Jesus put it rather simply: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
To that simple injunction, he added a more specific warning: “With whatsoever measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.” Barreling through the King James English, that means, “Your own measuring stick will be used to measure you.” If you judge another person hastily, you will be judged in haste. If you apply an unfair standard of righteousness, you will be held to the same unfair standard. If you are petty and easily offended, your judge will be of the same mind. This should be a sobering thought to a people like us Mormons who looooooove judgement.
Well, Peter, you say… All people are judgmental, how do you justify singling out Mormons as particularly given to judgment? The point is well made, that we are not necessarily any more judgmental than any other body of Christians. But I would counter that we are certainly not any less judgmental than others. Consider the recent remarks of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in General Conference.
“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?
Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?”
Like toddlers, we have to be told to STOP IT. Many people laughed. I was like, “Yeah. Stop it. Seriously.”
President Uchtdorf was apt enough to remind us, that we will all need a hefty helping of mercy; and of the Lord’s promise that “the merciful shall obtain mercy”. In the aftermath of last week’s most unnecessary and horrific act of judgement, I watched as church members on both sides of the women’s ordination question indulged their most judgmental impulses (I say I watched, but I think I probably indulged a bit too) and frankly, it made the Bloggernaccle kind of a toxic place. I’ve forced myself on a Facebook hiatus to lessen my exposure. I was unsurprised but still disappointed to see that many of those who’d been eagerly crying for Kate Kelly’s ouster from the ranks, saw an interview she gave in a sleeveless dress and shouted from their respective internet rooftops how they “always knew she really only wanted to sin and be immodest”.
She no longer wears garments because she had her covenants forcibly removed by an act of fiat, and yet we want to manage her body and her wardrobe. Even more alarmingly, we want her to continue to act and appear as if all is well in the Zion that cast her out. Which gets to the heart of the problem…
We want perfectly whitewashed sepulchers.
That’s how Jesus phrased it. It was scathing when he said it, and it’s scathing now, because Jesus was a radical whose modus operandi was essentially, “Tone be damned. Substance is what matters.” Church spokeswoman Ally Isom disagrees. “It’s not what they’re saying, it’s how they’re saying it… The tone is very important.” Setting aside that the entire statement constitutes a logical fallacy, the essence of her repeated statement is that church leadership’s issue is not with the questions raised by Ordain Women, but by the way they’re being raised in public and in the media. The church’s foremost concern is, by their own admission, not with its doctrine, but with its image.
LDS author and theologian Frances Menlove said, “The appearance of the church should never be enhanced at the expense of reality… The aim of both public and private honesty is to abolish dualism. There should not be two churches, one as it actually is and another that is offered to the public.”
I would urge that change, but I’m also realistic about how much the church can or will shift its priorities. I think what needs some immediate work is our attitudes as members of the church who interact online. We ought to pray for the spiritual gift of judgement, which is one of the few gifts we develop by not practicing it. We must reserve our impulsive judgment, if we are to develop wisdom and righteous judgment. The internet doesn’t make that very easy though, does it?
Proceed with your calm, considered, thoughtful and measured responses…
And watch your tone.