A regular (though mostly quiet) BCC reader recently emailed me the following:
My Church Service Troubles
Recently, my service in a church calling has started to bother me. It’s not the time investment, although there’s a lot of that. I am a member of a Stake Presidency, after all. What’s bothering me is that my service in the calling might be involving me in unfairness toward gay people in the Church.
Let me tell you about two recent disciplinary councils we had to hold. The first was for a 52-year-old bachelor. He had a years-long pattern of sexual sin. Starting in his early twenties, he began to go to massage parlors in order to pay for sex. He sometimes also found women he could pay for sex on street corners. All told, he had paid for sex several dozen times.
The second council was for a 22-year-old single brother. This young man considers himself gay but wants to be a faithful Mormon. He says he’s trying to live a celibate life. One night recently, he failed at that goal and had sex with a non-member young man who was about his age. This was the only time he had ever had sexual relations.
During both councils, I felt the Spirit prompting me to speak out for mercy. And I did. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do.
In the first council, for the 52-year-old, the members of the High Council and the rest of the Stake Presidency were moved by my speech in favor of mercy. The man was disfellowshipped, not excommunicated. He was also referred to LDS Family Services. I felt good about this.
In the second case, the 22-year-old, nobody listened to me. He was excommunicated.
I know that both of these men broke the Law of Chastity. Church discipline obviously applied to both. But I can’t help thinking that the older man had the greater sin. I worry that my speaking out for mercy helped make things come out wrong. How can I keep serving in the Church when my service might lead to punishing gay people more harshly than straight people who have committed the same or even worse sins?
When the Stake President asked me to support his decision in both cases, I agreed. Was that a sin? How do I repent?
[Note: This is a sensitive topic, not least because it deals with personal confidentialities. The personal (but not substantive) details have been altered to protect the innocent (or guilty, as the case may be). Some, no doubt, will consider it plain wrong to talk about disciplinary councils at all. Others will assume that I simply made the whole thing up to ignite controversy (though I assure you that I really received this email from a real BCC participant whom I really trust to be telling the truth). Others still might demand that I disclose the actual details and sources. I have no such details, and will categorically refuse to reveal the identity of the source. I don’t want to hurt any of the actual people involved, any more than they might have already been by what happened. Don’t like these ground rules? You’re completely welcome to not participate in the discussion at all.]