Should Church be a Judgement-free Zone?

I recently read that one of the top three reasons Millennials leave the LDS Church is because they feel judged at church. After I read the article with this fact listed in it I read the comments on it–like almost anyone does. One comment stood out to me: “Of course Millennials need their judgement free safe bubbles.”

Call me a run of the mill Millennial if you must, but I think designating church as a place where you can go and not have to fear judgement is a good thing. There are a lot of people who might agree, like Mother Teresa (who is arguably one of the most inspired religious women of modern times). She once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

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That quote from her can be echoed by the Savior’s answer to the Pharisees when asked what the greatest commandment was. He answered them saying:

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they sould, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other greater commandment than these.

Mark 12: 30-31

You can see how the two fit together so well. When people come to church it can be a detrimental blow not only to ego, but to faith when the people who should be uplifting and sustaining us spiritually become nit-picky and catty because of past mistakes or what they’re wearing to church or how they interpret the Word of Wisdom at a specific point in time.

Jeffrey R. Holland said in a BYU Devotional, “Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried.”

We should always  strive to improve ourselves while trying to help those around us. I believe that it becomes easier as time goes on, because when you progress you naturally want the people around you that you care and love to progress with you.

Making sure church is an all inclusive place, where anyone can come and not be judged is living the gospel at its finest. It will leave bad feelings and worldly problems at the doors so everyone can more fully feel the Spirit and get the much needed spiritual fill up we all need from time to time.

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-Nikita

 

Charlottesville

Over the weekend white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA. Like a lot of people I was okay with tuning it out because it doesn’t effect me. I’m not a white supremacist. I don’t support that kind of thing, but when I found out that people who were peacefully protesting the rally were injured and killed I realized that my silence effectively condoned that kind of behavior. That’s something I’m not okay with. Not even a little.

My pacifist nature has sent an image that I’m okay with other white people degrading and minimizing other races. I can’t be okay with that. I worry about what kind of image it sends to my oldest child. She’s half Latina and I don’t ever want her to think it’s okay to be discriminatory or racist towards another person based on the color of their skin. I don’t want my sons and younger daughter to think it’s okay either.

Jesus never once said, “Hey, you guys you have to love each other, but only if the people you love are white.”

It’s ridiculous. What makes it even more ridiculous is when Christian men and women use religion as a reinforcement of their bad behavior. Do they not understand that Jesus was a middle Eastern Jew? His appearance was so similar to the people around him that the only way he was identified by the Roman soldiers was Judas’ kiss.

You can tout scriptures about skins of darkness or marks and curses all you want. One thing that I’ve learned from the Gospel is that Jesus and Heavenly Father’s love is all inclusive. It applies to everyone. There is no clause that precludes someone based on their race.

It’s time for all of us to stand up against blatant acts of racism and discrimination. It’s time for us to not even accept subtle racism. In our homes, our schools, our churches, our communities–it is past the time to make it known that this reprehensible behavior is not welcome in anyway shape or form.

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Now is not the time to sit idly by. We need to stand with all of our brothers and sisters in this life. The Civil Rights movement started so long ago, don’t let it stagnate and stop. Improvement and progression are what’s needed.

For further reference on the response the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had in the wake of Charlottesville see their official statement here.

Have Some Faith

Nobody knows the exact location of the Book of Mormon's events. Because of that a lot of people question the reality of the events that happen in it, but you know what? I don't care and neither should you.

When you read the Book of Mormon there are examples of faith from the very beginning–Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem without knowing where they're going, Alma's discourse on faith, Ammon willingly helping a Lamanite king and offering to be his servant, and Moroni's insistence that if you ask in faith whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. So, why does a book rooted in faith rather than proof garnish so much cynicism and skepticism?

A lot of it deals with how the Church was perceived when it was first reorganized and how it's still received today.

In the early 1800s when Joseph Smith first reorganized the Church he was branded a charlatan, a money digger, a crook. It wasn't true, but the pastors and preachers in his area were so entrenched in a "war of the churches" that they were not going to lose any ground to an inexperienced teen. That attitude followed the early Saints throughout the entire eastern United States before they were finally pushed West.

Rough beginnings. And even now when history is discussed in schools and the congregations of other faiths Mormons are seen as a joke or the villains (which I really don't understand because they were the ones being tarred and feather and pushed out of their homes repeatedly). But that's the sad truth of the matter. Because of that (and the fact that the LDS Church refuses to bend their standards based on public opinion) the Church is held to higher standards of proof.

Because there has been no physical and definitive archeological proof there are a few different paths of thinking people take: having faith, coming up with ill-supported evidence in North and South America, or demanding evidence that's not there.

Speculation about the location of where the Book of Mormon took place can be fun. There are individuals who have created some convincing arguments that they present as proof; but people who rely too fully on evidence miss the message of the book. The message of the Book of Mormon is not about what you can physically find; it's about how the Spirit speaks to you. It's about the faith you build in the Savior. It's about the love God has for you and what He's done to ensure the gospel can rest in your hands at any time.

So, I'll say it: where it happened does not matter as much as the fact that it actually happened.

Search the scriptures. Ponder the message. Pray sincerely. The truth will come regardless of what anyone else says or does.


-Nikita