Sep 9, 2014

Learning Perspective

by Terri Wagner

I started to write something entirely different, but when I checked out The Blaze which is Glenn Beck's news website, I was intrigued by this young man's thoughts on religion. Shockingly I found myself agreeing with what he said although perhaps not for the reason he said it. Let me assure everyone here that I am not necessarily endorsing anything he says...he's a different religion from me. But I am giving a huge shoutout to the concept that as Christians living in the world, but not being of the world, we walk a very thin line when we start judging and demanding certain behaviors. And I only mean we have to be as close to the Spirit as we can to walk that line.

An example, Pastor Jim Burgen tackles the troubling issue of medical marijuana. I had a very long and involved discussion with two medical personnel about this issue. One was emphatic that marijuana be de-regulated and available for everyone. The other one just shrugged their shoulders. They asked me what I thought. Big mistake lol.

Because I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I believe that Heavenly Father has uses for all the plants that grow here on earth. Some are for man, some are for the animals, etc. I think it's foolish to assume that a certain plant has only one purpose. So I am probably on board with certain narrow allowances for medical marijuana use. But I am adamantly against any other use mostly because we already have so much out there creating unsafe and tragic situations...we just don't need one more. Neither of these individuals were LDS nor knew I was. When I voiced my trepidations about where all this might lead, the pro marijuana person exploded. I expected that. What I didn't expect was the other person quietly telling me that the father of the pro marijuana person had had a particularly nasty and life ending cancer, and that marijuana was one of the few things that eased his pain toward the end of his life. Changed my understanding completely.

I think, if I'm reading Pastor Burgen right, that he has had experiences situations where his perspective was changed.

Burgen also jumped into the transgendered/homosexual issue. I think what he is saying is you should not deny these individuals the opportunity to come to church. Does anyone disagree with that? In theory probably not, in practice probably so.

A sad example at my very small branch. A young woman new to the church wore what might be considered inappropriate clothing. As a member of the Relief Society presidency, I had several older women approach me about the situation and demand I do something about it. Not one offered to buy or give her appropriate clothing. Not one asked about her circumstances and could they help? Not one!!! I was appalled at them, not her. In point of fact, I knew her situation, and that steps were being taken to assist her. Unfortunately, she left shortly thereafter. I hope she found a kinder reception at another church, because she was not getting it with us. So in that respect, I find myself in tune with Pastor Burgen. At the same time, I have to weigh in the fact that as the RS representative had I given those "busybody" sisters an opportunity to help, they just might have. So who's to blame for what happened?! Frankly none of us behaved well, but I learned a powerful lesson about being loving to everyone in any situation. And that listening to the Spirit late is indeed sometimes too late. I hope I don't make that mistake again.

It is hard to balance what the Lord expects of us with the direction the world takes. And even harder to walk that very thin line of love the person, but don't endorse the sin. I suspect Pastor Burgen has some ways to go before he finds that balance. He has time, he is young. Me, not so much.

Go check it out for yourself and tell me what you think. I'm Done with Stupid Rules.


  1. Interesting read, Terri. I often ponder on that topic of loving the person but not endorsing the sin (I have a sister who is lesbian and a brother who is a recovering alcoholic). My experience has been that my actions show a lot more than what I can say. I worked with a family once who had been active in the LDS Church but after being slammed with some pretty tragic experiences (cancer, homelessness, bankruptcy, etc), fell into some old patterns of behavior that led them to feel they weren't "worthy" to attend church. When I was asked to visit them (not knowing the situation in advance - other than that they were not active) I felt a strong impression to love them and invite them to come back. We ended up having a very frank discussion about their challenges and while I encouraged them to keep working on changing their behaviors, I also told them how much the Savior loves them and wanted them to return to Him. I expressed my love for them (because I truly felt compassion and love for them...amazing gift from the Spirit) and asked what I could do to help. Long story shorter...they came back. I will never forget the way I felt during that visit. I could feel the Savior's love for that family. It was a great gift.

    1. It is hard Kari. My niece who I adore has made yet another tragically bad choice. Her parents are unforgiving and so angry about this time, they may simply choose to "disown" her. I myself am both appalled at her continued bad choices, but I love her to pieces. I often wonder if that's how Christ and HF feel about us at times. I love you so much, but these choices you are making are killing me inside kinda feeling. Glad you listened to the Spirit. I learned in that lesson to love both the sisters that might have reached out if I had given them the chance, and the sister we lost.


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