Someone sent me a link recently to a post on the Passive Aggressive Notes website. You can read the post itself here, but here's the text of the posted note:
Hi – you don’t know me but I’ve noticed that you go into #360’s apt late @ night & I sometimes see you coming out in the morning. & it’s obvious that you sleep over ther [sic] b/c your car is parked @ King Henry all night. I know that it’s really none of my business, but
Imy roomates [sic] & I think that it’s innappropriate [sic] to be staying @ a boy’s house all night. I feel like I should talk to someone about this problem, perhaps King Henry, but I think that you could, & should, fix this problem on your own w/out my intervention.
Thanks for your timeHave a great day =)
The post has gotten over 350 comments, ranging originally from the "Sounds like Utah," type which produced the "stop hating on Mormons" response to later an explanation on what would have produced the note and a defense of the practice (getting involved in other people's private business that is - not leaving anonymous notes on cars). The commenter was well spoken, articulate and friendly and, I think, left a generally positive impression of herself although not of the policy involved or, frankly, of the organization that drafted that policy. I think she should be commended for keeping the discussion light and polite - and I would point out that many of the non-Mormon commenters were not able to do the same.
Her explanation basically went like this:
1) King Henry is a BYU approved apartment complex and in order to be a BYU student one must live in an approved complex AND sign the BYU honor code. (I can't link you to the code itself as its showing an error message, but you can read about the code on the Wikipedia page here.) Anyone who lives at the complex must have signed the code and should therefore abide by it.
2) She had not only a moral obligation to report any activity by her roommates that violated the code, her own school standing (and her housing) were at risk if she did not do so.
In other words, students at BYU (and by extension apparently in BYU approved housing whether students or not? I'm not clear on this one) must abide by the honor code and other students or residents are required, on pain of punishment, even expulsion, to monitor others behaviors and report any infractions to the authorities.
Keep in mind that the LDS article of faith #2 states "we believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for adam's transgressions" which, if you want to take it very literally means only that Mormons do not believe in Original Sin but, if you want to look at the broader meaning should imply that Mormons believe that each person will be responsible only for their own misdeeds - in other words, that each person is ultimately responsible for their own soul. No punishment should be meted out to the innocent based on the actions of the guilty.
In practice, all Mormons are told repeatedly that they have an enormous responsibility for others. Leaders talk of how you will feel when you die and are met in heaven on the one hand with tears of joy from those whom you have saved and on the other tears of sorrow from those you did not reach. It is partly this belief that drives the strong missionary program in Mormonism; it is this same belief that explains the way Mormon leaders and, at least culturally if not doctrinally, all Mormons feel not only justified, but obliged to pry intimately into other's lives. There is, I want to be clear, a very positive side to this - Mormons believe in service and want to know when someone is in need. They also feel that they MUST save someone's soul, particularly an apostate (or inactive member), and therefore they must, for example, know where that person lives even if the person has not been to church in years and no longer considers themselves a member. There is a special mission calling where members spend hours trying to trace what in their eyes are "lost sheep." Bishops not only can but must yearly ask intimate questions of all Mormons, including young adults (starting at 12 I believe) about their moral standing, their sexual habits and practices, their diets, their scripture study and other things.
All of this, maybe, explains why Mormons feel they can, even have to be passionately involved in the fight against gay marriage. It is after all just an expression of that responsibility for others.
What I would remind them of however is this:
The people whose lives you are so eager to interfere with did not ever sign your honor code. They are not, the vast majority of them, affiliated with your church and therefore they have no responsibility to abide by a set of regulations that you have chosen to live by. You therefore have no right, even if you feel you have the responsibility, to deny them recognition of their family. Your spiritual onus really, as I understand it, is to share the gospel and to live by its standards and abide by any covenants you have willingly and knowingly made.
I do not feel that political activism against the rights of others not of your sect is sharing the gospel and, personally, I do think that it is opposed to some of those lovely, simple ideas that are at the bedrock of your religion:
"Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won't profit you at all....
"Without charity—or the pure love of Christ—whatever else we accomplish matters little. With it, all else becomes vibrant and alive." (Joseph B. Wirthlin: The Great Commandment, Ensign, Nov 2007, 28–31).
The pure love of Christ - the one who said, "judge not that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1) and, even more importantly, "a new command I give you, love one another." (John 13:34)
You teach that families are forever and are justifiably proud of the commitment to the family found in your doctrine. No one, no matter what the fear-mongers say in their illogical and unsupported rhetoric, is threatening your family. All they want is to form one of their own.