The Superbowl is coming up and you know what that means? Superbowl parties, food, friends and family, and more food. But what about Church? Are you someone who can’t wait for it to be over (two-hour church, hallelujah) or do you record it, avoid spoilers, and then watch it the next day? Which one is “right”? Which one will the neighbors peeking through the window judge you for?
Superbowl Sunday may be the day that we judge each other the most.
A lot of times members of the Church can be so consumed with living the gospel the “right” way that they don’t realize that there isn’t one “right” way. It isn’t a bad thing to try and live the principles of the gospel to the best of your ability. What is bad is judging others for not living it the same way you do.
The Church does not give its members a checklist or strict guidelines on how to give the gospel. The Church teaches principles and counsels its members to pray about how to live those principles.
Some people think that living the Word of Wisdom means that you should be vegetarian if possible. Others would rather die than give up hamburgers. Some people think that to keep the Sabbath day holy you shouldn’t use electronics on Sunday. Other people gather and watch their favorite movies as a family. But there isn’t really one “right” way to live the gospel.
A New Experience
The first time I remember realizing that people live the gospel differently than I do was when I went to college. When I started attending Brigham Young University, I was suddenly surrounded by members of the Church from all over.
I remember when general conference came around, everyone was hunkering down to watch all four sessions (plus the auxiliary meetings). Growing up, my family watched the Sunday morning session of general conference together, but we didn’t really watch the other sessions. I know that my mom goes back and reads them, but I never did. When I told my best friend this, I am pretty sure she thought I was a heathen.
So I started watching all the sessions of general conference. I saw what others were doing and for a while I did it too as a way to belong. I mean, when everyone is watching conference (and they have snacks), I might as well watch too. But now, I have learned to love watching all of conference.
I had a roommate who was not active in the Church before she moved in. She was just beginning her journey of coming back to Church. She wasn’t cookie cutter Mormon and she lived the gospel differently than I did. But I know that she was constantly asking God for His guidance.
We had long talks about the gospel and she often wondered if people were judging her for her choices. I told her that it doesn’t matter what they think, only what God thinks. I know that he was happy with her choices.
A New Family
When I started dating my husband, I got to know his family and how they live the gospel. I get to spend lots of time with them since they live close and I was surprised by a few of the things that they do that had never occurred to me.
The first thing I noticed is that they wear their Sunday clothes all day. Growing up, the first thing I did when I came home was change into comfy clothes. I’m not going to lie, the first few times I went over for Sunday dinner I felt like I would be judged for not wearing Sunday clothes, so I wore mine on Sunday too (I have since realized that my in-laws are not judgy people, so it was just me).
Now I stay in my Sunday clothes because I find it easier. Other people stay in Sunday clothes as a sign of respect for the Sabbath day. Other people choose to go home and put on their comfy clothes, and I do that too sometimes. Some Sundays you just need your comfy pants.
Another thing I learned about my husband’s family is that when they happen to be traveling on a Sunday, they will avoid buying anything, even food if they can. My family made the trek to Utah at least once a year to visit my dad’s relatives. Oftentimes we would drive home on Sunday. We would stop to eat and I thought nothing of it.
I appreciate how my in-laws strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, even when they aren’t at home. However, I don’t think less of my family for pulling off the highway to get some lunch on the way home from Utah. Both families live the gospel as they see fit.
A New Perspective
I could go on listing the different ways that people can live the gospel, but is that necessary? We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not all the same. Each family, each person, is different. Each has different needs and traditions.
So stop judging your neighbor because they are different than you. If we truly want to be like Christ (which is the whole mission of the Church), then we need to act like Him. The spirit of Christ is not contention, envy, or strife—it is love.
To go back to the beginning, to watch the Superbowl on Sunday or not? No one can tell you the answer (though many will certainly try). The only person you are trying to please is God, so ask Him.
How do you handle people judging the way you live the gospel? Let us know in the comments section.