Straight Judgment

 I found myself extremely frustrated in Relief Society, causing me to bow out early. Usually, I’m pretty eloquent, but today, I couldn’t get my words to flow together when commenting. At one point the teacher completely cut me off as I tried to make ‘uh’ and ‘yeah’ into a sentence. I am pretty passionate about today’s lesson and thought I had resolved a lot of things I thought were ‘wrong’ within the Church’s doctrine. Turns out, I’m okay with the doctrine of the church, just not okay with church members’ attitude towards them

Today’s lesson was on chastity.

Chastity is sexual purity. Those who are chaste are morally clean in their thoughts, words, and actions. Chastity means not having any sexual relations before marriage. It also means complete fidelity to husband or wife during marriage.

Back in the early days of my conversion there was a huge concern which  weighed heavily on my mind: “What about the gay thing?”

I have never thought much about  homosexuality. I have gay friends who are dear to me and didn’t feel one way or the other about their lifestyle.  I have always carried the ‘Thou Shall Not Judge” commandment when it came to homosexuality, mainly because I didn’t feel human beings are perfect. My thinking is what makes one sin more detrimental than the other? (If in fact, you believe it is a sin.) I felt that if I became a Mormon,  I would be part of a belief system that said that there was something wrong with the homosexual lifestyle.

It gave me enough of a pause to rethink not only Mormonism, but religion as a whole. One of the reasons why I didn’t want to join a religion, was the fact that religions seem to take on some ‘holier than thou’ stance in which all who are not of that religion are doomed to damnation. And I didn’t believe it was my place to judge anyone when I was far from perfect- Mormon or not.

With that said, so much with the teachings of the LDS Church seemed true and there was no denying I was on the right path.However, I didn’t see how I was ever going to be able to justify homosexuality as being wrong. I do not feel right in saying Joe and Cindy’s relationship is more superior than Brad and David’s or Kelly and Samantha’s when the only difference between them was that Joe and Cindy are of opposite genders and had a piece of paper from the state saying they were “married”.

If God’s law is such  that sexual acts between two people of the same gender are always wrong, even if those same acts might be committed by a heterosexual couple with no problem, it sounded as if God has something against people who are attracted to the same gender and how can that be when we are all created in God’s image?

Today, in Relief Society, all of these thoughts resurfaced as I heard homosexuality mentioned and how wrong it was and detrimental it is to the family unit. It made me nauseous, and whether it was intentional or not, I found the comments to be judgmental and not at all loving.

And at the same time, I was also very much ashamed of the fact, I was judging the commenters for their thoughts because 1) I didn’t agree and 2) I wasn’t allowing my heart to actually hear past what I felt was a judgmental attitude.

My attitude towards chastity and sexuality is each of us should try to understand it humbly and respectfully. Targeting in on homosexuality-especially in a room full of straight people who can’t possibly understand the trials of what being a homosexual is like- is -in my opinion-wrong and not at all what I find to be helpful to one’s hope of salvation.

The thing is-and this is what I keep coming back to- is we each struggle with something. For heterosexuals to smugly promote homosexuals as deviants and they are wrong! wrong! wrong! is NOT what I find to be Christ-like behavior.  I can’t find the logic in how that is okay.

I doubt I ever will.

We all will stand before our God one day and have to be accountable for our actions. When it comes to being Christ-like and living in love and kindness, we do not get to say, “Hey, it’s all good!  I’m straight.” as a reason to justify our own sins.

“With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (3 Nephi 14:2-5).

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Judging Isn’t Helping

“I saw her the other day and she was wearing short shorts. Obviously, she’s not practicing modesty.”

“Oh, is this a new thing in the Church? We gossip and condemn people who we think are slipping? I didn’t get that memo.”

A few months ago, I was on Facebook when another friend and I began to banter back and forth. In the exchange, I called him a jackass…without typing jack. I reasoned it was perfectly suitable for me to use that name because, well… he was being one. (You call a duck, a duck, right?)

Long story made very short: someone decided to be offended (not the person who received his new nickname though. I think he thought it was a compliment.) and in our conversation it was mentioned that I was losing my testimony and “What would my children think if they read that?”

Losing my testimony? What would my children think? Okay, this is confession time: I have probably said that word around my kids many times, usually with the word ‘Smart’ in front of it. If using that word meant losing my testimony, then sadly, I lost it a long time ago.

Obviously, the entire thing was an over-exaggeration and probably had little to do with my name choice. However, I felt condemned and judged and that wasn’t the first time I had felt that way.

In my two years of being a member of the church and my twenty plus years of being a Christian…my paths have crossed with the critical, the over-the-top zealots, and the condemners…all in the name of Jesus Christ.

As a new Christian, it can often take the wind out of your sails when you feel persecuted by your Christian brothers and sisters. When we see someone slipping away or having difficulties living the principles of the Gospel, how do we help them? How do we lift their spirits and provide encouragement without condemnation?

Refrain from passing judgement: That sounds easy enough, we all know Christ’s teachings about judging others. Yet, it is something we often forget.

I am guilty of passing judgement. I find myself tsk tsking people’s church attendance, their parenting style, and their understanding over certain church doctrine. I have also been on the receiving end of being judged…anywhere from my choice of movies, my tattoos, my ‘tell it like it is’ attitude and my parenting style. (Probably because I use that word around them. What do you think?)

When it comes to people who have slipped from the church, we should remember one simple thing: Free Agency.

“Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).”

Everyone’s spiritual journey is unique. We all have our own path and we all have our ups and downs. Being a Christian is not about developing a life of perfection. We are going to sin, it is in our nature. However, we can repent and ask for forgiveness.

It is not up to us to judge anyone. We are not God.

I have a hard time with people who claim to be unable to partake in certain things because of their roles in the Church, but do partake in hateful gossip and judgement Your position in any Church doesn’t give you a free pass to condemn others. If anything, you will be held to a higher standard, because whether you like it or not, people are looking to you for an example.

As Christians we should always be aware the world is watching us. Whilst we are not perfect, we should always try to live in a Christlike manner, refraining from gossip, judgement, and reckless living. If we see a fellow Christian slipping, instead of judging and whispering behind their back, how about calling him up and asking if there is anything we can do for them. Chances are what they really want is to be welcomed back. Or maybe not… but at least they know there is at least one person who cares and would be welcoming them back with open arms.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. ~Matthew 7:1

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. ~Exodus 20:16

The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32