A Mission Story: Tigre

December 14, 2012 | 26 comments
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I met Tigre pretty soon after arriving in my second area. He was a solid man, all muscle but his midsection. As I got to know him, I learned that both his muscle and his gut were well-earned. The muscle because Tigre taught karate for a living, and owned his own studio. The gut? You have never seen such a mountain of rice, covered with an avalanche of beans, as this man ate for lunch.

Tigre had been baptized a few weeks before I arrived in the area. On my first Sunday there, in fact, after church, he baptized his two sons (whom he knew were getting baptized) and his wife (whose baptism he discovered only when she walked out dressed in the white baptismal clothes, and you should have seen him glowing).

As a result of his joining the Church, Tigre soon lost about half of his karate students, whose parents, I suppose, didn’t want their kids associating with a Mormon. It was a real financial sacrifice to Tigre, one, I’m sure, he didn’t want to make, but one he made willingly nonetheless.

One Sunday, when Tigre had been a member for maybe a couple months, our branch president was out of town. For whatever reason, we combined part of our meeting (maybe the third hour? You’ll have to forgive me—it’s been a long time) with the other ward, and that ward’s bishop taught the lesson. I remember very little about that lesson except this: he explained that it was unacceptable to come to church in tennis shoes, because he knew that tennis shoes could be expensive, and if a member could afford tennis shoes, he could certainly afford dress shoes.

Tigre looked down at his tennis shoes. Those were the shoes he worked in; those were the shoes he did chores in. It wasn’t an issue of dress shoes being more or less expensive—it was an issue of his having to have tennis shoes whether or not he had dress shoes.

The lesson hurt Tigre. Hurt him enough that we couldn’t convince him to come to church the next Sunday. The Sunday after that he was back, wearing dress shoes, shoes that he probably couldn’t afford, and shoes that were unnecessary to his salvation or his church standing. Shoes that almost became an unnecessary stumbling block for a new member who had already willingly made sacrifices that he couldn’t control.

***

Forgive me, because now I’m going to become didactic and preachy. Tigre deserves to have his story told because it is an incredible story and because he and his family are incredible people. But I’m also telling his story to talk about women wearing pants on Sunday.

Look, there may be a woman/women in your ward Sunday who are wearing pants. And it may be because they are Feminists Who Want to Bring Down the Church Into an Anarchic State.1 Or she may not own a dress. Or her pants may be dressier than her dresses and skirts, or her 6-month-old may have spit up all over her last clean dress or she may be pointing out that the gendered expectations in the Church are troublesome or that the air conditioning is up too high.2

But the thing is, you don’t know. Seriously. What you do know is, she’s a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father, a beloved sister of yours, and somebody you (and I) have been commanded to love. As best as I can tell, Jesus’ prayer that his disciples (and, by implication, we) become one made it their (and our) responsibility to find unity, not to force others to unify to us.

And so, this Sunday, in memory of Tigre and in solidarity with my sisters and brothers in the Church and because it’s an awesome tie and because my daughter gave it to me a couple years ago for my birthday, I’ll be wearing a purple tie.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Which, really? I mean, if women in pants could ruin the Church, don’t you think the professional anti-Mormons would have tried it by now?
  2. It’s probably worth pointing out that the opposite is true, too: the woman at Church wearing a dress may hate feminists. Or she may not own nice slacks. Or she may not know—or care—that there is a Mormon internet. You really don’t know.

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26 Responses to A Mission Story: Tigre

  1. Adam G. on December 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    What a shabby ending to an otherwise excellent post. More than shabby, even. Using sacrament meeting as a protest venue or as an expression of solidarity with a group that is to a significant extent arrayed in an oppositional stance to the church as it is is closer to what I would call wicked.

    That said, I still will assume that persons wearing purple pants or ties this Sunday are doing it coincidentally or because they don’t know better or because that’s what they have to wear, not because they are wanting to turn my worship and communion into a political venue.

  2. Sam Brunson on December 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I love you too, Adam.

    (Back in high school I actually had a purple suit. Alas, I now have taste and no longer have the suit.)

  3. Sam Brunson on December 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Also, I don’t know everybody involved, but those I do know are no more opposed to the Church than you, Adam.

  4. Adam G. on December 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    And yet I’m not participating in some kind of political action of a Sunday to protest what I think is wrong with the Church and its doctrines.

    You, and they, are.

    With non-oppponents like these, who needs enemies?

  5. Sam Brunson on December 14, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Adam, how’s it a protest? I mean, if we didn’t let women wear pants, or didn’t let men wear purple, it would be a (pretty mild, I imagine) protest. But, last I looked, wearing dresses was, at best, a cultural norm. The stronger norm is Sunday best, which plenty of dresses, skirts, and non-purple ties don’t meet. But, to the extent we reach out–even in a minor way–to tell our brothers and sisters we love them and empathize with them, I have a hard time taking your objections seriously.

    That said, I strongly encourage you to wear purple or som other color(s) Sunday, with or without any meaning.

  6. Adam Greenwood on December 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    If it weren’t a protest, there would be no need to gin up a movement to do it, to blog in support, have a mission statement attacking “doctrinal inequality,”, etc. Given that reality, I have a hard time taking your protestations to the contrary seriously.

  7. John Mansfield on December 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    This is getting confusing. Is this purple tie thing a show of solidarity with people who can’t easily afford a set of special church shoes, or for people who feel we should be sustaining the ordination of women as elders and apostles?

  8. Sam Brunson on December 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Or with my daughter who gave it to me? (See, that’s the thing–if you don’t ask me, you don’t know.)

  9. EmiG on December 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing that story, Sam. And I loved your “preachy” part, too. :) I especially appreciate this: “Jesus’ prayer that his disciples (and, by implication, we) become one made it their (and our) responsibility to find unity, not to force others to unify to us.”

  10. Sam Brunson on December 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks, EmiG.

  11. MC on December 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    “Is this purple tie thing a show of solidarity with people who can’t easily afford a set of special church shoes, or for people who feel we should be sustaining the ordination of women as elders and apostles?”

    Looks like women who can’t afford dresses are quickly becoming what’s known as a “human shield” for Mormon feminists.

  12. The other Brother Jones on December 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Are we being asked to wear purple ties? Or is this thread the firt one to bring it up? Is there anything in the culture against purple ties? Maybe you should wear a putple shirt.

    Are the women protesting dresses or priesthood? This is such a non-issue. Either that or I just don’t understand it.

  13. Meldrum the Less on December 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I admit, though of Scottish extraction, I have never actually worn a kilt. Don’t have the legs for it.

    But if I get off work early enough to make it to church this week, I am positively going to wear one of me wife’s purple skirts in protest of….

    Wait a minute. What was it we are protesting or showing solidarity with?

  14. JR on December 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this whole pants thing. I personally feel every male and female member should dress up for church, unless the family really can not afford to buy extra dress clothes OR a person has a physical limitation or other problems.
    My mother has Alzheimer’s and it is now easier to get her in a nice pantsuit versus a dress and pantyhose.

    My son had a friend with two sisters that left the Church over dress clothes, but it was more about the way their Bishop treated them. Yes to some it is stupid to leave the Church over this issue or how they were treated, but look at it from their perspective. They went to Church without adults and what little money the family had was used for more essential items. I helped buy school supplies for the kids every year as well as clothes with what little money I had, but I had more than them.
    The young man was told by the Bishop to get rid of a tiny ponytail at the back of his shaved head, which was covered by his dress shirt collar, and the young man had to buy dress slacks and dress shoes in order to keep passing the Sacrament. Now as LDS we claim to not be judgmental and that we are invited to come to Church regardless of what we have to wear. Yeah, right.
    He wore black jeans and black tennis shoes. The youth (both genders)in other Wards were wearing the same or worse and still allowed to pass the Sacrament. They left the Church mainly because the Bishop was a jerk. They joined another religion where they were not judged by what they wore, and they were made to feel welcome whereas in their Ward they never felt welcome or that they belonged. It broke my heart but I understand what they mean. It is hard to go to Church every Sunday when the members judge, don’t speak to you nor welcome you. They were kids going on their own, still developing a testimony and an insensitive leader stops them. The Bishop should have been more concerned with spiritual worthiness versus clothes to pass the sacrament. This happened to my brother many years ago and he is now an enemy of the Church. Words do hurt and being made to feel unworthy because of how you dress or look, hurts. And don’t give the pat answer of “the Church is true, not the members” and “go for yourself not for the members” and “you choose to be offended” etc. We are humans with a need to belong. The Prophets tell us not to act or be this way to others and yet it happens, all the time.

    This is what I hate about my religion. There needs to be universal rules about dress and other issues as well and not left to each self-righteous Bishop/Stake Pres. or what have you.

    Instead of worrying about what to wear or not wear or protest a culture norm we SHOULD be worried about how we treat one another, how we lead, how are actions and words affect others. We need to be worried about whether today are we being Christlike in everything we do especially how we treat and act towards others. Where I live the members are so self-righteous and un-Christian and then they wonder why so many become inactive. It’s because one can no longer stomach the fakeness and falseness and hypocrisy of the members.

  15. Meldrum the Less on December 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    After posting I realize that some who take this topic seriously might think that I do not support the women wearing pants this week or any other time for any other reason. As atonement I will exercise what little priesthood authority I might have and get my wife and daughter to wear pants Sunday and ask them to do a little research on the topic in order to better inform me when I am out of line which is generally most of the time.

    I intended only to amuse not offend.

  16. Adam Greenwood on December 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Trying to be inoffensive is rarely amusing.

  17. MC on December 14, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    “Trying to be inoffensive is rarely amusing.”

    Unless you’re this guy:
    http://whoneedsfeminism.tumblr.com/post/37720224464/i-need-feminism-because-i-broke-my-friends-heart#notes

  18. Chadwick on December 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Loving it Sam!

    If I could endure testimony bearing about how wonderful Mitt Romney would be as POTUS for two months straight then surely Sacrament Meeting can endure a few purple ties and dress suits. If you are the kind of person that lets another persons’ attire dictate your spiritual experience at church then that’s just shameful. And I might add our bishop has worn a bow tie to church several times. The church is still true!

    I won’t be wearing a purple tie because I don’t own one and am not going shopping tomorrow (taking the kids to Disneyland instead) but I’ll show my support by not judging the ways in which other people choose to worship.

  19. Abigayle on December 15, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Thank you for getting the point. The point is not to steal the priesthood or criticize the church. The point of the pants event is to show and support to the many righteous, faithful, active members of the church who struggle with gender issues. To mourn with those who mourn, if you will. So more people don’t feel like they have to leave the community of saints in order to find answers.

  20. Peter LLC on December 15, 2012 at 3:15 am

    That said, I still will assume that persons wearing purple pants or ties this Sunday are doing it coincidentally or because they don’t know better or because that’s what they have to wear, not because they are wanting to turn my worship and communion into a political venue.

    Thus spoke the author of “Abinadi supports Proposition 8″.

    Speaking of which, did your bishop ever email you something like this?

    “I do not understand how one can sign one’s Temple Recommend, wherein we affirm that we support and sustain our Priesthood leaders from the President of the Church on down, if we do not make any financial donation to the protect marriage coalition, even if only a token $5.00 contribution so one can at least be counted on the Lord’s side of this issue.”

    If not, it might explain how you can maintain a straight face while blustering about the invasion of politics into the sacred space of worship and communion.

  21. Jessica on December 15, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Every once in a while, I wear dress pants to church–mostly to ruffle the feathers of people who are so uptight about it. :)

  22. BrianKW on December 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I’m confused about this whole women in pants idea and I would appreciate if someone could enlighten me. First, can you really be a feminist if you are actively trying to dissolve the dividing lines between men and women? Second, if the whole pants-to-church thing is symbolic of how you feel about womens’ roles in church, aren’t you technically picketing God and His prophets? Third, a protest movement in sacrament meeting? Really? Grow up.

  23. Sam Brunson on December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Adam, I haven’t had time over the weekend to get to you in a substantive way, but I have a couple minutes now:

    In your zeal to fight the anti-pants fight, you’ve staked out a position well beyond the Church’s position. The only statement the Church made was that we’re encouraged to wear our Sunday best. The Church, clearly aware of what was going to happen, did nothing to stop it, nothing to discourage it, and made no suggestion that anybody should be punished, reprimanded, ostracized, or even called out for participating.

    So when you claim that participants are wicked or in opposition to the Church, you’ve claimed a position (on behalf of the Church) that the Church itself has not claimed. If I were being uncharitable, I’d accuse you of setting yourself up as a light, or perhaps attempting to exercise unrighteous dominion over members of the Church for whom you have nothing approaching stewardship.

    Instead, though, I’m going to assume that you acted poorly in the best interest of the Church. That said, I do not countenance people—including you—accusing me of being uncommitted or unfaithful to the Church. I let it slide Friday because I was too busy to pay close attention, but I won’t let it slide again.

  24. R on December 18, 2012 at 1:53 am

    I would say that Adam is “silencing” people in a cult-like, destructive, and divisive fashion.

  25. MC on December 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    “The Church, clearly aware of what was going to happen, did nothing to stop it, nothing to discourage it, and made no suggestion that anybody should be punished, reprimanded, ostracized, or even called out for participating.”

    They never said anyone should be reprimanded for reprimanding, either, did they? REPRIMANDING ADAM IS AGAINST THE REVEALED WILL OF THE LORD!

    Maybe a one-sentence statement that amounts to, “Uh, no one said you couldn’t wear pants” isn’t the full-throated defense you think it is.

  26. David Scott on December 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I tried to wear kilts and my wife smacked me up along side my head. Said I didn’t have the legs for it.