Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bear One Another's Burdens

On my mission, we would often read Alma's admonition to his converts to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; . . . mourn with those that mourn; . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). In this chapter we are taught the attributes of a true follower of Christ. These commitments are required for baptism into the true church of Jesus Christ.

However, various situations and circumstances challenge these covenants. Perhaps a hometeacher feels uncomfortable doing his hometeaching because the family he's been asked to visit has a smoking addiction.  Maybe personalities clash. Whatever the case may be, it is human nature to withdraw from people who are different from you. There are few life differences that cause individuals to hold back friendship and compassion more than same-sex attraction.

Now my intention is making this point is not to throw an intolerance pity party. I have many friends who do not experience same-sex attraction who accept me for who I am. In fact, I've never had a negative reaction in "coming out" to anyone. However, I have been very careful and selective in whom I have shared this aspect of my life with. 

I have met many people who have taken the Church's stance on traditional marriage as a justification for "homophobia." I totally understand where they're coming from; I've been there myself, believe it or not. I feared gay people largely because I questioned my ability to ward off potential advances from them - which is probably not the reason most "homophobes" are reluctant to befriend people who experience same-sex attraction. 

A problem with LDS culture is that because we're all aiming for perfection, many maintain a veneer of sinless pietty. There's not anything overly wrong with this, provided that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and empathetic. However, there are certain sins and temptations that are untouchable. We can't stand the idea that people in OUR church have culturally deviant sexual attractions. These are not restricted to homosexual tendencies. Consider pedophilia (the attraction, not necessarily the fulfilling of this tendency) and asexuality. I've never heard these mentioned in a church setting. What about gender dysphoria? When was the last time you heard a talk, lesson, or discussion on that painful subject? I certainly never have. It makes people uncomfortable to imagine that some individuals feel incongruence with their birth sex. After all, the "Proclamation to the Family" clearly states that "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." 

"So if you don't like your gender, get over it" is the general feel of many members sentiments toward such feelings. Maybe I'm generalizing a little. Let's move on to something a little closer to home: pornography. 

Mind you, I've honestly never struggled with a pornography addiction, but I totally understand the appeal. I think most men do (at least, heterosexual pornography) which is why this topic is so often discussed in priesthood meetings. After all, a significant percentage of church members battle susceptibility to pornography.  However, when was the last time a friend confided in you that they struggled with a pornography addiction (or an addiction in general)? 

The point that I'm trying to make in this post is that, in order to be true followers of Christ, we need to be willing to comfort those who stand in need of comfort and mourn with those who mourn. How can we do that when we all pretend that everything is fine and that we don't have problems (after all, if you're living the Gospel perfectly, you won't have issues, right?)? I'm not suggesting that we confess or sins or "come out" over the pulpit, but I certainly believe that more children of God will feel at home in the body of Christ if they recognize that they can discuss their trials and temptations in a supportive and non-judgmental environment. 

Surely, we can't bear one another's burdens if we don't know what they are, and we certainly can't comfort each other without at least knowing that there is a need of comfort. Although some struggles are significantly more socially awkward than others, true discipleship requires love, compassion, and honest empathy. 


  1. I agree. I have worked a few things into my RS lessons and I am very honest in ARP meetings. Honesty is scary, buy you are right about needing to bare eachothers burdens. Hugs