“Why would an LDS website feature TWO articles referring to Justin Bieber? Don’t we have higher standards?”
It’s a question we recently received in the RubyGirl inbox, and we feel it’s worth answering. What does Justin Bieber have to do with the Church? What makes someone a good or bad Mormon? Who puts the “high” in “higher standards?”
Good Mormons Don’t Ride Motorcycles
When my parents joined the LDS church, I was just a little girl, and for many years I had trouble differentiating between family rules and Church rules. One week, the bishopric in our ward changed, and the new bishop was known for speeding around our rural area on his motorcycle. I remember feeling silently horrified. In my family, riding a motorcycle was considered dangerous and foolhardy. It was years before I talked to my mom about it. “I don’t understand why they called him as bishop. Good Mormons don’t ride motorcycles!” Well, as you know, plenty of good Mormons ride motorcycles. If you hop over to mormon.org, you’ll find videos and profiles aplenty featuring motorcycle enthusiasts. The decision to ride a motorcycle is a judgment call– not a commandment. “Good Mormons don’t ride motorcycles!” Years later, I understand how ridiculous this sounds, and, we hear different variations of this exact phrase all the time.
Good Mormons don’t have tattoos.
Good Mormons don’t work on Sunday.
Good Mormons don’t choose school/marriage/careers/health over missionary service.
Good Mormons don’t drink caffeine.
Good Mormons don’t listen to Justin Bieber…?
So who does the Savior qualify as a Good Mormon? Well, the scriptures say, the poor in spirit and those that mourn. And also the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. Oh, and “they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” So, essentially everyone. Including those who struggle with keeping the Sabbath Day holy, or those who wear clothing you might deem as “immodest,” or, crazily enough, those who listen to Justin Bieber. This Gospel can and should be inclusive and inviting to everyone, and criticizing the small details of this or that commandment is something the Savior addressed with those whom He interacted with. “Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For ye . . . have omitted the weightier matters of the law.”
Love: It’s Never Been Easy
Speaking of weightier matters of the law, what are they, exactly? And how can we avoid omitting them? First, commandments are important. Our Heavenly Father has given them to us for a smattering of reasons. They help to guide us through this dangerous and tumultuous world, cause us to draw nearer unto Jesus Christ, and protect us from the dangers of sin and its consequence. But your choice to follow a commandment, or more specifically, your interpretation of a commandment, is just that: your choice. It has nothing to do with your brother, or the girl walking down the hallway, or the stranger walking down the street. It’s yours. We should be considerably mindful of projecting our interpretation of commandments onto others. Especially when God never asked us to.
Do you know what God has asked us to do? Love. Not disapprove or judge or even think about judging someone who rides a motorcycle or drinks coffee or plays sports on Sunday. Plus, if we disapproved of every girl who adores Justin Bieber, we’d get pretty lonely, pretty fast. Loving others has never been easy. Restraining from judgement, even less so. But perhaps that’s why God listed it as His most important commandment; He knew we would need the gentle, but constant reminder that love is the most important thing we can be working on.
There’s More to Life than Church
Don’t take this the wrong way. Church is awesome, it’s vital in our eternal progression, and most importantly, it’s one of the most simple ways we can express our commitment to our Heavenly Father. But we need to be mindful of Him, His son, and all of His other children beyond the walls of our meeting houses. At RubyGirl, we want to bridge the gap between Sunday School and high school. Because maybe Justin Bieber isn’t the best role model on the planet, but millions of Mormons dance and sing to his music all the time. Life is big–bigger than three hours of church–and we want to be relatable to and understanding of all of God’s children–at church on Sunday and at school on Monday and everywhere else in between. Why? Because it’s really all God has asked us to do.
“Jesus said we’d know the extent of our love for God by how well we loved people. He said that people who followed him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re just the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else already paid for.” –Bob Goff
That someone is Jesus Christ, and he loves you. He loves men and women and children and members and non-members and “bad members” and “good members.” He loves those who thirst after righteousness, those who don’t, and those who aren’t really sure yet. And yes, He even loves Justin Bieber.