I had a very good Sunday yesterday. It was my first Sunday back to church after 3 weeks off due to a bad patch of bronchitis. I wasn't sure I wanted to go back. I always look forward to and dread going to church in equal measures. That may be because I live in a very red county and my fellow ward members are even redder than most. It is very rare that I go to church and don't hear a political comment in Sunday School or Relief Society.
It may also be because I was afraid it was one particular sister's turn to give the lesson in Relief Society. I love her dearly, but she is quite puritanical in her beliefs. The last time she taught she was only 5 minutes into her lesson when I just walked out on her.
So, I was unsure about this Sunday. However, I prayed for comfort, acceptance, and tolerance both for me and my fellow church goers and decided to go. Many people don't understand why I continue to go. Well, quite simply, it's because I love the gospel. I love learning more about the gospel. I also love feeling the love that I do get at Church. Just because some people can be intolerant and judgemental does not mean they speak for God. It does not mean they are not capable of love and being loved. And, love, after all, is the center of this church. It is the center of Christ's message. We may forget that sometimes when we are faced with people that say they are followers of Christ.
Two good things in particular happened at Church - well, three, if you count the Christmas music and Christmas lessons in Sacrament - but two that I want to focus on here. Firstly, I saw the puritanical sister that I reference earlier - I will call her M. I wished her Merry Christmas and she reciprocated. But, then she mentioned how glad I was back at church and how she was worried after I left her lesson the last time I saw her. This is what I like about M. We both know about how we each feel about certain political matters. However, we are still close friends and love each other dearly. It really cheered me to see that was still the same.
The second thing is even bigger. One of the things I always worry about is how opinionated I can be in Church. Sometimes I ignore some of the political statements that are made. Sometimes I groan. But today I made a statement. It was a little long. I don't really know how clear it was, but afterwards I was proud I made it. What had happened is that we were focusing on The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I cringed when I noticed this was our topic in the bulletin. You would think that family values are a nice easy topic. But not in this Church. Also many people look at it as a prophetic commandment. I look at it as guidance. After all, polygamy and racism were started and stopped by a prophetic statement.
Well, full props to the instructor. He gave a very non-political lesson. I had been worried. I even asked him before the lesson. I had actually considered just skipping Sunday School. I lasted until halfway through the lesson when someone actually brought up the Church's recent guidance about homosexuality and gay marriage. They commented that some people outside the church think it means we were changing our attitudes. This is when I spoke up. I really wish that I had recorded what I said. I will try to at least summarize what I said here.
I raised my hand and told the class that whether or not we changed our attitudes was not the point. The point was what our actions are doing to people. I reminded them that there may actually be gays in our congregation. I asked them to think how they feel every time their brothers and sisters in Christ talk about how they feel and what they do is not only a sin but evil? I then pointed out that the next paragraph in the Proclamation teaches how vital marriage is to our exaltation. I said that this had always been a sore spot with me as a long time single woman. That I did not accept that God was going to ask for my wedding ring as a condition of salvation. I reminded them that there is a reason that the highest anti-depressant use is in the State of Utah. That what we do and say is hurtful to not only our fellow church members but the rest of humanity.
Additionally, I told them that I believed that Christ's message came down to love. That there is a reason that we are not all different on this earth. We are different sexes, different races, different sexualities. We are born this way for a reason. I believe it is to teach us how to love one another. That if we were all the same it would be easy.
I then took a deep breath. I had finally done it.