I feel very strongly about the subject of this recent Deseret News article, written by a friend of ours.
I even had a rather similar experience while I was serving in the mission home on Pilatusstraße in Zürich, decades ago. We taught a very long-haired young man and his then-live-in girlfriend who had suddenly shown up at the mission home front door. They seemed extremely unlikely prospects, and some members and leaders were very uncomfortable around them. But they eventually moved apart and were baptized. He served a mission in England (missionary standards were a bit looser then), and, when last I saw him, was a counselor in a branch presidency.
I have another rather similar story that I’ll tell someday, when I can be sure that I’ve figured out how not to give away the person’s identity.
But I also know stories, sadly, that go the other way. I know a man, slightly younger than I am, who grew up in a wonderful Mormon family, to parents who were active and committed Latter-day Saints. But he went through a phase in which he wanted to grow his hair long. (This was back in the late sixties and early seventies, probably.) Unfortunately, he had some (to my mind unduly) strict and rigid leaders, and they prohibited him from participation in the blessing and passing of the sacrament.
He felt ostracized and unwanted, left the Church, got involved to a degree in drugs, and basically forgot that he was a Mormon. Today, he’s quite successful and a good guy. But he’s married out of the Church and is raising his kids out of the Church. It breaks his parents’ hearts. And it wasn’t at all necessary.
There are times when certain people need to be run out of the Church. Sexual predators, for example, need to be clearly marked and separated out. But the overwhelming message of the Church is “Come unto Christ!” Whoever or wherever you may be.