Greg Trimble recently posted an article, “The Coming Revolution Inside Mormonism”, on his popular Mormon-based blog.
Trimble spoke at length about the need to become more loving and accepting of others within the church. I beamed as I read his vision for this cultural revolution, because my heart has long ached for such a movement to come about.
“This revolution will be a revolution of love.” – Greg Trimble
As he listed ways this revolution will help our church members, I likewise was able to think of endless examples of how such a revolution will benefit myself and others who I’ve seen hurt in the past:
- A homeless individual will be able to peacefully find a chapel pew to sit in, without parents grabbing their children and scrambling to a new pew on the other side of the room.
- A man wearing a green dress shirt to church won’t be seen as less faithful than the man wearing a white dress shirt (1 Samuel 16:7).
- Those who have doubts about the church will be listened to rather than scoffed at.
- The new investigator who wears jeans to their first church visit won’t be told to wear “Sunday clothes” the following week.
- The 22-year-old divorced mother won’t be given dirty looks for bringing her 1-year-old baby to a YSA ward.
As much as I appreciated these positive ideas and insights, I felt something was missing from the proposed revolution. I read over the post several more times, trying to determine what the missing link was. After a couple of days, it clicked. The post focused exclusively on church members and investigators. Nothing was said about our cultural attitudes towards those outside the church.
The true cultural revolution needed within the church should extend far beyond the walls of our homes and our church buildings. Every human in the world deserves the exact same level of Christ-like love and compassion which we are willing to share with our families and ward members.
While it’s easy to sit and nod our heads in agreement as we think about this concept, it should be obvious our actions speak louder than our head-nods. Over the years, we have intentionally and unintentionally managed to isolate ourselves from others, straining some relationships deeply.
In a 2014 survey, individuals were asked to rate how positively they perceived members of certain religious groups. On a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the most favorable, atheists scored Mormons at a lowly 39. Our Christian neighbors didn’t score us much higher.
Overall, Mormons scored poorly with a rating of 48. More disheartening is Mormons scored even lower than this among those surveyed between ages 18-29. We don’t want rising populations to inherit negative stereotypes and prejudices against us which will last a lifetime and be passed along in a never-ending generational cycle.
Of course, these negative interactions with other religious groups are not exclusive to the Mormon community. Christian culture has long struggled with interfaith doctrinal wars and the stereotype of the judgmental Christian. Mormons simply inherited the problem and since have struggled with it as much as anyone.
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s time for Mormons to turn ourselves around and lead the way to a world filled with boundless Christ-like love. No, this goal is not a fluffy, unattainable hippie dream. Knowing what we know and the teachings we teach, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect ourselves to be as likable and respected as anyone else in the world.
I imagine a cultural revolution where:
- We will still be able to laugh over dinner with a friend who has previously refused our Book of Mormon handout attempt and vowed to never join the church.
- All Mormon kids will be allowed to play with their non-Mormon neighbor kids.
- We won’t be uncomfortable to hear someone of a different faith start a prayer with a phrase other than, “Dear Heavenly Father….”
- Atheists won’t be viewed as fire-breathing heathens (seemingly dramatic, yet, an accurate representation of how some choose to view them).
- We will find increased opportunities to partner on community service efforts with our Christian neighbors.
- Our hearts will swell with love rather than fear when walking past a Muslim family at the local shopping mall.
- Mormons Building Bridges will be allowed to participate in the annual Days of ’47 parade.
- The LGBT community will be unconditionally accepted and appreciated.
- The homeless will be given hugs and kind words instead of boos.
- Neighbors living across the street from our church building won’t find a note on their door, criticizing them for smoking on their own porch.
- “Love the sinner, hate the sin” will be a phrase removed from our vocabulary, because we need to focus 110% of our attention on loving our neighbor. Hatred of any kind is counterproductive to this revolution.
Our world is in desperate need of more love. Mormons have the urgent responsibility to be on the front lines. Each of us can choose to be proactive in this cause.
The best part? Choosing to love unconditionally and be kind to others reduces stress and is liberating to the mind and soul. It’s a lifestyle worth choosing.
Like Greg, I hope this revolution comes quickly.
Braden Jenks is studying addiction counseling at Minot State University and Rio Salado College. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* This post was originally published at BradenJenks.com and has been reprinted here with permission *
* Photo credit: alphabunny_photos. Photopin.com *