I know there are quite a few Mormons who consider themselves to be faithful members of the Church, and “liberals,” and faithful members of the Democratic Party. These faithful members of the Church support the Proclamation on the Family; they believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, among the many other truths in the Proclamation. I have many liberal faithful Mormon friends who support issues such as a mother staying at home to care for her children, and that only men are ordained to the Priesthood. My liberal faithful Mormon friends are against abortion, except in special circumstances, such as rape, incest, or serious risk to the life or health of the mother. These beliefs make them faithful Mormons. Whether or not they’re still considered “faithful Democrats” is between them and their party.
Most of the faithful Mormons I know who consider themselves “liberal” aren’t angrily focused on the hot-button issues. Rather, they are liberals because they have generous hearts. They’d like to see more help for the poor. They’d like to see less racism in society. They don’t like seeing anyone being ridiculed or teased. They delight in smart, outspoken women. (It is possible to be a smart, outspoken LDS woman while still being supportive of our different roles in families and the Church. Most of the women I know in the Church are smart and outspoken.) Wait, this sounds like most of the Mormons I know. Well, whether they admit it or not, most Mormons have a good solid liberal streak in them.
So, I make this blog post for my liberal and faithful Mormon friends, and liberal faithful Mormons everywhere. I honor your generous hearts. While you may not be able to be both faithful to Mormon beliefs and “faithful” to the Democratic Party convictions at the same time, you CAN certainly be a faithful liberal and a faithful Mormon. Quite frankly, Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the two most liberal individuals you could ever get to know. Here are some classic LDS quotes and examples of the liberalism of God.
I’ll start with this quote from Joseph Smith, which was recently quoted in Conference by Jeffrey R. Holland: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but … the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.”
Another frequently cited example of the liberalism of God is found in the Book of Mormon. Whenever the Church is righteous they prosper, and when they prosper, God is pleased and expects them to be liberal with their wealth-
“And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
“And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. …
“And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.” (Alma 1:27–28, 30.)
Some other examples of the liberalism of God are the many gifts he gives us along the way, such as our bodies, our talents, and this beautiful earth to live on. After baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. At some point after we die, we all will receive the gift of resurrection, with our bodies restored to us in a perfect state. Everything God gives us is a gift. We never “earn” anything by 100% of our own efforts; in other words, we never give God something of equal value in exchange for what he gives us.
In summary, I believe that God does have high expectations of us, but in the end, and all along the way, we still constantly receive things we didn’t entirely pay for. We may “qualify” for certain blessings, but that’s not the same as “paying” for them fair and square. Our bodies, our lives, and our final inheritance are all extremely liberal gifts of love, in which we have done a little or even a lot to earn them, and then God always made up the difference. And that is a liberal God.
I hope any conscientious LDS members who eventually have to bail on the Democratic Party because of its increasingly conflicting values with their religious beliefs will remember the liberalism of God. He is very liberal, and when He says “No” on certain issues, it is because he loves us. I hope the world realizes that just because a few famous liberal ex-Mormons seem to hate the Church, it doesn’t mean all liberal Mormons feel that way. Most liberal Mormons I know love the Church. Most liberal Mormons I know are able to reconcile their generous liberal feelings with their dearly held religious convictions. They are able to do this because through their obedience, they are becoming like God, and in a very fundamental way, God is very liberal.
I dedicate this blog post to my two faithful Mormon stepsons, who have two of the most generous, compassionate, and liberal hearts that I’ve ever seen.