The temple has been re-opened in Tonga. Let me just say, I love temples; everything about the temple has already brought a joy to my life I never thought I would have. Performing temple work for my ancestors has restored unity in my family; something I never dreamed would happen. Seeing that a temple has been re-opened for the Tongan people is wonderful news, and I'm sure that the members in Tonga are overjoyed.
I was talking to a friend of mine today, who happens to be a member of the Church. He was joking and telling stories about his relationship with his (non-member) girlfriend. He carried on long enough and in such a way that I became concerned. In response to his remarks, I reminded him that if he chooses to date, he needs to be protective of that girl's virtue, if not more reverent about it. Regardless of whether or not she is a member of the Church, he needs to respect her enough to do that for her. Our conversation continued, progressing to tithing. He made a comment that he hadn't paid his tithing in over 3 years, and my brow furrowed. I asked him if his bishop knew. He said that he tells his bishop that he doesn't pay his tithing in every interview, and his bishops always says, "Now you get that taken care of," and then allows my friend to go to the temple to perform baptisms. I sighed, and ended the conversation. I didn't have the heart to hear any more.
I imagine the brothers and sisters in Tonga; how grateful they must be to once again have the Lord's sacred house open in their country. Before the temple was built, members would have been required to travel to New Zealand, or one of the other surrounding island nations that are also fortunate to have even one temple. I think of the Tongan members that might not have been able to afford such travel expenses, and how their spiritual growth was impeded because of circumstances beyond their control. In all honesty, I don't want to fathom how frustrating that would be.
And I don't have to. A trip to the Washington DC temple requires a drive that takes less than two hours. The trip is usually made in large groups with air-conditioned vehicles. And yet there are youth like my friend that have the experience all but given to him. He does not live entirely worthy to have the experience, nor does he intend to improve. He takes his spiritual decay upon himself, and I am just baffled.
I have been on the Bloggernacle long enough to know that a variety of opinions exist regarding the temple. I've read the personal narratives of both men and women that resent everything about the temple, and many things about the Church. I would hate to think that I am looking into the future of my friend every time I read those narratives. As a child of God, he deserves so much more than he is providing for himself, as do the authors of that writing.
I would urge us all to remember the youth of our branches and wards, whether they are our children or not. As someone who sees the other side of the Youth of Zion, I can honestly say that they falter in ways that are painful to watch on a daily basis. But there has to be something we all can do so that things don't have to be this way. Are there others in your ward or branch that also falter? Is there anything you can do to help? Could helping them be as easy as asking if all is well, and listening to them voice their needs? And if helping wasn't that easy, would you still try?
It makes sense that the temples, the house of the Lord, should be so central in the lives of humanity. They represent the home we left, and the eternal home that should mean more to us than anything. They are houses of order and peace that are meant to reaffirm to us that our Heavenly Father loves us all. Are we doing enough to take ourselves there, and to bring our friends and neighbors with us?
How many lives have to be lost, how many hearts have to break, before we will stand up and say, "No more," and take action?
Originally posted on Waters of Mormon
September 29, 2007
September 29, 2007