This is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
Over at Times & Seasons, Nathaniel responded to the recent tragedy in Orlando by addressing some of the claims that the one’s religious (specifically Mormon) upbringing could cultivate less empathy for the victims because of their sexual orientation:
One of the most important scriptures we have as Mormons is the seventh chapter of Moses in which Enoch beholds God weep. Enoch asks, “how is it thou canst weep?” God’s reply is long, starting in verse 32 and ending in verse 37. It is not short of harsh language, discussing the sins of those who would perish (“they are without affection, and they hate their own blood”) but concluding, “wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?”
The Doctrine and Covenants states plainly that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,” and that value is independent of righteousness or sin. And that’s a good thing, because we are all sinners. There is no dividing line between technical sinners (good, church-going folks who make inconsequential mistakes now and then) and real sinners. There is just one group, and we’re all in it together, and there’s no justification for trying to figure out a pecking order.
We should mourn for the innocent victims of the horrific shooting in Orlando every bit as much as the innocent victims of any other mass shooting: the prayer group gunned down in Charleston, the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary or—God forbid—our own Mormon brothers and sisters if a mass shooting ever takes place at one of our ward buildings or temples. When their children suffer, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother and the whole heavens weep. They don’t see a difference between one group and another. Who are we to claim sight where God Himself is blind?
This made reading Elder Hanks’ October 1972 Conference address this week all the more moving:
Christ’s commission was clear, and it seems to me that through him our commission becomes clear, that we are so to live that through him and his love we may be lifted up by the Father to enjoy the consequences of our convictions and our decisions.
We are here to love God and to keep his commandments, to live with an integrity that will merit our own self-respect and the respect of our loved ones and make us worthy for the companionship of the Spirit. We are here to love and serve our fellowmen, to reflect in our own lives daily our true convictions as to the priceless value of the individual child of God, to live with joy in a way worthy of the sons of God, to become the manner of men that he is.
He taught us very clearly the worth of souls and that they are very great in the sight of God. The lost sheep should have an anxious shepherd seeking him. The lost coin must be searched for. The prodigal who comes to himself and turns homeward will find his Father running to meet him. Thus taught the Lord.
Recently a stake president told of his visit, with others, to a Junior Sunday School class. When the visitors entered they were made welcome, and the teacher, seeking to impress the significance of the experience for the youngsters, said to a little child on the front row, “How many important people are here today?” The child rose and began counting out loud, reaching a total of seventeen, including every person in the room. There were seventeen very important persons there that day, children and visitors!
That is how Christ feels, and so should we.
May we all remember this on a regular basis.1
Check out the other posts from the General Conference Odyssey this week and join our Facebook group to follow along!
- A Little Weird is the Best Case Scenario by Nathaniel Givens
- God of the Gaps by G
- The Gospel is Never More Beautiful by Daniel Ortner
- Do it for God (i.e., Let Him love you!) #ldsconf Odyssey by Michelle Linford
- Hands of God by SilverRain
- I cannot go back by Marilyn Nielson
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