Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Supposed Monopoly on Morality

My head hurts, and it's not from headaches this time. It's from continually banging my head against the desk, wall - I even banged my head against Eric's during prayer last Sunday (guess what we were praying about? Yeah. My 'amen' was absent then, you'd better believe).

A couple of things have occurred in the last few months that have caused me to think, caused my shoulders to turn into brick. Read these comments:

"Well, non-members just don't have morals."

"In my opinion, there are good people who are non members."

A good friend of my husband and mine said the first one, and, coming from a non-member family, I about jumped down his throat.

The second quote was said in a recent Relief Society meeting. While I'm glad she thinks so, the idea that she had to qualify her statement at all angered me. The idea that anyone would disagree with her, that she would think anyone would is just beyond me.

Of course there are good people who aren't members! I'd dare say better than some.

And of course not everyone thinks this, but that there are even a few is far too many.

I want to expand on something I wrote in my entry entitled Charity. You may remember my story about going to the San Francisco Giants game with a few friends and noticing a man rummaging through the garbage dumpster. My friend went back, grabbed some food out of the car, and gave it to him while I was trying to get past him as fast as my little legs could take me.

What I left out, on purpose, is what happened as she gave the food to the man.

Another man approached at the same time and handed the guy a can of beer. I had a couple of different, immediate reactions to this:

1) Is this okay?
2) How cool.

Is this okay?

It was a can of beer, and I thought about the teachings I had growing up about not giving a beggar any money because he or she might run out and get drunk or high off of it. I also thought, with my nose rather high in the air, "Wouldn't something else be far more beneficial to this man than a can of *gasp* beer?"

Almost as quick, I realized it was more than okay, it was a wonderful gesture of respect.

Something strong flitted between the two men. A can of beer, outside our church, is more than a can of beer. It's a way men bond. It's a show of respect. It's not immoral for a lot of people to drink beer, and might I dare say that it's not necessarily immoral period to drink beer. Latter-day Saints don't because (a) it's potentially addictive (b) not so good for you, or (c) because the Word of Wisdom says not to and we want to go to the temple.

Does this doctrine make us better than anyone else? No!

I almost wonder if this stranger's offer of beer was somehow better receieved than the Twinkies my friend gave him. Though I'm certain both were appreciated beyond measure, the beer was a way, almost, of patting the guy on the back. It was almost a way of saying "I don't think any less of ya, here. Have a beer."

I know it might be kind of difficult for some who haven't been around people who drink often, and honestly it's a little weird for me anymore. My family drinks when they get together, though. Nobody gets drunk, they just have a couple beers and wine with their Thanksgiving dinner.

There are good people outside the Church. There are amazing Penecostals, Baptists, Catholics, Buddhists, Sikhs...and yes, even Athiests and Agnostics. I have met some of the most amazing people who don't subscribe to our beliefs, some of the most humble and respectful people ever. People some in our Church would be blessed to meet.

Just like conservatism doesn't have a monopoly on what is good and moral, neither does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you think we need to be better in our missionary efforts, if you wonder why more people aren't jumping in the baptismal fonts, I'd like to submit the idea that perhaps we sometimes think we're better because we know something more, something different, and anyone else who doesn't is below us.

That isn't love.

Even the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve would agree with that.

No comments: