This was going to be a comment on the last post, but it got wayyy too long. It's probably even too long for a regular post, but Oh, well. If you feel you've had enough of the last post, then you will probably want to skip this one. But I'd also love to hear which side you take on the matter. Please be sure to read Pinetree's comment on the previous post, Masquerade, before commenting on this one. It's a good comment.
I'm glad my blog has caused some good discussion, but I'm afraid I must whole-heartedly disagree with you guys, Pinetree and Mustard. I'm not talking about judging whether a person is a good or a bad person. I'm simply talking about telling somebody, "I think that what you are doing is a mistake, and you might not be able to see it as such."
It happens all the time. Just last night I came very close to going on a (literally) last-minute road trip to California. It was 4:00 a.m. and some friends told me they were headed to San Francisco and had room for me to come along. In the end I didn't go, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because I didn't have any impartial person around to tell me whether it made sense to go. Some people need that all the time, and I believe everybody needs it from time to time. In the case of the girl with the pink hair, I'm not passing judgment on her character when I tell her the pink mohawk is out of line. Am I passing judgment on her hair? Sure. Is it my place? No, it WOULDN'T be. Except that now that all of the relief society has lied to her, she's going to need to hear it straight up. And with this girl, if the bishop were the only one to say something, she'd think he was crazy. "The relief society all loved it." As it was, she thought I was crazy because I was the ONLY person who answered her questions about it with the honest truth. This girl was always asking why nobody respected her or treated her like a grown-up, but she was unwilling to hear that her mohawk and other inappropriate fashion statements were injuring her image. She believed that if people judged her based on her hair, that was a flaw in their character, not hers. I agree, but I also think that to cope in such a flawed world, we need to make certain sacrifices of our own personal liberties IF we want certain reactions (like respect) from the general populace. She really would need to hear the same message from many different people. I knew her better than anybody else at the time. I'm not just some random guy making this assessment.
In the case of Hamster and his wife, I think it's important to note that I was probably the ONLY person at the wedding with closer ties to Hamster than to his wife. Everyone else was on her side, if you had to draw the line that way, and I'm sure almost everybody in attendance was ignorant of the circumstances that made this wedding so terrible. Which were that the kid has totally unresolved and even unexamined homosexual tendencies, he had been having sex with his roommate during his courtship of the bride, and the two seemed to be rushing the wedding to both legitimize their physical relationship and to magically cure the groom of his affections toward men. I was NOT opposed to the marriage on the grounds that both are ugly and they will eventually produce frightening offspring. I mentioned their physical appearance to help illustrate the full tragedy of the situation, i.e. the bitter notion that they seemed to be settling for each other rather than just being two young people caught up in the throes of lust or any other such romantic ideal that might make the readership a tad more sympathetic and falsely understanding of where these two are coming from. Of course, the ideal would be that they could both work out these issues and approach the marriage from the position where both recognize the incredible struggle up against which they're putting themselves. But from conversations I've had with them, it really did feel like they were both blithely entering into some sort of panacean marriage: take one wedding ceremony, apply two sprinkles of the Atonement, consummate vigorously, and you can overcome whatever comes your way, so no need to actually change your lifestyle before jumping into all of this.
Am I saying either is a bad person? Absolutely not. I love these kids. Am I saying they made a terrible, terrible decision? Yes. Absolutely. No doubt in my mind. Is it my place to say this to them? Maybe not. But then whose? The bishop's? Do I really believe he'd been granted all the information I have? No. I came to this wedding as the only friend Hamster had, the only one on his side of the camp who really understood where he was coming from and what his likely motivations were in getting married. And I didn't say anything. I'm not saying I should have stopped it. I'm just saying SOMEone should have been that kid to call the emperor out on being naked in the street. Someone should have at least given Hamster something to gnaw on, something to get his wheels turning so he could come at this problem more perspicaciously, having mulled over the costs and making a sound decision to move forward.
Everyone seems much more naturally opposed to Rose's wedding. Why? Because it's making a mockery of marriage? Because her fiancé might be entering into this marriage completely unaware of what he's getting himself into? I submit that Hamster's case was the same on both counts. okay, so Rose's wedding is also in the temple, whereas Hamster's wasn't but I bet people would still be strongly opposed to Rose's wedding were it a temporal one.
Now, I don't think that I should be the one to pull Rose aside and explain to him(?) that to receive the blessings of the temple he'll need to go back to being a man and get rebaptized and whatever else will be required of him. I'm just not that close with Rose, and that is a very touchy subject that is bound to cause more harm than good. Which is why I'm going to the bishop. And if he won't talk to Rose's current bishop, then maybe I will.
Again, this has nothing to do with judging between good and evil. I don't believe that Rose is a bad person. I believe that Rose is a confused, scared young man who probably has almost worthy dreams of becoming a typical LDS housewife, and is willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal.
In all of these cases, I don't believe that it's my place to decide what sort of punishment should be doled out. But I do believe that it is among the duties of a friend to offer advice. That doesn't always have to be the green light. A real friend will tell you when to hit the brakes, when you're going too far. You'd expect the good friend to pull you aside and tell you when you were about to go outside with your fly down, when you are too drunk to drive home, when you're about to rush into a marriage that you think will cure your homosexuality....
I stand by what I said in the post. Ideally we wouldn't have to be Paula OR Simon; we could each be creatures of balanced niceness and helpfulness, but in a valley so inundated with unhelpful but nice Paulas, I'll do my part to bringing balance and be a helpful Simon. Being a friend is not about saying what people want to hear. Like you did with your comment, Pinetree. It's made me reconsider, and though I haven't come to agree with you, I'm glad you felt close enough to tell me what you think.
There was a woman on American Idol a few weeks back who had quit her job to come on the show. And then she was awful. Simon told her she was awful, and then called her boss and personally asked the manager to rehire the lady, telling her the woman was very personable and a great salesperson, but she was a very terrible singer. That's what I'm talking about here with the Simon thing. Not deciding she's a bad person. Just that she's a bad singer. And my question is this: Why didn't ANY of her friends ever tell her she wasn't that good at singing? WHY!? What kind of friend lets you quit your job like that? That's a very bad friend.
I think I can do better than that.
Pinetree, while I disagree with your points, I'm glad we can even have these discussions. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I don't do middle so well, so for now I'm sticking to my extreme side, until I can find a way to get extreme balance. Love ya much.