Due to recent sensational and well-publicized events within the Church, my Facebook news feed has become a parade of blog posts and opinion columns dissecting the scandal of someone’s membership being revoked. One of the more popular posts floating around is this one. I particularly enjoy the part where she discusses that it’s okay (encouraged, even) to ask questions. It’s an interesting opinion piece that is well written.
One of the things that post does not discuss, and that many of these blogs seem to miss is that while it’s wholly acceptable to ask questions – it’s not okay (discouraged, even) to berate the person doing the questioning.
In the past weeks I have seen comments slung by Members of the Church (and those of other beliefs) ranging from, “So-and-so is crazy” to full-blown judgments of So-and-so’s eternal destination. I have watched as people I know – friends who are dear to me – take their sincere and heartfelt questions and bury them deep for fear of retaliation from their supposed “brothers and sisters” in Christ.
Now I can’t speak to those who are not of the Mormon persuasion, but for those who are:
How dare we!?
How can we in one breath align ourselves with Christ and in the next sling insults designed to mock, hate, and deride? How can we honestly say things that attack another Child of God (Remember that song? Yeah, it applies to the person on the other end of the inter-web too…)
At this point I’m sure I’ve got at least 3 different mindsets here:
- The first -and probably the majority- is, “Well, he’s right! I’d never do anything like that!”
- The second is something like, “This guy has it wrong, Christ spoke out harshly against apostasy all the time!”
- The last and the minority is, “Man, he was talking directly to me. I was totally at fault of these things and I will change my ways for good.”
I’ll start with that last one and go in reverse: First, if you’re acknowledging you’ve had some less than charitable attitudes and are going to “change your ways for good.” Then awesome. My work here is done.
Second, if you take issue with the fact that clearly (and on multiple occasions) we can find Christ saying less-than-nice things about certain vile figures in the New Testament (and are using that as justification to ‘call a spade a spade’). I would advise you to leave the casting of stones to the Sinless One, and offer you this quote:
“The Savior taught us to love not only our friends but also those who disagree with us…”For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? … And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? [Matt 5:46-47] … In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no place for ridicule, bullying, or bigotry.”
– Elder Neil L. Andersen, April 2014 (emphasis added)
As recently as five minutes ago another story sprawled across my Facebook and again there was a comment section filled with acid from both sides of the debate. I would link to the dialogue except I don’t want to increase the traffic to such an embarrassing and hateful display from self-proclaimed LDS Members. I will however quote Courtney K. who said, “Sounds like a loving church in these comments. Can’t wait to invite my friends to join!”
Which brings me back to that first group, the majority of us who say: “Well gee whiz! He’s right and I try to never conduct myself like that! Sure glad he’s not talking about me!” You’re right. I’m not talking about you. I’m sure you are very careful to express your opinions and ideas in a way that doesn’t attack, that isn’t laced in bigotry or hatred. But when did we become complacent with just worrying about us? When did Christ ever say that if we had it figured out ourselves we could be done?
We have an obligation, if not to the Church itself then at least to ourselves (if we’re going to really practice what we preach) to show love and compassion. And if you ask me: To provide the gentle voice of reason when appropriate. We don’t need to become the ‘Prudish Police’ of Facebook (I actually think there’s a coalition of super-moms that have that title), but we would do well to vocalize, to stand up and without sarcasm or responding ‘in kind’ say something when we see others we know cross the line.
“A man who is filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
-Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, Jan 1, 1841, p. 258
“Brethren and sisters, love one another; love one another and be merciful to your enemies.”
– Joseph Smith via Lucy Meserve Smith, Aug. 1, 1892
HAVE your opinions and questions. SHARE your opinions and questions. DISCUSS those opinions and questions. But do it without hate, and encourage others to do the same.