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Learning How to Be Latter-day Saints: An Opportunity

A thought that seemed appropriate
By now, you have probably already heard about the new policy from the Church that has been leaked to the press about children of same-sex parents. I have not said much about it, and on topics like this I usually prefer to listen to the perspectives of others who are more directly affected, or who have more relevant experience and expertise.

The other night, however, a friend gave me a call. He wanted to talk about the new policy and get some of my thoughts on it. We had a great conversation, and I appreciated his giving me a call. After our conversation, I decided I did have something to say about the current firestorm. It is not going to be long, and probably not terribly profound. And, in fact, it is not even going to be directly on the policy or people’s reaction.

Instead, I want to talk about the opportunity this gives us all as Latter-day Saints. You see, there are two very important things that we are all called to do as members of this Church, both of which are being put the test by the present atmosphere. To make matters worse, these two things are being held in tension by the present discourse. Both, however, are important.

First, right now I think it is very important that we live up to our covenant to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and bear the burdens of those who are carrying heavy loads at this time. Regardless of what your thoughts are on the policy, there is no question that many people—fellow Saints—are hurting over the implications of this policy. Their pain is real, legitimate, and understandable.

These people do not need lectures, exhortations, or worse, indictments upon their character. Instead, they need love, support, and encouragement. I am not going to say what form that should take—odds are it will vary depending on the person. We all know how to love, though, and the kinds of things we can do to express love and support to others. At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters are in need of our love, now is the time to do those small and simple things that can assure someone they are loved and wanted.

The second thing that is being tested is our willingness to support and sustain the brethren. Strong emotional reactions have leveled all kinds of accusations against the brethren which are unwarranted and undeserved. Even more level headed discussions have been highly critical of the brethren and the policy. While I know it is hard, and that it hurts, now is not the time for brash, emotional reactions.

Trust me when I say that I know how difficult it is to be calm and patient while hurting. I also know how obnoxious it is to be told to be patient by people who simply are not experiencing the same pain we are, and don’t seem to be trying to understand it either. But I also know, from direct personal experience, that patience is exactly what is called for under these kinds of circumstances.

Take time to process your feelings. Give sometime to see how implementation of the policy is going to pan out. Yes, there are probably going to be some fumbling and mishandling of the baton in the interim, and those are going to cause additional pain. But patient forgiving has its own healing properties.

The men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators need our support, our prayers, and our understanding right now. Again, I am not going to say what this should look like, but I will say this: at the very least, it should include trying to understand the rationale behind a policy like this; and I would suggest allowing some time for contextualization. (It bears pointing out that the policy was leaked by an excommunicated members who is highly interested in hurting the Church, which kind of rushed the Church into publicly announcing it. More proper roll out likely could have reduced the pain for many of those affected by the change.)

I know that a lot of people right now feel like they must choose between these two priorities. I’ve seen a lot of people doing one well, but not the other. In fact, I seen many people explicitly not do one in the name of the other (in both directions). But we need to do both. It is hard, difficult, messy, and complicated. In trying to do both, you likely won’t do either perfectly. But I maintain that both can and should be done, and it is my prayer that during this crucial time, Latter-day Saints will strive toward this loftier goal. 

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