A Peacemaker

I want to start with this great quote (from this post), one I go back to over and over and over again:

Because listen – here’s the thing. After my wrestling match with God, I wasn’t really exhausted enough. I still came up swinging. For a little while, I felt angry. Angry at anyone who had a different understanding of scripture than I did. Angry at people who taught that God disapproved of homosexuality. Prideful about my position, really. And then one day God sat my butt down with the Bible again.

And he said something to me like, “Wait a minute, Lovie. Yes, I love those gays, but I love the ones picketing against them every bit as much. That’s the point.”

And There’s the rub. There’s Christianity. It’s not deciding that one group shouldn’t be judged and then turning around and judging the other group. That is not being a peacemaker. Peacemakers resist categorizing people. They find the light, the good, in each and every person. They don’t try to change people, except by example. They know everyone has something important to teach. They are humble about their ideas and their opinions. They try to find common ground, always.

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Is There a Way to Find Common Ground?

Last year I was on a long car ride with my parents, who were visiting from out of state. My mom and I ended up having a discussion about gay marriage, and it was then that I started thinking about this problem of finding common ground–that is, the problem of Mormons like me and Mormons like my mom being able to rejoice and be edified together as we discuss difficult gospel topics–rather than starting a cage match that ends in tears (probably mine, since my mom is a tough cookie), recrimination, the silent treatment, and (God forbid!) unfriending on Facebook. (I’m happy to say that so far none of these things have happened, at least as far as I know.)

I realize that saying that my mom and I represent two types of Mormons is a vast oversimplification, one that does not fully capture our similarities, and one that does not fully acknowledge that there are lots of types of Mormons–probably as many types as there are Mormons. Even so, I think it is useful to place us in two broad categories that are familiar to Mormons who frequent the Bloggernacle. Read More

Elder Oaks Shows Us the Way Forward

So gay marriage is legal now in Utah. At least for a moment, until the appeals begin. The Church’s response, not surprisingly, is to hope for the ruling to be overturned:

This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.

But this was just the response on day one. Longer term, I wonder how hard the Church will fight this. I mean, if they spent so much money (mostly technically out of members’ pockets rather than directly, but still) and time and goodwill to fight gay marriage in California, how hard will they fight when it’s in their own backyard? Or maybe Utah should be considered their front yard.

(An aside: I feel odd calling the Church “they.” I feel like I should be able to say “we.” I’m a Mormon. I attend and participate. But I have zero voice in or influence over what the general Church leadership does, so in this circumstance, I think it makes sense.)

I think there’s a better way, and it comes out of Elder Oaks’s talk in October Conference. He tells us:

man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.

His intent here is clear, I think. He’s pointing out that even if laws change to allow gay marriage, the Church will still oppose it, so members shouldn’t take cues from secular laws in deciding what’s right and wrong. But the point he’s also making, perhaps unintentionally, is that it doesn’t matter if all the laws change. The Church is fine being out of step with the laws. The GAs will be happy to give a bunch of talks where they dismissively call them “so-called” laws. So given this, why doesn’t the Church take a page out of this talk and just drop its opposition to legalizing gay marriage?