I know this is a radio-active topic, but it is one I have been thinking about for quite some time, and think it deserves a thoughtful write-up.
My church issued a “Proclamation to the World” on the Family more than 10 years ago (I believe it was in 1997) which lays forth the official policy of the church on family issues. Among many other bold assertions, it proclaims that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. As a newlywed who feels very much that God had and continues to have a hand in my union, I believe this wholeheartedly. My church also proclaims here that the “sacred powers of procreation” should be contained within such relationships, and that sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful – all kinds. Although controversial, I believe this, too.
As bold as this doctrine is, and as much as I believe this all to be true, I also don't judge those who don't abide by my beliefs. I can proclaim these beliefs as true alongside the leaders of my church and truly not judge others for not believing and living as I do. I also agree with my church's decision in the last year that, while it maintains that marriage should be between a man and a woman as a religious sacrament, it has said that two people should also be allowed legal privileges of marriage through joining together in civil unions. All of this I think is attempting to follow the Savior's example in preaching the law of chastity while, at the same time, not condemning others and in fact feeling and expressing real love and friendship for those who do not believe or live as He did. How could it be otherwise?
And yet, I am learning that it can be. One of my best friends here in Oxford lives an alternative lifestyle. She is one of the kindest, most wonderful people I know, and I love spending time with her and her girlfriend. What I write now I do so with her permission.
As she has shared with me her varied experiences, I have become a bit angry with how people have treated her. Although Oxford college “bops,” or Saturday night parties for students often feature “queer night,” I think that the culture here in England is (surprisingly) judgmental beneath the surface. In addition to the sub-strata of non-PC prejudice, she told me that she fears the reactions of Christians most, and has had some bad experiences where people have even condemned her to her face and had difficulties even being around her. I was surprised to discover that I was one of the few Christians in her life, and certainly the most religious, who openly accepted her from the get-go.
Few things have “gotten my gander” in a more visceral way during my time here. How can anyone, especially a professing Christian so clearly not follow the example of the Savior? If one does not believe as you do, how can they be held to your standards? How can that be right? Where does the Savior ever allow us to disassociate with people who believe differently than we? Sure, once someone knows something to be true, they should live according to that belief, but even then, is anyone truly capable of always living up to their knowledge? I certainly am not. It's why I need a Savior. And it's why I can't judge others.
In any event, I should now allow my blood to reach its normal, non-boiling temperature and gently say that whomever decides to disassociate with my friend and her girlfriend will never have the privilege and benefit of knowing her/them, and conclude they are simply missing out.