The Church is Pro-Choice

Note: this post mentions rape, incest, abortion, stillbirth, death of infants, etc. If those topics are going to be triggering, please honor your health and pass on reading.

A few months ago, we were discussing the need for modern-day prophets in Sunday School. One woman raised her hand and said that she was grateful for modern-day revelation because of issues like abortion. I fought my urge to exclaim, “Yes! Isn’t it great that the Church is pro-choice?!” because it would really derail the lesson, so I’m going to say it here.

Isn’t it great that the Church is pro-choice?!

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Publish Peace

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The cemetery at Verdun

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace.

Armistice Day, celebrated in the United States as Veteran’s Day, is a natural time to reflect on war and peace.  The horrors of the First World War led those who lived through it to swear there would never be another such.  Of course it didn’t work out that way, as we know.

This month I have been studying peace as part of my personal scripture study and reflecting on it more broadly.  The scriptures are full of warfare and atrocities, but the Book of Mormon also takes a clear stance on offensive wars.

The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi promised that

“They would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it – therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.” (Alma 43:11)

Pahoran, in his letter to Moroni, averred that

“We would not shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land.  We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us.  We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do.” (Alma 61:11)

The Savior taught the people of the Americas the same truths he taught in Israel:

“And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (3 Nephi 12:39)

Modern day prophets and apostles also teach of peace, but it is generally within the context of inner calm:

Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality.  We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us.  Attaining harmony within ourselves depends upon our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate him by living the principles he has given us.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Peace Within” April 1991)

President Hinckley took a stand on behalf of the church in regards to the conflicts in the Middle East:

“As Citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders.  They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally.” He acknowledged the right to express dissent, and then added, “We all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.”  Citing Captain Moroni, he concluded “It is clear from these and other writings that there are times when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat and oppression.” (Gordon B. Hinckley “War and Peace” April 2003)

I feel a deep sense of unease about justifying war, which it seems the Savior taught against.  What obligation do you have personally to publish peace? Does that obligation go beyond being peaceful within your own family and ward?  Did the Savior expect the same of nations that He did of individuals?

These questions have been swirling in my mind, particularly in light of the more recent debates over drone strikes and their terrible consequences for innocent civilians.  The recent story of a grandmother slain for inscrutable reasons, and the insouciant attitude of our own government to me raises grave questions about my complicity through inaction in programs that are in violation of my faith.

 

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Politics Flowing Over

Politics Flowing Over

Wow, the last 24 hour have been a roller coaster ride, yes? Starting with yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional. We need to make it easier to vote, not harder! I wasn’t happy with this, but I took a deep breath and hoped for better news in the next couple of days.

Then my attention turned to the #standwithwendy hashtag and the live feed of the Texas Senate session, where Wendy Davis was filibustering, SB5, which would have closed most of the health centers in Texas that provide abortions. I listened while I was making dinner, impressed with her abilities to draw this out and keep going. “What is she going to do when she runs out of things to say?” I smiled as she and her supporters made sure to speak slowly and draw out everything. In the evening, my husband and I were planning on watching Star Trek, but the suspense in Texas was so great, we had to pause it and listen. Who among us didn’t go, “Oh ZING!” when Senator Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

And the cheering… oh those last 10 minutes! Who couldn’t get caught up in that?! When 12pm in Texas struck, I opened our front door and shouted, “WOOO TEXAS!” a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever said. I was so loud our neighbors came outside wondering if something was wrong (there has been a lot of crime in our neighborhood lately). And I was glued to the live feed as it seemed that the Texas senate was going to ignore their rules and count a late vote anyway. Then I went to sleep.

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Relief Society Lesson: More on the Life and Ministry of Lorenzo Snow

I love this lesson series. I love the different approaches different writers take, and the insights they have  that I’d miss on my own. Most of all, I love that it exists. So of course the first place I went to prepare for teaching this lesson was EmilyCC’s post on the introduction to the Lorenzo Snow manual. She listed some great references, so I started reading.

And I kept reading. And kept reading. Here’s the bottom line: Lorenzo Snow was fascinating. I had a great reaction from my lesson today, and even though I’ll bet you’ve all covered this part of the manual in your Relief Society lessons already, I want to share my notes just because I’m so in awe of the man. (Just please remember that they’re notes, and if you rudely point out grammatical or style errors I will send my peeps after you.)

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What are your political conversations like?

Just before the presidential election NPR’s This American Life had an episode titled “Red State Blue State” that talked about the well-known divide of right versus left in American politics.  It told stories of close friends and family members who don’t speak to each other anymore because of politics, then discussed a new book titled You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong) by Jacob Hess (who is Mormon and conservative) and Phil Neisser (who is not religious and liberal).  Hess and Neisser believe that civilized, useful political dialogue is possible if the two parties stop trying to change each other and start listening.  I said something similar here recently.

So I wonder, are the contentious conversations I sometimes experience and that Hess and Neisser have written a book about the norm?  Or are they less common than they seem?  Please take our poll and let us know how you experience political conversations.

In the comments, please tell us what has worked for you to make your political discussions amicable.

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Can’t we all just get along? (Or: On Zion)

When I first learned that Exponent was getting political, my initial thoughts were on my own political coming of age story, involving a specific experience on my mission, and several more specific experiences at BYU that ultimately resulted in my experiencing a change of heart, from somewhat right leaning to somewhat left. This was the story that I wanted to tell, but after watching the debates, and taking in their tone, I feel a little too sad about politics. Or, at the least, I feel sad about the division of politics, and the dishonesty. Part of me wants to shout from rooftops, “Can’t we all just get along?” And the other part of me wants to whisper it.

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