The Church

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Several months ago, I had a conversation with a very passionately religious young lady (I’ll call her Judith). I have no idea which church she hails from, but she was utterly committed to it. I had heard rumors that her behaviors had changed over the last couple years and that she had become “staunch” in religion, but I hadn’t experienced her in person, so I didn’t know myself.

Judith and I were at lunch and were talking about a mutual loved one who had, once upon a time, been baptized LDS and was now very dedicated to that religion. She gasped loudly and her eyes grew wide in her head. I thought she was going to have a heart attack. I knew that she had a new friend who was LDS who had been teaching her about all their sacred rites and it was blowing Judith’s mind. I figured she was going to go into a conniption about our friend being involved in all those “rituals,” as she had called them earlier in our conversation replete with air quotes and a roll of her eyes.

But, no. It wasn’t the possibility of him being involved in the strange rites and rituals that bothered her. It was something all together entirely different.

“But they don’t even teach the Bible!” She exclaimed.

Having been born and raised LDS, I was a little stunned that her friend had led her that far astray. “Well… yes, they do.”

“I know they teach that Mormon Bible. What’s it called? The… the… oh yeah! The book of Mormon! They teach that.” She spit it out like it was a nasty word. “But they don’t teach the Bible.”

I giggled. “Yes. They teach the Book of Mormon, but they also teach the Bible.”

“No, they don’t.”

“Yes. Yes, they do. They teach the King James Bible. I was Mormon, Judith. I remember.”

“But they go to church on Sunday!

I stared at her, trying to understand her train of thought. “Ye-eah??? Are you mad because many of them are like Sunday-only believers? They behave differently during the week and then put on a false front on Sundays???”

“No.” She said forcefully. “I’m saying they hold church on Sundays! They say the Sabbath is on Sunday! That is just wrong! The Bible clearly states that the Sabbath is the seventh day, not the first.”

She rattled off a well-rehearsed and seemingly scientific explanation for why the Sabbath is really on Saturday, not Sunday. She poured it out eloquently and I was dumbfounded. Her ability to gush about the significance of calendars and sunsets and sunrises with barely a breath and definitely without a stumble led me to believe she had memorized the defensive argument. It reminded me of the 13 Articles of Faith I had been made to memorize while in Young Women’s. I had to pass them off or else I didn’t get to advance into Relief Society. All of us had to do it when we turned 18. We had to prove that we knew what the church believed. And, even though it never really resonated with me, I did what I was “supposed to” do because I “had to.” Her ability to spout the rhetoric without a pause seemed to be done by rote, but was nonetheless passionate.

I sat there, speechless and fighting for all I was worth to not burst out laughing right in her face. “That is your problem with the LDS church??? After all that you’ve told me your friend has told you, your problem with them is that they meet on Sunday???

“Yes. They are a false church because they meet on Sunday.” She said it matter-of-factly, straight-faced, and without a hint of sarcasm.

She was completely serious.

I was aghast.

Every major religion has the belief that they are “the truth” and their leaders have very convincing reasons for why they lead the true religion. Many religions have similar beliefs and practices, while having very different beliefs and practices at the same time. But, somehow, each religion is able to state that they are the real truth. Each “true” religion looks at other religions and can point out why that religion is not true.

For Judith, it was having the Sabbath on Sunday that was her sticking point. Not the temple work for the dead. Not the missionaries two-by-two. Not the “secret” rituals and rites. It was going to church on Sunday that did her in. For her, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That was how she knew, from her Saturday-meeting church, that the LDS church is not true.

So, I’m going to toss this out… Truth is subjective. It changes for each person, base on the filters that they look through, their experiences, their societal upbringing, and many other things. It is related to what you have been taught, what you have been surrounded with, and what you choose as your truth. And whether you go to church on Saturday or on Sunday or on Wednesday or if you attend church in a dedicated building or on a mountainside or in an office building in a Manhattan high rise, it really doesn’t matter. If you’re there, you better be going because you choose to believe it is true, not just because someone else has told you that it is.

Your life is a gift. How you choose to spend it makes a difference. If you’re going to spend your time in church, be there because you know it is true. If you aren’t sure, start asking questions, start researching. And if you’re there because someone else tells you you “have to be” or you’re “supposed to be,” well… you’re wasting your life, which is the saddest truth of all.

One other thing I’ve learned… truth needs no defending. It simply is true. If you find yourself donning armor, pulling out a sword, and fighting to prove that your truth is “right,” it may be time to check in and see what you’re really fighting about.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopincc


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