I was musing about something I wrote earlier. I had mentioned that my wife has endured a lot of criticism for having a lot of children. I remember how afraid she was in our Wichita, Kansas ward to have her visiting teachers learn that she was pregnant. When they did, rather than congratulations, they responded with unkind and cutting remarks, just as she feared.
Now, when some people read that, they will think that these visiting teachers were members who were obviously struggling. But that wasn’t true at all. As I recall, one served in leadership callings commonly, and it wasn’t long after that her husband was called into the Bishopric.
And we think that we will fix this problem by teaching people to be kind, to be charitable, to be loving.
But that won’t fix it.
Here is the deal. When you reject something good, especially something foundational, then you give the adversary significant influence in that area of your life. There are two forces pull on all of us. There is the influence of God, and the influence of the devil. They are opposing forces. We, not they, get to decide which of those forces has sway our our life. We decide in a very simple way. We decide by our righteousness.
But while we decide which has sway, sway they will have.
People who are living righteously will be influenced by the light of Christ and even by the Holy Ghost. People who are living wickedly will be influenced by the spirit of the devil. He will influence their sympathies to be firm and reprove with sharpness when they should be loving and merciful and to be sympathetic and merciful when they should be firm.
And we will never be able to sort out how that relates to the realities of life and people until we recognize that the influence of God or of the adversary can be different in different parts of our lives if our obedience itself is different in different parts of our lives. We can be reading our scriptures just great, and be fasting just as we ought, but still lose all the financial blessings by not paying our tithing. We can gain, in part the blessings for scriptures and fasting, and be letting God have sway in that part of our lives, but be rejecting God’s counsel on tithing and be finding ourselves under the influence and misdirection of the adversary in matters of finance and giving to the Lord.
When women reject motherhood and children in one way or another, then the adversary has influence in that area of their life. It doesn’t matter that they are the relief society president, or the gospel doctrine teacher or the compassionate service leader. The adversary is pretty good at stirring them up against the principles they have rebelled against.
The problem in that case is foundational. It is a rejection of a core, fundamental truth. It is a broken bone. You can try to fix it with a band aid, by telling them that they need to be more loving and kind. And what will you get if you do? They will be kinder in general, they will be more loving in general, but they will rationalize away the particular circumstances you cared about as being an inconsequential moment and still be a sharp critic. You cannot rightly fix a broken bone with a band aid. Truth has foundations, and you cannot fix the foundations by adding additional decorations around the windows or roof. You have to fix the broken bone, and then the rest will tend to heal itself and work right. You have to put the foundation back in place, or all your work, however fervent, to make the exterior beautiful will come to naught as the structure once again buckles due to the missing foundational pieces.
Those foundational pieces were laid out in Eden by the Father. They are the family and chastity. You may not recognize chastity as part of what the Father laid out there, but that is because we read it without insight. Christ saw chastity, fidelity and devotion as part of what the Father laid out in Eden. He said it simply:
Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Christ saw fidelity and lifelong commitment in marriage as part of the foundation laid by his Father in Eden. He also saw chastity there. He recognized that Adam and Eve only became one flesh when they were married. The father also declared other things in Eden. He declared that the man and woman were to multiply and replenish the earth. You cannot reject the foundation and have everything else come out right. You cannot fix broken bones with band aids You have to fix the broken bones, and then wounds that require only band aids will tend to heal themselves.
Put differently, you will not need to fret so much about teaching members to just be nice and decent to each other if you can get them grounded in the foundations. But if you do not get them grounded in that, no amount of effort will ever suffice. And those foundations include the things that God declared in Eden, the firm basis of the family, and God the Father’s decrees about it.