Intolerance and Acceptance

I wasn't sure what to write until I read an article today entitled "I'm Christian, unless you're gay." It got me thinking back on my life, and reflecting. Most of the time, I don't recall being outwardly hostile or hateful to those different than me. Cautious and uncomfortable, yes. Now, I could be wrong. When I look back on my life, particularly in the first twenty two years, I wonder how anyone was able to stomach my presence at all, much less still be friends with me today. I was whiny, selfish, and exploding my emotional fallout on everyone around me. Emotional fallout that I don't know that I deserved to have, much less inflict on others, frankly.

But mostly, I was reminded of a dear friend of mine. He was one of my first guy friends, and my only one in high school for most of the time. I developed a code for us to write notes in (loosely based on Elder Futhark runes) and one day he handed me a two word note. The hilarious part is I misread it three times and I'm the one who invented the code! He must have been so frustrated with me. He ended up whispering it in my ear. "I'm gay," he told me.

I'll admit I was disappointed...because I had a mild crush on him. I think my response was "Oh, ok." And that was it. As I'd had little intention of acting on my crush, it was easier to shelf than I expected. He was my friend. Now, my religion, which I have a firm testimony of, teaches that if you know those who are gay or lesbian, treat them with compassion and love. It does not teach hatred. The fact of the matter is, I love my friend. We haven't spoken to each other properly in years, but I keep up with what he's doing on Facebook.

I do not hate anyone. I've tried, actually. I can't. The amount of effort it took for me to even come close to hating someone, anyone, was so astronomical that I forgot to bother in less than five minutes. I cannot. This isn't bragging. I've seen what hate can do. I've seen grudges build up over decades, cuddled as close as a newborn babe to his mother, blocking access to love, joy, recovery, and all manner of wonderful things. Why would I ever want to torture myself with that?

I just wanted to say my thoughts on this matter. Do I approve or support those who do immoral things? Things that hurt them, their souls, or those around them? No. Neither do I hate, loathe, maltreat, show disgust, or bully them. I have no idea what they are going through and I am no one to judge. Some of these things are very serious and very wrong. We are supposed to hate the sin, not the sinner. Christ sought those who sinned to teach. "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32)

Why do people ostracize others for differences that make them beautiful? I met a young man in California who I grew to admire. He was recently baptized, getting ready for the temple, and getting his life firmly under his feet. He helped everyone around him, no matter how simple or difficult the problem was. He was also tattooed and had probably done many things I didn't know about (nor would I ever ask) that most people would call sinful and wrong. You know what I thought of when I saw him? Look how far he's come.

It is never too late to change. It is never too late to grow, to show love, to put your arm around someone who neither looks like you or shares your beliefs or ideals. Reach out. You and that person you see before are never too far gone, never too low nor too high, to put out your hand and lift up that struggling soul. "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God."

Get off your butt and go help someone! Anyone! Make them food, help them with chores, find them somewhere to apply for a new job! Be their friend! Go on now! Quit reading this blog and move it!

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