“Children are entitled…to be reared by a father and a mother…”

Given current trends in how society thinks and what some have made into laws, I’d like to clarify my thoughts on adoption.

Adoption ought to be a wonderful thing.  It helps ease the inevitable imperfection of life that not all children have loving parents.  Some have parents who were killed, some have parents who abuse them, some are the result of rape, and so on.  Ideally, all of these children should be adopted into families with parents who will nurture them and provide for their needs.

Unfortunately, there are not as many families willing and ready to adopt as there are children in need.  For this reason, society has responded with the concept of a foster home.  The goal of foster homes is (or ought to be) to simulate as closely as possible what a real home would be like.  It does so to contribute to the development and happiness of the children living there as much as possible until they can be adopted or come of age.

Recently, society has proposed a new solution to this problem.  Rather than sustain an institution that is not intended to permanently replace the traditional family (as in an ideal world all those in a foster home would be adopted into families), society has opted for a permanent replacement of the traditional family in some cases by allowing gay and lesbian partnerships to adopt children.

This is a faulty solution for many reasons.  Homosexual relationships were never meant to be the foundation for a family and public endorsement of such an idea is harmful.  Children who are adopted have little or no choice over whether they are adopted by both a mother and father, as when they are minors all important decisions are usually made for them by adults.  Adoptions are largely permanent, and such an adoption removes most if not all hope that the child will someday be part of a real family.

The Family

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Since before the beginning of time, the family was, is, and has always meant to be defined by a marriage between a man and a woman.  This family can be expanded by the birth and adoption of children.  It is absolutely, fundamentally essential that children have both a mother and a father to lead them, guide them, and be examples for them.  It is the way that God has instituted, and if children are raised by parents who are not married or who are of the same sex the resulting construct falls short of what can properly be considered a family.

Federal, state, and local laws have no effect on God’s laws.  People cannot just will their actions to be acceptable and moral.  Legalizing the adoption of children by gay and lesbian partnerships will simply lead society to further deceive itself and break down even further its most fundamental unit: the family.

Children’s Rights

The most important right of children treated here has already been declared: “Children are entitled…to be reared by a father and a mother…”  Needless to say, this right is not always fulfilled.  Ideally there should be no fatherless or motherless children.  However, when addressing this problem, it is essential to avoid creating additional problems with faulty solutions.  The answer to declining company profits isn’t to use fraud.  Incapability to meet expectations is not rationale to consciously violate moral laws.

Individuals and organizations have resources to address problems such as these.  However, care should be taken to address such problems in an appropriate manner.

A brief analogy may be considered: a hungry young woman in desperate need of meal has just two options: plain rice, or a prepared meal containing foods to which she is allergic.  The plain rice is like a foster home—it will help you survive but isn’t ideal.  The prepared meal with allergy inducing foods is like a homosexual partnership—it looks appealing and even mimics the ideal but in reality can be harmful.  The young woman chooses to eat the plain rice trusting that better meals will someday come her way.

The analogy may be strengthened if the young woman is actually a young girl about four years of age.  The child may not understand that eating allergy-inducing foods will cause her pain and suffering.  It is up to her knowledgable caretakers to provide for her the best they can given their limited options.  They should not compromise due to her persuasions or because they disregard what they know to be true.

Conclusion

This is understandably a difficult topic.  Children are among the most precious people in this world, and we ought to do all we can to help them to learn and grow and feel love and belonging.  It may be hard to turn away from a proposed solution that seems so appealing.  However, God’s timeless morals should not be trodden underfoot in order to implement a quick solution to a problem that needs much more attention.  Sexual sins, including participating in homosexual activity, are among the worst people can commit.  As hard as it may be to accept, it is better that children be raised and given the best care available in a foster home than it is for them to be raised by a homosexual couple.  Only by staying true to the standard God has set can we prove that we are willing to make the sacrifice required to avoid endorsing heinous sin.

I’m here to defend the bigots.

What’s that you say?  Tolerate the intolerant?  Protect those that attack?  Give a chance to those who most people widely agree deserve none?

Yes.  All of the above.  And why would I be so willing to take such apparently drastic action?  Here are just a few reasons:

Freedom

Protecting the bigots protects me.  Freedom of speech is one of the most important ways that humans are allowed to be equal.  If I give other people the right to say exactly what they want to say, no matter how insensitive or offensive I may find it to be, I can in good conscience expect the same right to say exactly what I want to say, no matter how insensitive or offensive they may find it to be.

We all have different attitudes and ideas of what makes something offensive.  Rather than try to impose government regulations on what to say in the name of tolerance, we should simply understand the fact that other people think differently than we do and tolerate them for being who they are.  Propagating an attitude of tolerance is more effective and immediate when people demonstrate tolerance themselves rather than lobbying for authority to enforce tolerance.

Beyond the logical approach to implementing tolerance in our society, restricting freedom of speech brings us very close to the slippery slope of tyrannical totalitarian government.  Once we can no longer speak out against what we find to be troubling, oppression becomes much, much easier.

Preventing Hypocrisy

Simply put, calling someone a bigot is bigoted.  Now is a good time to define the word bigot so this argument makes sense:

bigot

noun

a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions: don’t let a few small-minded bigots destroy the good image of the city. he was a fanatical bigot.

(source: New Oxford American Dictionary)

This definition makes it very difficult to call someone else a bigot without becoming a bigot.  If we are intolerant toward others because they are intolerant, are we so much better than they?  Hypocrisy runs rampant in the world today.  Anything we can do to expect from ourselves the same things that we expect from others would make the world a better place.

Self-sufficiency

I don’t want to depend on the government to protect me any more than I have to.  This attitude comes in part due to my conservative ideologies.  I don’t want to be able to survive in a world filled with offensive speech, writing, demonstrations, and other noise because the government makes it safe, I want to survive because I’m a strong, independent person with resilient character.

The government has proven time and again that it is not very efficient or effective.  This is made clear by its handling of racial prejudices as well as those of sexual orientation and gender.  Even when it makes decisions that satisfy a majority (but certainly not all people), these decisions cost millions of dollars, several years, and countless debates before coming into effect.  Once laws are created, enforcement is spotty at best and extremely liable to additional prejudice as well as money (such as cases won by those able to afford better lawyers).

I want to positively impact the world without waiting for someone else to do it for me in a way I can’t control and won’t be satisfied with.  I want to take matters into my own hands as much as I can and make my own decisions.  I want to be an example to others and lead by that example.

Betterment

Intolerance is a human flaw.  Tolerance toward others is something that needs to be learned over a lifetime of practice, making mistakes, and gaining experience.  That most people haven’t perfected their love for others is something that should be expected in this world.

Calling someone a bigot makes that human flaw appear permanent.  Because the label “bigot” refers to a certain kind of person, that reinforces the idea that bigotry cannot be changed.  This is true for many other characteristics that in reality are not permanent.   Labeling reduces the morale of others and teaches them that it’s okay to be intolerant because they themselves are not being tolerated.

If we are to expect that the world be more tolerant, we must expect that people have the ability to grow to be more accepting and loving of their fellow human beings.  We must support them in their journey rather than criminalize them for their shortcomings.

Conclusion

I choose to tolerate the intolerant and so called “bigoted” because their freedom is my freedom.  I don’t agree that being bigoted is admirable, in fact I believe the opposite is true (at least until tolerance becomes a vice). I also don’t want to become a bigot myself by not tolerating the intolerant.

We all have more power than we usually imagine to make positive changes ourselves.  We ought to concentrate on what we can do better as individuals rather than what some authority can do for us.  An example conclusion from this way of thinking is evident in the following quote:

The First Amendment may give me the right to demonize you with public speech, but it does not make it right. —Mark Demoss

Rather than try to force others to be more tolerant toward me, I will do my best to set an example for them by respecting what they have to say, even if it offends me or I do not agree with it.  It is by what I do to love and respect others that makes the world better for everyone.

I’ve been meaning to compose my thoughts on this matter for a while, but only recently was I inspired to put together something more substantial than a few thoughts bouncing around my head.

To be quite honest, I’ve lost my interest in politics over the years.  At first I thought the political sphere would be some kind of ideal environment where I could make my voice heard, learn about society’s problems, and find solutions or support people who dedicated their lives to doing so.  Instead I find that people get offended when I speak my mind, too many issues compete for my attention, and few are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for improving the world around us.  While I am still committed to contribute to my country because of my sense of duty, it is less motivating for me to do so.

Who will I vote for?

Unfortunately I feel it has come down to a process of elimination. Out of the candidates that have a reasonable chance of winning (who at this point appear to be Bernie, Hillary, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz) Bernie’s too progressive, Hillary has too many scandals, Trump deserves his own book about why he shouldn’t ever be the leader of anything, I liked Rubio until he started making off-color jokes about Trump, and I don’t know a lot about Cruz but our political views seem to line up and I haven’t heard too many bad things about him. Of course, I have to be careful because I haven’t researched too much (in my opinion; I’m probably still more informed than quite a few voters) so I may just be falling victim to the media.

The U.S. Government

The system of government we have worked very well for a long time and it’s still trying, but I feel like it’s been bogged down with a lot of vestigial laws that don’t really work with today’s world (like the Apple incident with an obscure law that is more than two centuries old). On the other hand I’m afraid that the current U.S. population is not suited to reform its government. The people are too selfish, naïve, and unwilling to learn, work, sacrifice, and contribute to the nation. At this point, I’m mostly holding out for the Second Coming. Surely if Trump gets elected it’ll be right around the corner.

I think the main problem is that people don’t want to elect a person who will be a good president, they want to elect someone who will do things exactly the way they want (or at least who professes to). The president America needs would never be elected with the current mentality of America’s citizens, and no one but God would be able to impose such leadership over the country (at least not without a lot of bloodshed and/or a nuclear holocaust).

Nevertheless, America still succeeds in many ways that other countries don’t, and I’m grateful that at least today I can enjoy freedom to exercise my religion, freedom to speak my mind, freedom to learn and study and pursue a career that matches my interests, and safety from most foreign and domestic threats.

The unreachable goal

This idea may merit its own blog post one day, but for now I’d at least like to touch on the perfect, unattainable ideal which while I believe someday will be implemented on the earth (during the Millennium).  I can’t depend on human ability to get us there, but I do have the hope that I will someday live under such a rule.  Whenever the current political situation looks hopeless, I remember that someday mere mortals will not have the final word on the laws of the land.

The ideal government really is a benevolent dictatorship. That is the government God employs. He knows everything, He makes all the rules, and He chooses when to enforce them. Of course, only a God has the power, love, and capacity to rule in such a way over more than just a few people, which is why the only practical benevolent dictatorship society has ever successfully integrated is that of parents ruling over their children.

Practicality

Needless to say, hoping for a bright future won’t solve all the problems we face in the present.  However, while presidential elections are important, as are other national and international issues, the closer my involvement gets to home, the more of a daily impact it has on my life.

The greatest satisfaction I receive in life occurs in my own community and especially in my own family, and at least so far changes in government and policy haven’t affected me too negatively. I think it’s best to focus the majority of my energy on contributing to my immediate surroundings because those are the things that affect me most.

I would like to address a controversial yet core argument defending the traditional family and marriage between a man and a woman.  Opponents may say to supporters, “If you are as kind and loving toward members of the LGBT community as you say you are, then why don’t you let them marry who they wish to marry?”

The answer is simple: the attitude and policy of recognizing only marriage between a man and a woman address actions, not people.

People

Everyone on earth is a child of Heavenly Father.  We deserve to be loved and respected as such.  We all are born with a certain set of rights which we count on parents, governments, churches, law enforcement, and dedicated citizens to protect.  The human family, or the family of God, includes all people—Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, whites, blacks, browns, gays, straights, and countless other groups and categorizations.

We are all on equal ground at birth.  We all begin as innocent.  It is only what we do during our lives on earth that cause us to risk losing the rights we had to begin with.

Beliefs

Out beliefs, just as our very being, cannot qualify us for punishment or reward.  No one earns money for believing in something, and no one goes to jail for it either.  Or shouldn’t.  Anyone is ought to be allowed to have any beliefs without consequence, even if these beliefs are extremely negative, hateful, discriminatory, etc.  As long as they are just beliefs, they won’t hurt anyone.

Words

Here is where the line begins to blur.  Some words represent nothing more than beliefs; other words can form threats and insults.  While sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the two (increasingly as of late) usually it can be discerned whether the intent was to simply communicate or to actively harm.  Judge wisely.  Debate, conflicting opinions, disagreement, and discussion are all manifestations of a healthy use of words.  Raised voices, repeated threats, and ominous silences are clues that dangerous actions might follow.  However, we should take care not to infringe on one’s right of speech (especially under the accusation it being harmful) simply because we disagree.

In addition, planning and scheming to do harmful things because of beliefs (such as to kill someone or launch a terrorist attack) raises a red flag and could qualify someone for punishment, depending on the circumstance.  However, notice the critical difference between these two example statements: “The leader of the attack should be condemned to death for his crimes,” and “I’m going to kill the leader of the attack myself no matter what outcome of his trial.”  Both point in the direction of someone being killed, but the first would lead to a death through due process of law (as the expression is only of belief) while the second would lead to an illegal murder.

Actions

Everyone, through the course of life, acts.  We all make hundreds of decisions every day.  Ideally, with few exceptions (such as age and mental maturity), we receive consequences based on our actions and not on our identities.  This means that if a white man robs a bank, he will receive the same punishment that an Asian woman receives or that a gay black man receives or anyone else who is mature enough to understand the consequences.

Having homosexual or other attractions or desires is not evil.  It is not worthy of punishment.  It is what some churches (including my own) term as a “temptation.”  A temptation is an enticement or persuasion to do something that is not correct.  Everyone is tempted, including those who are moral and those who are not.  Even Jesus Christ was tempted, and He was perfect.  The sin is not in the temptation or enticing, and by extension the sin is not in the affiliation or identity.  Rather, the sin  is in the action.

Engagement in homosexual activities is an action.  Those who engage in homosexual activities choose to do so.  Because it is an action, it can be punished or rewarded by law.

It is curious to see how the world has made the identity defined by what we are tempted by more important than our identity as children of God.  Really, even our identities in groups of race or religion have become too prominent.  We all belong to one big group—the human species.  There is no need to divide ourselves up and pit ourselves against each other.

The flaw of justification

Many would also argue that “some people can’t help themselves; they have to act the way they do because that’s the they are.”  I will illustrate the flaw in this justification with a simple example: a child refuses to heed her parents’ counsel and plays outside close to a busy street.  Would anyone say that this child was simply “born that way” and could not help but to participate in dangerous behavior?  Such an idea would be an insult to the child’s intelligence and freedom.  She is not constrained her entire life to participate in dangerous behavior; rather, she can learn what is correct and safe and make conscious choices to avoid danger in the future.

Inescapably, this child will experience pain and sorrow as she slowly but surely learns the difference between right and wrong.  However, any attempt to avoid this necessary opposition would be highly detrimental her growth and leave her completely unprepared to face the world on her own when it is time for her to live independently.

The decision

What needs to be decided is not whether LGBT people should have the same rights as other people in the world.  They were already born with those very same rights.  What needs to be decided is what actions will be tolerated by the world and which actions will be punished.  Proper laws do not punish or reward people for existing; they only punish and reward people for acting.  Will the world tolerate the improper actions that desecrate and mock the traditional family?  Will the world contribute to the demise of a civilized society by destroying its most cherished and important unit?  Let the people decide, and let the consequence follow.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’d like to address some of the confusion concerning my religion, especially as of late, in the area of our hospitality.  While my views don’t necessarily represent the official opinion and policy of the Church, I will do my very best to represent it accurately.

All Are Welcome

The main point I want to convey here is that as a religious community, Mormons welcome all others to join with them in worship.  It’s part of our essential doctrine.  Jesus says so Himself:

22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;

23 But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

3 Nephi 18:22-23

It is not in our interest in the slightest to reject anyone.  Problems arise when people confuse the administration of ordinances, rites, and privileges with the acceptance of other people.  Here an important clarification must be made: while anyone can potentially receive ordinances in the Church such as baptism and confirmation, only those who prepare themselves and meet the standards set by authorities in the Church can actually do so.

What does this mean?  Interestingly, those that might often be thought to be shunned by the Church are actually invited.  This includes gays, lesbians, transgenders, and people of other orientations and identifications, as well as polygamists.  Many times people who fall into these categories do not qualify for ordinances because of the way they are living.  For example, homosexuals in a marital relationship do not qualify for baptism according to the standards of the Church.  This does not disqualify them from attending meetings, interacting with members, and otherwise participating in the Church.  This policy simply maintains the high standards we believe God, our loving Heavenly Father, has set for members of His Church to uphold.  In addition, members who are excommunicated or otherwise considered to be living in apostasy are also welcome to our meetings and company.  Consider the following:

31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.

3 Nephi 18:31-32

Here Jesus explains that those who do not repent will not be numbered with His people—they will not be considered members of the Church.  This refers to everyone who does not repent, whether they have been baptized or not.  However, even these non-members will be invited to participate with the congregation and receive the love and ministry of Church members and leaders.  We are commanded to love and pray for them.  To not do so is to disobey our Lord.

We can see some logical reasoning behind the commandments Jesus gave—if we did not invite people living in a sinful way to attend Church and learn what we believe is the truth, how could they ever change their ways and become a part of our faith?  Unless we reach out with love toward those who live in a way we don’t agree with, we will alienate anyone who isn’t of our faith (and likely many that are).  In addition, these commandments are really extensions of one of the most important commandments Jesus ever gave—that to love our neighbor.  We cannot call ourselves true Christians by compromising in either of two areas—in upholding the standards of the Lord and showing love to others.

Justice and Mercy

The Lord’s plan is one of repentance—everything the Church does to address the sins committed by its members, including excommunication, is meant to help these people on the path of repentance.  It may not always seem like that is the case, but it is.

The Church may administer discipline by suspending access to privileges that members normally have, such as taking the Sacrament.  This action is never permanent if the member being disciplined later repents.  These consequences are administered to uphold the divine law of justice.  People learn about good and evil when they receive the consequences for participating in either.  This is a large part of why we’re living on the Earth in the first place.

Repentance involves recognizing that one has made errors, changing internal desire to instead obey God’s commandments, asking God for forgiveness, and abandoning sinful behaviors in favor of following the example of Jesus Christ.  If this path is followed, Heavenly Father will forgive the repentant in His mercy.  As appropriate, Church leaders will reinstate privileges and re-baptize excommunicated members who desire to receive blessings in the Church.  In fact, people who have never joined the Church must also repent and be forgiven before joining the Church through baptism.  Heavenly Father’s plan is universal.

Trusting My Leaders

Recently, my trust in the leadership of the Church (a prophet, his counselors, and twelve apostles) was tested with the change in the Church Handbook on how certain ordinances (such as baptism) of children who were in the custody of same-sex partnerships was to be handled.  I first heard about the change from a likely partisan news source, so I prayed and decided to be patient until an official statement by the Church was made concerning the issue.  Upon studying the matter and praying to Heavenly Father for guidance, I accepted the updated policy.  It made sense to me and as far as I can tell takes the best course of action that both a) maintains the Lord’s standards and b) shows love for others.

I’ll summarize the defense of a specific example which many have taken offense at: that of refusing baptism of a minor whose parents were of the same sex.  It must first be noted that this policy only holds if the minor is currently living in this situation.  The reason behind it is simple: the Church teaches that one must obey the Law of Chastity, which forbids any kind of sexual relation except those between a husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded.  This means that the child’s parents are breaking the Law of Chastity and will never be able to obey it without breaking up the same-sex couple.

Before baptism, the child acknowledges that breaking the Law of Chastity is sinful.  The baptism is then a covenant, or promise to God, that the child will never break the Law of Chastity.  Allowing children in this situation to be baptized puts them in a terrible conflict between Church and family.  How can they fully commit to living Gospel principles if the very essence of what they call a family is built on what is considered a grievous sin in the Church?

For this reason, these baptisms are not permitted.  Only when children begin to live in an environment without same-sex parents will they be considered as candidates for baptism.

My Own Experience

I have been a member of the Church for over a decade and in multiple countries and continents.  The Church is surprisingly similar and familiar, even in remote corners of the Earth.  While some members and even leaders do not live up to their potential and show rather poor examples of living the faith, the overwhelming majority of leaders I met and served with have been loving, forgiving, selfless, and helpful.  Many people make quick judgments about the Church (and everything else, really) but if you study the organization further, you’ll see that it’s very carefully laid out.  Every policy in the Church handbooks is very carefully thought through.

I am a member of this Church for a reason.  Although I am educated and living in the modern age, I am still convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly directed by Jesus Christ Himself.  I have had and sometimes still do have doubts, but no resolution of any doubt has ever left me unsatisfied.  I am proud to be a Mormon.  I hope to set a good example and share Christlike love with all those who I interact with.

Additional Resources

It’s because of free speech that I can write this entry (and most everything else on this blog).

I’m here to advocate for free speech of all kinds.  I want to see free speech I agree with and free speech that I don’t agree with.  I want people to talk, write, compose, protest, draw, sing, wear, sculpt, and otherwise express what they think.  I want people to think hard and consider alternate viewpoints and not be satisfied with absolutes.  I want the world to be intelligent—and for that to be a reality there must needs be communication.

This ideal is threatened by the increasing regulation and restriction of speech around the world.  It is most common in countries with totalitarian governments (imagine that) but it is also creeping up in the United States.  Some free speech is being restricted under the accusation that it is offensive.

If I can’t express my opinion because someone else finds it offensive, what’s to stop me from being able to express anything that goes against what they think?  Who decides?  If everyone decides, will I be able to say anything at all?  The “offensive” umbrella term is too large and unwieldy to censor free speech in and of itself.

Beyond that, not being offended isn’t a right, and for good reason.  Freedom of speech however is a right (also for good reason).

If the government was tasked with making sure every single citizen was never offended, not only would it fail miserably, it would become absolutely all-powerful and all-controlling in the process.  Opposition must exist in the world.  There is no way to avoid it.  If it weren’t for opposition, there would be no happiness or sadness, no love or hate, no security and no fear.  There would be nothing.

On the other hand, if there is no free speech, there is no communication, no learning, no understanding, no change, and a whole lot of nothing else that society needs to grow and thrive.

Trying to mandate that the world be perfect is a losing battle.  The best change comes from individuals who make personal sacrifice and influence those immediately around them.

You don’t like it when people disagree with you?  You find someone’s comments offensive?  Well guess what.  Life sucks sometimes.

Suck it up.

There are far worse things to suffer and be a martyr for and advocate in social rights movements than offensive speech.

I have been and am willing to keep being offended for what I believe in.  My religion was the victim of rather intense persecution when it was first started and many people today still disrespect it.  I myself endured scores of insults, complaints, criticisms, and more (against both my religion and my country) while serving as a missionary for my church in Argentina.  While threats and physical harm should be addressed by legal authorities, should people be punished through due process of law for saying what they believe?  Even if I don’t like it?  Even if it’s insulting?

A significant irony here is that many of the people who will be offended by this post will be at the very least tempted to write flaming comments (likely with expletives) “correcting” my old fashioned views and replacing them with the “new” morality society has invented.  Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

I have a legitimate fear that some people will consider not hiring me because of my political and religious beliefs.  That concept sounds familiar…oh yeah, it’s called discrimination.  Should I then have to conform to the ideologies of whoever pays me?  That sounds like corruption.  Should I be respected and evaluated for hire independent of my political and religious views?  That sounds very fair.  We already make a big deal to hire fairly regardless of sex, race, and sexual orientation, but we should be equally mindful to be fair to those who differ from us in their opinions.

If you don’t agree with me, I will still consider you a friend.  If you spend every minute of your existence finding holes in my arguments, I need people like you to learn from and to ensure my own security about my beliefs.  If what I say is never tested, I’ll likely grow even more arrogant than I already am.

In no way am I condoning that people try to be openly offensive to annoy or anger others.  Intense verbal attacks and threats can certainly warrant intervention by appropriate authorities.  Intentionally searching for conflict is poor behavior and should be avoided.  What I’m against is people needlessly becoming “offended” by others who had no desire to do so but simply stood up for what they believed in.

I call for people to be open minded, considerate, and resilient.  I call for people to stand up for themselves without getting offended or angry.  I call for people to think and analyze before speaking.  I call for people to discuss honestly and frankly the many issues before us today.  Only by tolerating the opinions of others and weathering the storm of opposing views can we progress in our quest for truth.

I thought I’d give a few of my own thoughts on the matter.

Before around September 2014 I never would have considered waiting for anyone.  After a rather interesting (but probably completely predictable) series of events, I will admit that’s it’s possible for a reasonable appeal for waiting to exist.   I still think you shouldn’t wait for someone you’re not crazy about. On the other hand, if someone makes you crazy enough to wait for them, maybe they’re worth it.  There’s some grey in between of course, but that’s the general idea.

So.  What exactly is it that would make you want to wait for someone?

If they weren’t going on a mission, you’d definitely marry them

I at least hope this is obvious.  It seems quite peculiar to wait for someone you’re not absolutely sure you’d marry within a few months otherwise.  Surety should be proportional to commitment.  In fact, especially for girls going on missions, this case should mean it’s a hard to choose between a mission or (delayed) marriage.  If one decides to serve and the other decides to wait, it should be because the mission is the only thing that could keep them apart.

You’ve gotten to the point where it would be extremely awkward if you married other people

This is a rather interesting point.  While surely there is some amount of awkwardness surrounding every previous relationship that didn’t work out, there comes a time where you share so many inside jokes, stories, plans for the future, documents in the cloud, friends, and so on that it would be extremely difficult to replace each other.  Old memories would keep popping up all over the place.  You know this case applies to you when you use certain vocabulary and phrasing and find yourself repeatedly having to explain what it means because only your significant other is familiar with it.  Imagine having to explain all that to your spouse.

You feel like you’re cheating on them if you flirt with or date other people

Here’s an obvious sign.  This is more likely to occur initially after separation and therefore less pertinent, but if it’s been months and you still feel loyal enough to your missionary to feel guilty dating other people, then that might be saying something.

The obvious caveat here is to make sure your significant other (the one on the mission) feels the same kind of loyalty toward you.  If he or she stops affirming love and commitment or just stops communicating altogether, it might be time to consider other options.

There aren’t any viable alternatives

This reason should be used as a last resort, not an excuse to stop looking.  It’s good to keep a healthy interest alive while your significant other is away simply because the mission might be part of a greater plan to help both of you find your real eternal companions.  On the other hand, if you’re looking and no one seems promising, it’s awfully comforting to know you can always marry your missionary after they come back.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t have ever considered waiting a few years ago, but then again I never encountered these cases years ago either.  That’s life for you.

If you’re wondering what you should do, I can’t (and shouldn’t) tell you that you should definitely wait or not wait. I can say however that there are certain cases where waiting is perfectly alright.  If you’re both committed and insanely in love, not even a mission can keep you apart.

Some people I encounter become more surprised than I would prefer when they are confronted with the following seeming impossibility: a) I am a pretty nice guy, and b) I am conservative.

In order to avoid confusion, I will begin by defining “conservative.”

conservative

adjective

holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

  • (of dress or taste) sober and conventional: a conservative suit.
  • (of an estimate) purposely low for the sake of caution: the film was not cheap—$30,000 is a conservative estimate.

(source: New Oxford American Dictionary)

Let’s look at some of the key words in this definition—traditional, cautious, sober, and conventional.  Is there anything inherently bad about any of those words?  It really just looks like my political stance is playing it safe, don’t you think?  Let’s look at each of them in turn.  Perhaps this way I can justify being conservative and a good guy at the same time.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be conservative in every aspect of my life.  My conservative thinking extends mostly to the political, moral, and economic spheres.  I am more liberal and experimental with technology, culture, etiquette, and art.

Traditional

As a conservative thinker, I tend to be interested in maintaining tradition.  I’m not referring only to traditions with family or friends to celebrate special events in our own special way, but also traditions in thinking, in religious practice, and political policy.

I advocate for doing many things the same way we’ve done them for thousands of years, so long as they continue to serve society in the best way.  For example, the greatest tradition I cherish is that of marriage between man and wife.  It is self-evident that a man and a woman are required to perpetuate life on the earth.  There is no reason to frustrate this tradition because of shifts in culture or thinking.  There is no scientific advantage of homosexual relationships over heterosexual relationships.  Homosexual relationships cannot even produce children.  There is no reason to change the nature of the family in this way, as it has served humanity best in its traditional sense—as a union between a man and a woman and their children—for thousands of years.

Note: if it is not clear, I do not hate people who choose to act differently than what I believe is morally correct.  However, this is a complex topic which deserves its own post.

Cautious

This trait follows logically from being traditional.  Because I am fond of and protective of traditions I know to be good, I am wary of changing them.

Although doing something because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is not a good reason to blindly perpetuate tradition, there is wisdom in learning why such traditions exist.  There may be a good reason.  There is good sense in having caution about changing such traditions.  This is especially pertinent in a religious context.  Very few times has God changed His policy, and never as drastically as people have changed it for Him (or necessitated that He change it as a consequence to their actions).

There are some things that society has rightfully changed because of obvious scientific advances and realizations.  For example, though it was previously thought that the world was flat, abounding scientific evidence has since proven that it is indeed round.  Similarly, while peoples of different colors, races, religions, and sexual orientations have been discriminated against without cause (e.g. because of their identities and not their actions), social rights movements have drawn attention to this injustice and advocated that people show love more equally.  In these cases some traditions that were deeply flawed were rightfully amended.

These understandings of fact were established under the common consensus of the people with a reasonable knowledge of the matter (read: not a panel of judges).  They were made with caution and took months and years if not decades of debate before becoming standardized.  Some might say that it would have been better if it had not taken so long.  I identify with the school of thought that would prefer to take longer to be sure the right decision is made, rather than quickly deciding something that may be grossly incorrect.  In addition, I firmly believe that if people never departed from the original morality and having love for others that Jesus taught in the first place, they would not have to spend some much time returning to it.

Deciding what truth is is a difficult business.  This is probably because humans aren’t supposed to decide what truth is.  I believe that people were given necessary truths pertaining to morality by God and it is only through our own confusion that we have departed from what we knew.  I am cautious about adopting “new morality” because I don’t believe moral truth can be discovered scientifically.  Rather, I believe it should be remembered from when it was taught to civilization from on high.

Sober

Usually when people hear the word sober, they associate the word with abstinence from alcohol.  While that certainly applies in my case, I am sober in more ways than one.  The word can also mean “serious, sensible, and solemn.”  I definitely have a funny side but when it comes to matters of importance, I try to show respect and good judgment.

I try to take serious issues seriously.  I avoid insulting others and making light of sensitive situations.  I believe it is important to keep calm and cool when discussing delicate topics, even if they are close to me.  It is by being sober that my words can be heard and understood.  If my views are expressed with expletives, libel, and hasty generalizations, they will not amount to much.

Conventional

This attribute is closely related to being traditional.  As a conservative, I try to live my life in a reasonably normal way.  I don’t expect to be too different from other people.  I don’t expect to be treated as a special case deserving of special privileges.  If there’s something that I want, I have to fight for it.  I can’t expect anyone else to give me resources out of obligation.

I am morally conventional.  I have the same classic morality that was once esteemed in this world.  I believe it’s right to get married before having kids.  I believe that using clean language is a sign of intelligence and self-control.  I believe that modest dress demonstrates the value of and respect people have for their bodies.

Conclusion

There is no such thing as cutting edge morality.

Truth is eternal.  There isn’t anything we can do to create or modify truth.  We have much to learn in the way of science but little in the way of morality.  We must only remember what at least some of humankind has known for millennia—the difference between right and wrong.

There is no need to be radical about morality.  There is nothing new to discover.  I am conservative because I firmly believe that we humans know enough to treat each other well.  We simply need to do it.

“I’m sure…I just know I put it here…”

Many times I am put into a situation where I need to make a decision based on what I did in the past; or, as it often appears, my “past self” did. I say this because in some of these instances I cannot fathom how my current self would come to do something my past self clearly did.

For example: I’m on my way out the door to go to class and turn in my assignment.  I have the following dilemma—did my past self ensure that my important assignment was indeed stowed in my backpack for submission?  Or did my past self neglect to be as responsible as surely my present self is?

In cases such as these I feel it’s healthy to have a healthy amount of distrust in your past self.  Some may call this attitude simply being responsible by double checking.  As imperfect humans, we usually benefit from this extra check.  We live in a fallen world.  It is absurd and unwise to trust your past self all the time.

I have the understanding that we, as humans, tend to idealize our past selves.  Forgetting the challenges and struggles we went through, we look on memories (especially those of great accomplishments) and focus so much on the positive we forget the negative.  This is great for our self-esteem, but not always for our responsibility.

Some of us would like to think we trust our own selves over all others.  I know I fit into that group most of the time.  I don’t like delegating because I don’t trust others to do as good of a job as I will.  I assume extra responsibility because I want things to be done right (or at least right according to my own opinion).  Such a trend in thought is ironic when I’m betrayed by my supposed closest confidant—myself.

When should you trust your past self?  Only when there is no other choice?  When it’s the last hour of the last day to turn your assignment in and there’s no time to go home and get it?

Perhaps when you feel particularly confident in your past self?  When you have specific and clear memories of putting the assignment in its place?  Such an instance may convince me to trust my past self, but I still have memories, as I’m sure many do, of times like this yet my past self has still failed me.

I try to find a healthy balance between efficiency through forfeit of unneeded redundancy and efficiency through taking the care to avoid preventable disasters.  In most cases I’d refrain from blindly trusting my past self (as amazing as he is) if it’s easy enough to double check.  This goes for not only past responsibilities, but past claims, past promises, past ideas, and anything else that crazy devil did when I wasn’t looking.  If you’re not careful, the things your past self did will bite you when you least expect.

It seems that some people need some clarification as to what the following commonly used words mean:

Homophobia

“Homophobia” and “homophobic” today are usually used as derogatory terms, often it seems toward anyone who does not fully embrace the political ideology of the offender.  Etymologically the word originates from the Latin and Greek roots “homo-” and “-phobia” referring respectively to homosexuality and irrational fear.  It is interesting to see how this word has evolved to gain its current meaning.  Upon hearing the word I often think to myself “What?  I’m not scared of homosexuality.”

Interestingly enough, even given its current definition from the NOAD “an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people,” it is still often used incorrectly.  For example, I personally believe that homosexual acts are sinful and go against God’s plan for His children, yet calling me homophobic wouldn’t be correct because my aversion is rational, and it is to only the actions, not the people.  Everyone on earth is a child of God and should be treated as such, no matter what they declare their sexual orientation to be or even how they act. I strongly believe that homosexual acts are detrimental to families and society as a whole which is why I support ideals such as traditional marriage (which encourages appropriate heterosexual acts and discourages homosexual acts).  I do not hate homosexual people at all.  I have befriended several people who I know are homosexual and quite likely several more without even knowing it.  I may not agree with some of their beliefs and opinions but I try to notice the areas of their lives that have nothing to do with sexual orientation and appreciate them as human beings.  Sometimes it’s hard to be friends with people who strongly differ in opinion on a topic so sensitive and personally important (whether those people identify as homosexual or not), but I try my best as yet another imperfect child of God.

Rational

Now, I’m sure someone became alarmed when I said my aversion to homosexuality was rational.  Rational is defined as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic.”  My reasoning stems from my religious beliefs, which teach that homosexual actions are immoral.  My logic is simple: homosexual acts cannot perpetuate families (they cannot produce children).

Hypocrisy

According to the NOAD, hypocrisy is defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”  The irony here is that all too often users of this word make themselves demonstrators of this word also.  We all need to check ourselves to ensure we don’t exemplify the very behavior we condemn.  It is far better to hold our tongues, listen, and remain calm than to immediately lash out against those who offend us, be they friends, acquaintances, or strangers.

Bigotry

The NOAD defines bigotry as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”  I find it especially urgent to note two things: having differing opinions, even strong opinions, does not immediately define a bigot, and quite often those who are quick to call others bigots quickly become hypocrites.

The term is generally used with an intended negative connotation.

I would recommend using all previously defined words sparingly.

Perhaps it would help to clarify what it means to tolerate: “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.”  There is still some ambiguity here, as quite a few things could be deemed “interference,” although I scarcely think having a different opinion should be entitled as such.  However, here we may mistake tolerance as being the ultimate virtue of humanity.  Quite wrong.  Tolerance, when taken too far, may become a vice.

Should we tolerate terrorists?  Robbers?  Rapists?  Thieves?  Liars?  No, we shouldn’t.  We don’t.  Usually, we judge them according to their morally incorrect actions and reward them with the appropriate legal consequences.  We recognize that they do something that is morally wrong then civilly react to it for the betterment of society and even the inpiduals who are disciplined.  Sometimes we disagree on what is considered a crime and what punishments are appropriate, and when that happens, we take a vote and enact new rules and laws.

Right now there is a dilemma: is it morally correct for two people of the same gender to marry?  Many different opinions will form.  Many people will argue and speak out for what they believe in.  Laws will be enacted by the voice of the people.  Punishment will be delivered to those who do not follow the law.  Is this intolerance toward those who hold different opinions?  Yes, on the part of both sides.

Apparently, we’re all bigots.

Opposition is a natural part of life.  Entertaining the idea that you can believe whatever you want to believe and act however you’d like to act without upsetting anyone is simply a waste of time.  No matter what you think or say or do, chances are you’ll end up offending somebody.  The goal isn’t to offend no one or even the least amount of people.  The goal is to do what one personally and morally believes is right and best for the inpidual and society.

Civility

Whenever discussing sensitive issues such as this, I find it’s best to be civil, which simply means “courteous and polite.”  That doesn’t mean you have to agree.  It does mean you don’t lose your temper.I believe it’s perfectly fine to explain the reasoning behind one’s beliefs and to even point out flaws in the arguments of opponents.  However, this should all be done without insults, profanity, or other hurtful language.Civility, as it were, is the basis of civilization.  There will always be disagreement and conflict, but the least we can do is be civil about it.