Sunday, September 18, 2011

Truth and Tolerance - Sunday thoughts

Elder Oaks, photo: Jonathan Hardy, BYU

Twin ideas to consider and teach - a 9/11 talk.  I thought it was excellent and it applies to people of all faiths - all believers.  It's worth reading, or go to the report in the Church News.
"We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments," Elder Oaks said in a Church Educational System broadcast, which originated Sept. 11 in BYU's Marriott Center. "It is well to worry about our moral foundation," Elder Oaks said. "We live in a world where more and more persons of influence are teaching and acting out a belief that there is no absolute right and wrong, that all authority and all rules of behavior are man-made choices that can prevail over the commandments of God."
In addressing tolerance as a twin to truth, Elder Oaks stated three absolute truths that believers in God generally share.
     1. "All persons are brothers and sisters under God, taught within their various religions to love and to do good to one another."
Elder Oaks acknowledged that it is a challenge to live in a world with mutual respect for one another's differences.  "We are enriched by associations with different peoples, which remind us of the wonderful diversity of the children of God. But diversities in cultures and values also challenge us to identify what can be embraced as consistent with our gospel culture and values and what cannot," he said.
     2. "[Living] with differences is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us we must do." Elder Oaks referred to the Savior's teaching that we should be "leaven," or yeast, in the midst of the world. The yeast raises whatever it is in; Latter-day Saints must raise the world they are in.  "We are called to live with other children of God, who do not share our faith or our values, and who do not have the covenant obligations we have assumed," Elder Oaks said. "We are to be in the world, but not of the world."
     3. "Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made."
Individuals do not have to tolerate or respect wrong behavior, he said. They have a "duty to truth" that enables them to find relief from incorrect behavior.
     Elder Oaks related tolerance and truth to a two-sided coin, saying that tolerance or respect is on one side of the coin, but that truth is on the other. In our personal behavior, we should be ruled by the demands of truth. We should be strong in keeping the commandments and our covenants, and we should repent and improve when we fall short," Elder Oaks said. He then went on to say individuals should not judge their neighbors or associates about the ultimate eternal effects of their behaviors. "That judgment is the Lord's, not ours."

He shared four governing principles to applying truth and tolerance in our efforts in the public square.
     "First, when believers in Jesus Christ take their views into the public square they must seek the inspiration of the Lord to be selective and wise in choosing which principles they choose to promote by law or by executive action."  It is the duty of individuals to find laws that will preserve religious freedom, he said.  "This is a vital matter on which we who believe in a Supreme Being who has established absolute right and wrong in human behavior must unite to insist on our time-honored constitutional rights to exercise our religion, to vote our consciences on public issues, and to participate in elections and debates in the public square," Elder Oaks said.
     "Second, when believers seek to promote their positions in the public square, their methods and their advocacy should always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of those who do not share their beliefs."  Elder Oaks said believers are to speak with love and need to show love and compassion toward those who oppose their beliefs.  "We should not add to the extremism that divides our society," he said.
     "Third, believers should not be deterred by the familiar charge that they are trying to legislate morality."  He said many areas of the law are based on Judeo/Christian morality and have been for centuries. "Our civilization is based on morality and cannot exist without it," he said.
     "Fourth, believers should not shrink from seeking laws to maintain public conditions or policies that assist them in practicing the requirements of their faith where those conditions or policies are also favorable to the public health, safety or morals."
Elder Oaks said Latter-day Saints should be more skillful in explaining their views and exercising their influence, saying that "where believers are the majority they should always be sensitive to the minority."
Elder Oaks is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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