After he answered my questions he turned it back on me. He had read the book and wanted to know what about the church made me keep believing, despite being the way I am. The truth is that I have always believed and never doubted. My mother thinks that is a gift of the spirit. But I've also never had reason to doubt. The teachings of the church have always felt as true to me as anything else people have told me. But I told my uncle, I have learned that everyone has their own view of any belief. There are no identical Mormons -- there are no identical political conservatives, or feminists, or humanists, or even sociopaths. Even though you can categorize people into big groups, people really are special snowflakes and they will not always fit the mold in the way that other members of that group will expect. That doesn't mean they don't belong to that group or groupings are not useful, We were never meant to be the same and we're all too complex to describe with just a few categories or characteristics. For instance, I used to fixate on the "criminal" description of criminal sociopaths, thinking that they must be the "low-functioning ones." It wasn't until I interacted with some that I realized that "criminal" didn't really mean everything I had just sort of assumed it did. Now I don't have such rigid views about how I expect people to manifest their personality disorders or other mental issues.
But bringing it back to religion, I liked this talk from a LDS Bishop about gay mormons:
Even in the Church, among brothers and sisters, we are sometimes strangers. We have a tendency to judge one another for failure to understand the gospel as we understand it or abide by the commandments as we ourselves do. In every ward there are members who speak disparagingly of those who are different, who question the devotion of their brothers and sisters on some basis, who treat them as strange.
In Romans, Paul emphasizes the importance of the saints having tolerance and charity for those who are different. To those who may make judgments about others in regard to their eating habits, for example, he says, “If a man is weak in his faith, you must accept him without attempting to settle doubtful points. For instance, one man will have faith enough to eat all kinds of food, while a weaker man eats only vegetables. The man who eats must not hold in contempt the man who does not, and he who does not eat must not pass judgement on the one who does; for God has accepted him” (14: 1-3, New English Bible; hereafter NEB). Disputations about the Sabbath day are seen in the same light. “This man regards one day more highly than another, while that man regards all days alike. On such a point everyone should have reached conviction in his own mind. He who respects the day has the Lord in mind in doing so, and he who eats meat has the Lord in mind when he eats, since he gives thanks to God. For no one of us lives, and, equally, no one of us dies, for himself alone. . . . Let us therefore cease judging one another. . . . Let us then pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life” (14:5-7, NEB). Building that common life is our common stewardship and when we take it seriously we progress as individuals and as a Church.
I am struck by what Paul says because I think he is trying to teach a very important lesson: there are a number of things about which the Lord seems not to care, in which He gives us choice. It seems there are many issues over which we choose to be divisive, which are of no consequence to God. He doesn’t care whether we are Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, sophisticated or simple. It is probably of no concern to Him if we are vegetarians, eat white flour, have beards, wear colored shirts to Church, or the myriad other things that some of us consider important enough to judge, condemn, or spiritually disfellowship one another over.
Instead of focusing on such trivia, we should, as Paul says, “pursue the things that make for peace, and build up the common life.” Those things generally are love, understanding, tolerance, acceptance, liberality of spirit, magnanimity, and forgiveness.
[T]he following statements by Joseph Smith might prove instructive:
“The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls. We feel we should want to take them upon our shoulders and cast their sins behind our backs.”
“Nothing is so much calculated to lead a people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O What power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.”
“Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and [more] boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.”
The entire burden of Christ’s message is that we should be slow to judge and quick to forgive, that we should consider all people as ourselves, and that we should love one another without regard to our differences. The Golden Rule applies especially to all those whom we consider strange, queer, abnormal—all those whom we might see as different from or less than we are.
The truth is that despite all being special snowflakes, we have much more in common with each other than we would ever have separating us and we are interconnected in ways that we cannot comprehend.