Here I sit, bewildered at the growing schism between Christians, including members of the LDS church.
On the one side is a group quickly growing in numbers that appeals to the heart and preaches love, tolerance, and acceptance almost to the exclusion of other true principles like judgment, obedience, and truth.
On the other side is a group that appeals to the intelligence and emphasizes a need for obedience, truth, and righteous judgment while rarely mentioning love.
The reason I’m bewildered is because good people with so much light and knowledge pit righteous principles against each other.
We have the scriptures and the words of modern prophets and apostles. We are swimming in revealed truth. If we would search humbly, we would clearly see that it is not one or the other.
But, because people’s feelings are getting hurt, defensive walls are sky-high and incredibly difficult to scale.
I witness that Christlike love not only can coexist with judgment, obedience, and truth, but that it can’t exist without them. There are many kinds of love in the hearts of mankind, but Christlike love is both very generous to people and unyieldingly loyal to Eternal truth — all of it.
How might all this look in real life?
Well, the love camp might say that Christlike love shows no hint of judgment for someone experiencing a gender crisis or same-sex attraction. They’ll go as far as saying it’s not okay to teach that there are two genders (and in the church, that means two biological sexes that coincide with what the world might call gender) and that same-sex sexual relations are sin and require repentance, because it hurts people’s feelings. They’ll ask family and friends to be accepting, not only of the person, but of the person’s behavior so the person will feel loved and accepted.
The judgment camp, on the other hand, might say that children are watching and learning based on how we communicate to people with same-sex attraction and gender confusion issues. Therefore, it is extremely important to teach the truth, which is that there are two genders and that the only kind of sexual relationship that is acceptable to God is that which occurs within a legal and lawful marriage between a biological man and a biological woman. Therefore, it is important to teach people who struggle that if they will not abstain from living and teaching sin, then their example of disobedience to God’s commandments will not be allowed to serve as a false teacher and a temptation to the children so exposed.
The infighting need not continue. There is a perfectly harmonious relationship between both of these ideas. Both camps will have to discard that which is false and embrace that which is true. Let’s marry the two sides and show what it might look like. Let’s call it the Christlike Love and Judgment camp.
The Christlike Love and Judgment camp might love the individual who is struggling so perfectly that they’ll treat them with kindness, respect, and generosity while inviting them to come unto Christ. If there is a concern about how a person’s example might affect a child, this camp might communicate clearly, kindly, and openly about how the person is expected to behave around the child and that because of the love that exists for the child and the concern for the child’s well-being, sinful behaviors and teachings will not be tolerated. This camp will not depart one iota from teaching the truth, but neither will it persecute. It recognizes that disciples of Christ love Christ, His doctrine, His commandments, and all people, and that the ultimate manifestation of that love is to help others put aside their sins, repent, and come unto Christ, thus becoming one of His disciples. This camp will never support someone in their sins (including their own), but neither will it persecute others because of their sins (including themselves).
True discipleship requires love. It also requires judgment, repentance, obedience, and truth — all of the truth, not just the parts that support one person’s particular point of view.
As I sit here in bewilderment wondering how the schism might one day be healed, I can’t help but hope. I hope that people from both sides of this issue can meet right where the more-complete truth is to be found: at the Christlike Love and Judgment camp.
These people exemplify Christ’s love and His righteous judgment. They teach the truth powerfully without giving exception for sin, but they do so without persecuting others. They invite others to, as Moroni put it, “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.” (Moroni 10:32)
Let’s look at this one more way, and then I’ll wrap this up.
Consider the following scripture about Charity in Moroni 7 (also see 1 Corinthians 13):
Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
It seems to me that the love camp wants the scripture to read:
Charity is kind, envieth not, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, believeth all things, and hopeth all things.
While the judgment camp wants it to read:
Charity suffereth long, seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, and endureth all things.
Charity is all of these things, not just part of these things. I believe we need to unite around Charity and incorporate it in its entirety.
Cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.