Sunday, October 6, 2013

Elder Dallin Oaks Launches Another Powerful Defense Of Traditional Marriage And Morality At The Sunday Morning General Session Of 183rd Semiannual LDS General Conference

The Sunday Morning General Session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference was highlighted by another powerful defense of traditional marriage and chastity by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who's emerging as the leading culture warrior on the Quorum of the Twelve. Sister Bonnie Oscarson contributed a short but succinct tutorial on the meaning of true conversion, and Elder Richard Scott presented a perspective on the Book of Mormon people of Ammon that I had not heard before and is useful, if not completely persuasive.

Mainstream media sources include the Deseret News General Conference Page. I provide short excerpts punctuated by my own impressions below.

-- Summary of Saturday Morning General Session
-- Summary of Saturday Afternoon General Session
-- Summary of Saturday Evening Priesthood Session
-- Summary of Sunday Afternoon General Session

-- Video and audio archives as well as written transcripts of all Conference talks, including the General Relief Society Meeting, are now available at the October 2013 Conference Page on

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: Sorry, but this talk left me ice-cold. This seemed to be the rare catchall talk that vacuums up a bunch of disjointed homilies and anecdotes and disgorges them into an inchoate salad bowl. Entitled "to my grandchildren", this talk would have been better directed only to his grandchildren and extended family. Some examples of the counsel given were to accept and magnify every calling extended by the Church, to seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost, get married in the temple, etc, etc, At the end, President Eyring finally injects some degree of context into this talk, saying “My message then to my grandchildren, and to all of us trying to forge eternal families, is that there is joy guaranteed for the faithful. From before the world was, a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son loved and worked with those whom they knew would wander. God will love them forever.” But this is nothing that no one else hasn't said during Conference.

-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Oaks quickly breathed life back into the session with a charge to Latter-day Saints to put God first in their life. He identified several examples of things that are often being served ahead of God: cultural and family traditions, political correctness, career aspirations, material possessions, recreational pursuits and power, prominence and prestige. God's commandments are based upon and inseparable from God's plan for His children -- the great plan of salvation. Elder Oaks also renewed his support for traditional marriage and abstinence outside of traditional marriage by saying that marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God's plan, and that God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married. Elder Oaks firmly noted that laws legalizing so-called "same-gender marriage" do not change God's law of marriage of His commandments and standards.

-- Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President: Sister Oscarson spoke of the need to become truly converted, and even effectively defined "converted". She defined true conversion as being more than merely having a knowledge of gospel principles, and implies even more than just having a testimony of those principles. She said being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe and allowing it to create a mighty change in us, or in our hearts. In other words, our works validate and sanctify our faith. Sister Oscarson added that conversion comes as we understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and acknowledge Him as our Savior and Redeemer, and allow the Atonement to take effect in our lives. And once we are converted, we become more willing to share the gospel with others.

-- Elder Richard J. Maynes, Presidency of the Seventy: Elder Maynes offered some useful counsel about enduring to the end. Spiritual strength comes as individuals learn to successfully endure challenges they face in life. But although many challenges can be solved and overcome during this life, others might be difficult to understand and impossible to overcome until the next life. Elder Manynes also said "Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversation. When our testimonies are strong and we are truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, our choices will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, they will be Christ-centered, and they will support our desire to endure in righteousness. If our testimonies are weak and our conversion superficial, the risk is much greater than we will be enticed by the false traditions of the world to make poor choices.”

-- Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve: Elder Scott gave a good old-fashioned Sunday School lesson on personal strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, saying that through the Atonement, members can build spiritual fortifications between themselves and any past mistakes that Satan attempts to exploit. What's particularly interesting is the he used the story of the people of Ammon from the Book of Mormon to illustrate his point. The people of Ammon were converted to Christ's church and chose to leave behind their sinful behavior; so complete was their conversion that they buried their weapons and covenanted with the Lord that they would never use them again. Later, their unconverted brethren attacked them and began to slay them, but their priesthood leader, Helaman, counseled them to honor their sacred covenant and, instead, enlisted their faithful sons to take up arms in defense of their people.

So why were they counseled not to defend themselves personally? Because Satan will try to use one's memory of any previous guilt to lure one back into his influence. Although the Atonement does cleanse us, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit. Interesting......I had never thought about it in this way. But although Elder Scott's analysis was enlightening, I still think the Ammonites were wusses for not defending themselves. I may be anti-imperialist, but I'm not anti-war. I believe in defensive war.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: In his third address during this conference, President Monson told Latter-day Saints that whenever they are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, to remember that others have passed the same way, have endured and overcome. And why have they overcome? President Monson says it's because they have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. President Monson speaks from personal experience; his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that his wife lives still is of utmost comfort to him during this tender time of passing. He explained “I know that our separation is temporary. We were sealed in the House of God by one having authority to bind on earth and in heaven. I know that we will be reunited one day and will never again be separated. This is the knowledge that sustains me.” President Monson concluded by counseling people to draw closer to the Father by praying to Him and listening to Him every day.

From the LDS Bloggernacle:

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: If you get an internal server error, just refresh your browser. Some criticism of Elder Oaks in the comments; that means Elder Oaks is on the right track. One idiot compares the LDS Church to the Taliban. Sister Oscarson's talk got favorable props because it wasn't directed towards females only.

-- By Common Consent: They seem to share my attitude about President Eyring's talk; they're equally uncertain as to its relevancy. Elder Oaks' defense of marriage gets support in the comments.

-- The Millennial Star: Geoff B. seems to give Elder Oaks and President Monson a pat on the back, says President Monson's talk would melt the heart of the biggest cynic.

1 comment:

Paul J Elliott said...

Does anybody in the Church have a problem with this statement from Elder Maynes in his Conference address:
"If we honestly and sincerely repent, the Atonement can help us become clean, change our nature, and successfully endure our challenges."