"Over the last few days, an Instagram/Twitter post from James (The Mormon) has gone viral. The post exposes a few critical comments on an open shouldered dress I wore to a New Years Eve party, a seemingly inconsequential choice of dress at the time," Lindsey shares on James the Mormon's blog. She had no idea that choice would make her the topic of conversation across several social media sites.
In response to the "few comments of disapproval" that she received, Lindsey provided this background:
"I began falling away from the church at the age of 13 and stopped going altogether at the age of 16. I found that I was made to feel like a bad person for some of the personal decisions I was making, and did not want to be a part of something that admonished me for my mistakes, rather than embraced me for my efforts to be better. I abandoned the Mormon lifestyle for what I thought was for good, and never much cared to look back. Fast forward six years to when I met James, and through his example of treating me as a human and loving me for who I was, I reactivated my membership in the church."
But then the issue of the dress came up. "I have felt quite sick about it all over the last few days," she explains, but the reason is not only because of what she experienced. "First of all, thank you to everyone who has defended me, complimented me, and reached out to remind me that God loves despite a dress I wore. However, the fact I have to feel reminded of that is a reason why many people leave the church in general, myself included. Even if the church has programmed you to think that way, it is time to break out of the default mode and love one another unconditionally. This is not to say to throw the concept of modesty out the window; I made the conscious decision to buy a dress that exposed my shoulders and that is a conversation between myself and God, and us alone."
After explaining her past and current relationship with the Church, Lindsey began to focus on those who criticized her for her dress, reaching out with empathy and understanding:
"While it is amazing and exciting to see a shift in the culture . . . it pained me to see the rise of this positivity at the peril of those who wrote the original comments. The extent to which the women were castigated far superseded the extent to which they ever reached with me. Again, it felt great to be validated and I very much appreciated everyone’s support; however, I can’t help but feel terrible. Many of the defensive comments prompted the original commenters to seek understanding before judging. Conversely, they were met with rude and hateful comments. Is this at all Christlike? How are we supposed to promulgate a system of love while simultaneously tearing down others?"
Lindsey summed up her experience and insights with a powerful reminder and an apology:
"Christ gave us the agency to choose; to choose what we think, to choose what we wear, to choose who we love, and to choose how we act. It is not our place to judge those who disagree with us, however tempting it may be. . . . To the women who were actually 'slammed' with hateful comments, I apologize that this whole thing has been blown so out of proportion, and I am sorry you were not met with the same empathy I was met with. I hope that out of this whole experience we can all strive to be a bit more reminiscent of the name of the Church we belong to, and recognize that it is more important to love one another rather than to judge one another, regardless of who they are, where they are, or whom they may be judging."