Saturday, July 26, 2014


Elder Marin J. Ashton taught:

"[The scribes and Pharisees] brought unto Him the woman taken in adultery. These enemies … tried to trick Him. They sat her in the midst as an exhibit, as a sinner, as someone unclean. He didn’t flee from her presence. … She was taken in adultery—in the very act. There was no doubt about her guilt. They were setting Him up in what appeared to be an impossible situation. Moses’s law says to stone her. 'What sayest thou?' [John 8:5] they asked, tempting Him, trapping Him—putting Him in a no-win position.

"Whatever He said, He would be accused of wrongdoing, wrong judgment. They were tempting Him to see if they could get Him to lose His patience and forget who He was. Stoning her would be cruel. Ignoring her would be wrong. … He stooped down and wrote on the ground as though He heard them not (getting their attention and preparing everyone within earshot to be taught). … And while it was silent, they continued asking. I can hear the questions of mischief: 'C’mon, say something. We’ve got you. Are you afraid to answer?' But Jesus was in charge. …

"Jesus lifted up Himself, in humble and meek majesty, and said these most powerful words: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her' [John 8:7]. A perfect answer from a perfect person.

"Today in our responsibilities, situations, and callings, we need to be reminded of this over and over again. In our dealings with all people, let him who is without sin be the first to criticize or find fault or belittle. … He stooped down and wrote on the ground. They heard what He said. They felt the impact of His silence of spirit while He said nothing. Convicted by their own conscience, they left on their own, not driven away. They went out one by one—not to find stones but to nurse their spiritual wounds.

"He was left alone with the woman. I’m glad that’s recorded. Some of us are inclined to avoid being with those who have fallen. … He said, 'Where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?' [John 8:10]. … Jesus Christ took time to ask and to listen. Oh, if we could do more of that! Our answers would be so easy, so much improved. …

"The woman taken in adultery answered the Lord’s question regarding her accusers by saying, 'No man, Lord.' And then this powerful declaration came: 'Go, and sin no more' [John 8:11]. The Master was teaching in that day and also teaching in this very hour. His great message: despise the sin, but love the sinner. I hope that can give us strength and confidence and a closer relationship to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not condone adultery. He gave the woman love instead of an authoritative lecture. She and the accusers needed a lesson in love. The situation called for mercy and compassion. How rewarding it is to know that Jesus believed that man is greater than all of his sins. Is it any wonder He was referred to as the 'Good Shepherd'? He loved all of His sheep whether they were strays, hungry, helpless, cold, or lost."

I graduated from BYU-I in April. I loved the time I spent at school and I will forever treasure my memories and experiences there. Graduating though has brought me much relief.

BYU-I is a church sponsored institution, meaning that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints subsidizes costs for those who attend using tithing funds. Tuition is super cheap because of this.

All Church schools have an "Honor Code" that students agree to live by:

Current and former Presidents of BYU-I have made their own unique additions to the Honor Code that are not present at other Church sponsored institutions. The most widely known:

*No shorts or sweats on campus
*No flip-flops
*Fitness center uniform

My very first semester of college I attended BYU in Provo. The only time I ever heard about the Honor Code was during my initial welcome to campus tour on my first day. People aren't encouraged to rat out each other and they aren't all up in each other's business. Students were treated like adults because they were now in college.

On the flip side you have BYU-I. The Honor Code is shoved down your throat multiple times a day. Every. Single. Day. The administration posts propaganda with #I Honor It posters everywhere. Students are encouraged to micromanage each other and report any rule breakers.

This extremely rigid mentality permeates from the administration and has carried over into ecclesiastical leaders who are over the student wards. I've spoken to countless individuals who are good people who just made mistakes but are afraid to go to their bishop because they don't want to be thrown out of school. Put your education in jeopardy or live with guilt for a couple of years? The choices suck. 

Dallin H. Oaks said "To be righteous, an intermediate judgment must be within our stewardship. We should not presume to exercise and act upon judgments that are outside our personal responsibilities. Some time ago I attended an adult Sunday School class in a small town in Utah. The subject was the sacrament, and the class was being taught by the bishop. During class discussion a member asked, 'What if you see an unworthy person partaking of the sacrament? What do you do?' The bishop answered, 'You do nothing. I may need to do something.' That wise answer illustrates my point about stewardship in judging."

It feels like most people fake smiles and pretend to be perfect without a fault or flaw. No one would ever dare admit to making mistakes or being imperfect because that risks exposing that you're human and capable of flaw. Doing dangerous stuff like that could get you sent home. 

"A standard can be unrighteous because it is too harsh—the consequences are too severe for the gravity of the wrong and the needs of the wrongdoer. I remember a conversation with an LDS newspaperwoman who described what happened when she reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the golden plates in 1826, a mistake of one year from the actual date of 1827. She said she received about 10 phone calls from outraged Latter-day Saints who would not accept her admission of error and sincere apology and even berated her with abusive language. I wonder if persons who cannot handle an honest mistake without abusing the individual can stand up to having their own mistakes judged by so severe a standard." (Dallin H. Oaks)

Many argue that those who have broken the Honor Code that they've agreed to live by deserve to be thrown out. No one is perfect but the Savior. We all make mistakes. It's outrageous to think that this doctrine is not applicable because the Honor Code is above it. The Honor Code IS NOT doctrine. My allegiance shouldn't be to a code or to a university. It should be to God. #I Honor It, #I Honor Him. 

Moving to Houston and attending my new singles ward was something I approached apprehensively. I didn't know anyone. I would be the newest addition to the ward, one the girls would be deciding if I was worth pursing and guys sizing me up as a threat or not. 

From the get-go everyone I met in my new ward was super friendly and welcoming. People were almost overly nice. In my pessimism I dismissed it as a bunch of fake judgmental Molly Mormons and Peter Priesthoods who had never been through a hard thing in their lives.

As time progressed and allowed me to get to know individuals beyond a superficial level, I've been forced to eat my judgements and see what incredible people surround me.

Unlike Idaho where largely it felt like a facade that people maintained to remain in school, ward members here are genuine saints. I've met and heard stories about a recovering alcoholic, a divorcee, a prodigal son who at one point fronted a heavy metal screamo band, another young man covered in tattoos from a previous life, a worthy priesthood holder who privately struggles with same sex attraction, and a young repentant woman who struggles with the law of chastity.

These wonderful, stalwart, incredible people do not just talk about the gospel, they live it. They know what it means to have and use the atonement. They believe and have faith in the Savior because THEY KNOW HIM from countless hours pleading with him on their knees. No one here is perfect and they don't pretend to be. They all truly love and believe in the gospel and enjoy learning and growing in it. They are all on different stages of the journey of life, but they are all trying to do better and make good choices.

The Church was never supposed to be a building full of perfect people who cannot make mistakes, the Church is meant to have imperfect real people struggling and learning in the gospel together.

Our devotion and faith should be something we do for ourselves because we love the Savior and want to do what's right, not because we feel compelled out of fear.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf addresses all of this perfectly:

"We have all seen a toddler learn to walk. He takes a small step and totters. He falls. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.

"Now, brethren, compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and, dear brethren, that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.

"I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying."

#I Honor It #I Honor Him