You see, the legalization of gay marriage seems to be one of the divisive issues upon which you can differentiate between a liberal and literal Mormon. And yes, I'm very serious.
There are many other terms to distinguish between these so-called liberal and literal Mormons, such as "Chapel Mormons" and "Internet Mormons". Internet Mormons tending to be more educated, prideful, rebellious, knowledgeable, oppositional to many Church policies and leaders, etc... Then we have your generic Chapel Mormons, who sit in Church on Sundays with the "all is well in Zion" approach to their membership, who know the Church is true, confident in their Exaltation -- also known as "clueless" to the Internet/liberal Mormon who knows the "real truth". Ugh.
I know I'm coming across a bit cynical right now, and I kind of mean to, but not really. What I mean, is that I'm genuinely saddened to know that there are active LDS members among us who truly feel that because of differences in thought about various doctrines, teachings, church history, etc... of Mormonism, that they must categorize themselves as different from the main fold -- and then turn around and categorize those whom they determine to be the main fold.
I am going to let you in on a little secret... There was a time when I, too, felt that I didn't fit in with the main flock. I've moved beyond that trial of my faith, which I will confess was very painful. My testimony of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the gospel have always been unwavering. Where I got thrown off guard was in the imperfections of "men". But that's another blog post for another time. I am grateful now for my new perspective and the compassion that I feel for others who may feel like misfits -- for one reason or another.
But lets get past the name calling, shall we? I only bring up my own experience of having felt on the outside, because I kind of know what it feels like -- and let me just say, it's not good. And because I know how lonely it can be to feel like a misfit amongst people who often describe their relationship with each other as "family", well... this whole division of what kind of Mormon a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, is pretty disturbing. I just don't believe that this is what Jesus Christ had in mind for the members of His Church.
Here's the deal... we ARE all different. Even though there are many things about our membership in the LDS Church that unify us, and rightfully so, there are going to be things about each one of us that are different from YOU! Generally, we choose our friends and those we associate with by our commonalities. It works, and it makes us all very comfortable to be with like-minded individuals. But even within the Church we should not be surprised to find those that don't quite see or do everything the way that we do. We should expect this, and even welcome it -- and certainly not be threatened by it.
I found peace when I finally came to the conclusion that a ward, or our church congregation, is pretty much like our individual families. In the LDS Church, we don't get to pick which ward we will attend, or who the Bishop is, etc... We have to learn to love everyone regardless of quirks, differences, weaknesses, challenges and so on. I don't know about your own family, but mine is whack! Nonetheless, they are mine!
I can honestly say, that through all of the challenges of being married for almost 34 years, having raised my five children and having gone through drama upon drama in doing all of these things -- that I wouldn't trade one of them for anything! In fact, I couldn't even begin to share with you my love for each and everyone of them -- which has come through learning how to love each one individually and most importantly, unconditionally! Being a part of a family is the greatest blessing we are given here in this life -- with hopes of a continuation. Families of all kinds are intended to stretch our capacity to love. That is the great test that each one of us has on this earth -- to ultimately learn to love as He loves us.
Can you think of a better way for us to extend our opportunity to learn how to love as He loves, than through the many differences in people that we find among the body of the saints? I sure can't! So lets all try to get along and love a little bit better. And for heaven's sake -- "literally", can we just lose the labels!
Consider the words of Abraham Lincoln when he said, "that a house divided against itself cannot stand". LDS members who find themselves either feeling on the outside or thinking that another member is on the outside, cannot seriously believe that they could possibly be considered ONE.
And it was Jesus Christ, Himself, that said -- "if ye are not one, ye are not mine".