“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
(Matthew 7:1-5 KJV)
Imagine a scenario where two Mormon missionaries knock on a door. A man answers wearing a cross and clutching a Bible. The senior missionary, Elder Taylor, goes into a canned speech, “We’re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“Right on,” the man says. “I’m a saint of the latter days too.”
Elder Taylor ignores the outburst. “We’re here to share a message of joy. We believe our families can be together forever.”
The man at the door nods enthusiastically. “I agree.”
“We believe that the priesthood has been given to men.” The man continues his obnoxious nodding.
“And we believe we have a living prophet right now.”
“Amen,” the man says. “Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus is all we need!”
The missionary realizes this man might be using the same words as him, but he means something totally different.
In order to break the language barrier, he tries a frontal assault. “The church Jesus established fell into apostasy.”
The Christian winces. “Why do you have to attack my faith? Can’t you share your beliefs without going after mine?”
The other missionary, Elder Young, speaks up. “I was raised Baptist, but the restored gospel has given me great joy.”
The man at the door shakes his head in disappointment. “There’s no joy outside the gospel of grace. If you left it’s because you were offended, didn’t trust God enough, or you wanted credit for your salvation.”
“No,” Elder Young stammers, “I found greater light and knowledge.”
“Ah, you intellectualized your way out of the faith.”
Elder Taylor jumps to his companion’s defense. “If you would just read The Book of Mormon and pray about it…”
“I’m sorry,” the man says, “I try to stay away from anti-Christian literature.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Elder Taylor says. “If you visit our website, you’ll see so many references to Christ.”
The man lifts his finger up. “You can’t trust everything you read on the internet. Look guys, I have a testimony that the Bible alone is God’s word and if anyone comes offering new scripture, they must be servants of the devil. Good day.”
With that the door is closed.
I would ask my LDS readers if this exchange was fair. Does it leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? Don’t you wish people would be more open-minded and less judgmental?
Let me pull a “Nathan the prophet” and say, you are the man in my parable.
When Christians try to have conversations with Latter-day Saints, you use our words. You claim to be Christian too, but muddy the conversation by foregoing clarification. You say you’re saved by grace, but fail to mention that you’re exalted by ordinances. You mention heaven, but neglect the degrees of glory.
When we try to break the language barrier and talk about your doctrine, we’re labeled anti-Mormon. You accuse us of having nothing better to do but bash your cherished beliefs because we aren’t good Christians.
When we leave the LDS church, you accuse us of having weak testimonies or claim we were offended by some trivial matter and decided our eternal happiness wasn’t worth it anymore. The implication is we’re immature quitters.
When we show you evidence that points away from Mormonism, you question the authenticity of the source. If the golden rule is applied to this standard, then clearly Latter-day Saints neither want nor deserve their faith to be approached with an open mind. Contempt is a double-edged sword. If you want people to play fair, it starts with you. The gaslighting and the unrighteous judgment has to stop.
Truth doesn’t have to play games. It doesn’t walk around with fingers in its ears hoping critics go away. It’s not afraid to look into someone’s experience and give them the benefit of the doubt. In short, it’s not afraid to challenge itself.
If this doesn’t align with the culture of your church, then ask yourself this question: how is that different from the tactics employed by cults? At best, it’s a sign of spiritual immaturity.
Now that you’ve had a chance to look inwardly, I offer this plea: if you believe you have the truth, then act with the dignity that truth deserves.