“What should be the place of national feelings among Church members?” Ensign, June 1976, 62
What should be the place of national feelings among Church members?
Elder Charles Didier of the First Quorum of the Seventy The best answer for any question is always to be found in the scriptures. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve said recently: “I think that people who study the scriptures get a dimension to their life that nobody else gets and that can’t be gained in any way except by studying the scriptures. There’s an increase in faith and a desire to do what’s right and a feeling of inspiration and understanding that comes to people who study the gospel—meaning particularly the standard works—and who ponder the principles, that can’t come in any other way.” (Church News, Jan. 24, 1976, p. 4.)
It is natural for people to have national feelings as they live under the influence of the language, the culture, the history, and the customs and habits of a nation. It is also a fact that as people are converted to the gospel, their national feelings are gradually supplemented by what we are taught in the scriptures and particularly in this verse from the Psalms:
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
“The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
“From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
“He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” (Ps. 33:12–15.)
When we speak of nationalism, or culture, there is in reality only one nation or one culture: the nation of God and the gospel culture, a vast amalgam of all the positive aspects of our cultures, histories, customs, and languages. The building of the kingdom of God is such an amalgam, and is the only place where these different values may and can coexist.
As an example of what the gospel of Jesus Christ can do, we had the moving experience of seeing members from nations that fought against each other some thirty years ago gathered in area conferences in Munich, in Korea, and in other places. All of them were united under the same banner of the gospel.
In conclusion, I would say: keep your national heritage in your heart, be proud of it, cultivate these values in your families as long as they are building the kingdom of our Father in heaven. As soon as it comes out of these boundaries, it is used more to create differences among people than to bring them together. We are one nation; we have one eternal Father; we are brothers and sisters—different, but with the same eternal goal of helping to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
The final word is given by our Lord as a commandment, not only as an objective: “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27.)