I live in a Utah community where people care about their children. They worry about their children being exposed to pornography. They hesitate to take their children to restaurants and events in Salt Lake City where homosexual couples may be present. They oppose gay marriage for the bad example it sets. Children who live three blocks from the elementary school are driven to school by mothers who fear sexual predators—although no one can tell me of any attempts to pick up children in this area. My neighbors do their best to protect their children from every sex-related harm possible—and I don’t fault them for that.
What I do find curious is the fact that these same neighbors worry so little about their children’s physical environment. Junior high kids in our neighborhood walk to school on a narrow sidewalk next to a heavily trafficked street with no shoulder. One step off the sidewalk and a kid is in the pathway of a fast-moving car or truck. No parents express concern for this physical hazard—the expense of widening sidewalks would, no doubt, defeat any such proposal.
Our area frequently has the most polluted air in the nation during winter months. Smoke billows from refineries and power plants in our area day and night. My neighbors oppose abortion as an unconscionable act upon the unborn, but raise no concerns that the polluted air we breathe can seriously damage a fetus. One neighbor told me her pediatrician recommended a move to keep their four-year-old free from the respiratory ailments that afflict him all winter. Yet, a state legislator who opposed a bill prohibiting a new refinery in our area was returned to office this year with a wide majority. Utah Mormons pretty well vote a straight party ticket unless the Republican candidate has been involved in a sex scandal.
I understand that Mormons hear much more from the pulpit about pornography and gay marriage than they do about clean air and traffic safety. But, Mormon scripture encourages members to “do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” (D&C 58:27) Maybe we need to expand our definition of righteousness to include more than sexual purity. Or maybe taking initiative on our own should be extolled as much as obedience to church leaders.