How to Call Ourselves

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

My favorite judge retired a few months ago. He was always kind to everyone, and he treated everyone with respect. When he first arrived, before I had ever met him, everyone always said, “The new judge, Judge So-and-so, is just so…nice.” And it was true. It wasn’t an act. He was fair-minded, but also warm-hearted. He oozed love. He never lorded his authority over claimants or attorneys, and he had empathy toward my clients. I represent people who suffer from severe illnesses, and he always made sure that they felt heard. When I ran into him in the cafeteria, I observed that he treated the cafeteria staff with the same respect as he treated everyone else. When someone asked me what this judge was like, all I could think of was “That man is a Christian.”

He never said a single word about religion; it would have been inappropriate for him to do so in the courtroom. But I knew. Shortly after he retired, I was talking with another lawyer about how when I grow up to be a judge, I want to be like Judge So-and-so. The other lawyer told me that Judge So-and-so’s robe that he wears in court is his church choir robe. This was a charming story that fits so well with his personality, and it confirmed my previous assessment of him. He is a Christian. And I knew it because of the love he showed for his fellow humans.

Which leads me to the point of this post. I’m a bit late to the party, but there have been many pixels spilled about how President Nelson doesn’t want us to call ourselves “Mormon” anymore because it doesn’t do enough to emphasize the name of Jesus Christ, and we need to tell the world that we’re Christians. We’ll probably hear at least two or three talks on the subject at the upcoming General Conference.

One of the first rules of persuasion is “show, don’t tell”. So, if we really want the world to know that we’re Christian, instead of harping on what people call us, we should focus on behaving like followers of Jesus should behave. We should be known for being loving. If we have a choice between being inclusive and being exclusive, we should be inclusive. If we have a choice between giving someone the benefit of the doubt or being judgmental, we should give someone the benefit of the doubt. We should, as the saints covenanted to do so at the waters of Mormon, “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Mosiah 18:8-9.

That is how people will know that we follow Jesus Christ. No matter what people call us.


Trudy is a lawyer living in the southwestern US. She has two cats who allow her to live in their apartment in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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9 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    Yes to this! Thank you, Trudy.

  2. Tim Rollins says:

    Perfectly written. Absolutely no room for improvement here.

    Exceptionally well done. Take a bow…

  3. Happy Hubby says:

    I love this. I hope this does not take away, but my first though after “this is great”, was, “what if the judge turned out to be Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian, or even an Atheist?” What would I call him (or her)? “A truly good person?” Would that be better or worse than “a Christian?”

    • Trudy says:

      I considered that when I was writing this post but decided to leave the story in anyway because it was a good frame for the real point of my post, which is that being loving and kind is a central tenet of Christianity.

      It’s a central tenet of other faiths, too, but that’s not what I’m writing about today.

  4. Bonnie Dickson says:

    Great article! I support the emphasis on calling our church by its real name, but you are so right that actions speak louder than words and are far more important.

  5. Ziff says:

    So well said, Trudy!

    • Valtuwilliger says:

      It seems like anything that people write you just love it or it’s always just so wonderful.
      Do you ever just hate something?

  6. SC says:

    SO much truth in here. Thank you for this beautiful post. I really wish that our leaders had focused more on showing than telling! Ways our church could “show” the world that we are Christian:

    1) give to the the poor without asking them to scrub church toilets first
    2) attempt to heal the rift between our almost exclusively all-white church and people of other races by apologizing for years of racism, oppression, exclusion, and cruelty to them (for starters)
    3) Show forth greater love to God’s LGBTQ children by changing exclusionary and draconian church policies regarding them
    4) Stop protecting sexual predators and covering up their sins
    5) Ordain women and young women – treat them as equals (no longer auxiliaries) in the church
    6) No more worthiness interrogations – every member is accountable to God, not fallible humans, for an accounting of their worthiness and worth
    7) Stop calling young women beehives, mia maids, and laurels. Either give them dignified titles like the young men have, or disband all youth programs at once. (Even the primary did away with dorky and degrading titles like “Merrie Miss” over a decade ago, so why hasn’t the young women’s program?)
    8) Stop giving bishops power to dissolve a family’s bond in the eternities. No one human should have that much unchecked power/authority over so many families. Personal differences or ward politics shouldn’t disrupt a family’s standing in the eternities.
    9) Provide an abuse hotline for members, rather than the current leader-only hotline.
    10) Return Relief Society to its service-oriented roots, rather than its current status as a navel-gazing chat circle.

    • SC says:

      oh and for good measure:

      11) Stop spending so much time and energy and money and church resources putting together press conferences featuring general authority (and general sister authority!) voices to get out the Mormon vote to fight the legalization of marijuana in Utah! Too many of our people are addicted to prescription opiates as it is–you want more of that when they can’t get the less-addictive weeds for pain? If the church spent half as much of that time, energy, and human resources aiding abuse victims or fighting abuse as they do fighting that little weed, we’d be a much healthier church, y’all!

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