It’s headlined in national news this morning–the first thing I saw when I checked the news app on my phone. I was shocked. Not because the news itself is shocking, but that the news media felt it was important enough to position the story first before the North Korean Threat, #45’s latest antics, or the recent attack on French soldiers in Paris. I wasn’t sure that my news app is actually smart enough to know that I’m Mormon, and therefore any news about church members would be that important to me, so I went to my PC and checked AOL, which I almost never use. It appeared third after #45’s latest antics in relation to North Korea and the attack in Paris. Maybe the media actually does think that this is super important news.
So here it is:
I read it because I thought there must be something in there that actually threatens the image of the church enough for the media to put it up front and center. My reaction though, when I discovered that brother Hamula had not done anything to threaten that image, was so what? I may not agree with excommunication, but church discipline happens on a regular basis. Brother Hamula is first and foremost a human being, and being human, he is no less vulnerable to temptation than any other church member. Perhaps the real surprise is that church disciplinary action hasn’t happened at this level of leadership for nearly thirty years.
I applaud the church’s initiative in publishing this news first. Transparency is an important tool for open communication. The church has often, and rightly, been accused of keeping truths pertaining to its history and leadership under wraps, but in this case, I feel it’s none of our business.
I am reminded of a church fast and testimony meeting where a young man stood to bare his testimony. In so doing, the teen lamented the fact that a former leader of Young Women and her husband, a former Elders Quorum leader, had recently left the church. He said he was shocked and saddened by this news, and that it had caused him to experience a faith crisis, and feared that those choices would lead others astray. While I understood where the teen was coming from in terms of example, I felt that he was unfairly focusing on unknown choices of the couple, and that perhaps he should focus instead on developing a relationship with Christ so that he would not need to lean on the testimonies of others. I was relieved when an older gentleman later stood up to put my thoughts in less judgemental terms: What matters is our own relationship with God, and not how we perceive that relationship among others. After all, we can’t possibly know what is in the hearts of our neighbors, or even family members.
I agreed, and still do. It is the church’s policy to carry out disciplinary hearings in complete confidentiality. This is none of my business. My heart goes out to Brother Hamula and his family. It must be terribly humiliating to have this news spread to the whole world. This man and his family, more than ever, need the love and support of neighbors and friends who are now very likely to distance themselves given this highly publicized action. We don’t need to sit amongst ourselves and speculate what may have caused this perceived “fall from grace,” but rather pray for him and his family to feel God’s love, and to find charity and acceptance as they work through this incredibly tough time.
As for me, I’ve said my piece. I don’t know the man personally, and the fact that he is a fallible human being will not make me any less fallible. One man’s choices can not, and will not, change mine. I am no better a person because of someone else’s choices, but I am certainly better because of Hamula’s words regarding the sacrament and atonement. I will continue to hold those words as truth in my heart, and let God handle the rest.