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Friday, November 2, 2012

MMM Sermons: A Prayer for the Children



by Saint Mark (bio)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call them "talks," but most (non)Christians call them sermons. This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine. Read previous MMM Sermons or watch this specific sermon.

When I was eight years-old, my parents had their last child, my only other sibling with whom I grew-up. He was baptized into the Lutheran church. I asked my parents why they didn't baptize me and they said because they wanted me to make my own decision regarding religion. Unfortunately, my brother's baptism was the only time that my family spoke of Christianity. I believe my parents baptized my brother more out of Catholic-remnants of fear of hell fire rather than a sincere desire to follow the Christ.

At any rate, I grew up a hellion. With no real moral compass, morality was like Mandarin Chinese to me: I did not understand a (moral) word. I eventually found my way to Christ but at what cost? Until I got baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my life was more Rated-R when I would rather it had been PG.

When I heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's sermon in April 2003 General Conference, it was like an exclamation point to the experience I had growing up. What was shocking to me, and still is, is that there are LDS parents who consciously choose to not speak about Jesus Christ to their kids or share their testimonies with them or just plain ignore the things of the spirit in exchange for the things of the world. What's even worse is when parents speak negatively about Christ, His teachings, and/or His church. Elder Holland spoke to this unfortunate phenomenon:
Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn’t want to stifle anyone’s freedom to think otherwise. No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don’t seem to know where to anchor their own boat.

To lead a child (or anyone else!), even inadvertently, away from faithfulness, away from loyalty and bedrock belief simply because we want to be clever or independent is license no parent nor any other person has ever been given. In matters of religion a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart, and analytical deconstruction in the field of, say, literary fiction can be just plain old-fashioned destruction when transferred to families yearning for faith at home.
How do you speak up and talk about religion with your kids? I didn't grow up with things of the spirit as part of the family conversation. I would appreciate your input.

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