Tattoos and Other Things We Could Use More of at Church


muttering mormon small

When I served my mission back in the early days of the Restoration, we would talk quite a bit about finding that “Golden Contact.”  These days I more often hear the phrase “dry Mormon,” but it means the same:  That person you bump into who wears white shirts and ties, never drank or smoke, gives generous offerings at his current church, and has six kids who are just an apricot tree away from popping popcorn in the front row of primary.

In other words, I was willing and ready to call the righteous to repentance.  I didn’t want to be saddled with the investigator who is struggling to beat a nicotine addiction, won’t marry her live-in boyfriend, or bowls on Sundays.  No need to clutter up Sacrament meeting with people that are just going to spend hours in the bishop’s office.

As I’ve gotten (much) older, I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that we need more of, not less of, in Sacrament meeting, and that the idea of packing the chapel with 200 people waiting with angelic patience to get translated probably is misguided and unrealistic.  Perhaps the Savior would handpick a far different crowd than we would, and I expect He wouldn’t so much as blink at the things that give some of us apoplexy.

Tattoos for instance.  We need way more tattoos.  I know that for most of us the first thing we think of when we see someone with sleeves of ink isn’t “what a fine Elders Quorum President he would make,” but why not?  I’m pretty sure that had there been a ink artist in Zarahemla, Alma the Younger would have been tatted up pretty impressively, and he didn’t turn out so bad.  The gospel is transformative:  Our focus is less on what happened yesterday and more on what we can become today.  And tattoos don’t equate with evil anyway.  It’s more culture than commandment.

A friend with a visible tattoo asked our bishop at the time if she should have her quite-visible tattoo removed.  He asked why.  She explained that some of the Relief Society sisters seemed bothered by it.  His wise counsel was “Let them be bothered.  That doesn’t say anything about who you are now.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Let’s not look down our noses at tattoos just because the lingering signs of our own lapses in judgment are less visible.

And we need more people of color.  No, that’s too generic.  Many U.S. congregations have oodles of Hispanic and Asian people, and you can’t throw a rock in this church without hitting a Tongan.  (And when you do, he’ll smile at you like he didn’t feel a thing.  Love those people.)  No, what we need more of in U.S. congregations is black people.  This isn’t a diversity thing.  It’s a failure-to-spread-the-gospel thing.

Missionary work among African Americans can be challenging (I served part of my mission on the South Side of Chicago), and some of that is due to our history with respect to priesthood restrictions.  But it  is also a symptom of our failure to communicate well the glorious message of the gospel and make sure that everyone who walks through our doors is welcome.  In some places we are doing better with this than in others, but there is a lot of work remaining to ensure that we are doing our best to share our message effectively with everyone.

And bring on the gays.  We need more LGBT in our LDS.  It’s a difficult sell for the Church because of our position on gay marriage, and much of the LGBT community resents what they believe to be mixed messages at best.  But that isn’t everyone, and my experience is that there are more than a few LGBT folks that feel a great affinity for the Church and would like to participate in a more meaningful way.  Yet I still hear members make comments like, “Why would a gay person want to be a Mormon?”  I don’t know, but probably for the same reason that a self-righteous snoot wants to be a Mormon.  We don’t get to decide who “belongs” in God’s kingdom.  God does.  And we have been told clearly that mere sexual orientation does not exclude anyone from any of the blessings of the Church.

Our own attitudes, however, can create a huge stumbling block for LGBT members and visitors, and that simply is inexcusable.  LGBT people have the right to be treated like essential and needed members of the body of Christ instead of like cancers on that body. We would do well to get over our prejudices and be willing to invite, fellowship, love, and serve at the side of LGBT members and investigators.

There are many other things I would welcome more of in our Sacrament meetings.  The smell of tobacco.  Track marks.  Breath that carries a hint or more of alcohol.  And mustaches.  Because mustaches.

Most of all, what I think we can use more of is compassion, tolerance, and Christ-like love. His ministry was all about people on the fringes.  The physically and mentally ill.  The outcast.  The adulteress.  The possessed.  We would do well following that example by embracing whomever might be lifted, comforted, and enriched through exposure to the gospel.

In other words, everyone.

California Native. Texas lawyer. Long-time Mormon. Zen master wannabe. Confident that Mormonism is about more than casseroles and plodding music, and insisting that the Gospel isn't as hard as some people make it.
  • Emma Carter

    Thank u so much! I agree that there are so many Mormons who r way too judgemental. We all need to accept people for who they are, no matter their past history or current addictions/habits that aren’t welcome in our faith. I think its very hypocritical for us to judge them for these things when we r in a church that “doesn’t judge.” Or at least if we were living the gospel right we wouldn’t judge.
    If we really want to start converting the smokers, gays, druggies, etc. We need to make them feel welcome in our church. They’ll find the help they need through Christ, but an uuninviting environment is more likely to push them away than draw them in. Let us all accept these people for who they are and be willing to be their friends.

  • Great Article! I am the ward Clerk, and have a huge tattoo on my sleeve of my Father and Grandfather and the planes they flew in the wars. I also have the cut marks, where I hurt myself when I was on some bad medicine (misdiagnosis/bad reaction). Heavenly Father is happy (so am I) that I am still in church, and giving service!

    Two years ago, I moved from southern Utah (where everybody is white, Hispanic, or Tongan), to Southern Florida. My Bishop here is Black, and so are both his councilors. Both are from Haiti. This was awesome for me, as when I previously lived in the Bahamas, and would share the Gospel with my Bahamian friends, they would say that Jesus is the Christ, and you have a good message, BUT your church is racist.
    I could not get them to see past that point 🙁 So when I got here and met my Bishop I told him he needed to go to the Bahamas and help me teach them that we are not racist. He smiled and said he would love to!
    The color of our skin means nothing. We are all God’s children. We bleed red blood. WE ARE ALL EQUAL Sinners.

  • Christopher D. Cunningham

    Lots of people don’t believe in the power of Jesus Christ to lift, comfort, and enrich. But us Mormons believe that He can. For everyone. So, of course, we want others to have that. And what Rob is saying is that if our biases are preventing certain kinds of people from accessing those blessings, then we need to do better.

  • Isaac

    All are welcomed in the church and all are expected to leave their old bad ways and embrace the good ways as taught by the saviour himself.

  • Moana Patane-Gasu

    Thank you for opening and acknowledging the undisclosed truth on mormons with tattoos. I have them, my husband has them, we’re both of Polynesian descent. We’re both active members of the church, pay a full tithing and both worthy recommend holders. We both know and have experienced the worldly pleasures, so what? That’s in the past. What we answer to is who we are trying be now: TRYING everyday to do our very best to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
    “Those who don’t have tattoos don’t understand.”

  • Davester

    I agree with the author that we can be accepting of all people without condoning tattoos.

  • bullcrapbuster

    If one is looking to change their life and study the teachings of Jesus Christ,then by all means come on in. Trying to be “inclusive” for the sake of appearances is a worldly trend that is causing havoc in many societies.

  • Beth

    I am sure that the spirit of your message is for us all to invite all “to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him,” and what a great message it is because that’s what Jesus Christ does, he perfects people. Yes, the message should always be as Elder Holland so wonderfully reminded us, “Come as you are.” We should love and support and show others that have never known Christ’s love what that looks like in our lives. We should also exhibit in our lives the second part of Elder Holland’s phrase, “…But don’t expect to stay as you are.” We should tell our stories of the Atonement working in our lives and show how Christ has changed and is changing us.

    The thing to be wary of in this type of message however, is that it presents a double-standard. I don’t think that was your intention, nor the intention of the several authors’ articles I’ve read previously calling out judgmental, self-righteous church-goers who look down their noses at and shun anyone who is different from them. There is one thing I really don’t understand. Isn’t THAT an unfair judgment? Do those people exist in the LDS world? Absolutely, but as was pointed out, their sin is not drugs or alcohol or same-sex attraction, but pride. It is a sin. They are wrong. But are we saying that we should be kind, charitable and tolerant to people with drug or alcohol addictions, same-sex attraction, tattoos, etc but not someone who is struggling with pride? Just like we don’t know the heart of a drug addict and what they’ve been through, also we don’t know the heart of person who might have looked at that drug addict the wrong way in church or even said something that might be hurtful. If we’re going to say it’s not ours to judge another’s sin, only the Savior can do that, then that means ALL types of sin. If we are going to say “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” then that means ALL types of sin.

    While there may be one or more members struggling with pride or arrogance, or that just don’t understand what the gospel’s all about in every ward, there are many MANY more who do understand, who listen to the Holy Ghost and act on those promptings. There are so many more who personify for me what a life looks like that is dedicated to the Master and his sheep he pleaded for all of us to feed. The Savior is the Good Shepherd. He knows where to find his wandering sheep, whether they are on a dark street corner or sitting in the second row in Sacrament Meeting. He also knows who can help that lost sheep and can inspire us to be his hands as he works through us to change them. Maybe this Sunday that means seeing someone walk through the chapel doors who looks a little different and a little lost, and beckoning them over to sit by us. Maybe it means letting it go when the self-righteous member on the second row says something that offends us and and be willing to give him a second chance. In either case, the Savior, through you, is showing them a better way. And that is what the gospel is all about!

  • digitaldave

    “‘Come as you are,’ a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, ‘Don’t plan to stay as you are.’ We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.” —Jeffrey R. Holland

  • Brad Overton

    If we make people uncomfortable to attend church… then the problem may not be with them… or the way that they dress: the problem is probably with us. It may be that we have forgotten how we felt when we attended church for the first time. I showed up wearing jeans and tennis shoes. I felt out of place when I seen so many people wearing nice clothes and shoes. I felt that people were possibly judging me for what I was wearing. Maybe we need to start attending church wearing tennis shoes and blue jeans… more often…as a reminder. But I would still choose to wear a white shirt…

  • John Williams

    I was an 11 year mormon drug addict. I am now over 6 years clean. I am very open about my addiction. For the most part, most people shake my hand congratulate me on being clean for 6 years. Still though, I get the looks, and the questions like why did you even use drugs? I answer to them that I enjoyed it at the time. We all do things so, regardless of what they are, because we enjoy them. I enjoy my life now so much more being drug free. I facilitate and addiction recovery meeting for the church in Tucson Arizona and love to be with those people who are striving everyday to make the right choices. As an ex drug user, actually, I call myself an addiction Survivor, I cannot go through life on autopilot. I have to be aware every day of my circumstances and my choices. I’m grateful for the experiences that I went through and the experience as I go through now. As a people, we need to open our hearts to everyone and show more love to them. We need to realize that none of us are perfect. We all have spiritual blemishes, we all have mistakes we have made and guilt we carry from the past, we need to just let it go and realize that we are all children of God and that he loves us all the same.

  • AuntSue

    The new Stake High Councilman assigned to our ward is a wonderful brother with a good sense of humor and a great looking mustache and goatee. Santa Claus lives the rest of the year in our ward, with a full beard and long wavy white hair. There was a terrible fire in the row of condos last year, and everything was lost, except Santa’s Suit. A lovely young mother in our ward has a very beautiful spray of ivy across her chest. We also have a big strong Tonga brother who usually wears his formal Lava Lava. And yes, this is an older, conservative ward in the Murray suburb of Salt Lake. We are making progress.

  • Brent Daniel Blake

    to some of you in the comments: it’s LDS members like you that are the reason I’m inactive. It wasn’t particularly people in my ward, just you judgemental Mormons that legitimately look down and bash people who have done things a little differently throughout our lives. I’m a tattooed mormon, and a recovered nicotine, and porn addict, and a recovered alcoholic.

  • Heni Ioane

    R u guyz for reals???this gospel was restored as a guidance back to our Heavenly Father. There are dos and don’ts and every sin is different. Of course everyone is welcome to the church but you must also be willing to change from your old habits. There will always be people in this life that are judgemental and will criticize you…them also need to change. Stop twisting the gospel teachings around so you can continue to live and feel good about your negative habits…if you cant find the answers at church then ask God yourself if its okay to marry your gay friend in the temple. Im sure he is going to slab your face for being stupid…OMGeeee…I’ll be bold and straight forward Please Leave the Church if you can’t live and abide by its teaching…
    I AM SAMOAN WE HAVE TATTOOS BCOS OF OUR CULTURE BUT the GOSPEL TEACHINGS ARE FAR MORE PRECIOUS to me than culture and i will choose the teachings of the gospel over culture…i too have gay friends and i honestly tell them if u cant live up to the teachings of this gospel stay your asses home its that simple!!!!ugh

  • Kevin Wasson

    Mixed feelings about this article…I can appreciate the author and what he is shooting for. Like the Savior Himself taught, the Gospel net will pull in all kinds. As it should. And we should be welcoming.
    However, we shouldn’t pretend that, once in the Church, we can STAY the way we are. We’re expected to change. The snooty members? Yeah they need to change.
    The member with tats and thinking about getting more? Needs to rethink that.
    The gay member? Needs to manage and deal with that in a way that is acceptable to the Lord and His church.
    To look down on others and not treat people as individuals is pride.
    To refuse to change and even justify behavior is ALSO pride.
    People need to be treated as individuals…which, unfortunately, this article misses.
    And the “more color” thing…almost makes me wonder if the author has attended church outside the US. Or even outside the upper middle class stratum he seems to he writing from.
    Is color for color’s sake a good thing? Is it even a Gospel principle?

  • CSmith

    Thank you. Thanks for being one of the seemingly few who really gets it…. Voices like yours need to be heard, and heeded, more often and a LOT more of us would stick around. It’s not easy, Sunday after Sunday, being treated like a “cancer on the body of Christ” by the brother of the prodigal son. My apologies to all for exercising my agency. Sincerely, A tattooed, pierced, and recovering addict who loved the Lord enough to push past the “Snoots” and fight her way back to the iron rod from the dark mist.

    • Matthew Swenson

      Paul noted that members of the Church are different from one another, regardless of their ethnicity, social status, or temperament. (1 Cor 12:12-27) Even while we should be united in faith, also rejoice in not all being the same. Our Callings (not the temporary church ones, our lifelong ones) were meant to be the same, maybe we should be alike. But they aren’t, so we should each do the best we can at what God has for us, rather than wonder why others are so bad at being like ourselves, or why we’re bad at being like them.

  • Gordy Yates

    Where the heck did u serve your mission

  • SquarelyCircle

    I’m surprised that this article is controversial to some. You don’t own this gospel. I don’t own this gospel. We call our selves Mormons, or we claim “membership” in the church, but if you (and your judgements of others) were to disappear, the church would go on, and many of us sinners, especially those most in need of repentance, would still need the healing of the gospel. But your life would lose something important if you left; the lives of so many are missing something wonderful. What kind of claim do we have on this gospel to deny its blessings to those who have any interest in it.
    “Practicing” sinners (as someone called them) cannot enter the temple. But practicing sinners should be drawn into sacrament meetings and Sunday school, to have the word of god touch their hearts and lead them toward Him. And, to be frank, we’re all on a spectrum of practicing sin, even if we can mark the check-boxes that allow us the beautiful privilege of entering the temple. And no unclean thing can enter the presence of God, so our belief that our spot on the spectrum of sin is somehow acceptable is absurd.
    If someone with a tattoo that covers their whole body, with drug addictions, who smokes, who drinks heavily, abuses their children, and murdered their mother, and burns bibles while shouting racist/sexist things, etc., etc. … if this person feels a glimmer of faith in Jesus Christ, and fears that their soul might perish, and they feel godly sorrow for what they’ve done, and they desire in their heart to repent, and feel deeply sorrowful for everything they’ve done, and they yearn to take it all back… what should they do? Just answer that for yourself… a terrible sinner who wishes with all their heart that they could change and come to Christ – what should they do? Is their soul just lost because of what they’ve done? We can’t take back the past. What should they do?

  • Linda Eckert Casper

    Please also include more Native Americans. They need the gospel too.

  • Kevin Carey
    • James

      Awesome story Kevin, thanks for sharing!

  • Cory Funk

    Why do we NEED these things? You’re doing the reverse of what the people you characterize are doing. We just accept people as people. You picked an anecdotal story to represent people’s views about tattoos but look at Al Carraway (the tattooed mormon); mormon culture WORSHIPS her and she says nothing profound or particularly smart or insightful. They worship her BECAUSE she has to tattoos.

  • Alex Rogan

    When you say we ‘need more tattoos at church’ it sounds like saying if existing members should go get tats for themselves that would be a good thing, when really it would be going against the counsel we’ve been given. We don’t need more tattoos, or more people who smell like tobacco smoke, or whatever. We need more charity for other people in their imperfections, and not just new converts either.

  • Jenn

    Word. Also, if that guy came to my ward, I’d marry him so fast.

  • Marcus T

    I loved this! I feel like in subtle ways we as human beings tend to marginalize and categorize others who are struggling in life. We gotta change for the better by changing and repenting today, teaching the rising generations greater love and tolerance for all people, and ending inappropriate “Church culture.”

  • canoelover

    I got a tattoo (at 55) to honor a dear friend/brother who passed away from brain cancer. It has meaning in my life and when I see it I am reminded of my friend.

    I also had an interesting Gospel discussion with the guy who was inking me. A sweet man, much more Christlike than some people on our ward. We’re still in touch and have become friends. Who knows. Either way, I have a friend.

    I also eat shellfish and wear polycotton garments, so don’t pull that Leviticus stuff on me.

    P.S. My favorite high council member has some glorious ink, in memory of his late wife.

    • Nancy LaVange Beaman

      Tatoos are art. Church members need not judge anyone.

    • Josh McKinney

      I was raised it the church and one thing i am graetful for is my parents did raise me to look at the heart of a person and i can tell you some of the most amazing and spiritual people i have ever met have been the ones that most members of the church would look down on for the tattoos or for he way they lived their lives. I have friends with tats that smoke and drink and i know i could count on them with no questions asked long before i could count on most members of the church that i have met!

  • I am 100% on board with pretty much this whole article, but maybe we can talk about what it would really take to make this happen, or perhaps why it hasn’t already. In my experience, one of the biggest obstacles to all of this is, to sum it up in one word-parenting. So many of us parent, or have been trained to parent, from a place of fear. We are afraid of the influence of “the world” on our fragile children and we do our best to protect them and prevent big mistakes. We worry about the influence of their peers and in our efforts to parent them we train them to isolate themselves from people they see as a potential bad influence, we then send them off to a church school- often with the idea that they won’t have all of those bad influences, and then we expect them as adults to suddenly know how to love people who they had previously been taught to avoid. On top of that, by the time these children have grown to adulthood and have possibly begun getting over this “training”, they themselves have already become parents and fall into the same pattern- both in parenting and in examples.

  • fiftyoddkickback

    This was an annoying article, and I even agree with everything said! I don’t like self-righteous Mormons any more than the next guy. I’ll freely yammer on about the damage that does with anyone else who has had similar experiences. But this IS self-righteous, just a different flavor. It’s the “I Love Everyone and You Don’t So Let Me Tell You How To Be Like Me”. Yuck.

  • Glen M. Danielsen

    “His ministry was all about people on the fringes. The physically and mentally ill. The outcast. The adulteress. The possessed”

    Actually, Christ’s ministry was not about ‘accepting’ those people, but in healing them or setting them on a path of repentance. We can beware of fad philosophies.

    • Katie Reikies

      He didn’t say it was about “accepting” those people. Had you quoted more of what he wrote, you’d have realized that your post is unneccessary. “We would do well following that example by embracing whomever might be lifted, comforted, and enriched through exposure to the gospel.”

    • Jimmy Tucker

      I agree

    • Nancy LaVange Beaman

      Wow, really Glen? His words are not fad philosophies. You are so wrong.

      • Zach

        It’s good that you understand the reason for this article, but don’t tell Glen that he’s wrong. It’s rude. Be accepting of everyone, please, and look for the truth in everything.

    • One thing no one ever mentions about Jesus and what He did to and for those He healed and forgave was His parting advice to them; ‘go and sin no more’. We never hear that, not even from the pulpit. It’s – ESSENTIAL – that we make our best effort to ‘go and sin no more’. Of course we will fall short, but we must make the effort. Whatever sins we subsequently commit may be of an entirely different nature than those we practiced before we met Him.

  • Jimmy Tucker

    Of course everyone is welcome.. But if their going to continue a lifestyle that doesn’t follow Gods commandments then that cannot be welcomed .. I mean if you’re saying gay people or drug addicts join the church and continue to be those things and its ok then you’re way way off.

    • Dale West

      What do we do if a person truly wants to join the LDS Church but has something in their life that prevents them from being baptized? Do we shun them? Do we only welcome and minister to them if they can join the LDS Church? What if they join and fall back into old lifestyles? Do we just write them off? Just trying to understand what a child of God needs to do to no longer be welcomed in His church.

      • Annie Kosten

        Thank you Dale. You made the point I was trying to make much more eloquently and more concisely than I did. ALL ARE WELCOME ALL OF THE TIME!

      • Tammy Marchant

        My daughter gave birth at 16 and we decided to keep the baby. He was and is a light in this family!! However as active, welcome members before baby we were shunned after.

        • Daniel Kempton

          That should never happen. Even when someone has been excommunicated they should never be shunned. Wasnt it just this last general conference that one of the apostles extended an invitation to all that had left or been excommunicated to return?

        • Daniel Chandler

          This isn’t your problem, this is a problem with the congregation. We all make mistakes, but shunning someone is something we shouldn’t do. I go to a ysa ward and I have seen everyone be so welcoming when I first joined the ward, but now, it is harder and harder to see. It has been enough to make me not want to go anymore, and it kills me each week. I’ve recently started going to a family ward which seems to help, but I know it’s not where I should be.

    • Linda Van Gijzen

      Why not… a lot of people are very judgemental. And yet we welcome them every sunday. Is a smoker a bigger sinner than someone filled with pride?Is a man who loves his boyfriend worse than a man who abuses his priesthood?
      There are more warnings in the scriptures concerning pride and judgement. Yet we care more about the smoking or love.
      Let the one without sin cast the first stone.

      • Jimmy Tucker

        I’m not casting any stones.. I’m saying there’s a huge difference between sinning and practicing sin. Why not? Your asking? So many reasons.. One would be because someone in the congregation that continues to practice sin after becoming a member and getting baptized could easily stumble others into a similar lifestyle. are you for real? I’m not judging I’m only relaying the words of the one who has the right to judge. you know who I mean.

        • Cherry Hairdresser

          You’re the reason I left the church. Well people like you.

          • Logan

            Oh come now cherry, that’s not true.

        • Daniel Kempton

          So.. are you saying my friend who has a smoking habit (that she is trying to quit), drinks coffee s a single mom who left the abusive boyfriend is only welcome at church after she kicks the smoking habit and stops drinking coffee? Of course she probably could not be baptized until she quits smoking, but I have been trying to get her to go to church now for years.

          I am positive that her heavenly father looks down on her and smiles at her for the effort she is putting in to improve and do the right thing. She right now is sufferng from heart failure and they say they can’t operate because the veins are to small. I put her name on the temple list every two weeks.

        • Oliver S Asbury

          Christ is there to pick us up when we stumble, are we not commanded to do the same?? “Love one another as Jesus loves you”

        • April Dix Thomas

          If our church pews were full of only those who didn’t sin, we would have an empty building. Church should be a place of healing, support, fellowship, and love. Not a place of judgement and condemnation. We are commanded to love one another, period. Not love one another…… but only if they fit into this pretty little box. It’s not fair to judge someone because they sin differently than you do. We all need Christ’s healing atonement because we ALL fall short, period.

          • Jay_Dubya

            And yet there is someone at church who has the right to judge those in his congregation. I refer to the common judges of Israel – our bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents, etc. A church member can truly love every single investigator or member while refraining from judging that person unrighteously, however, who is it that should encourage that person to repentance if not us who are members? Who warns or guides them about defiling that “temple of the holy spirit” they keep getting tatted up or the sins inherent to those with an unnatural sexual attraction? Wouldn’t it be the same for
            a brother or sister falling into sin through adultery or fornication? Won’t we warn them? We are not called to condemn but we are called to teach the principles found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The way is straight for any who would be a disciple of Christ and would follow him. Let us be humble. Let us be meek. But let us be righteous too and “go and sin no more”. Then we can see clearly to help our brother or sisters who falter or stumble in sin themselves.

        • GreaseNerd

          So what time limit would you say is fair for these people’s hearts to be changed; to love these people until they no longer qualify to come to church and continue being exposed to love and the gospel, that their hearts may eventually change?

    • Ben Fairbanks

      Some people have no choice but to wear their struggles on their sleeve. Some of us are fortunate enough to have fallen into sin that can be committed more discretely. Everyone is a sinner, else why would we need the Sacrament? Don’t be so harsh because you can hide your darkness under a bushel where others can’t. The only requisite for coming to church should be a desire to do better. And even then, that can be flexible enough to include those who come out of respectful curiosity.

    • Annie Kosten

      The gospel is about change, but if people who have lifestyles that don’t follow God’s commandments aren’t welcomed ALWAYS, then who are any of us to judge them. Are seeds being planted? Are they feeling the spirit? Why are they attending if they aren’t feeling something worth going back for? Not following God’s commandments isn’t up to you to judge or me. If the adulteress had gone away from Christ and sinned again do you think she would have been welcomed by Him again. I know she would have been. I have had to go to my Savior time and time and time again and say,”It’s me again. Same sin again.” And He and My Heavenly Father still love me. How will anyone ever want to join the church if they don’t feel welcomed by the spirit of unconditional love regardless of where they are in their lives. Far too many incredible people stop attending meetings because they feel like they aren’t accepted where they are right now. It’s hard to attend meetings when you feel alone and judged, even if that isn’t the intention of the people at the meetings.

      • Jimmy Tucker

        Thats not what I said.. Of course everyone is welcome.. If sinners weren’t welcome than I wouldn’t be Here.. Once in though we need to seperate ourselves from the world and wordly things.

        • Cherry Hairdresser

          That isn’t what it sounded like you said earlier.

      • Cody Templeman

        Heavenly Father loves us all perfectly. That is very different from unconditional love. If he loved us unconditionally it wouldn’t matter what we do, he would just shrug it aside like it doesn’t matter. Perfect love is the love by which he grieves at our sinful behavior. He loves us so much that he wants us to be healed. I know because it has happened to me on multiple occasions. I know he loves me and I know that he doesn’t want me to sin continuously, but to change my nature and become clean. If it were unconditional love, all of us no matter what we do would be welcomed in the celestial kingdom. We are not, because Heavenly Father wants us to grow. We should have a perfect love for all, which allows us to want to help them be clean and get better. We can bring others out of their addictions and their binding sins. We can help them with the pure love of Christ, which is Charity. So please don’t say the spirit of unconditional love, but say the spirit of Christ-like love. Because those are two very different things.

    • Sauna

      You allow people with cancer or obesity that are also caused by bad choices. Why would you dis allow others with the disease of addiction. Just because they may be struggleing at the time. Why should they not be accepted in your eyes?

    • Heathcliffe

      I’ve just fixed this for you, Jimmy.

      “Of course everyone is welcome.”

    • justonething

      On the walls of every church building on this planet are the words “Visitors Welcome”. EVERYONE should be welcomed!! Even the sinner. For let he who is without sin cast that first stone. Never judge someone because they sin differently than you. EVERYONE should be welcome. Everyone needs to feel the Spirit of the Lord in order to help them forsake sin and come to Him. Keeping them unwelcomed is the very worst thing we can do!!

    • CNIDog

      Jimmy, I understand the sentiment, but still don’t completely agree. We cannot tolerate one who is actively trying to proclaim that their path is acceptable to God, or worse, trying to persuade others to follow that path. But the smoker who WANTS to quit smoking but hasn’t yet, the druggie who WANTS to be sober and is trying, or the gay person who understands that active participation in sexual activity of ANY kind outside of the Church’s definition of marriage is unacceptable… They MUST be welcomed and embraced and made to feel loved and accepted or WE are at fault.

  • Jimmy Tucker

    There’s a Scripture in Leviticus that clearly says we are not to mark our bodies in any way.

    • Ben Fairbanks

      There’s a scripture in Leviticus that clearly says we are not to wear clothing made of two kinds of fabric. And yet here I sit typing this wearing my cotton-poly garments. TMI? If you want to obey all of Leviticus, you’re in the wrong religion.

      • Nancy

        Yeah, there’s also a scripture in Leviticus that says you can’t eat cheese with beef, and you shouldn’t eat lobster, or shrimp, but you can eat grasshoppers, and you shouldn’t be cutting the corners of your hair at your temples either. There are also old testament scriptures that say we should stone our children when they sass us. Well, I kind of like that, those teenagers could use a little stoning. The reality is, are we trying to be like Jesus, as the primary song says. If we are Jesus spent his time amongst the marginalized, and because of His breathtaking love and example, their lives were changed. When we show the kind of depth of love that Jesus did then people are more comfortable being around us and striving to be all they can be. And you are definitely right obeying Leviticus does not qualify us to be more like Jesus, it only qualifies us to be more like the Pharisees, and we know how Jesus felt about them.

        • Jimmy Tucker

          Well of course we should stone our kids.. I’m joking

      • Jimmy Tucker

        Agreed. Jesus did away with the old covenant.. So then would Jesus get a tattoo? When are you getting your next tattoo? I have many tattoos btw so all this accusation that I’m judging is absurd

        • Jamie

          In the OT, the people had to be sanctified through the law, since Jesus hadn’t come yet. So they had to follow lots of little nit-picky rules. We were lucky enough to be here after Jesus came, so when we accept him, we are changed on the inside and don’t need to be sanctified through the laws of the OT. Jesus fulfilled the law. I don’t know whether Jesus would get a tattoo.
          All Jesus told us about each other is to love one another. So we don’t have to worry about whether other people have tattoos or who they sleep with, we just have to love them. That’s all Jesus told me to do so I’m going to do that. That’s our only job. If churches can’t make it easier for people struggling with really bad things like addiction and abuse to come through their doors, they will never come in. Jesus hung out with the sinners bc they needed him. and he didn’t follow nit-picky rules that precluded him from helping people. He told a parable about forgiving a great many debts of one person and a small debt of another and he asked, who loves me more? and the disciple answered, the one who had more debts. Jesus delights in forgiving sinners because they know they need him. I’d rather be a forgiven sinner who loves and delights in my savior than a perfect saint who doesn’t understand how much I need redemption. We ALL fall short and we all need redemption.

    • Annie Kosten

      And what about all of the Maori people who are covered in tattoos who serve in temples as temple workers? Who are you to judge Mr. Tucker? It simply isn’t your place or mine. My daughter is covered with tattoos and I would hope she wouldn’t ever attend a meeting where you are present. She is gorgeous and loved and a precious daughter of my Father in Heaven. I’m hoping that you are not nearly narrow minded as your posts seem to indicate, and that you are simply baiting for responses.

      • ChadMiles

        Yeah, but, Leviticus!

      • Jimmy Tucker

        I’m not judging I’m only repeating a Scripture from the Bible.. And ok you are all correct about Leviticus.. Jesus coming to earth and giving his life as the ransom sacrifice freed is from the old testament the old covenant.. All those rules and laws.. So let me put it this way.. Did Jesus have any Tattoos? Maybe the word Yahweh across his back ? If Jesus were here today would he walk into a tattoo parlor and ask for a Lazarus portrait on his calf? No. The body is a temple. Mormons frown on drinking a cup of coffee but you’re ok with someone injecting ink under their skin? Hahaha get real man.. Ridiculous

        • Annie Kosten

          I haven’t seen Jesus since my pre-mortal existence, so to be perfectly honest I couldn’t tell you if he has any tattoos! I’m pretty sure he doesn’t, but I do know that people with tattoos are welcome into the church, and even if they get more tattoos, that is still between them and the Lord. You and your sins are between you and the Lord, just like mine are no matter how terrible they might be. That includes before and after baptism. I’m not denying that there are consequences to each of our choices, I know that from long years of personal experience. But my sins aren’t visible like tattoos are. Maybe just as graphic and dark however. Hypocrisy is something I grew up with and to me it is the antithesis of Christlike love. To me Christ is completely and entirely loving and accepting and He knows everything about me and as shallow as I feel, I am so grateful for that knowledge.

        • ChadMiles

          Did Jesus have any tattoos? Not sure, but probably not. Would he get one today? Probably not.

          I do know that he didn’t have a smartphone or a computer and didn’t spend time posting comments online, and I’d be willing to bet if he were here he’d use the time you and I are spending to feed the hungry and care for the sick. And maybe he’d jump online to spread the good word, but he certainly wouldn’t be arguing about whether tattoos are sinful. Yet here we are.

          We don’t have a lot of details about how Jesus lived most of his life, but we do have a lot of his teachings. Why not just focus on those instead of trying to guess how he feels about this or that?

        • Cherry Hairdresser

          How do you know what Jesus would do? I’m pretty sure that you cannot make that determination.

        • Jamie

          I don’t know if Jesus would get a tattoo, but he’d be in the tattoo parlor. And he’d be in coffee shops. He turned water into wine, coffee isn’t going to phase him.

        • KingM

          I have no tattoos, but I’ve been cut open by the surgeon’s knife a couple of times. Compared to that, injecting ink seems like no big deal.

      • Daniel Kempton

        Annie I attended a singles conference and while her name escapes me, she is known as “That
        Tattooed mormon chick” She is a beautiful woman covered in tats, who joined the church in her 20’s. She talks about moving to Utah after joining the church, and the stairs she’d get whilst reading the book of mormon, or when she first started attending her new ward. We could definately need more like her in the church.

    • ChadMiles

      Do you try to live your life according to the guidelines set forth in Leviticus?

      • Jimmy Tucker

        Very true

    • Yorgus

      And here I’ve been thinking that a large part of Christ’s mission was to supersede the Old Testament. If you want to live Leviticus to the letter, you should be an ultra-orthodox Jew, not LDS.

  • Thank you. I loved this.

  • Bruce Spencer

    Amen to this…

  • 2retrievers

    Why stop there? How about more weed smokers, meth-heads, alcoholics, wife-beaters, AIDS-infected sex predators, child molestors, convicted felons, etc.? Oh, and folks of different cultures, not colors.

    • Rob Ghio

      I know a high councilman who is a former meth addict. Also happens to be one of the most Christian men I have ever met. Familiar with several recovering alcoholics who are serving with honor (and we’ve had a couple of General Authorities in our history who fit that description). Was at the baptism of a convicted felon who served his time and now serves in an Elder’s Quorum presidency (tattoos and all).
      Repentance: It’s a thing.

    • kaylee

      Totally, let’s bring all of them WHO WANTS TO HOP INTO MY MINIVAN?

    • Jimmy Tucker

      I’m guessing this is sarcasm? Haha

    • skenl

      Sounds just like what Jesus would have done.

    • Annie Kosten

      Aren’t those exactly who need the gospel? Maybe even more than some of us who seriously sin by being self righteous, or hypocritical, or judgemental. Our sins just aren’t hanging out of our arms like hypo-needles, or our of our mouths like joints or cigarettes. If all sins stunk, or showed up as some symbol on our skin, I suspect the churches would reek and we would be constantly trying to cover our skin!!

    • Jon Collins

      Why the animosity to convicts there scripture that clearly state to remember those in prison I work in a prison and it saddens me that I don’t see missionaries trying to teach them the gospel

    • Jimmy Tucker

      Yes. That’s a good point.. Where do we draw the line??

    • thatsnotme

      Why not? Isn’t the Gospel for everyone? Aren’t we all sinners? Is it our role to decide who deserves forgiveness and a path to be a better person? I thought the Atonement was for everyone.

    • Cherry Hairdresser

      Soooo…. Let me get this straight… You just grouped people that smoke weed with meth-heads, alcoholics, wife-beaters, and AIDS infected sex predators? Wow. You should go ask around more. I’m sure you have already sat with more weed smokers than you can imagine… As you should. If every one that you described were in church trying to become better people, the world would be a better place!

    • Sauna

      Why not? Aren’t they capable of changing their lives for the better? Why are you to judge the worth of any of these people until you have walked in their shoes. Why rob them of the chance to learn the godpel?

    • Daniel Kempton

      Really?? Are you serious are sarcastic?