Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Difference in Values 

by John H
Most of the time, I feel right at home in the Church. I love the people, the theology, the leaders, and especially the history. The thought of somehow not being a Mormon is beyond my comprehension.

On occasion, however, I feel very out of place at Church. When I hear comments that seem to be espousing Mormon values, whether uttered in Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, or even General Conference, I frankly find they are often different than my own values.

Just two examples: I’m not always thrilled with the direction of the media – the amount of sex and violence portrayed on television and movies is truly staggering. Yet I can’t seem to get worked up about it the way those around me seem to. Not a week goes by in my ward when someone in Sacrament, Priesthood, or Sunday school (or all three) doesn’t take the opportunity to point out just how evil and despicable the media is. I’ve often said it’s the thing Mormons love to hate.

The big issue right now is gay marriage. I certainly don’t expect the Church to embrace the notion with open arms and encourage gay couples to get sealed in the Temple. But I don’t believe it should be illegal, and I’m simply not that distraught over it. Three different gay couples live within five houses of me – my own marriage has yet to crumble in the face of this terrible threat to traditional marriage . But in my ward, there are plenty of people who can’t go a week without bringing it up. A few in particular get visibly angry as they continue to go on and on about how horrible gays are.

There are other issues mentioned frequently in my own ward that I either do not care about or that I disagree with: school prayer, Word of Wisdom (I obey it, but certainly don’t consider alcohol to be the incendiary evil others seem to), Sunday activities (shopping, etc.), politics – including war in Iraq, etc. And while these and other topics are a constant in my ward, many of the things that matter to me are never, ever mentioned. Just one example: I’m astounded, absolutely flabbergasted that people will die today because they don’t have enough food to eat. It’s simply beyond my comprehension. Yet I’ve never heard someone express outrage over that in Church. They’re horrified that Janet Jackson’s boob appeared during the Super Bowl for a split second (and they’re equally horrified that people would watch TV on Sunday), but they don’t seem perturbed (or if they are, they’re not speaking up) that people starve to death everyday.

Am I barking up the wrong tree yet again? (It is a specialty of mine.) I don’t expect Sunday school to be an hour-long commiseration on starvation. I do recognize that many of the Mormon values I mention above are issues of personal morality, whereas world hunger is a bit different of a problem. But would it hurt to hear it mentioned just once or twice? If I can hear about the evils of coffee week in and week out, can’t we make room for something like that once in a while?

Am I wrong in thinking that arguments about Coke and R rated movies are stupid waste of time? Should I be ignoring these differences and focusing on the things that unite me with my fellow Saints?

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