Tuesday, August 21, 2007


"If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." (Longfellow) Jesus told us to love our enemies. Who are our "enemies"? They are people different from us, those who make us uncomfortable, whose lifestyle or behavior is emotionally or physically threatening to us. They may be members of the Church or members of our own family. They may be people of a different gender attraction or people who have chosen a different path than we.

Some in our blogging group have chosen or are considering leaving the Church or at least entering a gay relationship. Some are terminating their temple marriages. My first reaction is to say, "Don't do this. You'll go to hell! The Church is the only true way for you. God doesn't want you to do this. You will lose contact with Him." I have a personal testimony of the Gospel. I experience the good that the Church and Temple marriage and family have brought into my life. Shouldn't I warn people that they are going to lose all of this and much more?

The longer I live, the more I am convinced that each our lives are very complex and unique. Is what is best for me always what is best for someone else? Can I really know what is best for another person in a specific situation? Do I have the right to judge and condemn someone's actions? Yes, I must speak out against what I interpret to bring abuse, exploitation and unrighteous pain to others. I must warn against the dangers of addiction to porn, or gambling, or anything else.

But I find others with very different lifestyles non-judgmentally blessing the lives of others. Some of my Catholic friends who believe in lifetime celibacy excel me in community service. Some of my Muslim friends (some of whom have more than one wife!) have taught me a lot about devotion to God and being charitable to others. Some of my Protestant friends (who drink alcohol and coffee!) have taught me to have a greater love for the Savior. I have gay friends who excel me in community service and compassion for others (and are living in sin by my standards). Should I rush in and tell these people they are wrong in not living and believing as I do?

I believe that many of these people are currently more righteous in many ways than I, and will go farther in the next life. Am I not arrogant when pointing a finger of scorn at them? A bumper sticker read, "Hate is not a family value." Another read, "Jesus, please save me from those who believe in you."

I believe in a loving Heavenly Father who wants to lift us, lead us and bless us all. If we but open up to him, He will embrace us. (Yes, even me with SGA and all my weaknesses. I know this because I feel His love right now!) He will take us from where we are and lead us to "something better" if we but follow. Everyone is unique. The challenges He gives to each of us is different. "Something better" may be different for you than it is for me. I cannot understand my own chemistry, let alone someone else's. My responsibility is to listen to His voice speaking to my uniqueness and to follow. Do I have the capacity to understand another's choices. No. If someone chooses to follow a path divergent from mine should I condemn him or her or write them off as evil sinners? It is too easy to focus on our "strengths" and others' "weaknesses". A minister friend of mine is has SGA. Some of my LDS friends ignore all the good she is doing, wrinkle their noses and write her off by saying, "Well she is a lesbian!"

When I see people following another path, doing good, blessing others, sacrificing for the common good: basically living the teachings of Christ, whether they believe in Him or not, I am humbled. I have enough weaknesses in living the law of love myself to spend time beating up on others for choosing a different path.

It is not easy watching another take a divergent path from mine. Jesus has commanded me to love them, to listen to them, to see the good that is in them, to encourage them to stay close to God. I help them best by trusting them to make their own choices and staying in touch in a loving way. The Father lets His prodigal sons and daughters take their inheritance and spend it as they choose and then learn from the consequences. He does not condemn, but rejoices when his child returns. Although I am a Temple recommend carrying Latter-day Saint, I am prodigal in many ways as you have seen in my previous posts. I am grateful for my other prodigal brothers and sisters who share their intimate thoughts and insights in this blogging group. I have learned a lot since joining you.

Monday, August 6, 2007


I often listen to podcasts of an NPR Radio program, “Speaking of Faith.” Yesterday I listened to one that touched me deeply about a community of mentally handicapped individuals. (http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/larche/index.shtml )
These people throughout life are limited severely. They have experienced much loneliness, rejection, pain, and grief, yet they are for the most part happy and enjoy the simple blessings of life. One person said that these people learn to live with their limitations gracefully, forgiving God for their design flaws.

I thought of myself and the limitations I experience in life. They seem so minor compared to these folks. Most of these people will never marry. They are frequently rejected by society. Most of my handicaps are private. I have a wonderful wife and family.

Mother Theresa said that when we work with handicapped people we go from repulsion to campassion and from compassion to wonderment. I think that we can go through the same process in working with our own handicaps. In the past I have thought of myself as a eunuch, without the normal attractions that those around me have, knowing that if most people knew of my SGA they would be shocked and treat me differently than they did. Then I discovered a scripture in Isaiah that gave me a different perspective:

Isaiah 56:3-8

Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

The portion I put in bold print above Avraham Gileadi translates as such:

And let not the eunuch say, I am but a barren tree. For thus says the Lord: As for the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose to do what I will—holding fast to my covenant—to them will I give a handclasp and a name within the walls of my house that is better than sons and daughters; I will endow them with an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Even though the world may view my SGA handicap as worse than a eunuch, in the eyes of God I am whole. He has given me sacred promises in the Temple and I know that if I hold fast to theses covenants these will be fulfilled. I should learn to view myself as God views me. I am reminded of Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 12:7-10:

“And lest I should be
exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

I am sorry, but I cannot yet take pleasure in or glory in my infirmities, but I can push them out of my mind and focus on the wonderful blessings that I do have. And I can work to help those who do not enjoy these same blessings such as my other handicapped brothers and sisters. And I can try to help them rejoice in the strengths that they do have.