Emotions run raw around gender matters in the church. Some feel all is well in Zion, and accuse those who urge change of being presumptuous at best, heretical at worst. At the other end of the spectrum, some speak disdainfully of Latter-day Saints who fail to ask “serious” questions, or who are blind to any faults in the fabric of our status quo.
We encourage the conversation about gender in the Church. We know it is important. But we say to all, “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
Joseph Smith echoed Peter, “If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours–for charity covereth a multitude of sins” (History of the Church, 4:445).
We urge compassion. We call for a cloak of charity over the bishop and stake Relief Society president who inevitably make mistakes as they volunteer endless hours to shepherd our congregations. Do you know their stories? A cloak of charity over the Church itself, with its vast and intricate audience, led by God but run by humans. Do you know its story? A cloak of charity over the woman or man whose faith in the Church is waning or gone — who may or may not have tried hard enough, who may or may not be full of pride or Job-like in their suffering, who may or may not have turned to sin or to the Savior. Do you know their stories?
There is a way to hold this conversation without contention. We must all start by setting down our stones, and listening. We must start by extending compassion and the benefit of the doubt. Margaret Blair Young recently wrote that she has felt inspired “to prove my love before I prove my point.”
Although the ultimate Zion is “of one heart and one mind,” let’s start with heart.