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Thoughts on Compassion and Change

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I interrupt your regularly-scheduled gratitude blogging for a post I’ve wanted to write for some time now but haven’t gotten around to.  Yesterday, though, I read something that brought it to the forefront of my mind — and I figured now was as good a time to address it as any.

First, a bit of background on what inspired this post now.  The church recently updated its handbook of instructions — the official guidebook that outlines all its procedures and policies — and among the more interesting changes were revisions to the way it speaks about homosexuality.  No longer are homosexual thoughts and feelings considered “sinful” (homosexual behavior still is),  and advice to send gay people to reparative therapy is gone.  They’ve also removed language that refers to homosexuality as a “distortion of loving relationships.”  In other words, this reflects and solidifies the shift we’ve seen in the church over the past 5-10 years — acknowledgment that homosexuality isn’t necessarily chosen or changeable and that gay people aren’t inherently vile in the eyes of God.

I am glad for the official change.  As a people, I believe that if we can truly internalize this message, it will lead to greater love and acceptance of our LGBT brothers and sisters.  And that will reduce the suffering they experience as they grow up Mormon and gay, torn between two worlds that, at the moment anyway, are pretty much irreconcilable.

But my post today isn’t about homosexuality.

It’s about the nature of change and the value of accepting people exactly the way they are.

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The Final Judgment

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Two of my dear friends recently suggested I attend my ward’s Gospel Principles [1] class.  They know I have questions about the nature of God and the way grace is taught in the church, so they suggested I bring it back to basics.

Heeding their advice, I decided yesterday to give it a try.

The topic? Final judgment.

When I heard the topic, I was excited.  I thought, What better opportunity to discuss Christ’s atonement and how His grace allows us to stand blameless before God at the last day than a lesson on the final judgment?

Then we got into the discussion, and my heart sank.

From the lesson materials:

Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be prepared for the Final Judgment.  Through faithful discipleship to him and repentance of all our sins, we can be forgiven for our sins and become pure and holy so that we can dwell in the presence of God.  As we repent of our sins, giving up every impure thought and act, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts so we no longer have even the desire to sin.  Then when we are judged, we will be found ready to enter into God’s presence. — Gospel Principles page 295

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