Thursday, October 6, 2016

I, the Mormon Hypocrite

One of the most frustrating things in the world is intolerance. 
Something I realized when I first moved to Utah was the abundance of Mormon people. It was so different than the world I grew up in where there were maybe 3 Mormons at my school, and no one even knew--or cared--what the religion meant. 

Living in Utah, I see several sides to this Mormon faith I haven't seen before. There are amazing, wonderful spiritual people. There are also extremists. We all have one thing in common: we are hypocrites.

It's kind of my least favorite thing but also my favorite thing in the world when people say, "Mormons are hypocrites."

My first response (is usually nonverbal) but I typically ask, "Why do you say that?"

Answers come in many forms. Usually bitter comments like "because they're supposed to be Christlike and they're judgemental." "Because my bishop was having an affair." "Because I knew a Mormon lady who was addicted to drugs." And so on. 

It brings a wry smile to my face.
1. Thank you for esteeming the Mormon religion enough to be disappointed in your fellow man's human error. You obviously realize there is some truth in the religion, and believe enough in Jesus Christ to care. Saves me the trouble of trying to argue He does exist, He does have a true gospel, and most Christians are just trying their best to live it.

2. Human error is inevitable. & Also part of God's plan.
It is difficult to accept at times, and hard to understand why the poor conduct of others can be allowed especially when it causes enormous pain to the lives of others undeserving of it. If you studied the gospel of Christ, instead of making fun of it, you would gain an understanding about this principle. Agency. The power of it. And your refiner's Fire.

3. Are you perfect?
If yes, oh please teach me!!!

4. If not, Then you are also a hypocrite.
It's okay. I am too.
Some days I think I'm pretty great because I serve actively in a church calling and volunteer so much of my time...and then I'll turn around and harbor really negative thoughts about someone or about a situation and think, "They aren't deserving of my forgiveness."
This is the thing: we all have character weaknesses and each of us dabbles in hypocrisy without meaning to. Without even being aware of it. We may indulge in gluttonous conduct on Saturday night and show up to church on Sunday sitting in the front pew. Then we gaze around at one another and pin point all the flaws and sins we see in other people and somehow think we are better because our sins are different.

Calling someone a hypocrite without recognizing one's own character weaknesses is hypocritical. Agreed?
I've heard many times, "I had a bad experience with a Mormon so I don't want anything to do with that religion."

I've had a bad experience with Mexican food, but that doesn't stop me from eating tacos! In all seriousness, I understand their point of view. I myself have had some really bad experiences with Mormons, but I've had bad experiences with lots of people, Christian and Athiest alike. It doesn't mean I hate everyone or think all religion is bad. People do dumb things that have absolutely nothing to do with God. Some people abuse authority in a church. The world watched this happen, not in the Mormon religion, but in another powerful Christian organization where young boys were being sexually abused. Does that mean the foundation of the religion and the gospel of Christ isn't real? Ya, ya agnostic folks will still debate that. For me, I know Christ lives. I've studied His gospel and have a fairly firm and deep knowledge of it. It sucks when people treat me unfairly, when they lie or steal or gossip, but it doesn't matter to me what religion they belong to. They are all children of Christ. Some children make worse decisions than others.

I lurv you all, even the ones that gave me a big fat eye roll.

One of my favorite quotes is "Tolerance of intolerance is intolerance." 

Extremists on all sides are at war over beliefs, discouraging the freedoms and liberties men died to protect in this great country. It saddens me that people think because you have different beliefs that you must be enemies, that one person must be wrong and evil, and that person must be "changed". While I stand firm in my own Christian beliefs, one of the founding 13 articles of faith in the Mormon religion says "we believe in the freedom of religion". I don't see it as my job to judge someone else for having different ideas or values. There is such thing as right and wrong, and I will always refer to the Bible when being asked about my own beliefs. However, I want to make it clear that I will mess up. I will make mistakes. I will honk at cars or cuss at the spilled milk. Sometimes I say something bad about another person out of anger and betrayal. There are days when I don't really want to serve others, I would rather take care of myself...pick myself up off the floor and find motivation to go on. Yes, I am a Mormon hypocrite at times. I've been a church go-er, I've been a God-hater, and lots of places in between. I wear tight yoga pants sometimes that show the shape of my butt. I read scriptures at night. I drink Mountain Dew. I don't go see Rated R movies (anymore). I love playing Craps. People who get married in the temple after dating like 3 weeks seriously annoy me, these are elements that make up my super imperfect personality. And I love me. How hypocritical do I look to my crowd of non-religious friends now that I quit drinking and live a modest, Christian life of church on Sundays and zero coffee Monday morning? Probably very. So we all are hypocrites.

It is impossible to be perfect, to "perfectly" follow your value system. It is part of being mortal, and was predesigned in God's plan when He allowed us agency. There are thousands of religions and not one single perfect person alive. In some of these religions, groups of extremists have done really bad things. Men have sexually assaulted young boys, suicide bombers have murdered other religious persons, etc. These are the acts of confused and unrighteous mortals acting with their free agency. They're hypocrites. It doesn't mean every person in that religion is a horrible human, and it doesn't mean the beliefs of that faith are false. The fact that it bugs people so bad when Mormons screw up says more about the religion (and they're beliefs) than they know...I love it!

We happen to live in Utah, so the focus tends to be on "Mormons". If we were in Italy and Catholics started becoming discriminated against, there would be an uproar. It is considered a violent hate crime to discriminate against religions in many parts of the world. What Mormons do to other Mormons here in this state is surprising. In another country we might be imprisoned. But we aren't...we are in here in the humble beehive state, and there are lots and lots of different faiths lots of diversity, and lots of Mormons. You might meet a good Mormon, you might meet a mean one. The fact that you have such high expectations of Mormons warms my heart, truly. I wish all Christians were good people and nice and friendly and charitable. Wouldn't that be something? I wish someone wasn't made fun of because they were religious and I wish someone wasn't left out of a birthday party because they weren't. There are millions of ways to be a solid Christian, but one sure way NOT to is to call someone else a hypocrite when we will all be found at fault at God's judgement bar. Every single on of us.

Without talking about any major crime, I would like to close by saying there are bad people in the world. And there is evil. Instead of fighting amongst the good and those that still try, shouldn't we become comrades? Shouldn't we embrace faith and encourage the positive efforts people make? Even though we might not be out there performing some abominable atrocity that would land us in jail, it is still required of us to forgive those that do. In fact, we can go one step further and try to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ, a doctrine that is taught in many religions, believe it or not. We are all we have in this world. It would be wiser to help others, forgive the treaspaases of the lost souls, and lead by EXAMPLE, would it not?
That's mainly my goal in life. I'm not here to baptize anyone...I don't think? I'm 99% sure I have too much attitude to be a missionary, which is what keeps me grounded and in the lovely hypocrite category as my friends! Nonetheless, I would like to be a good example of Christlike demeanor and improve myself a little each day. If you'll allow it.