Paths Forward

There has been a lot of talk about the policy change and what it means for the Church and for each of us. I deplore the policy change. But guess what — I’m not going anywhere. This is my church and my people.

Mormons feel so much pressure to follow predetermined paths. These come from lots of different sources: church leaders, parents, peers, ex-Mormons, spouses, the list goes on and on. But Jesus has made it clear that He is the way, the truth and the life. All other narratives are false. We’re not here to be subject to some inexorable pattern laid out for us by other people. We’re here to take on ourselves the name of Christ and abandon such false stories (including the false stories we tell about ourselves [1]).

So I see this policy change, this awful policy change that I cannot support, and already I see the narratives circling. Gosh, this must mean I don’t believe in the Church anymore and must be reconsidering my membership! Goodness, if I don’t support this policy change, I’m a bad Mormon! But those stories are false. I am who I am before God, and am responsible before Him only. I refuse to follow some stupid cookie cutter journey towards apostasy. I also refuse to embrace a narrative of fundamentalism and judgment over my fellow Saints. Screw both of those paradigms. This is my church and my people.

———————-
[1] Thanks to Adam Miller for teaching me about narratives, true and false.

Comments

  1. *drops mic*

  2. Yes. Amen. This is my church and my people and I’m not going anywhere either.

  3. Whatever the heck all that nonsense means. Here’s what matters. Either you’ll stand up and oppose this, CTR, let the consequences follow, or you’re a hypocrite, period. For some that means resignation. For others, like me, it means making noise, a lot of noise, which perhaps means getting kicked out.

  4. I suggest you apply that logic to every situation in your life, Andrew, and see what consequences follow. I believe the line goes, “Hey, I’m not being a jerk, I’m just being honest.”

  5. Andrew, CTR is generally good advice.

  6. Amen, SG. Proud to be among your people.

  7. Spiritual fist bump, Ms Tracy.

  8. Word up, Evans.

  9. You speak truth. Down to the middle of me.

  10. I’m mad as hell too, and I feel compelled to stick around and stay mad. Because frankly I shudder at the thought of a Mormonism in which the crazies go unchecked by saner saints.

  11. cookie queen says:

    Precisely. And I never use a cookie cutter.

  12. Amen. I will stay mad. Maybe forever. But I will stay.

  13. Sadly this is the equivalent of the 1949 First Presidency Statement on blacks for me. When I look at the milky sum of President Monson’s era of revelation; stay away from p0rn, be nice to widows, call younger missionaries, and now the Orwellian we must stigmatize the children of gays in order to protect them I’m left with the very disheartening conclusion we have been following blind guides. I am uncertain about the path forward if there is one for me, the social costs are high, and I feel a foolish about the path I’ve been on. Infallibility isn’t a feature it’s a necessary human flaw and should be minimized not maximized and defended or celebrated. At this point I’m unwilling to continue to rationalize the withering fruits of these pretend prophets.

  14. Thank you Steve. I completely agree.

  15. For some, being true to oneself means staying.

    For others, it means leaving. That’s okay, too. Some are realizing their church, the church they thought they were a part of, has changed seemingly overnight. They don’t recognize this church anymore. And so they choose to leave.

    We should validate both paths, not blow our trumpet repeatedly about why our path is so awesome.

  16. Steve, let us know in which Adam Miller book to look for that lesson, pls & thx.

  17. Eve of Destruction says:

    The post comes off as if you’re the one who has been called to tread a difficult road without support from others. The policy’s not about you, though.

  18. @Owen

    I will echo Andrews comments here, life outside the church does not really apply. You see in real life there is right and wrong but sometimes also that murky grey area we so often find ourselves in. In the church there is no such thing, there is no compromise. The church is either Gods only true and living church guided by his servants the prophets or it isnt. There is no middle ground.

    Steve I couldnt help but feel a little pride in this stance you are taking here, please correct me if I am wrong. Bring part of this church is nothing to be proud of, it isnt your church, you have no say in it, you offer no guidance in its policies and direction. Thats all decided in board meetings way above everyones heads who comment on here.
    Granted you can complain but you arent really following the church if you do, there are two options if you want to follow the churches own definition of itself. You can take a stand and leave or you can bow your heads and say ‘yes’ (dont forget the veil ladies). Thats all there is too it, other than that its acknowledging yourself as a hypocrite. I remember Jesus saying a couple of things about those people.

    This apparent bold stance you think you are taking does not require an ounce of courage or conviction.

    Again I may have got this all wrong, but thats the tone I got from your post.

  19. Eve, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for the reality check.

  20. When you are determined to leave the Church, “one excuse is a good an another” I don’t remember raising my hand to sustain you as my Prophet Seer & Revelator.

  21. Andrew, John –

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

    For real, though, I think it takes much more courage to embrace the uncertainty of nuance than it takes to make black-and-white decrees. Some things just aren’t that simple.

  22. forthelove says:

    ” I refuse to follow some stupid cookie cutter journey towards apostasy.
    Steve, the reasons for so called “apostasy” are personal, painful and varied. This statement is very insensitive.

  23. nrc42

    Yes which is exactly the stance the church takes, things are black or they are white.

    When I wrote those things thats the point I was trying to get across. I am judging the church by exactly how the church wishes to be defined. There is no room for wishy washy feelings or thoughts, you are in and obedient or you are disobedient and last time I checked God wasnt a fan of that.

    Again like I said in my original post life is an experience of different shades of color. To acknowledge that means you do not acknowledge the church because it says the opposite.

  24. I think that’s just inventing another black-and-white binary. Can one have a nuanced view of an organization that itself has black-and-white views? I think the answer is yes.

  25. Yes.

  26. Forthelove:I understood Steve to have been responding to the implication that one cannot be a good ally and stay in the Church. I hope that we can all acknowledge that leaving is a personal and painful decision. So can staying, though. The cookie-cutter narratives suggest that staying only means letting the thinking be done once the Brethren speak, and that leaving means the only possibility for free thought. Steve’s right to reject that dichotomy.

    And while I do think that Eve has a valid point, in that the policy does come down harder on gay people than straight ones, on the other hand it’s not as though all the straight folks have been sitting on the beach in Cancun sipping piña coladas while our sisters and brothers burn. The body of Christ means that we suffer when they suffer. The cookie-cutter narrative suggests that loving gay people demands leaving. Who, then, is supposed to sit in solidarity with the gay people who choose to stay? It’s a supporting role, to be sure, but it has its costs.

  27. Thanks for proving my point, John.

  28. reaneypark says:

    I believe there are ways to oppose bad policies in the church without leaving the church. It has been done before and it will be done again. We’re already seeing examples of backtracking locally when real families are getting pushed through this awful meat-grinder.

  29. forthelove says:

    Anon., Perhaps you are correct about what Steve was trying to say. However, the problem with Steve’s statement is that it assumes the very dichotomous position that you are arguing against. If you want to reject dichotomous thinking, then don’t state things in such a dichotomous way. He also used the word stupid. That’s very dichotomous to me.
    I’m not leaving the church right now, but I personally know people who have resigned over this policy. And they are anything but stupid. Or cookie cutter. I was resonating with Steve’s words until he said that.

  30. Word up, Steve.

  31. Eve of Destruction says:

    “Who, then, is supposed to sit in solidarity with the gay people who choose to stay?”

    I didn’t see any solidarity in this post, any mention of how a path forward must include active love of the people directly affected, and ensuring that the love we feel in our hearts toward them and supportive actions we take to show that love, actually feels *to them* like love and support.

    Since we’re getting away from black-or-white and embracing nuance here, solidarity is not about which side of a boundary one is on; it’s about words and actions that unite people across boundaries. You don’t have to take the exact same action someone else takes in order to show solidarity with them. You just have to take action wherever you are, in support of a shared goal.

  32. I think the “you’re either with us or against us” unfortunately stem from so many narratives around Gideon and Nephi and Moroni and Joseph and Brigham with an outward and inward defensiveness in dealing with those who are actively attacking the Church.

    The narrative says look at the response of John to the Bishop of Laodiceans in Revelations 3:14-16 where he calls the people out for being “lukewarm.”

    And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
    I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
    So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    So the response from highly fundamentalist members is you cannot disagree or question or else you are not being faithful and you are speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed. The claim comes that the only way to look upon such changes and see any error is to be found among the cafeteria Mormons who pick and choose what they believe.

    And yet, what I see Steve saying, what I feel personally and believe it resonates is that he recognizes what John calls upon the Saints to do in the verses that follow (3:17-18):

    Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

    This is the response that Steve is making. I recognize my wretchedness and I know that I am blind and naked and I call upon you Lord to help me take on the gold tried in fire and support those who are struggling in greater flames than I. That together we may be clothed in the garments made white through the drenching of the blood of the Atonement.

    Is this not what Jacob speaks of in 2 Nephi 9? Is this not what it means to “feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let [our] souls delight in fatness?”

    We are called to feel deep compassion for all. And while we stay true to what we know the Spirit has revealed to us we find deep sadness at the condition of our neighbor (as the rich ruler was taught) and the struggles that they must go through in trying to come to the Lord.

    How are these fellow brothers and sisters not like the Caananite woman who came seeking a blessing from Jesus? And when he declared “It is not right to take children’s bread and toss it to the dogs?” Did she not respond with “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” and as such did she, who was clearly not worthy in the eyes of any righteous Jew, who was dross and to be avoided, did she not gain a blessing at the hands of the Lord not for her own benefit but for her own child? Was Jesus’ response to this woman, not for her lukewarm attitude but instead a willingness to call out in faith in spite of her status: “Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

    I see no difference. The faithful call is to recognize in whom we have faith, the Savior and to call upon his servants to her our plaintive concerns. I recognize that gay marriage is contrary to the Lord’s message. But I do have concerns for the children.

  33. That sentence in the last paragraph should say, “The faithful call is to recognize in whom we have faith, the Savior, and to call upon his servants to HEAR our plaintive concerns.”

  34. You say it is your church too but is it your church, or is it the church belonging to an inaccurate depiction of Christ? The orthodoxy appears to feel those who reject their view publicly have no place within the church. You can stay if you can stay quiet.

  35. Virtually nobody agrees with every policy of the organizations they have elected to join, be it a church, a political party, or the Shriners (I oppose their hats, but I love their go-karts). On occasion, an issue may arise where the individual concludes he can no longer, in good conscience, continue as a member. Like Steve, as appalling as this new policy is to me, it’s not enough to push me over the edge.

    There are those, of course, who wish people like Steve (and me) would simply leave the church, who do not understand how we can be critical of a particular decision and still remain members. While I firmly believe all internal criticism should be communicated judiciously and with humility, those who are troubled by my dissent on a particular issue should really start to worry if I suddenly stop voicing my concerns. That only happens when I cease to care about an organization. And when that happens, you’ve lost me.

  36. Forthelove, there are stupid people who leave the church and stupid people who stay. My post refers to neither. It refers to the idea of relinquishing your power of choosing to follow Christ.

  37. After Brigham Young made some absurd decision (one of many) he said to one of the eight or ten Bishops in Salt Lake at the time (sadly I can’t remember his name, I’ll keep looking):

    “Well Bishop, I suppose you will go off and apostatize now.”

    The brave bishop responded:

    “I would if it were your church Brigham, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to apostatize from my own church.”

  38. Reaching for a Star says:

    I am one has left and joined another denomination because I was spiritually starving inside the church (I suppose that means I stupidly followed a cookie cutter journey towards apostasy instead of my own conscience and feelings), but most of my friends and family are inside the church. I found myself over the weekend in the distinctly odd position of being an ex-Mormon who loathes the new policy spending much time trying to console friends and and convince them not to do anything permanent in haste, to take a break for their sanity, by all means, but think through thoroughly whether resigning is really the best option for them. In the end, I think the boundary is much blurrier than we frequently like to think of it, and there are many valid paths forward both on the inside and the outside of the church.

  39. Reaching, I hear you. The important element is choice.

  40. John F — Eve correctly pointed out that my post is pretty inward-looking and doesn’t really address the issue of helping our LGBT members. She’s right to point that out, but those concerns are a little beyond the immediate subject of the post, which is more about a personal journey.

  41. Something else that makes the cookie-cutter narratives stupid is that they put necessity into staying or leaving: i.e., the Church has done X unconscionable thing and therefore I *must* leave. In my view that robs people who leave of their experience and their choice, in the same way that it robs people who stay of their choice, just as Steve said above. The decision to leave is personally meaningful in ways that the cookie-cutter narrative doesn’t quite allow. I also know people who are leaving, and it’s not something that they either do lightly or because someone or something made them do it. Rather, it’s a moral choice that they’re claiming with difficulty and dignity. I’d hope that one could stay and do the same.

  42. N. W. Clerk says:

    Sean:

    The Bishop was Edwin Woolley, and Brigham’s “absurd decision” was to object to Woolley’s renting out an addition to his ward’s meetinghouse to non-Mormons for “dances and parties, lectures and classes” (according to Arrington).

  43. And grandfather of Spencer W. Kimball!

  44. forthelove says:

    Steve, some of the people who are leaving or thinking of leaving are NOT relinquishing their power to follow Christ. They are embracing that power. I hope I’m not one of the “stupid people” that you keep referring to. I’m sure you are not.

  45. D. Fletcher says:

    I’m also not leaving, unless invited.

  46. N.W. Clerk

    Thanks for the clarification. The salient element of the conversation remains, it wasn’t Brigham’s, and it’s not Tom’s church:

    Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
    Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
    Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

  47. D, you are the best.

  48. > Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

    You mean like the brethren? This is their decree, not mine. In this scenario the church is The Empire that we’re all subject to. The Spirit (the force) tells us this is wrong, but we ignore that and submit to His Majesty. Why?

    > For real, though, I think it takes much more courage to embrace the uncertainty of nuance than it takes to make black-and-white decrees. Some things just aren’t that simple.

    No, it doesn’t. I’m sorry but this is both idiotic and cowardly. By that logic go join the Westboro Baptist church where you’ll have the ultimate test of faith. Say the church leaders were instituting a racist policy instead, after all, there’s quite a historical precedent for that. And you know what, at least they offered a doctrinal justification for it too. Scriptures talk about curse of dark skin, we had all the deep doctrine about pre-mortal fence sitting. It’s not comfortable, but at least they had a rationale reason. Would you be defending racism too?

    It doesn’t take any courage whatsoever to bow your head and just go along with the pack. Courage is standing up for what is right, even when leaders threaten you with “eternal damnation” for doing so. You think it’s easy for someone to leave the church? A lifelong member, return missionary, married in the temple, wife and kids, extended family, etc? That’s easy?

    I have submitted to the rule of the brethren year after year after year. I have disagreed with their decisions more times than I can count, from numbers-focused missionary work to secret finances to obfuscating history and dishonest curricula manuals to political debacles like proposition 8 to stigmatizing doubters and so on. I have been faithful and bowed my head and gone along with them. I’m done living in fear of these unaccountable men, who don’t respect us enough to even come before us and answer questions. I do not at all feel like these men are leading me to Christ, I feel like I’m being led away from Christ and it’s kind of felt that way for a while now. What’s most important though, is that I don’t feel free to follow Christ on my own, I’m stuck on this boat heading in the wrong direction.

    Suddenly the strange history with polygamy makes so much sense to me. Strong members leaving who were intensely upset, but then others who would just as passionately defend any ole darn thing no matter what. “Look at me, I’m so spiritual, I have even stronger faith in the face of all this adversity.” I’m sure Jesus is very proud.

  49. Andrew: “What’s most important though, is that I don’t feel free to follow Christ on my own, I’m stuck on this boat heading in the wrong direction.”

    This resonated with me. I think there are many people that feel that way. It’s one more reason why the “good ship Zion” metaphor fails. You are free to follow Christ on your own, and always have been, and always will be. For me, I believe that there is power in this church to help us follow Christ, but that does not mean being on board with every mistake the church makes.

  50. Andrew – whoa dude. I think you are reading a lot more into what I said than what I said. I think this policy is horrible and indefensible.

    I am saying it is possible to strongly and vocally oppose this and other harmful policies without leaving the Church. There is good in the Church. There is also bad. One doesn’t need to throw out the baby with the proverbial bathwater, but nor does one need to keep the bathwater around in decorative jars.

    It is very hard to stay, but I appreciate those who choose to stay and try to make things better. By staying, they provide at least one voice that doesn’t operate within the absolutist black-and-white paradigm. Is it a drop in the sea? Yes, it is. Is it futile? Maybe. I don’t know. Sometimes it all seems pretty hopeless. But futile or not, it is a worthy effort.

    Leaving is a valid option, and I know perfectly well it isn’t an easy one. For me, it has become a matter of when – not if – I will leave. I don’t think it’s the only option here. There are no clean and simple answers.

  51. The only thing that could cause me to leave the church is if Steve keeps deleting my comments.

  52. James – I guess we’ll find out!

  53. Also anon for this says:

    There is a man in our ward who served a mission in Brazil in the 1960’s. During his ministry he became close to a family that attended church, but the father did not hold the priesthood. When he inquired as to why, those higher up the mission chain stated that the priesthood was withheld from him because the missionary at the time of his baptism thought he was – at least in part – black.
    My neighbor did not accept this. He pleaded with his zone leader to reconsider. As a small group, they fasted and prayed about the question, and were impressed that the father should receive the priesthood. So my neighbor ordained him. These were his people and his church.
    Steve’s words resonate with me. I feel possessive about my church. Quite suddenly, I am fringe because the fringe are no longer there. It’s an uncomfortable place. But whatever, there’s work to do.

  54. Also anon — yes.

    We are witnessing the limits of the correlation experiment, I think. The best Mormonism is small, local, and quite real.

  55. Eve of Destruction says:

    John F, absolutely not, I did not question the genuineness of his love for his gay brothers and sisters. I was pointing out that his decision to stay (or equally any decision to go, for those who choose that) has nothing to do with loving gay people or not. Separate issue.

    It’s tempting for both sides to turn this into a purity test: do you love gay people by demonstrating it in all the *right* ways? And then the focus shifts from loving people to obeying rules, whether those rules are coming from inside or outside the church. My point is that regardless of whether one believes staying in is the right way to love gay people, or leaving is the right way to love gay people, either way, being able to pass a purity test (I stayed in! -or- I left!) has nothing to do with actually demonstrating love to one’s neighbor.

    Making a big show of dusting off one’s feet from the church is more about trying to punish the church (not effective, you’re a gnat, and the caravan moves on). Making a big show of bravely staying in the church despite doubt or dissent often sounds to me like a cry for help from someone who feels pulled apart (not effective, a boundary is binary, and people inside or out can only try to help you from where they are, so if you don’t feel whole on either side of the boundary, no one but God can give you peace).

  56. Eve, that’s a very good articulation. I am trying to kick against all such purity tests and retain a religion that is fundamentally mine.

  57. > The best Mormonism is small, local, and quite real.

    Agreed. I read a book recently titled “Japan’s Modern Prophet: Uchimura Kanzo” You should check it out, it’s about small local vs big top-down governance in Christian churches. From what I understand this is also one of the things Denver Snuffer harped about that got him exed, although I don’t know much about him or his movement. This book has nothing to do with LDS, Uchimura was a famous Christian Philosopher. Worth the read.

  58. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes” is a saying which, in and of itself, is an absolute, since “only a Sith” would think it. It’s a paradox in 6 words. MIND BLOWN!

    By the way, I’m very popular at sophisticated parties.

  59. your food allergy is fake says:

    And maybe some who leave over this are looking for an excuse to drink coffee

  60. Or jamocha shakes.

    I don’t think anyone leaves the church just so they can drink coffee. To such people, I say: stay and drink coffee, I don’t mind.

  61. Eve of Destruction says:

    But what if they want to drink coffee *at church*? That’s only going to happen in other churches.

  62. Even then.

  63. Eve of Destruction says:

    And use the church kitchen to brew it? I hope your bishop isn’t reading this, Steve Evans! ;)

  64. You can only use the kitchens to warm up coffee, not brew it.

  65. I now have the vision of a Sith Lord, warming previously brewed coffee in a church kitchen, pnderizing correlation.

    On the other hand, I will say I am on board with Steve. I don’t understand this policy change, and why same sex marriage meets the criteria of apostasy, while other serious sins don’t. And I hear a lot of people, with good intentions, creating justifications that seem strangely parallel to the justifications for the priesthood/temple ban.

    I have no issue with each of us trying to come to terms with this situation, but as Steve said, these are my people, and even though for a brief moment, I actually had to consider whether or not this was a dealbreaker, I will continue committed to the church, firm in my testimony, but only too aware that sometimes, we all make mistakes. And this may well be one. Time will tell, but I refuse to deal with absolutes, or the binary mindset that I have seen way too much of over the last week.

  66. Eve of Destruction says:

    Returning to your point, it occurs to me that Jesus didn’t mean, I want you all to quit being Jewish, and convert to the Samaritan religion. But he did mean, if helping someone means you run a serious risk of becoming unworthy to participate in temple worship, well, you help them. That’s the priority. (The priest and Levite would have violated Leviticus 21:1 if they had helped and the person near death had died while they were touching him in their efforts to help.)

    Probably most people are never faced with that stark choice: “if you help this person in the way they need right now, you will lose your temple recommend / church membership / other important blessings.” But I was. When I was separated from my gay LDS husband-at-the-time, the bishop sent a letter addressed to him, to the marital home that I was still in. I called my husband and asked if he wanted me to forward the letter to him or just toss it. He asked me to open it and read it to him. It was an invitation to a disciplinary council in which he was told that he would be excommunicated if he did not appear. He deeply valued his membership (and still does), so I replied to the bishop saying “He is not at this address. I will not give you his new address. He cannot attend because I will not give him the letter with the date and time.” I called my parents to let them know what was happening. They pled with the bishop on my behalf. Thirty days later, I received the expected letter from Salt Lake City. We can’t all do what you’re doing, Steve. We are not all making a stupid cookie cutter choice when we choose to leave.

  67. Yeah.

  68. and “I refuse to follow some stupid cookie-cutter journey towards” staying.

  69. I don’t understand. Because it seems like you have picked a clichéd path—staying, quietly, but with a frowny face. I’m probably confused by the emphatic tone of your conclusion.

    That said, I too am struggling to find a path forward between two bad options: (1) walking out on the Ward family (the local chapter) that I love, and (2) staying and allowing silence to betoken consent.

    This I know. I’ll be turning in my recommend on Sunday. I don’t “sustain.” And, now that support of gay marriages and a desire to embrace their children is analogous to polygamy, I apparently “sympathize with the precepts” “of individuals whose…practices are contrary to…those accepted by The Church”

  70. Steve, if you don’t mind a personal question: how are you going to answer the temple recommend question about “supporting, affiliating, or agreeing with” any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to the LDS Church?

    Because it seems to me that under a strict reading of the new policy, any Mormon expressing sympathy for, say, D. Fletcher must now answer yes to that question, and potentially lose their TR.

  71. Is the church “truer” in Manhattan than in Utah/Arizona? My experience with both is “yes.” And the life I’ve now made for myself and my family outside of the church is even truer. I really wish for that for D. as well.

  72. I’ve supported and agreed with people whose practices are contrary to the church for years. The wording is bizarre. It seems to me that most of the earth’s population is composed of people whose teachings or practices are contrary to the church. I don’t really care.

  73. I always thought the question referred to polygamy. Well, this is the new polygamy, says (1) the identical treatment, and (2) Elder Christoffersen’s statement.

  74. Thanks Joel, I’m standing in place struggling with those same options too and not finding either the least bit satisfactory.

  75. Steve–Makes sense, thanks. (Or rather, your comment that it doesn’t make sense makes sense!)

  76. There are lots of things you can do besides either doing nothing at all or turning in your recommend. Have you done any of those things? Turning in your recommend does as much to actually help LGBT people as silence. Why not attend a vigil, volunteer with LGBT rights groups, write a blog post, reach out to LGBT friends and family, or do any number of countless things that would actually make an immediate and measurable difference in the lives of others? Registering your dissent by turning in a TR might gratify your own feelings but does very little to help anyone else.

  77. @Nepos: you didn’t ask this question of me, but i’ll answer it for me. If it turns out that I too need to disavow the marriages of gay members and non-members to be able to answer in the negative the TR question about affiliating with apostate groups, I will turn in my TR. I will not turn it in proactively on my own interpretation of that (as Joel is)– it will have to be the Bishop who has the uncomfortable job of telling me that consorting with my gay-married friends means affiliating with apostate groups. (I doubt this will be the interpretation, but I am perfectly prepared for it).

  78. Turning in your recommend does as much to actually help LGBT people as silence.

    It’s not silence. Granted, it doesn’t cause a scene. But it’s the type of thing–perhaps the only thing short of resignation–that is reported up the chain. The other things you mention also are worth doing. But, in addition to those, I’m willing to put this on the alter. I’m burning my draft card.

  79. Joel, turning in your TR out of conscience is certainly an option, but I think you are overestimating the impact it has. The chief impact will be on you. That is why I said that in terms of actually helping people, there are many, many other things to do. Turning in the TR is more about you than anyone else.

  80. your food allergy is fake says:

    Jamocha shakes are neither hot nor technically a drink. Therefore WoW compliant. They are also delicious and make you feel good about your fellow man.

  81. Diverting tithing payments to charity would make an interesting statement.

  82. Eve of Destruction says:

    Just make sure it’s a charity that provides housing to gay teens or similar tangible help; otherwise, removing your tithing contribution and placing it elsewhere does nothing to actually help those who were hurt by this.

  83. Regarding temple recommends, I won’t for the same reasons Steve outlined. As in, I would need to proactively add that understanding to the question.

    I must admit that while I do not imagine it will happen, there is part of me that wonders/worries “what if they did add opposition to same-sex marriage to the temple recommend?”.

    Otherwise, this post resonates. Thanks again for speaking.

  84. Eve of Destruction (15/11/12 10:07):

    And use the church kitchen to brew it?

    I used a church kitchen to warm up some rum to flambé my bananas foster once—the EQP was scandalized but the bishop just shrugged…

    your food allergy is fake (15/11/12 11:44):

    Jamocha shakes are neither hot nor technically a drink. Therefore WoW compliant.

    President McKay would approve of your message:

    At a reception McKay attended, the hostess served rum cake. “All the guests hesitated, watching to see what McKay would do. He smacked his lips and began to eat.” When one guest expostulated, “‘But President McKay, don’t you know that is rum cake?’ McKay smiled and reminded the guest that the Word of Wisdom forbade drinking alcohol, not eating it.”

  85. Hmmm, while I understand and agree that volunteering to LGBT organizations would help many, my personal quandary regarding staying is what can I do in my ward/stake/church that will impact this policy, show others the importance of loving and accepting all, bringing meetings and classes back to the gospel of Jesus Christ, not what can I do out in the world at large (which is very important, but not driven by this policy but by me everyday policy or no)

    Right now, attending church for me feels like I’m saying I support or at least condone this policy. I don’t feel helping other groups would make me feel better when I’m there on Sundays.

  86. Eve of Destruction says:

    Nate W., perhaps you did not notice that I’m the same person who posted that heartfelt true story in this thread about a bishop who excommunicated me because I stood in the way of his attempt to excommunicate my gay spouse, even though neither one of us had any desire to leave the church. Your joking comment that “my bishop just shrugged” added to my burden and did not lessen it. So you won the leadership lottery. Good for you. Lots of people do. Good for them. I lost. In light of this policy, I expect more people will lose.

  87. Eve of Destruction, on reading your earlier comment, it was not apparent to me that you had been disciplined in any way. I appreciate the follow-up, and I’m very sorry to learn that.

  88. I’m sorry, Eve of Destruction, your colloquy with Steve reminded me of an anecdote to share, and I was attempting to further the lighthearted subthread in this blog post. But I can see that my comment comes off as glib in the larger context of the blog post, and I sincerely apologize for causing you further burdens. Much love to you, my sister.

  89. Eve of Destruction says:

    Thank you, Nate W.

    Sgnm, I guess that was unclear. I was referring to a letter from SLC telling me that at my request, I was no longer a member. I knew I didn’t make that request. And the bishop knew. And God knows.

  90. Wait whAaaaaaaaat? They removed your name without you requesting? Eve, I’m so sorry. That is messed up.

    Sometime (and probably not in this thread) I want to hear the whole thing.

  91. I’ve heard a lot of people asking how can same sex marriage be apostasy and other “serious” sins not be. What could you possibly be comparing same sex marriage to?

  92. While I love the idea of staying on the ship, while finding your own way to follow Christ in theory, in practice, it is a far harder trick to pull off.

    First, though one feels that even though the church is supposed to be the one and only living church on earth, it doesn’t and hasn’t seemed to be living in a long while, and that the leaders don’t seem to be much more in touch with Christ than the leaders of other churches. Yet one must also maintain the belief that it is still the best vehicle for having a relationship with Christ. One must arrive at this conclusion based off making judgments of other churches solely from the outside; to take a sabbatical and attend other churches and judge their worthiness as vehicles to Christ from experience would involve taking time off from attending the lds church, and an active member cannot take time off from attendance without messy consequences. All reflection and decision-making must be made “on the go” — as you remain active.

    Second, if you decide to stay and do church on your own terms, though you may decide you will follow Christ in your own way, you are hemmed in from doing so on many sides. It is difficult to stay and say you fully sustain and support the leaders of the church. And if you can’t say yes to that, that takes away your temple recommend, and if you take away your TR, that takes away the thing at which our worship wholly aims at. You may not be able to get a calling either. So church service becomes circumscribed and your position, and how you’re treated at church changes, in ways that would make church attendance more difficult.

    Third, membership requires not just attendance but usually service. This service can amount to a part-time job. If one loses faith in the church’s highest leaders, one begins to lose faith in the structure of the institution as a whole, and this makes willing service to the institution more and more difficult and cynicism harder and harder to fight off. One thus starts to try to be spiritually unnoticed, so that one is not chosen for the more time-intensive and responsibility-laden callings in the church. One thus finds it difficult to be spiritually motivated, to follow Christ, even in their own way, for fear it will show through and they will be selected to serve in greater and greater ways the institution they are entirely unsure about.

    Thus, the member who doesn’t want to stay and doesn’t want to leave, finds herself in the position of intentionally remaining in a spiritually stunted place. They want to be there, but don’t have the heart to fully invest. They’re in a liminal state, where the pursuit of the Christ they believe in will position them to become more enmeshed in the institution they aren’t so sure they believe in. What seems like a way forward becomes a purgatory — a state of inertia.

    Of course none of these things are invariable and aren’t hypothetically possible to overcome. But they can be significant issues, and I describe them because while I think it’s positive to raise the possibility of staying, while staking out one’s own path, its difficulty should not be underestimated.

  93. Steve,

    Thank you for the cool-headed advice re the TR. it may prevail on me by Sunday.

    I was going to insist that one must go on record. Then I realized that you’re the one here with the courage to use a full name. Props.

  94. Katie, yes, all of those things are in the mix. And more.

  95. I’m Catholic, and I sometimes wonder why many Mormons seem to find the disagree-but-stay system that works pretty easily for so many Catholics to be so difficult. Katie’s comment helped explain it.

  96. Katie, yes, this – “Thus, the member who doesn’t want to stay and doesn’t want to leave, finds herself in the position of intentionally remaining in a spiritually stunted place. They want to be there, but don’t have the heart to fully invest.”

  97. For those who feel compelled to give up your temple recommend because you don’t believe you can honestly answer question #7 please stop and consider what that question is asking and what Church leaders have explained for the context.

    First, the question:

    Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

    What exactly does that mean? I can’t tell you how many youth have posed that question in response to this query. I’ve had more than one adult ask me, “Does that mean I cannot support gay marriage?”

    I’m certain that Ardis could provide the context of how this question evolved historically and why it was put in place and you can find a deeper exploration of just that question in Ed Kimball’s fine essay from The Journal of Mormon History, The History of LDS Admission Standards.” The general understanding is that it is asking about polygamy. As Kimball states:

    While “apostate groups” covers a wide spectrum of unorthodoxies, the primary focus since 1940 has been on groups that continue to promote and practice plural marriage while also trying to gain access to the temple. In 1985 the question was changed from “affiliation with or sympathy for” apostates (which often brought as answer that the applicant sympathized with them as unfortunately deluded) to affiliation with them or sympathy with their “precepts.” This phrasing thus focuses more sharply on belief.

    In the 1989 handbook, one kind of apostasy was defined as “continuing] to follow the teachings of apostate cults (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishops or higher authority” (10-2). In 1996 the proscription was changed to “support, affiliation] with, or agree[ment] with” apostate teachings or practices. The implication has always been that bishops should take prompt action to check “apostasy,” but the first explicit instructions in the handbook occurred in 1940. And beginning in 1976 special attention was directed to interviews with children of apostates, since they may well have been influenced by their parents although not go yet actively involved in their parents’ practices. These strictures against polygamous apostate groups apply mainly to the Intermountain West, where most such groups are located; but elsewhere in the world, where LDS fundamentalism is unfamiliar, the questions still serve as warnings against organized dissent.

    Now, some may read those paragraphs and state, but I do associate with gay people and I do believe they should be allowed to marry. And that’s actually fine because our same Elder Christofferson just 7 months ago stated as much in an interview where he was asked that very question:

    Daniel Woodruff:
    “I know that in one of the temple recommend interview questions it asks, “do you agree with elements that are against the church?” and I guess, I mean, could it be interpreted that if people supported gay marriage that would be agreeing with something that was against the church?”

    Elder Christofferson:
    “Well, it’s not do you agree with a person’s position or an organization’s position, it is are you supporting, are you supporting organizations that promote opposition, or positions in opposition to the church.”

    Daniel Woodruff:
    “So would supporting gay marriage threaten somebody’s membership in the church? If they went out, say, on Facebook or Twitter and actively advocated for it?”

    Elder Christofferson:
    “No. That’s not an organized, you know, effort to attack our effort or attack our functioning as a church, if you will.”

    Daniel Woodruff:
    “So members can hold those beliefs even though they’re different from what you teach at the pulpit?”

    Elder Christofferson:
    “Yes and we, you know, our approach in all of this, as Joseph Smith said, is persuasion. You can’t, He said you can’t use the priesthood and the authority of the church to dictate– you can’t compel, you can’t coerce– it has to be gentleness, persuasion, love unfeigned, as the words are in the scripture.”

    So then please do not feel that just because you support gay marriage, spend time with your gay family members / friends allow that to mean, I therefore should give up my recommend because I cannot answer that question. It is up to you to make the determination if you are in good standing with the Lord. And this question is not the reason why.

  98. Agreed. I think you can support gay marriage and answer that question honestly and receive a recommend.

  99. Steve: (a call out because I’m jumping past all the comments) Thanks. This makes sense and seems right. Including that it doesn’t dictate to anybody else how they should respond. Which is partly the point. I did have to read two or three times to (start thinking I) understand, largely because you are apparently hearing narratives that I am not, and not hearing other narratives that I am.

  100. With regard to the TR question, I know I should stay out of it because I do stay out of the whole TR process generally. But . . . my honest statement to my bishop is:
    “If I were gay (by whatever combination of nature and nurture), subject only to finding a loving and companionate partner I firmly believe that I would also be married. I would choose to be married. I believe marriage is a moral and righteous choice, that it is good for me, for my children, and for society.”
    Parse that.

  101. “Parse THIS, bishop!” (extends middle finger unconvincingly)

  102. I try to be nice, and conversations with my bishop do *not* include a raised middle finger. But I do believe bishops and stake presidents should be put to the test — are you really going to implement a policy that you know is wrong? That’s my form of activism. Don’t let them be passive followers.

  103. Eve of Destruction says:

    “my personal quandary regarding staying is what can I do in my ward/stake/church”

    marcella, I think that is so apt because if one is not in the Q15, then one is really powerless to do anything *effective* to change the policy or how it affects people. The more you get to know and love and serve and develop deep friendships with ward members affected by the policy, it will only make it tougher on both you *and them* when the policy hits *them.* When you get on the bus for the temple trip and they don’t. When your eight-year-old is baptized and theirs isn’t. So to my mind, welcoming gay friends to church is a lesser version of what I did when I married my gay best friend in the temple. My heart was in the right place, but I didn’t understand the impact. In light of the policy, it is really questionable whether it is advisable to start down that road of saying to your gay brothers and sisters in the church: welcome! I heartily welcome you! please stay here! Let’s be best buds who crack jokes with each other on the back row of elders quorum! Let’s both volunteer to help with Girls Camp! Because the policy will eventually hit them and not you, and when your heart is intertwined with theirs, it’s going to hurt both of you that much more when it happens. And you can make that decision for yourself, that remaining in the church is worth enduring the pain of seeing your brothers and sisters treated unequally. But that’s a privilege you have if the policy’s only effect on you is that you are forced to watch others suffer. It is different for those directly suffering. Do you want to make them feel like their friend at church has been telling them “it’s safe here! I’ll make sure church is a good experience for you!” when you don’t really have the power to make that come true for them.

  104. Cody Hatch says:

    There has been so much to consider in light of this policy, and all I can say is that I hope and pray for all, whatever path they take, to remember that God loves them. There are no easy answers or decisions, only love.

    However, something that has been kicking around in my mind is, in light of D&C 68, where parents in Zion who do not adequately teach their children to be baptized at the age of eight have the sins of the children placed upon their own heads, I have to wonder what the ramifications are for anyone who supports this policy.

    If, for example, a 10 year-old child of a lesbian couple desires to be baptized and the parents support the decision, but the church withholds baptism, do the sins then move from the parents to the church? If I support the policy, do I become complicit in the sins as well? If I vocally oppose, do I cleanse myself from those sins? Jesus, in several scriptures, specifies what His doctrine is and then give explicit warning not to add from or take away from that doctrine. Have we done so?

  105. Cody Hatch says:

    I should also add, does that support or opposition have any bearing upon TR questions #3 and #4?

  106. Cody, you gotta read the comments, man

  107. Cody Hatch says:

    I did and always do. I love the comments on BCC. What do you mean? I had read specific talk about question #7, but not about the other two.

  108. Ah. Er, then my comment was an Abrahamic test and you passed. Never mind.

  109. Cody Hatch says:

    Steve, I found a YouTube video about cats and it proved to a the ram in the thicket, so I’m good.

    I should say, at the risk of unseemly fawning, that BCC has been an oasis in all of this. Great posts and comments. Thank you for providing a wonderful website.

  110. Eve of Destruction, this is the second time your comments have broken my heart in this thread (and I thought I was all out of tears).

  111. Actual quote from the resignation letter I just sent.

    “I am grateful for people who are willing to speak up from the inside, people who are working to restore Christian principles, people who lead by example, serving and welcoming all people without qualification. These are still my values, but this church is not my heritage or culture, and I do not feel called to the task of reforming this organization from within. ”

    I will continue to speak up. I will continue to serve. But will not do it while being claimed as a member of this organization. Unlike Steve and others here, I was a convert and this church was not my heritage.

  112. Cchrissyy that makes me very sad, but I hope we’ll continue to see you around here.

  113. As long as my reading and commenting at BCC doesn’t increase the numbers of members in the church census, yes, you will still see me here :)

  114. Steve thanks for your words and your leadership. I feel similarly. This church is mine as much as anyone else’s. I am not done here. If anything, the new policy makes it even more clear what I love about the church because this policy embodies and has brought to the fore everything I hate about it.

  115. Last Sunday I played piano for the Primary Sacrament Meeting program, all the while wondering if this would be my last Sunday at church. I can’t wave regretful goodbyes to my Mormon LGBT+ friends and patients (I’m a psychologist) from my safe and privileged home in the church. I’ll give it a week or two, mostly because the Primary needs a little time to find a permanent replacement, and because maybe in that time church leadership will find a way to rescue it and us from this self-inflicted wound. Ultimately though, if my friends and patients are apostate, I am apostate.

  116. Amen, Brother Evans, amen!

  117. I can appreciate your sentiment. Your identity is Mormon forevermore. No matter what happens. John Dehlin expresses similar things…though he is also very critical of Church history, leaders and doctrines.
    But I disagree when you say “this is my church. This is my people”.
    This is His church. They are His people. God’s church. He is the almighty Savior. He sets the term for those who are counted as His sheep and those who aren’t. His love, mercy and grace is sufficient for all…that are willing to come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The gate is open to all and all my come, if we are willing to submit to Him.
    I do not say this to make any sort of judgement about you. I don’t know you. I don’t know your true motivations and intent. All I am saying is that we would do well to remember that the Lord sets the standards, He works through His servants, His ordinances and His doctrine. He doesn’t seek to take counsel from us, He asks us to take from His hand (and His servants)

  118. Perfect. Just perfect.