The Teenage Mind
When I was in junior high, a mere 14 years old, I was positive I was in love. Not just infatuated. Not just hormonal. This was no ordinary teenage crush, it was different!
And, indeed, it was. The object of my affection—affection that was first bestowed upon me from him—was a 19-year-old college boy.
Let that just settle into your mind for a minute.
In spite of my assertions that “chronological age is not a determiner of maturity or responsibility,” in spite of my emphatic claims that I was different, special, and extraordinary, in spite of my pleas and promises and throwing myself prone on my bed in a tormented angsty rage of tears, my (mean, awful, hateful) parents would not be swayed.
All I wanted in the whole entire world was to date just a tiny bit (precisely 1.83 years) before the Mormon standard of 16 and to date someone old enough to be…well…illegal. I would forgo every other life opportunity and privilege for the rest of eternity, yea verily, I would do extra chores and practice my violin an extra half hour a day. Plus continue to get straight As. Plus read many, many scripture chapters weekly. Plus visit the elderly and the shut-ins. Plus make my bed. If only I could have my heart's one true desire!
Yes, I even played the love card.
If you really loved me, you wouldn't keep me from the person I love!
Thus, I continued on for nearly a year of agony until my beloved finally left on his mission, still undated. Faithfully I wrote to him…for a few months…until I finally began to notice other boys, boys who weren't trying to woo much younger, stupid, romantic girls in 9th grade.
By 16.5 I had to admit that my parents had figured something out. Not much, to be sure, but something.
New Order Mormonism
As each progressive progressive cause du jour (see what I did there?) unfolds, I am thrown back to Lakeridge Junior High and the demands I made to my unreasonable (and likely insane) parents.
If you really loved me, you'd let me do what I want to do!
Whatever people feel like doing—if they really, really (and I mean really) feel it—they should not be denied. In fact, they should be embraced in the name of love or justice or tolerance or just kumbaya. And Facebook should have profiles in their honor and everyone should post on social media about how awesome and brave and authentic they are. And there should awards and trophies involved. And applause and universal foaming adoration.
And if you are one of those haters who hate on people for just doing-what-they-gotta-do, well, you are just a hater who hates. The stockade is a pretty good place for you. Or thumb screws. Or the rack.
Of course, this loving-people-for-doing-what-they-gotta-do only extends so far. If you really, really (and I mean really) want to limit your cake-baking time to hetero wedding cakes, well that's a hate crime too far. And if you really, really (and I mean really) feel compelled to say that transgenderism makes no sense, you have displayed unseemly bigotry and given unreconcilable offense.
When presented with the latest social outrage, we hear strident voices demanding that the church change its policy, practice, or position. To these (curiously, often disaffected) “thought leaders,” the church needs to get with the times and swap out it's paletot coats and bonnets for man buns and beards.
It must be done so they can feel better, happier, and/or more satisfied. It must be done so they can continue to fellowship with the saints—to the extent they choose—without changing their desires or behaviors.
Generally speaking there is little in the way of rational discussion. If we really cared, we might ask, for example:
- What are the benefits of the desired change?
- What are the unintended negative consequences of change?
- How does the current position impact culture, faithfulness, loyalty, cohesiveness, function, efficiency, effectiveness, governance, piousness, missionary work, etc.?
- Could there be reasons God supports the status quo?
We must understand that personal preference is rarely the trump card it is purported to be.
The Other Side
While we should be able to openly discuss troubling issues, we must do it with the underlying agreement that—after all our wrestling—God still gets to define what is right and wrong.
Over the course of my life there have been myriad things I have wanted to do, even felt compelled to do, that—if I prescribe to Mormonism—I can't do. Unless your value set is pure hedonism, that's true of you as well. If you do prescribe to hedonism, others have likely suffered displeasure due to your pleasure seeking. (Funny how that works.)
When God proscribes behavior we desperately want to engage in, it behooves us to consider his will before our own. The question of whether the leaders of the church actually know the behaviors God proscribes is a different question entirely, but we must at least accept possibility that they do.
If you do want be part of the church—even just as a matter of culture or tradition (which pretty much means you want to leach off the faithful and observant members, but that's another post as well)—you must at least admit that the culture and experience and everything you find attractive about Mormonism are probably greatly attributable to the church's past and presence governance. In other words, the very thing you want to change is the thing that made you want to stay.
As we redefine “godly love” to mean “capitulating to my tantrum,” we lose the very essence of the gospel which is to become like God the Father and God the Mother. The end is to remake ourselves in their images, not the other way around.