A friend of mine, an inactive Mormon since the age of fifteen, has taken to Facebook asking for clarification of Mormon doctrine. She wants to know why some Mormons—self-identified as devout—came to her lesbian wedding while others—self-identified as devout—said they couldn’t because the LDS Church doesn’t support gay marriage.
My friend feels hurt—very hurt—by the family members who chose not to come to her wedding, faithful Mormons who believe their religion precludes them from attending a gay wedding and believe that other Mormons who attended don’t understand their doctrine correctly. On the other side are friends who chose to come, faithful Mormons who believe agency allows them to support her right to choose for herself and believe that other Mormons who boycotted don’t understand their doctrine correctly.
It’s like arguing over when life begins: there is in fact an answer to that question, but the answer will be known indisputably only in a future perfect eternal realm. Meanwhile here on earth, we have to do the best we can with what we have. None of us can step outside our experience—we are defined by it. If we experience the trunk of the elephant, life goes up, down and all around. If we experience the side, life is big and flat, unchanging in every direction. If we experience the tail, life isn’t much, just a few flicks of thin rope.
The Old Testament Israelites were governed by an overwhelming number of rules, even, as I understand it, exactly how many steps they could take on the Sabbath. Joseph Smith wanted us to learn correct principles so we could govern ourselves. The problem with my friend’s question is that there are a multitude of correct principles that apply to attending a gay wedding. We each have to struggle and puzzle out for ourselves which course of action is correct, and I would expect there to be a range of conclusions, just like faithful Mormons come down on different sides of whether to tithe on the gross or the net, whether to watch t.v. on Sunday, whether to cook with wine.
I suspect it really doesn’t matter what choice we as individuals make—we’re all at different places in the gospel—as long as we feel peace about it. The only thing I’m pretty sure of is that judging someone else’s correct principle as wrong is like the bumper sticker President Uchtdorf cited in General Conference: “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”