A minor rant.
I have, in the recent past, heard from several friends who are struggling in the faith, because of the church’s position on Prop 8, ideal families, abortion, the Democrats, and or any number of things. More specifically, they are struggling because of how they are being treated in their wards and branches because of their feelings on these issues. Even if no-one has called them apostate or inadequate, this is being subtly implied by their fellow saints. Generally, these friends haven’t been speaking up, because they fear it will just get worse. They aren’t planning on leaving the church; they love the church. They just aren’t sure, right now, that the church loves them.
Elder Bednar once noted that people choose to become offended (as did I once, memorably). Fair enough. Can we please stop giving people reasons to leave?
If someone wants to be among the saints, can’t we find a way to accommodate them in love? Can’t we include those who don’t “fit the mold” without giving them a sense of how we have bent to adapt to them? Can’t we respond with grace to those who disagree with us gracelessly? Can’t we just love?
I’m reminded in this of Elder Wirthlin’s talk from the previous conference, wherein he insisted that we make up a great orchestra. An orchestra needs the shrill, the deep, the dissonant, the consonant, the monotonous, and the melodious. Why do we insist on single tones and melodies in our wards and branches (and homes) when it all sounds so much better with complementary harmony?
It is not our job to purify the church. It is Christ’s job to purify the individual. It is not our job to correct doctrine. It is Christ’s job to indoctrinate us. We do not enter church to find like-minded individuals. We come to church that our hearts might be knit together.
Not a single person I know, have known, or have heard of has lived an ideal life but Christ. And Christ did not marry, never held a steady job, knew hunger, pain, and sorrow, relied on the welfare of others, and was a social radical.
Today in Sunday School, the teacher pointed out how sometimes people feel awkward in church because they feel like their sins disqualify them from participation. He said, “That’s just wrong.” While he’s right, I think he missed the point. The point is that sins obviously don’t disqualify us because we are all sinners. God, seemingly, loves sinners; He has to because that is what he has to work with. If we want to become like Him, I would suggest we start loving sinners, too. A good first step is to stop thinking of them as sinners and start thinking of them as brothers and sisters. It’s just as true and a tad more optimistic.
So, I am tired of consoling friends frustrated with trying to believe the church is true and only the members are false. Could we be a little truer, please?