Sorry in advance for two kind of heavy posts in a row. I'm sure my kids will do or say something hilarious any day now, and we'll be back to the light, fluffy fun that is normally this blog!
Being Obama supporters, we stand out a little bit in our church. Not too many Mormons are up there with us, but we don’t mind too much. At church, it’s the Gospel we have in common that matters, after all, not the politics. Some Sundays we joke about parking our Obama bumper-stickered car next to the car with the Mitt Romney bumper stickers, but chances are no one would even notice. We wouldn’t be making any sweeping statements, anyway; it just makes us giggle. By now we’re used to being different and we like being that way.
This morning Chris and I spent a wonderful three hours in the temple, a place of quiet reflection, learning, and worship for worthy members of the Church. We were joining some friends who were attending for their first time and being joined eternally as a family. A husband, wife, and their two sons together forever – what a beautiful thing. We were honored to be invited to share such an intimate and joyful occasion with them, and we’re so happy for them. It was a great morning, full of love and friendship and the Spirit.
We left the temple feeling refreshed and renewed and walked across the beautiful grounds to our car, where we were immediately brought crashing back to earth.
Someone had left a small card stuck in the driver’s side window with a hand-written statement saying something to the effect that if we were just doing our homework we’d learn how much Obama was working against the Church.
I’m guessing whoever left us that note saw our bumper sticker and was horrified. They probably decided that the best thing they could do, as a patriotic American, was to share their “knowledge” with people they clearly felt were less-enlightened than they. The note was obviously scrawled in a hurry; they probably thought they were doing us a favor. In all honesty, what came across was just plain old self-righteousness. We’re secure enough in our faith and our convictions that, while the rudeness bothered us, we’re not deeply affected by this petty attempt at persuasion. However, I can’t help thinking about what might have happened if our situation had been different.
Suppose we’d come to the temple this morning seeking guidance or reassurance for troubled hearts?
Suppose we were just returning to the temple after years of inactivity?
Suppose we were, like our friends, attending the temple for the very first time?
Suppose we weren’t even Mormon, but just visiting the grounds out of curiosity?
The temple is supposed to be a place of peace, love, and Godliness. Only members of the Church who have shown a willingness to make very specific and sacred covenants with God are allowed inside. Those who attend often leave filled with the Spirit and renewed in their convictions to lead a Christlike life. Church members spend a good amount of conversation with non-members explaining why not just anyone is permitted inside.
What does such a passive-aggressive attempt at political persuasion outside the building say to an outside observer about the hearts of the people inside?
It took one crazy preacher with a match and an agenda to inflame the whole of the Muslim world; it could take just one person with a pen and an opinion to change someone’s views about Mormons and the temple.
Fortunately, I do know that our note-writer is a rare soul; most people who attend the temple would never even think about doing something so crass. We know many people at church who strongly disagree with us politically, but we still see them as wonderful, Christlike people. I’d like to believe that our anonymous note-writer is also a good person who just thought they were righting a wrong.
So here’s the lesson I’ve chosen to take from this experience: think before you speak out.
Not everything needs to be said. You may not like President Obama; well, I don’t like Glenn Beck. But we don’t have to agree politically in order to agree about anything else. We really don’t. Religion and politics do not mix well, but they don’t need to. Jesus spent time with Pharisees and sinners alike, and the wonderful thing about His plan is that we are allowed the agency to make our own choices. If you don’t agree with my choices, and you feel it necessary to speak up, speak up directly to me. Leaving anonymous notes definitely won’t do anything positive for your cause. Trust me.
So if you get nothing else out of this post, please, please remember this: there’s a time and a place for everything. It’s a wonderful thing to have so much diversity in the world. Differences of opinion are what make life interesting. But there’s a time and a place for bringing up those differences.
And the House of the Lord is not it.