Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is there no other way?

A neighbor sent me this in my email. I'm not sure of the context, (it seems to be a response to pointing out the imperfections of the Church as reason to leave the Church) but the point is poignant, especially with regards to the scuttlebutt in this community of wondering about the handling of the aftermath of Prop. 8 and the way the Church is managing (or remaining silent) the gay issues at the Utah State Legislature, or with the gay issues at large:

In a local newspaper in Provo, Utah, there had been an ongoing series of articles written by individuals who wanted to persuade LDS Church members to leave the Church. In response to the highly critical and spirited remarks, a local member wrote this rebuttal:


I have been thinking of quitting the Mormon Church. Yes, if I can, I am going to get even with that church. As soon as I can find another church that teaches about the Gathering of the House of Israel; the return of the Ten Tribes and their mission; the return of the Jews to Palestine and why, and how they are going to build the temple; the building of temples and what to do with them; the mission of Elias, the prophet, as predicted by Malachi; the method for the salvation of the people that died at the time of Noah in the flood; the origin of the American Indian; the complete explanation of why Jesus of Nazareth had to have a mortal mother but not a mortal father; the explanation of the three degrees of glory (three heavens) as mentioned by Paul; the complete explanation of why Elias and Moses did not die but had to be translated (since they both lived before the resurrection was introduced by Christ); the restoration of the gospel by modern revelation as promised by Peter and Paul and Jesus himself; the belief in eternal marriage and the family, and the knowledge and the place to seal for eternity; that teaches abstinence from all harmful drugs and foods ; and that sells the best fire insurance policy on earth, for the last days, for only a 10th of my income.

Yes sir, as soon as I can find another church that teaches all that,or even half as much, I will say good-bye to this Mormon Church. The church that I am looking for must also be able to motivate 50,000+ youth, and adults, for the first, second or third time, to leave their homes for two years at their own expense and go to far-away places to teach and preach without salary. It must be able to call, on a frosty day, some 5 or 6 thousand professors, students, lawyers, doctors, judges, policemen, businessmen, housewives and children to go and pick apples at 6 a.m. It must be able to call meetings and get the attention for two hours of more than 150,000 men. Yes, it must also teach and show why salvation is assured for children who die before eight years of age.

Mr. Editor, could you help me find a church that teaches all that and more than hundreds of other doctrines and principles, which I have no room to mention here, and which brings solace and comfort to the soul; peace, hope, and salvation to mankind, and above all, that answers the key questions that all the great philosophers have asked; questions and answers that explain the meaning of life, the purpose of death, suffering and pain; the absolute need for a Redeemer and the marvelous plan conceived and executed by Jesus Christ the Savior?

Yes, as soon as I find another church that teaches that, and also that has the organization and the powers to make that teaching effective, I am going to quit the Mormon Church. For I should not tolerate that "they" should change a few words in the Book of Mormon-even if those changes simply improve the grammar and the syntax of the verses-for, after all, don't you think the Divine Church should employ angels as bookmakers, and clerks, to do all the chores on earth?

Don't you think, Mr. Editor, that the Divine Church should also have prophets that don't get sick and don't get old and die, and certainly, that don't make a goof here and there. No, sir! A Divine Church should be so divine that only perfect people should belong to it, and only perfect people should run it. As a matter of fact, the Church should be so perfect that it should not even be here on earth!

So, I repeat, if any one of the kind readers of this imperfect letter knows about another church that teaches and does as much for mankind as the Mormon Church, please let me know. And please do it soon, because my turn to go to the cannery is coming up. Also, "they" want my last son (the fifth one) to go away for two years and again, I have to pay for all that. And I also know that they expect me to go to the farm to prune trees, and I have heard that our ward is going to be divided again, and it is our side that must build the new chapel. And also, someone the other day had the gall of suggesting that my wife and I get ready to go on a second mission, and when you come back, they said, you can volunteer as a temple worker.

Boy, these Mormons don't leave you alone for a minute. And what do I get for all that, I asked? "Well," they said, "for one, you can look forward to a funeral service at no charge!"... Do you think you can help me to find another church?

Maybe I shouldn't be republishing something that I don't know the source or the motives behind the author, but what it says to me is that if I feel so strongly about all that is part of who I am that comes with my beliefs in what the Church has taught me and what I have come to personally know and internalize through the Spirit, if who I am is directly related to all that I have learned from this Spirit, how can I throw it all away? Not to diminish the pain of the handling of the gay issues by the Brethren, (particularly this silence thing right now with the legislature - where one thing is acceptable in CA but not in UT) but, it feel like it's a bit like throwing that proverbial baby out with the bath water.

I can't. I just can't and at least for the foreseeable future, I won't. I want to keep the baby, and just get rid of the soiled water. I understand how some get to the point that there is no separation between the baby and the water, and that both are so soiled there is no way to clean them anymore, so they all have to go. Maybe I'm just not personally there yet... or maybe I never will be. I'm the closeted, fence-sitter, hiding behind my safe facade. Maybe if I were more personally at risk it would feel more "all or nothing". But I'm a coward and I want it both ways and I don't want to expose myself to be vulnerable - so I stay where it's safe and comfortable and easy to pontificate. And yet, it truly bothers me deep down and troubles me tremendously just the same and I want that bothersome, troublesome feeling to go away. But it doesn't go away. I'm trying to just let it go and just do what I can do in my situation with my circumstances. I'm trying to love and extend love and feel the Spirit work within me to strengthen my troubling heart.

And that's why right now it hurts to see the anguish and the pain and the family destruction of so many, and on the other side, the absolute silence, the PR embarrassment, and the expedient behavior of my leaders. Even giving them the benefit of the doubt makes it difficult to understand what is going on. I know I have limited knowledge of the facts, but still...

Is this a wheat and tares moment? Is this the separation of believers and non-believers? Is it all or nothing? Am I either with them or against them? Is this a defining moment? Is this the apple-in-the-garden decision? Is there no other way?


Kengo Biddles said...

For me, I feel similar. I identify very much with those who share my feelings of SSA/SGA. But I, like you can't consider leaving the church, my testimony of the truth of the gospel is too strong. So what to do? I do my best to be a force for good and charity and Christ-like love of those I can, and hope that my force for good will help others to be more Christian, and less "fundamentalist".

Beck said...

Thanks, Kengo for your response. I feel pretty alone out here...

I see Scott and Sarah torn from his family. I see MOHO Hawaii still struggling with his LDS family and their acceptance of him. I see others seeing no alternative but to leave the church behind and move on with their lives. I see Abe even struggling with the Brethren and the way they are handling these issues. I see Alan and his heart-felt letter to his Mom and all that it entailed.

I see Cody (Gay LDS Actor)approaching an excommunication from the Church now that he has joined Jonah in a commitment ceremony. And for what?

He said: "...It’s not as though I am out killing people or selling drugs or stealing other people’s property or molesting children or raping women. There are far worse things I could be doing than what I am. My sin is that I am guilty of being in love with another man, and I still have a hard time comprehending why that is such a terrible thing. How can love be wrong?"

To place his commitment to Jonah in the unspeakable and abhorant category of any of a myriad of sins is just wrong.

I am pained today. I feel confused and discouraged. I feel such a coward. I'm not speaking up. I'm not confronting my family. I'm not losing everything I hold precious.

What a life...

Neal said...

"To place his commitment to Jonah in the unspeakable and abhorant category of any of a myriad of sins is just wrong."

To the contrary, to disobey the Lord is just wrong! Who makes the rules? Who paid the price?

I read about these people who leave the Church and its always "me, me, me". What I want. How I feel. My needs, My wants, My desires, My life; ME, ME, ME!

What about what God wants?? What about how God feels? What about how God wants you to live your life? The first commandment isn't to take care of 'ol #1, its to love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength (nothing wimpy or half-hearted in those words). And then love your neighbor as much as yourself. Cody chose to disobey. He chose to love Jonah more than God. His love is wrong because he places it above love of God and the covenants he made to obey Him.

If the Lord came down personally and asked you to do something for Him - let's say the request is not to eat sweets ever again - would you do it? Or would you say - "Sorry, that doesn't satisfy ME!! So what if you suffered for all my sins - MY needs have to be satisfied! My desires satiated, My sweet tooth sweetened! Don't counsel ME, Lord! That's unfair!"

There is no middle ground here - either you're going to put God first, love Him, and prove it by your obedience; or you're going to feed the great ME and put ME first.

Scott said...

What about what God wants??

This is only a valid argument if we're certain ("beyond a shadow of a doubt", to use a clich├ęd Mormon phrase) that we know what God wants. That is what we're struggling with here.

Does God really want His gay children (somewhere between 5 and 10%) to live a lonely life, without the fulfillment of romantic love (Elder Packer says "there is no 'abundant life' without it")? Our leaders say He does, but the actions of our leaders in this issue don't seem very Christlike, or very compatible with standards of ethics and integrity. Is it possible (we wonder) that they're not very inspired?

I'm all about doing what God wants--I'm just no longer able to believe, absolutely and completely, that the leaders of the Church are speaking His will on this issue. I believe that they are inspired. I believe that they are led by revelations. But I believe that their minds may have been clouded by personal bias in this case, so that they can't hear clearly or interpret properly the inspiration that they are receiving.

Neal said...

"But I believe that their minds may have been clouded by personal bias in this case, so that they can't hear clearly or interpret properly the inspiration that they are receiving."

That sounds like apostacy to me.

So you're saying ALL the General Authorities - 15 Prophets and all of the Seventy - are biased, clouded and 'misinterpreting" the message of the Spirit on this ONE issue, but everything else is OK, inspired, and just peachy-keene? I think not...

Kengo Biddles said...

Scott, what about women like my friend Eileen? she falls under your statement (omitting gay):

"Does God really want His children to live a lonely life, without the fulfillment of romantic love (Elder Packer says "there is no 'abundant life' without it")?"

The answer to your statement and mine is NO, he doesn't want that, but that's what happens, unfortunately, and for a lot of people, not just gays, not just women.

We get so focused on "happy endings" and "prince charmings" because of Hollywood, when ending up celibate and alone is a lot more common than we're exposed to here in Utah or the media.

We're myopic, frankly. If someone isn't married by 25 (gay, straight or otherwise) we think that they've missed their chance and we feel painfully sorry for them to have to live their life alone.

THEY'RE 25. And living alone isn't so bad. Yes, it's sad. It's terribly sad. But, you know what, it happens. It's part of Earth life. And Christ suffered the Atonement to feel compassion for those who had these feelings of being alone, as well.

And frankly, Neal has a point. This hyperfocus on self and one's own needs leads to unhappiness not just in young gay men, but in married men, married women, children, HUMANS. I'm fairly convinced that was a lot of the reason that Christ suggested that we not "save our own life" -- because we will lose it. We'll be terribly selfish and not worthy of God's Eternal Blessings (if you ascribe to Mormon theology), but rather we should lose our life in the service of others. I know I'm the happiest when I'm serving others and not focusing on myself.

Am I saying we're wrong to feel sad when we're alone? (been there...) No, we're not wrong. It's a very normal, very human thing to want companionship. The important thing is to reconcile our desires with our belief in our religion, and that comes down to one's testimony.

(Sorry for hijacking your blog, Beck.)

Beck said...

NEAL: I understand your black-and-white world. I've lived it my entire life. I have no issue with the Church excommunicating someone who violates the rules of the Church. I have no fault-finding in what the Church rule say. I just no longer feel that committed homosexual monogamous "marriages" are wrong, or at least, placing such commitments of love and devotion and faithfulness to each other in the same category as "next to murder" or any other serious sins is true. I don't see Cody's love as selfish and "me, me, me" any more than a heterosexual couple in love and committing to a monogamous relationship. I see Cody, among others, seeking the spirit and searching for answers and openly struggling with choices and working through personal revelation and finding a path that meets all those criteria instead of abandoning God, abandoning the Spirit, abandoning life-long held beliefs.

I am not here to judge Cody or anyone else regarding their choices they've made. They are their choices - as much as mine or my choices.

I just don't see the world as black and white as you do. Does that mean I am not following the teachings of the Church? Does that mean I don't sustain the leadership of the Church? Of course not! I do not sustain any other men as my prophets, seers, and revelators. I do not seek to find other leaders, or my own selfish interests to place above their own.

But I do feel that not seeing things as black and white and seeing a lot of grey, and understaing the Plan of Salvation as I do, with lots of room for accommodation of individual circumstances, each of us being uniquely judged by what we do with what talents we've been given (do we bury them in the backyard or do we magnify and increase them tenfold?) is what it is all about. My talents and circumstances, feelings and understandings are not yours nor are they Cody's. We are not in a one-size-fits-all program here. We are to love the Lord and accept Christ as our Savior. We are to love our fellow man. We are to be obedient in the best way we know how. We are to live our lives with integrity with the Spirit that is uniquely within us. I just feel that there is a lot of unique understandings and accommodations in all of that.

Sure, strait is the gate and narrow is the way... but I've come to believe that my gate is a unique gate, and I will be judged based on what I know, what I do with that knowledge, and how I follow the spirit and not deny the workings of it within me.

These thoughts of "no other way" are hard for me because I don't have the answers. I'm just feeling saddened by an issue that we do not fully understand, that seems to be evolving even with the minds of the Brethren as they expose themselves to more enlightenment, and that lives are being destroyed by seeing their choice as all or nothing and "no other way".

Does that make me an apostate? I'm the one trying to support the Church here and NOT throw out the baby with the bath water! Don't get on me that I'm sympathetic to Cody's choice that is uniquely his, that I've seen being made through years of struggling with the Lord.

Beck said...

SCOTT: "But I believe that their minds may have been clouded by personal bias in this case, so that they can't hear clearly or interpret properly the inspiration that they are receiving."

That doesn't sound like apostasy. That sounds like historical accuracy. The nature of revelation (even in the early church) comes about based on the current needs of the Kingdom. The Law of Consecration came into being with Joseph was desperate to figure out how to support and sustain new converts flowing into Kirtland - who were extremely poor and without any means to support themselves. Too many women, and needing to increase the Kingdom and sustain families brought about Polygamy. Both of these revelations, at least to a major degree were rescinded with further understanding and a "change of circumstance". And to a great degree, the revelation of Blacks came about under a "change of circumstance" and unclouding one's eyes and seeing the bigotry and shortsightedness of past leaders.

This is the process of revelation. It is based on needs. It is based on working with the vessels at hand. It is based on personal biases getting out of the way.

Is that apostate? I don't think so. Nothing here is saying that one does not sustain the Prophet as the Prophet.

Beck said...

KENGO: Single brothers and sisters (non-gay) have the hope and promise of the eternities that - had they not had the opportunity to marry in this life, but would have if they did have that opportunity, then they will be given that opportunity and blessings in the life to come. Just as baptism for the dead works, so does the promise of all other blessings, including marriage, and the Plan accommodates these unique circumstances and makes all FAIR for those who are single and did not have that opportunity.

But where is the plan FAIR for our gay brothers and sisters? Where is their hope in a future - just to be angels and groundskeepers for us hetero temple-married guys? There seems to be a gap in the fairness doctrine here of the Plan. There has to be more possibilities for the other "mansions" prepared in the Celestial Kingdom for brothers and sisters who love the Lord but see no way of being magically changed to be hetero in the next life with a twitch of a nose. What about the concept that we are who we are, we have always been who we are, and we will yet be who we are into the eternities - not robotic clones of each other.

This isn't that easy, and I don't think it's necessarily fair to lump all actions of gay couples into the basket of "selfishness". Nor is it fair to lump single hetero sisters with gays. At least those single sisters have the promise of a "happily ever after Hollywood ending" from the Gospel.

Public Loneliness said...

I'm having a hard time articulating any kind of response here, so I hope it comes out right.

I feel sad that you are going through all these thoughts and the burdens you carry, but what works for one person and how they feel is usually completely different than what others feel, I feel sad that we put ourselves into a doctrinal and cultural black and white enviroment. I feel sad that we are put in a position of having to choose loyalty to the church or not. What is the most sad to me is that we suppose to know what God knows because someone has says so and I happen to agree with Scott in most of his points of view.

You and the others know that I don't attend church, I honestly don't believe most of the church doctrine/beliefs but I do love the fellowship and anything that centers around the pure love of Christ. I have a hard time beleiving in a God that would rather want anyone to live celibate and alone, segregated from their own congregation and not ever be considered for leadership and like a sore spot as long as they
re a full tithe payer. I just don't accept that everyone has to fit a mold and confirm or be damned; what kind of organization is that, Gods?

You ask if there's no other way, well my friend, as you can tell by mine, your own life and as we can see the examples of other Moho's who are making incredible strides in their own lives and affecting many others there are other ways, many of them that might or might not fit the cookie cutter Mormon box. Honestly, does anyone in the LDS Church fit that description? Maybe if you're a GA or at least attempting to give that allusion!

Having said that, let me reiterate that there are plenty of people who live outside of the church either by choice or because it has never come across their path who live good, moral lives, who are charitable, loving, decent, honest people. Some are straight, bi, gay, some may believe in their own version of God and some are even Atheists---see? There is another way!!! What one finds as their own way depends of what one is willing to live with and be in peace with their mind/soul at the end of the day.

I guess my point is that whatever way we choose to live, we have to have the conviction that it is what works for us, that it is what makes sense in our present situation and what we're comfortable doing, yeah even if it means living in black and white environment, but I'm a big proponent that if something isn't working, even though it has seemingly worked in the past, do something about it. It may not be the easiest thing to do, it may be painful, it may not be the most popular thing, but at least attempt, or learn to live with it and deal with the rest and setting parameters. Ok this has gone way longer than intended. Hugs!.

Beck said...

PL: Thanks for your thoughts. As members of the Church, we tend to think it is all or nothing, or it is "us" verses "them" and "us" are the ones that are going to make it.

Since this post and arguments therein are centered on Mormon theology, it should be said that there are lots of "us" folks out there that are within the fold and living GA / mission pres. kind of lives who aren't going to make it. And there are lots of "them" folks out there who are outside the fold, who are going to make it because of the lives they are living. The "valiant" is a relative term. That's one of my points.

But, having chosen currently to work within this Church that I love, and following the teachings of the Gospel and its Plan, the questions of black and white / all or nothing, no other way, have to be asked - and seeing grey and admitting that we don't know everything there is to know - to me is not apostasy.

Scott said...

The Handbook of Instruction defines says that a member of the Church is guilty of apostasy if he:

1) Repeatedly acts in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
2) Persists in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after he has been corrected by his bishop or higher authority.
3) Continues to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by his bishop or higher authority.

If saying that I believe our leaders can be wrong (and that I believe they are wrong on a particular issue) qualifies as "clear, open, and deliberate public opposition" or as "teaching as Church doctrine", then I suppose I'm guilty. My personal opinion is that the line is crossed when I attempt to persuade others that what I believe is correct, or doctrinal, and I have never intended to do so--all I have ever intended is to express my thoughts and feelings as a way of working through the issues myself (on my own blog) or of providing additional points of view to others who are mulling over the issues in their own minds.

As Beck indicated, Church history is not devoid of examples of leaders of the Church who acted (sometimes as a unified Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) in ways that are contrary to our current understanding of the Gospel. I don't believe it is totally out of the question to wonder if something similar is happening today. It can't be denied that when placed under scrutiny, from the perspective of us lay members or of those outside the Church, the recent actions from Church HQ seem much more like what we might expect from a slick, world-wise corporation than from Christ's Church. Perhaps things look different from within the walls of the Church Office Building and everything is going according to God's plan. Or perhaps the recent actions are actually the reactions of a leadership that is following what they believe to be right course based on a set of assumptions that are not inspired.

Re: Kengo's question regarding his friend Eileen... I don't know Eileen, so I can't speak to the particular situation you're asking about, but I assume you're referring to older women who remain unmarried and who (it is assumed) will remain so for the remainder of their lives.

I might have bought that argument if we were discussing this a few decades ago, when women had a place and were expected to keep it, and it would have been considered scandalous for a woman to ask a man on a date, or (gasp!) propose marriage...

But I find myself a lot less sympathetic in our modern society, where there are very few barriers left to the woman being the pursuer if she chooses to be.

Granted, the Church still emphasizes gender roles and would perhaps frown on an aggressive woman taking her matrimonial future into her own hands, but I doubt the disapproving looks and clucked tongues would be any different than what an over-30 single woman in the Church gets anyway.

As Beck said, a straight single person always has a hope that he or she will meet someone in the future. A gay single member of the Church has no hope, but has instead an absolute certainty that if he's going to do as the Church asks him to do he will be alone for the rest of his life.

... I've got a bit of a headache today, so I might be a bit snippier than usual. I hope I haven't said anything offensive.

Kengo Biddles said...

Beck, I fail to see why our gay brothers and sisters would have any less part in the opportunity to wed on the other side -- but then I believe that my same-sex feelings are from my imperfect body, and not my spirit. I guess this is why it doesn't bother me as much, and why I don't flinch to lump them all together. They've all got things that (can) keep them from having the blessings of the temple.

Scott: Eileen isn't held by the gender roles you've mentioned, and she has done her best to find a husband, waiting to be asked on dates, and asking men on dates. For whatever reason, for her, it hasn't worked. And I prefer to think that she'll have that opportunity on the other side, just as our MoHo brothers and sisters should.

I understand your positions, Beck and Scott, but for me, I believe that God has great empathy for all his children, and while things may be hard in this life, in SO many ways, it will be made up to us in the next.

It comes down to your views as to the roots of our feelings. Is it biological? Or is it part of our soul? For me, I feel it's my body, as I've said, and that in the next life, I'll be liberated from the sexual aspects of these feelings, but the underlying love of humanity will remain. It's up to me to focus on the love of humanity and not the sexual part.

That's my take.

(And no, Scott, I've not been hurt by what you said, and I hope that all of you haven't been hurt by my expression of opinion.)

Beck said...

SCOTT: No offense on my end. Go take two aspirin and go to bed!

KENGO: You and I have a fundamental difference of opinion on this one minor point. And that's okay. I didn't mean this blog to go into theological discussions, but I've felt our bodies (per Joseph Smith) are not something to be despise, but to cherish. His vision opened up the realization that the body is eternal and that the body is wonderful, even a temple, and that God has a body, that God is a sexual being, and that we will have resurrected bodies (which come with resurrected and perfected passions). As such, don't you think our sexuality and our physical selves are more than just for this mortal sphere to tolerate?

Gay LDS Actor said...

It's true that I have been disobedient to what I have been commanded to do, and I will have to face the consequences of my decision. I feel I do love the Lord with as much heart, mind, might, and strength as I am able to give within the confines of my imperfect, mortal being. I'm sorry if it is not enough. I've spent years of my life trying to be exactly what I was asked to me, and it left me feeling miserable. For the last three years I have felt happier than I have in a long, long time. Anybody who knows me well will confirm that. I'm sorry that my choices are perceived as selfish. Perhaps they are; but for the sake of my emotional health and sanity, they are the choices I have decided to make. Believe me, they have not been easy ones and certainly are not ones I lightly chose. It certainly does not feel my heart with glee to know that I will likely be excommunicated, and in no way have I tried to persuade anyone that my choices are right for anybody else, but I understand that choices have consequences and I will be accountable for my own choices. I wish that those who are so quick to condemn could spend a lifetime in my shoes and then see what decisions they would make. Happily and mercifully, the only one who will judge me is my Father in Heaven, and I feel good that he understands my mortal limitations and the intents of my heart. I am hopeful that the Lord's atonement will make up for any deficiencies I have exhibited in this life.

Beck said...

CODY: Thanks so much for coming on board here. You are always welcome and I thank you for your thoughtful comments. I have followed you for three years now and have seen the serious and difficult choices you have made. I feel like I've "walked in your shoes" through your blog and I reach out to you in love and commend you as you go forward with Jonah.

Each path is unique as each person is unique. I know you will not abandon your testimony, your love for the Gospel or your relationship with the Spirit as you continue to seek His confirmation in your life.

Please keep in touch.

Big hugs.

Abelard Enigma said...

Personally, I think the argument presented in the letter to the editor you quoted is just plain silly. It's like saying "I don't like my car, and I'm going to buy another as soon as I find one just like my old car in every way." What kind of an argument is that?

I would also suggest that all of us struggle with some aspect of the church - be it home/visiting teaching, maintaining a 2 year supply of food storage, being actively engaged in family history research, inviting all of our non-member friends into our homes for missionary discussions, not to mention such basics as daily personal and family prayer and scripture reading, weekly family home evening, faithfully magnifying our calling, etc.

To look at someone who struggles in an area that you don't personally struggle in and question their commitment and faithfulness, suggesting they are an apostate - while ignoring your own shortcomings - well, Jesus Christ had a word for such people: Hypocrite.

As a people, we have a big problem accepting any sort of blame when someone struggles and leaves the church. We call them selfish. We say they were 'offended' in some way - and we all know we choose to be offended - so it's their own dang fault. And, by so doing, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility.

Whatever happened to "mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort." This sort of attitude seems to be unique to the Mormon faith - I've never seen it exhibited in other churches that I've been associated with. Perhaps the next time someone proclaims that we're not Christian - instead of getting our feathers ruffled, perhaps we ought to do some introspection into how well we are living a Christ centered life.

Should the church be a hospital for sinners, or a refuge for saints? It should be the former; but, too often we treat it as the latter.

Sorry, I guess I'm feeling preachy today - I'll get off my soapbox now.

Beck said...

ABE: I didn't intend for this editorial to be anything but an interesting thought for me to consider what I would be giving up (more in beliefs and theology than bemoaning the service and commitment aspects) if I were to just walk away from it all.

As for being more compassionate and understanding of our brothers and sisters, of "comforting" and "mourning" with those that need our confort and compassion - unconditionally - yes, you said it very well, better than I could.

Everyone realizes our decisions have consequences, and these decisions aren't easy - but I'd be hard pressed to label anyone's hard-fought choices to be selfish. I appreciate where Neal is coming from, but I don't think Cody, or others like Cody are selfish - his own words testify otherwise.

Chedner said...

It *really* bothers me when the word "selfish" is used.

We are selfish for wanting happy, healthy, fulfilled lives -- the best lives we could possibly have here and now -- lives congruent to our heterosexual counterparts?

That's not selfishness. It's a healthy self-esteem.

The way Neal talks, it's like we're throwing temper tantrums because we want a richer dessert after dinner.

But, no. We are being denied a sufficient dinner. We are being asked to eat scraps thrown on the floor by those whose bellies are full and fattened.

But we're finished with being treated like dogs. We are stepping out and saying, "We are starving here; we need a better meal. We cannot survive on this."

And, in this, we are being called selfish?! For wanting a healthy, nutritious meal in this life?


(... and don't get me started on the whole, "Well, you're just not eating the scraps the right way" or "Stop whining, the food available you is nutritious enough" attitudes...)

Beck said...

CHEDNER: Nice analogy. I like it. It helps to put in perspective that all things considered, we aren't equally treated at the dinner table. But, my faith is still that we are all treated equally at the Lord's table. Understanding the difference is what matters.

I've often been caught up in the selfishness syndrome as I learn to discover who I am as a late bloomer in my self awareness. It's been a long road to overcome such self-inflicting attitudes and come to accept who I am for who I am and grasp a piece of self-esteem.

Thanks for your comment.

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