Friday, May 6, 2011

Within the Church, Be the Change You Desire

When I lived in the Deep South, invariably a black investigator would join the Church, face intense pressure from family and friends for joining a "white church", stay active for about 3-6 months then fade into inactivity - sometimes citing the fact that no other black people were joining the Church. Just as invariably, about 3-6 months later another black investigator would be baptized - and the cycle would repeat exactly.

After a few years, if those black members would have stayed active, there would have been a thriving black membership in the Church in that area.

I'm NOT blaming them for leaving. I mean that sincerely. I actually understand how difficult it is to remain active in an organization when you feel like a token member - especially when you feel like the others in the organization don't really understand you. For many reasons, I get that completely. Furthermore, there still is residual racism in some members of the Church, and that is more than regrettable; it is shameful.

All I'm saying is that when someone leaves they automatically contribute to the stereotyped self-fulfilling prophecy against which they complain. They also reinforce, unfortunately, the stereotyped view of those who are unlike them - that black members, or liberal members, or gay members, or feminist members ad infinitum never make life-long members.

Being a pioneer or Christlike rebel is hard, but leaving only exacerbates the problem at both ends. "Be the change you desire" is great advice, as long as that desire doesn't include bitterness and harsh confrontation and self-righteousness. It's a tricky balance sometimes, and it requires serious humility and meekness, but it's worth it in the end for those who can do it.

[Postscript: I am not saying in this post that nobody ever should leave the LDS Church. I understand there are situations from which some people should flee - situations that are toxic and harmful. I also understand, for example, that it is brutally hard to be a homosexual member of the LDS Church. I believe in the principle about which I wrote in this post, but I also believe there are exceptions to every rule.] 


Anonymous said...


Richard Alger said...

A great perspective. I heard on a podcast yesterday to find out the truth and then don't be afraid to share it. Of course in a humble and meek manner.

Anonymous said...

It's a long hard road,but I've seen many great changes.i hope to see many more.