By Rebecca Talley
My oldest daughter in high school has been particularly ridiculed this year for being LDS. When she chose to leave her health class because Planned Parenthood was going to present its pro-abortion platform, she was harassed. When she makes comments about what she believes, other students make fun of her. Toward the end of the school year, she was sick and tired of all the bullying simply because she chooses to live the gospel.
In Lehi’s dream we learn about the tree of life. We read about the path with the iron rod as well as the large and spacious building where others are in the attitude of mocking those who cling to the rod. It’s important to remember that those who are mocking are in the large and spacious building, not on the path to the tree of life.
Sometimes, we might feel justified in mocking or ridiculing those who are not living the gospel. We take on an attitude of self-righteousness and snub those we feel aren’t worthy of our attention. While it is true that we cannot lift another unless we are on higher ground, it is the attitude with which we choose to “lift” others that matters. When we exercise compassion and remember that not everyone has had the blessing of the gospel in their lives, and even more, those who do have the gospel may not have had the same experience or learned the same things, we can more effectively lift others. When we are mocking someone, we have lost the opportunity to teach him the truth.
My son was involved in theater in high school. Most of the kids in the theater group chose to live their lives differently than my son and while he didn’t agree with their choices, he still loved them as people. A small number of kids in theater were involved in a religious group that repeatedly told the other kids how they were going to burn in hell because of their choices. The accused kids would then come to my son and ask questions about what he believed. Many of these kids told my son how much they appreciated that he never judged them or condemned them, but loved them despite their choices. He was also told on several occasions by these kids that if they decided they wanted religion, they would come to him because they knew he truly cared about them.
We do not like to be ridiculed for our beliefs. We, as a church, have endured years of persecution. People do not understand our beliefs and as a result mock us for them. Others with different beliefs also do not want to be ridiculed. While they may make choices that we understand are breaking commandments, we need to keep in mind that we are all in need of repentance. None of us live our lives perfectly. We make mistakes. We break commandments. We all need the atonement.
Instead of condemning those who don’t live the gospel, we should concentrate on teaching them the true path to happiness. We can only do this when we love them and we can only truly love them when we don’t mock them.