Sunday, November 29, 2015

Matthew 25:31-46 "as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats"

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

The Lord then tells us what his litmus test will be when dividing sheep from goats:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Speaking of this scriptural passage Marion G. Romney said, "the Master declared that the test on which the division would be made on that great day would be the care given to the poor and the needy." I agree with this, but would add that this Christ-given injunction also includes a hospitality component. (I was a stranger, and ye took me in.) How are we doing personally, as a religion, and as a nation?

Two things have brought this scriptural passage top of mind this month. First, the Syrian refugee crisis has many people talking about whether we should let more refugees in the United States. It is definitely a tough call, especially with the recent attacks in Paris. But the scriptural injunction to take in the stranger is clear. (I personally feel we should let as many refugees in as quickly as possible without lessening the strict immigration controls that predate the crisis, but no one of consequence asked me.)

Second, in the weeks since the LDS Church's policy changes, there has been a lot of discussion in the Bloggernacle about dividing the wheat from the tares. Many stalwart members defending the Church's new policy have taken to saying that by making this policy, the Lord is dividing the wheat from the tares (i.e., the wheat = those that support the policy; the tares = those that are offended by the policy). If this is true I am proudly a tare. But all this talk of dividing, got me wondering less whether I am wheat or tare and more whether I am sheep or goat.

With our Humanitarian Society and Bishop's Storehouses we're probably doing OK helping the hungry and thirsty. But I fear as a people we may have forgotten the scriptural charge to take in and care for the stranger. As I think of our LGBT brothers and sisters who, let's face it, can be somewhat foreign to our homogeneous, hetero-normative culture, I fear we are failing them. Even if we think homosexuality is wrong, we can stand up against institutional shunning of same-sex couples and their natural born and adopted children. We can invite them into our homes. We can become their friends and laugh with them and cry with them and just stand beside them.

Is that not what the Savior would do? Why shouldn't I?

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