When I was in year 10, I had a really great English teacher. I can't for the life of me remember her name but she had an accent, was probably in her late 50's, always wore her grey hair in a bun, and she was probably a little strict for some of my friends liking.
I had a great deal of respect for this teacher, and I think part of this came from the high expectations she had of her students. She really pushed her students to do better than they thought they were capable of. She wasn't particularly full of praise, but her praise was always sincere when it was given. I respected her opinion and didn't want to disappoint her.
One day in class we were studying a particular text that rasied the subject of polygamy. Some of my fellow students weren't familiar with the term and a few questions were raised. One student asked why this practice was stopped. The teacher responded by telling them that some people actually still practice polygamy today, they are called "Mormons".
I felt my whole body stiffen. I rarely participated in class discussions because I didn't like the direct attention. I didn't raise my hands to answer questions I knew the answer to. I was confident amongst family and friends, but avoided attention and confrontation in formal settings.
Before I knew it, my hand was half-raised in the air. I think I was partly hoping it wouldn't be seen, but I could say that I had at least tried.
My teacher called on me.
"No they don't."
As soon as I said it I knew I had made a mistake. I didn't even look up because I didn't want to make eye contact with anyone. The only response I got from my teacher was;
I took the opportunity to right the wrong and replied a little louder;
"No WE don't. I am a member of that church, and we don't practice polygamy anymore. Those who do have broken away from our church and are often called Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints. They are not us."
It was terrifying but at that moment I was so grateful for my seminary teacher who covered this during one of our 6am lessons.
Our church is currently receiving some critisicm and we are accused of not being Christians. I find this a little odd considering the title of our church is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". Doesn't the name pretty much give us away?
We read the Bible (along side The Book of Mormon). We follow the ten commandments. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. We celebrate Easter and Christmas with Christ as our focus. We believe the atonement is necessary for our salvaltion, that we are measured by our works, not simply a belief in Christ. We believe Jesus was the Saviour of the world, not merely a prophet. We believe in doing good to ALL men.
What part of this makes us un-Christianly?
I hope that those in doubt about our standing in terms of whether or not we are a Christian faith, will look to our members instead of our critics. If we are Christians, as we say we are, our actions and works will speak for themselves.
I still don't like confrontation, and I still avoid raising my hand even when I know the answer. But I am happy to say that I am a Christian, in every sense of the word.