Even though it’s more important to do right than to be right, its frighteningly easy to convince ourselves that the two always correspond, particularly in matters of religion. The recent Mormon Women Stand (MWS) post, “A Protected Class of Sin,” is an example of what happens when the desire to be right supersedes the desire to do right. MWS has a history of arguing ideas that are divisive. The group seems to envision its job as that of separating the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, this post (like many others) risks dividing the faithful from the Spirit of the Lord.
In summary, the article argues a “special class of sin” is being created by the rising number of church members who support lawful same-gender marriages, and that these members are pawns of “the world” (read that as “pawns of Satan”). In other words, she says nothing new. Nor is it new to spout such vitriol during Pride month. Many who think and believe like me have been calling out MWS and this particular post for its hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and cruelty. I’m going to skip that today (because others are doing it so well) and focus, instead, on some of the spiritually perilous assumptions upon which these MWS ideas are founded.
Assumption 1: What has been must always be.
This assumption justifies itself with the idea that God doesn’t change, but fails to recognize that the mortal condition demands human beings continually change to better understand God. God may not change, but it is imperative that our mortal understanding of God will change as we progress spiritually and intellectually.
Assumption 2: Church leaders speak God’s will precisely. Therefore, improvement is not needed.
I give you the president of the church, Brigham Young:
Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. – Journal of Discourses, v. 10, p. 110
Lest someone hasn’t been keeping up, LDS history teems with institutionalized racism. The contemporary Church contritely disavows it, blaming the racism on the cultural climate of past eras. Rational, loving people agree with that disavowal. What Brigham Young taught is heinous. And so is the current policy that vilifies LDS homosexuals when they make faith-based life choices–choices that parallel the choices made by their heterosexual counterparts. They, however, are rewarded with excommunication for apostasy while heterosexuals receive temple recommends and positions of influence. Cultural bigotry is not merely a part of history; it is part of everyday life.
Assumption 3: The LGBTQ community, along with its allies, is spiritually flawed.
This assumption is a self-soothing one that can only be made in ignorance. Conclusions reached without investigation deny one of our primary mortal purposes, namely to gain knowledge. Only with knowledge can spiritual confirmation come; hence, remaining ignorant about the spiritual qualities of individuals in the LDS LGBTQ community is a convenient way to guarantee a lack of spiritual growth. Combating that ignorance can be done by listening to the voices of our LDS LGBTQ members. Try following No More Strangers for a start.
I’d add that this assumption is predicated on a few words in a policy manual that no prophet or apostle labels as doctrinal.
Assumption 4: Following church policy means “worldly ideas” won’t taint our thinking.
The MWS article demonstrates with irony the falsity of this assumption when it uses the phrase “special class of sin”. The wider (worldly) conservative, anti-homosexual movement has long argued that LGBTQ people want “special rights”. The MWS author has adapted Republican ideas to fit her religious practice while “crediting” God for them.
For those of us who are practicing LDS, our world is our ward community. Our wards and stakes are where peer pressure is applied. Lack of compliance to policy can mean, even for the heterosexual ally, a reduction in stature. For the gay member, it means excommunication, or expulsion from the community. The MWS article intends to shame to correction those of us who support LGBTQ people. It demeans us spiritually. Why? Because we see the hypocrisy in a non-doctrinal policy that excludes gay people and their children, a policy that gives lip service to love while rejecting those to be loved.
God’s children should never feel rejected by God nor his people for being who God created them to be. There shouldn’t be a special class of righteousness. That division is driving amazingly good, kind, loving, generous people to self-harm, to suicide in the hope that God will fix them in the next life; all this when what really needs fixing is the hearts of his children. Cultural ideas are not God’s ideas: cultural ideas are the philosophies of men we are commanded to preach against. The LDS people must move away from its toxic cultural assumptions if we expect to be favored with continued light and knowledge.
Most of us know and love the image of Christ knocking at a door with no knob; we understand the message that its up to us to let him in. I submit that it is also up to us to proverbially flip the switch that will allow God to fill the Church with more light. Some members are satisfied with the light already in the Church–and its good to be grateful for what we have–but it strikes me as counterproductive to express gratitude while simultaneously duct taping the switch with false assumptions that prevent an increase in light from washing over us.
Just as we control whether or not Christ enters our heart, we control the amount of light he can send. Light is something to be vigilantly pursued, and that happens only when we work to broaden our perspective and increase our knowledge. The swelling numbers of LDS who stand with compassion inside and beside the LGBTQ community are not a sign of worldly influence, but of the influence of the Holy Spirit and of a repentance that just might save the church from prideful self-destruction. Those who have ears hear. To portray any increase in love and compassion as worldliness divides us from the gifts of the Spirit, gifts meant to guide us home.
And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come (D&C 93:24)
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