Excommunication in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nullifies a person’s priesthood ordinances. To a faithful, believing member, this means spiritual death. It means separation from one’s forever family and an eternity away from God.
A corporation is well within its rights to remove an affiliate that’s hurting its bottom line. A social club may expel members that resist demands by the leadership. A proprietor may evict a tenant who fails to pay rent and a merchant may deny services to a client who can’t afford the cost. In these contexts, individuals must adhere to the terms of transaction or lose the right to receive certain benefits.
But the Church professes to be more than a corporation, a club, a rental home, or a vendor of salvation. By its own admission, it is a resting place for the weary, where the spiritually hungry may find relief. It is designed specifically for the confused, the dissident, and even the apostate.
What does it mean for deviants like me when the church rejects men and women who don’t walk the beaten path? If the church doesn’t have room for people who criticize a community they love in order to improve it, then how could it possibly have room for me?
Jesus demonstrated the inclusivity of his ministry when he rejected intolerance couched in the language of religious devotion. He embraced the sick, the healthy, the doubting, and the sure with equal measure. He passed his time with sinners and snubbed the hypocrites.
There is no hierarchy of love in the gospel of Christ, and there is no place for punishing doubt within the church that bears his name.