The Man Adam–A Moral Duty to Stand for Truth

 

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In the October 2016 General Conference of the Mormon Church, one man voted opposed in the Conference Center.  You can read his miraculous story here.

At this point, he still prefers to remain anonymous.  So, I have been referring to him as ‘The man Adam.’  He is an active, faithful member of the church.  Adam currently serves in a calling that requires high council approval and is extended by the stake president.  Today he sent me this excellent essay and gave me permission to publish it on my blog.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Blind Obedience vs. Open-eyed Servants of Jesus Christ

I had an interesting experience in Sunday School the other week. For years, I have heard on occasion the question raised of whether Mormons are guilty of just blindly following our leaders, i.e. if we practice blind obedience. On every occasion, the answer was no. We don’t believe in blind obedience. We believe in obtaining a witness for ourselves of the principle in question. After all, Joseph Smith, Jr. once said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” (John Taylor, “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339). But I was very surprised on a recent Sunday when the question of blind obedience came up, and the group agreed—without argument to the contrary—that we do indeed believe in blind obedience.

It seems the controversy over the November 2015 anti-gay policies has got many of us thinking. Some of us do not take an interest in such issues and are pretty much unaware of the details of the policies and their potential sticking points. Others have read the policies and find them to be consistent with church doctrine. Still others have familiarized themselves with the policies and identified some issues, but have chosen—or felt guided by the Spirit—to put those concerns on a mental/spiritual shelf and follow blindly. I have actually had many people tell me things like, “just be patient” and “just put it on a shelf and decide not to worry about it.” But there are others of us—a fourth group—who feel compelled by the Spirit to object. We feel a moral duty to stand for truth.

To many, the moral duty to stand for truth is equivalent to standing with the prophet and the other apostles on the issue of traditional marriage. But to some, the moral duty to stand for truth means to stand in opposition to policies that we clearly see are harmful, unnecessary and against the scriptures. We are not—as many, including Dallin Oaks, have suggested—following after false gods in the wilderness (“No Other Gods,” General Conference, October 2013). Our motivation is not a desire to follow the trends of the world or to seek the world’s approval. Rather, we seek to be true to our understanding of God’s nature, Jesus’ teachings and our commitment to be his servants—not blind servants of the church or its leaders, but open-eyed servants of Jesus Christ.

It used to bother me a lot when I would encounter people of other faiths who did not affirm the teachings of their leaders. For example, I know many Catholics who consider themselves to be fully practicing and in good standing in their church, but who also reject many core teachings of the church that are affirmed by the Pope. These include teachings on birth control, divorce, etc. I feel that now that I have had the experience myself of disagreeing with my church’s leaders, I have a clearer, more mature understanding of the dynamic that exists between church leadership and church members, and that the seemingly simple answer of “just accept and follow” simply cannot work in every case.

As I have learned about LDS church history, I have encountered similar problematic situations where people objected and often separated from the church due to disagreements. I read with dismay how David Whitmer—whose testimony of the Book of Mormon was unshakeable—was driven out of the church, because he objected to issues such as the manner of church governance, the publishing of revelations, and the office of High Priest. I wondered at how so many church members, including the prophet Joseph’s own wife and children, could choose to reject Brigham Young and his version of Mormonism that held polygamy as a central tenet and a practice necessary for exaltation in the highest degree of heaven.

As I learned about other Latter Day Saint tradition groups, I found similar issues. I was again dismayed as I learned about how so many people left the RLDS church in the 1980’s and 1990’s over issues such as the ordination of women to the Priesthood, the building of the temple in Independence, MO, the move away from the President of the church being a direct descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr., and the change ofthe RLDS church’s name to Community of Christ. Interestingly, I even have a Community of Christ friend who left her church due to its being overly liberal and accepting gay people in its congregations and ordaining them to the Priesthood. This is the exact opposite of my own situation as a member of the LDS church. So, why can’t all these people just suck it up, listen to their leaders and get with the program? Well, it’s just not that easy. We feel our consciences, and even the very Spirit of the Lord, instructing us to stand for the truth we clearly see.

So many have left the LDS church in recent years over the issues of the church’s anti-gay agenda, as well as problems of history and truth claims. And yet, people like Sam Young, myself and many others are staying. I wish to assert again very strongly that we are not motivated by a desire to follow the trends of the world or to find the approval of the world. This is simply a false assumption. What we are trying to do is pull off something that many—as referred to above—have failed to do. We are trying to remain in our faith tradition while being faithful to the truth we clearly see. We are trying to manage complex conflicts between our commitments to an institutional church, an historical church, our fellow saints, our own selves, and the Lord himself. The advice to just put these conflicts on a shelf and follow along in blind obedience simply will not work in all cases. And so the question is, is there room in God’s church for the likes of us? I really, sincerely hope so.

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Conversations. Chapter 2: George Continued

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From George (For Context see Chapter 1 )

Dec 16, 2016

The Mormon Stories group is interesting. My friend has been watching it for almost five years now, and for all the claims that it is a “safe space,” it seems nothing of the sort. It seems to be mostly populated by people eager to help folks leave mormonism and a few individuals gullible enough to believe that it is a forum that is safe for questioning. The only safety there is in bashing the Church and your warm reception there is because they recognize you for what you are. To put it politely, you are someone trying to be an exit counselor, but you want to do it while simultaneously wearing the imprimatur of a member of the Church, ostensibly in good fellowship. Based on what you’ve written, you seem hopeful that your stake president will even give it his blessing. It seems clear to me, and I trust to anyone else who might read your extensive writing on the subject, that you have no interest in helping people regain their testimony and actually be productive members of the Kingdom. Instead, the impact of your efforts will only lead people to leave the Church or to hide in plain site as you are attempting to do.

Please inform me better if I am misreading you. Would you consider your efforts a success if someone you worked with returned to full fellowship and sustained the brethren? I doubt it. If one of your Talkeria crowd called you today and said, “you know what Sam? I was wrong. The Church is right on gay marriage. I’m not troubled by any of the historical stuff either. Thanks for talking with me, but I don’t find your advice useful any more.” Would that be a success in your book?

I wish I could wish you well in your work. I fear that you are accomplishing nothing of eternal value, and contributing great harm to the souls of those you influence. As your efforts seem only calculated to remove people from the Church and inspire insurrection among those that stay, I cannot wish you well with this. No good and honest member of the Church could in good conscience.

My Response

Dec 17, 2016

Dear George,

Thanks for responding in an attempt to understand where my heart is. That means a lot to me.

I really owe you a debt of gratitude. You have forced my hand. I’m going to lay cards on the table that I have hidden until now. I’m coming out of the closet to reveal my true intent.

This doesn’t have anything to do with coming out to the Stake President or the Bishop. I’ve been open with them. They know where I stand & how I believe. My Stake President has read my blog and watched the Mormon Stories interview with John Dehlin. They are both good men with good hearts.

This isn’t about coming out to my fellow members. Hiding in plain sight? Sometimes I wish I’d hidden. But, I didn’t. I’ve been naively open. Many members in my ward and stake have also read my blog and seen the John Dehlin podcast.

Nope. The people that I have not been transparent with are my friends who have left the church and those who are seriously considering it. I’m a little nervous about coming clean. But, I trust my friends who have made their exit from the church. I have found a safe place among them to sort out my journey. It was within the sheltered Facebook walls of the Mormon Stories Group that I made my decision to stay in the LDS church. Made my decision to embrace the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Made my decision to go back to the temple. Made my decision to create a safe space for people to talk and stay in the church if possible.

George, during my faith journey, there were no safe spaces inside the church to discuss my questions and doubts. No one to empathize. Actually, no one I knew could empathize with my pain and loneliness, because they had not undergone this journey.

A year ago, if I had told my Mormon Stories friends what I’m going to tell you now, I likely would have been harshly judged. But, over that 12 months, we have built together, a relationship of trust, love and friendship that can endure the outing of what I have hidden from them.

Here goes.
1. When I talk to someone with doubts, my preference is that they stay in the church.
2. When someone decides to leave. My hope is that they can find a way to stay.
3. When someone has left, I hope there might be a way for them to come back.
4. Every time I hear someone’s journey out of the church, I tear up. Another empty chair at an empty table.

I don’t invite my friends to come back to church. I know why they left. I am acquainted with the damage the church has caused them. I honor, respect and understand their decision. These are good, intelligent & thoughtful people. They have made an excruciating decision to leave a place that has been an integral and vital part of their lives for years.  As rational adults, they have made the tough choice that walking away from the church is best for them and their family.

For those, who are in the process of leaving, I want to help alleviate the anguish and loneliness of their journey. Their dignity should remain intact. Not shred to pieces by judgmental pettiness. Hopefully, those who leave would remain friendly to the church. Instead, our current culture and methods are creating lots of enemies. You complained about the nature of the comments in Mormon Stories. They are actually mild compared to other social venues that are much larger and more vitriolic. The church created the unfriendly attitudes that are now on full display there. We blame it on them. The problem is us.

For 14 months, I have lived among what you consider the enemy. They are not our enemy….if only we would treat them with love, respect and understanding. When we throw condemnation. It’s hurled back at us. One of my favorite scriptures is John 3:17, “For God sent NOT his Son into the world to condemn the world.” I have chosen to embrace the teachings and example of Jesus. How can I possibly condemn anyone? Well, sometimes I do. It’s a slip up. Barring the slip ups, I’m not going to condemn anyone who has left the church, no matter the volume or the vitriol.

Nor do I condemn you, George. I see now what your motives are…and understand them. You are interested in people staying in the church. Well, you and I have that in common. We’re just coming at it from different directions. I’m at the back door. For that matter, I’m the lone man at the back door. That needs to change.

As you probably know, I voted opposed for the first time at April General Conference. I had a 3 hour conversation with my Bishop and Stake President. That gave us plenty of time to discuss my reasoning. They were good with it.  But, my wise bishop said this, “Sam, be prepared for people to misunderstand you.” Sure enough, most everybody has misunderstood and misjudged where my heart is. That’s one of the reasons that I really appreciate you seeking to understand.

As far as I know, not one person has left the church because of my writings. However, over the past 2 years, I have witnessed hundreds of people leave the church. Their journey was aided by joining the ‘safe spaces’ inhabited by the ‘enemy’ because there was no safe space of aid and understanding within the church. There are tons of support groups outside the church for doubting members and those who have left. There are exactly ZERO support groups for those struggling and attempting to stay. The closest thing to it is my Talkeria. But, it does not have any support from the church.

Although, I’ve seen scores leave, I have also assisted many in staying. I have now heard the following phrase several times, “I’m holding on by my fingernails.” Almost every week someone contacts me who’s struggling, but wants to stay. Here are some examples.

Last month a man in my stake invited me to lunch. He basically wanted to know how I manage to stay. His wife and he both have big questions but would prefer not to leave. They have several children. He had been extended a significant calling by the stake and was reluctant to accept. He has since taken the calling. His beliefs are non-traditional. I hope he can endure until a safe support group for struggling members can be established. Until then he is truly hiding in plain sight….and in silent loneliness. Fortunately, his wife is in the same place.

Last week another family contacted me. He sent a long letter. These were the final words, “Nobody in my ward knows. I don’t really know why I’m telling you all this. It’s just comforting to feel like I can talk about it. I think you are the first LDS member I have ever told. I go to church every Sunday. I want to keep going to church every Sunday. But, I don’t want to sit in during lessons.” He and I are going to lunch this coming week.

Today, this came in: “I’ve shared some of your thoughts with the bishop of the ward in which I used to reside. He now wears a rainbow pin on his suit coat and shuts down any discussion he hears about LGBT persons having less worth. This particular bishop also has a stepson who is gay. He has had to work hard to be accepting and not harsh where this young man is concerned. It has truly opened his eyes. If you get a friend request from _______ or ______, they are my daughter and son-in-law. They are trying to stay in the church despite a growing discomfort to the lack of respect shown to the LGBT community.”

George, I don’t really have a pathway all nicely laid out in front of me. My guide has been the gorgeous teachings of the Savior, like the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I am certainly open to suggestions, especially from someone as concerned for the welfare of the church as you.

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of my direction and intent. There are several other topics that I’d be glad to address, like the Talkeria. But, this missive is already long enough.

All My Best, Sam

P.S. You are welcome to come to a Talkeria. I think you would be pleasantly amazed.

Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear

christmas-giftStake 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!

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.

 

 

 

A Mammoth & Moving Spiritual Experience

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Last Sunday I visited my daughter’s ward.  The annual primary program was being presented at Sacrament Meeting.  Three of my precious grandchildren were on the program.

I literally WEPT the entire meeting.  A couple of times my emotions had to be reined in, as I verged on trembling.

Why the cry?  The ward has a huge primary.  60 children were at the front of the congregation.  They sung their songs.  Recited their lines.  Some squirmed.  Some monkeyed.  All were beautiful and cute.  But, my attention was soon diverted by haunting questions.

Tears for the Rainbow

Among these 60 innocent, lovely and dear children…….how many are gay?

Is it 3?  Is it 4?  Or is it more?

What do they face in the coming years in MY church, the church of the gentle Jesus?

What of their coming teenage years?  Will their self-esteem be destroyed?  Only to be recovered after years of pain?  To be reclaimed only after leaving the beloved church of their youth?

Will their family disown them?

Will their friends turn away?

In the past, my church has not been gay friendly.  Even less so this past year.

Oh, that I could know who the gay children were.  That they might be spared the fate of so many gay children who have gone before.  What problems, what pain, what agonies await?  Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep that rainbow on your lapel.  It will touch my little ones.  Likely, they won’t remember you.  But, they won’t forget the image of the ribbon you wear.  When the time comes, they’ll take comfort that someone in MY church cares.”

Tears for Safety

I thought about their parents.

Which children have parents who are struggling in the lonely silence of questions and doubt?

These innocent children have no concept of the pain their questioning parents will suffer…alone.  The children feel safe at church.  How could they possibly comprehend that their parents could feel unsafe?

Which are the children whose parents will agonize and finally leave?  Making that choice without any consultation with their active member friends?

Which of these little ones will be gone in 6 months?  In a year?  In ten years?

If current trends continue, at least 60% will eventually depart.  60% will be gone?  Why, oh why?  These tender children of today, gone tomorrow.

Oh, that a safe place existed for their parents.  A safe place, before their parents made their fateful choice to pull out and pull out their children with them. Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep pressing forward to make a safe place inside my church.  It’s MY church, Sam.  Soon there WILL BE a safe and loving spot for discussion & deliberation.  My apostles are now openly addressing this in public.  But, sometimes nudges from my sheep are necessary.  You are on the right track.  Please don’t stop working for it.”

This sacrament meeting, filled with the voices of innocent children, will be recorded as one of the most precious spiritual experiences of my 63 year journey through life.

 

Do I Really EXPECT the Mormon Church to Change?

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Short Answer:  Absolutely YES!!!

If you have followed my blog at all, you know that I have started to live the Law of Common Consent.  The church as a whole has not.  At least not as it is mandated by Jesus is the D&C, or declared as doctrine on the LDS website, or witnessed by a prophet of God before the U.S. Congress.

Over the past 6 months, I have now heard similar discouraging statements from by both those who are true-blue-believing Mormons and by members who are disillusioned.  They go something like this:

    • The Church will never implement Common Consent (CC).
    • The Church is too big to use CC.
    • The leaders will not give up their power by implementing CC.
    • We are a worldwide church and CC is not feasible.
    • CC is antiquated.

Until recently, this is how my response normally went:

 “I don’t know if the church will ever embrace common consent.  If they ever do, it may not be in my lifetime.  What I do know is that by voting in disapproval, something beautiful has already happened.  MARGINALIZED MEMBERS have taken notice.  There are people in our pews struggling in silence.  Just the act of witnessing an opposing vote has brought them hope & encouragement.  They recognize that there are members who love and care about them. There are people willing to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.  Those who struggle in silence fit in several marginalized categories.  Certainly our LGBT children are at risk.  If one gay person postpones suicide, my vote will have accomplished more than I could have ever hoped for.”

Epiphany

This weekend, an epiphany struck me with encouraging enlightenment.  A local leader posed this question, “Sam, do you really expect the Mormon Church to change regarding Common Consent?   I proceeded to give my standard response.

But, as I drove home, his phrasing rattled around my brain, “Do You really expect?”  Expect???  Well….the expressions of my expectations have been pretty low.  Was I being cynical?  Was my approach hypocritical?  Cynic?  Hypocrite?  I don’t like or want either title.

Cynical?

Webster:  “Believing that people are generally selfish and dishonest.”

I have placed my faith in the teachings and example of Jesus.  Am I being cynical by assuming his commandments would not be followed in His own Church?  Am I being cynical by not giving the apostles the benefit of the doubt; that they would be honest in following Christ’s system of governance; that they would be unselfish in acquiescing to accountability?  My reasoned conclusion was ‘Yes,’ it IS cynical to put my faith in Christ, and then not trust His leaders to start leading with His Law of Common Consent.

Hypocritical?

Webster: “A person who claims to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.”

Well, I’m certainly not acting hypocritically.  At least not by this definition.  I believe in Common Consent and behave in agreement with those beliefs.  But…I might be hypocritical to press forward, feasting on the word of Christ, yet having little confidence that the feast will be fulfilled.

A New Answer, A New Attitude

Do I really expect the church to change and live by Common Consent?

“ABSOLUTELY!!!  This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect HIS church to obey HIS law. Anything else would be cynical & hypocritical on my part.

This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect His laws to respected.

This is Christ’s church.  Of course, I expect its leaders to acquiesce to God’s law.  They are good men.  I trust that they WILL follow Jesus.”

No longer am I alone in my expectations.  There are now 311 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have decided to openly and actively live the divine law of church governance.  To all who have put their honor and good names on the line…THANK YOU!  What you are doing is not in vain.  You have already made a difference in the lives of many.  I fully EXPECT that your courage will bring the changes to the church which the Savior desires.

If you are a member. If you disapprove of policies, major decisions and other important matters that have never been ratified by the general membership, consider embracing the Law of Common Consent. Here’s a place to start:  The Common Consent Register.

Christ is the Way.  Consent…IS…His way.

We….CAN….Change….the Church. 

 

Other Resources:

  • Information on LDS.ORG regarding Common Consent, click HERE.  Please take note of this paragraph:  “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints.”
  • Scriptural information about Common Consent, click HERE.
  • Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
  • Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
  • The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
  • My personal sadness over my friends and family leaving, click HERE
  • Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove click, HERE.

A Compassionate Caution to My Dear Mormon Friends

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Over the past 2 years, I have seen a particular scenario play out many times. People question.  They study and ponder in silence.  They reach conclusions.  They leave.  Parents, spouse, and siblings are caught unawares.  Family rift and strain sets in.

I would love to share the following message with ALL of my adult friends at church:

Our history, our doctrine, our current policies and especially the stigma and prohibition of even discussing these matters….is coming after your children, your grandchildren, your siblings and your spouse.  The sad part is that you won’t even know it until your loved ones have been eaten up by what WE are so anxious to hide from.  

Now is the time to talk and prepare.  Now is the time to build bridges of safety, trust and understanding.  If we don’t engage the discussion here, INSIDE OUR CHAPELS, our loved ones will KNOW that it’s not safe to discuss at church or with faithful church members.  Instead, they will turn to a community where it IS safe to discuss history, doctrine and policy.  A community where there is no stigma or prohibition.  That community is populated by a small minority of faithful members and a huge majority of people who no longer believe.

I have talked to many members who have not shared their transition with their loved ones.  Especially family.  Only when the transition is complete and irreversible is their story revealed.  Today, that’s pretty much the only safe way to pursue questions and doubts.  It reflects very poorly on the culture of our church.  And that church culture permeates our families.

Gossip

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Anecdote for Friends to Take Note

Brother Fred

Once upon a time, there was a man named Fred.  Decades long, an active member of the Mormon Church.  In his later years, his faith transitioned.  It was a 2 year process, gut-wrenching and excruciating.  Relationships with wife and family were strained.  Eventually, Fred found a way forward.  He placed his faith in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ within the church which bears His name.

A Bishop’s Warning

Fred selected a path in the church which did not coincide with the consensus.  A long discussion was had with the head of his congregation.  The wise bishop issued a perceptive warning.  “Be prepared for push-back from the members.  They won’t understand what you are doing.”  Fred felt strongly that his path was one of love, both for the church and for the souls he saw at its margins.  To him, being of service to the “least” in the church was worth hazarding whatever gossip might arise.  However, there was a consequence coming that Fred had overlooked.

The Love of Fred’s Life

Fred’s wife had witnessed his transition from beginning to end.  She had been frightened, insecure and confused as she watched the pain, anger and confusion experienced by her husband.  Finally, his ire subsided.  A clear path was chosen.  With the passage of many more months, the wife gained confidence that her husband was the very same man she had married.  She came to understand ‘the what’ and ‘the why’ of her husband’s course.  She began to see a path filled with integrity and charity.  She became supportive.

Gossip

Then, the full meaning of the bishop’s warning burst upon the scene.  The love of Fred’s life stopped going to church.  Why?  The ward members were gossiping about her husband. That provided enough discomfort that she didn’t want to face the congregation.  Fred kept going to church.  His completely believing spouse did not.  What an ironic turn of events.  It literally took 6 months before she was willing to brave a ward family full of whispering  gossip behind her husband’s back.

Unfortunately, tale bearing is all too common.  When we engage in it, we are usually oblivious to collateral damage.  Fred’s wife has many good and deep friendships in her congregation.  The gossip didn’t harm Fred.  It harmed his innocent wife.  And none of her friends had a clue.  I hope this post clues them in.

Special Request

I happen to have a lot in common with Brother Fred.  Many people have told me that lots of gossip is going on about my church activities.  Here’s my request:  If you are interested in me, don’t talk behind my back.  Talk to my face.  Behind the back is rude, unChristlike and fraught with collateral damage.  That damage may be to your own family members who have questions in their own minds.  I have spoken with many, many people who don’t trust their families enough to openly discuss their concerns.  That is so sad.  Our current church culture does not foster an atmosphere of safety, honesty and authenticity.

There is nothing positive that comes out of gossip.  Instead, talk about me….with me.  Gossip is easy and takes no guts.  Speaking face to face does take courage.  I won’t bite.  I promise.  I love the church.  I love its leaders.  It saddens me that so many members are fleeing our ranks.  If you want to know where I stand, ask me, send an e-mail, or let me take you to lunch.

To the handful of brave friends who have reached out to me.  THANK YOU!