Kirby: Question own motivations before condemning others
There was no lesson in High Priest Group last week. Someone forgot to assign it. Lacking specific direction, a dozen of us sat in a stuffy classroom wondering what to do with ourselves.
Just as I was about to suggest we adjourn to Village Inn for waffles, someone said he had a deeply troubling question he wanted to run by the group.
Long story short, Brother X had seen a video clip of a Mormon temple ceremony taken by someone who apparently smuggled a small camera into a temple. It was on TV. Terrible. Outrageous.
"I was completely shocked, Brethren" he said. "Why would anyone do such a thing?"
A better question might be how could this come as a surprise to anyone who's been Mormon longer than five minutes? Peeking inside the temple is nothing compared with other things. People used to shoot us.
Also this is America, where people's personal business is deemed by some to be their business, too. It explains how pinhole cameras end up in public rest rooms and department store changing stalls.
The why is obvious as well. People are nosy. Pick any ulterior motive from "casual interest" all the way to "puerile revenge."
Anyway, the videos are on the Internet. They've been posted on YouTube for a couple of years. No surprise and no mystery to anyone who's been paying attention or actually wants to know.
What's seen on the videos is pretty tame and even boring compared with the allegations I've heard through the years about what "really" goes on in LDS temples.
Mormons deflower virgins in the temple. We offer blood sacrifices, eat babies, worship Satan, practice mind control, cavort in nude rituals and smoke a celestial weed.
Note: I've heard every one of those claims except the last one, which I just now made up. I like it.
Blood sacrifices? Naked cavorting? Hell, if we were half that interesting I'd go to church on time.
But then the ad hoc "lesson" took an aggrieved, self-pitying turn. What sort of people would trespass into our personal business this way? Enemies of the church, that's who.
Apostates. Anti-Mormons. People who were going to burn. Whoever took the video had to be operating under the direct influence of Satan.
Maybe. Personally I've never needed the devil's help to do the bad things I've done. I always did them because I wanted to or I thought it was right.
It's possible whoever took the video thought he was doing the world a good turn by exposing the secret doings of a dangerous cult. Who knows how many lives he saved?
But before we start drawing a wounded distinction between ourselves and the sort of people who presume to make our personal business their business as well, consider how often we've been guilty of it ourselves.
What's more presumptuous than pronouncing the inferiority of someone else's race? Probably sex. Do gay people think Mormons are meddling in their deeply personal business today? I'm guessing they do.
We can claim all we want that these issues are (or were) in fact our business, but the people whose lives were meddled in never see it that way. Who can blame them? We don't like it either.
People have always done rude and even terrible things to others believing they were necessary and, worse, even for the victims' own good.
If we really want to understand someone else's presumptuous motivations, we only have to look to our own.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.