I’m a convert. I joined the LDS church at the age of 29, after long and rather interesting – meaning challenging – quest for truth and happiness. Before I became a Mormon, I had been no stranger to various spiritual teachings. I thoroughly vetted several religious traditions, both Eastern and Western, and that after being an atheist for a better part of my life. I dug deep, so when the time came for me to check what Mormons have to offer, I was already seasoned investigator.
The first thing that I noticed when I started to seriously probe the doctrine of the Restored Gospel is that it is by no means a light matter. Its foundations are deep and firm, its claims are bold and unapologetic and its prospects incredibly exciting. Although I was baptized mere six weeks after I chased missionaries into teaching me (and for the record, I didn’t have a crush on any of them), I already had a good grasp of why the Church is a good pick for me doctrine-wise.
The Strength of the Mormon Position
Soon thereafter, I had another interesting realization about the community I became a part of, and that is that ordinary Mormons – not just recent converts, but also long standing veterans – are rather oblivious to the strengths of the teachings they strive to follow.
One of the first piece of Mormon literature that I happened to get my hands on was LeGrand Richards’ “A Marvelous Work and a Wonder”. In the first chapter of the book, Elder Richards cites from Orson F. Whitney’s pamphlet entitled “The Strength of the Mormon Position”. His predecessor Elder Whitney writes about a learned member of the Roman Catholic Church, a great scholar with the knowledge of dozen languages, proficient in theology, law, literature science and philosophy, who in the early days the Church came to Utah to get acquainted with Mormon beliefs. He said something about Mormons which at the time of my own baptism rang very true and applicable.
Caught in debates
Said he: “You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position.” He then goes on to explain why he thinks so. As I was reading it, I thought to myself: “Boy, those are not the only reasons why I would call my fellow spiritual sojourners the name.”
Let me explain. Mormons are often caught in debates on what is true. We sometimes tend to believe that the only way to prove our point is to logically refute position of our opponents. But you know that’s not the way. If the Restored Gospel is true, we don’t need to argue. Altercation is a sign of insecurity. (And a loss of the Spirit, by the way.) We just need to share our convictions with boldness and kindness. Then and only then we radiate truth that is deeply ingrained in our soul and is reflecting the beauty from Heavens.
Stance simple but profound
Now, let me slightly narrow the scope of my argument. Couple of days ago, I had an interesting conversation with Ty Mansfield. He gave me an insight into the genesis of North Star. He told me things I hadn’t known before. During the visit, I’ve learned that North Star was actually brought into existence as a sort of a third way between proponents and opponents of the idea that homosexuality can be changed towards nullification. North Star’s stance is simple but profound. We don’t care. We are not in the business of changing the feelings. We are in the business of drawing closer to God, and then we let the chips fall where they may. If that means a decrease in feelings of same-sex attraction or an increase in feelings of same-sex attraction, it doesn’t matter.
That is a very strong position. It is a position stronger than of any other group out there that makes efforts to deal with homosexuality in Mormondom, including – I dare say – both Affirmation and Evergreen. I believe that many of my North Star fellow sojourners are rather oblivious to that fact. How do I know that?
Engagement and the contest
Well, some of us are uncomfortable with a prospect of closely associating with our challengers. I would argue that the litmus test of understanding the strength of the North Star’s position is whether a North Star member is willing to not just to participate, but actually organize an event with any of the aforementioned (as well as other similar) organizations.
In times after the Second World War, Relief Society General president Belle S. Spafford wasn’t happy with the participation of church’s women organization in the National Council of Women (NCW). Council’s stance on various issues was in direct opposition to what faithful Mormon women find right and proper. But instead of accepting sister Spafford’s recommendation to withdraw from the membership in NCW, prophet George Albert Smith suggested the opposite: more engagement and contest for greater influence.
Why? Because the Gospel is true and our stance is as strong as it can get.