Recently I found out someone very dear to my family is gay. He came out and has since left the church. The rest of his family has also left the church and are almost becoming anti-Mormons. How do I support and love them and my gay family member while still keeping my standards and honoring my views?
Your question has caused me to reflect, my friend. When I first read it, I wasn’t quite what to say. I’m still not totally sure, but I’ll give it my best shot. (That’s all we can ever do, right?)
One time, Jesus was hanging out in a synagogue when He decided to read an ancient prophecy from the book of Isaiah about a prophet who would come to the earth to preach the gospel, heal the brokenhearted, and liberate the oppressed. The people He reads this scripture to were, of course, Jewish; they would have heard this prophecy many times. So when they heard it from His mouth, it was probably nothing that exciting or different. But then, Jesus tells them “this day is this scripture fulfilled,” meaning, “Guess what, you guys? This scripture is talking about me.” The people were shocked, even angry! I imagine the conversation that would have ensued upon hearing this.
“Is this not that carpenter’s son? What was his name, Joseph?”
“Yeah. Is this not the guy who hangs out with lepers and poor people?”
“Oh yeah, those dirty Gentiles.”
“This man can’t be the prophet Isaiah is referring to.”
“Didn’t he heal someone on the Sabbath last week?”
The people were probably very surprised to learn that this man, a “rule-breaker,” was the messiah Isaiah had predicted thousands of years before.
Jesus was a bit of a revolutionary–a zealot, if you will. He was uncompromising in his religious beliefs: that people should love each other and serve each other. The old law, the law Jews had lived by for thousands of years, was one of harsh judgement and punishment–an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But Christ’s law, His gospel? It was one of patience and kindness; it was one of suffering the meek and weary, of giving to the poor, of spending time with the outcasts. All of a sudden, animal sacrifices didn’t matter anymore. Christ demanded a new sacrifice, a more challenging sacrifice: a broken heart, a loving heart, a charitable heart. This didn’t sit well with people. So much so, that they crucified Him.
I’ve often thought, “If Jesus were here today, who would he spend time with? Who are the meek and weary? Who are the outcasts?” I think the answer to that question is pretty subjective depending on your own personal experience. Sometimes, we are the outcasts, or the poor, or the weary. Right now in your life, the outcast might be your dear family friend. It sounds like perhaps he, along with his family, has felt abandoned and unclaimed by religion, even by Jesus Christ. That’s a terribly sad thought, don’t you think? I think so, because I believe if Jesus were on the earth today, the first person He would visit (perhaps in spite of protest from many), would be your friend and his family. Jesus left the 99 to save the 1, and I believe that is a good model, if not the only model, for how we are to live and interact with others.
So, how do you support your friend while still living your standards? You do it like He did. You love. Living your standards and loving others, luckily, aren’t mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, they’re inclusive.