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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy We Hope You're Comfortable Being Second Day

When we start to legislate beyond the commandments, we transgress people's freedom of choice.

My mother and I were having one of our heated discussions. This wasn't one where we disagreed, though. It was one where we fought a common enemy, invisible though he was, with darts fierce and strong. We shouldered on with our toughest protective barrier even as we knew that we were affirming each other but the ones who needed to hear would never listen.

Last night I posted an article on my Facebook page that originated from a controversial site. I think of myself as balanced though I lean slightly to the left and I knew that it wouldn't be long before one of my right-leaning acquaintances felt the need to enlighten the world. Sure enough, it came, and this person not only ripped my comment to shreds, they also intimated that if we were to allow diversity in the church then we may as well ordain Satan as the General Conference president. That tipped me over the edge.

I am a very emotional person. If you ask any of my close friends or my family, they will affirm that I am a melancholy sanguine; I not only feel emotions, I feel them very strongly whether they be highs or lows, anger or ecstasy. Someone who tends away from women's ordination once asked me to listen to their arguments in preparation for a presentation they had to give. I sighed inwardly, then told them that I was afraid I wouldn't do a very good job because I hadn't done all my background studying on the subject yet so I would be reacting emotionally. They said that was just fine, that was what they were looking for. And that made me wonder. Is that how all women are seen? Is that how diversity is swept under the rug? An emotional, affective conflict, type of situation? Will my value be forever discounted because I am not a man? It was not a pretty thought.

I posted the article because it made me think. I don't necessarily agree with every single point in articles I read, but the main point pleased me because the author was advocating for inclusion of diversity. They compared and contrasted two very different movements, both focusing on young people, and proposed that there is a need within the church to allow for diversity of expression of faith. They concluded that a system which does not allow for this, but excludes all and requires everyone to adhere to one standard of expression is a toxic system. I agree. I've done too much studying into toxic systems, such as the FLDS and other religious cults, to see how the mind games twist Scripture so that a little bit of truth is mixed with a lot of error in order to control the setting and the people. This is wrong.

Jesus allowed for freedom. He understood that some freedoms would lead to our death if we chose those freedoms over the ones He offered (an easy yoke and a light burden). Yet He offered us freedom of choice, with clear delineation of the consequences, so we could make the ultimate decision. Like any human being who has a loving friend, family member, or spouse, He does not desire our forced acceptance or reluctant obedience; He desires our whole heart.

I replied to the person who left their post. I said I had faith that God was leading our church leadership, that I was offended by his comment, that I believed in diversity of expression of faith, and that I did not prefer to continue in a combative discussion as their comment came across. Then I unfriended them. Perhaps you would have done something differently; I don't know. What I do know is that I have limited emotional energy to invest in people and I prefer to surround myself with those who can build me up and encourage me rather than antagonize me or assume they have all knowledge about all things. If they had simply said they disagreed with my conclusion, that would have been sufficient.

In church today, the speaker talked about women's ordination. Quite a few things were said, many which I have heard before, concluding with a firm affirmation of male spiritual headship. I sat there, silent, as I have so many times before. Those who spoke prefaced their comments with clear statements that they were against women's ordination. It was almost as if we were at an initiation rally with everyone wearing I Heart Male Spiritual Headship stickers. Except some of us didn't, but we didn't dare speak as we knew we'd be ostracized. There was no room for dialogue, for discussion, or for questioning. There was one way and only one way; the narrow way. If we didn't believe in it, well then, we were naturally assumed to be in rebellion against God and part of Babylon. What a very odd way of thinking.

But this is enough for today. It is Valentine's Day, the day of love, and while I've struggled to even catch a glimpse of that in church today, I look at the beautiful tulips, I see the serene blue sky, and I hear the gentle bird call and I know that my Father loves me. Without reserve, without question, without force. Just as He hopes and desires for me to love Him.

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