Dear Ask Angela Column,
This is less of a question and more of a discussion point. I’m finding more and more that these so called “feminist LDS women” are disruptive during our sessions of Relief Society. I wish they would take themselves and their ideas some place else.
Response by Kirsten Nielsen. Read more of Kirsten’s writing on her blog.
Who is the church for?
When Paul spoke of the church in 1 Corin. 12, he described it as a body — and that “the body is not one member, but many.”
The parts are different from each other, yet their differences do not exclude them from belonging to the body: “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?”
Besides, if the whole body was all the same part — we would lack the special gifts and abilities that each part brings to the whole: “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?”
It is God’s intent that there be variety, “many members, yet but one body” for the blessing of the body but also to bind us together — because we need each other, we each offer something unique and valuable: “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the ahead to the feet, I have no need of you.”
In fact, we are commanded “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” Everyone that is brought to the body, whether strong or weak, familiar or unfamiliar, like us or unlike us, is to be accepted as part of the body, and included so that together we can all be blessed.
And how is it that we are blessed? Because in all our differences, in all the beautiful variety of the body, we have the opportunity to strengthen with our gifts as well as be strengthened by the gifts of others — and to speak the truth that we have learned as well as to listen to the truths that others have learned. We interact with members who have different abilities and purposes, yet still serve the same greater goal, and we learn to become one together.
I love the Gospel and it has been my heart’s desire since I was a child to be faithful follower of Christ. I go to church seeking the nourishment that I need, and that I have consistently received in the past, to empower me to push forward towards the Savior. I would assume anyone who is sitting beside me in those church meetings is doing the same. And I am grateful for every sister that attends Relief Society. Every member has a place.
Who am I to condemn someone for being a different member of the body than what I am? Who am I to be angry or reject any member? Who am I to respond to my sister in any way other than with Christlike love?
Eugene England explained it this way: “In the life of the true Church, there are constant opportunities for all to serve, especially to learn to serve people we would not normally choose to serve—or possibly even associate with—and thus opportunities to learn to love unconditionally. There is constant encouragement, even pressure, to be “active”: to have a calling” and thus to have to grapple with relationships and management, with other people’s ideas and wishes, their feelings and failures; to attend classes and meetings and to have to listen to other people’s sometimes misinformed or prejudiced notions and to have to make some constructive response; to have leaders and occasionally to be hurt by their weakness and blindness, even unrighteous dominion; and then to be made a leader and find that you, too, with all the best intentions, can be weak and blind and unrighteous. Church involvement teaches us compassion and patience as well as courage and discipline. It makes us responsible for the personal and marital, physical, and spiritual welfare of people we may not already love (or may even heartily dislike), and thus we learn to love them. It stretches and challenges us, though disappointed and exasperated, in ways we would not otherwise choose to be— and thus gives us a chance to be made better than we might choose to be, but ultimately need and want to be. ( http://www.eugeneengland.org/why-the-church-is-as-true-as-the-gospel )
I love that explanation because it conveys that it is also as much our responsibility to love and be patient with those who ask the questions like the one you received, as it is their responsibility to accept and love “disruptive feminists.” We are all a part of the “school of love” of belonging to a church full of people different from us.
Also, it’s funny because we (my roommates and I) were just talking yesterday about how we have had to very quickly come to terms with the fact that, to be who we are and to say the things that we say, to speak out against what we view as ignorance and misunderstanding, means accepting the consequences… that we may create “contention” and be disliked. In a small way, it feels like how the prophets were stoned for saying what was hard for those around them to hear.
And in the midst of all of this we are to maintain a Christlike love for those who don’t understand us and who “stone” us. It’s good to be reminded that they have a place in the body the same as me.
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