Principle Vs. Moral Conviction: Determining Factor for Flip-Floppers Like Senator Portman
Take for instance the recent example of President Obama, of which I passionately blogged, because of just such a flip-flop -- wherein during his presidential campaign he stated that the issue of marriage, in his principled opinion, should be determined at the state level. I was naively upset that he became involved because of his seemingly sound position as a former constitutional professor, leading to my great disappointment in him when he became movable to the pressures of mainstream society. Now, suddenly he decides to become involved with Prop 8 and has recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the voice of 7 million Californians, and strike down their votes, as unconstitutional.
And this just in... the big story of conservative Senator Rob Portman's big coming out party that the liberal media can't seem to shout loud enough. I know this because I receive Google alerts for the terms "gay marriage" and "same-sex marriage" and my inbox over the last 24 hours has been blowing up with one headline after another on how Portman has flip-flopped from his solid position of being against same-sex marriage to announcing his newly discovered position of pro gay marriage!
As I once again scratch my head reading another headline of a person who previously, publicly professed principles upon which others were requested to place their trust, I began to ponder on why it is so difficult for people, humans, to be trustworthy and not cave to the pressures of society? I realize that we are all guilty of this tendency on different levels and in different ways, and that these men simply stand out as examples because of their public positions. Nevertheless, here they are before us, and therefore brought to our attention and the quandary worthy of consideration when a legitimate observation can be made, which I believe can be.
One is left to ask the question: Can and/or should we expect either ourselves or others to remain true to either a principle(s) and or moral convictions which they/we have professed and/or built a reputation/life/business upon -- be it religious and/or other?
Generally, I think the answer to this question is yes. We call this having integrity, or honor. It's what gives us reason to consider men, and women, honorable and worthy of our respect and trust. I do feel, however, that we are seeing some interesting trends that are outside of the normal variables to which, previously, would not have given us cause for concern.
As I continued to ponder on the matter, I began to think about covenants and what it means to make a covenant(s) with God. There is an enabling power that comes to a person who is faithful in keeping such covenants -- that goes beyond the common abilities of an individual who commits to belief in a certain principle, value or tradition is generally capable of maintaining. Covenants made with God are always based in moral righteousness, truth and virtue -- wherein we know is power, and only effective when we bind them in like manner.
I firmly believe, that as we go through life, for those who have made covenants with God, and strive to live worthy, we can choose to use that enabling power to withstand the buffetings of the adversary and remain steadfast to the moral standards and doctrines we know to be true, regardless of societal pressures.
My personal favorite hymn, that I often bring to mind whenever courage is required: How Firm a Foundation. The third verse has always been my favorite, because it always reminds me of the Savior's very sacred covenant relationship, with me, that began with He and His Father's -- and through my choice to be baptized, I have made the choice to enter into that Holy relationship...
How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
It seems that with each passing week, it becomes more difficult to speak what we believe as members of the LDS Church, on many current issues, even among some of our own faith who do not agree, without offending. However, we need to keep standing up for what we know is right and true.
I found myself having to say to another member, only a few days ago, who felt it time for members to stop being so vocal about certain issues -- as they believe the debate is over and we are now on the wrong side of history -- that until I hear from our leaders to stop speaking out, rather than the media, I plan on continuing to, in essence, "follow the prophet". I find these prophetic words spoken back in 1978, by Neal A Maxwell, an Apostle of the Lord, particularly sobering:
Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. (See 1 Kgs. 18:21.) President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ! We are now entering a time of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: We will see a maximum, if indirect, effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism which uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of western civilization to shrink freedom, even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.
As we enter this Easter Season, I'm so thankful to pause and reflect on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and His great love for His Father, of which each one of us benefit eternally. He is my Savior and Redeemer, to Whom complete fidelity is a blessing to give back -- as I know so many of you feel the same.
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