I have a message for a lot of you “active” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints out there. It’s going to shock you. It’s going to disturb you. You’ll most likely reject it. But you need to hear it.
Regretfully, before I proceed, I need to give you a disclaimer and proclaim my “orthodoxy” (because I know orthodoxy is important to you and that you’ll definitely want to question it later). I go to Church. I have a calling. I pay my tithing. I have a temple recommend. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. And “I know the Book of Mormon is true.” I’ve been an EQ president, served in multiple bishoprics, stake presidencies, high councils, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. I was President Hinckley’s lawyer and thought I was a real big deal at one time. Now that you know that I’m one of “you”—and not some disgruntled inactive or ex—please listen to my message. But, remember, it’s going to be disturbing (and did I mention that you’ll want to judge me and question my orthodoxy later?).
I’m tired of seeing people leave the Church, take their own lives, or suffer crippling depression because they feel so alone and so isolated …
You see, a lot of you–maybe most of you–are the problem. You’re the reason so many of our young (and old) people are leaving the Church. And prophets in the Book of Mormon saw it coming more than a millennia ago. You should pay attention to this message. After all, it was written for our day. It was written for you. (Mormon 8:35.) Like Moroni and Mormon of old, “I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord[.]” (Moroni 7:3.) So what is this message for the “active” members, those that Mormon and Moroni called “you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ”?
“Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.” (Moroni 7:14.) Isn’t it interesting that those, like you, that think they “are the peaceable followers of Christ,” have an issue with condemning things that are actually good and of God? Isn’t it interesting that you, like them, need a reminder “that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” (Moroni 7:18.)
Read Moroni 7 and then remember that Mormon and Moroni weren’t talking to the “bad” guys. They were talking to the “good” guys. They were talking to “us” not “them.” And they said, multiple times, that we need to learn how to “lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not” (Moroni 7:19, 20, 21, 25) for “if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.” (Moroni 7:19.) They said we tend to “judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.” (Moroni 7:14.)
Mormon is the new Pharisee
What does this mean? It means that a lot of the things you love, adore and idolize—the chief seats in the Conference Center (Matthew 23:6), the big important titles (Matthew 23:7-8), being seen at the temple (Matthew 23:5), your conspicuous consecration (Matthew 6:1-8)—are all things Jesus detested.
This admonition to the active members of the Church–to be careful not to “judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.” (Moroni 7:14)–means you’re going to be shocked when you get to heaven only to find Jesus doing the moon walk with MJ, rocking out with Ozzy and Angus, hanging with hippies (and, yes, maybe even hipsters), and goofing off irreverently with little children. Jesus hangs out with the undesireables (see John 8:1-11, Luke 9:1-10, Mark 2:13-17), the lowly and the unpretentious (Luke 18:16-17, 3 Nephi 17:11-25). So instead of soft organs and whiteness, it’s going to be loud and colorful, which means you’re probably not going to like it. You temple workers who admonished me (in Boise, Draper and American Fork) for back-slapping hugs … well, you might want to have a paradigm shift because, as it turns out, you’ve got it all wrong. People are actually more important than places and piousness.
Moroni saw us active members, and this is what he said: “And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.” (Mormon 8:36.) Your pride and arrogance, your self-righteousness, your persecution of those who doubt or are different is corrupting the Church. I’m not saying it. Mormon and Moroni are.
Mormon and Moroni said you think you know what righteousness looks like but you don’t. “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:37.) You seek the “praise of the world” (Mormon 8:39)—in fact, you love and idolize other members who are famous, and love it any time the media pays attention to one of us. The rich and famous make the covers of our magazines and get invited to speak at firesides. People with titles are adored and almost worshiped, which really puts the “cult” in our culture. Even though “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), we are stratified and hierarchical. We place obeisance and orthodoxy above compassion and orthopraxy. Our culture is killing people, literally and spiritually … it has become the very thing that Mormon and Moroni foresaw and condemned. We sorely need to repent.
“God so loved the world” and so should you.
Don’t be mad at me. I understand. I used to be just like you. The only thing stiffer than my starched white shirts was my self-righteous, sanctimonious soul. My obedience, my sycophancy, my sparkling white exterior … they rivaled them all. I went to the temple every week and, like the Pharisee who prayed thus with himself, I thought that made me righteous. (Luke 18:9-14.) I wasn’t “worldly,” like I am now. But, you see, I had it all wrong. “For God so loved the world ….” (John 3:16.) And now so do I.
I’m tired of seeing people leave the Church, take their own lives, or suffer crippling depression because they feel so alone and so isolated by our judgey culture that too often calls good people or good things bad just because they are different, or just because they doubt or believe differently than we do. I’m afraid that Mormon is the new Pharisee. I wouldn’t be so fired up about this if it wasn’t so real. I wouldn’t care enough about this to put my neck out there and write about it if I didn’t love my Church so much, which I do.
The message of Jesus, Moroni and Mormon, and anyone else who “gets it” is that love sanctifies everything it touches. The evil or good that God really cares about is the meekness and charity that exists within your heart. (See Moroni 7:39-48.) This was the message that Mormon and Moroni saw as being imperative for the “active” members of the Church in their day (and ours). So stop judging, stop condemning (John 3:17), and start loving. You need a change of consciousness. Relationships are more important than rules, rites and rituals. (Matthew 5:23-24.) “God so loved the world” and so should you.