Aug 26, 2008

"Who Is On The Lord's Side? Who?"

This past Sunday at church, I heard an interesting discussion in Sunday School. The question was asked why people who leave the Church often become Anti-Mormons and begin attacking it aggressively. One brother responded that it was because in the Gospel, there is no such thing as no-man's land or neutrality. If you're not on God's side, then you're on Satan's side. There's no middle ground. Period. My husband happened to be with me at church that day and he whispered to me, "Do you think that's true?" I just shook my head.

Later on in the day, we went for a hike on a nearby mountain and talked about it some more. We discussed what this brother had said and whether someone like my husband, since he is not a member and doesn't agree with everything, is on Satan's side by default, since he's not really on God's side -- at least by the Mormon definition. I told him that I thought that it applied more to me personally, since I am already a member of the Church and have taken upon myself the name of Christ and therefore have pledged to live his commandments. However, I also said that I didn't think it was so black and white.

So now I've been thinking about neutrality in the Gospel: whether it should exist and whether it exists at all. If you're like me, when you hear the word "neutral," then Switzerland comes to mind. They were neutral during WWII and escaped the terror and destruction that was going on in virtually every other country around them. Until recently, they weren't even a member of the UN. They have managed to avoid wars, conflicts, and if you go to Switzerland (which I have and I LOVED it!), you'll see that this neutral philosophy has worked out pretty darn well for them. But there's a dark side to their "neutrality." Turns out that some of their citizens weren't as "neutral" as we'd like to think, particularly those who were running the banks and guarding Hitler's stash of blood money and Jewish belongings.

The problem with neutrality in the Gospel is that things aren't always as blatantly evil as Nazism. And at the same time, things that the Church proclaims to be good and righteous haven't always been so. (The one that of course always comes to my mind is racism and attempting to stifle black civil rights.)

The brother who was commenting in Sunday School told about how he and his wife took part in a demonstration of Christian people in front of the Norwegian Parliament in protest of Norway's marriage law, which was recently changed to include same sex marriage. (I have not heard any appeal from the pulpit at church asking Norwegian members to protest or vote in a certain way as we have seen occur in California, but some members take it upon themselves to do so.) While I don't object to the fact this this brother and his wife went to protest, I'm not sure I would have done so myself. Although I would have rather seen the traditional marriage law unchanged, I personally believe that if a democratic society sees fit to adopt a civil law that doesn't affect my freedom of religion or personal civil rights, then it's not really my call -- even if I disagree with it. Personally, I would feel more motivated to protest if I felt like my religious freedom was being taken away (i.e. if the government suddenly forced all religions to perform same sex marriages in their churches, mosques, or synagogues). At the moment, nothing indicates to me that the government intends to take away anyone's religious freedom.

Same sex marriage is just one example that tends to be a divisive issue among Mormons. The Iraq war is another issue that finds Mormons on polar opposite sides, as well as different political ideologies, and all can find "evidence" within the Gospel to support their views.

So, how do we know "who is on the Lord's side, who?" And for those who are unsure about what is right in the Lord's eyes, are they sitting on an invisible fence, fooling themselves into thinking that they're not really Satan's soldiers?

1 comment:

Rick said...

Hi, FD - that is a great question - and one that almost drove me to insanity once!!! Definately the wrong way to go about it is to say, "who's on my ward mission leader's side" or "who's on the relief society president's side" or who's on anyone's side - one has to feel right with themselves first - if one is going against their own heart and soul, you can bet that they are not doing what the Lord would have them do - Being inline with God and being inline with yourself is, to me, the same thing - I don't feel like a person can truely be inline with god and be at odds with themself. Being "true to yourself" is of the most importance.