I received rather a shock some few days ago, reading through the Ensign report of the April 2003 General Conference Priesthood Session, which I had been unable to attend in person.
In the course of a talk on worthiness, addressed primarily to young men preparing for missionary service, Bishop David Burton casually drops the following bomb into the midst of a homey sports metaphor:
“Our participation in life’s important events may be jeopardized if we fail to follow the rules contained in our Father in Heaven’s commands. Involvement in sexual sin, illegal drugs, civil disobedience, or abuse could keep us on the sidelines at key times.”
(“And That’s The Way It Is,” Ensign, May 2003)(emphasis added).
Could he possibly truly mean what he seems to have said? That sitting at the wrong lunch counter is comparable to sexual misconduct and drug abuse? That political protest disqualifies one for missionary service? That adherence to gospel standards means Rosa Parks cannot demand a seat at the front of the bus?
As Latter-Day Saints in a democracy, isn’t resistance to injustice part of our civic obligation? Section 134 specifically carves out “sacred freedom of conscience” as a caveat to the LDS adherence to temporal law.
And wouldn’t principled, active young people who are willing to sacrifice for social justice be the first candidates we would want to sign up for missionary service?