A Plea to Family and Friends for Compassion

This post is specifically for friends and family who are Mormon. To start out, I want you to feel comfortable reading this post. I am not criticizing the church in this post. I am asking you to think about a principle of Mormonism.

There is a well-known Book of Mormon scripture that describes what Mormons promise to do when they get baptized. It indicates that people become qualified for baptism by desiring “to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.

When I was Mormon, I found this to be one of the most beautiful passages of scripture. I loved it and I tried to live it. It helped me survive the aftereffects of abuse I suffered as a child, cease to be the abusive person I was raised to be, and to become an advocate for victims of abuse.

The new policy bars children of members who have ever lived in a same-sex relationship from being baptized until they are 18, have moved out of their parents’ home, and disavowed same-sex cohabitation and same-sex marriage.

This has understandably traumatized many people. Yet I have seen so many people deny that this new policy is hurtful in any way.  I have seen incredible burdens placed on those in same-sex relationships. I have seen incredible burdens placed on their parents, siblings, children, and friends. I have seen excruciating mourning on the part of gay people, their family, and their friends over this new policy. I have seen desperate pleas for comfort from the church and from members of the church.

To be fair, I have seen a few examples of kind and loving responses where church members have picked up the burdens to share them with those who are so weighed down, where church members have mourned with those in mourning, and where church members have comforted those in need of comfort. But from my vantage as an observer of the posts on social media, comments on news coverage, and commentary by church members, this is the exception, not the rule.

Richard L. Lyons, center, the father of the late Mya Lyons becomes emotional at his daughter's funeral at the Monument of Faith Church on Saturday, July 19, 2008. Mya Lyons, 8 (or 9), was found stabbed to death in an alley at the end of the 8400 block of Gilbert Court Monday, July 14, 2008, in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Chicago Tribune photo by Milbert O. Brown ..OUTSIDE TRIBUNE CO.- NO MAGS, NO SALES, NO INTERNET, NO TV, CHICAGO OUT.. 00296140A MYA

I have been bewildered that this has not been the rule. I have to ask what happened to bearing each others’ burdens? What happened to mourning with those who mourn? What happened to comforting those in need of comfort? Is not this the essence of standing as a witness of God, particularly in a time of incredible pain? Even if you feel that defending the policy is standing as a witness of God, does that mean that it is OK to deny the grief and mourning of others by denying that the policy legitimately causes pain and suffering?

Even if you still personally agree with the policy is it asking too much to see it from the perspective of those who are so terribly hurt by this new policy? Is it too much to try to step into their shoes? Is it too much to bear each others’ burdens, to understand that people are in terrible pain, to forgo defending the policy that is so hurtful to them when you are in conversation with them?

Is it so important to defend this new policy that you can’t mourn with those who mourn and comfort those in need of comfort without also hurting them further by defending the policy?

Though I no longer count myself a believer, I can’t help but put myself back into my old believing mindset in which it is difficult to go against the authority of church leaders and hope that I would have been a representative of Christ, to stand as a witness of his unfailing love and care for others. I particularly hope I would have done so in this time in which people are in so much pain, in which the burdens are so heavy, the mourning so excruciating, and the need for comfort so obvious.

One reason I hope that this would be the case is that I knew that church leaders had made terrible mistakes that God could not possibly have sanctioned, such as denying full membership to black people for over 150 years, the institution of polygamy, and the treatment of women. I know I was on the fringes of Mormonism for believing this, but you no longer have to be on the fringes to believe it. At a minimum, the church has disavowed its past racism and disavowed even its past prophets who supported the racist policy. It has stated publicly in general that its leaders have made terrible mistakes consistent with the culture of those leaders’ times.

You don’t have to stop believing to believe that this new policy is a terrible mistake. The church has given you permission through its admission that church leaders have made terrible mistakes.

You don’t even have to stop standing as a witness of God if you believe that this new policy is correct. You could simply acknowledge that based on past leaders’ mistakes that it might be mistaken, even if you personally don’t think it is.

That might make it easier to take that first step toward Christlike behavior of sharing the burdens of those whose burdens are too heavy right now, of mourning with those whose mourning is unbearable right now, of comforting those in desperate need of comfort.

I’m asking my Mormon friends and family to please consider this.

3 Comments

  1. Interesting quotes.However as one who doesn’t believe in the whole “God and “Jesus thing I believe only humans can forgive themselves not dwell on past mistakes and resolve to do better.I don’t need to be reminded of my errors and mistakes of the past as I am well aware of them nor should I dwell on them as its only the future I can change and make better.I don’t need a “God” to tell when I mess up I already know.I need my forgiveness of myself and my actions and that comes from me no one else.However I know a vast majority of people need a “God” of some description to hang on to,worship etc(not sure why to be honest but to each his own).Cheers

  2. POWER AND AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SIN? by Steve Finnell

    Do men have the power and authority to grant forgiveness from sin? Some believe that Jesus granted the power of absolution to the church of Christ. God nor Jesus has given the church nor church leaders the power or authority to to forgive sins.

    ONLY GOD FORGIVES SINS!

    Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you. (NKJV)

    Jesus is God, He can forgive sins. Priests, preachers, pastors, deacons, elders, nor pew sitters are, God, they cannot forgive sins.

    Mark 2:7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (NKJV)

    Only God forgives sins.

    Acts 8:18-22…Simon…..22 “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.(NKJV)

    The apostle Peter did not say I forgive you Simon of your wickedness, he said pray God would forgive Simon. Peter did not have the authority nor the power to forgive Simon of his sin against God. Only God forgives sin.

    Jeremiah 33:1-8 …the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah…..8 I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.(NKJV)

    No priest, preacher, pastor, deacon, elder, nor pew sitter can forgive the sins of those who sin against God. Only God can forgive sins.

    No church nor church leader as the power of absolution. ONLY GOD FORGIVES SIN.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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