Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Plea to the Saints Who Opposed Prop 8

No, I'm not going to ask you to "speak out," or to "educate" your fellow Saints, or to write letters or in any other way lobby Church leaders. In fact, I'm asking you more or less to do the opposite.

Please just be quiet about it. Don't make a fuss. Don't raise your hand in class and make that courageous, lead-balloon-like comment, or make some grandiloquent statement in testimony meeting. You will not convince anyone of anything. You will annoy people. You will also create an opportunity for contention. You or others will be tempted to argue. Or you will be tempted to feel angry and excluded if you don't get the response you hoped for. So just let it go. If someone asks your opinion, and they seem to sincerely want to know what you think, tell them the truth, but don't go out of your way to try to convert people.

If you feel obliged, go ahead and blog about it. But try not to argue with people who disagree with your posts.

This is not the coward's way out. In fact, often it takes more courage to just swallow your pride and keep quiet, and to quietly do what is right, than it does to grandstand. You won't be letting me, or anybody else down. Not so long as you live your convictions.

Do not under any circumstances resign, or even threaten to resign your membership in the Church. It's not because the Church will be poorer without you (though it will) but because you will be poorer without the Church. Your capacity to do good and to minister to gay and lesbian members and non-members alike will be diminished if you cut yourself off from the blessings of the priesthood and the temple. And resigning from the Church will not help me or anyone else who is currently excluded from the Church.

If you are one of the few who has been unjustly disciplined over a matter of conscience -- for instance, by having your temple recommend or a calling taken away -- pray to the Lord to ask for strength to forgive whomever has done this. And then ask forgiveness for whatever anger and resentment you may feel toward them as a result. If you have been treated unfairly, the Lord will doubly bless you if you remain faithful.

If I could, I would do anything to regain my membership in the Church except the two things I cannot do: cease to be gay and/or abandon the family I have made solemn vows to love, protect, care for and stay faithful to. If you are in the Church and have the blessings of the priesthood and the temple, do not under any circumstances throw those blessings away. If I hear one more person say they have resigned their Church membership over this, I am going to cry.

If we are wrong -- and I freely admit that we could be -- perhaps the Lord will forgive us, so long as our heart was in the right place, so long as our primary motives were love and a hunger for fairness. If our motives were a desire to be right or to win, to look less foolish to our non-Mormon friends, or a desire to make the Church or its leaders look foolish, such motives will not be mitigating if we are wrong, and they are not so ennobling in any event.

If we are right, then have faith that the Lord is at the head of his Church, and that he will correct and perfect the Church in his time and in his way. Trust the work of the Spirit. If the Spirit was able to work in you to change your heart and open it to a way of seeing things that once didn't seem so obvious to you, trust that the Spirit is also capable of working in others. Be happy that the Lord's gradual work of correcting the Church has already begun in you! And wait patiently for that work to continue in others!

Pray for me and for others in my situation. Pray for the Church and its leaders. Be grateful that you do not have to stand in their shoes. Pray for yourself. Pray for light and truth and understanding, and pray for correction if you are wrong. Pray for the Spirit to show you the way, and teach you when to speak and when to be silent, when to act and when to wait. Pray for unconditional love. Pray for the Church to be preserved in love and harmony and mutual forgiveness. And then make it so. And in the end, all will we well.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

that was beautiful and well said. such incredible faith.

amazing. thank you for that.

Beck said...

Giving quiet and loving voice or face within the troops, within the Church, seems to be of more value and the right road to take (at least for me). The trick is how to be an example of the love and faith you so eloquently describe and still giving "voice" to another point of view or perspective as "one among them", if no one knows what's boiling inside me.

Holly said...

Do not under any circumstances resign, or even threaten to resign your membership in the Church. It's not because the Church will be poorer without you (though it will) but because you will be poorer without the Church. Your capacity to do good and to minister to gay and lesbian members and non-members alike will be diminished if you cut yourself off from the blessings of the priesthood and the temple.

I beg to differ. My ability, capacity and opportunity to do good have all been increased rather than decreased by my departure from the church. My life is richer, not poorer, after leaving the church. For one thing, I am more open to people outside it--which, after all, is most of the world.

Your argument is one of the most tired and insulting argument for remaining in the church, the sad and misguided notion that human capacity for goodness is somehow diminished or impaired if one is not Mormon.

What truly impairs spiritual development is retaining a sense of Mormonism's superiority. People with that view are of necessity cut off from the goodness inherent in people who aren't Mormon, and too focused on getting people to become or remain Mormon, instead of just appreciating their lovely, marvelous, wonderful humanity. And that's very sad.

Bill McA said...

Once again, John, you have hit the nail on the head. As our visiting general authority told us two weeks ago at our stake conference, this is not our battle, it's the Lord's. It's His church and He is leading it.

J G-W said...

Beck - I think the answer to your question is to pray and listen to the Spirit. If there's one insight I've gained that's more valuable than any other, it's that there's no "strategy" that will serve us if we are cut off from the Spirit. If the Lord's work of perfecting the Church is to be accomplished through us, there is no other way.

Sometimes, when we're "out of solutions," when we can't see a way forward, and we turn to our Heavenly Father and ask, "How can I help?" that is when the Spirit is able to give us the best guidance.

J G-W said...

Holly - I think you are right that there is a misguided notion that we are no good outside of the Church. That's not what I'm saying.

We are, in ourselves, powerful, beautiful and amazing. My understanding of who we are includes the concept that we are literally children of God, with all that that implies. And anyone with eyes to see and a heart to feel can see the divinity in each and every one of us, whether we are members of the Church or not.

Many in the Church fail to live up to their potentials. They live in fear of how others will judge them. They judge themselves and others. They can act in ways that are shortsighted or selfish or hurtful. The Church doesn't automatically make people perfect. We can also often see not just individual bad behavior but collective behavior that is discouraging to say the least. But a true understanding of the purpose of the Church and of the gospel will teach us not to expect perfection from the Saints, even as we strive for it.

But I have seen how the gifts and blessings of the Spirit and the priesthood -- when properly used -- can add so much to our ability to work for good. I've seen it in my ward and in my family. And my point is, if you have those gifts, Don't give them up! Listen to the Spirit and use them properly, the way they are intended (i.e., in accordance with the principles of D&C section 121).

J G-W said...

Bill - Thanks so much. As you know, this is a struggle for me. Please keep me and my family in your prayers.

Ron Schow said...

John

I just want to say, as always, I appreciate your peaceful spirit. I pray for you and your family and for all of us regardless of the sides we are on. We need to keep talking and keep listening to each other. Your blog is an extremely important voice in this ongoing discussion.

J G-W said...

Thanks, Ron. Your voice is extremely important as well!