Now that the holidays have passed, I’m getting back to things that intrigued me or otherwise caught my attention. This is a great forum for getting my thoughts in order.
For a year or two, I followed certain bloggers from the LDS faith regularly. As I did, I became aware of more and more people whose ideas were fun to read. Then, I discovered that I was spending so much time reading blogs that it was cutting into important things like studying the scriptures and staying in “real” touch with family and friends. I was also sacrificing sleep to read all of these amazing ideas. I quit following all of the blogs. However, I still hold a fond place in my heart for the bloggers out there who are sharing the gospel as they best understanding.
Some of my friends also follow bloggers, so I clicked a link one had posted on social media to see what it was all about. My mind was completely blown, and not exactly in a good way. Suddenly, I was witness to Latter-Day Saints accusing other Latter-Day Saints of being judgmental and condescending, and I saw people aligning themselves as being “Conservative Mormons” and “Liberal Mormons.” My stomach churned.
Before that moment, I had never considered anything like this!
My Personal Experiences
Sure, I’ve known that some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are more exact in the application of their beliefs than others. I ran into that issue before I ever joined the church! I’ve seen male missionaries wearing earrings (completely scandalous in the early 1990’s). I’ve heard one faithful member take a verbal swipe at another faithful member in the middle of a Sunday School class because they wanted to expose the “error.” I’ve known of drug issues, chastity issues, backbiting, and compassion-less actions– all among faithful members who are coming to church regularly. I’ve just always kept two things in mind:
- The doctrines taught by the church are the most correct on the earth. The people who attend, however, are not.
- Church is a hospital for people with spiritual illnesses. We’ve all got something that needs to be cured, and we’re all in different stages of treatment.
How Can God Work that Way?
The short answer is, I don’t really know. I’m just grateful He’s perfect at it!
Again, from my experiences, here is the pattern I’ve seen hundreds of times:
- Heavenly Father, through experiences, people, and the thoughts and feelings of our hearts and minds, reaches out to us and leads us into His church.
- Being baptized and receiving the gift of being able to keep the Holy Spirit with us always is not a “magic bullet.” We still carry with us all of the context, history, notions, and errors that we had before.
- Heavenly Father accepts us, anyway, and usually puts us to work with some sort of calling to fill in the church. He doesn’t need us to be perfect to be able to inspire and direct us to lift others and benefit the people around us.
- We can maintain errors in thinking and beliefs for years, and still be inspired and accepted by God. When we have reached the point when we are ready, Heavenly Father will work with us to remove the error.
I am certain that Heavenly Father is saddened to see His children dividing themselves into subgroups, pointing fingers and finding fault with those who don’t see things exactly the same way. I see no room for it in the gospel he gave us.
I think He has called us to watch ourselves. Problem areas include
- holding onto pet ideas and notions, and being unwilling to change.
- This is especially problematic when the pet notions are in direct conflict with the scriptures and teachings we have been given.
- The burden is on us to turn to the Lord, through study and prayer, and to ask if we are headed in the right direction. This implies we will change if we are not!
- getting caught up in the idea that I need to be better than someone else in the church.
- A prophet of God has told us that God’s love is always there for us, no matter what. He’s not going to love us more because we can be more righteous (dare I say self-righteous?) than the person sitting next to us in the pew.
- When we focus on how well (or poorly) others are doing, it gives us too much license to forget to do a self-check and see how were are doing. It’s like I’ve told my students and my children — if I’m truly minding my own business, I’ve already got a full time job!
The call is to UNITY. We have been told in the scriptures “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” We are supposed to be looking for ways to love each other, to help and lift each other, and to strengthen each other. If we think we see error in someone else, I think that means it’s time for prayer: prayer for charity and patience in my heart, prayer to see the truth and what is real, and prayer that the other person will receive the blessings that they truly need from Heavenly Father (not the ones I think they need).
In October 2013, President Uchtdorf issued a call to members who have left and anyone interested in joining the church to “Come, Join with Us.” If Father has room for doubts, errors, and imperfections, then I think it is time for all of us to examine our hearts and our actions and seek for unity.