Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Who Advocates for the Outcasts of Our Culture?

“Who advocates for the outcasts of our culture?”

[Angie C wrote a thoughtful post on By Common Consent a couple of years ago that made me stop and consider something in a way that I appreciated.  It was titled, "Who are the Anti-Mormons?" - and it included the question I used as the title of this post.  The following is my comment in that thread:]

This was a great post, Angie – but that line above jumped out at me. Who are the “publicans, sinners, lepers, etc.” within our own Mormon culture, and how are we treating them? Further, how many people, including those whom we have treated as outcasts, who now legitimately can be called “anti-Mormon” would be anti-Mormon if we were treating them as Jesus showed us how and told us to treat the outcasts of society and those who persecute and despitefully use us? (The anti-Mormon comments on newspaper article threads hurt my head sometimes, but the responses by LDS members often hurt my heart.)

At heart, I believe most anti-Mormons are sincere people expressing sincere beliefs that reflect a real concern for the welfare of Mormons’ souls. Many speak from a history of deep pain from when they were part of "us".  I think, in general, they “hate the institution, but love the member” – as well as they know how, which in some cases is badly. I think, however, that the same can be said by others about many LDS members – that they “hate other denominations (generally not other religions), but love the members” – as well as they know how, which in some cases is badly.

Often, given their theology (or their move from Mormonism to atheism, which is common), that’s to be expected of them; given ours, it shouldn’t be expected of us. So, who is under greater condemnation for being “anti-others”? Who is more responsible for eliminating internal “outcasts”? (and by that I don’t mean at all the elimination of core doctrinal standards and an acceptance of everything as fine and dandy, even as I believe the recent explanation of the Priesthood ban and its justifications makes it clear that we, as fallible mortals, often turn theories and "the philosophies of men" into doctrine where it ought not be)

Is it any different for them to reject us as Christians for believing differently than we do than it is for us to reject “our own” as Mormons for the exact same thing? 

I believe it is worth asking the question:

Who are the outcasts of our culture, why are they outcasts, what part did we have in making them outcasts, and who advocates for them?  

After all, charity suffereth long and is kind. 


Christopher Phillips said...

Great post- there is a quote from President Kimball on this topic that I love:

“I do not worry about members of the Church being unresponsive when they learn of the needy as much as I worry about our being unaware of such needs. … Please, priesthood leaders, do not get so busy trying to manage Church programs that you forget about basic duties in what the Apostle James described as ‘pure religion, undefiled’ (James 1:27).”

Papa D said...

I love it, Christopher. Thank you!