In Matthew’s chapter 19 is recorded Jesus’ confrontations with the pharisees, but also the young man, who was rich, and who asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ answer that he should keep the commandments, provoked the question, which?
Jesus enumerated prohibitions against murder, adultery, stealing and lying. Then he said that honoring one’s parents was also a commandment, as well as loving our neighbor as ourselves. The young man said he had kept these all from his childhood, what more could he do? Jesus then told him to go and sell his possessions and donate the proceeds to the poor. At this, the young man went away sorrowful; he had great possessions that he did not want to relinquish.
After this Jesus said that it is difficult for those with great wealth to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, comparing famously to the camel that wants to go through the eye of the needle. The Eye of The Needle was a gate in the Jerusalem wall, apparently, through which the camel would not be able to pass, unless it was unloaded of its cargo.
The disciples understood, that if our hearts are set upon earthly possessions, we can not pass. They asked, “who then can be saved?”
In KJV, Jesus’ answer is, “with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” According to JST, Jesus beheld their thoughts, and said unto them, “With men this is impossible; but if they will forsake all things for my sake, with God whatsoever things I speak are possible.” With God all things are possible. And forsaking all things for Jesus’ sake was required of the Apostles, too, so they understood it well.
(In one occasion, one of the Apostles wanted to go bury his father, to which Jesus answered, “let the dead bury their dead.” [Luke 9:60])
This talks about priorities; Jesus did not seem to mean, that we “forsake all things,” but that we put him first in our priorities. That means, that if we are given an either-or proposition, we will relinquish earthly possessions (or companions) rather than forsake Jesus. I include my mortal life in those “earthly possessions.”
That brings me to an interesting exercise in what-ifs.
- My number one priority is my relationship with the Savior/Heavenly Father (in this sense, they are inseparable from my point: I pray to the Father in the name of the Son). That goes above all else in priorities.
- My second priority is my relationship with my wife. That is to me the most important human relationship.
- Third priority is my responsibility to provide for myself and my family. I must do that honestly and without letting it rob the other priorities. This is generally what we spend the most time doing, although it is not the # 1 priority.
- Next comes the Church; service in the Church community is important, likewise
- Service in the wider community.
That is it, presented roughly. Now to the what-ifs.
What if my wife gave me a take it-or-lose-me ultimatum that I strongly felt would destroy my relationship with Heavenly Father (I don’t mean my membership or good standing in the Church, I mean my personal relationship with Him)?
Answer: I would not, with the understanding I have, obey her. Naturally, it is highly unlikely that, if I have followed that set of priorities, she would make such demands. But things happen to people, and I myself have done things that I would not do in my right mind (I guess the expression itself explains why I did?).
What if my bishop made a request that I felt would destroy my relationship with my wife?
Answer: I would be on my knees, hopefully, and, if I did not have, after careful consideration, sincere fasting and prayer, a firm spiritual confirmation that would tell me to follow the bishop, I would think I would choose my wife, because then I would be following the higher priority.
These very hypothetical exercises came as a result of some discussion that I found intriguing. I am not sure that in real-life situations I would know as clearly as I know it theoretically now, where the priorities lie in practical decisions. There is, of course, the consideration, that there have been members of the Church, of whom much has been asked. And many have sacrificed immeasurably to build the Church despite whatever came.
As for myself, I was in a situation 30 years ago, where the family I grew up in did not approve of my decision to become a Latter-day Saint. It was quite difficult, especially since I had just learned to honor my parents. In that situation, I did what I felt was right, and was baptized anyway, and my father eventually did accept my decision, as did one of my two sisters (both died without being members of the Church, though).
As for who shall be saved? The faithful. Jesus says in Matthew 19;29
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
I did not forsake my family, they forsook me, but not for good. I got part of my family back, plus I received “an hundredfold” in having brothers and sisters all over, whom I can turn to for companionship and help, and who expect the same from me.
As far as inheriting everlasting life, that will be far in the future. But from the scriptures we have this familiar verse:
“this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
I hope I will truly get to know him. But I love him already.