This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey group. Each week we take a session of conference and share our thoughts and impressions about one or all of the talks given. It’s called Odyssey, because we started with 1971, and hope to continue until the present day (roughly 15 years in the future, by the time we catch up). Every Tuesday morning watch for a new General Conference Odyssey post here at Mormon Women Stand. This post covers the Sunday morning session of the October 1975 General Conference.
Back in 1975, L. Tom Perry gave a talk entitled For the Time Will Come When They Will Not Endure Sound Doctrine. And here we are, 42 years later. The time has certainly arrived. As a fairly new apostle, he was not only prophesying our day, he was showing us how to stand by our personal declarations.
A Nation Under God
Elder Perry explained how, along with several national religious leaders, he was invited to assist in planning the United States of America’s Bicentennial celebration. Gathering with his committee, all being religious leaders, he was alarmed when many of them were hesitant to declare this nation under God, as to not offend the atheists. They claimed, “After all, the atheist has a right to his belief, also.” In his talk, he shared with us his feelings:
“Of course, I completely agree that all men must have their right of free agency but I argued vigorously against locking up our own firm convictions just because they could not be accepted by everyone. The more we argued, the more the opposition united against us. We were not able to get ours or any other declaration out of committee.”
He returned home resolved to stand by two personal declarations:
- I will develop within me the courage to stand up and defend that which I believe to be right.
- I want to publicly profess my opposition to those who are so caught up in their own learning they believe with their enlightened minds they can change the laws of God.
Marriage is Ordained of God
He observed that the “seemingly enlightened minds are trying to destroy the sacred institution of marriage” by changing the law.
“As I examine the physical order in the Lord’s divine plan, I find no evidence that he has ever found it necessary to make a correction. The earth continues to rotate in the same direction. The angle of its axis is unchanged. The circulation of moisture continues from sea to cloud to earth to river to sea with its same beneficial effect without alteration. I find the same consistency in the divine law he has established for mankind.”
I really love his simple declaration of divine law. I’ve often wondered who “mankind” thinks he is to even attempt to go against God when He is the ruler of heaven and earth; all of nature. But, as I have discovered in all the years I have read my scriptures, the warnings are always there.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Tim. 4:3–4.)
Our nation chose to change a law set by God to satisfy a small minority of people. Where they shout fairness for all, those of us, who still believe God’s laws do not change, wait for the consequences that will surely follow.
In a 2006 interview, Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman (both lawyers) answered some very direct questions. These are their very direct answers.
ELDER WICKMAN: “For openers, marriage is neither a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of social policy. Marriage is defined by the Lord Himself. It’s the one institution that is ceremoniously performed by priesthood authority in the temple [and] transcends this world. It is of such profound importance… such a core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the very purpose of the creation of this earth. One hardly can get past the first page of Genesis without seeing that very clearly. It is not an institution to be tampered with by mankind, and certainly not to be tampered with by those who are doing so simply for their own purposes. There is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes as something called same-gender marriage. Homosexual behavior is and will always remain before the Lord an abominable sin. Calling it something else by virtue of some political definition does not change that reality.”
ELDER OAKS: “Another point to be made about this is made in a question. If a couple who are cohabiting, happy, and committed to one another want to have their relationship called a marriage, why do they want that? Considering what they say they have, why do they want to add to it the legal status of marriage that has been honored and experienced for thousands of years? What is it that is desired by those who advocate same-gender marriage? If that could be articulated on some basis other than discrimination, which is not a very good argument, it would be easier to answer the question.”
As we all know, gay marriage is now legal in this country. But the demands to change God’s laws continue. Mothers are being attacked and shamed while children are being desensitized and taught things they should not have to worry about at their age. The cry for fairness, equality, and so-called justice seems loud and terrifying. The time is certainly now when they will not endure sound doctrine.
Making Personal Declarations
However, those of us who choose God and His prophets have nothing to fear. We simply might consider resolving to stand by our personal declarations as Elder Perry did so long ago:
- Stand as a witness to declare God’s eternal truths.
- Stand in defense of God’s laws.
Let us all remember who is ultimately in charge. The Lord is patient but firm, and so must we be. May I add my witness to Elder Perry’s:
The union between husband and wife is sacred to the Lord, something not to be trifled with. The marriage covenant was essential to the Lord God to accomplish his mission and purposes for which he created the heavens and the earth. … When we conform our lives to his laws we will find a rewarding joy, a fulfillment, and a peace as we live here on earth. … May God grant that we may have the courage to stand up and be counted for that which we know to be right.