I’m thankful President Oaks publicly declared those ideas. I’m also thankful he focused on eternal principles throughout his remarks, especially the principle of moral agency. The Constitution certainly isn’t perfect, but it does support that society most free to exercise agency. Thus, we should all be defending our Constitution, despite its flaws and limitations.
Understand the threats to agency
President Oaks began his remarks by establishing his authority. A former clerk to the chief justice of the US Supreme Court, law professor, and justice on the Utah Supreme Court, he’s certainly more than amply qualified to have a platform.
But the qualification he listed last and “most important” intrigued me most. He’s been an Apostle of Jesus Christ for 37 years. As President Oaks described, that means he’s “responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”
Here he segues into a discussion of moral agency. God inspired the Founding Fathers to assemble a system of government that would maximize the exercise of moral agency. And as we know, agency is key in our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. Defending the Constitution therefore promotes God’s plan of happiness.
President Oaks then mentioned some of the threats to the undergirding principles of the Constitution. Said he,
The threats to the Constitution, and by extension to our Heavenly Father’s plan, are very real and very much growing.
Learn and perform your duty
So can we do about it? What should we do to defend the Constitution? President Oaks provides some answers. I love how he starts by encouraging optimism, declaring “we should trust in the Lord and be positive about this nation’s future.”
Founded in faith and positive thinking, we should pray for leaders in all nations and then seek to exercise a righteous influence civilly, peacefully, and legally. Also, in these divisive times, “we should seek to moderate and unify.”
These days, everyone loves to talk about their rights and what they’re entitled to receive. But few speak of their duties and what they should give. It’s people performing their duties that make the rights of all available. That’s why I applaud President Oaks in listing three duties every good citizen has.
That power-packed list reveals more I need to do to support the Constitution. And I love how President Oaks reiterated King Benjamin’s counsel not to do everything at once (Mosiah 4:27). We all have different seasons in life, and the combination of actions appropriate in one season may not be appropriate in another.
Get busy doing your part
Let’s truly celebrate Independence Day by defending our Constitution. Perhaps the best place for you to start is where I’m starting — by reading and becoming more familiar with the actual document itself. Or perhaps you need to consider running for a position in an upcoming election. Or maybe you need to call or email an elected official about a current issue.
What you do today may not be what you do tomorrow, but we should always be doing something. The threats to the Constitution President Oaks described have grown precisely because far too many of us have been doing nothing in civic life. We’ve been busy focusing on our careers, our loved ones, and our own lives, and enough responsible people have been so absorbed in that busyness that we’ve allowed irresponsible people to hold office.
The Constitution has imperfections, but one thing it does right is give ultimate power to the people. Let’s celebrate the birth of our nation by learning about and then committing to safeguard that power. And the best way to safeguard it is to exercise it civilly, peacefully, and legally. When we persist in so doing, we can enjoy the fruits of freedom to exercise the moral agency essential to God’s plan and preserve that gift for the next generation. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
I believe there is. Our enemies aren’t just people determined to act against our beliefs. “For,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We wrestle against the natural man and woman, our imperfections, and ourselves.
And yet the Lord’s command remains the same: Love your enemies. Though it may seem completely backwards, this path brings the greatest joys LDS singles can experience in their single years. And they can be yours when you love all your enemies.
Love your natural self
You’re thinking that’s totally crazy. How can we possibly love the natural man and woman when King Benjamin famously declared, “For the natural man [and woman] is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19)? And how could that possibly bring more joy to LDS singles?
The natural man and woman are indeed enemies to God, so I’m in no way proposing you love that aspect. I’m proposing you love your natural self, the person you really are inside.
You’re not just the product of evolutionary biology, although we all coexist with that aspect. You’re a beloved child of God with quirks — features of your personality and disposition that you’ve always had. They’re part of what makes you . . . well, you. But we often want to hide our quirks to fit in. We view them as an enemy.
The greatest joy in life comes from embracing all the right things for you. Of course, keeping the commandments and your covenants will always be among those right things. But there’s more that’s right for each of us. And your quirks — the unique expressions of who you naturally always have been, even before mortality — definitely qualify. So love your quirks and that part of your natural eternal self.
Love your imperfections
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to embrace your imperfections. That’s not what you’d normally hear from a booming self-improvement industry fueled by the assumption that tolerating imperfections equals acceptance of a miserable life, or at best a mediocre one.
Yet I’d never be a better man without my imperfections. It’s the struggle to overcome challenge that facilitates growth. My imperfections provide me with that challenge. My imperfections help me become my best self, and thus, they help me live my best life.
Your imperfections can likewise help you. I’m not suggesting you stop trying to eliminate your imperfections. By all means put them on the next bus, train, boat, or plane out of town. What I’m suggesting is your imperfections provide opportunity for the struggle that makes you your best you. And being your best self lets you live your best life.
But having your best life means loving yourself. Too often we don’t live the life we most want because we’re in our own way. The best way to get out of your own way and stay out of it is to love yourself.
Many singles yearn for the companion who’d make them not so single anymore. But they don’t love themselves — and by love I mean care for themselves the way God cares for them. We all broadcast our inner selves to others, who intuitively pick up those broadcasts. Others will sense if you don’t love yourself and want little if anything to do with you if you don’t, because they want to be loved, not used and certainly not despised.
In encouraging you to love yourself, I’m not suggesting you prioritize selfish desires. I’m suggesting you get good with you, that you sincerely love the deepest part of who you are, because that will then broadcast to others. And that can lead to joy you can’t have while you’re single.
So, yes, love all your enemies. Love your quirks that communicate your natural eternal self. Love your imperfections that provide opportunity for growth. And love yourself in the deepest part of who you really are. When you do, you’ll enjoy your single years more because you’ll embrace all the good they have to offer you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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