Monday, January 30, 2012

Judge Me Not

I sat down in our combined Sunday school class as the teacher explained that we were going to play jeopardy on the doctrines of the Church. We quickly repositioned ourselves into two teams where the ages of the members ranged from, me, being the youngest at age 12, to the oldest being 18. After the opening prayer, our jeopardy game began. Going back and forth, it soon was my turn to be put on the spot and bombarded with questions. I listened intently and the teacher asked,

“What are the first ten words in the Book of Mormon?” I stuttered, hesitated, and then was completely dumb stricken, clueless of the answer. Heat raged through my body and redness flooded my face as I saw the reactions of my teammates to my loss of words. They were in awe and I was overtaken with embarrassment. They jokingly exclaimed their astonishment of how I did not know the answer. I just didn’t, and they pointed fingers. And although it was a joke, it was also judgmental. Like President Hinckley said, “There is a little bit of truth to every joke.”

I am an LDS Mormon. I am a convert to the Church. I love Mormons and not to be preachy and all, but I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the one true Church upon this earth. I will never deny what I believe to be true. However, it constantly bothers me to hear that Mormons have the reputation of being labeled as self-righteous and prideful—which I find sometimes to be true. From this, I suggest a gentle reminder on how we should approach people, both Mormons and non-Mormons. Members of the Church need to stop judging others because it stunts our chances at approaching people who aren’t members, it causes misrepresentation of the Church, and it creates conflict among the members itself.

Mormons, and in fact all Christians believe that everyone on Earth are children of God and that He wants us to return to Him. That’s why we send missionaries all around the world to hopefully convert, or bring them unto the Gospel. Mormons might argue that it is true that people who aren’t members need to be “saved;” however, we should be careful on how we express this. We should care for our brothers and sisters, but this does not give us the right to judge their salvation or damnation. If I were not a member of the Church and were living a good life with a well-rounded family of kids and a supportive husband, I would not appreciate someone telling me that I need to be “saved.” It would not only give me the wrong impression that I am being pitied, but also demote myself to think that I am a horrible person compared to a Mormon. What may have started off to be a simple act of sharing the Gospel can result with misrepresentation of the Church because of an insensitivity of word choice.

We are commanded to be charitable and loving towards all men. This does not mean we should be prideful. We are to approach people in a non-critical way. I came upon a situation once when my family and I were quick to judge someone based on his actions. We had stopped at a red light and a man in a pickup truck was just pulling up next to us. As he slowed to a stop, he also rolled down his window and we realized that he was smoking. You can just imagine the look of disgust creeping onto each of our faces as the acrid smoke reached our noses. We then complained some more as he proceeded to litter the cigarette butt out his window. We immediately judged him based upon our own beliefs. Because he was smoking, we assumed and falsely accused him of being a sinful man that we wouldn’t want to approach. Because he littered, we labeled him an irresponsible and selfless man. Besides those superficial facts, we had no clue who he really was. For all we knew, he could’ve been a well-respected man! Since we judged that man from the very start, there existed absolutely zero chance of us approaching him, let alone converting him.

Mormons can be judgmental of people who do not share the same beliefs and standards; however, I have found that Mormons can also be very judgmental and criticizing about their own members. For instance, when I was in Canada, I choreographed a dance for the Young Women in our ward to perform for a party. Everything went smoothly until we had to decide what we wanted to wear for the dance performance. I had assigned the Young Women to wear yoga pants that were not skin tight but of course slightly more form fitting than boot cut jeans or sweats, all so that they could move more easily when they danced. But because of this, my Young Women leader said that we were immodest, indecent, and disobedient. She may have only been defending her own beliefs and even our standards, but I think judgmental words and accusations should not be insensitively thrown around; also, especially when done irrationally and without consideration.

I don’t know if Mormons have realized how judgmental we can be, even if it’s non intentional. We have been commanded to love everyone, so after this reminder, it is up to you to take some time to perhaps make some self-evaluations and see if you are judgmental of people. Alas, "judging a person does not define who he or she is; it defines who you are."

1 comment:

  1. Tiffany, I loved your topic and really enjoyed that final quote. It made me really take a step back and think "am I like that?". I love that it has such a dramatic effect and leaves you with sort of a cliff hanger. Great job!