Opposing Perspectives on Christ’s True Church: Which Is Your Vision of Mormonism?

And God commanded them “Judge ye one another”.

 

The prophets told them that they must pass righteous judgment on the sinners among them, and cast them out if they would not repent.

 

And there were some among them who would not repent.  These people seemed to have no desire to repent. These people committed a sin that God hated above all other sins.  God reserved a special hatred for this sin, for it was like unto murder.

 

The people who had this sin within them had a hard time understanding, because it seemed that God had created them with no real power to overcome this sin. So they wondered if God hated them. They asked themselves “Why would Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” They were told they had chosen this sin, but they could not remember making a choice. They knew that this was part of them, and so they could only conclude that it was some kind of special curse: that they were afflicted, that they were inferior, that they not worthy of the love of God, or of their families, or of the church.

 

These people tried to overcome this sin. They sacrificed everything. They sacrificed any chance of close human relationship and lived in isolation. They were told that if they were righteous, this condition would be removed from them. They were told that if they had enough faith, God would grant a miracle to them. They were told that God could not refuse the pleas of a humble repentant seeker. So they fasted. They prayed. They struggled. They lived the commandments. They engaged in good works and sincere repentance. But they didn’t get rewarded. It seemed that God hated them.

 

They turned to the modern prophets. The words of the modern prophets clarified that God would rather see them dead than to fall into this sin. Many of these people knew that they could not live alone, and could not live with the despair, so many of them took their own lives.

 

This caused great pain to their families, although a few of the families were relieved. They were relieved that they would not have to withstand the public embarrassment of having such a vile sinner in their family, even if they loved their son and brother, or sister and daughter. Others were relieved that their child had saved himself/herself from God’s punishment by taking their own life before they indulged in the sin that was consuming them.

 

Meanwhile the Saints made sure that they kept the house of the Lord clean, by casting these sinners from their midst. The cast them off with no mercy as God would have them do. They cast their young people into the streets, where they were persecuted, abused, starved. They understood that in order to show love to these sinners they must never tolerate their sin. They understood that tolerating the sin was contributing to their damnation. They understood that God has a limit of tolerance, because it is better to suffer now than to spend an eternity in hell. They understood that they should not try to minister to the suffering of these sinners. They knew that by granting them any legal protections that they would be hastening their condemnation, so they showed love by battling against their legal rights. They also knew that they couldn’t giving any legitimacy to these people–for that would lead to more people being drawn into that sin. They knew that anybody plagued by this sin or this desire should hide it and take the secret to their grave, and didn’t want to encourage any of these people to feel good about their degraded selves. They knew that God wanted these people to suffer on this earth as long as they were sinning, because that is God’s justice for such sinners.

 

Some of these vile sinners managed to hide their sin, so no one found out. They were allowed in the churches and temples, where they were reminded every week that they were lesser, and that they didn’t deserve God’s favor. A few of them even managed to convince themselves that by hiding it and living extremely pure lives that their burden would be lifted. However, their burden was never lifted, and they came to understand that it was because of their inferior faith and inferior effort.

 

Meanwhile, the righteous people of God grew stronger, knowing that the sinners were cast from their midst. And God rewarded their obedience.

 

But there rose among these people a few individuals who placed great importance on a different commandment. These few believed in the importance of different scripture teachings. They believed that the higher commandment was to “love thy neighbor”. They heeded a scripture that said “judge not”. They felt moved when they read “if you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me”.  They took heart when a modern seer said “Don’t judge me because I sin differently from you”. These few decided to share the burden. These few decided to face rejection too, so that they could show love and support to these outcasts. These few showed great courage and faced harsh criticism. Some of these few were even cast out too.

 

However, these few began to change the attitudes of God’s people.

 

So I ask you: Is God pleased with these few people?

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8 comments for “Opposing Perspectives on Christ’s True Church: Which Is Your Vision of Mormonism?

  1. John Gustav-Wrathall
    June 17, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Of course, Daniel, you will acknowledge that the reality is not QUITE so starkly black and white.

    There are some folks out there running around with the notion that God commanded, “Thou shalt judge.” But for the majority, these issues are more complex.

    Figuring out how same-sex sexuality fits into God’s plan is complicated for all of us, I think. It’s not just that the evil straight people have put this perverted notion into gay people’s heads. It’s that we ourselves often wonder, “Why am I different, when everyone else seems to experience THEIR sexuality this way?” It’s not just us vs. them, overcoming their oppression of us. It’s us trying to figure out the nature of our reality.

    Just figuring out which principles we’re talking about is a challenge. Is it really about “judging others,” or about “sacrifice,” seeing how much we’re willing to give for the Lord? Is it about trusting God? Is it about mercy? All of the above? Don’t we learn the true nature of love by making sacrifices? Even really heart-rending sacrifices?

    You are right to say, “Let’s look at the impact of this or that teaching on the most vulnerable among us.” It seems to me that’s where Jesus started, and where we all ought to start.

    But Jesus asked some hard things of his disciples…!

    • Daniel Parkinson
      June 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Whether or not the attitude I describe reflects the beliefs of most people, it is accurate in the manifestations of its outcomes. LGBT people were systematically cast out. There experience was this kind of judgement. I really do hope that the majority of members will soon come to a less judgmental attitude, and I am actually optimistic about it. But meanwhile the body count is still climbing, the suicides are still happening, there are still hundreds of homeless LDS teens wandering the streets of Utah.

  2. Meg Abhau
    June 17, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Daniel, this was beautiful. There is much to be done, especially with our youth. We can all rise to the challenge of saving them. Thank you for this.

  3. Dennis
    June 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

    YES, YES, it is this black and white! Trust me I was excommunicated less than a year ago and the members of the church are still working to destroy me and my practice. They work through my patients and through my children.
    They are absolutely hateful and diabolical. Perhaps this does not happen everyplace but it is happening to me and it is very real. I never knew the God’s church was capable of such hatred.
    I contemplate suicide on a near daily basis and I have never done this in my entire life. The church would rather have me go back to lying about who I am.

    • patty owens
      June 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Seek your answers from the Lord…he will help you.

  4. John Gustav-Wrathall
    June 17, 2013 at 10:28 am

    My point is that projecting the entire problem on “judgmental” straight people in the Church won’t solve the problem. Superficially it seems like that, but in reality the way out of the tangle is not to demonize them.

    Case in point… It took me eleven years to figure this thing out for myself. From the time I first became consciously aware of my sexual orientation (14 years old), till I fully accepted that this was both an inherent and good aspect of who I was (25 years old). My parents had pretty stereotypical notions about homosexuality. But it did not take them 11 years to figure it out… It took them three (3!) years to figure it out from the time I came out to them to the time they fully accepted me and my husband, and drew the conclusion that this was how God made us and that the Church would eventually receive a relationship to sort everything out.

    If this were so easy and so black and white and so self-evident, we wouldn’t have folks still choosing mixed orientation marriages. Nobody forced Ty Mansfield or Josh Weed to marry… They went through a personal discernment process. It is counterproductive to attack them for their choices because because, long run, we HARM LGBT people when we undermine any one individual’s sense that they have the power to figure this out for themselves and make choices for themselves.

    But if gay people are coming to different conclusions about this, how would we expect all straight people to come to the same conclusion (presumably ours)? And browbeating people by saying, “Your behavior is leading to suicide and homelessness” doesn’t un-muddy the waters… It only ups the ante for people to invest in the rightness of their cause.

    I’d prefer models for working through this that continue to acknowledge the complexities, and that allow people space and time to think, evaluate, and listen…

    • Daniel Parkinson
      June 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

      But John, I think we both agree that a large part of the solution is the amazing ally community that has grown exponentially in the past few years. Although they are still a small minority, their ability to see through eyes of love instead of through eyes of judgement are having an amazing impact.

      • June 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm

        I’m grateful for the allies. I’m also grateful for the folks who might not call themselves allies, but who definitely are operating out of a non-judgmental paradigm, i.e., making space for LGBT members to figure this out for themselves without the pressure of having to fit one approved model.

        Still, I’ll insist that the fundamental problem for substantial numbers of both gay and straight members is how to be true to the faith. It’s not self-evident how to do this from the outset.

        I’m also just saying that a parable that puts people into one of two categories — the mean, judgmental kind and the good, non-judgmental kind — may have a paralyzing effect on the kinds of discussion that can open things up in a productive way.

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