In Mormon Masks (Mormon Matters), Hawkgrrrl describes social masks and discusses how that concept is applicable at church. She then asks:
"Is this a particular problem in the Church?"
The following is my response:
Absolutely, but it’s a problem in any organization or society. It is the “natural (wo)man” - a self-protection mechanism that is as ingrained into humanity as any other natural inclination. Our particular challenge in church, I believe, is to recognize it as such and rise above it - to change it (repent) by an active exercise of will. (to act and not to be acted upon)
The “fault” is two-edged: 1) those in the majority who actively reject the minority for believing things differently; 2) those in the minority who hide themselves and passively reject the majority for believing things differently. In the end, it really is the same action - and the justification on each side is also the same. Each type tends to blame the other, and neither type tends to take the initiative to change the natural situation.
In “Concern for the One”, Elder Wirthlin articulated clearly that some leave active participation and lose faith because they act, think or feel different than others - and he told the majority that it was their responsibility to love and accept the minority for who they are, NOT for who the majority might naturally want them to be. He said that every voice (every instrument) needs to be heard, NOT that every member should learn to play the piccolo (or piano - *grin*).
I believe we will become Zion only as we let go of the need to wear masks - and I believe the primary responsibility for this lies not with those who feel different but with those from whom they feel different. Yes, the "one" needs to be engaged actively, but the "ninety and nine" need to love and accept the "one" for that to happen. The biggest problem in this regard within the Church is NOT the gay member, or the illegal immigrant member, or the politically different member, or the bearded member, or the colored-shirt and no tie member, ad infinitum. The biggest problem is the fact that those distinctions are drawn in a way that excludes those members from the fellowship of oneness with the saints. Although those who are excluded might share a portion of responsibility for being excluded, as often as not the primary responsibility lies with those who do the excluding.
I believe ALL of us wear a mask of some kind that covers varying degrees of our true selves from others. Before we condemn or even judge others in any way, we need to remove our own masks, become vulnerable and experience the fear others feel on a regular basis. I think if we do that the tendency to judge and condemn and drive others away will disappear - and we will have a chance at truly building Zion.