Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wife Rule #125: Why I Love Your Mother (to my children) -- Chapter One: Truth and Law

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
--David O. McKay

My children, I love you. And in so doing, yes, I love your mother too. I could list, and in these Wife Rules I have listed, many of the reasons why I love your mother like I do.

Your mother is kind. Her feelings of sympathy and compassion have been manifest countless times in the tender way in which she has interacted with you; in the way that she prays for those in need, and then rises from her knees to serve them; in the way that she truly "mourns with those that mourn, and comforts those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9).

Your mother is unfailingly unselfish. She has placed her life on the line to bring each of you into the world. She has devoted the best energy and hours of her day to serve you; to wash you; to clothe you; to feed you; and to clean up after you. She gives most of what time and energy are left to me, and is a wonderful companion and the best comfort and friend I could have.

Your mother is tremendously talented. Her mind is capable of understanding the finest art and literature; the mysteries of science; the logic of mathematics; the economy of running a complicated and busy household; the events--and their implications--of the world around us; and for appreciating and integrating the best, most beautiful aspects this world has to offer into our home and family.

Your mother is virtuous. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10). The virtue of her soul and the integrity of her heart shine from her eyes and set her countenance aglow; they add to the physical beauty of her person and give her a luminance worthy of the angels. And indeed, I feel that I can trust her with my very life and soul, as I can the angels. I have placed my complete confidence in her, putting "all my eggs in one basket" in entering into an eternal quest with her as my wife. Her virtue is her greatest strength and should be prized and emulated by her children.

There are a hundred other reasons that I love her, and a hundred other ways that she has enriched my life, but I won't list any more of them now. You know many of these already, and if you observe her demeanor and actions carefully, the rest will manifest themselves. My point in what I am writing now is something far more important; for without it, all her kindness, unselfishness, talents, and virtues would ultimately not have much of an eternal impact on my life.

There is, underlying all these gifts your mother possesses, an order in the universe that gives far more meaning to the feelings of love we share. This order, this truth, is eternal. Before you can hope to make sense of the wonder of eternity, or even the limited scope of the world we know now, it is essential for you to understand the truth.

I will do my best here to explain the truth to you, at least as well as I understand it myself, using my own words and the words of others. Please keep in mind that this explanation is coming from your father's very limited mind and heart, and may be filtered or distorted by my own life's experiences and prejudices. Please remember that to whatever extent my words happen to conflict with the revealed word of God, whether revealed in the past or yet to be in the future, to that extent I am wrong. But despite my weakness, I believe that I have something of value--in fact, of tremendous value--that has grown in my heart from small seeds that were planted when I was only your age, which have been carefully nurtured and cultivated until they have grown into a mighty force which governs my life now. I very badly want to paint a picture for you of what I know, to give you a glimpse into the lens through which I see and interpret life and the world around me. To me now, as a husband and father, a son and brother, it is a more beautiful view than I could ever have imagined, with a scope that extends far beyond the highest mortal vistas; a grand hope and anticipated--and actualized--joy that reaches through time and touches the far places in eternity.

There does exist absolute, nonnegotiable truth. The world, through both willful and unwitting ignorance, will tell you that this is not so, but the world is wrong. Truth exists, the "fairest gem that the riches of worlds can produce" (John Jaques, Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 272). What use is there in believing in fables or false systems that lead to dead-ends? Truth is real; truth is eternal; truth is unchanging; truth is not subject to popular opinion and does not modify itself for your convenience or circumstances. Truth is the one, the only, solid thing to grasp onto in a tumultuous sea of philosophy and sophistry.

Whether you know the truth does not change the truth. Whether you choose to believe the truth does not change the truth. All true principles are as eternal as God himself is (and yes, it is true that we have a God). God neither creates nor destroys these principles; He proclaims the truth of them and lays them out in a pattern and plan that we can understand. This plan is called the Plan of Salvation, and these principles of truth are called eternal law.

Lehi the prophet explained about eternal law this way:

"And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away" (2 Nephi 2:13).

You will notice, my children, that the foundation of all existence is law. This may seem surprising to you, since we know that God created all things, but if you stop to think about it, it makes sense. Law is like a line drawn in the sand; without the line there could be no left nor right of the line. Law defines the "opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11) upon which all creation hangs (see verses 11 and 12). From eternal law flows the definitions of sin and righteousness, of happiness and misery, and without these concepts, God's status as God would not mean anything. God himself follows eternal laws; for example, He loves His children and always does what is best for us; He is unselfish and unfailingly kind; He embodies virtue and holiness. He cannot break these laws, such as the law of justice, or He would "cease to be God" (Alma 42:13).

The false, imaginary gods of the world that are conjured up in men's minds (and have no basis in truth) follow no such laws. The legends about them show them to be as foolish and fickle as the men who invented them, rendering them completely unable to engender any true faith. They do not look out for the welfare of men, but serve their own selfish purposes. Beware of any system of belief that bows to any god besides the one, true God, the God of truth.

The prophet Joseph Smith taught that true faith must include a "correct idea of [God’s] character, perfections, and attributes" (Lectures on Faith [1985], 38). This makes perfect sense; any faith founded upon false principles or looking to a false concept of God will eventually be shown to be powerless.

Joseph Smith also taught that "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 343). Having a correct understanding of who God is, what He is like, and why and how He interacts with us is the key to comprehending our own existence, and the key to comprehending why I love your mother more than any other person or thing on earth.

Part one of a twelve-chapter essay. Read more: Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 | Ch 10 | Ch 11 | Epilogue