Stake Conference was held this weekend. Good speakers, good music, good friends. I even got to sit with two of my little grandkids on my lap. They were pleasantly & constantly distracting. Never-the-less, a few pronouncements from the pulpit still managed to penetrate my mostly unfocused mind.
Then the Stake President read an earth shattering scripture! It immediately brought me to attention. No longer was I preoccupied by the children playing games on my lap.
Moroni 8:16—Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear
As he quoted this scripture, the world went into slow motion. Everything seemed to stop as the momentous meaning burst into my brain. You see, for the past 2 years I have lived with fear. I have witnessed others cope with fear. I’ve seen fear spread far and wide throughout my church. And now, here is a scripture from the most perfect book on the planet saying that perfect love must be perfectly absent.
Two Unwholesome Flavors of Fear
1) Members who have questions & doubts are fearful to discuss them with church friends and leaders. They’re even afraid to talk with family. Instead, they grapple with their faith crisis in silence. In painful solitude. Why do they do that? Why do they hide their concerns and excruciating journey from believing family and friends?
The prophet Mormon and my Stake President have provided the clear answer. Where is the love that casteth out all fear? Is it the questioning member who doesn’t have love in his heart? Or is it the unquestioning family, friends and leaders who lack the appropriate love? All I know, is that love is woefully lacking somewhere in the mix. As a result, good people are forced into the closet.
2) As a church, we are afraid to openly discuss our history, doctrine and current policies. This stricture is enforced both by our culture and our leaders. Why are we so afraid to talk in the light of day? Why do we fear discussing the doubts and questions of our friends who are pondering in voiceless isolation?
Hallelujah! Thank heavens for Moroni 8 and stake conference. If there is fear in the church, and there is, love is the cure.
The Time Has Come
My mother resigned in August. My siblings have mostly quit. In the past 2 years, 5 families in my ward have left the church. In the past 3 months, 3 couples in my stake have contacted me with stories of their terribly lonely treks. Their faith now shattered. Their families unaware. Their bishop not told. Their friends soon to be surprised.
It’s time to inject love…maybe even ‘perfect love’…into the mix. We have unknown friends who are in unknown pain. Hiding from us because we are failing to apply the charity that never faileth.
It’s time—to establish a SAFE PLACE in the church for those who doubt or question!!!
Thousands are Watching and Waiting
For 2 years, I have conversed with many, many people. Members who have left. Members who have resigned. Active members whose faith has transitioned. Active members who want to stay but are “hanging on by their finger nails.”
People have told me that they might not have left the church if there had been a safe place for discussion. In fact, 2 wonderful people repeated that sentiment on Sunday.
We are about to celebrate what happened in that little town of Bethlehem. At the same time, there are thousands of Mormons around the world who are anticipating what just might happen in the little town of Sugar Land.
Is there enough perfect love?
Is there enough unfailing charity?
Enough to cast out the fear that currently grips the church so tightly?
What a Christlike Christmas present it would be!!! The gift of a safe place for our dear friends who are painfully plodding away.