Friday, September 27, 2013

The Atonement Covers Those Who Leave and Those Whom We Drive Away

[NOTE: I understand the fine line I am about to walk in this post, but I believe it is important to strive to walk it - and to err on the side of charity rather than judgment. My request is that anyone who reads this post recognize the disclaimers ("some, many, multiple, sometimes, etc.") I am using and not jump to any conclusion not articulated clearly in the post itself.]

I have unshakable confidence that "pure Mormonism" doesn't condemn automatically those who leave the LDS Church - that, in many cases, God will credit to them the fact that they are acting "according to the dictates of their own consciences" in the decisions they make. Those decisions are not made in a vacuum, and, often, we (the average membership who are not aware of intimate details) simply have no idea what factors lead to someone leaving.  Personally, I am aware of multiple situations where I cannot argue with a decision to leave - nearly all of which involve circumstances that can be characterized legitimately as people being driven away by other members.  I wish badly people would not leave, but, in some situations, I actually agree that leaving is better in the moment than staying. 

The ideology of an Atonement wrought by someone who actually understands rejection and unfair treatment is FAR more powerful and expansive than is the Church and the membership, and that is a comfort to me - even as I mourn for those who suffer needlessly and unjustly. In fact, I think the power of the Atonement is most visible in just these cases - where the LDS membership can't quite grasp that some people who leave will be blessed every bit as much as those who never leave. We expect so much of "our own" (often so unrealistically) and see through our own glasses so darkly when it comes to how WE let them down and drive them away - and, while I realize how natural that tendency is, I wish badly that we all could rise above it.

Until that time when we can, I am comforted by the assurance that they will be judged by One who sees, understands and loves them fully - in the same way that He sees, understands and loves me.


ji said...

"Even unto death"

If we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, aren't we supposed to be faithful even unto death? If one should stand faithful as a witness before unbelievers and persecuters, shouldn't he or she stand faithful as a witness among fellow believers?

I hope my faith will be strong enough that I am not chased away by other members. I hope all members of the Church can strengthen their faith so that they can stand, and help others to stand.

In all this, I look at the Church as a gathering of those who love and trust the Lord and who gather together to worship the Lord and to strengthen each other. I don't want to draw hard lines between faithful Latter-day Saints and cultural Mormons, as I hope all will move towards the former along the way, but I do hope all of those who have faith will stand firm in their faith.

I have found reason from time to time to walk away, but for me, I always go back to John 6:66 and thereabouts -- that's wholly faith, and nothing cultural. I never was a cultural Mormon, so I don't fully understand that mindset.

Even so, when someone walks away, he or she is still a neighbor and can still be a friend (provided there is no poison in the person). We're commanded to love everyone. And God will save/forgive/_____ whom He will.

DavidH said...

I agree completely with your post. My mother once said, "I don't worry about my children of they study other religions or even go to other churches. Truth is truth, and God will lead them to find it, each in his or her own way." Joseph Smith had his sins forgiven (according to his first account of the First Vision) without joining any church or receiving any ordinances. I also believe the passage that if we are "anxiously engaged in a good cause" we shall in "nowise lose [our] reward."