How would you feel if you walked out to your mailbox today and found a letter from an apostle? What would it be like to find out he has decided to visit and wanted to tell you some important things to help prepare you and your family for his arrival?
The book of Romans is a letter that Paul wrote to the Saints in Rome near the end of his missionary journeys. He wrote the Saints to prepare them for his upcoming visit, to clarify and reinforce his teachings, and to promote unity among the Jewish and Gentile members of the Church. Rome, being at the center of the Roman Empire, was steeped in worldly and secular ideologies, presenting a formidable environment for spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ. Sadly, “some Gentile Christians sought to excuse immoral or sinful behavior by emphasizing God’s mercy and ignoring His perfect justice” (see New Testament Seminary & Institute Manual).
Yet despite facing this difficult task, Paul was a special witness of Jesus Christ and he loved the people. He wanted do everything he could to help these members of the Church unite in living righteously amidst the great moral wickedness of Rome. He taught them how hold firmly onto Christ’s atoning sacrifice, flee from all forms of sexual immorality and become a holier people.
Today, prophets and apostles teach the same message from Christ’s doctrine out of deep love and concern for all of God’s beloved children:
“The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. However, that should never be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down. …
“The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and behavior. While maintaining that feelings and inclinations toward the same sex are not inherently sinful, engaging in homosexual behavior is in conflict with the ‘doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture … that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children’ (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and “First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage“; “Same-Sex Attraction).
Indeed, our Heavenly Father’s plan is one of endless happiness. He wants to do everything He can to help us because of love. The words of apostles, both ancient and modern, guide us in taking important steps toward Jesus Christ by teaching us how to “rejoice in hope” (Romans 5:2) and “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Art: Yongsung Kim