Judging and judges. It certainly is the time to think about them. David and I had a bit of a heated discussion on Judge Kavanaugh. David is very much against him and ready to believe Dr. Ford. Me, well, a bit skeptical of the motives of both parties, and certainly knowing Kavanaugh is a good ol’ boy and part of the good ol’ boy’s network of Bush’s and Ivy League Schools, and I hate that. I really do. But, knowing also that Trump, or worse yet, Pence, will nominate some other uber-conservative judge to the Supreme Court, and it won’t matter anyways. So back to judgments. Nick Einbender, David’s nephew, (my nephew, too, yay, as he and his husband are so handsome you just smile looking at them), asks the following question on the facebook page “Mormons Building Bridges”. Can LDS church leaders and/or LDS church members, fundamentally disagree with LDS-church attending LGBT members choosing to “act on it” and still truly love, support, and welcome them, and is it possible for the LDS-church going LGBT members to take those offering all that at face value? And the question got me thinking about judging. Many years ago, a good friend of my oldest son got married. The friend was not Mormon, but was religious, as was his bride-to-be. We all had gotten to be good friends with Mikal’s, my oldest son’s, friend and with his family who lived just a few blocks down the street from us. So, when we were all invited to the beautiful, outdoor, Summer wedding ceremony and reception immediately following, we decided to go. The pastor conducting the wedding, like many Mormon temple sealers do—sometimes to our great chagrin, as the Mormon temple sealer sometimes tends to be too verbose and often is an unknown person to the couple and their families, since Mormonism has a different tradition of who does the wedding sealing ceremony and the sealer rambles on about something totally unrelated to the couple being sealed—kind of like me when I write—offered some words of advice to the new couple. The pastor advised that the couple should take up some traditions, like he and his wife do, of drinking coffee in the morning together and chatting, as a way of connecting more deeply. All of my kids audibly gasped at the word “coffee” and I couldn’t help but ask myself what is wrong with my religion, my way of raising my kids that they would gasp at the word “coffee”? Being the good Mormon father that I was, I took up the subject of judgment at our next Family Home Evening. For those who don’t know what it is, Family Home Evening is a time for the parents to teach their children. I often used Family Home Evening as a time to correct the teachings that had taken hold on my kids from a misguided talk or testimony or class at the LDS ward we attended. We probably sang the hymn “Truth Reflects Upon our Senses,” a hymn not sung very much any more in LDS congregations, or “Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” especially verse two. Verse three of “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” is taken by many Mormons as permission to judge another, but as I read it again from a different perspective as an Ex-Mormon, I realize it could be simply that people in physical need deserve our help, the poor, the “needy”. Yet how many times in so many Mormon sermons have I heard it used as permission to judge another who is “needy” spiritually? We inevitably have to judge that they are lost, sinning, and in such dire straits spiritually, that they need saving. For that matter, Christianity and many other religions, too, have gotten it all wrong. We humans are not broken or awful or in need of any salvation of any kind when we’re born (yes, I know that’s a Mormon teaching, but we still miss the mark too often, and eight years old? Come on?), and we don’t need anything other than love as children or as adults. As the years of my parenting wore on, it seemed misguided judgments and truly false teachings were coming too often from my religion, but maybe that was just me thinking too much. Obedience, not thinking, is the first law of heaven. NOT! More than once I had to re-teach Jesus’ own ranking of the sins to my kids because someone at our Mormon church had gotten off track and said something about obedience being so damned important as to override love. Tirade and soap box coming; watch out. Like when we could tell my Mom was really mad, the swear words went up in order of awfulness: Hell’s Bells (mom was frustrated); Damn (mom was mad); Shit (mom was really mad; get ready for a &*&#!-storm). So maybe I need some scatological expletives here, because I’m really mad. My kids would remember how many times I stressed the commandment on which we could hang all the law and the prophets. Ring someone’s neck, as my mom would say. Back to the story at hand. Coffee as a sin? As I look back on that wedding, I realize my three girls were especially vulnerable as they had been taught strongly that the ONLY wedding worth its weight was a temple wedding, and so perhaps it wasn’t the coffee that made them gasp, but the coffee on top of the wedding that would end in failure, because it wasn’t a real wedding per LDS standards. Perhaps that was just too much handle under the LDS way of living. Coffee, on top of it all! So, my answer to the question at hand. Can? Yes, humans can love, support, and welcome, and they’d probably do it naturally if they’ve been raised themselves to love, not judge. It is possible, but not very probable in the LDS worldview, in my humble opinion, because . . . coffee! And, funniest thing of all, I absolutely judge harshly my coffee now; I’m one of those nose-in-the-air, particularly-picky coffee drinkers. I have to have just the right blend and roast with just a tiny bit of the right kind of cream, no sugar. David, well, he can do “instant” and be satisfied; or just plain old diner-style black coffee. But, who am I to judge another? In case you hadn't "judged" it, Bert and Ernie were a lovely gay couple. Dedicated to my niece, Tori Christensen.