Some have said that the recent potential excommunication of Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) and John Dehlin are un-Christlike and should not happen. They argue that a loving Father would NEVER force his child out of his home. While I don’t know all the facts about the cases (and either does anyone else since the ONLY information we are getting is from Kate and John) I do know some things about how a family works.
I am a member of a large diverse family. My family (thinking of just my siblings and their spouses) consists of 8 biological children and their spouses and 3 adopted First Nation siblings who happen to LOVE to argue–I mean discuss things passionately. While we all have the same end goal (to return to our Heavenly Father) we definitely act out those goals differently.
Some of us homeschool, some don’t, some have gone on missions (girls and boys) some have not, some struggle with FASD, and mental illness’s and some don’t, many suffer from clinical depression, many don’t. Some have left the church, and some have never even come close to a ‘crisis of faith’. Some live with pornography and word of wisdom addictions. Some struggled with same-gender attraction. Some are caucasion, First Nation, Hawaiian, and American (I am canadian ).
Some are unmarried, some are married. Some have been on the brink of divorce, and some have not even seen that as a possibility. ALL have wrestled with what they believe and why (and likely do on a daily basis). Here are some things I have learned in working in this loving, accepting, kind,crazy and incredible environment.
1) God makes all kinds of different people who all have weakness’s and strengths and each one is a gift to us. Our weakness’s and strengths can both be used to uplift and challenge those around us. This is a good thing (they can also bring us down)
2) We are all God’s children and priceless to him and ALWAYS will be, no matter what we do, what we say and what we believe. The Savior cared enough to die for each of us collectively and individually.
3) A family is the best place to make mistakes, to foul up, to learn and to grow. If we don’t feel safe making mistake around those who should love us the most, it makes life a very insecure place to be.
4) All of us make mistakes, from the parents to the child. Oldest to the youngest.
5) It is the relationship that matters most. Who cares if someone has an addiction, leaves the church, is in jail or can’t read. We are all part of each other, what one can or can’t do, did or didn’t do should never trump our relationship. Even if someone is terribly wrong, how can they even imagine to be able to repent, change or grow if we don’t let them know that we care, and that they are infinitely more than their actions.
6) Sometimes it is appropriate to let people just get their ‘natural consequences’.
7) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my families life and it was so painful) it is best for everyone to ‘let go’ of someone who is trying to leave. To admit that as painful as it is for us, we each need to walk our own path of faith-even if we know that the sibling is walking into the lions den unarmed and without much faith (unlike Daniel, much like the prodigical son). On these occasions you need to be sure to be so close and ever aware when the moment of pain is so great that humility is found and your sibling returns. That is NEVER the time to gloat, instead, killing the fatted calf should be expected.
8) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my family, and I was the person who had to do it) you need to prayfully open the door and tell the brother (who already ran away from home and was wanted by the police) that it is time to go, knowing he has no other option but literally camping. Sometimes, the kindest thing is to admit that this place that I call home is really a prison for my brother. Sometimes the only way someone can learn to fly is help lovingly push them out. This could be for their good, or for the good of the other children in their home. If this ever has to happen, I promise you that it is not easy for the one involved to make the choice. It is not done lightly and pride is not usually to cause of this.
9) If you ever do have to have someone leave your home, it should never mean they are not still loved and part of the family. You can still love, support, pray for, be kind to, and help someone who is ‘ex-communicate’ from the protective wall of your home. This is not an ultimatum, it, in some cases is a healing process. In our case it has been an important step to ‘facing reality’, learning important life lessons, and can truly be the most Christ-like option.
10) Lastly, it is so important that other family members, who do not intimately know the details are so careful about judging other and and passing judgement. Out of respect to my brother, I choice not to disclose some personal reasons why I asked him to leave even though I had community members, family members, and even church members not only question my actions, but criticize and malign me. My heart still breaks when ever I think of my poor brother who I adore, snuggled to bed, wiped his tears and had live with me for years.
With these things in mind, I doubt that those who are participating in exploring the possibility of excommunicating Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are doing so lightly. I am sure their knees have been worn with wear and their hearts full of concern for all who are involved. Does this mean I support the excommunication? I don’t know, with the information I have thus far, I am willing to trust in God and humanity to do the right thing (since I have no control or influence in these cases that seems the right thing to do) and try to be careful about passing judgement on anyone who is involved.