Like Kevin Barney, I sometimes bite my tongue at Church. A class member will make a bone-headed statement in Sunday School, or Elders Quorum, and I’ll look at my wife (or neighbor) and roll my eyes. But more often than not, I decide to keep my big mouth shut. After all, it’s just not worth it to counter every stray comment I disagree with. It might cause a lot of unnecessary contention to correct someone on a point that isn’t really that important at the end of the day. Or it might make the commenter feel stupid. Or it might make me look petty and combative for having uttered the correction. And yet, there are times when biting one’s tongue isn’t the correct tack to take, I think. Some comments aren’t just ignorant and silly, but downright pernicious if left unopposed. I’ve heard many a ludicrous statement in Church over the years that I know was recognized as such by the teacher, but that was met by a polite “thank you” rather than the tactful smackdown that it deserved. We don’t want to rock the boat, naturally, but we sometimes forget that when we acquiesce to nonsense being taught in our classes, we may well be sending the inadvertant message to some that noxious comment X, Y or Z is doctrinally kosher, or at least assented to by all those within earshot. And yet knowing when to open one’s mouth, and when to keep it closed, is tricky.
Oh, let me tell you how incredibly tricky it sometimes is! A year or so ago, I was sitting in Gospel Doctrine class when someone raised their hand and uttered a real doozy. A comment that, to my mind, was just awful. I disliked its tone. I disliked its content. I felt strongly that it misconstrued a gospel teaching, while playing all too well to misguided prejudices surely held by many in attendance. It was the sort of outburst that was screaming for a rebuttal, even if I had to choose my words carefully. It basically met the entire laundry list of criteria I use for determining when it is appropriate to pull out the big guns in Sunday School. But there was one small problem. One that I had not anticipated. One that I had never run into before…
The Commenter-That-Must-Be-Opposed was sitting right next to me. She was my wife.