I Don’t Know!

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Okay, so lately I’ve been selling lemonade. It just so happens that I only sell the lemonade during the Hill Cumorah Pageant that is a reenactment of the Book of Mormon. (That is to say, that’s what it is to my knowledge.)

During this pageant a great many visitors come through our small village (The Village of Palmyra) These visitors are mainly Mormon, and as I can’t say 100%, I’ll say 99.999999999% 🙂 I will also say that these people draw out a certain conflict.

This post is titled I Don’t Know! because of the immense confusion that I’m suffering per the insanely large argument caused by the faith of Mormons.

Because of the large concentration of Mormons, many of the more die-hard Anti-Mormons come out with slogans, tracts, and large signs. One sect congregates in the public park on main street, roughly half of a small town block from several key Mormon-tourism sites. They drive a large “sign truck” which bears the slogan “WhatMormonsDon’tTell”. They hand out tracts and “share the gospel”.

Unfortunately, they are the more passive group.

One man stands around with a large sign. The sign itself is relatively (relatively) inoffensive, but the man holding this sign was getting on my nerves. The only reason that I’m near this man is that I am advertising on that corner. A representitive of my lemonade stand will stand on the corner for fifteen minutes at a time, and entice customers to pull over and stop for “Great Lemonade, and cookies!”.

During these fifteen minute chunks this man managed to offend me on several occasions, and this is only my second day! Not only that, but I’m not even a Mormon and he’s offensive to me.

So today I decided to check this Sign Guy out. I walked over and asked him to pretend that I was a Mormon, and prove to me why I shouldn’t be one.

For the next twenty minutes the Sign Guy tells me theory after Mormon theory, which he soon disproved. He would set it up, and telling me their belief, and then he would tell me the practical disproving factor. He had a briefcase full of facts and quotes of Mormon leaders, etc.

I believe Sign Guy is factually correct. He has spent years of his life researching his faith and the faiths of others. He has the necessary facts to disprove the Mormons.

Yes, Sign Guy is correct.

But he’s wrong!

He’s doing it all wrong! First example that he needs to take a chill pill is that he refers to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as Mormons. He doesn’t say this as a title, but spews it as if it is a filthy word. He doesn’t say it as though they are human, even. Rather he addresses them as stupid, childish fools who aren’t smart enough to realize that his faith is the right one.

Near the end of our thirty minute talk, a man in his early twenties stops near us and asks if Sign Guy is a Christian. Sign Guy says he is.

“Wow,” says the young man. “That’s sad. It’s sad that you hold this sign. Do you think Jesus would do this? Jesus would be–”

“Do you hate the bible?” Sign Guy says.

“Jesus would be out here just loving these people.”

The man walks away as Sign Guy yells shouts something, probably sensible, but the tone is derogatory. As he walks away the man holds up his hand in the universal sign for peace, and just ignores Sign Guy.

When I turn back to Sign Guy, he’s chuckling derogatorily, and the first thing he says is.

“People always try to claim a Jesus. They mold him to their purposes, and don’t depict him as he is.”

The reason I titled this post I Don’t Know! is coming back to me. I don’t know where to go with this argument. Do I agree with Sign Guy’s conclusions? Yes. I think he’s right on there. Now, do I agree with his methods?

Do you think that it is right to yell, “Repent! Repent! Confess your sins and believe in Jesus of the Bible and you can be saved!” at a family with three small children. Is it important to yell that to a young couple holding the hands of their toddler? Is it necessary to yell in these people’s faces, “Your wrong! Your so wrong!”?

The only conclusion I draw from this is that there is a line between helpful and just plain mean. It is not right to be offensive, and self-righteous, even if you are right. You must respect other people’s intelligence, as well as their right to freedom of religion.

God created all beings with the natural freedom of choice, and America is one of the only countries that will allow us to exercise these rights. I believe this man has no right to harass these tourists, an personally believe he is wrong in the method he uses to get his point across.

I keep thinking of a kid that is whining and his mother says, “Use your words, Little Billy.” This man just needs to have an adult conversation with the people he disagrees with. As long as the other party has a fair chance to argue their point, and it is an open-minded conversation, I believe Sign Guy could win the argument.

His current method is only pushing people away. He needs to consider what Jesus would do. If Jesus were at that corner today, I think he’d be talking with the Mormon believers, and just looking at the crazy Sign Guy with pity. He’d shake his head, and just look sadly at him.

What would Jesus do?

What would you do?

Please discuss using the extremely obvious comment thing at the bottom of this post. This discussion will be as open minded as possible.

4 Replies to “I Don’t Know!”

  1. I wish I’d stopped to buy some lemonade – you sound like a sensible person, and I bet your lemonade tastes terrific.

    I often struggle with the “what would Jesus do” question – because Jesus had some very different reactions to things. Sometimes He embraced the sinners, held them close, showed them the “love” that we so often refer to when we talk about how to treat others. But then there were times when He showed anger, anger at people who were obviously, flagrantly ignoring the word of the Father and deceiving (often deliberately) others by their own actions and words.

    I tend to think that I am called to show the world His love, for while I may be a sinner forgiven, I cannot forget that I am still a sinner, and my sins are no different in His eyes than those of anyone else; for that reason, I believe anger and judgement should be left up to Him.

    Enjoyed your post; thought-provoking. Have a great night!

  2. I also enjoyed your post and am grateful that you had the courage to go up to sign guy. I hope by the time you walked away sign guy knew love too! It’s funny how people (and I mean me too) always think “what would Jesus do” when I think we need to live in a “what are you doing now” fashion. Every moment is a “what are you doing now Father” moment. That is why Jesus came in the first place, isn’t it? To show us how to live in that moment doing everything and saying everything he heard or saw the Father doing in that moment. I think that was how Jesus knew what was perfect for each different setting and I believe we can be like that too. That was the point of the Holy Spirit.

    Well that’s my opinion anyway. And I keep trying to actually do the moment by moment thing. Not easy, I’m selfish and sometimes don’t want to hear or see what Father is doing and I listen to the lie that says “it’s too difficult” but I find I regret it later. But this is what life is about. Finding Father and letting him help us look like him! I fail, repent and he helps me change. Feels like a win situation to me! Maybe for sign guy too. He is trying at least. Some of us aren’t even doing that. All he needs is a Saul moment.

    Thanks for letting me share. I really enjoyed this! Be the blessings out there!

  3. Ian, your post (and the whole ordeal this week in our town) reminds me of the quote from Clive Staples Lewis that I’ve been hearing again recently:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    Some of the worst things that we people have done to each other have been “for the good” of the one we’re tormenting. What better motivation could one have than “love” for another? But as you said, we are born free. God wants for each of us to choose our own path (and he invites us to follow him, doesn’t force anyone to…)

    Perhaps we could follow his example?

    Sorry you have to be mixed up in all of that. Good job investigating and trying to add goodness. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do, though 🙂
    Dad recently posted: Bee-Do, Bee-Do

  4. “Dad”… totally stealing that CS Lewis quote. Amazing stuff, and so point on in today’s “free” society, not only from a standpoint of religious freedom, but in all facets of our existence. Thank you for posting – really enjoying the responses here. 🙂

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