Monday, November 8, 2010

Who's on the Lord's Side?

As I write I see outside my window the 4-board crossbuck fence our neighbor of over 20 years built. The dark row of Ponderosa pines Maurice planted that were six feet tall when we moved in next door now tower thirty feet over the low fence. We played family games in the yard as we raised our seven children using the fence as the starting point for red light, green light and mother, may I? But the decades of sun, wind, rain, and snow proved hard on the simple wood fence. Every few years when the white paint had begun to flake off, Maurice handed us a can of paint over the fence, we donned our grubby clothes, and slapped on another layer on our side. When here and there a slat hung loose we got out a hammer and nails and repaired it. Our neighbor lost his wife a decade ago, and now he's gone too. We have nice new neighbors. I suppose we'll continue doing our part with the upkeep of the old fence. It's a pretty fence, a good one. We can see through and over it to wave at or visit with our neighbors, and at the same time it keeps the property lines clear and orderly.

All sorts of fences, borders, and boundaries are important in our lives for a myriad of reasons. Today we have the opportunity to choose sides in many a moral battle. Fence-sitting, or neglecting/refusing to make up one's mind about which side one is on, is not popular with God. In fact, if we refuse to be hot or cold where He is concerned, it makes Him want to, well, spew us out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16).

More and more, because of a culture that has demonized clear thinking in favor of political correctness, good people are being intimidated and conditioned into sitting on that fence that separates good and evil. Apparently, we're even afraid to bring up moral issues among our fellow church members, much less have intelligent discussions within the walls of a church building.

This is a shame. We have many reliable resources at our disposal to help us study out important issues of the day together with our brothers and sisters in the gospel: prophets, scriptures, history, the accumulated wisdom of the ages, ancestors, grandparents, parents, and to confirm truth in every situation, the Holy Ghost. These resources combined will put us on the right side of the fence every time. But people don't seem to be interested in truth and knowledge. What we are seeing is a rejection of these most reliable of resources. Besides those sitting on the fence who have set aside God, truth, knowledge, experience, and the whisperings of the Spirit in favor of keeping a pretense of unity (what we are unified in is not addressed), we have many in our ranks who for some reason (pride, arrogance, an attempt to cover their sins) think they know it all and have decided to take up residence on one of several very wrong sides.

Wrong sides? Yes. As C. S. Lewis put it in his 1946 novel That Hideous Strength, "There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there is never more than one." There is only one right answer, one right side, to important questions. One of the two main reasons we're here on earth is to make a choice as to which side we are on, the right one, or any number of wrong ones.

President Boyd K. Packer warned us of finding ourselves on the wrong side of the fence in 1996. “We may safely study and learn about the theories and philosophies of man, but if they contradict the plan of redemption . . . do not buy into them as truth. If you do, you may. . . have your testimony repossessed. Your respect for moral agency may go with it and you will end up with nothing.”

Who's on the Lord's side? Now is a time when people are presented with this choice in quite painful and dramatic ways. Here at the Standard of Liberty we hope and pray that the Lord's army will increase. It's not the easy side, but it's the one right one.

It's a wet, blustery fall day. The last yellow leaves on the aspen just outside my window are turning brown. Seven or eight plump little birds regularly visit the just-filled birdfeeder swinging on a nearly bare branch. Beyond it the simple old wood fence still stands, straight and white against the sweeping Ponderosas, reminding me that important boundaries must be kept in good repair.

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