a sermon on marriage.

The more that I read about marriage and its importance to our selves, families, and society, the more that I am convinced that it is not a man-made contract of convenience. It is a divinely appointed institution whereby we can learn to become more like our Father in Heaven. Marriage is a class that teaches us things we literally cannot and will not learn in any other way.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Covenant Marriage with Jesus as the Focal Point

I love this visual that I found of what Elder David A. Bednar taught in his talk "Marriage is Essential to His Eternal Plan" (Ensign, June 2006, 82-87) 

"The Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point in a covenant marriage relationship. Please notice how the Savior is positioned at the apex of this triangle, with a woman at the base of one corner and a man at the base of the other corner. Now consider what happens in the relationship between the man and the woman as they individually and steadily “come unto Christ” and strive to be “perfected in Him." Because of and through the Redeemer, the man and the woman come closer together." (David A. Bednar)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Neither is The Man Without the Woman, Neither the Woman Without the Man, In the Lord

This semester we are studying "The Eternal Family" and looking more closely at "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I am grateful for the counsel we are given by righteous men and women of God who encourage, support, and defend marriage and families.

One of the talks I've read for class is David A. Bednar's "Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan" (Ensign, June 2006, 82-87). I love how he emphasizes the distinct differences between the sexes and how they are made to complement and complete each other. This is in stark contrast to the worldly view that men and women are basically the same and should be treated alike. I prefer to honor the God-given female traits that I have, and try to understand, honor, and appreciate those that my husband has. It's often not easy to appreciate differences of thinking, opinions, and ways of doing things, but I know that when I look for the ways that those differences bless me and my family, I see God's wisdom in wanting men and women to work together in marriage.

Here are my favorite parts of Elder Bednar's talk:

“Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” [The Family: A Proclamation] and in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18; Moses3:18), and Eve became Adam’s companion and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness. Alone, neither the man nor the woman could fulfill the purposes of his or her creation.

By divine design, men and women are intended to progress together toward perfection and a fullness of glory. Because of their distinctive temperaments and capacities, males and females each bring to a marriage relationship unique perspectives and experiences. The man and the woman contribute differently but equally to a oneness and a unity that can be achieved in no other way. The man completes and perfects the woman and the woman completes and perfects the man as they learn from and mutually strengthen and bless each other. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gender in Modern Society...and Why Are We Talking About Bathrooms?!

I'm taking a few college classes right now, and one thing I've noticed is that the courses can vary greatly in quality and organization. One class will be well organized with clearly defined objectives and assignments, while another will be a clustered mess of tasks that aren't presented in a way that makes sense. I could look at the disorganized class and automatically jump to the conclusion that the subject matter doesn't makes sense and is unlearn-able because of the way the class is set up. To me, it feels like it's wrong and like I should be put in a different kind of class because of it. If I just went with what I feel, I would be inclined to drop the class, give up, and move on to something more comfortable. But...I know from experience that a disorganized class can be successfully navigated and completed. I am mature enough to realize that some of the people who set up these classes are more skilled and talented at it than others, and that sometimes I have to suffer through what feels uncomfortable to me and have to put in more effort because it doesn't agree with what I think it should be like.

I think that this whole transgender issue is kind of like my classes. I'm not discounting that there are people who truly feel that they were born into the wrong body gender-wise and I feel for their struggle, but I think that there are many who identify themselves this way because they feel like they don't fit in with society's expectations of a certain gender. It seems to me that they are like me with my classes- their experience in their body isn't making sense to them and makes them feel uncomfortable, so they think that the best option is to deny their gender and try to change it. That's awfully similar to me thinking that the class is wrong because I'm uncomfortable with how it's set up. What they (and society at large, at this point) don't realize is that just because something makes you uncomfortable, doesn't make it false or wrong. My classes aren't wrong just because the way they are administered doesn't make sense to me. The core curriculum is solid and if I push past the discomfort of the chaos, I end up learning. Couldn't the same happen to those who think they are in the wrong body? Couldn't it also be true that the core truth of their body (their biological gender) is something they can accept and learn from, even if their current experience in it isn't making much sense?

It makes me sad that our society has come to a point where even basic truths are pushed off as bigoted ideas that restrict the freedom to choose. It's not enough to accept that others feel differently than us, or have different sexual attractions. It's not even enough to let them live their life however they choose to. No, we are being forced to swallow the idea that because they feel a certain way, their feelings must be truth.

I know there are plenty of people who will disagree with me on this, but I truly believe that God created us as males or females, and He did so with purpose. That purpose is to perpetuate the human family. We need a male and a female body to create another life. That's fact. It doesn't matter if science has been able to manipulate the process to make it possible for a woman to be impregnated without intercourse with a man. The fact is that it still takes male and female contributions to create a new body. When society starts to push the idea that gender is fluid and that it's more a state of mind and feeling than one of biology, it's pushing against the entire collective human experience. None of the transgender persons would be here on this earth if their parents had followed the same path they want to choose. It's just another way Satan has found to create confusion and to try to thwart God's plan to have His children form families and multiply and replenish the earth.

I don't even pretend to understand why some people feel the way they do about their bodies, their gender, or their sexuality. I do believe that they are uncomfortable with what is considered to be "normal" gender and sexual roles, but I couldn't begin to tell you why  they feel that way. Could it be environmental? Something that has skewed hormonal balances? Is it societal, and the bombardment of messages pushing these ideas? Is it something that happened early in their childhood or teen years to push them in a certain direction? Is it just the way they've felt for as long as they can remember? I don't know the answers to these questions. What I know is that God knows, and that He understands and loves them regardless. I know that God has told us to love one another and to leave judgement to Him. And I'm happy to do that. Just quit trying to push your ideology on me. Let me believe what I believe and I'll let you believe what you believe, and we can all live our lives.

It's when these ideologies are pushed to the point that common sense is thrown out the window that I start to get upset. I cannot believe that there is serious discussion, and even court cases, about who should use which restroom. Why is this even an issue? And why is it being crammed down our throats? Here's the way I see it: if a person is truly transgender, to the point that they look the part, dress the part, and act the part, then they would naturally use the restroom that is associated with the gender they are identifying as. If a transgender woman walked into a restroom I was using, I wouldn't know it. I'm not checking under the stalls to make sure the other ladies in there have the right equipment! I'm also not generally looking to start up a conversation or have much interaction with anyone else in the restroom- I'm in there to do my business and get out. I can see where it might be a bit harder for a transgender man to use the men's restroom if they haven't completed a sex change, seeing as how it's much harder for a person with a vagina to use a urinal, but if they're fighting to have the right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, that would be their problem. They're welcome to use the stall in the men's room. And I'm sure there are those who already do. Again, most men aren't checking out everyone else's equipment, and certainly aren't peeking under the stall to double-check that it's a biological man taking a dump rather than a transgender who finds it more comfortable to sit to urinate. So why is this issue even an issue??! It's just one more way to try to force society in general to accept the alternate lifestyles of those who want to feel more comfortable by changing the culture around them to favor them, rather than to support the God-given truth that He created us as males and females for a reason. If what they feel doesn't agree with God's plan, they can choose what to do about that, just like I can choose whether or not to believe any of God's commandments and what to do if I don't agree with Him on any of them.

Live and let live. That goes both ways. I'm not out to change, hurt, belittle, bully, or judge anyone else and I ask that they show the same consideration for me. Quit trying to change and belittle my beliefs, quit bullying to get your own way, and quit judging me, thinking that you know what I'm thinking or feeling.

Use whatever restroom you look like you should be using, just know that if you're a man who looks like a man and is using this craziness as an excuse to get in to a women's restroom...there are plenty of ladies with concealed carry permits nowadays so watch out. And to all the ladies out there- band together and actively protest this move and work together to ensure each others' safety. (And that includes transgender women.)