But what about standing up for truth and righteousness? Have you ever been put on the spot, and had to stand up for what you say you believe -- and in opposition to those who are adamantly, and passionately against what you hold sacred?
Well, that last part doesn't happen to everyone... but life does have an interesting way of bringing about some incredible experiences for those who are willing to put their faith and trust in the Lord -- along with a strong dose of Courage!
That's exactly what happened to Angela Fallentine (and her husband), members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), currently living in New Zealand. I heard about this valiant couple from my friend, Jocelyn Christensen. Knowing my passion for standing up for marriage, immediately upon hearing from Angela, about her incredible experience, Jocelyn then wrote to share the story with me -- knowing that without a doubt, I would be honored to bring it here -- in defense of preserving traditional marriage!
If their story of faith in righteous principles inspires you, as it has us, you probably won't be able to stop yourself from sharing it, too...
Jocelyn asked Angela if she wouldn't mind sharing more detail about their experience, and she was kind enough to respond:
I was asked to share my story on defending the doctrines and principles as taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World to New Zealand Parliament a few weeks ago. Thank you for this opportunity!
Late last year my husband and I (American-Canadians who live in New Zealand) became aware of a new bill going to Parliament called “Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Bill” which would legalize marriage between two men or two women. Just as in the United States, the airwaves and Internet were filled with talk of this bill—on both sides of the issue. Everyone in the country had the opportunity to send in a submission to the Capital, which would result in some being chosen to appear before Members of Parliament to discuss and defend their submission. We signed all the petitions we could on opposing this bill and shared it with family and friends. We knew that if the voice of the people were to be heard, we needed to put our beliefs into action, for wherever and whenever our Heavenly Father’s doctrine of marriage and family are concerned, silence is precisely what Satan wants.
For Family Home Evening last October, my husband and I decided to write our thoughts to Parliament defending traditional marriage between a man and a woman. There was a little box you could mark to indicate whether or not you would be willing to present your submission to the government in person. We looked at each other and said something to the effect, “We don’t know if we’ll get picked but we should at least be willing to stand as witness of God at all times, in all things and in all places.” A few months passed by and to our shock, we received word from Parliament that we both were chosen to appear before the Committee to discuss our submission. They decided to do something unique with us as we were a husband and wife with separate but similar submissions: They doubled our speaking time.
We found out that we were the only members of the Church in the country who were chosen. Now the pressure was on!
Our minds were swirling with all sorts of information and questions. Why us? What could we possibly say or share that could make a difference? There are so many wonderful talks, websites, research on marriage and the family. Where do we begin? We asked some friends and family for ideas but ultimately, we knew it was only between us and the Lord. We had about a week to prepare, and the pressure was intense--we prayed and studied constantly. We came to know, more than ever before, that the home is truly comparable to the Temple in terms of sacredness. We know that any outside influence from the adversary disrupts the process of receiving revelation and feeling the Spirit in our homes—which is precisely what Satan wants.
A few days before we were to present, we individually received our own powerful witnesses of exactly what the Lord needed us to write down and bring to the Members of New Zealand Parliament. I felt impressed to go back to the 1995 General Relief Society Meeting where President Gordon B. Hinckley explained and announced the historic “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” I have had a handful of powerful experiences where words of either Prophets or Apostles or the scriptures have literally shook me to the core, and this was one of them. I couldn’t deny it; and this meant I was now responsible to say things that no one else in the country would—things that would be unfamiliar or unpopular to say to the world these days. My husband had a similar experience and felt the hand of the Lord direct him to some profound thoughts and a story from President Uchtdorf. Although we were still nervous about what would go down at the hearing, we had absolute confidence and assurance that what we were about to read to Parliament was precisely what the Lord wanted. And that’s all that mattered.
Yet somehow, our confidence began to weaken as the day of the hearing came and the knots in our stomachs remained as we found out that this would be an audience hostile to religious belief and traditional family values. We dressed in our Sunday best and entered the ballroom of a hotel near the Auckland Airport where the Parliamentary Hearings were held for those in the North Island. Members of Parliament were at the front and the format for the Hearings mirrored a debate, with a moderator in the middle and Members of Parliament on both sides surrounding the room. Members of the press were on one side, and the video cameras on the other, filming each presenter. As we sat there, we heard arguments and pleas from both sides of this heated debate, but there was a striking lack of discussion on family, womanhood, fatherhood or religion. Some MP’s sneered and scoffed at a young Taiwanese woman who testified that gay marriage was legal in her home country and the effects it had on society, while other MP’s cheered and praised those who were championing immorality and gay adoption. The longer we sat there, the more we realized that what we were about to say would be in such stark contrast to the other presenters from either side of the debate that it would be very hard for them to hear.
As they called our names, we walked up together and sat down at the hearing table. The moderator told us we had ten minutes to give our speeches and then be questioned on the content of them. My husband, John, started first. As he shared a powerful story by President Uchtdorf and defended truth, and marriage and the family, I have never been more proud to have this good man by my side. There is something inspiring about seeing a man defend family and children. After he finished reading his statement, they asked me to read mine, leaving time for debate afterwards. As I started to read, I heard my voice echoing in the quiet room. I didn’t feel fear, but instead felt strength and power—and surprised (?) to feel some trembling deep inside as I read excerpts from the words of a Prophet of God.
The power of President Hinckley’s words were tangible as they hung in the air of the ballroom.
After I finished, the moderator announced that the questioning will begin. It was soon obvious that these MP’s were hostile to religious belief, traditional marriage and the family, and the importance of womanhood and fatherhood. Questions such as “Why is marriage so important anyway? Why not make broadened to include everyone? Should marriage be protected as a legal right? What exactly makes up a family? Aren’t we all part of a family and why should it matter exactly how it happens?”
At every opportunity, we answered with clarity that only a man and a woman create a family; the redefinition of millennia of history would water down the roles of mothers and fathers; gay adoption would automatically rob children of either a father or mother in the home, and so forth. We ignored the cameras, reporters and the videographers, and stuck to our guns firmly and politely. They thanked us for a clear and concise presentation and we handed each individual our statements and a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. We left the ballroom shaking and holding hands (tightly I might add!) We were given no accolades or support from the audience and it felt as though no one was on our side. Yet we had the strong feeling that although what we said would have been hard for many to hear, it was exactly what Heavenly Father wanted us to say.
All in all, we feel it was both the easiest and hardest experience socially or politically that we had ever been through. Easy in that when the Lord asks us to do hard things for Him, we know He’ll bless us. Difficult in that it was stressful and emotionally draining. This experience changed our lives, strengthened our marriage, and our solidarity in defending the doctrine and principles taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
In a nutshell, it was awesome! Although hard, it was such a positive experience! We know that although we were randomly picked to do this in New Zealand, there are millions of wonderful people out there who would have done (and will do) the same thing when given the opportunity. As I said earlier, wherever and whenever our Heavenly Father’s doctrine of marriage and family are concerned, silence is precisely what Satan wants.
Transcript of Angela Before New Zealand Parliament
Preserve Traditional Marriage
Good afternoon, I am honored at the invitation to participate with you. As you can probably tell by our accents, my husband and I are immigrants to this country. We left our homeland of Canada and America to start a new life for ourselves and for future generations. In Citizenship Ceremonies, the beautiful New Zealand national anthem is sung, and I feel it is particularly fitting to share a few of its words today--for anthems are hymns that evoke powerful feelings in the hearts of a country’s people:
God of Nations at Thy feet,In the bonds of love we meet,Hear our voices, we entreat,God defend our free land.Men of every creed and race,Gather here before Thy face,Asking Thee to bless this place,God defend our free land.From dissension, envy, hate,And corruption guard our state,Make our country good and great,God defend New Zealand.
I’d like to expound briefly on a few points in my submission, leaving opportunity for discussion afterwards.
There has never been a time, at least in recent history, when we have been confronted with more challenging problems in our homes and families. We need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, and of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. So many of the youth of the world, and likewise so many of their elders, listen only to the voice of self-gratification. The moral foundations of our society have been badly shaken.
There are those who would have us believe in the validity of what they choose to call same-sex marriage. We know there are a small number of people in this country who have feelings of affinity for the same gender. We love and regard them as our brothers and sisters. However, we cannot condone so dramatically redefining marriage without serious and sobering consequences for our families, communities, education systems and long held religious traditions and institutions of this country.
With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, those who have gone before us—as if they were standing here today-- would warn and forewarn on this bill to change marriage. In furtherance of this, I would like to reiterate our submission today with a reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which have been repeatedly stated throughout history.
We, as a husband and wife and as citizens of this country, proclaim our belief that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. By divine design, fathers preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers help one another as equal partners.
We stand with those who have gone before us and warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society. The accumulated wisdom of centuries declares with clarity and certainty that the strength of any nation is rooted within the walls of its homes. The institution that will save our broken society is not Parliament, it is the home.
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