Recently, I had the opportunity to sing "Lord, I would Follow Thee." It's a beautiful, meaningful song, but with the words, "Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?," I now feel anger and confusion. Sometimes I think, "what does this even mean anymore?" I thought about those who would hear those words and think of us as a bunch of hypocrites, a bunch of judgmental Mormon bigots. That may be true for some, but to be frank, the most common judgment I see thrown around is...wait for it...accusing others of being judgmental!!!
I understand the principle, that we shouldn't point out other peoples' flaws as if we don't have our own, but in today's world, in seems like some people twist the ideas of "don't judge" and "unconditional love" to mean whatever they want. To be honest, I'm not sure what unconditional love is supposed to feel like. In the gay Mormon world, does that mean I have to support marriage redefinition? Does it mean that I should feel the same spirit in a liberal gay group as I would in a moderate or conservative gay group? Does it mean I should feel the same spirit at a same-sex wedding as I would at a wedding for a man and a woman or a sealing in the temple?
I'm sure there would be many who'd love to tell me how they want Christlike love to be. Some may tell me that I should be charitable and support legal actions to make every loving relationship the same because it doesn't affect me and my future marriage. Others may tell me that I should shove the gospel down peoples' throats because I should be concerned about their eternal salvation. I think it's somewhere in the middle. I like what Elder Holland had to say in the April 2014 General Conference:
"“What would Jesus do?” will not always bring a popular response.
At the zenith of His mortal ministry, Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” To make certain they understood exactly what kind of love that was, He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” and “whosoever … shall break one of [the] least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be … the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this planet in part because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. So if love is to be our watchword, as it must be, then by the word of Him who is love personified, we must forsake transgression and any hint of advocacy for it in others. Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once)."
I don't think anyone knows how to love as perfectly as Christ did. It must be a perfect balance between loving and spending time with his disciples and at the same time, not condoning sin. I don't think it's fair to call out others for being un-Christlike and judgmental. Do we really know what their intentions are? It may be appropriate sometimes, but not as often as we do it. I've come to the conclusion that no matter what I say or do, someone will be offended and think I'm judging them. I'm not perfect. I'm judgmental because I'm a Mormon. I'm judgmental because I'm a human being. Sometimes I think in the context of the song above: "Who am I to open my mouth at all when I walk imperfectly?" I don't think that's what the Savior had in mind.
I can't help but wonder if teachings like "don't judge" and "love the sinner, hate the sin" were meant for our own improvement, and not to be shot at others. Instead of making sure other people aren't judging, I wonder if we are supposed to make sure that we are doing our best to not make unrighteous judgments, even though others may think we are. Instead of meeting others' requirements for unconditional love and being nonjudgmental, I think it's more important to seek God's counsel in understanding these commandments.
I hope this relates, but President Uchtdorf, at the recent April 2015 General Conference, talked about grace and obedience. We are all saved by grace. "Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God." Yet why should we keep the commandments? "Brothers and sisters, we obey the commandments of God—out of love for Him!" That really spoke to me. I shouldn't be obeying solely to be an example to others. I shouldn't be obeying because I want all my friends to obey with me (although it is wonderful to have friends who are on a similar path as I am). I should be obeying primarily because I love the Lord.
I have found that as I grow closer to the Lord and strive to be more firm in my testimony of what is right...I am naturally more inclined to love others. I feel more love and less judgment. Nevertheless, because I do walk imperfectly, I might make judgments from time to time. I probably made a lot of judgments in this blog post! But I'm trying.