Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Love thy neighbor (Matthew 22:35-39)

Okay, it's about time I write a post on a really important subject: the conundrum of bullying and judging. As a member of the LDS Church, I am well-acquainted with being the recipient of hate and persecution. As a man who is physically attracted to other men, I am also keenly aware of further judgment and bullying. In fact, being both puts me in an interesting position to be hated from pretty much all directions! :)

Great sadnesses of my life: when those of other faiths bitterly degrade and attack my own; when members of my faith treat others negatively because their lifestyle or even merely their attractions are not the same as their own; when people of any age or background bully or humiliate an openly gay person in their community or school. Whenever I read stories of another gay teen suicide my heart absolutely breaks. Honestly, I'm an optimistic enough person to believe that the majority of you reading this post are equally saddened by basically everything in his paragraph so far. Now here's another sadness of my life: when the persecuted throw judgment and hate at those who persecute them.

It's easy to not be so saddened by hate flung back by the persecuted because it's easy to see their rage as basically "justified." And maybe to a degree it is. Nonetheless, we can't be satisfied with ANY forms of hate. The great irony of the man who cries, "They're all just judging me all the time!" is that he is in fact judging everyone else in return. Very likely, they weren't ALL judging him, and certainly not ALL the time, but when we are the recipients of hate, it becomes easy to hold onto the hate thrown at us and use it as our defense. I recommend a more Christian alternative: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 22:39).

Loving those who throw verbal (or literal) stones at us is not easy, but it is essential. I've always thought the metaphor of "fighting fire with fire" rather ridiculous. Do firemen save a building by spreading more fire? No, of course not! They stop fires with water or flame-retardant chemicals. Adding more fire just complicates the problem. Likewise, fighting hate with hate simply doesn't work and just burns all the parties more in the end. We must use the cooling waters of love to respond to those who hate us. Once again, it isn't easy amidst the heat of an attack against your faith, your life, your emotions, etc. to respond to the perceived monsters tormenting us with love--but if we don't, we each become just as much a monster. As a friend of mine recently shared, "If you can't get along with someone, one of you isn't going to the Celestial Kingdom." Yes, it's hard! The right choice usually is the harder one, and it always takes great courage to rush into a burning building with the hose, regardless of how thick your fire suit is (but remember from an earlier post that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear...").

So how do we learn to respond with love? I believe it begins with understanding, just as most hate is born out of ignorance. I've already said once in this post that I'm generally optimistic about people. I have a hard time believing that there are very many completely evil people in the world. When someone is mocking you it can be harder to see the good in them, but I promise you it's there, and our lack of seeing it just underscores our own ignorance that provokes us to react with the same hate. If they say hurtful things about you because you are attracted to those of the same sex, I'm willing to bet they don't understand you at all. If you respond by saying they are a brainwashed, maniacal, fascist, racist, idiot, well... you probably don't understand them very well either! Be the bigger person by instead just keeping your smile on your face, love in your heart, and following Thumper's advice that "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say nuttin' at all [even though they said mean things about you]!" Turning the other cheek has become so rare in our society that when you do so, it is surprisingly disarming to your opponent. They are expecting you to fight back, and when you don't, it truly can cause them to rethink what they're doing and drive them to greater understanding and thus less ignorance and hate.

I love the passage I quoted above from Christ, speaking of the Great Commandments to love God and the love our neighbor as ourselves. In context of the story, we see the Master truly living this principle. As told in Matthew 22:35-39:

"Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"

Throughout the whole chapter, the scribes, Pharisees, and Saducees had been trying to provoke Christ and bully him. They threw difficult questions at Him to try to discredit Him, usually interlaced with direct verbal affronts to His character. Yet, he doesn't respond to any of the questions in the chapter with the same biting contempt with which they ask. Instead, as this last question so clearly demonstrates, the answer he gives is LOVE.

To all my friends reading this post, whether you be Mormon, Muslim, straight, gay, atheist, male, female, black, white, tall, short, persecutor, persecuted, informed, ignorant, or anything else: We've all experienced hate born out of misunderstanding. We cannot fight ignorance with hate, nor hate with ignorance--for they are inseparable bed-fellow vices. We must respond instead with understanding and love. It worked for Christ; as verse 46 of the same chapter details, that as a result of his even-tempered and loving response, "no man did from that day forth ask him any more questions." Respond with love and the armies of hate will eventually give up. In the mean time, keep moving forward and don't listen to the mean things others say. No matter what others say about you, I love you and will always be your friend and someone you can talk to (email me at anothergaymormon@gmail.com). Hang in there! As a series of popular ads you are likely familiar with says, truly "It gets better."

Well, this may have been my first post on this subject specifically, but I can guarantee it won't be my last. Meanwhile, do you see any hate or ignorance around you that you'd like to combat? Feel free to pass this post along to others to help encourage understanding and love. Or better yet, add your own voice to the conversation! Be willing to stand up for love and help share this higher philosophy with the world.

My best,



  1. Finally caught up on reading your blog, after a crazy week. Google Reader didn't grab the posts for me, so I'm going to go see if I can fix that. What amazing, uplifting posts you've put up here, and great example of the HuffPo comments. Everyone knows what a flame war looks like, but as you say, few see how effective kindness is, which shows how rarely people try it.

    My husband, I just noticed, is reading your blog on his computer :-)

    Best of luck on end of term finals and all that insanity.

    - Emily

  2. Very good insights! Friday night, I listened to a man who was very angry at the local church leadership. He launched into a long complaint about them and everyone else. I know my local leaders aren't perfect, but they are men of at least good intentions who are trying. It hurt to hear him accuse them, especially when he accused them of being judgmental. In my mind, I thought, "you can't accuse a person of being judgmental without yourself being judgmental." To start throwing out the word "judgmental" is itself judgmental. So, I just listened, because I didn't want to add to that chain. I just said a quiet prayer that whatever pain he was feeling would someday be healed and left it at that.

  3. Hi Obadiah, your post reminds me of another blog I follow, Single Dad Laughing. You might really find his post and the responses inspiring:


    Almost 8,000 responses and pages and pages of literally life-changing stories. And some diatribes. But let us move towards peace and acceptance of one another.

    Peace, Chryssa

  4. Emily,

    You and Trevor are kind and awesome. All my best for your family this Christmas!


    Thanks for sharing the story. Nice to see people like you responding positively to negativity around you.


    I LOVE that blog and that post particularly! He has lots of insightful, funny, and thought-provoking posts. :)

    My best,


  5. I'm not entirely sure that marrying a woman in the temple is the best option for you. That certainly would not be fair to her especially if you were not upfront about this. It is my understanding that if in fact you are a worthy priesthood holder and Gay that it is fine as long as you do not act on such temptations. Can you go a life-time w/o sex? Being gay and marrying a woman seems to be... well wrong. More so than simply being gay. Embrace who you are! I do not envy your position. However, God does have a plan for you and you will not be asked to run further than you can or tempted for more than you can stand. I have heard rumors of an openly Gay Bishop serving in California. If this is true, it brings great joy to my heart. I will pray for you Obadiah and others like you.

  6. David,

    You bring up a very important topic that others have asked me as well. I would refer you to another post I wrote to address that subject: http://gaymormoninsights.blogspot.com/2011/12/true-love-d-4222.html

    There are actually many success stories of those who have incredibly happy marriages despite these struggles. However, there are also marriages that utterly fail because very important concerns are not considered. Read that other post and see what you think.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. My best,


  7. Hey Obadiah,
    First time reader and I am very impressed with your insights. I believe that you have spoken well and I am so happy that you have decided to speak out. Another person said something about it being wrong to marry a worthy young woman in the temple well I had a teacher in school who was like you attracted to men but he had decided that he wanted a marriage of God and he married a woman who had become his good friend and knew about his attractions. Well suffice it to say they had two beautiful girls and they have become strong Christians with good values and they have a strong connection and she has helped him in his quest to stay strong in his beliefs. I share this so that you know you are not alone and that you have very realistic desires. I wish you well!


Please feel free to comment or leave questions. Just be aware that I moderate all comments before posting. I won't post things that are offensive. I will post controversial comments and questions so long as they aren't mean-spirited. I'd love to hear your comments and answer questions; just play nice! :)