To start my New Year's Blog about the Book of Mormon i feel it appropriate to document my feelings on Jesus Christ.  it's rather difficult to put into words.  Nick and i were having a conversation about this on christmas eve and i wish i'd just written everything i said at that time.  i will just have to do my best, i guess. :)
    Many times when i hear accounts of how people feel about Christ they focus on the atonement and the suffering he passed through and how he did it all for us.  The most poignant image i've had of this was when brother lund in "for all eternity" pointed out that when we go through the temple we do saving ordinances for one person at a time, and he felt like as Christ went through gethsemene he suffered one card at a time.  
    For me, though, my feelings about Christ result (maybe inappropriately?) on a time far far after that.  Allow me to try to explain:  When i was born, or even several months  before i was born, my mother worked very very hard to get me here and did her best to make sure i got here safely and healthy.  i can sympathize with this even more now that i've had my own child.  However, this is not why i love my mom.  i love her for everything that came after that.  for the spiritual, emotional and intellectual upbringing.  for the financial support and moral support.  for the understanding and the loving and the hugs and lessons and patience.  she was unwavering in her support of me.  incredible in her tolerance and her determination that i should always know how she loved me and that i would learn right from wrong no matter what.  i love her because she never gave up on me and continues to support me in every way she can and a mother a friend and a mentor.  
    Likewise, I love Christ for what he's been to me:  A brother, a friend, a mentor, he has supported me in my weakest moments.  he's comforted  me in my hardest moments.  he's made it possible for me to follow His path into eternity.  every step i take to follow him bring me blessings, and most steps bring me joy.  there are those which bring sorrow, but who knows light who has not seen the darkness?  while many think the path is hard, (and don't get me wrong, it isn't easy), i find my burdens to be light while i am following and obeying.  as i willingly adhere to the principles i'm so blessed to have been taught i am bouyed up in all things.  Because of Him i have the family i have - wonderful parents, siblings, a loving and doting husband and an amazing daughter.  How could i deny Him my decipleship when He sacrificed everything to pave my way to Eternal Life?  I know He lives.  He is MY savior, He is MY redeemer, He is MY brother and MY friend.  He is everything every prophet said He is and would be, and everything He Himself said he is and would be.  I owe him my life, all my material and spiritual blessings, and my allegiance for eternity.  That is my testimony of Christ and I share it with everyone in His Name, amen.
 
 
For the past few nights i've been lying awake thinking about things i've been wanting to say in this blog post.  two years ago i couldn't wait until november elections because then i thought all the fighting over proposition 8 would be done because one majority would rule and that would be that.  i know what you're thinking.  how very naive!  ever since then i think this topic has been debated endlessly in every venue and through every medium imaginable.  lately i've just been stewing and stewing about the fact that this issue and arguments on both sides seem to have gotten so out of control and off the mark!  i think both sides are being stubborn and intolerant of the others' beliefs. 
may i take a moment here to just state what my beliefs are as pertaining to marriage:
  I do strongly believe that marriage should always be defined as between an man and a woman.  I believe this because when Heavenly Father created this world what was one of the very first things he did when the sixth day came?  According to Genesis, chapter 1 verses 27 and 28 he created them male and female and told them to be fruitful and replenish the earth.  Also in the 2nd chapter of genesis verses 20-25 he talks about creating Eve as a help meet for adam and said they were man and wife. 
Leviticus 18 verse 22 is also very explicit about God's opinion of the matter.  Anyway, in a nutshell I hold strong to the belief that marriage should be only between a man and a woman first and foremost because I feel i have no right to assume that God is flexible in this area.  I believe that marriage is one of the first things he instituted when the world was created and it is not to be tampered with. 
  That being said, I also believe that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."  (see D&C 18:10) and that no one has the right to treat another human being poorly, rudely, or unfairly.  We should be kind to each other.  We should be honest with each other.  It is amazing how tolerant we can be of certain sins and how intolerant of others. 
  It also amazes me how much we generalize!  If someone lies to you, do you consider every person of that race/gender/religion/age/position a liar?  not usually, but how easy it can be in other areas to assume things!  for example, i spent last summer in Pennsylvania.  I had the pleasure of meeting a few Amish and Menonite people.  Having never met any of these faiths before I was delighted with the behavior of one woman in a shop i went to.  i went on to say to my sister-in-law how nice i thought the Menonites were, just from that one encounter!  I'm glad she wasn't rude.  what if i had been ready to judge all those of her faith by one person?  Likewise, though, i see this in my own religion.  often many can be judged by the acts of a few.  but i have gone off on a tanget!
  Now that i've made my position on marriage known i want to say a few words about how i feel about the gay community.  I have never in my life had a friend who is gay who has treated me with any disrespect (not to say that there aren't some out there who can be disrespectful, but this is not a quality of being gay, it is a quality of being human).  on the contrary some of my dearest and most beloved friends have been gay.  the thing is, i've never thought my friends were defined by their sexual orientations.  i've always thought that people were people.  man, woman, black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, old, young... i always would rather define them by their gifts and talents.  one was a superb violinist, the other a piano player, and another a fabulous artist.  I also would NEVER say that someone's sexual orientation would condemn them.  I believe that a person CAN choose to be gay, but i firmly believe that most who are haven't become so by choice.  If you share my faith i think it would be important to understand that it's not where the tendency came from, but what you do with it that matters.  and whether or not you share my faith i know that we were put on this earth to make OUR OWN CHOICES whether they be good choices or bad choices we much each act according to our own conscience.  in short i don't feel i have the right to condemn or exalt anyone.  that judgment lies strictly in the hands of God. 
  Phew.  sorry i'm so long-winded!  The question i have then is this:  what on earth can be done?  How do we solve this?  right now it seems we are fighting intolerance with intolerance - those who believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized are not tolerant who those who oppose it.  their religious beliefs don't seem to be that important... it seems that when we say we believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman what is heard is 'we hate all gay people' and perhaps they even hear 'you don't deserve the same rights and happiness as straight people.' at least for my part, this is not what i mean at all.  i mean exactly as i say.  marriage should be between a man and a woman.  as far as rights go, is there a way to afford rights to those who wish to enter into a homosexual committed relationship without calling it marriage?  (forgive me if my phraseology is poor... i hope you can understand what i meant by that last sentence). 
  Turning around and batting for the other team, and correct me if i'm wrong in any of my assumptions here, but when they say that they want to legalize gay marriage do we sometimes hear 'we are going to infringe on all of your religious rights to get what we want!'?  i think maybe we do which is why oftentimes i see this whole debate as one massive miss-communication!  obviously every american citizen should be privy to equal rights.  this is something we should have worked out decades ago! 
  So again i ask, what can be done?  how can we be fair about this?  how can we make sure tolerance works both ways?  another issue not regarding marriage, but still very much involving human rights is that of homosexual teenagers being bullied.  again here's an instance where intolerance has been fought with intolerance.  (obviously not always at the same time) but imagine both sides of the fence here - one homosexual teen can do nothing and still get bullied and beaten just for being gay but at the same time i've known cases where the opposite happens and in their demand for acceptance the gay teen can oppress others and be rude to them just because they think they might not be accepted.  obviously neither approach is correct.  i still don't understand why we can't see people as people?  whatever happened to the golden rule?  i love it when i still see this one put into practice.  not everyone is a bully and not every situation is dire.  i think there are many that possibly have found that middle ground and they say you can believe what you believe and i can believe what i believe, and even though the two beliefs are completely opposite, we can still be friends.  or even if they can't be friends they can at least be civil and accepting. 
  So how do we help people understand?  is there a solution?  can the 'non-gay' community and the 'gay' community learn to live together?  can the bullying because someone's gay be stopped?  can the 'i'm gay and you'd better DAMN well accept me or else' attitude be stifled?  More importantly, what can i do?