S.M. looked over my shoulder as I scanned the mormon.org site for another Mormon Definitions article. “It says they call each other sister and brother. If we thought of each other as sister and brother, we would treat each other better.”
I thought of my own brother and laughed, saying, “Uh, uh. Siblings fight all the time. Some siblings don’t talk to each other anymore. Siblings are always in competition or they are in disagreement. Some even treat their friends better than their family. However, they are not unique in calling each other sister or brother. Even the Christian church does that.”
Three sections down, a sub-topic says, “Families Come First.” That just isn’t true in the Mormon church.
The church comes first, then families. You don’t have to read the entire website or their theology to figure that one out. S.M. is always commenting how our Mormon neighbors are either at their parents house or their parents are at their house, and when they aren’t at each other’s houses, they are at the church, or doing something that the church requires either at home or at the church. When a couple wants a spiritual divorce after being married in the temple, the church doesn’t make it easy for them. My brother and sister-in-law divorced two years ago.
They were married in the temple. My brother began asking the Bishop about getting a spiritual divorce a year ago. He even visited the Bishop in his office and each time, the Bishop pretended to look for the documents, before turning around and saying, “Come on Sunday and I’ll have them.” On Sunday, my brother would hear a different excuse until he could no longer bear hearing those excuses. He eventually left the Mormon church and has since become a quiet atheist.
S.M. returned back to his favorite chair and picked up his Bible. He looked at it, and looked at me. “Don’t they realize that the Gospel of Christ, the Bible, has never changed. That believing in Christ is simple. Or that Jesus fought the pharisee’s because of man-made rules imposed on the people?”
“Some don’t even know their own Mormon history.” I said. “For some, they went there because something was missing from the Christian church. For most, it’s a family tradition. The ones who inherited that religion are the hardest to reach because it’s linked so strongly to their family that to ask them to leave the Mormon church is like asking them to choose between Jesus and their family.”
“So what do we do?” S.M. put down his Bible.
“Pray,” I said, “and utilize missions strategy when thinking of reaching them. Mormonism is a culture. To become a Christian is to leave that culture and their family or to invite family turmoil. So how can we speak into an entire family so the whole family becomes Christian?”
S.M. nodded and asked, “How do we reach your family?”
My heart hurts. “Maybe we can’t, but maybe someone else will.”
In my family, the door is closed for most of them, except for one or two. One began asking questions in private. I am answering with caution and prayer. Sometimes, I think the most powerful influence are those coming from the outside. The reason I think this is because of the influx of foreign missionaries coming into our country and those from our country going to their countries. When you look at mission history, there seems to be a pattern of someone coming from the outside to bring change to that tribe or culture. When that happened, whole families and communities came to know Christ.
I turned off my computer and stood, stretching the stiffness out of my neck and arms. I’m becoming like my friend–addicted to this computer. “I’m going for a walk.”
S.M. put the Bible down. “I’ll join you.”
We walk out the front door into the cool afternoon. Fall became winter, almost overnight, it seemed, and a heavy cloud cover hid the sunlight even now. I snuggled deeper into my scarf and coat. My hand squeezed S.M.’s and I am grateful–again–for God bringing S.M. into my life.
Yes, I tell God, we need to reach whole communities, not just one or two members of the family.