When we were children, my parents kept us on a very strict diet of classical music. That was the only music that we listened to as a family. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Puccini, as well as movie soundtracks from John Williams and other movie soundtrack composers. As I got older, and drove in my friends’ cars, I was introduced to a whole new world of sound. Whitney Houston’s, The Greatest Love and I Wanna Dance with Somebody. REO Speedwagon, and Chicago, and Howard Jones, and Phil Collins, and a myriad of songs that pumped me up and made me want to MOVE! I began a secret rebellion of listening to the “other music” whenever I could.
My parents, on finding out, weren’t upset. I suppose they knew that the time would come when we would listen to other types of music, and wisely, they didn’t make it an issue. They simply introduced the principle of equal time. They asked that we would still listen to classical music in equal amounts to other music. I agreed and began catching up on all the music I had missed, and in truth, I wasn’t very good with equal time, leaning heavily on the radio as any teenager would do. But, when I needed peace. When I studied for school. When things got too loud and overwhelming, I would come back home to the music of my childhood. As a parent, I visit classical music and religious music a lot. There is peace there that can’t be found in modern music. My parents were very wise.
So, my brother and I were discussing this principle last week. He began to talk to me about a time when he felt a pull toward atheism, and if not that extreme, certainly inactivity. The thing that pulled him back was the principle of equal time. He realized that he should be spending at least the same amount of time in the scriptures as he had been spending on literature that was anti-religious.
I love this quote about the power of learning about the gospel.
“No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied ‘as carefully as any science.’ The ‘literature of the Church’ must be ‘acquired and read.’ Our learning should be increased in our spare time ‘day by day.’ Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved”
—Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of the Seventy, “Theological Illiterates”, Improvement Era (September 1969): 42
There is something about the words of the scriptures that have a power beyond anything else. They calm, comfort, influence, steady, guide, fill with power, strength, and courage. I love that when you “treasure up the words of life” the Holy Ghost will “bring … [them] to your remembrance” in the moment that you need it.
Note that I am not talking about someone’s interpretation of scripture. Or someone taking a scripture or quote out of context. Or adding an interpretation that doesn’t hold up, or is based on mis-information or spurious quotes. Remember that you can choose to drink the cool water from the source, or you can drink it down stream after all of the cows, and muck and garbage have had a chance to roll around in it.
Learning and living the principle of equal time with gospel study – making sure that you spend at least as much time in the Scriptures themselves as anything else will bring a power into your life that will be refreshing and life-giving in the moments when you need to return home.