“Editorial: Unity in Diversity,” Ensign, Aug. 1971, 89
One of the great marvels of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that the principles of salvation are so intertwined and built upon each other that it is difficult to set one apart as “the” most important. At least this would seem to apply for everything beyond the basics of love of God and love for fellowmen.
With that as an assumption, then, we would call attention to a principle that merits the concern of every Latter-day Saint. An important statement on one aspect of that concept is made in the article “The Universality of the Gospel” on page 8 of this issue of the Ensign. There are some additional comments to that article that seem appropriate here.
Speaking through Joseph Smith in 1834, the Lord suggested to the persecuted Saints in Missouri that in part their problems were of their own making:
“But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
“And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (D&C 105:3–5. Italics added.)
A few months earlier the same group of people had been told: “… there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.” (D&C 101:6.)
It is apparent from these statements to modern Israel and also from the prayer of Jesus Christ asking his father to make all believers one, even as he and the father were one (see John 17:21), that a vital principle of the gospel is unity. In fact, it is a principle of the celestial kingdom, and Zion cannot be built up until we adhere to all of the laws.
This problem of unity is one of the great challenges to the Church today, since the gospel net gathers God’s children from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Each of us in the Church and each of those who would join the Church lives in a different world from every other person. In some instances the differences are striking; in other instances the differences may be rather subtle. Whatever the degree, though, each of us has inherent differences, and each of us is influenced by differing forces—cultural, geographic, economic, social, and on and on.
And yet out of this diversity must come unity, oneness, and love.
Unless we are “united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom,” this people will not be sanctified and prepared to receive Christ.
That statement may sound a bit ethereal and unreal, but it happens to be a hard fact of eternal life.
Unity must come in every home in the Church where there is not total harmony. Unity must come in every ward and branch of the Church where there is a note of discord and bickering. Unity must be the goal of nationality and ethnic groups in the Church who consider themselves superior to some other group.
In short, each of us has to purge from his life those values, traditions, customs, and attitudes that do not conform to the principles of the celestial kingdom.
Unity does not preclude the possibility of disagreement. There can be great strength in our differences if we close ranks in terms of our purpose and commitment. But in the final analysis we must be one as the Father and the Son are one.