The other day I was walking around the middle of Melbourne and on two opposite corners there were two groups of people. On one corner were a few men of the Islamic faith handing out pamphlets and talking to people. On the other were two people with loud-speakers condemning the men on the other side of the street to hell in the name of Jesus. I was quite saddened by what I saw. As a Christian I must say I felt a little embarrassed about how these people were putting down our Muslim brothers.
I see it on the Internet everyday, when I go out in the street, hear it in conversations and see it in the media. I really don't like it when people decide that someone else is doctrinally wrong and they need to bring them down. I don't see a problem with discussion about religion; I quite often talk to those of other faiths about issues of doctrine and by the end I usually feel uplifted by it. But I think that those who follow a faith and discuss their beliefs with those of another aren't really the root of this issue. There are, course like I saw in the street, exceptions to this but I feel that in Australia there is a general fear or dislike towards religion.
I was speaking to a Stake President (leader of a a number of congregations in the LDS Church) over the weekend about a few things. He mentioned that he had met with a member of parliament to discuss some important issues facing the church and they started down an interesting tangent. He mentioned that they spoke about how most people in Australia followed a faith of some description 30 years ago and now those who follow some kind of religious belief is sharply declining and those who actively participate is a smaller fraction of that again. Furthermore they reflected about how much the morality within society has degraded within that time as well.
Now as someone in their twenties, I don't really have much to compare with but I do realise how easy it is to lower standards. I have been a part of that myself, I think everyone has at some stage. But what matter is how we take that and move forward. Do we accept our drop and continue, or do we strive to improve and pick up what we lack? This Stake President mentioned in his address to the larger group that night that in previous generations had to look for and out effort into doing things which degrade morality. You had to sneak around and keep things secret to avoid embarrassment. Now you don't have to hide it, you can simply speak about your activities and sometime your don't even have too leave your house to commit immoral acts. Society is changing but the truth of the matter is, the standards of righteous living set by The Lord don't change.
Two weeks ago, Elder L. Tom Perry said the following:
Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.
God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws. As Alma counseled his errant son Corianton, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Elder L. Tom Perry - Obedience to Law Is Liberty, April 2013
His words are strong but ring true. The only way which we can truly be free and partake in real happiness is to be obedient to the law which The Lord has revealed. I know that when we do, you can really feel it. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from following it all of the time but I do my best. It's hard to keep going sometimes and taking the path of least resistance can seem like the easier option but when we strive to keep the commandments we receive assistance from The Lord.