how to be a real mormon.

t51JVW9Y0QXLhe lds church has come under fire again over the past week, and i haven’t seen so much open criticism of–as well fervent apologeticism for–the church, at least not since the days of prop 8. kate kelly, founder of ordain women, is up for possible future excommunication, and though her story hit the ny times seven days ago, the shock waves from her announcement are still reverberating through the bloggernacle, mainstream media, and my facebook news feed. there has been a lot of great, open communication about the issue, which i love, and then a lot of judgmental hypocrisy, particularly among the members of the church, which sucks.

i wasn’t even going to write about this, because everyone and their dog already has, and it sort of seemed like there was nothing new left to say, but then i saw one of the most hateful things ever pop up in my facebook feed, and i was like, well, i guess i need to write a pissy rant now. so, about this disgusting post i saw on fb: i was scrolling through my feed, taking in everything that had been said about this whole kate kelly thing, and i came across a status that had a link to and this status said: “I DO NOT APPROVE OF ANYTHING ANYONE IN THIS GROUP SAYS, I DO NOT AFFILIATE WITH THEM BECAUSE I AM A REAL MORMON.” that’s their emphasis with the all caps shouty language, not mine.

before i move on, let me say three things. first, i am no longer friends with that person. second, i don’t actually know exactly how i feel about the ordain women movement, to be honest. do i want the priesthood? i don’t know. do i think lds women should have the choice to receive the priesthood? yes. do i think kate kelly is doing the right thing by publicly petitioning the leaders of the lds church for access to the priesthood? yes, if she feels that is the right thing for her (it probably wouldn’t be the way i personally would handle this issue, but who cares). third, i do not in any way claim to represent the lds church, its members, or anything like that. i am simply a mormon with an opinion who also happens to have a blog and access to a computer.

all that being said, this is not a post about the ordain women movement. i do think women will be given the opportunity to be ordained at some point in the future, and for now, i am happy with that. i don’t have all the answers, and i am fine with that. being a part of any religion requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief (similar to the way in which we turn off some of our rational mind in order to enjoy a movie about dead people reanimating and eating brains), and that’s ok by me. i’m happier as a religious person, which i know through extensive and often excruciatingly painful personal experience, so i’m willing to deal with some tradeoffs. after much searching and prayer, i have decided to rest my faith (when it comes to unpalatable church doctrine relating to things like ordination of women) on this quote from david o. mckay, who was president of the church from 1951-1973: “there is not now, and there never has been, a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse…it is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice will some day be changed.” in case you aren’t familiar with church history, the brief explanation of this is that until 1978, most black men were not eligible for the priesthood, and one of the church’s reasons for this was that black people were born under the curse of cain, which made them unworthy to hold the priesthood. david o. mckay’s dismissal of this abhorrent rationalization is comforting to me, in a way, because it supports my belief that women will one day receive the priesthood. hope is all i need.

that was a long sidebar, but in any case, this post is not about a church policy. no, this post is about how absolutely nauseating i find it when members of the lds church talk about other members like they are garbage. it would be awesome if the example i gave above was an isolated incident, but it’s not. i have seen so many repulsive and unchristlike things said about kate kelly and the members of ordain women over the past week, and i want to go on record (for anyone who cares) and say that i DO NOT AFFILIATE WITH ANYONE WHO SAYS THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT REAL MORMONS WHEN IN REALITY ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE A MORMON CAN BE A MORMON ACCORDING TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE ACTUAL FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY, JESUS CHRIST. yes, there are certain sacrifices that must be made to become a member of the church, but anyone who is willing to make those sacrifices can become mormon through baptism. even people who have not been baptized into the church can technically call themselves mormon and there’s nothing anyone else can do about it, and i think that’s great. i have heard urban legends about members who have left the church but still chosen to call themselves mormon and even continue to pay tithing because they think it’s the right thing to do, and honestly i would be one of those people. i love paying tithing for personal reasons, and i don’t intend on ever stopping, so there.

the lds church that i know is not a church of contention, or hate, or alienation, which is what i have seen from many members since this whole thing blew up. the church i know is one of love, acceptance, and charity. of course, there are people within the church who do not abide by these principles, but they are human, they make mistakes, and i do not condemn the church for the shortcomings of its members. i do, however, find it so terribly discouraging to see members shame and censure other members like this former friend of mine did.

you might have sensed that i seem overly sensitive about this issue, and i will admit that is true. i have been inactive from the lds church at many different points in my life, for many different reasons. but i always went back, and i was always accepted with open arms (though i have been judged harshly by extremely hypocritical and bitter, hateful people who obviously don’t understand the core values of the church). like i mentioned earlier, i am just happier when i am a member of a religious congregation, and i am grateful that i have always been welcomed lovingly when i choose to return to that congregation. so i have seen the love of christ at work through the members of my church, and i know the power of that love. and that post i saw on fb is the opposite of love. it is vile. it is unacceptable. it is a complete misrepresentation of what the church is all about.

and what is the church all about, or what do i think it should be about? i think the church should be about a community of contrite sinners, who gather to worship and to fellowship. whose mutual goal is to add to society, not tear it apart with their bare hands. the church should (and, i believe, can) be about the thoughtful pursuit of a personal relationship with god, rather than attacking others in the church who are doing their best to pursue their own personal relationships with god in whatever way they feel works for them. these types of righteous pursuits should be supported and cultivated by the church community at large. the church should be a haven, a refuge. a place of rest for all those who trudge wearily through this world and just want to be loved and appreciated and guided and respected.

so, to conclude. how to be a good mormon: stop calling yourself a real mormon. it’s not cute.

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