Saturday, June 4, 2016

Love One Another

Imagine seeing a young man at Goodwill who is buying a sleeping bag. He isn't more than 17 and had a bag full of change, mostly pennies and nickels from the looks of it, that he uses to pay for the sleeping bag. He is well dressed, has a backpack sitting next to him, and looks anxiously on as the cashier counts the change and hands him his receipt. As soon as the receipt touches his hand he thanks the cashier, grabs his backpack and sleeping bag and walks quickly out of the store, fleeing. Imagine knowing that this young man is homeless because his parents kicked him out of the house, not because he broke a law or did anything illegal but because he is gay.

It seems unacceptable. It seems ridiculous. And yet, situations like this happen to teenagers all over the world. They also happen to individuals within the Church

As a member of the LDS Church I am often confronted by opposing views, the differences between, "Love thy neighbor" and "Follow the commandments and Prophets."

I hear of discrimination towards the LGBTQ community and members of the church, I see reports of the rate of suicide for LGBTQ youth rising in Utah as these teenagers are pushed out, feeling insecure, alone, and hated by their friends, family, and community. I see doctrine being presented that further isolates these teens and drives them further away from those who are supposed to be helping them, supposed to be supporting them.

Perhaps unintentionally, the Church has created a situation where it is easier for a teen or young adult to commit suicide than to be truthful to their parents. They have, while living up to the letter of the law, forgotten the spirit of it.

I am not expecting the Church to suddenly accept LGBTQ members and allow them to marry in the temple, or condone their decisions on an official level, because I have no faith that it will ever happen, as much as parts of it pains me to have to admit. I do have this odd, and perhaps misguided, notion though that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should live up to the namesake of the man whose name they invoke at the end of every prayer, whose actions they praise.

Children sing songs in the Church about loving one another as Jesus loves us. We hear lessons on the great love of Christ. I have always though when hearing these songs and these lessons, "This, this is the purpose of the Church, this is why I am here, this is what I believe."

But we also hear darker lessons about the only true path, Hatred, discrimination, fear-mongering also occur in our lessons and our Sacrament Meetings. That is unacceptable. Council and advice should be given but never hatred, never anger, never fear. And no one should ever tell a teenager that they are not welcomed or loved by God because of their attractions.

As a community of Christ-like individuals, which Members of the Church believe themselves to be, we need to come together to support those who are struggling emotionally. Collect those abandoned by their families into our homes. Caution others against discriminating against someone they disagree with because despite what anyone feels or believes, everyone is a Child of God and God loves all His children.

Remember to live in a place of acceptance, just as Jesus did. Remember not to judge, as Jesus never did. Most of all, remember to love one another as Jesus loves us all.

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