How I finally learned tolerance from the Prophet

This is a post by Skyler Smith, who is basically just awesome. Awesome at computers, climbing, and being married.

During conference I felt a theme pop out from small parts of the talks from the brethren. It probably wasn’t too prevalent, but became immediately relevant to me in my circumstance. It gave me the resolve: I need to be more accepting.

Elder Packer started off the conference, and as he began to give his testimony at the end of his talk he said these words:

“The scriptures teach us ‘that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.’

Alma taught that ‘the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.’ In order to understand this, we must separate the sin from the sinner.”

Something that will always impress me is how I can hear something my whole life, and it means something more every time I read it! I was touched.

I thought on this throughout the rest of my work day (oh the joys of working retail!) and left work just in time to make it to the Priesthood session on Saturday night. Elder Uchtdorf stole the show. In his “Four Titles” talk he said:

“Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other.

It … contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all its far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences.”

You don’t just walk away from something like that. It’s like I’ve wanted to know this my whole life, but never took the time to actually decide that it’s what I believe! My mind immediately raced back seven years to my missionary service in Guatemala – where I would try to correct groups, even sometimes congregations, on how they were singing the hymns. “Technically, the rhythm goes like THIS, not THAT.” Oh how na├»ve I was! Certainly they were getting more out of those hymns than I was at the time.

But now I feel I understand the gospel of Jesus Christ at least a little bit more. It shouldn’t matter to me if someone believes, acts, or votes differently than me. Especially since others are probably striving to do the best they can just as much as I am. Who’s to say my way of thinking is actually better than theirs?

I’ll end these thoughts with part of President Monson’s closing remarks:

“We are a worldwide Church, brothers and sisters. Our membership is found across the globe. I admonish you to be good citizens of the nations in which you live and good neighbors in your communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as your own. May we be tolerant of, as well as kind and loving to, those who do not share our beliefs and our standards. The Savior brought to this earth a message of love and goodwill to all men and women. May we ever follow His example.”

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