Mormon Response to Orlando Nightclub Shooting
By Ken K. Gourdin
In response to a post at Times and Seasons (see here, last accessed July 16, 2016: http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php/2016/06/wherefore-should-not-the-heavens-weep/) questioning whether reaction among some (many?) Mormons to the recent mass shooting at the Orlando night club might have included some “they-got-what-they-deserved” schadenfreude, I responded:
Re: “Worse” sins and “worse” consequences
Yes, in a way, there is a hierarchy of sins, e.g., consequences of not doing one’s home teaching =/= consequences of murder (I hope! ;-D Still, perhaps someone is adept enough at manipulating logic that s/he can do a sort of “six degrees of separation” thing which shows that, actually, the two, and their consequences, are equivalent.) On the other hand, sin is sin in that all sin separates us from God, no matter what the sin.
I love the LDS production, “The Prodigal Son” (1992). (Yeah, I know: sappy, campy, dated, whatever, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for sap, and camp, and datedness, and whatever!) I especially like the scene in which Jim’s real problem is laid bare. Speaking of Tom, he tells Joanne, “There’s a big difference between what he’s done and anything I might’ve done.” And she replies, “The difference I see is that one of you is trying to repent and one of you isn’t.” He asks, “Since when have I become the big sinner?” And she replies, “The minute that you let your pride convince you that you’re better than somebody else.”
Then, she goes on to say, “Just like cocaine and alcohol almost destroyed your brother, jealousy and bitterness are trying to destroy you. You’ve got to realize that it’s not just your brother with the ‘big sins’ that needs Jesus Christ. You need him just as desperately as any of the rest of us do. If you think you can overcome this bitterness by yourself, you’re just fooling yourself. Tom couldn’t overcome his problems alone, and you can’t, and I can’t. Nobody can. The bottom line is, nobody can make it halfway through this life or into the next without the Savior.”
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a lot of us have Jim’s attitude when it comes to homosexual behavior because we’ve let our pride convince us that we’re better than those who have that particular temptation. But let’s face it: if all sin had the “ick factor” that homosexual behavior does for many of us, it’d be a lot easier to keep the commandments. As much as I think homosexual behavior is a sin, I can’t demand that someone accept my paradigm. Anyone who does share my paradigm and who has that particular struggle has, in some respects, almost a uniquely tough row to hoe, so it’s easy for me to say, “Well, everyone should keep the commandments.” And while I think people should be ready to defend the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of us seem quite eager to impart “Living Water” to others we believe desperately need it … through a fire hose set at full blast.
Say not, “Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.” Rather, say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And let he that is without sin cast the first stone.
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In a hopefully-related vein (apologies to readers who see no connection), I recently posted the following at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion:
It’s easy to confuse what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say about this topic [the law of chastity vis-à-vis our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and gay marriage] with the position of the Church of Jesus Christ, but the two are not identical, not synonymous, and do not necessarily correspond. While the former are entitled to their opinion(s), those opinions should not be confused with the position of the latter. But . . . that sort of nuance doesn’t tend to prevail in discussions on the topic.
Is it important for members of the Church of Jesus Christ to take an unapologetic stand in support of the Church’s position on traditional marriage? Yes. But how one chooses to do so can have a tremendous impact on how the Church of Jesus Christ itself is perceived. One may take a “scorched earth,” “take-no-prisoners” approach, and can attempt to impart Living Water through a fire hose set at full blast without regard to the condition of the seeds and of the soil, or one can take a more prudent approach, disagreeing as necessary without being disagreeable, loving the sinner while not tolerating the sin, and so on.
I wouldn’t necessarily blame people for attempting to isolate, marginalize, and otherwise persecute people of faith based on the manner in which some opinions regarding homosexuality, gay marriage, and related matters have been expressed. Perhaps there is a parallel in the early days of the Restoration: while I don’t condone, in any way, the atrocities committed on members of the Church of Jesus Christ by enemies of the Church, some Church members didn’t help their own cause by how they chose to interact with their neighbors, crowing about how enemies of the Church would be trod under the feet of her members when Zion was soon to be established, and so on. In my opinion, we can stand for what we see as/know to be right without providing too much fodder for those who disagree with us. If we’re not wise in such matters, and if persecution is heaped upon us as a result, in large part, we’ll have only ourselves to blame.