The events of the last couple of weeks have caused many to declare where they stand on an explosive issue: race. I could make this post short and declare as the prophet did this last week: “Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!”
I was banned mercifully again from Twitter a couple of weeks ago before all hell broke loose, so I’m simply planning on vomiting my thoughts here about everything going on. Do your best to sort through it all, then call me a racist when you’re finished.
My White Privilege
The clamor of “white privilege” isn’t new… the term has been floating around for years. Apparently, I was born with an advantage in this life simply because of my skin color. I guess I missed the memo the day I vomited all over the grocery store floor because it had been so long since I’d eaten – when a family friend met us late one night to buy us a sandwich at the deli, I couldn’t hold down my food. I was four.
White privilege missed me when I slept on a pull-out couch with five of my siblings for a year and a half in a rat-infested motel room. I was in fourth grade.
One day, I was riding home from school on the bus and I told my best friend I had the feeling we were going to be moving soon. He turned to me and said, “I think you’re moving today.” He pointed outside where all our belongings were on the lawn. I was 12. It was one of the 39 times we moved before my 17th birthday.
There are people who have had it much worse than I have, of every race and creed. Moving around as much as I have, I’ve met more than my share of people in this life. I witnessed some terrible conditions first-hand while serving a mission in Mexico. I’ve often said that my “privilege” was having a two-parent family, despite all the challenges we faced. The world would have applauded my mother and father for giving up… which ironically would have only exasperated whatever trials we faced.
The problem with our society nowadays, and really the human condition from the time of Adam, is the need people have for lumping individuals into groups and casting each tribe as all good or all bad.
- “All white people are privileged”
- “All black people are criminals”
- “All police engage in brutality”
- “All Republicans are racists”
- “All Progressives are faithless”
The problem with making rash generalizations is humans are complicated. In reality, nobody is all good or all bad. “The natural man is an enemy of God” and it is in every person’s nature to deviate course, fall down, make mistakes, sin, and offend our Heavenly Father, our fellow man, and the laws of nature. Because people are complicated, there will always be exceptions to the generalizations and stereotypes, even from individual to individual. I could come up with a hundred examples of how I fit the mold and a hundred ways I break it; of course, I will always name the exceptions when one attempts to fit me into a box. Thus, the always vaunted and elusive “conversations” never happen. Stereotypes by their very nature are offensive as we all take pride in our unique individuality.
The Plan of Lucifer was a Lie
The real problem, however, is these generalizations are the world’s method of subverting The Plan of Salvation. I won’t be saved and I won’t be judged for the virtues or sins of another. We aren’t collectively judged, and we aren’t collectively saved. I have plenty of sins of my own to account for without being held responsible for things I haven’t done or are out of my control.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.Second Article of Faith
We all know about the War in Heaven prior to the Creation of the world – it was brought about by Lucifer’s desire to have God’s throne and glory. He offered to save all mankind – guaranteed. Not only was his offer rejected by our Father, but the plan was also a lie. We are condemned for our words and deeds, but also our thoughts. While he may have tied us up and shut our mouths, it wasn’t possible for us to be saved without a sacrifice – which is exactly what he wanted.
Not only could we not have been saved, but we would not have made the necessary growth to return to our Father in Heaven. We would have gained a body but without the pains and joys of using it. In fact, how could we have procreated while being tied up and having our agency and free will taken from us?
The lie wasn’t just Lucifer’s plan not working but in every aspect of his narrative. He is fully in control of the world and the narratives we hear on a daily basis. It is simply a continuation of the war which has waged since our pre-mortal life. There are too many Latter-day Saints that aren’t recognizing this when they should. An example of this is “fairness.” Let’s discuss.
True Fairness is Justice
Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.
We aren’t guaranteed outcomes. Not in this life, not even in the next. There are many mansions and three degrees of glory after the judgment. There are no equal outcomes. There. Are. No. Equal. Outcomes. Nobody will experience the same life I did or you did. It wasn’t meant to be. I needed to learn different lessons from you. Only trusting an all-knowing God can help us come to terms with this.
The world’s doctrine of fairness requires equal outcomes. This impossible utopia requires the taking of free will and ironically consolidates power in the few, just as Satan himself wanted. Even in this imaginary world where everyone is the same, someone(s) seizes the power. Don’t be fooled. Lucifer is still fighting the same war.
The Lord invites all to partake of eternal life:
…he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
Is our best opportunity to accept Christ in this life, or until the next? Are we born in the land of the free, or in a remote third world country where the Gospel was never preached? Are we born black or white, rich or poor? The Lord knows what we needed. We are all created in His likeness and image. The true racism and prejudice is denying that fact. We will all confess that we had our best opportunity and declare His judgments just! That is the true doctrine of fairness.
Political Ideology as an Impediment
For the first several years of our marriage, my wife wouldn’t discuss immigration policy with me. She knew where I stood as a life-long conservative. She agreed with me for the most part politically, but couldn’t square my thoughts on immigration – particularly where my father was an immigrant as well as she being one herself.
As the debate over DACA began to rage while President Obama was in office, we naturally had the tough conversations. My wife has family members who benefited from the “Dreamer” program which I opposed ideologically. When my wife asked how I could possibly oppose it, I pointed to the same problem we have in making a new blanket classification. We were now debating whether individuals were “good” or “bad” based on the newly titled status of Dreamer. She could point to the good examples in her family, while I could open the paper and point to bad examples. Why not make judgment calls on an individual basis, rather than finding more divisions?
This was a particularly sore point of contention at the time. We attended a Spanish ward for about six years. There was an outspoken member of the ward from Guatemala who loved to reign praise on the President while calling everyone a racist who dared disagree with him. It was only possible to disagree with him if you were a racist, don’t ya know? When I told my wife the fundamental problems with not judging Dreamers on an individual basis, but rather as a group, she affirmed I wasn’t as racist as she originally thought 🙂
Last year, my bishop approached me about representing the ward in some discussions about forming a Spanish group in the stake. When the Stake President gave my bishop the assignment he said, “you’re sending Brother Turner, aren’t you?” My bishop chuckled and nodded.
We had a Spanish branch in the stake that was disbanded in 2017, so a couple of years had passed, and Hispanic attendance dwindled to a handful of people. The letter we had received from the area authority indicated such disbandment would never be approved again and we were tasked with figuring out how best to put the group together again.
We lived in a particularly conservative area of Western Washington, and I recall sitting in those meetings and hearing some familiar “right-wing” talking points. “They need to assimilate and learn the language – it will help them better economically and in the church as they are comfortable making new friends.”
I spoke up – as I was tasked to do, as my bishop and I were of one mind on the issue – “With all due respect, I agree with your ideological viewpoint, but the brethren have stated we are to form the Spanish group. While it is nice to see people prosper economically and socially, the primary mission of the church is to bring souls to Christ.”
When I received some push back about the need to help people learn the language, I responded, “We’ve given it two years, and they didn’t learn the language and they stopped coming to church.” It is a mistake many on all sides of the political spectrum make, trying to fit our ideology into the scriptures and visa versa. This conversation was around helping people to be self-reliant at the expense of souls, while the progressive will argue for funneling church wealth away from temples and other spiritual building blocks in favor of temporal blessings. They are two sides of the same coin – favoring the world and shortsightedness over eternal blessings.
Having an ideological view of public policy isn’t a bad thing as long as we keep it in the right place. Understanding the difference between public policy and ministering helps us separate our political ideology from our eternal perspective. It is the government’s role to protect its citizens by promoting freedom (not taking away our God-given free will) and inflicting consequences for when we break laws designed to protect us and our fellow man.
We as individuals are called as disciples, to minister as Christ demonstrated during his time on earth. He left the 99 to seek after the one. A democracy, by definition, is designed to provide for the most benefit to the 99 while protecting the rights of the one. As Latter-day Saints, we minister to the individual, we bless the individual, we seek after the lonely, we preach and send out missionaries to the most remote areas looking for the individual, and we do temple work for each and every soul, both living and dead.
Individual Rights vs. Civil Rights
The Constitution was made to avoid the pitfalls of consolidating power in the hands of the few. Public policy ultimately will err on moving things forward which has the greatest benefit to the most. At the same time, the Founders knew our rights come as individuals and come from God. They safeguarded individuals by ratifying the Bill of Rights. King Mosiah recognized the wisdom in a government much like the one we’re governed under now. It isn’t perfect, but it is the best we have in a fallen world.
The movement for Civil Rights, while noble in ensuring each individual retains their God-given rights, has become a collectivist movement. It has become a movement seeking for rights that aren’t God-given, but world contrived. We are not a democracy, but we are fast reaching the point Mosiah warned:
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.
The government can promote civil rights as public policy to ensure the protection of individuals. The problem is “civil rights” as a blanket policy groups people together; if individuals are complicated in their moral and immoral character, the complications are infinite when labeling swaths of people together. We can’t even agree now as a society that all cops aren’t bad, all whites aren’t racist, and all blacks aren’t disadvantaged. But it is now required for us to agree or disagree completely with blanket statements. The culture is broken.
Speaking of broken… people are now kneeling to other people in a show of “solidarity.” Mostly it is virtue-signaling and recognizing their “privilege.” It is being done mostly by the godless, people who need to believe in something and have replaced faith in the Omnipotent with faith in their secular cult. Ironically, they think kneeling is atoning for their original sin of being white. They’ve replaced Christ in every sense of their lives without realizing it.
It’s disgusting. I bet Christ wished He could have simply knelt to atone for the sins of the world. He pleaded with our Father to have the bitter cup removed, that he not drink. We are asked to repent for our own sins, not to atone for the sins of others, including our own ancestors. Kneeling to a stranger on the streets for no other reason than for the color of their skin is racism, and in no way is it sincere repentance.
Every knee will bow. Choose wisely who you’re kneeling to.
Only Christ Can Heal
Tying it all together: Only Jesus Christ can heal our divides. Only He can heal our individual souls. Only He knows the pain I’ve been through, the pain you’ve been through, the pain we’ve been through. He has felt the pain of the single mother, the pain of the impoverished black child in the ghettos, the pain of losing a friend, the pain of the person suffering a debilitating disease, the pain of the wretched sinner experiencing the pains of hell.
Everyone is screaming to be listened to, to be understood. He is listening. He understands. To Him, all lives matter and every soul is precious. He is waiting for us to turn to Him, each one individually. He can heal you. He can heal me. He can heal us.