A darn shame

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that my gay friends investigate the church. This sickens me. As far as I can tell (a very limited distance), to join the church as a member of the LGBT community is to consign yourself to misery.  Since we are, that we might have joy, I cannot suggest it.

Think about what Mormonism is:  It offers a path to gain direct access to God. It allows one to consider the eternities and to contemplate achieving one’s full potential.  It provides a way to connect all your loved ones, living and dead, in a great community of charity and belief.  It is the catalyst (I believe) for the creation of the kingdom of God on Earth. And there is a whole set of people out there whom, I believe, it will only make miserable.

You may say that there are many gay folk who navigate the church well.  There are.  I would not argue otherwise.  But they all understand that they dance on the razor’s edge. If they get a bishop or stake president who is a little less comfortable with their status as an “out” LGBT member, a whole host of problems can crop up. And, as far as I can tell, there are extra burdens laid upon such people. Sure, they have to remain celibate until heterosexually married like the rest of us, but they also are discouraged from even the relatively tame expressions of love and arousal (kissing, hugging) that heterosexuals are allowed.  For that matter, their one unambiguously legitimate option for sexual release is to make an eternal commitment to someone to whom they may not be sexually attracted to. Many do (heck, for a variety of reasons, many heterosexuals do), but it shouldn’t be the only available option.

You may say that it doesn’t matter.  By most estimates, the LGBT community consists of about 5% of the population. Forget those people and focus on the hetero folks who are worthy of salvation.  But that’s not how I read the call from Jesus to preach the Gospel.  He ends Matthew by saying:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

There is no out clause that reads, “unless they fail to subscribe to our gender-normative standards.”  Perhaps you could argue that “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” covers that, but there are a host of things that Jesus said in the NT that we don’t subscribe to (his views on castration and divorce immediately spring to mind).  And don’t throw Paul at me unless you understand the cultural context of his statements, the ambiguities of translation, and are willing to subscribe to every other thing he says (that it is better to be celibate than married, for instance (although maybe he was speaking to gay folk?)).

But John, you may insist, modern prophets have been unambiguous in their condemnation of homosexuality, or rather homosexual behavior.  Okay, but let’s think about that distinction.  First let’s set aside the reality that many Mormons still see no difference between homosexuality and homosexual behavior (as is amply demonstrated by the current brouhaha over the Boy Scouts).  How central to your notion of who you are is your idea of your sexual orientation? Experiment.  Imagine yourself gay (or lesbian, or whatever). Would you still be yourself? What would change? Would you share the same interests? Have the same relationships? The same job? The same church calling? I don’t know, but I suspect that for everyone sexual orientation is pretty fundamental; we heteros just don’t realize it because the entire world around us reinforces the idea that we are normal (and we are, really (95% or so of the population)). But how normals treat and interact with minorities is an important test.  Are we Zoramites or are we Christians?

The next issue of modern prophecy is this:  It is obviously in a state of flux right now.  That is why we are told to love the sinner, hate the sin at this time.  It is, somewhat, an admission that sexual orientation isn’t entirely a choice (nor, would I argue, is it entirely genetic). As the mormonsandgays site demonstrates, the Church is publicly trying to work out what it really thinks about LGBT members and children of God generally.  And I don’t know how it will shake out.  Whatever it is going to turn out to be, the status quo is obviously going to change.  Perhaps the Church will make a decision I agree with, perhaps it will head in another direction (most likely, it will do both, a lot). Nor do I expect the Church to follow (or notice) my whims.  But I think that we are in a place where questions at the top may be being asked with more earnest struggle than they may have been in the past.  I can’t think about that without being hopeful (no matter what the outcome).

I say all this because I believe the Church is true.  For that matter, I know it is.  It is impossible for me to imagine the church as being not true, based on my life experiences. I’m in, even if I don’t like every little aspect.  That’s a bit of faith, a dollop of denial, a lot of hope, and a hope for more charity on all sides (in particular that I should be more charitable to others). This Church is, to me, the most true, the most faithful, and the most clear path back to God on Earth. Which is why I hate that I cannot, in good conscience, encourage my gay friends to join it.

Comments

  1. I should note that I can count the number of gay friends I know I have in real life on one hand (maybe a couple of fingers, actually); most of the folks I know who are gay I know through online interactions. So, please feel free to see this blogpost as the essentially empty gesture that is basically is.

  2. Perfectly expressed, especially the last paragraph.

    Imagine yourself gay (or lesbian, or whatever).

    This is key, I think. Unfortunately, no matter what the PR department says about gays and mormons, the more doctrinally essential language about gender and sexual attraction makes it harder for members to do so.

  3. John C

    I am from Sydney Australia and maybe it is just a cultural difference but I have no problem engaging gay people about religion or the church. My boss is gay and even my daughter’s school teacher is a practicing homosexual, he often brings his partner to school fund raising events. My wife and I are not ones to hang our religion on our sleeve and most of our gay friends don’t hang their sexuality on their sleeves. They are just normal people living a normal life. Even my Sister invited a work friend to church and she ended up joining the church. She is bisexual, with a preference for women. She served a mission and is currently single and very happy and engaging of her religion. I have no problem inviting or talking to people about the church irrespective of their sexuality, they can make their own choices about life and religion. Also in our ward we currently have two gay people that I know of that navigate their religion quite fine and are quite integrated with the members.

    I am making the assumption you are from the US? I must say it is interesting to watch the debates in the US about homosexuality, most people in the world could care less about a person’s sexuality but it seems like a big deal in the US. Perhaps this contributes to the hesitancy in sharing the gospel with them? Having said that I suspect there are other places and cultures in the world that homosexuality would be difficult to balance with the church.

    Paddy

  4. Precisely what Paddy said. There are gay people in the world who find joy in the church and the gospel. It sounds like you don’t think your gay friends can choose for themselves what will bring them joy, so you are taking the choice out of their hands.

  5. I’m actually not shy about my religion, nor am I particularly “in your face” regarding it. What people ask, I answer to the best of my ability. I just don’t think I could encourage LGBT folk to join right now because, while I’m glad for the experience of Paddy’s sister’s work friend (and all of Australia (which I’ve always wanted to visit)), that strikes me as the rarer of possible LGBT life experiences in the church.

    “There are gay people in the world who find joy in the church and the gospel.”
    I believe that I acknowledge this in the post. It is in the first few sentences of paragraph 3. It’s possible that the rest of that paragraph didn’t appeal to you; that’s just fine. You are always welcome, of course, to prefer to think that I’m a terrible person and that that is what the post is really about.

  6. John. Just a point of clarification. Are you suggesting that the church changes its position to allow homosexual behaviour. Or are you suggesting that the church as a community needs to be better at accommodating LGBT members? Or both? I am just trying to understand which point restricts you from recommend the church to gay persons.

    Paddy

  7. bjjandlaw says:

    Are you also hesitant to introduce your “mid-single” friends to the church? Lest I bring a ton of hell fire down on my head, I know it is not exactly the same. But, it is not entirely different either, as I am sure many can corroborate. Am I glad to have the gospel in my life? Yes.

    All I am trying to say is that you are suggesting that you make a decision for your gay friends by not introducing them to the gospel at all. I understand your hesitancy, not wanting to add difficulty to their already difficult lives. Perhaps a sense of embarrassment on your part too. But, in the end, that is taking choice away from them, and something that belongs between them and God.

    Not judging you by the way–I have been hesitant as well. Just thinking “out loud.”

  8. Perhaps John’s point is that it is difficult in good conscience to proselytize LGBT folks because the costs of church membership are so much higher for them than for the majority of the population. In return for spiritual fulfillment, opportunities for service, and the promise of eternal life, they are required to forgo any hope of a stable, monogamous marriage relationship in this life, along with the chance to be parents (unless they already have children from a failed opposite-sex marriage). In addition, depending on the particular ward they reside in, they may face continual suspicion and ostracism, along with constant reminders from church leaders that any acting on impulses that are integral to their identity will bring guilt and church discipline–again in contrast to all their married church brothers and sisters.

    Perhaps some LGBT investigators are willing to make those tradeoffs, but unless one has been raised as a Mormon, the benefits of church membership are going to seem pretty limited compared to the full life experiences that are more and more available to gays and lesbians on the outside. And honesty requires any missionary-minded Latter-day Saints to be candid about the second-class status that awaits their LGBT friends after baptism. So it’s easy to understand why someone with a testimony of the church as a family-centered, close-knit religious community would hesitate to invite in someone who could only join on condition that they accepted a lifelong prohibition against forming a family of their own. Talking about the church reminds both LGBTs and ourselves that we regard them as defective individuals with limited opportunities, at least in this life (and not quite in the same way that all of us are defective in different ways or fail to live up to our potential–the burdens the Church places on LGBT members are specific, onerous, and inescapable). It’s hardly a message of hope and love.

    But we’re only talking about 4-5% of the population, so perhaps it’s not that big of a deal. What the Church will soon discover though, is that a much greater portion of the population have LGBT friends and family members, and a church that is unwelcoming to one’s friends and family members is not particularly inviting to oneself. A denomination in which you can’t worship alongside your loved ones, in full equality, is not particularly attractive to anyone. I wish the standard for the law of chastity was the same for everyone–no sexual relations with anyone other than one’s legally and lawfully wedded spouse–and that as more states grant full marriage rights to gays and lesbians, more LDS congregations would welcome in families of all sorts (though I’m not sure what to do about temple sealings–perhaps those would go in the “we’ll work that out in the next life” category). Given the accommodations that we already make for less-than-ideal families, taking into account the messy realities of divorce, remarriages (specifically forbidden by Jesus!), out-of-wedlock births, infertility, etc., it seems that Paul’s injunction “it is better to marry than to burn” might apply to gays and lesbians as well.

  9. Doug Hudson says:

    A better comparison might be to inviting black people to investigate the church prior to 1978. Is it fair/moral/reasonable to proselytize to people who are prohibited from enjoying the full benefits of church membership?

    Now, the comparison isn’t exact, since gays can access the full benefits of membership, by making sacrifices (chastity or opposite sex marriage, for example), whereas there was no way for black people to become full fledged members. Still, I think it is close enough to be worth considering.

  10. I know that if I found myself taught that I must stay strictly celibate for my entire earthly life for the promise that my sexual desires–which, as John mentioned, form a strong basis for my entire identity–would be reversed some time after death and be replaced by something theretofore foreign, I would find it incredibly difficult to stick with the church. To me there’s a categorical difference between how the church deals with single heterosexual and gay people that makes comparisons murky: single people may feel some loneliness or sexual frustration but they’re certainly capable of dating and meeting people now (even if that process can be messy; see Tracy M’s last post), and more importantly, singles are taught that any desire they have for companionship can ultimately be fulfilled, not fundamentally altered. So maybe I just lack faith, and luckily as a happily married heterosexual dude it’s not a battle I have to fight. There’s no discounting the gay people who do decide to stay in or even join the church. But I completely understand John’s trepidation.

  11. the culture of the church is an awkward arrangement for many, not just this community identified here. if the pure gospel could be distilled apart from the culture and administration, we’d have something truly christlike IMO

  12. whizzbang says:

    FWIW I can only recall once in the last 13 years any mention of homosexuality in Church, I reside in Canada. I don’t think anyone here really cares about it

  13. Right… but that’s kind of not the point of the post. Citizens might not care about gays, even members of the ward might not care about gays. But the church, as an international ecclesiastical organization, does care, and does have a policy that discriminates against them achieving the highest goals Mormons strive for- at least in this life. And telling someone it will be solved in the next life is not usually helpful, and even less so when that answer includes the fact that to achieve the goal of a loving relationship, they must be fundamental changed. That’s the problem.

  14. Last Lemming says:

    I also thought of the blacks-prior-to-1978 comparison. For me it was not hypothetical and the answer was an unambiguous “yes,” I was perfectly comfortable doing whatever I could to facilitate blacks joining the Church prior to 1978 (active proselyting not being permitted). In practical terms, that amounted to teaching a discussion to one man who requested it (he didn’t join) and loaning my white clothes to another who didn’t fit in what the stake center had in stock (obviously, he did join). My rationale was to normalize the presence of blacks at a church. I knew I wouldn’t really make much of a dent in Germany, but that rationale pursued in Brazil paid off big time.

    It is different with gays, though. Prior to 1978, I knew what the endgame was–the line between those of African descent and everybody else would simply be erased. It was just a matter of when. In the case of gays, I don’t know what the endgame is. It looks to me like the Church is drawing the line at marriage and is ultimately going to accomodate gays in every way short of that. But that is a very different endgame than 1978.

  15. Nathan Whilk says:

    Bono is willing to give up romantic love for a miracle drug, and your friends aren’t willing to give it up for eternal salvation?

    I personally won’t share the Gospel with my friends who are subheptamesophiles (attracted to members of the opposite sex less than seven years older than half their age).

  16. (14) I agree. Any different endgame than what you anticipate would involve a massive change in church doctrine, as temple marriage between a man and woman (whether in this life or the next) is still deemed essential for salvation.

  17. Your post seemed to indicate embarrassment and shame. I was trying to help by pointing out another way of looking at it. Perhaps that doesn’t float your boat, that’s just fine. You are always free, of course, to think that I’m judgmental and love to point fingers and condemn people, and that was really what my comment was about.

  18. It’s my understanding that the official Church website on the topic was http://www.mormonsandgays.org. Who’s behind the http://www.gaysandmormons.org page? It all seems in line with stated Church doctrine/policy; I’m just curious as to the source.

  19. Tracy M, you speak as if you don’t need to be fundamentally changed, and that’s a bit disingenuous because you’re human, isn’t it? I’m heterosexual and yet I need to be fundamentally changed! We’re all broken. We’re all incapable. We’re all burdened. Finally, we’re all in need of fundamental change to be truly happy. Anyone who says otherwise has not fully examined the dark corners of their soul.

    To be clear, I believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry civilly. I believe the membership of the Church can/should/must be more welcoming, more loving, and more accepting. I believe the BSA should accept gay scouts and scout leaders. Many other things I am not sure what I believe, but to talk about the change in the next life altering them in a degree beyond that required for heterosexuals is, in my honest opinion, assuming far too much about heterosexuals’ usual relationship to Christ.

  20. OH for heck’s sake, give me a break. Of course we will all be changed; but imagine if I told you in the afterlife you would only be acceptable to God when you were changed in order to be mated with man? Analogous to being broken in the sense of living in a fallen world? Not even close.

  21. The thought of Pres. Monson’s talk from this past conference entitled “See Others as They May Become” came to my mind shortly after reading this post. I think that you shouldn’t necessarily hold back just because you think the gospel will make someone unhappy. The gospel is designed to help us grow and become happy. I’m not saying that change will be an easy road for them, but I know that the gospel makes it completely possible to change one’s habits and behaviors for the better.

    I also don’t think that recent events signal any major change in church policy, but I do think it is taking a greater humanitarian stance to reach out to help those with same sex attraction because its what Christ would want us to do. Think about how Christ acted when the woman taken in adultery was brought before him. He didn’t condone her actions, but he saved her from being stoned and forgave her if she would “go and sin no more”. I think that they’re doing the right thing in this situation. I also think this is a way to show the church membership as a whole that they need to treat homosexuals better then so many others doing are at this time.

  22. This is sad on many levels.

    There once was a time when we pointed to Christ, showed loving compassion, pledged our help in whatever way possible, and said go and sin no more. Now we argue and get offended and insult those who truly feel the same standards still apply. I know instances first hand were individuals were involved in homosexual behavior, and after loving support from members not only moved on, but shook at the very idea of repeating those past sins.

    This kind of rhetoric, if widely practiced and applied prevents that from ever occurring and sets the church up on the “wrong” side and the gay relationship up on the “right” side.

    There is a standard. The standard is not to point them to the church. To get them to come to the church. The standard is the Lord and that is not only how we measure ourselves, and what we aspire to be like, but also enables us through the atonement to do just that. When people realize what the Lord has done for them, they have a desire to serve the Lord and other things flow from it. When we just focus over and over on behavior or actions, etc. without first placing emphasis on the Lord of course we are going to fail in our efforts. We’re already human and prone to failures, even when we try to put ourselves on the right path.

    But why refuse to point others to the path? We’re not pointing them to the church or to celibacy, we’re asking them like Alma of old to look to God and live. There is no shame in that.

  23. Tracy M, it has nothing to do with a fallen world, but everything to do with the fact “that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” If you expect anything less than a complete transformation of yourself, including in ways you currently hold dear as part of your identity, then you and I have very different visions of what God is like compared to ourselves. I fully expect God to tell me things about myself, the universe, and my proper course of action that will blow my mind and completely overturn my worldview. It’s already happened once or twice, but I can understand your reticence if nothing like that has ever happened to you.

  24. There’s a lot of arguing going on here over the internal struggle felt by more than a couple of us…

    I have a few gay friends, and I often think twice even about posting gospel-related things on facebook because a few of my dear, sweet, flamboyant friends take offense at anything church-related because of the Prop 8 thing and the marriage thing and the eternal identity thing. I admire those LGBT who are strong enough to put up with some of the things that get preached at church. I’ve squirmed more than once…

    So, let’s start teaching charity and stop getting up at arms about things that are less than charitable. If that’s at all possible; I’d like that.

  25. trevorprice924 says:

    I have a draft blog post sitting in my WordPress queue that’s pretty similar to this. When you assume “missionary stance”, you try to guess what aspects of the Gospel your friend would find most beneficial, and you try to anticipate what the biggest hangups might be.

    If I were introducing the church to a gay friend, a good portion of the gospel core could benefit him as much as anyone. But then I’d have to knee-cap him on the family portion.

    It’s just such a crippling, ruinous adjustment to the Plan of *Happiness* that I’d be surprised anyone thinks my friend might still have any interest at all.

  26. “Would you like to hear how your family can be together forever? Well, not so much your family, but if you break up your family, repent of the relationship and affection upon which it was based, and start a new family, _that_ family can like totally be together forever.”

  27. Here is the question I ask myself. Would I approach gay friends who were in a loving marriage and proselyte to them to join a church where in their first step toward baptism they were told that they must dissolve their union, transform their love into a plutonic friendship and become celibate through all of mortality? Would I think I had done a good eternal thing if I broke up this couple so one or both could join the church? If I can’t say “yes” to this scenario I don’t see much difference when considering introducing a currently single gay friend to a similar fate in mortality.

    Then I flip this around and think about how I would react to a friend who wants to engage me in their religion wherein to gain eternal salvation I would have to divorce my wife, transform our relationship into plutonic friendship, and then agree to celibacy for the rest of my life. If I can’t honestly say that I would be open to exploring such a religion (who knows they could be right!) then what right does that give me to approach my gay friends about investigating my religion.

    Add to this the church’s recent shift where it admits that most its leaders teachings for the last two generations regarding the origins and nature of homosexuality as well as recommended strategies for dealing it were simply well-regarded opinions and speculation, much of which was clearly harmful to gay members, it seems clear to me the cost/benefit analysis of encouraging or recommending gay friends to seriously investigate membership in the church at this time falls signficantly on the “no” side on everyone’s leger count.

    Heck, if one of my children turned out to be gay or lesbian, I would recommend they leave the church, as it currently stands, or at least go live their life fully including finding a life partner – for their health, sanity and their eternal progression.

  28. “Heck, if one of my children turned out to be gay or lesbian, I would recommend they leave the church, as it currently stands, or at least go live their life fully including finding a life partner – for their health, sanity and their eternal progression.”

    Yes, absolutely.

    If the church still treated interracial marriage as an abomination and refused to seal interracial couples in temples, and if church members routinely engaged in unapologetically racist behavior, would you recommend Mormonism to your interracially married friends? Not if you wanted to keep them as friends you wouldn’t…

  29. Christian J says:

    I like it John – but (like Brad) let me take it to another level. My 8yr old daughter is good friends with a girl who has two moms. Because the girl and her family are active in their reformed Jewish congregation, my 8yr old and her have had brief discussions about the differences between Christians and Jews (usually around the month of Dec.)

    When it came time for her to be baptized, this friend and her family were there supporting. She’s invited her to church on other occasions as well. Am I terrified for this little girls to come to church with us (wondering what she’ll hear)? Yes. Will I encourage my 8yr old to share the gospel with her – so she can be told by the missionaries that her family needs to split before they can receive the greatest of God’s blessings? No

  30. Christian J says:

    If you expect anything less than a complete transformation of yourself, including in ways you currently hold dear as part of your identity, then you and I have very different visions of what God is like compared to ourselves.

    Brian (22), Except that abandoning your life companion is NOT one of the ways that God will change heteros in the next life. Its quite the opposite actually (according the Mormonism). You’re grasping for sure

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    I agree with you, John. But if people really want to take the Gospel to their out gay friends, I can get on board with that as long as they have a very frank discussion with them about what it will mean to them if they join the Church. I talked about the need for such a frank discussion in the context of baptizing American blacks, here:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/10/14/missionary-malpractice-per-se/

    Personally, I don’t think I’d be willing to have such a frank discussion with a gay friend, because I can’t figure out how to articulate the Church’s concerns, policies, doctrines and practices vis-a-vis homosexuality without offending the hell out of them. So personally, like John, I wouldn’t even go there.

    And I’m on record as saying that were I gay myself, I would leave the Church. So it would hardly make sense for me to work vigorously to proselyte gay people *into* the Church.

  32. We can see your trepidation, but in the end accepting the Gospel is the choice of the individual. Gay members today have blessings that didn’t even exist for blacks in the LDS church prior to 1978. A gay member can still potentially hold a temple recommend, receive endowments, serve missions, hold the Priesthood, even get married in the Temple (yes, it has to a person of the opposite sex) , etc. None of these were blessings available to black men and women prior to 1978 (or stories of the black saints who did were kept in the closet for a very long time). We know a lot of black Latter-day Saints that would think it was “a darn shame” if their friend or coworker or whomever in good conscience decided not to recommend that they investigate the LDS faith.

    We get wanting to protect our friends from situations that we perceive will bring them pain, hey, sometimes we think that in good conscience we shouldn’t recommend that Victoria Secret models investigate the church and go through the temple, but then we realized they are big girls and they can decide what kind of drawers they wanna wear all by themselves.

  33. What Brad said about families.

    One of the greatest things about the LDS Church is its emphasis on families. Ironically, I had to leave the LDS Church to find my own family, the family I feel most honest about. And I’ve never been more happy, healthy, secure, optimistic, and productive. In fact, I feel like a better person.

    What could any missionary of the LDS Church possibly say to convince me I made the wrong choice?

    In the words of MercyMe: This life was meant to shine. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4xm2mtDj2c)

    I couldn’t shine in the LDS Church. Some homosexuals can — few, but some nonetheless. And I support my gay friends who are active in the LDS Church. But the majority can’t. Life is better for us outside its walls. And I believe that’s what John C. has seen and is saying here.

  34. it's a series of tubes says:

    This is a very interesting thread. I’m struggling to reconcile certain of the content with the Savior’s statements in Matthew 10 and with Paul’s fairly bold assertions in Romans 1.

  35. it's a series of tubes says:

    Also, I love how the Sistas drop bombs like #31 from time to time. I’d hit “like” on that comment if the button existed.

  36. Re: my (17) – Anyone? Anyone?

  37. Sistas,
    The thing is, while I know that there were some courageous and self-sacrificing black church members prior to 1978, But there’s no way I could have in good conscience recommended church membership to my black friends at that time (yeah, I did just write “my black friends” in an internet comment). At a minimum we’re talking about appending disclaimers to our recommendation to the point of absurdity. I want my gay friend to know all that is wonderful in Mormonism, so that when Mormonism is finally ready to welcome them and their families to full fellowship, they’ll want to come.

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    Sistas, I think I’m going to take a stronger stance than you suggest re: Victoria’s Secret models. They definitely should not go through the temple. (Thanks for the wonderful–and hilarious–image!)

  39. What Kevin said in #30 about needing to be very frank, open and undertanding right from the start. I have no problem conceptually inviting my single gay friends to learn about the Church, but it would have to be in the context of Jackie Robinson integrating baseball – and the potential hell involved in some local wards and branches.

    Otoh, there is no way I would invite my committed / married gay friends to investigate the Church, knowing the first step to baptism would be splitting up with their partner. There is no way in Hell I would divorce my wife for any religion, and I can’t ask it of anyone else in good conscience. Call it lack of faith, but I can’t ask someone to do what I’m unwilling to do.

  40. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’m not sure any of you need to worry too much about how your out gay friends will be affected by your successful efforts to proselytize them.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    Haha, MikeInWeHo, this is quite the hypothetical, is it not?

  42. and that is why Mike is one of my favorite people

  43. Pluto and Felix — dogs and cats! — living together. Now that’s my idea of a plutonic relationship.

  44. Paddy,
    I think the church culture is toxic for gay people (although many navigate it with minimal damage). So I’d like that, in particular, to change. We are often unnecessarily cruel. As to the Church and the Brethren, they will do what they consider the right thing to do, under inspiration, and I’m happy that they will.

    bjjandlaw,
    I’m happy to talk about the church with whoever asks me. Introducing is the problem. It is answering the question “Do you think this church is for me?” or “Do you think I’d be happy in the church?” I can’t, at present, answer those positively.

    Fred,
    Word.

    Doug Hudson,
    Of course, for gay people to make it to the highest ordinances in the temple, they’d need to marry someone they aren’t attracted to. So, the full blessings of the gospel aren’t terribly accessible for them.

    Last Lemming,
    I think that most members (at least by the time 1978 came around) had the decency to think that the ban was ugly. I agree that I’m not sure that most members have reached that point yet. So who knows…

    SilverRain,
    Nope. Neither shame nor embarassment. The Church is the Church. I think it will come around. It may take longer than I think it should, but I’m patient. It is however a crying shame that I feel like culture surrounding it is actively bad for gay folk.

    emig,
    Thanks for pointing that out. It’s been changed.

    Ian F.,
    I agree that the members as a whole need to treat gay folk better. I also think the fact that the Brethren feel like they need to explain that is indicative of the situation being in flux. Both because they realize the problem in telling the membership that they have to behave like decent human beings and because they realize that something they’ve said has led the membership to assume they don’t have to behave like decent human beings.

    kaphor,
    I don’t have any trouble trying to point people to Christ. I mean, I’m bad at, but I do try. So, I’m not really sure that your comment applies.

    Brian,
    I agree that however we will be after this life will be very different from how we are during this life. That said, don’t assume some superiority just because you’ve worked this out.

  45. Sistas,
    I agree that if people are willing, they should have the option. I also think I wouldn’t encourage them if they asked me, but I’d support them if they didn’t listen to me. But its all hypothetical. Not even Mike has been tempted by the offer so far.

  46. As someone who IS gay, who DID take the advice of leaders and got married to a woman trusting that it would “cure” me, who served a mission and in church leadership and who is now a divorced dad and out of the closet and out of the church, let me give you all some perspective from an expert who’s lived everything you’re all talking about.

    You would all be surprised by how many gay Mormons there are. Many struggle desperately to reconcile being gay with being Mormon because the Mormon hold on their minds and thoughts and hearts and loyalties and friends is just too strong to break. I was this way for some time. My experience ended up being typical: a major crisis of faith and credibility (LDS leadership’s untruths in the Prop 8 campaign, in my case) finally “broke the shelf” and I had to accept there was no way I could trust them further, or be out of the closet in a happy relationship or marriage while still retaining full privileges of Mormon membership. One of those two had to give way. Mormon theology doesn’t permit anything else, as the OP fully recognizes. I was not willing to settle for a cold, locked lonely heart and second-class religious citizenship.

    So after a period of re-examining everything I’d ever believed about the LDS church, I resigned on principle. I had chosen to be Mormon but I did not choose to be gay. My bishop and stake president both said gay Mormons have only three choices: (1) celibacy, which is cruel and unrealistic; (2) marry an opposite sex spouse and hope for the best, which is almost always disastrous; or (3) leave the church. They were right. I’ll spare you all the details of why I no longer trust the church generally and why I don’t think it is what it claims to be. I’ll just share with you some perspectives I’ve seen amongst many, many gay friends who are or have been Mormon about the things this discussion touches on.

    There’s a small group of gay Mormons (some still members, some ex’d) who want to stay with the church knowing they’re second-class. They are willing to put up with this because they think they can eventually change enough attitudes that the leadership will change the doctrine. A majority of gay Mormons don’t think that is either worthwhile or possible, and they leave the church for reasons already well-recognized in this discussion.

    While I cannot speak for all gay Mormons and gay ex-Mormons, I have seen enough discussion to believe that the following represent majority opinions. The church’s recent shifts in tone and presentation are the forced contrition of a bully who was caught bludgeoning a smaller kid on the playground. The new Web site “Mormons and Gays” says nothing new other than “be nicer to the gays” but that is too little too late. It also says the doctrines which make gay people second class in the church will not change. The church’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court confirms this. The idea that we will be transformed to be straight in the next life as a reward for staying single and lonely in this life is unscriptural and repugnant. Think about it: make yourself miserable in this life and you’ll be rewarded by a change in your nature to something you can’t imagine wanting in the first place? What incentive is that?

    The analogy to the priesthood ban is unpersuasive. The ban was always historically problematic and taught to be temporary. But for the LDS church to accept gay relationships and marriages as equal to straight ones would require a re-write of the entire theology, including multiple sections of the Doctrine & Covenants. Nobody has ever dared to do that since Joseph Smith.

    This is why most gay Mormons and gay ex-Mormons scoff at current LDS shifts to try to make nice with the gays. The church is being forced by outside pressure to conform to new social realities; it is not being led by revelation to do what’s right. Those efforts are seen as politically expedient and patronizing CYA, full of pity that is offensive. We don’t want to be pitied or patronized. We don’t want special treatment. We don’t want people “reaching out in love and compassion and understanding”. All of that just perpetuates and reiterates our second-class “less than normal” status in LDS eyes. It backfires. I’m baffled why nobody in Salt Lake seems to get this.

    All we want is to be treated just like everybody else. We just want to be normal. We ARE normal by every other standard of science and history and human experience. It’s that Procrustean bed of Mormon theology that insists on contorting and binding us to an iron framework which never imagined our existence and doesn’t know how to deal with us without compromising its own credibility—THAT is the problem. Making US pay the price for that huge gaping hole in the “plan of salvation” by submitting to celibacy and loneliness and patronizing pity and ostracism as the price of membership in an organization which tells us that eventually we’ll have to be changed anyway . . . well, that’s just not right. It’s not fair, it’s not charitable or loving or anything else the Savior taught us to strive for.

    And that’s why I left. Why many of my friends left. Why countless other gay Mormons have left, and will continue to leave. We cannot accept that an organization which claims to be led by revelation but is forced by political expediency just to be decent to a historically abused group of people is actually worth our time or our trust. Leaving has cost me my relationships with my staunchly active Mormon family; two of my sisters haven’t spoken to me for years. But my own integrity and happiness are more important. And both are healthier now than ever.

    So thanks to all of you who really do recognize the problems here. I’m very glad to see allies who understand how difficult this problem is for the church and why gay people should stay away. I applaud your honesty. You are absolutely right to see that the LDS church is a hostile environment for gay people. I wish it could have been otherwise.

  47. #35 You used “my black friends” incorrectly. You must first make an incredibly racist statement, then assert that it is OK because of “your black friends.” We completely get what you are saying, trust…we know black LDS and exes who got the bait and switch and it didn’t work out so well. Just saying there can be a positive flip side.

    #38 We like a challenge, we are focusing on converting our married-black-female-lesbian friends right now. We feel like Wear Pants to Church Day is moving things in our favor. ;-)

  48. Sistas,
    LOL.

  49. MikeInWeHo says:

    Well said, Jon. I think that some well-meaning members are in a bit of denial about how deeply and intrinsically homophobic the church currently is. One can argue that this is no different than Catholicism and other branches of Christianity, but Mormonism is unique in the way it elevates the heterosexual, married, child-bearing couple to the pinnacle of the entire cosmos. It all leads quite naturally to a Mormon culture which makes life very difficult for those who don’t fit the mold.

  50. ^^^ Yes. A huge part of why I agree with John’s OP as well.

    Also Mike, as much as I love you and our Plan B, I really hope you find someone awesome here on this side.

  51. Just a biology pedantic note:

    “sexual orientation isn’t entirely a choice (nor, would I argue, is it entirely genetic)”

    This seems to support a false choice fallacy that I think is often used on the anti-gay side and is harmful to understanding the “is it a choice?” issue. It is not the case that everything non-genetic is a choice. Things can happen in early embryonic and fetal development that are 100% as forceful in their outcome for people’s lives as the genes they started with. In fact, one of the strongest predictors of homosexual orientation that science has identified is an embryonic/fetal environment factor. But anti-gay groups often scream “‘born that way’ is a lie because science hasn’t found a gay gene!” and so it is important to realize that you can in fact be “born that way” separate from genes. (For an extreme and sad example of this, would you say a baby born with fetal alcohol syndrome brain was not “born that way” even though the child’s genes weren’t what caused that?)

  52. MikeInWeHo says:

    Right back at you, Tracy!

  53. Cynthia,
    I thought they had identified some genetic factors. But no shot at looking it up right now.

  54. John, they may have. I was just trying to say that even if they hadn’t, it doesn’t prove that “born that way” is an unfair characterization.

  55. “I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that my gay friends investigate the church. This sickens me. As far as I can tell (a very limited distance), to join the church as a member of the LGBT community is to consign yourself to misery. Since we are, that we might have joy, I cannot suggest it.”

    For me, this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel.

    I have watched my gay friends and family leave the church and seek happiness in trying to fulfill their homosexual desires. In so doing they do find find moments of happiness as well as a fair share of misery and despair. They live, but they die spiritually.

    John C.’s post seems to treat the Gospel like a benefits package meant to entice people to join the church.

    That may be partially an unfortunate side effect of the shift away from calling it “The Plan of Salvation” in favor of emphasizing “The Plan of Happiness.” It IS a plan of happiness, but the happiness offered is a spiritual joy that is fundamentally different from the ultimately empty happiness pursued by the world.

    The message of the Gospel has never been an offer of earthly enjoyment. The joy of the gospel comes from The Holy Spirit and the knowledge that our sacrifices are acceptable to The Lord. The Gospel isn’t about avoiding pain and misery. It is about submitting to and trusting the Lord even if that means a life of woe.

    That is the very meaning of the symbolism of Baptism: that we allow the Lord himself to lower us into the grave; kill us, and bury us with the trust that even if submitting to Him means pain, death, and destruction, He will raise us up out of the grave again as new god-like creatures.

    We are to do the things that Jesus did and walk the path that he walked. And what did he do? He submitted to the will of the Father even though it meant torture and death. He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrow and familiar with grief.

    And so too, if we follow in His path, we will know sorrow, grief, and misery.

    The test of this life is not about avoiding pain. It is about whether or not we are willing to submit to that which the Lord requires of us and trust that in the long run it _is_ for our benefit. Faith means trust, and if we do not have that trust then we do not have faith.

    Like His kingdom, the joy of the saints is not of this world. It is the joy of the companionship of the Spirit, the joy of the Lord’s approval, and the hope for a glorious resurrection and exhalation after we have endured the afflictions of this world in faith. We find joy despite miserable circumstances– and often in the long run because of them.

    Those things are worth the price that God asks for them including passing through great sorrow and misery.

    And what He requires will not appear the same for every person because each person is different. It is really impossible to compare and contrast the different trials through which individuals are called to endure. We must trust that ultimately God is a Just God and that where much is required much will be given.

    People are converted because the Holy Spirit communicates with their souls. To treat the gospel like a benefits package meant to attract converts, and to therefore judge that package as insufficiently enticing to some group, is a rejection of the reality of the Holy Ghost and its power.

  56. JMW- I think someone you respect and consider a prophet said that life wasn’t just to be endured, but to be enjoyed. Also, I think there’s something in 2 Nephi 2:25 about that, as well.

    So, you should go lock yourself away, never cleave unto your spouse, live a celibate life, and hope and pray that you will be changed into something completely different in the afterlife, and go ahead and call that joy.

  57. “So, you should go lock yourself away, never cleave unto your spouse, live a celibate life, and hope and pray that you will be changed into something completely different in the afterlife, and go ahead and call that joy.”

    But you see, current Church policy doesn’t demand that from him, which is why he can so glibly demand it from others and dismiss the pain it will entail for them.

  58. How nice that must be for him– comfortable, that he doesn’t have to suffer with those who suffer.

  59. @Max Wilson:

    I have read your blog posts and your apologetics for a few years now. I know you to be one who will defend Mormonism at all costs and will never admit any deficiency or flaw in it such as has been discussed here. Your subtle chastisement of others here reflects that.

    In my experience, you reflect the typical Mormon assumption that you know whether someone else is “really” happy and spiritually fulfilled or not. I assure you that in my case I am FAR more happy and spiritually fulfilled in my new church than I was as a Mormon. You will not believe this because your agenda won’t allow you to. But it is actually true. So, with respect to your right to think as you please, your opinions and apologetics are not persuasive.

  60. Christian J says:

    but the happiness offered is a spiritual joy that is fundamentally different from the ultimately empty happiness pursued by the world.

    I think you’re giving a fair, but decidedly Protestant/Catholic take on this issue. Mormonism actually doesn’t consider personal intimate relationships as a side issue (an issue “of the world”). Instead, Joseph argued, it is a primary issue and inextricably linked the potential of God’s children.

  61. “I have watched my gay friends and family leave the church and seek happiness in trying to fulfill their homosexual desires. In so doing they do find find moments of happiness as well as a fair share of misery and despair. They live, but they die spiritually.”

    The fact that he would put forward this claim publicly, with unwavering certitude about its accuracy, tells you need to know about the JMax. “Things in the world ARE the way I think they should be because I declare they ARE this way.”

  62. Anonforthis says:

    …the happiness offered is a spiritual joy that is fundamentally different from the ultimately empty happiness pursued by the world.

    The message of the Gospel has never been an offer of earthly enjoyment. The joy of the gospel comes from The Holy Spirit and the knowledge that our sacrifices are acceptable to The Lord.

    I was raised LDS. I was a pretty staunch straight-arrow type. Not perfect, but I tried hard. At all my meetings, prayed and studied and fasted sincerely, graduated from seminary, served a mission, all the while believing that God would fix ‘my problem.’ Cause that’s what every leader and every pamphlet they published said would happen. For decades. Priesthood blessings promised miracles. I kept on keeping on, choosing the right, attending the temple, spending upwards of 15 – 20 hours a week in the bottom level of the BYU library preparing my priesthood lesson for that Sunday, and diligently researching everything any leader had ever said or written about ‘my problem.’

    You’re right, Max. The “spiritual joy” that filled my life was “fundamentally different” from anything I could recognize as happiness. I was full to the teeth with “spiritual joy.” There was just so much “joy” that I found myself one day with a loaded handgun in my mouth, vacillating between hoping that there really was no God––so that I could be finally and forever done with “joy” and anything else for that matter––and hoping that there was a God, so I could tell Him to His face to go f*ck Himself.

    Luckily, I did not make the final mistake and pull the trigger. Life has gotten a lot better since then. A big part of that was stepping away from the church and finding another spiritual home. Maybe I’m not experiencing “true happiness” anymore, but if this is the fake kind, I’ll take it. At any rate, it’s a helluva lot better than your “spiritual joy.”

  63. Capozaino says:

    “It is about submitting to and trusting the Lord even if that means a life of woe.”

    I think this statement is entirely accurate as a descriptor of an individual’s willingness to endure for the sake of a cherished principle or higher good in the face of adversity. I don’t think it’s meant to be used as a bludgeon to coerce other people to endure adversity for the sake of *your* cherished principles that they don’t share, or at least prioritize differently.

  64. It sickens me too that you won’t recommend that your gay friends investigate the church.

    I’m glad to hear, though, that some of your best friends are gay.

  65. [deleted]

  66. Mortal happiness does not depend on “sexual release,” or even in finding intimate companionship while in life. Otherwise, single LDS members who don’t find a companion must surely fail to see the benefits of gospel living.

  67. Christian J says:

    ldsp – I’m guessing that intimate hetero relationships are not simply “sexual release”. Why do you reduce our gay brothers and sisters to such a vile characterization?

  68. Christian J says:

    I’m guessing that intimate hetero relationships are not simply “sexual release” – to you.

  69. [deleted]

  70. Let me add to that those who have no legitimate options for sexual release, but who don’t experience same-sex attraction, such those who have mental or physical disabilities that make marriage unlikely, if not prohibitive.

    Have we departed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embraced the Gospel of Freud and Maslow?

  71. Also, I (ldsphilosopher) was quoting the author of this post, who specifically lamented the lack of and legitimate conduit for sexual release for those who experience same-sex attraction.

  72. Marital companionship is about love and sacrifice and understanding and commitment and shared growth and intimacy on physical, emotional, and lofty spiritual levels. Unless we’re talking about teh gays. Then it’s just “sexual release” and “fulfilling homosexual desires.”

  73. Again, I was QUOTING the author of the article.

  74. “Marital companionship is about love and sacrifice and understanding and commitment and shared growth and intimacy on physical, emotional, and lofty spiritual levels.”

    I submit that many more *non-gay* members of the church, for some reason or another, don’t have have an opportunity to obtain this in mortality, than gay members of the church. I submit that there are many more single LDS adults who don’t experience same-sex attraction who will never get married than those who do have same-sex attraction.

    Are they, too, balls of misery? Is the plan of happiness broken for them?

  75. this thread ended up about how we all expected it would

  76. Christian J says:

    Jeff, you speak as if the church does not have a unique problem with retaining single members as well.

  77. The best estimates indicate that 5% of the population experiences same-sex attraction. Let’s say that’s true for the church. Are we really convinced that 100% of the rest are going to find a spouse and marry in this life? If a whole 90% of the rest (which is very, very generous, especially in some parts of the world) find a spouse and get married, and experience the emotional and physical intimacy that marriage entails, that leaves somewhere around 10% of the hererosexual population unmarried and somehow, according to this perspective, lacking the happiness the gospel claims to offer. Is the gospel broken for them too?

    Many people won’t get married in this life. Hetersexual, homosexual, disabled, ugly, whatever. There’s a million and a half reasons why someone might fail to find a spouse, and same-sex attraction is only one of them. Our job is to provide comfort and support for them—not to alter God’s laws to accommodate their desires.

  78. Christian, that is true—but is the solution to say that fornication is no longer a sin?

  79. Jeff, are you really incapable of parsing the difference between not experiencing the fulfillment of marital companionship because for whatever reasons you have been unable to successfully pursue it and being told that you are forbidden to pursue it and that for you to pursue it is a sin?

  80. Christian J says:

    Jeff, I don’t know the answer, but considering we used to be the champions of bigamy, anything is possible.

  81. I think we are oftentimes too certain of that for which we lack sufficient enlightenment to justify such certitude – on both sides of this issue within our Mormon community. We read what the Savior taught and we examine our own lives and spiritual experiences and we draw our conclusions that this is what God or Jesus would do if they were here today. We also allow our understanding of the fallibility of man or the concept of the infallibility of Prophets to drive snap judgments that would likely be seen as either overly sentimental or unrighteously strict in our Maker’s eyes.

    I believe those whom through common consent we have sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators do the best they can today but they are not perfect and that tomorrow God may tell them to do otherwise than that which they have long held to be His opinion and command. That is the beauty of our faith. As individual members we may yearn for a shift in attitudes in one direction or another but what is most important is what we are doing today and tomorrow to live our faith and be a covenant people who will stand for Him whose name we have taken upon ourselves and spread that love by how we treat those around us.

    As President Hinckley once said,

    We can all be a little kinder, a little more generous, a little more thoughtful of one another. We can be a little more tolerant and friendly to those not of our faith, going out of our way to show our respect for them. We cannot afford to be arrogant or self-righteous. It is our obligation to reach out in helpfulness, not only to our own but to all others as well. Their interest in and respect for this Church will increase as we do so.

    It seems the best missionary work is that which actively proselytizes through our lives as individual members. The typical statement is that the Church is true if it just weren’t for all those darn members who can’t get with the program. I don’t know where the Lord will guide the brethren in this issue but I’m not going to allow that to keep me from loving my gay brothers and sisters.

  82. Once “sexual release” has been ensconced in scare quotes, I can’t keep reading, somehow.

  83. like anonforthis(62), I have also been through the process of studying, pleading, hoping, despair, and even near attempts at suicide. There’s still a part of me that wants to believe that if I could just touch the cloak of one of the 15 I could be healed. I’m still coming to grips with it, and will likely continue to try my whole life. No amount of counselling or medication will do anything more than try to help me deal with it as it is. I don’t know how I will ever find joy in it, but something tells me there must be joy in there somewhere, even if it is only in an increased empathy for others going through their own.

    But mine has nothing to do with homosexuality.

    Just like those who spend their days alone, those who never find a way to fit in with the other 95% of the world, those who get the cold comfort of “better when you’re dead”, life in a gospel of families and togetherness offers only a distant hope. But still, we hope. We love those who try to include us, find joy with those who obtain what we may never have, and try to find joy in being who we are – all of who we are.

    For my gay friends, as any of my friends, I would want to invite them to share in the hope and joy I have found in the gospel and this Church. Would it be easier elsewhere? Probably, but this is the hope I have found. It may not heal all wounds, it may even create more, but I know where hope lies.

  84. “Jeff, are you really incapable of parsing the difference between not experiencing the fulfillment of marital companionship because for whatever reasons you have been unable to successfully pursue it and being told that you are forbidden to pursue it and that for you to pursue it is a sin?”

    No person with same-sex attraction is told that it is a sin to pursue marriage. Only that it is a sin to pursue marriage to a member of the same sex. This constraint might prevent them from finding a spouse—but I don’t see that as any different than other constraints that prevent others from finding a spouse. For a single LDS heterosexual, being unable to find a spouse can be very trying. We as a church often lose them. But is the solution to make marriage no longer a requirement for intimacy? Is the solution to abandon what the Lord has revealed about the nature of marriage?

  85. “Once “sexual release” has been ensconced in scare quotes, I can’t keep reading, somehow.”

    Because I was directly quoting the author. Geesh, people.

  86. Christian J says:

    Jeff, we’ve come along since Leviticus 20:13. I say we can go further.

  87. Ah, the blood libel. Good work, Christian J. But you haven’t mentioned that Jeff and the church are also responsible for hundreds of gay teens committing suicide. Don’t be lazy. You can’t take demonization for granted.

  88. Are we to expel all sinners from church then, or just the gay ones? Is that the solution? At least everyone who has visible sin. Sins that can be hidden for a time are welcome, however. Is that how ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ is to be interpreted now? Sad indeed.

  89. “No person with same-sex attraction is told that it is a sin to pursue marriage. Only that it is a sin to pursue marriage to a member of the same sex. This constraint might prevent them from finding a spouse—but I don’t see that as any different than other constraints that prevent others from finding a spouse. For a single LDS heterosexual, being unable to find a spouse can be very trying.”

    See, now you have me sincerely questioning whether you’re even trying to discuss this in good faith. We aren’t taking about simply pursuing marriage or a spouse; we’re talking about pursuing the lasting marital companionship discussed (by both of us) in previous comments, and your answer is that “oh, gays are still totally free to pursue that with opposite sex companions”? Don’t even pretend that you seriously don’t understand the difference between the obstacles that gay mormons have to finding everlasting joy and fulfillment in martial companionship and those faced by straight single mormons.

  90. Christian J says:

    Don’t be silly Adam. I’m just reminding Jeff of the beauty of a living Church.

  91. @Jeff Thayne: What you don’t know about gay people is a lot.

  92. ““Once “sexual release” has been ensconced in scare quotes, I can’t keep reading, somehow.”
    Because I was directly quoting the author. Geesh, people.”

    They’re scare quotes because the commenter finds reading comprehension and retention scary. See? the commenter can’t even continue reading: too scared.

  93. Not particularly.

  94. N, you know not of whom you speak.

  95. I am a gay man. I have had relationships with other men, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from family, friends, and great ward members to overcome some of the challenges. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. There are members of this church who can be short-sighted and hurtful, but those people exist in every walk of life. I find it frustrating when some members, in the guise of compassion, make the mistake of assuming that being active in the Church is more difficult and lonely than the alternative; this is completely untrue. As a gay man who lived the “lifestyle” I was lonely, bitter, and empty. In fact, I contemplated suicide more than once. Even though becoming temple worthy has been a struggle, I have finally found peace. I am happy and fulfilled by my relationship with Jesus Christ. I do not feel lonely or that I am missing out on anything. Loneliness is not knowing God and not having the companionship of the Holy Ghost. If you cannot find meaning or peace in the Gospel, then you aren’t working hard enough. I appreciate the sentiment, but it is misguided. You do not help someone by encouraging them to live in opposition to God’s commandments. If you truly love our brothers and sisters, you understand how precious the Gospel is and how it heals hearts and transforms lives. The Gospel is true regardless of someone’s challenges in this life, and God will not reward his children with loneliness and broken hearts in exchange for faithfulness. It sounds to me as if the author has his own lack of faith to overcome. Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to anyone. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

  96. Christian, thanks for the reminder about continuing revelation. Our understanding of God’s instructions evolve over time as He reveals more to us. That is why we should keep our eyes on the Lord’s spokesmen, and heed their instructions, their warnings, and their counsel. Because there *also* exists something called apostasy, in which individuals disregard and even rebel against the teachings of God and His spokesmen, and consider them a thing of naught.

  97. MikeInWeHo says:

    Ever notice how these threads on the gay issue always seem to take the exit ramp to Crazytown somewhere around comment 100?

    This may not be simply a reflection of us participants, however. The reality is that there are two conflicting. irreconcilable narratives here.

  98. [deleted]

  99. Cue (not so thinly) veiled accusations of apostasy…

  100. it's a series of tubes says:

    It appears that this is comment #100; Mike, hopefully it is not too crazy.

    M, thank you for sharing your perspective.

  101. [deleted]

  102. [deleted]

  103. [deleted]

  104. Thomas Parkin says:

    I too prefer my relationships to ghosts and atomised bits of gods projected over millions of light years to my former relationships with flesh and blood. When I think about how much less lonely I am in ineffable communication with spirit beings, I begin to wonder why God made women, at all.

  105. “The reality is that there are two conflicting. irreconcilable narratives here”
    Exactly. Nothing short of embracing same-sex marriage in the church will suffice, and that’s irreconcilable with church doctrine. So, is God really opposed to same-sex marriage, or is the membership simply holding back God’s revelation with our own biases? I want to be on God’s side, whichever that is, and that currently seems like the former to me. I think the new theology to legitimize same-sex marriage would have a hard time being backwards compatible, but maybe that doesn’t matter. I will say that I would encourage gays to participate in the church, but they only gay friend I have is already active (at least right now).

  106. Ending the temple ban and opposition to interracial marriage wasn’t at all backward compatible. Such, it turns out, is the definition of revelation.

  107. My sister is a married lesbian, and I can discuss The Church and Church doctrine with her on a sort of theoretical level, but no, I would never suggest she join. The Church and The Gospel are not the same. I would share The Gospel with her forever, but I barely make it by in The Church. I struggle to reconcile every day, and I am at least not denied the possibility for earthly/eternal companionship with someone I can actually build a life with.

  108. This whole thread was awesome! If only y’all would un-ban Jettboy…this could have been perfect!

  109. I think what Adam’s trying to say is that you can take the demon out of the homosexual, but you can’t take the homosexual out of the demon.

    Literally.

  110. Brad, I’ve always equated the temple ban with the priesthood ban, which had already had a contradictory precedent (ie., blacks ordained to the priesthood). Is there any Christian precedent, or even Jewish precedent, for same-sex marriage that anybody knows of? Homosexuality has been around forever and has enjoyed varying degrees of acceptance culturally.

  111. Whether something has precedent is irrelevant. There was absolutely no precedent for permitting black members to receive temple ordinances, neither for approving (much less sealing) interracial marriages our treating black folks as social, intellectual, or spiritual equals. The very nature of true revelation is that it sometimes merely restores but often actually reveals. God reveals things He had heretofore been “yet to reveal.”

  112. trevorprice924 says:

    Joseph Smith never really cared much if his new revelation was backwards compatible. Just saying.

  113. [deleted]

  114. [deleted]

  115. #111 “There was absolutely no precedent for permitting black members….”
    Elijah and Sons?

    Now I know you said temple, but the declaration specifically says, as I’m sure you know, “Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.”

    I definitely see precedent for that, and naturally the temple would flow from the priesthood ordination, not the other way around.

    But I completely agree with #113, in a sense. I don’t think that Joseph didn’t care whether or not is increased understanding was backwards compatible. I believe he’d do his best to square any revelation he had received with the foundations of previous revelation. But that doesn’t mean there would be surprises or a broadening of horizons required.

    I’m certain we’ll have many “horizons” broadened in our lives and beyond. I’m also certain gay marriage does not fit into exaltation, which is the ultimate purpose of the organization of the church and priesthood ordinances.

  116. Elijah and sons did not receive their endowment or any other Nauvoo era temple rites.

  117. Jeremiah Stone says:

    I am gay. It seems the Plan of Happiness works for everyone else but people like me. My self-worth has been utterly destroyed because of incorrect teachings about the subject. I so wish that all of my straight brothers and sisters could understand the exquisite pain that it is to fully believe the restored gospel and yet to live as we do. I appreciate the words of those who try to empathize with us. I think that most people, if they knew deep in their heart that they would have to live as we do in order to achieve exaltation, would not walk the path.

    There are some that can only leave the church one way: through self-inflicted death. I could not share this gospel with gay friends, as much as I love and believe it. And in ten or fifteen years, if things don’t change, I may have to leave the church through my own self-inflicted death. I wish I could say that the words I write are hyperbole, but they are not. They are the disappointed conclusions from years of struggle and pain in the church.

  118. @Kaphor:

    You said “gay marriage does not fit into exaltation, which is the ultimate purpose of the organization of the church and priesthood ordinances.”

    You are correct that marriage between same-sex partners does not fit the current LDS scriptural canon’s description of the only kind of marriage which qualifies for exaltation. I have been making this point to many of my gay Mormon friends for a long time, the ones who insist that by staying in the church and trying to “change hearts and minds” as they call it, they will eventually prod the church to change its doctrine on this point. I think they are naive and deceiving themselves, and a senior member of the Presidency of the 70, who’s a friend of mine, has told me essentially the same thing.

    For myself, understanding that this is current LDS doctrine, my own response is “then I don’t want it.” If marriage to a woman is the price of exaltation, then no thank you. For me that would be eternal hell, not eternal bliss. And many of my gay ex-Mormon friends say the same.

    We are all quite serious about this. I remember telling an active faithful straight married LDS friend about it, and he was literally speechless. He could not wrap his brain around the idea that anyone would not want exaltation. But I told him the same thing: if it requires that I be married to a woman, then forget it. He never quite figured out what to say to that. But this absolutely firm conviction in the minds of so many gay ex-Mormons is to me another evidence that if there is any truth in LDS theology, that theology is far from complete. I can’t imagine a god who would create literally hundreds of millions of his own children to feel and love this way and then on that basis exclude them from the highest blessings. That is Calvinistic predestination, not equal opportunity.

  119. J. Max,
    As you know, I think contemplating how much other people ought to suffer to demonstrate my faith is a non-starter. I don’t particularly mind being asked to sacrifice myself (is that a roll of thunder in the background?), but I do find insisting that other people ought to make sacrifices that will never potentially affect or harm me strange. Of course, it is possible I don’t really understand how much people need their coffee and I’m definitely ignoring the pains of drug withdrawal, so I’m possibly a hypocrite. It just doesn’t seem like the same thing to me. Homosexuality isn’t obviously harmful in the way of drugs (or even coffee (brown teeth, people!)).

    Jeff Thayne,
    You are correct that I used that term. And you are correct that I was using it that way (because I did mean sexual release). But Brad and everyone else are correct to point out that I should have meant intimate spousal relationships more generally, which is a thing that gay folk are specifically forbidden to pursue in the church (well, except with someone to whom they may not be (but may be) sexually attracted). Of course, such relationships are not just about sex, but it ain’t chopped liver, either.

    As to your wider point, I guess, again, that I don’t see sexual orientation as something that I expect to be fixed in the resurrection, as I would some crippling, chronic disease. I don’t see it as something that the Atonement would need to change. I could be wrong, of course. But I don’t see it.

    Adam G,
    As ever, I am amused by your clever wordplay and vivial non-sequitors. I hope the vests aren’t too tight.

    M.,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad that the move into church activity has been a blessing in your life. I do have a question: if you could have church activity and live with a committed gay partner, would you prefer that to choosing one or the other?

    SilverRain and Howard,
    Please take the who should ban whom and when and why show to some other place where they care about that discussion.

  120. [deleted]

  121. [deleted]

  122. [deleted]

  123. One of my best friends and mentors is a married gay man. He’d make a fantastic Mormon, but I have no idea what the process to become one would entail for him. He’s been with his partner as long as I’ve been alive.

    I agree with J Max’s point, in an intellectual sense. The Lord’s message of “follow me, whatever the cost” makes sense. But my heart recoils at the thought that it could mean leaving your partner of 35 years. And what of a heaven that would break up that relationship? I have to believe that we don’t know all there is to know on this issue.

  124. I think we see through a glass much more darkly about many more things than we tend to think.

    I believe passionately in faith and the overall concepts that constitute Mormon theology, but I’m not a big fan of absolute certainty when it comes to most of what we discuss online.

  125. John,

    I appreciate your question. My faith is in God, not people. I feel that there is a lack of credit being given to all the active LDS people who are kind, caring and supportive. I know many people who have given me their support and unconditional acceptance. If my faith was in people, I would have left the Church and never looked back. I know, from many hours of prayer and fasting, that God created the Gospel. I accept the Gospel as a whole not because I don’t question, but because I have questioned everything and the doctrine remains flawless. I have received my share of bigotry, both as an active LDS member and as a “jack Mormon” living with another man. The entire membership is not to blame for the words and actions of some, and neither is God.

    To your question, I choose to live the Gospel as God designed it. Homosexual relationships can never lead to exaltation or the fullness of blessings God has promised His children. I would not choose to have a gay partner. I wasn’t unhappy because of the Church, I was unhappy because I knew that I was living a life that conflicted with what I knew to be true. I hear gays blaming the Church for their misery. The Light of Christ burns within us, and the Spirit whispers what is true. If you are okay with yourself, no one else can rob you of your peace. If I had a spiritual witness that God was fine with same-sex relationships, I would be fine with it. But that cannot happen. God is unchanging, and truth will not change. The leadership of our church cannot update God’s will. I know what it means to feel God’s love now, and the love I had with another man pales in comparison.

    I hope this answers your question. Thank you for asking.

  126. M.,

    I’m not surprised that you have felt a new outpouring of the Spirit in your life on having returned to the church. When I returned to the church, putting increased distance between myself and promiscuity, among other things, I had a similar experience. I think you’ve got some assumptions that are untrue and unwise and that will force you to face some tough cognitive dissonance in the future. It is always right to be seeking to understand more and better, and we cannot be dependent on anyone else to do that for us. Also, as Obi-Wan Kenobi says, one must do what one feels is right, of course. Best of luck to you.

  127. M.,
    You didn’t answer my question, but possibly I phrased it poorly. If God said that homosexual marriage and committed homosexual intimate relationships within the bounds of marriage were just fine and a path to exaltation, would you prefer that to having to choose between God and a committed homosexual relationship?

  128. J. Max is talking to me off blog and, while I don’t want to post his words to me without permission, I do want to post my latest response to him because I think it is good and helps explain myself more.

    J. Max,
    I agree totally that we are to submit to God’s will. I question whether it is you or I that are correctly interpreting God’s will in this instance. I don’t know that my disagreement is with Him. But I am sufficiently sinful, willful, and silly that I should definitely question my assumptions about that as well.
    I guess I think that submission is necessary, not because it is inherently a good thing, but because I think it is only when we have humbled ourselves that we allow God into our lives and it is only then that we allow Him to change us for the better. The commandments exist for two reasons in my mind: 1. If we live them, we’ll be happier; 2. Since we don’t live them, we become repentant, which makes us humble enough to allow God to change us. With gay folk, I don’t know if he needs to change their being gay, so I’m not sure if they should be repentant about that in particular. Of course, they are as prone as you and I to promiscuity, stupid-headedness, pride, willfulness, and so forth, so we’ve all got lots to repent of (as Brian pointed out on the thread). I’m just not sure that the sexual orientation part is something to be repented of (and the church clearly isn’t either, right now). But submission can be necessary.
    The best scriptural justification for submission, to my mind, is Alma and his people in the city of Helam. However, there, clearly, the people demanding submission were sinful. Certainly, God wanted to teach Alma’s people by means of submission, but that doesn’t mean the folk’s forcing submission were justified. It goes back to my question about whether we are Christians or Zoramites? Sure, the Zoramites oppression of their brethren led to those brethren humbling themselves sufficient to listen to Alma, but the Zoramites weren’t justified in their behavior either.
    Does God restrict access to himself arbitrarily? Yes. All the time. That is way agreeing to baptism is an act of humiliation (in the sense of humbling oneself). I’m just not certain that this act of humiliation is necessary or demanded by God. Allowed for a time perhaps (like the Priesthood ban?), but not demanded. At least, that’s where I am now.
    Am I being unfair to you? Probably. So, I’m sorry. As I’ve long said, I much more worried about the influence of the Zoramites in the modern church than Korihor and so I mostly consider evidences of their bad faith in my fellow parishioners. But I shouldn’t be blind to the Korihor’s amongst us (including, on occasion, probably me). You are certainly correct to call out my rhetorical excesses.

  129. Finally, I formally apologize to Kristine for apostrophe misuse in my previous comment. Please don’t hurt me.

  130. [deleted]

  131. “mod” note:

    For the record, I deleted the longest, boringest threadjack ever regarding who should be banned from which blogs (not even BCC! hello people, try to stay relevant). Like irrelevant parts of Moby Dick read by that “Bueller?” guy boring. Apologies to a few others of you who got caught in the crossfire of the mass deletion. Everybody else: You’re welcome.

  132. John,

    I’ll try to be more clear. To me, your question is theoretical and has no basis in fact. Answering it is difficult because 1) I feel God has clearly expressed his feelings on the issue of same gender relationships, and 2) I don’t think there will be a revelation in which He reveals it was all a cosmic joke. So I cannot say yes, because that won’t happen. I do not yearn for a romantic relationship with another man. It would’ve been easier to have the option, but it’s not that simple.

    Sorry, that’s as clear as I can be. I responded to this thread just to provide another perspective, and I hope I haven’t seemed flippant or rude in any way. I appreciate the dialogue, I wish people had been talking about this several years ago.

    @Thomas, I wish you the best as well, but I would say the same to you. Quoting Obi Wan a fictional character, when you have the word of God available is an odd choice. Good luck on your journey.

  133. John C,

    I don’t think your hypothetical questioning with M is ever going to go where you want it to go, because I don’t think that M recognizes any lasting value in a committed gay relationship. So, at the risk of throwing away all the value this comment could have had with a hyperbolic analogy, I would say that it’s like telling an alcoholic who was out of control but became sober with help of the church and Word of Wisdom: “But what if God said it was ok to drink in [insert controlled, moderate, acceptable ways here]…” Well, the reformed alcoholic, having come back from very negative experiences, isn’t going to see the benefits of moderation there — even though there might be plenty of others who can.

    ***

    Overall, I think that this has been mentioned by others…but I think it’s interesting how some people are willing to throw companionship under the bus when it comes to gay people (assuming that they are not advocating that gay people attempt mixed orientation marriages…), assuming that it’s not really a big deal of what the LDS church teaches about what this life is about, what brings us joy, etc., (or if life even is about joy to begin with!)

    …but these same people would probably recognize that for straight people in the church, companionship IS considered a big deal. I mean, other commenters have already mentioned that it’s not like single people in the church get a walk in the park. But it’s more than that — the church’s message for single people is always: get married. Get married sooner! Do not delay; do not shirk; do not put it off.

    And I mean, I can understand why the church would do that. The church best serves (heterosexually) married families with kids. It hasn’t figured out how to really deal with people who are single past a certain age or point.

    …so, the fact that it turns around and says to gay people, “You, who could find companionship, forget that, forget about the potential value in that, and stay single in our church where we don’t really know how to handle straight single people, much less gay single people.”

  134. Andrew S great point about companionship. I believe just about anyone is capable of finding a great companion and best friend of the opposite sex, as well as the same sex. Anyone who would claim to be repulsed by this is either immature or has issues. You might as well try to convince me that on account of some biological reason a pderson is antisocial and therefore has no obligation to be kind to another. A selfdescribed gay person can learn to enjoy companionship in all its forms of others just as a self described straight could learn to enjoy same sex companionship. Culture no doubt plays a big role, as bisexuality was widely practiced and praised for a long time in ancient Greece. Humans are capable of a wide range of adaption to various norms – something the left knows very well but conviently forgets when some sacred cow is raised then its all biology
    is destiny.

  135. Thanks from me, too Cynthia. I definitely let my lack of seriousness skew me off topic.

  136. k,

    I guess the issue is I think that most people would view marriage as being a little more than finding a “best friend” (although I do think that many people would consider their spouses to be their best friend…the spousiness isn’t completely captured by the best friend-iness.)

    And whatever the difference is that makes a romantic relationship different than a best friend relationship…for whatever reason, not “just about anyone” appears capable of finding that with both the opposite sex as well as the same sex. You can claim that those who don’t feel they can are either “immature or have issues,” but then I guess you’d just have to say that most of humanity is either immature or has issues.

  137. M., thanks for your contribution to the discussion, I appreciate your input.

  138. “Vivial” non sequitors?

    I don’t expect you to be able to keep up with the train of my logic, but I do expect that you’ll describe it as either ‘convivial’ or ‘vivid.’ No portmanteaus on this train, we don’t have time for your intellectual baggage.

  139. I wonder what will happen when someone in a legally sanctioned gay marriage joins the church in Iowa or Massachusetts or wherever. Or has that already happened?

  140. Aaron Brown says:

    Adam likes ponies.

  141. It’s really not as bad as you think it is, which is still not as bad as I thought it was. It’s like Christ’s burden. It’s only light and easy because He requires us to shed the enormous burden of the cultural baggage and misunderstandings we inherit as a part of the world. The idea of adding Christ’s burden on top of the World’s baggage is justifiably overwhelming. In fact, that combination will crush even the strongest of us if we don’t put off one of those yokes. The question has always been which one?

  142. JennyP1969 says:

    Some of you people need counseling. Sheez….being gay is not a “lesser than” affliction. How bigoted and phobic. You so easily condemn someone besides yourself, of course, to a mortal life of loneliness and woe. Seriously? What is Christlike about that? How flippant. How arrogant. How unkind. THANK HEAVEN the Savior is much, much more merciful than you. Gays don’t need changing. But narrow-minded bigots sure do. And sisters who won’t speak to their gay brother for years are in sore need of repentance, as well as counseling. And i know of two families where gay men married women, trying to fit themselves into one very big lie. And it’s killing them. Living a lie is horrible for your spiritual health.

    Promiscuous lifestyles — hetero or homosexual — are certainly not healthy to the soul. No one is encouraging or condoning such activity. But love, pure and true, faithful and committed, and monogamous is holy, by any definition. This is not indulgence. This is charity, the pure love of Christ. This is loving all my neighbors as myself, wanting for them the same joy I find in my heterosexual marriage and family. Every member of the church should spend a month with a gay couple/family. It would make Mormons more Christlike, to be sure.

    I have gay/lesbian friends in committed relationships, some for over 40 years. I tell them about the church when they ask. I tell them up front that we are a conservative religion (they already know) trying to grow as we go, line upon line and precept upon precept. I add how ignorant all folks are, but we are trying to be better and do better. None have joined, but they love me, as I love them. None of my hetero friends have joined either because we are “racist, bigoted, homophobic, misogynists.” They love me too, but feel I’m in denial of my subservient, submissive role in my church.

    Sigh….. It’s not easy being a missionary. But sometimes it’s way easier than being a Mormon with some of you people. The rest of you I’m just plain proud to be among. But I learn from all.

  143. MikeInWeHo says:

    Thanks for that, Jenny. You are spot on. People like Henry need to spend a month with a gay couple. The rank homophobia in comment 143 remarkable.

  144. Individuals are different and defy universal stereotypes.

    We forget that sometimes – on both sides of issues like this.

  145. Capozaino says:

    19th Century Version of 95
    I am a 17-year-old girl. I have had monogamous marriages with other men, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from my 40-year-old husband, sister wives, friends, and great ward members to overcome some of the challenges. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. … Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to monogamists. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

    19th Century Henry
    Comment 95 hit it dead center.

    1950s (80s?) Version of 95
    I am a married woman. I have had jobs outside the home and used birth control, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from family, friends, and great ward members to overcome some of the challenges, like our dozen children and my lack of fulfillment. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. … Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to anyone. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

    1950s (80s?) Henry
    Comment 95 hit it dead center.

    Pre-1978 Version of 95
    I am an African-American. I have held the priesthood in other denominations, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from my white leaders to overcome some of the challenges. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. … Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to anyone. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

    Pre-1978 Henry
    Comment 95 hit it dead center.

    Another Current Version of 95
    I am a newly married person over 30 years old. I have searched for love, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy to settle, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from the spouse I didn’t really want, friends, and great ward members to overcome some of the challenges. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. … Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to anyone. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

    Henry
    Comment 95 hit it dead center.

    Seriously, I Could Go On 95
    I am a scientist. I have believed in evolution, and a few years ago I turned my back on that and became active in the Church. It wasn’t easy, in fact, it was incredibly difficult and took a lot of support from apologists to overcome some of the challenges. I have lived both ways, and there is no comparison, being true to my religion is the only choice. … Don’t be afraid to bear your testimony to anyone. You may help them in ways you do not realize.

    Do You Think Any Of This Is Getting Through To Henry
    Comment 95 hit it dead center.

  146. JennyP1969 says:

    M, #95: I respect your comment and your experience, but you cannot speak for all people. Perhaps you did not fall deeply in love with someone…perhaps you even lived promiscuously and claim the lifestyle is this way. To be sure, there are many people in all lifestyles who live immorally before marriage. And it would be very wrong to encourage anyone to leave the teachings of Jesus Christ. Personally, it is rampant promiscuity in homosexuality that I believe is condemned in the OT. Hooray for that, yes!

    But monogamous abiding love cannot be wrong, ever. To love another person is to “see the face of God.” I know very lonely members who are quietly gay in this church. They, too, have been suicidal. To belittle their experience as not understanding the gospel enough, or not applying it sufficiently is NOT understanding Jesus’s teachings to mourn with those that morn. It’s also plain insulting and holier-than-thou. What works for you is great for you. But just because you aren’t lonely and broken-hearted DOES NOT mean that the church’s — not the Savior’s at all — but the church’s teachings aren’t harmful, hurtful, and very much un-Christlike. It is IMHO wrong to my covenants to not encourage change in church culture, and patience to gay members and investigators with this flawed, mortal religion. Stick to Jesus. He’s spot on.

  147. #150 – That, Jenny, is the core Gospel principle I believe should be involved in a discussion like this – the command to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. There is so much we as a people could do better with regard to our homosexual brothers and sisters without sacrificing any of our core doctrine – and so many of us hurt them on a regular basis in ways that totally unnecessary. If we were treating them in the here and now as Jesus, of Nazareth, treated the marginalized within his own religion during his ministry, we might have more of a moral foundation on which to stand and discuss their lives – but we aren’t. We simply aren’t – and I don’t if it would make a difference in the context of the Gospel if we were.

    Especially lacking that foundation of open-armed love, mourning and comfort, we have no justification whatsoever for reviling, condemning and refusing to associate with those whom we collectively see as the publicans and sinners of our day. It was the Pharisees who took that stance in the time of Jesus, and they received his condemnation in ways that publicans and sinners did not.

    I think that’s worth considering.

  148. JennyP1969 says:

    Yes, Ray, I agree. We had the missionaries for dinner tonight. They are discouraged. They bump up against many things non-members list as reasons to not consider investigating the church. This subject is one of them, especially for young families and YSA-age people. My husband is adamant that we not sacrifice core doctrine for numbers. But to me, it seems we lump all gays into a tidy box labeled “perverted.” Its so easy for the 95% to say how wrong the 5% are — that being true to who you are is wrong. If I lived in a world where I was in the 5% that was heterosexual, and I met my husband, fell in love and was told you cannot ever be together, never hold hands, marry, build a wonderful life together, and don’t worry, it’s okay, God loves you, and if you live righteously you won’t feel lonely or sad……and hopefully you will find a wonderful woman to marry…..gracious, words cannot begin to express the sorrow, revulsion, and misunderstood I’d feel. Or, if they said I could love my husband but never act on it — that would obviously be cruel. We can encourage righteous behavior for all. We can learn to finally accept the morally clean of both lifestyles. We can realize that gay BSA leaders are not pedophiles.

    We have so much to learn and cannot use “core doctrine” as an excuse to not live as we ought to. It isn’t about numbers or tolerance. It’s about learning and love. It is about coming together in truth and righteousness for all, not just straight people.

  149. Jenny P (150):

    I understand that people are different. One person’s answer is certainly not going to be the answer for everyone else. However, it is disingenuous to dismiss those answers that make us feel uncomfortable. I wonder what it says about the strength of our argument when we have to resort to suggesting that someone must have never fallen in love or been promiscuous in order to actually choose to follow Christ.

    To the Rest:

    My observation from these comments is that most people pushing for a change in the Church fall into one of two categories. First, individuals who have chosen to leave the Church and still feel compelling interest to advocate for change. Second, individuals whose primary motivation in seeking change is to reduce the discomfort felt by their friends and family (both real and hypothetical).

    Unfortunately, those most impacted by the current situation tend to be ignored. There are more of us with Same-Sex Attraction who are happy in the Church than most would think. The reality is that most of us don’t make a big deal of it for the simple fact that it isn’t that big of a deal to us. That’s not to say that we don’t have substantial challenges. But we’ve gained a perspective that allows us to move forward.

    I understand that most people on this thread are likely to dismiss my experience (and those of thousands like me) because it doesn’t fit into their paradigm in which gays are supposed to be victims. But for those who might be genuinely interested in understanding how the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ really does fit for everyone, please visit http://www.northstarlds.org/blog

  150. Kevin,
    Thank you for your perspective. Would you mind answering the question I posed to M.? If you could have had a committed, homosexual relationship and enjoy full fellowship in the church and a chance at exaltation, would you prefer that to choosing one or the other?

  151. Also, folks, don’t pester poor Henry. He’s so fixated on this issue you are libel to give him an aneurysm.

  152. I am gay. I slept with a man for 8 1/2 years. I also bathed him, changed him, and took him to radiation. And somewhere in all that, long after the memory of sex had died, I never stopped loving him. I don’t know if changing my lover’s diapers qualifies me for the celestial kingdom, but I think it entitles me to a bit more respect than that shown in some of the sex-obsessed imaginings above.

    http://zokwezo.blogspot.com/2012/05/diapers-and-bathtubs.html

  153. A bit more on topic:
    John C., not being LDS I cannot say whether the church is good for gays, but I believe that gays are good for the church. As a kid, I was thrilled when Dorothy got to Oz, and never understood why she would ever want to go back to Kansas, yet go back she did. Maybe she missed home? Maybe she wanted to bring color back to her loved ones living in black-and-white? Both leaving and returning take courage, but of a very different kind.

  154. Thanks, Dan. I appreciate your willingness to share your life with us.

  155. John C.,

    That’s a very good question. I’ve often wondered how I’d respond if the Lord were to reveal in my lifetime that homosexual relationships are eternally possible. Would I be angry that I chose not to pursue one? Would I resent my current life? Would I leave my family? I don’t know for sure.

    I do know that the love I have developed for my wife is absolutely the most real and powerful influence in my life. I know that without her, I never would have been blessed with my son or the other children who have blessed or will bless our home. I’m sure that in a homosexual relationship I would have been able to raise children, but not these ones who have been placed in my life. I know that I dated different men, felt far more than sexual lust for many of them, and I believe I could have had a happy life with at least some of them.

    But that’s not the question, it it? You’re asking if I would trade the experiences that I did have–that I believe God led me to have–in exchange for other experiences that in many ways would have been less painful and felt more natural. At the time, the answer would have been yes. In a heartbeat. I would have gladly embraced the opportunity to experience a loving romantic relationship with another man. But knowing what I do now, I have to make a judgment between the life I have and one which will never be more than a hypothetical possibility. And that answer is absolutely not. I am far too happy and love my family far too much to wish that I’d passed this up.

    It reminds me of something I read recently: “I wouldn’t pay a dime to re-live my life, but I wouldn’t take anything to have not lived it. Ultimately, I cannot believe that I would be happier in a homosexual relationship, even if that relationship qualified for exaltation. I came across this quote just yesterday, and it feels so applicable to this discussion.

    “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    At this point in my life, the only way I can make sense of my lived experience is to understand that God’s plan for me was to marry my wife. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been more difficult than I could imagine, intensely lonely at times (even when I was not alone), and more exquisitely painful than I could possibly bear. It was all of that and more. But the reality is that I didn’t do it myself. I couldn’t have. Christ’s Atonement defies conventional wisdom and compensates for mortality in ways that I can’t really explain. His Grace has the power to so radically change our lives that what once seemed impossible is simple and what once seemed desirable no longer even matters.

  156. Thank you, Kevin. That is a good and wise response.

  157. JennyP1969 says:

    Kevin L.: no one dismissed your answer, and certainly my feelings on this matter are NOT born of discomfort for anyone. I do not view gay people as victims. ALL my feelings are born of pure, pure love for all people. I do not believe telling someone to live in pain and loneliness while not being alone, as you say you do, is healthy or righteous, or Christlike. Your wife deserves full, undiluted, crazy-for-you physical and mental/emotional love. Do you love her? Oh yes! But is it your best love? I don’t believe so. If I married a woman by lack of option to marry my husband because of my religion, I would do my best. (Well, actually, I couldn’t do it.) But it wouldn’t come close to being authentic the way it is for my husband. My gay friends have not felt unhappy living monogamously. They feel honest and are happy. I felt my suggestions were understandable, based on your comment and my experience. I’m sorry I offended you — I truly meant no offense. Yes, the atonement gets all of us through our afflictions and trials. My point is that you should not even need it to live true to who you are, and the church and society needs much, much greater love toward our gay brothers and sisters….and especially to walk the talk behind the words. We need to walk with gay people — know them intimately. It makes a world of difference in our ignorance, stereotyping, and judgment. But I fear most of the 95% do not have such close relationships. Being gay is not a defect. It is not unholy, or against God’s plan. Being immoral is. Maybe you can be married to a woman and are getting through the lonely and painful times. Others cannot do so. IMHO, it’s not like Christ to ask them to do so, or to be alone, unmarried, for life. Rejecting gay family members is completely outside the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    I want to say I’m happy for you, but…well….I wish you more joy, less pain, wonderful, beautiful memories with your precious family, and every holy thing God can bestow. I wish you love….

    And, I too, believe ” gays are good for the church”. And that’s how I’m doing my missionary work with my friends from now on! Thank you Daniel Weston!!

  158. it's a series of tubes says:

    Do you love her? Oh yes! But is it your best love? I don’t believe so.

    The hubris inherent in this judgement passed on someone else’s marital relationship is staggering.

  159. i’ts a series of tubes, it is the irony in your statement that I find staggering. 95%+ of the time, when a judgment has been passed on someone else’s marital relationship in an LDS SSM context, it is not the pro-gay side providing it. Perhaps we really have evolved when everyone’s marriage gets the same scrutiny from well-meaning outsiders.

  160. it's a series of tubes says:

    Daniel – your point is well taken, and the irony was not lost on me when I was typing the comment :) That being said, would you agree that “passing judgement” on someone’s else marital relationship via the limited data points provided by that person in a blog comment seems to overreach? As for me, I can’t fathom the mindset that would lead me to say to another person: “Your marriage that you purport to be happy in? Sorry, I know that’s not your best love.”

  161. If both sides went into the marriage with full disclosure, my instinct is not to pass judgment on others’ private choices, though with a heavy heart. Consider:

    http://mormonsformarriage.com/?p=427

    “Approximately 20% of gay men marry women over the course of their lives (Janus & Janus, 1993). Buxton (1994) reported that approximately 2 million families must deal with emotional and cognitive dissonance that exist in mixed-orientation marriage (MOM), and that 15% of these marriages continue past a 3-year duration.”

    I will Kevin and his wife well. Be gentle with each other’s self esteem.

  162. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks for the link, Daniel. An important caveat – the Buxton book cited (now nearly 20 years out of date) indicated that only 15% of the mixed-orientation marriages continued for more than three years after the gay or bisexual spouse came out to the straight spouse, rather than three years after the wedding; it was also interesting to note that Buxton indicated that “The significant finding is that about half of those [in MoM relationships] who tried to make their marriages work succeeded”

  163. Daniel,

    I appreciate your authentic support. I don’t think it is disrespectful to urge caution in this issue. It’s a choice that I would never want to make for some one else. I would definitely encourage anyone considering such a marriage to really examine all the aspects and potential risks of that decision. That said, I would encourage the same level of thoughtfulness to anyone considering any marriage.

    The data you cite are powerful evidence of the potential risks of mixed-orientation marriages. At the same time, those statistics have been misused. For example, the 3 year duration refers to the time after the gay/bisexual spouse comes out (which may have been after 20 years of marriage). Also, the sample did not contain any couples in which the same-sex attraction was disclosed beforehand. They also don’t address any distinction between couples who both intended to maintain the relationship, or those that took action (such as marriage counseling) from those who disclosed their orientation in the context of divorce.

    Again, that is not to downplay the very real complications that same-sex attractions can present in a marriage. They do exist, and I believe that they are not categorically different from other challenges that arise in marriage. I’m not suggesting that all gay men can or should marry women, but the fact that many of those relationships have failed does not mean that all are doomed or destined to remain second-rate. I don’t read your comments to imply you believe that, and I appreciate your perspective.

  164. Jenny,

    At first reading, I was bothered by your comment. My impulse was to respond to all the problems I saw in it. I wanted to point out that my feelings of loneliness and pain were actually fairly short lived. For about the first two years of our marriage, things were up and down. However, over the last four years, SSA has really moved into a place on the back burner in both my personal life and in our relationship. We used to discuss my attractions and related issues at least weekly. Now it can be months before either of us even thinks to check-in on them.

    But what I did get from your comment as I re-read it, was a genuine feeling of compassion and concern for others. That changes the whole message. Where I wanted to read judgment or disapproval into your comment, I think I’m able to see a more charitable understanding.

    For example: I read you comment to suggest the Atonement is great, but you shouldn’t need it. I was like, “Wow, what an Anti-Christ attitude!” The entire Gospel of Jesus Christ is centered on the understanding that all of us desperately need the Atonement, not only to cover our personal sins, but also to overcome the effects of mortality. The idea that we shouldn’t need the Atonement is a faith killer. But it seems like you really mean that members of the Church should do a better job extending Christ’s love, compassion, and support rather than being a source of pain and suffering. I couldn’t agree more. As a body of Saints, we aren’t very good at this.

    I also got pretty worked up when you said you didn’t believe my love for my wife was my “best love.” But then the more I thought about it, you’re probably right. I’m not sure what “best love” is. Is it a straight guy who loves his wife and still fantasizes about Mila Kunis? I hear straight couples all the time say that they love each other more now than they did when they were married. Does that mean that what they had wasn’t their best love? I don’t know. I guess I can only do my best.

  165. I am delighted that this thread is still alive. It’s a darn shame, though, that it has gotten serious and even productive.

  166. Jennyp Gay sex is most definitely against church teachings

  167. Kevin, thank you very much for your comments. They enrich this thread immeasurably.

    Adam, thanks for the laugh.

  168. MikeInWeHo says:

    I don’t see gay people like me and Dan trying to ban the marriages of people like Kevin L, though.

  169. Nor do you see Kevin L. snarking at you. So apparently there isn’t an equivalence in everything.

  170. Phil,
    Gay Korea is Best Korea.

  171. And on that helpful note, let’s shut the comments down.

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