Monday, June 23, 2014

Cuztomizing Christ

There's a blog post floating around in cyberspace that tells us to "quit acting like Christ was accepting of everyone and everything."  I'm not even linking it cuz it doesn't bring me feelings of the spirit.  I'll trudge through a few points in particular, however, so my thoughts make a bit of sense.

The author starts right off with "Too many people are neglecting what is in the scriptures and trying to 'customize Christ'."  This is also a lot like Elder Holland's talk, wherein he says, "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds."

Before anyone gets in an uproar, I am not disparaging Elder Holland.  I love him, always have.  I'm not even disparaging his comment, per se. What I dislike and find uncomfortable is the tendency people have, when reading or hearing those words, to feel that I am trying to have a god who doesn't demand much, a comfortable or smooth god, or one who doesn't rock the boat.  Or that when I take issue with someone thinking such of me, I need to be called to repentance.

Anyway, it's things like the article I am not linking to that get people on the bandwagon of thinking I've got it all wrong.  (Even if I do have it all wrong, isn't that between me and God?) "Instead of looking for a Church that teaches truth, many are on a quest to find a church that can satisfy their innate desire to worship God, and yet at the same time, live the lifestyle that they want to live regardless of how ungodly it really is."  Yeah, he's not talking about "lifestyle" of judging or gossip. 

He says in his article: 
If Christ were walking the earth today preaching the same things He was preaching back in His day, people would be flying off the handle. He’d teach hard things. Draw a line in the sand. Tell people He loves them. Ask them to repent. Maybe even get mad and turn over some tables. (Matt 21:12-13) Then they’d call Him a bigot. Self-righteous. Un-accepting of others and their way of life.
I honestly don't think Christ would be (is) as harsh as this presents.  Isn't He our Intercessor?  Our Redeemer?  What did He teach, really?  Love, compassion, turning your life over to Him, serving Him and others, not judging - remember the Samaritan?  Yes, He asked people to repent, a lot - from judging, from being too critical of others (including Him), and thinking they knew better than God.  I don't see anything at all in His teachings from the Bible that make him appear to be a bigot.  Nothing but love and acceptance, kindness and mercy, forgiveness. 

Here's what someone named Candace Datz had to say: 
If I am to err in interpreting the Bible, which I probably will since I’m a human being, I would rather intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, “You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,” but I could definitely see him saying, “You didn’t take care of those around you and you alienated those that I love.”
That sounds more like how I feel about Jesus.  Am I really so off base in how I see my Lord and Savior?  Is there any place in our hearts to see that we *can* indeed depend on Christ's grace and mercy, and that perhaps He just might want us to feel better about ourselves?  This isn't me customizing Him, making him comfortable or smooth, nor is it me wishing He just wasn't so demanding.

A woman commented on a thread on facebook about this, and I love what she had to say so much, I'm going to paraphrase and add my own twist ... I have spent much of my adult life trying to understand how to manage being gay and LDS, how I fit, or don't fit.  And ultimately, His grace and mercy, and the atonement are all I can count on. There is no part of this journey of reconciliation that has been easy, smooth, comfortable.  But the simple beauties of the gospel and Christ have indeed brought me peace.  While my searching has brought me more questions than answers, there are still simple truths that shine through ... when I can remember just what is important. One thing this searching has taught me, almost more clearly than anything else, is the nature of Jesus Christ, my Advocate, my Rock, my Mediator, my Light.

When it comes to this journey of being gay and LDS, I'll close in her perfect words, "The Savior is my beacon of hope, my provider of peace, my Elder Brother. That's not manipulation, that's peace. And I'll take all the peace I can get."


Edward Morgan said...

Great post. But in this case I think that Elder Holland's comments do deserve some disparaging. Someone like him - a powerful, privileged, well educated, white heterosexual male who has led a relatively easy life and for whom the LDS Church is a very welcoming and comfortable place - he is the one running through fields of marigolds and he has been his whole charmed life. He has certainly worked hard to get where he is - I do not deny that - but he has not had to really struggle for it. For me it is very arrogant of him to look down on people who might have had horrible struggles that literally tore their soles to the core - such as LGBTQ people who are LDS - and tell them they were seeking smooth and comfortable gods if they left the LDS Church because it was literally killing them. Walk a few miles in our shoes Elder Holland and you will find there are no marigold fields for us.

Christina L Rivers said...

I too find times when reconciling my life as a gay woman relates to what "religions" are putting out their as their "expert" opinion of Christ. Because I AM a believer, I feel caught in the middle of harsh judgments of other believers, but also fellow GLBT community members who think that I shouldn't believe. God is my Father...Christ my brother. Even if I don't understand why my life path included being among some of the most hated, berated people on Earth, I find that it has taught me to be more loving of all different kinds of people. I certainly don't think life is a bed of roses for anyone - including Elder Holland. I don't walk in his shoes...I walk in mine. And you are right...I answer to God, not to my fellow men and women. If Grace was meant for only the perfect, no one would receive it. No one. I can only walk the path before me and regardless of the times I have felt like I was coming apart at the seams or thinking my life was too difficult to continue to live, it was God who interceded. No one else stepped up. Not even my GLBT friends. That has taught me that reconciliation is only possible through my continued faith that only God truly walks with me.

Adon said...

If some people think you have it all wrong,(as someone very close to me feels about my feelings and ideas) then so be it. You and I and many , many others have to follow our hearts and do the best we can each and every day. Let them think what they want. I do wish they would keep it to themselves sometimes.

Juniper said...

Reading you is always such a treat. I'm SO glad you're working on another book about your experiences with SSA. Much of what you talked about in recent entries, Customizing Christ, and Adding Unto Rachel for examples . . . much of the misunderstandings of Latter-day Saints about what people are and aren't doing in the choices they make comes from simply not knowing enough. Not knowing enough of the stories, not hearing enough of the feelings, the motivations. Being so ready to proclaim the truth, and bracing for derision, that they don't do the hearing, the really listening that must be done to obtain more understanding. The hearing, the really listening that Jesus ALWAYS did and does. I so cheered after Elder Zwick's Gen Conf talk, "What Are You Thinking?" on engaging in civil dialogue with empathy . . . empathy that changes the LDS advocate as much as those seeking contrary things.

I've digressed. I want to cheer your book writing because I think it speaks to the very problems that continue to trouble you and other LDS SSA people. The more stories that get told, deeply thoughtfully and in detail told, in more venues, the more opportunities Jesus and the Holy Spirit have to increase understanding in the world. And even in his prophets and apostles. The scales must fall from their eyes too because they are human beings too. Just like you and me. So bear the testimonies! Bear, bear, bear the testimonies. And you who are so wonderfully gifted in writing, write your stories in a book (again, and differently of course). Write your testimony in a book. And Jesus will carry it where he will. That's MY testimony :-)