George Bernard Shaw adequately stated the following: I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. As we engage in the conversations about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are going to come across individuals with a pernicious tenacity to engage us in wrestling with them. Majority of the time, it is in the mire where they are happy and at comfort because they seek out to destroy personal testimonies, challenge the faithful, and to engage in mockery and ridicule. It is an unfortunate reality that many of these individuals (which is a predominate minority who display such behavioral immaturity through social media networks and online interactions) call themselves Christians who have a Love for Mormons.
Here is one such comment of an evangelical Christian:
So, I get told that I’m obviously a liar, and that my credibility is shot down as all get out, but, no Mormon can prove me wrong? I’ve asked Mormons to back up their claims, and they can’t, and instead they go shouting “I’m a liar”. But, they want us to accept everything they say. It’s a clear Double Standard. They constantly call Christians liars, but they can’t prove one single darn thing in Mormonism, the crapped outlying religion. They can’t prove anything in the BoM, they can’t prove anything about Joseph Smith being a “good man” They can’t prove anything that supports Mormonism, but they still insist on calling us liars, because we are anti-Mormons somehow? LOL, Well, Mormons, you are anti-Christians, and God supports Christianity and you are fighting against THE TRUE GOD. Yeah, how about them cheerios huh? I’ve got God backing me up, who the crap do you have? Joseph Smith, the dung tard that spewed crap of lies out of his brain, thinking he was something? Same for BY and all other Mormonism Leaders, they lie out their skull too. They isn’t no prophet, they isn’t jack. Right now, Joseph Smith and BY and all other well-known Mormonism leaders are indeed burning IN HELL!! Yes, I will say it again, they are BURNING IN HELL.
I do not care if you get “offended” because that is the truth, you insist that we are liars, but you never can prove us wrong. Mormons on here never look anything up, they expect everyone else to do their research, and when a Moron does research, it’s LDS AFFILIATED website, which spouts of more crapped out lies, by liars. MORMONS. Read ALL THE THREADS I put up. I see they have very little VIEWS. Why is that? Why are you afraid? COME ONE! You think I’m lying; you should be able to prove me wrong! Heck! You Mormons can’t even back up the claim how the Gospel somehow got lost and restored?
This is the typical rants of a minority of “Christian Apologists” who want to “win Mormons” for the sake of Christ. Their anger and bitterness is full of venom. They are contentious in that they hunger to demean something instead of bearing fruit of love and virtue. For many Latter-day Saint Apologists, this typical behavior is quite noticeable and we do well to steer clear from it. However, many other Latter-day Saint Christians make a valiant attempt to engage such a critic and instead of a civil dialogue ensuing, the critic continues to lash out with more poisonous vitriolic rhetoric. It is the anonymity the Internet has provided.
How, then, are we to deal with these types of individuals? Going back to what George Bernard Shaw stated – we leave them be and pass them by. This is accomplished by ignoring their commentary and not addressing it. No matter how tempting it is to provide correction and engage them in conversation, we are to avoid it. If we do not, we will find ourselves wrestling in the mud with them and they have won by getting us dirty through knee-jerk emotive responses because of the offensive nature of their comment. This has even happened to the best of us – including myself. This is where self-discipline and following the idea of taking the high road by not engaging those critics of our faith that would spew forth such rhetorical nonsense. If they want to carry on with such rants, they are better left alone.
Also, when we avoid such rhetorical rants, we avoid grieving the spirit and avoid the spirit of contention:
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
President Thomas S. Monson, speaking at the October 2009 General Conference, shares this thought:
To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.
We choose of our own moral agency to react to the particular rhetoric employed. It is up to us to decide whether or not we want to engage in a verbal contention with someone that is neither open nor receptive to the message of the Gospel, as well as someone who bolsters themselves up with arrogance to know all that about our faith and teachings than our leaders and ourselves.
President Monson makes the following statement – Anger, Satan’s tool, is destructive in so many ways. It is when we react with knee-jerk emotive responses to our critics that we have stepped over the fence and entered into the pig pen to wrestle with our critic. They are more than happy and obliged to do so and when we have unleashed our own contempt and angered bitterness toward their disdain for our faith, our religion, our leaders, and our doctrines, we have ended up just as muddled and embittered. We, therefore, must yield to these enticings and understand that some criticisms of the Church need to be left alone.
It is the same advice in dealing with those who bully us. Ignore the bully, and you take away the steam from them. You take away the supposed power they are attempting to claim over you. Engage them and you are fueling their ego-centric defense by engaging your own ego-centric defense. The difference between the bully who engages through their own egocentric behaviors and that of the bully’s victim responding out of an egocentric behavior is summed up with this thought:
Participants in the “Cycle of Egocentrism” focus almost entirely on surviving the pain of their own wounding. The perpetrators of these wounds often have no idea that their behavior inflicts a wound to be carried forth into all of that child’s relationships and through the generations. They are too consumed with their own wounding to notice the impact of their behaviors. Whether violence is physical or verbal or emotional, the result is always pain for everyone involved. (Miller, 1987)
Religious piety calls for a specific form of transformation in the lives of those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. Our particular perceptions ought to fall away as we adopt a new perception from the lens of the compassionate Savior who viewed those oppressed as ones in need of a physician. Through this transformation, scripture tells us that we are to possess love and charity toward one another:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Yet, we are still mortal making our journey through our own human experience. We falter and fail at times. In behavioral theories, there is a concept of the Ego versus the Soul. The ego is self-protecting while the soul is harmonious to fulfill love, charity and hope. What this means is that through our belief in Jesus Christ, the acceptance of his Atonement in our lives, and the lives of others, we ought to navigate from living within the realms of our own ego-centric mindset, by moving into what is called “Soul practice” or living from our soul. In essence, we must move from the natural humanistic experience and learning we have come to experience and understand and become more authentic with who we are and being authentic and transparent with those around us. It also comes down to self-control where we submit our natural tendencies to such knee-jerk reactions and become more real and authentic with a Christ-like mindedness and temperament.
Despite our best efforts, we all falter and give into anger and knee-jerk emotive responses. The challenge is to pick and choose our battles. When it comes to the critics of the Church, we have to discern the exact manner in which to engage them. Some critics are not embittered and antagonistic. They do have a genuine and sincere love for us and wish us to seek out a true relationship with the Savior. They are the ones who truly do show charity, hope and love. The minority relegate themselves into a small grouping of like-minded individuals and engage praising themselves with virtual accolades of atta boys for “putting that Mopologist” or “Mormon” in their place. They are the type of vipers and asps that when picked up and handle will bit with prejudicial venom – destroying our own soul and faith.
In short, we can either walk pass the wallowing pigs who want to engage us or step into their pen or engage them. If we choose the latter, we will become just as filthy as they are and they relish in the fact that they have brought down another Mormon to wallow in the mud of bitterness and anger.
- Yellow Journalism and modern Anti-Mormon Rhetoric (mormonapologeticstudies.org)