I've been told not to talk about Religion or Politics to my friends, to ward members, on my blog, to family, etc. But, I can't do that. Most LDS members of the church define themselves as such. It's who they are, part of their true-self. To ask me not to talk about such a huge part of myself is asking me to be something I am not. This is who I am. Take it or leave it.
Having that disclaimer out there, Let's get back to Prop 8. I've stayed out of this for a long time now. I have gotten a lot of emails from members telling me 'take a stand'. I knew the issue was there but I've opted not to touch it with a ten foot pole and I've never clearly stated my opinions to anyone but Doug and my Mom. Then I realized something. Alexander Hamilton, Malcolm X and then later President Gordon B. Hinckley said that "Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.", I guess I'm about to take a stand on something. This is my Stand.
I feel like we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we demonstrate our faith on a daily basis. We live it's teachings and principles to the best of our ability. We teach our children correct doctrine and principles. We participate in ordinances that are holy and sacred, even though they are not always easy for others to accept. We defend our religion to neighbors and we pay 10% of our income. We pray for our prophets and general authorities and we love them whole heartedly. The list goes on and on. We demonstrate and prove our faith constantly to the world. We shouldn't also have to defend ourselves or our beliefs to each other.
When the church leadership issued their statement and later the full campaign urging members in California to Vote Yes to Proposition 8, I was saddened. Not because the church feels so strongly about the issue, that is not at all surprising. But because it makes me feel like the leadership of the church doesn't have faith in it's members. My entire life I've felt like the church teaches it's members correct principles and then lets them govern themselves. They have had faith in their members to vote appropriately. I would have hoped that our beloved leaders would have just issued a statement and then let the people govern themselves as they have in the past. But, to have ward lists used as phone tree's to call constituents, to ask for members to donate money to the campaign, to use the pulpit to further judge and condemn others and for members to religiously bully people into a vote is heart-breaking. We are supposed to be united against the world, not tearing each other down from within.
I have recently felt very attacked because of how others perceive my testimony in the church. I have felt like I have had to prove my testimony to friends and ward members, not because of Prop. 8 but because I am now different then other members, in their mind. Someone even went so far as to ask me how I could hold a temple recommend. This issue, nor any other issue, should have that kind polarizing effect on us. Our church is wonderfully centered around the Savior and all of these issues pull the focus off of Him and instead puts attention on what? a vote? We are all trying to get it right. No one has the right to condemn another because their husband is not LDS, because they are gay/lesbian, or because they feel more righteous and valiant. The church teaches acceptance and love of all mankind. Christ says that he alone has the right to judge. So what are we, as members, doing when we join in picket lines condemning another's actions? What are we doing when we stand on our soap boxes and tell other members that they don't have enough faith in the prophet because they might disagree on a voting issue? I recently got a letter from a member in my ward telling me that this issue is either black or white and that there is no gray area here, She felt like it was not up for debate. Had she listened to me long enough I would have told her that I agree completely. You either love and accept people for who they are, or you don't. No Gray area here.
I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. I am proud to be a member and descendant of it's founders. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and complete. I am blessed to have the privilege to teach my children it's amazing lessons of love, acceptance and forgiveness. I honor my eternal marriage and believe wholeheartedly that my Father in Heaven will take care of not only my Eternal family, but all of his children on this earth. I have faith in His plan and in the other members of the church. I honor the priesthood as it was intended to be and I rejoice in the opportunity to serve Christ throughout this life and into the next. I love that the church is run by mere mortal men. The progress that the church has made over the years teaches me that the organization itself is not perfect, nor are it's members or leadership but, we are all in this together. Growing and learning from one another. I look forward to discovering more about God's plan. I have a very strong testimony in his prophets and of their inspiration. I know that the Gospel itself is the most true and complete understanding of God's plan. I believe personal revelation to be the founding and most liberating, truthful part of my faith. This is my simple testimony and I will defend it to anyone and everyone, even if that means having to prove myself to other ward members and maybe loose a friend or two in the process. Because I feel like we all have something to learn from each other and our differences are slight. I look forward to a time when the church and it's members focus on not just SAYING they accept and love all but ACT on it as well. Let's leave the judgments at the door.
******** I have intentionally not publicly stated my opinion on Prop 8. Because to me the issue that I am taking a stand on is acceptance and love and a Christlike attitude towards everyone, no matter what you believe. Everyone deserves the same level of respect and the same chance to vote. I will proudly tell you that I would have voted YES to Proposition 8. I am just saddened by the churches methodology. I think both sides would do better to focus on how incredibly similar we are, instead of our differences.***********
*as I have said in previous posts,COMMENTS WILL NOT BE CENSORED,All in the hopes that we have something to learn from one another. :)