- I’m a believer, I’m not going anywhere, and this isn’t intended to be a radical post.
- I live in a big city, and work in the ad industry in close proximity to gay people. They’re my friends, neighbors, employees, coworkers, and ward members.
- I was born the year after the priesthood ban was lifted. Mine is the first generation to have grown up in a Mormon church without false doctrinal cover for racism.
Let’s just call things what they are, at least for the moment. Because we need a moment of honesty right now, to clearly consider what’s at stake.
If this policy and our anti-gay views (again, calling things what they are) are somehow cemented as doctrine, in time we will be labeled a hate group, and no amount of Mormon bloggers and commenters and online missionaries and ad campaigns will sway that opinion. It will be our brand identity. Within 10 years we’ll be seen as a fringe group. In 20 years we’ll be a bigoted, extremist anachronism.
As that happens, our members will not be able to run major corporations. They will not be welcome in artistic circles. They will not be able to win political office. They will not be able to play in popular rock bands. Think anyone will play BYU in sports? Football contracts get broken all the time, and every school that backs out of playing BYU will win PR points for doing so.
Cultural momentum is moving quickly in this direction (note that those instances linked above have already happened). If this isn’t your reality right now, it will be soon.
Like I said, at the rate that public opinion is shifting, I give it 10 years. Shorten that timeline in urban areas like mine, and in more liberal developed nations. Lengthen it for a few developing nations and rural communities, perhaps. But we will lose the youth, fast. Imagine BYU enrollment sinking, fewer teens putting in mission papers, smaller seminary classes. This probably would have happened over gender issues anyway; it will happen faster if we institutionally mistreat a growing number of our young men and women and their friends.
We invest so much energy and time and money into building good relations and brand perceptions. This policy will dismantle that goodwill. Not everywhere right away, but soon.
Softening the policy will not fix this. Making small retractions and concessions will not fix this either.
So it’s only right to ask, as a believing member, is that the Lord’s plan for His church?
It might be—I have no business having an opinion about that. Honestly. Maybe people are right that this is the big faith test they’ve been waiting for, and I’m in danger of being on the wrong side of it. I do not dismiss that as a real possibility. As a believing Mormon who tries to be faithful, this subverts everything I’ve built my testimony around, and everything about my lived experience. But what do I know about the mind of the Lord, really?
Very little, but I believe we are led by prophets, seers and revelators who are called to prophesy, see and reveal. This is fundamental to our religion. It’s our brand differentiation, so to speak; our primary selling point. If we think the Lord’s plan for the church is for it to become a shrinking community of hardliners, it’s fair and right and faithful to pray and plead for His word on the subject.
I hope we’re all doing so. We don’t have a lot of time, and there’s a lot at stake.
NOTE: This post is not intended to address the rightness or wrongness of the policy, or whether we should bend to popular whim. I’m describing the future as I see it from my non-prophetic perch.