May 19, 2009

Missionary

I was surfing working on my computer the other evening when the doorbell rang. The dog went nuts, of course, so I had to put down my laptop and find out who was here. It was three Mormon missionary boys, fresh-faced and eager to talk. Interestingly, I had been revisiting Rance's writings about his former church. It put me in the proper frame of mind for this visit.

The boys started out with their memorized questions, but I put a stop to that with a couple of kind rebuffs. At first I wanted to just shut the door, but then it struck me that I had a teaching moment here. I told them that instead I wanted to talk about the grave harm the church—theirs and mine—was perpetrating. I told them about how our denominations were literally killing young people, especially young gay men, with the doctrine of rejection they are teaching. 

They wanted to challenge me—politely—with "what the Bible says" about homosexuality. My reply was this: what the Bible says and what the Bible reads are two different things. I discussed the difference between the original languages and our imperfect translations due to the restrictions inherent in the structure and etymology of English; the context of the original writings that is so crucial to understanding; and the overall message of the Bible.

 In scholarly studies we see that there are compelling arguments to both sides of the issue, and there are problems with both sides. So it comes down to this: what is the overall message of the Bible? What do you understand is the nature of God? I understand God's message to be one of loving grace, not judgment and condemnation. So I choose to accept all, just as I believe God does. If I am wrong, God knows what is in my heart. (If I choose condemnation, God knows what is in my heart then as well.) Choose grace.

We said more, but that is the gist of it. I thank God for Rance, for giving me the background and confidence for this unexpected meeting. You never know who needs to hear what you have to say, so you just keep saying it. Maybe one of those boys needed to hear exactly what God put in my mouth that evening.

7 comments:

tornwordo said...

I feel sorry for the brainwashed children. I'll say it again though, you're a good egg.

Java said...

Ah, yes. There are times when I have the time and strength to engage in discussions with these lovely Mormon boys and the Jehovah's Witnesses who come knocking at my door. There are other times when I just say "Thank you - NO." I'm glad you engaged these young men.

Roxrocks said...

I feel like a tadpole when you write stuff like this. I'm the tadpole and you're the homo sapien walking upright. That's how much more evolved you are than I am. I would have slammed the door in their faces.

Sigh. I have so much growth to do as a human.

Birdie said...

Oh, Rox, when I saw those boys my first thought was "No way." I had already decided to close the door when the first boy wouldn't give up and kept trying different questions to keep me engaged. It wasn't until I was explaining why I wasn't going to answer that it occurred to me I could ask questions too. (And the one asking questions has control of the conversation.)

Until this week, I had always closed the door. I'm going to jump off this pedestal before I fall.

Patrick said...

I recently had some Mormon missionaries invite me to join them at church that week. I replied,"well, I'm gay, so I don't think I'd actually be welcome there, would I?" I guess I had hoped for little debate, but that pretty much shut down the conversation. Good for you for finding a way to engage more fully.

David said...

You truly are remarkable.

Greg said...

Pedestal or no, you are still a blessing to us all, B. Thanks. : )