Monday, February 27, 2012

Helping Children Gain a Testimony of Christ

A few weeks ago we had a fifth week, combined Sunday School class, taught by our Bishop. He wanted to talk to the parents about helping our children to remain active in the church once they were of age to choose for themselves. He said something that has stuck with me and has given me much pause for thought. He said, "The #1 most important thing we can do as parents is to help our children come to know the Lord as their own personal Savior."

He continued to explain that children, little children, who have this testimony by the age of eight or nine are far more likely to remain faithful throughout their life than those who do not gain that personal testimony. So I guess the question is, How can we do that?

Studies have shown that a child's perception of God is based on their relationship with their mortal father. If we were abandoned by our father we may consider God to be someone who is out there, but who doesn't know us or love us. If we were treated harshly by our father we may grow to believe that God is an angry being who will punish us for being imperfect. On the other hand, if our earthly father is a patient, loving, forgiving man filled with wisdom and a good sense of humor, we are likely to think of God similarly.

The first step in helping our children realize that Jesus Christ is their personal savior is to help them feel that having a relationship with the savior is a desirable thing. Why would they want to have a relationship with a being who is angry, harsh and unforgiving? They wouldn't.

The next step, in my humble opinion, is for the parent to share their testimony with their children and to do it often. Children learn their most intense lessons from their parents. Yes we teach them by our example, by attending church, studying the scriptures and having family prayer, but when we make it a practice to share our testimony with our family members on a regular basis we create opportunities for them to feel the Holy Spirit as they listen to our heartfelt words. As you find teaching moments each day, use them as an avenue to look your child in the eye and lovingly testify of Christ. Your words will reach into their soul and plant seeds of faith upon which they can nurture their own personal testimony.

The third and final step I will mention here is the importance of studying the scriptures with your children. Reading the scriptures together is wonderful, but studying them together will enable your children to come to understand and love them. Most children by the age of 6 can read well enough to participate in daily scripture reading, perhaps they will read only one verse a day for a while and that is okay. Use that single verse to open up a dialogue. Ask your child what they think the verse is saying, tell them a story that relates to the verse, make it an intriguing, memorable experience; something that they will ponder throughout the day.

In the world our children are growing up in, it is paramount that they are armed with their own personal testimonies as early as possible. Help them develop a desire to know Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Church Responds to HRC Petition

Oct 12 2010 — Salt Lake City

News Release

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement through a spokesman following the delivery of a petition by the Human Rights Campaign

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgment of our shared human dignity. We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

We hope and firmly believe that within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail.