Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rising above intolerance

The name of the club I supervise is RAIN--rising against intolerance now.

So, I have a question...

How do we do that? The students in the club as well as any of us?

The question came up in my mind as I sat in Sunday School, sort of listening to the topic of Christ's miracles going on in the background.... catching up on Facebook. I found this on the wall of a gay friend. He was very angry. He quoted a comment to a Deseret News article about legislation going on at the state capital. It shows an ignorant attitude of intolerance, and is very disturbing.
"Whether by choice or biology, gays have opted out of the child-rearing game. Gay adoption makes no sense.

"True love is defined by God as heterosexuality. May his mercy and love shine like a rainbow on those struggling with sexual perversion (i.e. addiction). Homosexuality is defined by sex. Heterosexuality is defined by God."

Horrible misunderstanding. My friend has every right to be angry, but does it do any good? Does it do more harm than good to post about his anger on facebook?

Maybe rising against intolerance should change to rising above intolerance. Satan is laughing at this battle because both sides are so angry. The contention withdraws the spirit, forces precious souls to leave the church for the sake of their own sanity, affects families and parents and siblings and children. To me, rising above intolerance means that it has to start with each of us individually. We have to be tolerant of those who are not tolerant of us. We have to replace anger with compassion. The only way things are going to change and people will learn is if they see the LGBT population doing good, serving the community, making a good name for themselves instead of just reacting with anger. There are many that ARE doing that, but it is the angry and protesting ones that make the news.

What if instead of protests, service projects are organized, media called and encouraged to report on it.

What if instead of lashing out, we forgive them, pray for our enemies and help to educate them. Many do not mean to sound hateful, they are honestly speaking out of fear for what they do not understand. Let's seek opportunities to help them see and understand.

More easily said than done, I know.

Lately I have been trying more and more to stand up for Mormons. When I hear LGBT groups bashing Mormons, I have not hesitated to say "I am a Mormon, and yet I am on your side." Sometimes I tell them more. Like "my in-laws are very active Mormons and they allowed our gay friends to get 'married' in their beautiful back yard." I have been amazed at my Mormon sister, my Mormon co-workers, some of my Mormon friends in my ward that are willing to listen to me and my opinions. And even though on occasion they kindly remind me that they do not share my opinions on gay marriage, they are still willing to open their hearts and listen to me without judgment.

And yet I know too well how much the words of outspoken and ignorant and intolerant Mormons hurt, especially when they come from someone in a position of authority. These people need our prayers and forgiveness, even when we think they don't deserve it. They are also God's children, and our anger toward them hurts no one but ourselves as bitterness poisons our hearts.

Any thoughts on how everyone can try to peacefully make progress with the religious community, and rise above the intolerance that comes from such?


J G-W said...

Sarah - You are a blessing... Thank you. Hearing words of comfort and encouragement from a straight, faithful LDS Church member will heal the injuries caused by words of intolerance that come from other straight LDS Church members. And to speak it in a way that doesn't lash out at or condemn others makes it all the better and powerful.

For those of us who are gay or lesbian, you are also right that it is both natural to feel anger, and not helpful to lash out in anger. I know this is hard, and it's taken me many years to learn this, but we only injure ourselves when we nurse anger.

Did I feel anger when I read the quote? Well, first hurt, then anger, yes. And does feeling anger having read something like that make me a bad person... Absolutely not. It makes me a human being.

But then, after feeling the hurt and anger, I have trained myself to take a deep breath, take a step back, and let go. I forgive the person who said that out of whatever ignorance or fear they said it. I remind myself that what others say doesn't reflect on me, it does not make me any less of a person.

It's not helpful to go to a place of thinking "I'm better than that person" whose words hurt me... That's still bits of the anger holding on. So I also try to remember that I'm not perfect; that I have ignorance and attitudes that need to be healed and educated. I remember that if I want to be forgiven for my sins, I need to forgive others...

I follow that path until I come to a place of love, and then I make whatever response I need to make to a statement like that from that place...

Thanks for being a model of that... I'd totally vote for a change of name to "Rising Above Intolerance"!

Drew said...

I've been struggling with my anger lately, for some reason. I don't know why. I don't think anger is inherently bad or harmful. Oftentimes, anger is a motivator to remove something that is causing hurt or pain.

I also feel like "intolerance" is such a vague term. We are taught that our goals must be specific, measurable, and reachable. To "Fight Against Intolerance" or "Rise Above Intolerance" is to fight against or rise above some vague idea. We must create community-wide goals that are specific, measurable, and reachable. I feel like your idea for service projects are specific, measurable, and reachable.

Feeling anger is simply a human experience. Everyone has felt it at some time or another, and some more than others.

I want to have more balance in my life.

Sarah said...

Thank you both for your thoughtful insight.

I had a really hard time controlling my anger yesterday when I became involved in a conversation on facebook with two ladies in my ward regarding Obama and DOMA. It was a horrible experience, and I'm not sure I want anything to do with facebook any more. I will have to keep trying to control my temper. We just can't understand each other's points of view. One lady said she was worried that the church would be forced to marry gay couples in the temple. She also said that it affects her family, but I dont understand those arguments at all. They make no sense to me. Meanwhile, they do not understand my view that Obama is not a wolf in sheeps clothing, out to destroy the country. Or how I could possibly not trust and follow church leaders on this evil moral issue.

So frustrating. It feels sometimes that there is no hope of any progress or understanding from many members of the church.


J G-W said...

I think there are answers to those individual's views... And I think there's value in patiently trying to explain how legally and constitutionally, it will be impossible for anyone in the government to force the Mormon Church to marry people in the temple the Church doesn't want to marry. If you think about it rationally, just consider the fact that a heterosexual Roman Catholic couple is legally permitted to marry in the U.S., but the government cannot force the LDS Church to marry them in one of its temples!!!

If such an attempt were ever made, the Church would have the same rights under the constitution as everyone else to fight for their right to practice their religion as they see fit.

But I think it's useless to have such conversations if we can't do it without anger and without defensiveness, so sometimes it's good to take a step back and just don't even discuss it.

I have to have faith that time, love and patience will enable folks on both sides of this issue to sort everything out in the end...

Scott N said...

My response to this got way too long, and I decided to post it to my own blog. (Hope that's okay!) :)

ChristyLove said...

I'm sure this is stating the obvious, and I didn't grow up LDS, but I did grow up a foster kid. People saying things like "homosexual adoption makes no sense" obviously never knew anyone lonely for a family and a home. UNBELIEVEABLE.