Saturday, June 28, 2014

Facebook.  For the love...  It can be such a terribly awful and awesome place all at once.  I feel like a lot of us have a "Facebook Face" that we put on, for good or for ill.  We represent ourselves in a way that we would like others to see.  Sometimes we're super honest, sometimes we're not, but we still have the ability to edit what we put out there for our friends to see.  We can make things look happy and shiny, but the facade is bound to crack eventually.  This applies to all facets of our life, including how we portray our church lives.  I'm going to get pretty real with you here, when it comes to "sharing the gospel" on Facebook, we are doing it wrong.

In light of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin and several other prominent and/or vocal members being called up for disciplinary councils due to their beliefs and actions, a lot of us have turned to Facebook to share our feelings on the matter.  I know that I personally contributed a lot of feelings into the ring.  For me, this was about so much more than women's ordination to the priesthood or even marriage equality (and that one is very important to me, personally) for me, this was about unity, compassion, and Christlike love.  I'm not sure about many other people, but for me... I had a very hard time finding those qualities in most posts and comments I read.  I saw a lot of people who were very upset about what was going on, but not for the same reasons I was.  I heard a lot of comments like the following, 

"I'm angry at the negative effect this will have on missionary work." 
"Clearly she doesn't really have a testimony of the gospel, or she never would have gotten herself into a position where she'd risk excommunication."
"I'm glad she was excommunicated.  If you can't sustain our leaders, you don't belong in the church." 
"I don't know why people are saying there's inequality in the church.  I've never felt that, it's just not there."

While I generally don't have a problem with people expressing differing opinions, I do have a problem with people minimizing another's pain and experience.  The problem with that last statement is that the speaker is asserting that because they haven't experienced what others have, those experiences are invalid.  What hurts me the most is watching my friends tear me and others like me apart, over something they readily admit they don't understand.  I'm really happy that not everyone experiences gender inequality in the church, but I have.  I have experienced male/priesthood privilege in multiple stakes, wards, branches and states across the country and at varying ages and stages in my life.  I'm glad others have missed that, but to say that it isn't there is both false and dismissive.

When we argue these points at length over social media, we enforce the negative stereotypes of Mormonism.  I have had some beautiful conversations with my friends of other faiths.  No less than ten different friends have thanked me for my candor in this rough patch we're having as a church.  You see, admitting that we have flaws (gender inequality, blemishes in church history, etc.) humanizes us to people not of our faith.  It allows us to be much more approachable as a church.  Denying or ignoring or pretending the "bad" stuff never happened makes us seem equal parts silly and hypocritical, as well as untrustworthy and dishonest.

I truly believe that we can be open about our struggles without undermining our doctrine.  I hope that we can get to that place in the future.

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