About Those Missionaries . . .

About Those Missionaries . . .

I’m socially weird. I meet people on Facebook and become friends with them, rather than making friends and adding them on Facebook. I’ve found many of these friends in group chats and, I admit , I even made several good friends while playing Kingdoms of Camelot. I quit playing after a few months (I was becoming alarmingly obsessed) but I made some good friends and added them to my “collection.”  I never have met most of these friends in person, and I probably never will.

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That’s not to say that all of my Facebook friends came in this fashion, but a large handful of them have. In the past year or so, I have joined a couple of Facebook groups for progressive-minded Mormons. Two or three of my new friends came from these groups. I was a bit flattered, then, that one of these new friends asked to hear my opinion of one of his recent posts.

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My new friend said, Continue reading

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Consider yourself hugged

Oh, there are so many things I want to talk about today. I am so behind on my posts that I am full of things I want to write to catch myself up. And even though I haven’t really addressed issues such as abortion, gun control, housing for homeless, climate change, or feminism yet, I have decided to talk about something I talk about  a lot. Something that is near and dear to my heart: homosexuality.

Some of my family members agree in spirit, that homosexuality is not a choice; but none of them have any interest in joining any sort of campaign showing support to gay people. I can understand those who are afraid that their ward members might not understand, but this is not the case with my family members who live nearby. The reason for their reticence is very simple. As my conservative neighbor, who agrees with them, says, “I don’t march around telling people I’m straight; why do they need to march around telling people they’re gay?”  Wow. If it were only that simple.

Imagine this scenario. You were born with blonde hair. You grew up with blonde hair.  When you look in the mirror, you see blonde hair.  You can dye your hair and pretend that your blonde hair doesn’t exist, but deep down you know that your hair is blonde. People tell you that it’s not true, that you’re not really blonde. They tell you that they disagree with you about being blonde. They tell you that a loving Heavenly Father would never allow any of his children to be born blonde, and that you can stop being blonde if you pray hard enough.  People make fun of you, they tell blonde jokes and threaten to hurt you because you are blonde. They tell you that being blonde is a sin, and that you absolutely MUST give up your blondness if you ever want to go to heaven.

Yes He does.

You want those people to understand that what they say is not true. You want them to understand that you HAVE tried to pray your blonde away. You want them to understand that you’ve died your hair black, but the blonde roots keep coming back. You want them to understand that their words hurt. You will never tell them that you once thought that the only way to get away from your blondness was suicide. You have studied your scriptures, listened to general conference, and prayed, and there is one thing you KNOW for sure. God doesn’t care that you’re blonde, he loves you unconditionally.

I don’t exactly know what a gay person goes through, but there is one thing I know. I was loud and awkward as a kid.  I’ve worn glasses since I was two, and sometimes my clothes weren’t as stylish as the ones the other kids wore.  And now that I’m older, I’m fat too. I do know what it’s like to be bullied. I know the frustration of having studied hard and come to a true knowledge of a much-debated subject (like evolution and climate change), only to be told that despite my education, I’m STILL wrong. And yes, Molly, I even know what it’s like to have a firm knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a deep understanding of His love for me, only to be told that I am not Christian because I am Mormon, or that I am leading people astray because I actually believe in any sort of god or book of religion.

It hurts to be misunderstood. It hurts to have loved ones tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about even though you know that you do. I have never been truly suicidal, but I do know that I would have been if had lived in a situation where so-called Christian family members teased, bullied and preached against me because I couldn’t see without my glasses.

I get it. I know why they have gay pride parades.  It’s the one time when GLBTs can be surrounded by others who are like them and have a chance to show that they deserve respect because they are human beings–and hopefully, they will be heard. I want gay people to know that it is NOT Christian to judge someone or say hurtful things because they are different. I want them to know that even though I am a Mormon, I never would have voted for proposition 8. I want to give them a hug and try to reassure them that there are Christians and Mormons who truly understand.

There is a gay pride parade in Salt Lake this Sunday, and I REALLY want to march with Mormons Building Bridges, or at least to help run the hugging booth.  I normally ride the train into SLC because our only car has black transmission fluid (it’s supposed to be red). We were told that the transmission would last longer if we don’t change out the fluid, and we really do need to wait until August so that we can get a good loan on a good car. But the train doesn’t run on Sundays. Family members who live close by just don’t see the need to go. My visiting teacher is marching with her family in the parade on Sunday, but her car will be full of family members, so I can’t ride along.

Blogging is my only way to participate this year, so I decided I’d better do it loud and proud. I’m a Christian. I’m a Mormon. I’m trying to be like Jesus, and love everyone just as he asked me to do. I hope you hear me.

Consider yourself hugged.

*** “Molly Mormon” is a term often used to refer to Ultra-Conservative Mormons who adhere strictly, and often blindly, to misunderstood or outdated teachings of the LDS church.

Love your neighbor. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Here’s something you don’t know about me:  I once had a boyfriend who was a preacher for the Christian Reformed Church.  I thought I was in love with him. I thought I wanted to marry him. But what I didn’t understand, was that he didn’t love me. At least not in the Christian way, that is.  And to me, love without the light of Christ is not love at all. It’s just lust. What an oxymoron it is to be in love with a man who considers himself a servant of God, but is unable to do so in a Christ-like way.

Let me explain. When it came down to it, he told me that he couldn’t marry me (even though he said he loved me) because I was a Mormon (LDS), and Mormons are not Christian. As a “messenger of God,” that would just be wrong. I was devastated. It was tough for me, because I even though I never used the word liberal, I did tell him how I struggled with members of my own faith because of our different ways of thinking. And he told me that he loved me because I was so different in the way that I understood God: not like the hypocrites who talked the talk and couldn’t walk the walk. But I was so nervous about losing him because I was a Mormon, I never could come right out and tell him that I was a liberal.  Honestly, I hadn’t come out of that political closet yet.

We had a hard time letting go of each other. He said that he couldn’t let go of me, but he also couldn’t marry me. I knew that his love for me was conditional when he finally admitted to me that the reason he was stringing me along was because he was hoping that he would be able to convert me to his version of “true Christianity”. I had an even harder time explaining to him why it was finally so easy to walk away from him. I tried to use the parable of the Good Samaritan to show how he was like the priest and the Levite who professed to be godly men, but passed right on by the injured man. Although they professed to love God, they couldn’t love their neighbor (Matthew 37-39). I was trying to tell him that as soon as he admitted that he wanted me to leave my church, I KNEW that he didn’t love me.  Not in the way God asked us to love one another. He just didn’t get it.

So when I found this statement from The Christian Left, a group that I follow on Facebook, I was finally able to put my finger on what I was actually trying to say, and why it hurt me so much:

We believe one of the most important things we do here is let as many people as possible know we’re here. When we say “we’re here” we mean all 191,000+ of us. Do you know why? Because liberal Christians are tormented by conservative “Christians.” They are told they “can’t be a liberal and a Christian,” which is saying “You aren’t a Christian,” which is saying “God has rejected you.” Do you know what it’s like to have doubts on whether God has rejected you? We can’t think of anything worse, period. That’s why this community is so important and it’s why we keep coming back. Liberal Christians often suffer the rejection and alienation of friends and family. We want them to know they’re not alone and that God has NOT rejected them, period.

I added my own thoughts in the comment section:

This is what it is like being me. Except add the Mormon part to it, because many Christians will say you can’t be Mormon and Christian, while many Mormons say you can’t be Mormon and liberal. It’s a tough row to hoe.

When I was finally able to put both ideas together I finally knew why it was so tough to admit my liberal leanings to my boyfriend.  If he was struggling to accept me because I was Mormon, how would he handle it when he found out I was liberal too?  If I was afraid of the reactions of my Mormon friends and family when they found out I was liberal, how would my conservative Christian boyfriend handle it?  He didn’t. He couldn’t. It was a doomed relationship.

To be honest, even though I have some very good Christian friends, I DO NOT at all feel accepted by the general Christian public. Not because I am a Liberal, but because I am a Mormon. And once those who understand that I am a Christian because I am a Mormon find out that I am a liberal because I am a Christian, will they reject me too? So let me try to further explain:

Being a liberal Christian means understanding what Jesus meant when he told us to love God with all our hearts and then to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. He told us that there are no greater commandments than these two (Mark 12: 30-31). So why can’t we keep them? If you can accept yourself, knowing all of your flaws and inadequacies, and you can love God because you know that he loves you despite all of your inadequacies (THAT is God’s amazing grace), then why can’t you accept others whose flaws and inadequacies are different from yours?   Being a liberal Christian means knowing that placing judgement on others means asking for judgment upon your own head. Did not Jesus say “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2)?

I just wanted to be loved as God loves me. Unconditionally.  I guess that was asking for too much. I guess that is asking too much. I was hurt. I was rejected. By a human being. I’m not perfect. He’s not perfect. I guess I’ve been guilty of judging too. In the end, I am so glad that it didn’t work out between us.  It isn’t right for me to expect perfection from any human being.  I just wanted someone who was trying. And I have that now.

My second husband was Catholic when I met him. It didn’t bother him at all that I was Mormon. In fact, he was very interested in understanding what it meant for me to be LDS. I was worried that he might join the church for the wrong reason (me). I told him that it was okay with me if he wanted to stay Catholic. I told him that if he was really sure that he did want to be a Mormon, that I didn’t want him to do it until after we were married, and I even went so far as to tell him that I would be angry if I found out he was joining the church to make me happy. And I meant it. It was a year and a half after we were married that Tony “took the plunge”. And today, four years later, he is preparing to be sealed with me in the temple. We don’t always agree, and we definitely have our differences, but I do know that LDS or not, I have a truly Christian husband.

I admit that I still wish for an apology from my ex-boyfriend. It would be nice to know that he understood how he hurt me. In fact, it would be nice if we could all catch a glimpse into our neighbors’ hearts when we hurt them. Even though God can do it, we can’t. So why would we expect an an apology when we are hurt by our neighbors? You can forgive your neighbor when they hurt you and don’t apologize. Perhaps they have no clue that what they have done was hurtful. I was single after a divorce from my first husband for eleven years. He had been a member of the bishopric. It was during that eleven year period that I met that Reformed Christian boyfriend. I took a long time, but I was able to forgive my ex-husband. In fact, I was already into my second marriage before I could truly purify my heart and let go of that hurt. I’ll be able to forgive that old boyfriend too. And it will be a good thing because that is what we have been asked to do (Colossians 3:13).

All Christians don’t think alike.  All Mormons don’t think alike. You will even find differences of opinion from church leaders. It’s okay. You can love your neighbor despite their differences.  It’s what God asked us to do because he loves ALL of his children, Christian, Jew, Muslim, and Atheist. We are all loved equally because that is what God does. It is ungodly to be hateful and judgmental. If you can’t do it on your own, remember, “with God, all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). I am trying, and I have a husband who is trying. You can try too.