Recently someone noted that the covetous feel comfortable at church. Indeed, neo-Calvinists tend to embrace the doctrine that you don’t need to choose between God and Mammon — if you worship God he will deliver Mammon. They tend to think Christ was just a little bit befuddled. They often embrace a “style of their own” and complain if they are not fully welcomed outside of special clusters of believers who understand that, perhaps, if she is wealthy enough a young women’s advisor should be expected to wear trendy clothing, perhaps with see-through shirts and no bra, usually baring her midriff and diamond stud.
But what about those who do not feel comfortable at Church?
I’ve known those who stayed away from the Church because they felt that the smell of tobacco they brought with them was not welcome enough. Indeed, there have been sermons on how we should embrace members with problems with the word of wisdom, helping them return to full faith and fellowship and helping them overcome, though I’ve known a number of members who felt that rather than helping them overcome the Church should just embrace coffee and tobacco, a little ice tea, a small amount of daily weed. In fact, some areas have had approaches that embraced all or portions of that list.
And we all know people who feel that the Church would be just fine if they would give up on home teaching and loving each other. Or just close all the Temples. Or just drop that claim to authority. Or that claim that Christ is the way, the truth and the light, that no man comes to the Father, but by him.
Every issue in the Church has the potential to be divisive. Christ noted that when he said that he was not come to send peace, but a sword, dividing people, families and groups over his doctrine. Not only is having any doctrine divisive, it is very easy to underestimate how divisive doctrinal changes can be. Especially in our Church, given how smoothly the change in extending the priesthood went.
I have dispute resolution as a kind of hobby, or I did (you can visit http://adrr.com/ to get a feel for what I used to do). A major part of the community is the Mennonite organization and those who practice healing congregations and Churches. Some of the best trained and experienced people, dealing with some of the most liberal churches they knew, engaged in more than a year of conciliation efforts on some issues that we discuss regularly on Mormon Matters. They were stunned at the lack of progress they made.
Not that people do not continue to try. Not that they do not continue to fail. In the Anglican Communion, for example (all of the various forms of the Church of England, a Catholic, though not Roman Catholic Church), they recently had a schism that took a majority out of the mainstream of the communion (so to speak. If a majority schisms, are they out of the “mainstream?”). Over forty million members are in the schism. Several other denominations have had similar experiences over gay issues.
We’ve had a pope express that the unusual pedophiles in the Roman Catholic Church are really just an expression of American clergy issues. (Most pedophiles target pre-teens of the opposite sex. Those who target same-sex 14+ year olds are extremely rare and a different pathology). That the statement occurred in the context of discussion AIDS spread in cloistered communities, the transfers of male priests with their life companions and the general acknowledged celibacy exception for homosexual priests in the United States Catholic priesthood is probably not a coincidence. Was he correct? I don’t believe in papal infallibility — and it would not apply to that sort of off the cuff remark anyway.
What is the proper resolution of gay issues in the Church? I don’t know.
I do know that like all of God’s other children, God loves gays, they should be welcome in the Church and that Christ is there to receive them home again as heirs of exaltation. I also know from complexity studies that it is more likely than not (by an r squared of around .75) that the solution we will see will not be one that anyone in the first round of discussion has proposed.
I think it is important to stay respectfully engaged. Very important. I also think it is important to remind people in the Church of the need others have to feel loved and hopeful and of how much pain they feel. That is why when John Dehlin asked if members here felt he should post http://mormonmatters.org/2008/08/14/the-lds-church-homosexuality-and-suicide/ I told him yes — it is important to pay attention to the need to bring all to Christ and to the Church and we need to be sensitive and engaged.
Do I think every issue can be abused? Of course.
But that does not mean that we should not stay engaged, even with the neo-Calvinists, who seem to be having a hard time fitting through that eye of the needle.
Just remember, with man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
I’ll get my post on understanding General Authorities done and up latter. I just thought this needed to be said.