The church is like a giant mosaic, made up of millions of little tiles. When we stand too close to the wall, we can’t see the whole picture and so we naturally focus on the individual tiles. Of course, in every mosaic there are some that are cracked, discolored or ill-fitting. The problem is, if we focus on those broken tiles we will assume the whole thing is a mess.
But when we step back and see how everything works together, and what a masterpiece it is, we can appreciate how each little tile is placed with care and intention to make up a glorious picture. It is a miracle that it comes together so coherently.
There might be a few broken tiles, but they don’t detract one bit from the overall effect.
There is a common tendency among members of the LDS church to look back at history and criticize what the leaders have done. They say they were racist, misogynistic, and domineering. They look at the changes that occurred with polygamy and priesthood ordination as proof that the leaders had been mistaken, and then corrected themselves. They see them all as broken tiles, and fixating on those details makes them doubt that the whole picture is even worth looking at. They don’t often step back and soak in the majesty of it all.
People in our time feel like they can look at the past from a perceived moral high ground–they feel like they are in a position to judge whether someone was bigoted or ignorant 100 years ago. I readily concede that our society has gotten better at universal compassion and championing overlooked groups of people.
But we have gotten much worse at keeping our covenants, observing the Sabbath, obedience and loyalty, worshiping idols. . . just keeping the basic 10 commandments. Nevermind consecration, sacrifice and other, higher, laws. Our families are a mess, our relationships are toxic, and we treat religion as a hobby when it’s convenient.
We have no high ground. We are in no position to judge another generation’s worthiness or weakness. In God’s eyes, we are just as broken and faded as the people who have come before us.
The church is still true in spite of us as it’s members, just the same as it was true in Brigham Young’s time and Joseph Fielding Smith’s time, and every other time before now.
The unparalleled genius of the Master is that he has created this glorious masterpiece entirely out of us, His marred and broken tiles. That is the miracle of the restoration.