Moving from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion

mormon-church-meeting3Many faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been deeply invested in “the defense of traditional marriage” and find themselves mourning the recent Supreme Court refusal to hear same-sex marriage cases in five states. These Mormons had hoped the church’s campaign against gay marriage would cause the walls of Jericho to crumble; instead, the Court’s decision has likely opened the gate for nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Although I’m a practicing, politically conservative Latter-day Saint, I have disagreed that a church should be waging such a political battle. Furthermore, unlike many mainstream Mormons, I don’t see this ruling as evidence of increased evil in the world. In my view, the SCOTUS decision should free traditional Mormons from the battlefield and enable them to return to the field that is ready to harvest. It is time to transition from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion; it is time we pour our energy into making the Mormon world safe for all. Continue reading “Moving from Cause Warriors to Builders of Zion”

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False Measures and the False God: A Problem Born of the LDS Modesty Canon

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In Mormondom, fitting in is often confused with living rightly. By living rightly, I mean living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned, however, that many Latter-day Saints see the relationship between fitting in and living rightly as a tit for tat. In other words, they suggest that dressing according to the Mormon modesty canon proves our willingness to obey all God’s commandments. I don’t see it that way.

You may be expecting this post to veer into a diatribe against modesty standards, but it will not. Organized groups of people may establish any model for appearance that they desire, and individuals may choose to follow those standards or not. The problem I wish to address isn’t the LDS dress code, but the predictable waste product that occurs when it is exalted as a measure of individual worthiness. Continue reading “False Measures and the False God: A Problem Born of the LDS Modesty Canon”

The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us

Church-with-sunflowers I’ve never understood the concept of the Angry God. I suppose that’s been a function of my religious privilege. Normally, I dislike the word “privilege” because it strikes me as a term progressives wield like a Bowie knife in a bear fight they bring on for the fur alone. But I’ll borrow it here because the term has successfully taken on a meaning that combines arrogance with naiveté. The term suits me because I have been both arrogant and naive in the practice of my faith. After all, my God has loved me: I found Him; I’ve obeyed Him, honored Him, and served Him. [Arrogance.] And I see His love in the blessings He gives me: I have an amazing family, a beautiful home, vehicles to drive, and friends galore. [Naiveté.] Continue reading “The Angry God, the Excommunication, and the Rest of Us”

On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints

butterflyThis morning, I awoke in our cabin, nestled in the piney woods of east Texas, and found, on the floor, the same beautiful black and blue butterfly that had, only yesterday, fluttered by me each time I stepped outside to enjoy the natural world. Somehow, she is trapped inside this morning, motionless, with her wings outspread in the attempt to camouflage against a maple-colored plank floor that will have none of it. I know from the experience of capturing butterflies in my childhood that if I touch her wings, I condemn her. Instead, I find a piece of paper and lay it before her. Although it doesn’t seem natural to her, the butterfly steps onto the paper and  I carry her outside, where she flutters back into the trees.

I love symbols. I look for them all the time. As I have struggled to come to terms with the pending disciplinary action against leading LDS feminist Kate Kelly, I couldn’t help but find an imperfect symbol of her predicament in this butterfly. Continue reading “On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints”

To the Girls of Wasatch County ISD

yearbookphoto4logoYou are beautiful. You are beautiful in your original school photos, and you are beautiful in the doctored yearbook photos that appeared in the 2013/2014 Wasatch High School yearbook, which isn’t to say I think the “editing,”  or photoshopping, the school did in order to cover more of your bodies than your tops and tanks did was appropriate. It shouldn’t have happened. You should’ve been given full opportunity to represent your personality through your attire. Some may say you forfeited that right by not adhering to the dress code. But a dress code that is not enforced on a daily basis hasn’t the respect of the people who created it and who are charged with enforcing it. By default then, it isn’t reasonable to expect those over whom it alleges power to take it seriously. Each original photo I saw of you depicted a young woman who was dressed modestly and appropriately for school. Your parents should be very proud of you for the brave way you are standing up for yourselves by addressing this in front of Fox 13 News cameras. Continue reading “To the Girls of Wasatch County ISD”

The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model

5340be6672844.preview-620Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experienced what some are classifying civil disobedience when Ordain Women took public action at the past two Priesthood Sessions of General Conference, all with the intent to call attention to perceived gender injustice within the church structure. After going on record suggesting OW refrain from demonstrating at Conference, I was invited by a male supporter of OW to once again review Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (full letter found here and an abridgment, here). After having done so, I am more puzzled than before over why OW has chosen this particular secular model to agitate for change in the LDS Church.

Before I proceed, I feel obligated to point out the obvious, that any conversation about civil disobedience in the Kingdom of God will bifurcate according to the belief system of those involved in the conversation. Continue reading “The Kingdom of God and the Civil Disobedience Model”

The Mormon Historical Narrative and the 200 Year Pride Cycle

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One of the essential lessons of the Book of Mormon is found in the 200 year pride cycle: Christ appeared to the Nephites on the American continent and, in the span of 200 years, they moved from being righteous to prosperous to proud and on to final destruction. The motif is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon. Believers often note that, at times, humility and repentance follow the season of pride and lead the people back to righteous living. Then the cycle repeats again. Admittedly, the pride cycle repeats in the Book of Mormon with relative frequency, but the 200 year pride cycle which began with Christ’s visitation and ended with the Nephite destruction dominates the book. Those of us who believe the Book of Mormon is scripture that is meant for our time see this as a warning to guard against pride.

We often think of the prophetic warning in political or governmental terms, as a warning that governments will fail once pride sets in, either with the politicians, their constituents, or both.  We use the pride cycle lesson as a way to encourage civic involvement, a vote-or-be-damned sort of mentality. The pride cycle certainly seems to apply in a political context, but scripture, as we all know, tends to have multiple layers and multiple applications. Because the pride cycle speaks of the faithful ceasing to follow God and falling away because of pride, I suspect one of those many layers must apply specifically to the organized Kingdom of God here on earth, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Continue reading “The Mormon Historical Narrative and the 200 Year Pride Cycle”