No Man is “Trash”

Angry? You bet. Tyler Glenn’s latest song and video boil with rage. Glenn, a gay man and former missionary, was embraced by the church for his advocacy in building the inclusivity bridge. That is, until the LDS church’s November 5th policy change regarding homosexuals—a change that codified those in same-gender marriages as apostates, required their excommunication, and forbade the baptism of their children under certain conditions. The policy change hit him hard, like a gut punch, he says. Feeling himself betrayed, denigrated, and literally dismissed over his sexual orientation, Glenn took a hard look at less-visited areas of Mormonism and decided he could no longer believe. The release of “Trash” depicts a stunning reversal of attitude toward his faith heritage.

As a practicing Latter-day Saint, I understand how hard it is to watch the video, but Glenn has gifted those of us outside the LDS LGBTQ community a front row seat to the agony the November 5 th policy has caused him. It’s imperative we put down our defenses and witness this hard truth – all of it – even the moments we find profane. When Glenn clasps his own hand and makes gestures reserved for the temple, try to see more than a defiled symbol; see a man who feels both rejected and deceived by his church and his heritage; see a man who, in his anguish, declares himself sacred as he covenants with, by, and to himself. With these gestures, he forces us to face what may be the most important question for this generation of Mormons: Is anything more sacred than human life?

The idea that human life is the most sacred of God’s gifts feels innate to me. Perhaps this is why so many react with sorrow to Glenn’s depiction of his suffering. People are saying that it’s sad to see so much anger, sad to see Glenn lose faith, sad he can’t let it go and move on: sad, sad, sad. Perhaps, though, our reaction should run deeper than sadness.

After all, the word “sad” is self-focused; it describes our own reactions to Glenn’s suffering, but demonstrates no empathy. The requirement of the Lord is to turn ourselves outward, not inward—to reach beyond our own perspective into that of another and discover the power of empathy. As Alma writes in Mosiah, we are called to mourn with those who mourn and to comfort those who stand in need. By striving to feel the pain of another person—as that person feels it rather than in the way we think they should (or should not) feel it—we become more like our Savior, who descended below all things. Only after understanding the pain of others can we bring any real comfort. As difficult as it may be to watch “Trash,” and as difficult as it may be to consider Glenn’s journey through the deeper recesses of LDS history, we must make the attempt. We must understand him (and love him) if we, as a Church and as a people, are to do better.

Of course, Alma asks us to do more than to simply mourn and comfort. He tells us that we must also “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” Nowhere does He say we should bear witness of structures or hierarchies, and he certainly doesn’t tell us to bear witness to a disastrous policy.

So, here is my witness: God lives and Jesus is our savior. Divine love will never hurt us, nor can it betray us.

I think I lost myself in your new religion

You say a prayer for me like a superstition

The love of God embraces us—no matter what—because of our innate worth to our divine Father and Mother. Man is that he might have joy—and there can be no joy without love.

We were always made for love

No man is trash. All human life is treasure. Tyler Glenn—and every other LGBTQ person—is a treasure, whether they believe as we do or not. Unfortunately, the November 5th policy looks to devalue, not prize, our homosexual members and their children. In the six months since the policy change, I’ve heard the arguments that it is a loving policy. This view, it seems to me, does not really mourn with those who mourn. To defend the policy risks ignoring the perspective of the people who have been most deeply affected, who feel discounted and who feel set aside as waste. Tyler Glenn’s voice speaks a hard reality, and we need to do more than merely hear it with our ears. We need to try to feel his experience in our gut. This empathy will draw us to Christ.

Some who are born with intellects that don’t fit the norm are considered by the Church to be exempt from sin, and we teach that they are guaranteed salvation. But those born with a sexual orientation outside the norm are told there is no place for them in the plan of salvation. The first concept bridges a gap in our doctrine with love and gentility. Does the second concept seem borne of the same? It is imperative as Mormonism evolves and builds between its doctrinal gaps, it does so with the innate truth that human life matters most.

Tyler Glenn is leaving Mormonism.

If you wanted me to stay

I’d prepare my days away

Because it failed him. Because Mormonism, in Glenn’s eyes, has valued itself more than it values him.

I know that’s hard to hear. The notion is offensive to some. But watch the video. Repeatedly. Clear to the end where you will see the singer sprawl on the floor of a grounded elevator as if dead to us, a red X slashed across his face. Set aside your defenses and feel his agony. Don’t mourn him; mourn with him. Reflect deeply on what his experience has been. Then cry to the Lord and see what truth He reveals.


Bio: Lisa Torcasso Downing resides in Texas and is adjunct faculty for Collin College. She has served as fiction editor for both Sunstone and Irreantum, the literary journal formerly published by the Association for Mormon Letters. She is the author of the Adventure of the Restoration series, as well as the mainstream young adult novel, Island of the Stone Boy. Downing is a convert to Mormonism with more than thirty-five years of active membership under her belt. She maintains a personal blog presence at


  1. Nah, I don’t like seeing things I hold sacred not being held sacred so I can somehow develop empathy. The idea we can watch a video or like something on Facebook or tweet something to change things for the better is often overblown. Go help someone in real life. And enjoy doing it to better music, like maybe something by Prince.

  2. it's a series of tubes says:

    Then cry to the Lord and see what truth He reveals

    And what if the truth He reveals is something Lisa clearly disagree with? What then? Let’s not kid ourselves that there is anything other than one acceptable outcome to you.

  3. I’m pretty sure the lyric is:

    If you wanted me to stay
    I’d repent my days away

  4. Lisa, this is gorgeous, and right, and filled with love. There are no caveats on the commandment to love. We don’t get to decide that part. Tyler Glenn matters, and we collectively bear responsibility for this, and we are obligated to see, to watch what has been done, and per commandment, mourn WITH him.

  5. RL, yeah we should just ignore this moment in our own culture that addresses the suffering of others. I’m not a fan of people answering controversy with “go help someone in real life.”

    I’m grateful for this video and the conversation it is evoking. Thank heavens for the internet. If it had been around in the early 1900s maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long for the priesthood and temple ban on blacks to be lifted.

  6. JamesM says:

    RL, not all of us have the fortune of watching this mess play out (or participating in the conversation) from the safe distance of our computer screens.

  7. RL, the whole thing with Tyler Glenn is really uncomfortable, isn’t it? If it’s too much for you to handle right now, I understand. That’s fine. Please, though, don’t condemn Glenn just to ease your own discomfort. What Glenn is doing here is what art is for. He speaks for many who have no voice. If you listen to him, you might find yourself understanding the experience of someone you know “in real life” – someone who desperately needs your understanding.

  8. Mourn with those who mourn? Yes. Comfort those in need of comfort? Yes. Condone, watch, share, respect, embrace, or sympathize with the defilement of what is sacred? No.

  9. Thank you

  10. Clark Goble says:

    Tom, I’m sure you feel the same way about xenophobic rants by Trump supporters.

  11. Tubes, I think the point is that the sort of introspection and prayer Lisa is recommending is a good path and worthy on its own merits. Outcomes can be discussed after we’ve all engaged in an exercise of empathy.

  12. Clark, you are correct! To dismiss anyone’s work in order to assuage our own discomfort is always a mistake.

  13. I think T.G.’s song/video is the raw truth and depicts exactly what happens to those who embrace their religion so deeply that they allow it to control them. It’s disturbing how many people deny the brainwashing involved. Religions are nothing more than BUSINESSES seeking money, control and power.. Seek God. He will never betray you. (Well done, Tyler Glenn.)

  14. Honest question: Place the rubric laid out above in the abstract, out of the way of the Policy. Is there ever a point where I can be upset that someone is selling their tokens for money, or does empathy always mean that I always see the other person as the victim?

  15. Sacrilege? Yeah, I think I’ll watch that video repeatedly. Not. Are you serious? Yeah, I get that he’s suffering, but I don’t have to watch him defile sacred things in order to empathize.

    And, I guess there’s no way I could *truly* empathize because 1) I’m not gay, and 2) he’s “trashing” all of my gay LDS friends. My friends love the church and strive to keep the law of chastity. The policy doesn’t exclude gays. It doesn’t even exclude gays who break the law of chastity. It excludes those who have made a life-long commitment to break the law of chastity. Glenn’s video is basically telling my friends that they should feel like trash because they believe in the law of chastity (and indirectly telling other countless heterosexual LDS adults who live their entire lives in celibacy that they should feel like trash too).

  16. jimbob, I think the idea is that being a follower of Christ means that we accept that it’s not our place to judge whether or not someone’s victimhood is valid or whether they are worthy of condemnation. That’s Christ’s job, and it’s not a job I envy Him. To quote Chieko Okazaki: “I am so grateful for this commandment [to judge not]. It relieves me of such an enormous and unwelcome burden of appraising, of evaluating, of labeling, of reproaching, and of criticizing. We don’t have to approve of our neighbor’s politics or lifestyle. … We don’t have to decide whether someone is following the prophet with sufficient vigor.” Our job is simply to love one another without conditions or qualifications.

  17. Eric Russell says:

    “But watch the video. Repeatedly.”

    OK. But can I keep the volume down? The song’s kind of crappy.

    If this guy really wanted a powerful video, he should have put it to Radiohead’s new song.

  18. jimbob, your comment is thought provoking.
    I’m no biblical historian, but when Judas betrayed Jesus for money, I don’t know of any story where he himself was first betrayed. Hard to have empathy for that act, though I can try and empathize with him later killing himself given what he had done and understand for those emotions he must have wrestled with.

    Those tokens were sacred to T.G. once as well. My understanding is he was a very active believer. So it must have been a really hard fall to go from that level of belief to feeling betrayed and devalued by the organization you built your life around. To me, exposing those tokens through his art as an expression of his emotions is different than just selling them for money.

  19. Reading this, T.S. Eliot’s take on criticism comes to mind:

    “You don’t really criticize any author to whom you have never surrendered yourself. . . . Even just the bewildering minute counts; you have to give yourself up, and then recover yourself, and the third moment is having something to say, before you have wholly forgotten both surrender and recovery. Of course, the self-recovered is never the same as the self before it was given.”

  20. I have watched the church and the steady exodus of unwanted and thrown away Saints for nearly thirty years now. And, while I continue to marvel at the ease with which the general membership seems to adjust to the huge holes left in the fabric of the church with these losses I can heartily endorse Tyler Glenn’s anger, rage and the whole hearted reality of being thrown away. The church is no longer a safe place for most of us who think and feel and love differently than the norm. The church’s war against it’s own LGBT children (which they probably view as a war against the others in an ambiguous far off place like San Francisco) is stunning proof that there is no Love in this church; that there is no Savior and His Balm of Gilead in this church any longer. Prophets who repeatedly deflect blame for society and the family’s problems onto a hated minority are false prophets indeed. LGBT humans have only asked for inclusion and equality. Yet, the church and much of society just wants them put out with the trash and bullied, beaten and slaughtered. How dare anyone throw us away. How dare anyone claiming to know The Savior not love and understand and heal us. How dare anyone claiming to love their neighbor hate us so openly and proudly.

  21. If our church is to continue to become more and more exclusive then why do we allow overweight people into the temple? Are you not defiling your “temple” by eating unhealthy foods that are so prevalent in our culture? The church needs to crack down more heavily on those who are violating their bodies. They should put a policy in the administrative handbook covering that as well. Also children of overweight parents must disavow gluttony before they can be baptized.

  22. By the way, the sacred gestures we use in the temple come from masonic ritual…So try not to get too bent that other people (Mormon or not) use them.

  23. That’s a great quote, Brad.

  24. Jimbob, that is a good question. I don’t think loving people requires us to consider their actions other than what they are. But if someone sells their tokens for money, judgement is the Lord’s. Our duty is clear: to love and pray for that person. And you can’t really love someone, I don’t think, without an effort to understand them.

  25. Wow. I am not LGBTQ, but if comments like these are what I see when I look around in my congregation – people who cannot listen, cannot love unless others fit into the box they’ve prescribed – I do not belong here.

    If it is this hard for me to feel welcome here, and I check every box (except marriage, but I am female, so this only brings pity and not suspicion), how must it feel to our LGBTQ members?

  26. cookie queen says:

    Sheesh. Heavy stuff. But I totally get it.

  27. Angela C says:

    While I initially found the use of temple symbols in the elevator jarring (and still do), this interpretation of making covenants with himself (because his community has thrown him in the trash) resonates. How many of those members who’ve been thrown away have done just that, created personal resilience out of necessity when their community rejected them?

  28. Tyler’s video is offensive to many people and fair enough. I can accept that. I don’t even think you need to watch it to get a really good feel for the pain he is demonstrating (plenty of descriptions). The important conversation to me (which by being extreme he brought into the headlights) is what we as a people do now with the suffering we are creating in others. Step one seems to be an acknowledgment that we are creating suffering in the first place. Can we all agree about even that?

  29. RT- yes. Very much.

  30. Wow, what a terrific, thought-provoking post.

    The reactions of some commentors only serve to reinforce the importance of fixing this problems in our church community. Their own discomfort at the video is more important to them than a member of the fold who has been cast aside as trash.

  31. FarSide says:

    Last night I was reading William Shirer’s “Berlin Diary,” a journal he kept during the time he spent as an American correspondent in Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1941.

    In the early stages of World War II, Shirer was at a loss to explain the willingness of the vast majority of Germans to believe the party line that they were the victims—that the Poles, the French and the British were the ones who started the war. When he shared his frustration with a retired American businessman living in Berlin, he received the following explanation in response: “For Germans a thing is right, ethical, honorable, if it squares with the tradition of what a German thinks a German should do; or if it advances the interests of Germanism or Germany.” He went on to observe that Germans often find it difficult to entertain abstract ideas of ethics or right conduct beyond their own tradition or ideology.

    Undoubtedly there were Germans who were not so blinkered. But when I read this, it prompted me to think of the visceral reaction Mr. Glenn’s video has provoked in some Mormon circles.

    (By the way, Mr. Shirer is better known as the author of “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” but his “Berlin Diary” is well worth reading, too.)

  32. Clark Goble says:

    FarSide (12:23) I think the problem is that the divide on this issue is so deep that in some fundamental ways each side may understand one an other intellectually but not at all emotionally. That you think comparing those who are offending by something that attacks what they see as fundamentally sacred (and which has historically been used as a personal attack on their faith) as akin to Nazis not getting why people see Nazism as bad really highlights that divide.

    Trevor (12:18) I think that while we must respect Glenn’s feeling that he’s been cast aside as trash I don’t think we have to agree with it as a judgment. That’s fundamentally the divide. Some think Glenn is fundamentally right. Some don’t. For those who do, presumably nothing done in defense of that feeling matters.

    (Here quoting my earlier comment minus the links)

    ajb (11:22) do you think obesity (which I agree is a problem among Mormons despite Utah looking good compared to the US as a whole) is on par with fornication?

    Rob (11:18) I think anger over these issues by LBGT and sympathizers is completely understandable. However saying that they are just asking for inclusion I think papers over the fundamental issues. There’s really not a lot of possible common ground if the Church fundamentally doesn’t see same sex sexual relations as anything different from fornication. Even if events in November had never happened that would still be a chasm.

    Olea (11:41) Earnest question, but do you understand why Mormons would fundamentally find this video as massively offensive? I can completely sympathize with Glenn’s anger given what he wanted from the Church. Can you understand why many (most?) members would find his actions so far beyond the pale?

    Marca (11:26) Why would the borrowing from masonry for the endowment make that video any less offensive? Honest question. I know the parallels and influences pretty well but I don’t see how that makes it any less offensive. It’s like saying the Nazi symbol is like sanskrit symbols so why don’t we all chill out?

    Tom (10:32) Hey if you actually repeatedly watch Trump racist supporter rants more power to you. I can respect that position if you are really doing that the way you do Glenn’s then that’s really respectable. For myself I just can’t watch that sort of thing.

  33. RT – we can, but will our leaders acknowledge that?

  34. trevorprice924 says:

    How about an example. Say I get into a bad argument with my wife. Say I’m *totally* in the right and she’s not.

    If all that really matters to me is being in the right, I’m completely disregarding her (wrong?) feelings, and that in and of itself is a deep sin.

    What good is being “right” if it causes you to hold the feelings of others in such contempt? (deliberately or otherwise)

  35. Clark: I absolutely do. A defilement to the body is a defilement. Sin is sin. You cannot honestly say “yes” to the temple recommend question in regards to the word of wisdom if you are overweight. Teenagers are currently being refused mission opportunities if they are obese. It’s time we start trimming the fat!

  36. ajb, I take you have a normal BMI?

  37. Yes Maybee. I take care of my temple. Eat the right foods and exercise regularly.

  38. trevorprice924 says:

    Geting focused on BMI or genetics is a tangent, I think. The fact is that people who grossly neglect their body, by repeatedly making terrible choices, are not denied temple recommends.

  39. Well, if you get your way ajb then temple attendance will be even more elite. I guess you won’t have to worry about crowds, both in number of folks and their girth.

  40. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Steve and nrc42
    Nice job of twisting JimBob’s words. His question said nothing about taking authority to judge. He asked about his own right to feel ‘upset’ by token selling. I can witness someone trampling on the flag of the United States and feel upset without taking authority to judge those who are trampling. I love the flag and seeing it trampled makes me upset. I have no authority to judge a someone for doing so.

    It is possible to have empathy with Tyler Glenn for the hurt caused by the policy without empathy for use of that pain to justify token selling. If you love what the tokens represent, seeing them trampled is painful. Of course, that is the intent of the video–so if you feel those ends justify the means, then your response will be empathy. Calling all of those who do not feel empathy by those ends judgmental is not necessary

  41. Daniel makes a good point above.

    Why is Tyler’s pain and anger privileged over the pain and anger of other LGBT Mormons who feel stabbed in the back by him? Why do so many “progressive, liberal, loving, accepting” Mormons repeatedly dismiss the pain and suffering they cause to LGBT members when they champion Tyler’s advocacy, Affirmation, and MamaDragons and marginalize, ignore, mock, devalue, and belittle efforts like Voices of Hope and Northstar?

  42. FarSide says:

    Clark, you misunderstand the comparison I was making.

    I fully comprehend why many Latter-day saints would be troubled by certain aspects of Mr. Glenn’s video. His references to the temple ceremony were inappropriate and were not necessary to the feelings he was trying to convey. But if he had omitted those offensive elements, many members would still show him no empathy and would categorically reject the idea that he was justified in giving voice to his pain at the expense of the church.

    Just as many Germans lost the capacity to love those who were not part of their tribe, so too have many Mormons placed allegiance to policy before love of their fellow man. And the two are not mutually exclusive—you can acknowledge the church’s right to adopt such a policy while still showing compassion towards those who find it intolerable.

    The righteous indignation shown by many at Mr. Glenn’s lack of respect for the temple and other elements of our church is simply a straw man, a convenient pretext for ignoring the root cause of this poor man’s loss of faith.

  43. Maybee…The point i’m trying to make is that the recent changes to our church’s policies seem to ostracize members of our “fold” who struggle with a specific sin. (And just because someone “willfully” enters into a sin does not mean they do not struggle with it) It also seems as though we are isolating these individuals from their given right (through the Atonement of Jesus Christ) the opportunity to use the resources the church provides to help people overcome their sins. The mission of the church is to perfect the saints. More outreach from the brethren directly to LGBT members needed to be taken into consideration before a decision like this was made. It seems as though many LGBT supporters and individuals were “sidelined” by this change. I’m sure that most ,if not all, members would be equally upset if a leak from the handbook had stated that a new weight requirement would be enforced to receive a temple recommend. Allowing opportunities for “overweight” members to use resources (like the temple) as a way to draw closer to our Heavenly Father can ignite a desire to change and be better. Because not one of us (even our Prophet and Apostles) are not finished products.

  44. Ajb, what would you say to know that many LGBT members were not only consulted, but approved of the policy prior to it being “leaked.”

  45. As a stats student, I’d like to know the sample size of the LGBT members that were consulted. Probably a lot of lurking variables and biases.

  46. Clark, I understand that people will find the video jarring – I’m sure I’m one of them, though I haven’t seen it.

    I work with small children, who regularly experience emotions so large compared to any they have before, that they don’t know how to deal with it, and act in ways that are socially unacceptable. My job as their teacher/guardian is to help them understand that. My job as a human being in the presence of someone else’s overwhelming emotion (especially when it’s someone I love) is to sit with them and help them figure it out.

  47. ajb, I can’t imagine it would have been a statistically large random sample. I imagine that there were a lot of biases in the selection. Help me understand how the nature of the sample would change the result. It seems that those who dislike the doctrine would still have been upset, hurt, and angry.

  48. pconnornc says:

    I am amazed at the amount of mind reading that goes on within this community ;-) I do believe people can have empathy and love for LGBT members AND fully embrace the idea that homosexuality in practice is at odds w/ a fundamental church doctrine. I believe that anyone that pushes negative labels and attributes to another in this forum because people do not agree with them could benefit from being more empathetic and Christlike – whichever side of the aisle you are coming from (holding up mirror now…)

  49. Well, since it happened there have been groups of people leaving the church and an increase in teen suicides. So apparently the sample doesn’t seem representative of the population consulted.

  50. KL – so mysterious
    So it wasn’t leaked? Was Dehlin working for the church?
    So, gay Mormons were consulted? Did this happen right after Steve Martin got baptized?
    Unless you were there or have specifics, I find it hard to believe.

  51. Ajb, I understand that many people have been upset and hurt by the policy. That doesn’t answer the question as to how the result would (or could) have been different. Are you suggesting that the question of whether or not to uphold doctrines about marriage and chastity should have been decided by the response of representative focus groups?

  52. When Sinead O’Connor ripped up a photo of the Pope on TV it was as offensive as hell. It also did a lot to shine the spotlight on to clerical child abuse.

    Sometimes people who have a platform are justified in shocking us if it wakes us from our torpor. He is right to be angry. I am angry too. The policy is dreadful and it has certainly changed my view of the church, much to my regret.

    I believe the beginning of the end of the church’s cruelty towards LGTBQ folk has been marked by Glenn’s video. It’s a tragedy, though, that the end is still going to come far too slowly for those in the meantime who are being treated like trash.

  53. Maybee, I appreciate that sarcasm might be a useful tool for you to moderate your emotional responses around this issue. On the other hand, it is not conducive to empathetic dialogue. My point was simply that I and at least some other LGBT Mormons were not shocked, hurt, or bothered by the policy. I say this fully allowing that many were–legitimately so. And my experience is that responses like Tyler’s and many other LGBT members and supporters are horribly ineffective at promoting healing. They leverage the policy to multiply the pain. Given the way so many of these member and supporters viciously and unapologetically attack me and other LGBT members, I admit that I am skeptical that this is really a plea for empathy.

  54. Clark Goble says:

    RJH, honest question. What do you think the end would be? As I said it’s not like there’s a lot of common ground on the issues LGBT are demanding.

  55. Steve S says:

    I believe true love is not incompatible with truth. Recognizing the hurt caused someone is a truth that should not be hid from, so also recognizing when someone is lashing out with bitterness and hostility is also a truth that should not be hid from. One pain does not justify hostility from the other. Empathy, yes, of course. “Empathy” used a cloak to hide from or justify clear hostility, it’s not love. The full and hard truth leads to healing, in my view that is love.

  56. K.L.,
    Sorry for the sarcasm, I honestly thought you were claiming some sort of insider information surrounding the policy and it’s approval by LGBT members, but were purposefully withholding supporting info. I can see now (unless I’m wrong) that you were speaking hypothetically. As great as these forums are, misunderstandings happen easily and I shouldn’t reach for sarcasm before clarification.

    I’d love to know more about your active LGBT friends not hurt by this policy. I guess I’m just not as exposed to their point of view. Social media and blog posts have been rich with stories of those hurt by the policy. I myself don’t know any active LGBT members. I know some who have left the church. I have one family member who I believe to be gay and active but still very closeted.

    As a straight, active, temple married member with children I feel like a jerk defending or justifying this policy when I stand in such a place of privilege, especially when many folks affected by this policy are really hurting. I don’t see T.G. “leveraging the policy to multiply the pain.” I imagine he sees the policy itself to be painful. In his interviews he stated he wished for what we’ve all been taught as our ideal; to find a companion, marry, raise children, and raise them in the church. What I have in a totally acceptable way, but that he gets only with the title “apostate.”

  57. This was an amazing post, thank you for sharing your thoughts Lisa.

    As a lesbian Mormon, I acknowledge this video is very discomforting to watch. It captures a lot of torment and pain, but as an artistic statement I think it’s worthwhile. The fact of the matter is that this video was not made for the perspective of straight LDS folks. It is not supposed to build bridges between the LGBT community and practicing Mormons. It’s supposed to capture the emotion one feels when forced into a faith crisis, when you feel rejected and lied to by your own God and faith community for reasons you cannot comprehend. I and many of my LGBT Mormon friends went through similar emotions the days following the policy leak. This was Tyler’s way of expressing that trauma, and it accurately captures that pain in all its shock and horror.

    And perhaps there is a good argument that broadcasting this pain on a national stage can be further destructive to discourse, but I think about what I felt after the policy change and I probably would have done something similar had I the emotional and physical resources. About 3 months after the policy leak, I held my own ceremony where I prayerfully buried my Church books and manuals in the same style the anti-Nephi-Lehis buried their weapons. You could probably argue co-opting Mormon scripture to liken the words of the Church as weapons that hurt people is blasphemous and disrespectful to practicing members, but this action wasn’t done for the Church, it was done for me. Much like Tyler’s use of the endowment ritual in his video, this ritual was my way of reclaiming my own theology. And I find that idea healing and artistically resonant in it’s own way.

  58. Presumably, we’ve made covenants in the temple, so discussing them here or referring to them in such a clear way as done here is inappropriate.

    More importantly, Tyler Glenn is causing hurt in thousands of Latter-day Saints, and this post reinforces it. Teaching and practicing behaviors that cause generations to stumble with regard to the plan of salvation is a serious problem.

    It’s sad that those who are right and in authority have their patience answered with resentment and eventual scorn. When activists continually force the hand of the church by spreading misinformation, and then actively seeking to undermine the church and it’s teachings the church has to act (as it did with the baptismal policy revision). All the circumstances of this revision are unknown to us, nor should they be. The church has been very delicate on this issue, but when its hand is forced, it acts clearly — as it did here.

    The tragedy is that rather than see the patience and long suffering and forbearance that the church shows to various individuals, the goal is to persistently push the church into a corner for either a response or capitulation.

    As a final response to the video itself, after watching it for a few minutes, it’s clear that like all music videos, it’s desperate for attention. It’s not art. It’s not injury. It’s advocacy masquerading as suffering. It does a great injustice to all those who truly suffer and mourn.

  59. Frank W. Hays says:

    Although old enough to be Tyler’s father…..I have watched the Video…I know and am experiencing his pain as a LGBTQ Latter-day Saint.. I am still so numb, angry, etc. Tired of being shamed. When I think of Lincoln Parkin, Stuart Matis, all the deaths by HIV, Suicide etc.. Still reading the Scriptures, Praying, but cannot seem to go back to Church since November….Tried all the Answers and nothing changed….Trying to keep walking by faith….

  60. An LGBT Mormon friend of mine watched the video and said she was disappointed. She said that as she watched it all she could think the whole time was, “no, it hurts more than that.”

  61. Jacob H. says:

    So… no one here has commented on the fact that Tyler Glenn didn’t actually display any of the tokens reserved for the temple. He came close with the one but could’ve easily made it a LOT more like the actual token… it seems pretty clear he didn’t intend to reveal any of the actual tokens.

  62. Maybee,

    Thanks for the clarification. Regarding the stories of us active LGBT members there are several impediments. I first agreed that homophobia in the church culture is a major problem. The lack of discussion about sexuality in general and sexual orientation specifically leads to ignorance and hurtful attitudes, even when I generally believe the leadership is sensitive and understanding. Fear of “endorsing sin” shamefully outweighs the importance of love and compassion. So, for the first several years after coming out as gay, I was very active in confronting misinformation about sexual orientation in the church. I worked to organize leader training and firesides. And there was some push-back. Some local leadership, including area authorities, were very uncomfortable with “heretical” ideas like sexual orientation isn’t a choice, much less a sin. When I cited Elder Oaks, I was told that if the Brethren wanted that position taught publicly they would put it in the manual or address it in General Conference. What I never got was rejection or hatred. It was always loving and respectful.

    I did get a lot of hate from LGBT individuals outside the church. But I kind of expected that, many of them were hurt by religion and could not understand how a self-respecting LGBT person could still value religion. What surprised me is the level of anger and dismissal I received-and continue to receive-from active straight allies. And frankly, it is that response that leads many of us to simply quiet down and go on living our lives. I’d dealt with the church culture all my life and had no problem pushing back. LGBT activists who attack us are annoying and threaten to outlaw our ability to tell our stories and provide mutual support to each other. But “the World” has always been an opposition..

    But nowhere is my experience belittled, invalidated, and erased as much as it is by my “Allies” in the church. They deny my experience. They disparage my family and hope it fails. That is betrayal to me and it hurts. Tyler may not mean to cause harm to us and our families. But the pain is no less real.

  63. Rigel, I don’t believe I was twisting his words but answering his question. Sorry you disagree.

  64. JacobH exactly! I fail to see how everyone is so offended because he isn’t revealing anything at all.

  65. Yeah, he skirted right up against it– and he clearly meant to– but honestly, anyone who isn’t Mormon wouldn’t probably even notice it.

  66. K.L. – I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I am genuinely sorry for your pain.

    There are no easy answers for anyone (on any topic, it sometimes feels…) and the default seems to be expecting individuals to tidily fit into patterns. I know I’ve let myself fall into that trap. I know it isn’t how the Savior sees us (as molded into patterns). And perhaps acknowledging it helps to make us all aware of just how much hurting is going on / has been caused by us / can be eased rather than increased.

  67. While I can respect TG’s attempt at artistic expression, his video is one of mockery. I pity him for having to find himself outside the social and theological construct he was raised in. This “art” does nothing to further dialogue on church policy or tolerance towards the LGBT community, only to further enrage both sides.
    The worth of souls is great in the sight of God, but that doesn’t make everything every person has or can do worthwhile or worthy. And while I know gay Mormons who struggle and believe their story needs told, it is hard to empathize with someone who is kicking against the pricks and warring against the saints of God.

  68. Did somebody say something after RL proposed that people averse to songs treating sacred things lightly should listen to Prince? I got distracted after that one because I was in a hotel lobby doing some light reading with my friend Nikki most of the afternoon.

  69. Rivkah says:

    K.L., I really appreciate your voice and perspective here. You’ve raised some important points.

  70. Angela C says:

    JakeJ: “warring against the saints of God” Sure, but since they warred against him first, were they saints or “of God”?

  71. Forgive me for dropping from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I just want to say that, having grown up in the late ’90s, the combination of platinum hair and dark brown eyebrows is hella…trashy.

  72. I have noticed an overwhelming trend on this issue that pain is this horrible thing that must be avoided at all cost. The original article even mentions that Divine Love will never hurt us. This, to me, is a clear manifestation of our modern sensibilities in opposition to scripture (the Lord chastens those He loves). Suffering is not merely an incidental part of the mortal experience, but a necessary one.

    Note of course that we will have a full measure of suffering in our lives – we have no need to seek more our, nor should we casually add to the burdens others beat. But a close reading of our baptismal covenants shows that our covenant responsibility is to follow God and keep His commandments. Mourning with those who mourn is attitudinal and aspirational, but obedience is established by covenant.

    The truth matters, and we are talking about the highest possible stakes. I don’t want to use Mr. Glenn (or even the issue of homosexuality) as an example – instead the principle is true for any hypothetical person enmeshed in sin or temptation and in pain because of their situation. Do we show this hypothetical person more love by empathizing with their pain, or by trying to bring them to repentance. In my opinion, the latter is far more important, and while the former matters a great deal in the kind of person I am becoming its most important element is how it aids the latter goal.

    At Final Judgment, our friends won’t be saying to us, “Sure you left me in sin and I have squandered my destiny, but thanks for being so empathetic with my pain.” Neither will the say, “I’m glad to reached out to me to repent, and I was able to change my life and receive my eternal reward, but I’m still upset at how unsympathetic you were to my pain.” Where empathy comes in, of course, is that we may also hear, “Thank you for being empathetic, it prepared me to hear the message of repentance.”

    So empathy is good, but it is secondary to obedience and repentance. Empathy excusing sin can often devolve into moral preening damaging to both parties involved.

  73. This conversation reminds me of The Witch. Great film about the psychotic obsession with sin (usually other people’s).

  74. For the record, Tyler didn’t technically do anything wrong in his video whether or not he “actually” showed the tokens. As was said above, unless you’ve been through the temple you have no idea what he’s doing with his hands nor the meaning behind them. We covenanted not to “divulge” those things, and part of that is explaining what they are.

    Second, I believe this whole issue with the LGBTQ community is magnifying a huge problem we have as a church. This mistreatment of those who have different sexual orientations than what is accepted is representing a huge lack of love, something that our church professes to be. I believe that lack of love is deriving from fear. Fear of, as has been said, “endorsing sin”. Fear is not a good things. “Perfect love casteth out all fear”. So therefore if you fear, there must be something wrong with the way you love. This shows in our home/visiting teaching statistics and our activity statistics. Both are extremely low and I believe that’s not a coincidence. We become so narcissistic, so self-absorbed and worried about our image as a Latter-Day Saint that we proclaim to love others even though we don’t show it. And nobody will admit it. Tyler is trying to say that he feels like he was treated like trash. He was used and then thrown away with no second thought. He feels as though he has no place, that he doesn’t belong and nobody cares for him. I don’t blame him. I’m straight as they come but I understand where Tyler is coming from. I understand his pain. Where is the love here? Jesus taught that a good shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to find the one that has strayed from the fold. Tyler is just one of many.

    I wonder what would happen if the GA’s just let people have their agency? If they let go of their fear and let the members learn how to follow the Spirit? I see a future where the church becomes so self-absorbed that they resort back to polygamy to increase their membership because they’re scaring away people from being baptized.

  75. I haven’t watched Brother Glenn’s video (because he IS my brother, we are siblings in being the unwanted garbage of Mormonism) because I can’t, because the idea of it cuts to close to the bone, because I know that if I were to be as open and honest about who I am as he has been I would be cast out by my family and by people in the Church that I have known all of my life.

    As a Queer Mormon I can also say that one of the only ways I’ve remained a Mormon is the simple fact that I haven’t been active in years. Because it hurts too much to hear people preach hate from the pulpit and pretend that it is love. I started to internalize that hate, to believe it, and it made every Sunday an exercise in how much pain I could endure.

    The Church doesn’t want me. They’ve made that abundantly clear over and over and over again. And the great irony is that I still love the Gospel; Mormonism has shaped my life and the way I understand every single thing I’ve learned. There is such beauty in the Gospel that the Church refuses to see, to even acknowledge. Instead doubles down on hate, doubles down on fear, it calls on others to repent and refuses to turn that same lens upon itself.

    I feel his pain because it is my own.

  76. Clark Goble says:

    RJH, didn’t see the Witch yet, but wasn’t there really a Witch in the movie? I don’t think Mormons are being puritanical in their fears here. Rather it seems fairly straight up what is to be treated as acceptable. I can completely understand why this is heart rending for people, and I’m also sure there are people who are homophobic in all of this. I’ve heard such comments before and I try and stop such talk when I hear it. I think everyone is shifting on this issue although as I said the social change is happening rapidly. Far more rapidly than similar shifts in the late 70s.

    The problem is that it’s not at all clear in practice how to love people while not accepting as acceptable practice things the brethren are saying are wrong. My sense, perhaps wrong, is that anything short of full acceptance will be treated as hate, shunning and so froth.

    Again I ask, what’s the common middle ground everyone can all agree upon? Clearly the Church thought they could preach tolerance but not acceptance. Their post prop-8 moves seemed to portray that as their strategy. I suspect they were caught unaware that not accepting gay marriage was insufficient. Once again there are huge generational differences here. Millennials simply look at all this radically different from Baby Boomers. (With us Gen-Xers perhaps a mix of the two) I think there’s really non-comprehension of both sides of each other.

  77. “Don’t mourn him; mourn with him.”

  78. >Wasn’t there really a Witch in the movie?

    Yes . . . no . . . yes but you have to have seen the movie for us to go further than this.

    >Again I ask, what’s the common middle ground everyone can all agree upon?

    Not hurriedly re-writing LDS policy to denounce gay married couples as apostates and make their children unwelcome at church. You seem to have forgotten the wretched new policy.

  79. RJH, I am going to hypothesize a bit. I think the reason why the Church had to come forward to say that gay married couples are apostates (as opposed to child abusers, adulterers, etc.) is a consequence of the excesses of the gay marriage lobby.

    It is rare indeed for an adulterer to convincing himself that the Church is wrong and he is morally right in his adultery. It is likewise rare that a child abuser convinces herself that she is right in how she beats her child and the Church is wrong. Yes, these are serious sins, but there is general agreement that they are sins.

    When it comes to gay marriage, there seems to be a large contingent of people who aggressively deny that gay marriage is a sin. They take the position that they are right (and moral and loving) and the Church is wrong (and immoral and unloving). If you recognize that in your own thinking (or, at a minimum, see that in the culture at large), then you know what I am talking about.

    In the face of those who not only choose to break the commandments (and regardless of tenancies and however difficult or painful temptations and situations can be, disobedience remains a choice), but also take the position that the Church is wrong or unloving or immoral for even asserting the commandments of God, it is not surprising that such behavior necessitated being labelled as apostasy. It was forced by those who were not content with loving those in sin, but passed beyond that point to the point where they were labeling evil as good and good as evil.

    If the policy is painful (and I could see how it could be), place responsibility on those who made it necessary — those who sought to rewrite God’s moral laws with their own.

  80. Not rewriting policy. The policy went from same sex couples could be excommunicated to should be excommunicated. It’s a clarification due to the nation decriminalization of gay marriage. It doesn’t represent a dramatic shift in policy or doctrine.

  81. sirdidymus24 says:

    Can anyone direct me to programs or charities that benefit the LGBT community? This post (and the NC mess) spoke to me and I want to help in whatever small way I can. I’m outside the Jell-O Belt (TN so the, er, Pecan Pie Belt if we’re talking desserts) but I’d like to help the LDS (and former, etc.) LGBT community as well as the greater LGBT community. Any suggestions of reputable organizations (or ideas of what I can do on my own) are welcomed. No one should be made to feel like trash.

  82. gooagoo says:

    Wow – THIS: “. . .declares himself sacred as he covenants with, by, and to himself. With these gestures, he forces us to face what may be the most important question for this generation of Mormons: Is anything more sacred than human life?”

    The very offensive nature of Tyler’s video *should,* by all accounts, force us to uncomfortably examine the experiences of the “least of these among us” who also feel such anger and anguish in the Church.

  83. If “there anything more sacred than human life,” it is the life of divinity. The same life He laid down so that we all “might repent and come unto him.” Which means an offer of human salvation is more sacred than divine life, and is also more sacred than human life.

    Anger is understandable. I relate to the anger he expresses in many ways. When I hit that point, I had to decide if I would take my anger to attack the things others find sacred, or bend my head in humility to the Lord of us all.

    Mourning with those who mourn means accepting that others will try and destroy what you love and find sacred. That doesn’t excuse them. But it does keep your eyes clear to love them again, if they ever choose to accept that love.

  84. Is it possible to love and sympathize with someone who is in anguish and at the same time disagree with the offensive expressions of their anguish?

    In the life of Christ, He was certainly quite offended at the money changers in the Temple, so much so he drove them out with a whip. I imagine at the same time He also loved them fully and completely and had pure sympathy with whatever situations in their life brought them to the place where they felt they needed to make money off of Temple worship.

    Tyler Glenn’s anguish has obviously led him to a situation where he felt that desecrating something that others hold sacred was the best way of expressing his anguish and anger. Can I sympathize with him and at the same time denounce the expression? Do I really have to watch the video over and over in order to reach a point of sympathy?

    A somewhat similar situation might be an attempt to sympathize with the anguish and anger felt by white supremacists by watching a hate-filled diatribe against blacks and Jews over and over until I reach the point of sympathy for the situations in their life that led them to embrace bigotry and hatred. I certainly don’t want to do that, but maybe I should…?

    For full disclosure, I am no longer a Mormon but am a practicing Catholic. While I personally do not hold the tokens as sacred, I do respect Mormons who do. I think profaning something that others hold sacred is not a very respectable act, no matter what the purpose, intent, or symbolism. (By the way, ripping up a picture of the Pope is not profaning the sacred in Catholicism, as someone mentioned up-thread; a better analogy would be desecrating a consecrated Host).

  85. JakeJ,
    You are wrong. The policy makes living as a committed legal homosexual couple a sin with worse consequences than sleeping around widely (in that the second could result in one being disfellowshipped, while the first cannot). But, on the off chance you also consider the first self-evidently worse, it also keeps the children living with such couples from being baptized. Which is definitely new. And wrong.

  86. Clark Goble says:

    RJH, I think the new policy certainly accentuated these issues and was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people. But even if the Church walked back the gay marriage = polygamy move, do you think that would change much?

  87. Clark Goble says:

    JA, I think Christ sets the example of loving people while not tolerating sin. The woman taken in adultery is the obvious example. Yet he made lots of hard statements. Not just hard to our modern ears but even for the people at the time. (Some of which we don’t follow – such as his comments on divorce) The whip with the money changers was, I think, a somewhat different issue. Although it does show how seriously he took the sacredness of the temple and people who corrupted it for money.

    John C, I think this is right. The church will simply look at a gay person who occasionally fornicates differently from a gay person who formalizes such relations. In the same way they treat a person who commits adultery differently from someone who tries to formalize such relationships as polygyny or polyandry.

    Again I fully get why people are upset at this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Church walks back the polygamy equation. However it seems undeniable that the Church sees normalizing homosexual relationships as acceptable as a big problem. Again, what’s the middle ground?

  88. Rob Osborn says:

    The truth is that the LDS church is built around the gospel with traditional female/male relationships. That is the round hole. The square peg in the issue is about whether or not you fully support that and try to live without sin in support of that ideal. An active homosexual obviously is a square peg and cant fit at all- not even remotely close. So, they have a choice- either choose to not live in sin, support the prophets and support the family ideal, or- leave the church. Just like we do not wish for drug dealers to show up to school and push drugs on our children, so too, we wish not for the homosexual agenda, which includes ideals such as SSM, to come into our churches and homes and force their views on us.

  89. Jared vdH says:

    Clark, I don’t think this would be acceptable to anyone on either side, but here’s an attempt at a “middle ground”:

    Homosexual couples and their children can receive all non-temple ordinances. People in a homosexual marriage can hold any non-leadership calling (no presidencies, no bishoprics, etc.). Males in a homosexual marriage would be barred from the priesthood. Basically, treat them like we did those of African descent before 1978.

    Those in favor of normalization of homosexual marriage would protest this as unjust and quasi-apartheid. Those opposed to normalization of homosexual marriage would likely protest that they wouldn’t want members of a homosexual couple teaching in Primary and teaching their children (even just by example) that homosexual couples are normal. The primary problem with this issue is that I believe both sides see this as a “No Compromises” situation. There is no middle ground on which anyone can agree.

    The reason The Policy has caused so much pain and continues to cause so much pain is because the “gray area” homosexual couples were in before at least gave hope to those in favor of normalization that the Church might move in their direction some day (I mean it’s not like the Church was super welcoming to homosexuals, never mind homosexual couples before The Policy, so it can’t be because the Church made a sudden about-face on the topic). Instead The Policy shows that the leadership of the Church has decided to move in clear favor of those opposed to normalization.

    For myself I remain conflicted as to whether I am for or against normalization of marriage in the Church. I’m for it in terms of law & custom outside the Church, but due to much of the promulgated doctrine of the Church for pretty much the entirety of its existence, I find it hard to see how to reconcile normalization with the current doctrine. I feel it would require an explicit revelation to overcome much of the rhetoric that has accrued around the current doctrine. Even if a revelation did come, unless it also reconciled transsexuals & the priesthood as well as women & the priesthood, the Church would just be kicking the controversy can down the road a little, as the transsexuals & bathrooms issue currently raging in the US can attest.

  90. “we wish not for the homosexual agenda … to come into our churches and homes and force their views on us”

    “We”? Speak for yourself, Rob Osborn. No matter how much you probably would like it to do so, the world does not operate in black and white. Some of us understand that there are other issues involved here besides the bogeyman “homosexual agenda.” It would be a good thing if you would spend some time visiting with and listening to some of the LGBT members of the church and their families, so you can begin to understand the complexities of the situation.

  91. Mark B. says:

    John C is also wrong in supposing that apostates, including people who have entered into same-sex marriages, must be excommunicated. Holding a disciplinary council is mandatory in such cases, but no particular decision is mandated.

  92. Mark B. says:

    A#4 speaks about “LGBT members” which leaves me wondering–just where do bisexuals fit in this new age? Since acting on their bisexuality obviously would require multiple sexual partners, just what does it mean to “understand the complexit[y] of the[ir] situation”?

  93. @Jared vdH

    “Basically, treat them like we did those of African descent before 1978.”

    But, you see, there is a difference that demands a different response. Being of African descent was never a sin. Engaging in homosexual sex (even within a relationship solemnized by the government) is.


    “RJH, I think the new policy certainly accentuated these issues and was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people.”

    I think there is a lot of truth to this. With what limited understanding we have of eternal progression, gay marriage seems irreconcilably at odds with our eternal destiny. There seem to be those who have convinced themselves that this is not the case, but the policy served only to highlight that they will have to make a choice — and because it necessitates a sacrifice of something they care deeply about (either the Church or their relationship) there will of course be pain. But, for many of us, I think the ultimate requirement of making that choice was clear even before the policy and it only makes explicit some things that were already implicitly there.

  94. Jared vdH says:

    @Johnathan Cavender

    You’re proving the point of my third paragraph. I don’t think it’s a workable middle ground because those opposed to normalization (apparently you) and those in favor of normalization wouldn’t accept it. I was simply providing an attempt at the “middle ground” that Clark was asking for to show that there is no middle ground that either side could agree upon.

  95. Jared vdH:

    Gotcha. Sorry, didn’t mean to misread or misrepresent your position.

  96. @Johnathan Cavender – There are a number of things you wrote that don’t sit right with me. So here’s my response, take it as you will…

    “I have noticed an overwhelming trend on this issue that pain is this horrible thing that must be avoided at all cost.” No. Inflicting pain on others, especially those without the ability to defend themselves is to be avoided. Individually, especially and organizationally whenever possible. I wish I could say ‘at all costs’ on the end there, but I’ve been alive long enough to know I’m not that perfect.

    “Do we show this hypothetical person more love by empathizing with their pain, or by trying to bring them to repentance” All I can do is empathize. I have no ability to bring someone to repentance. Only Jesus can do that. I’m pretty much in the same boat as the person I’m empathizing with when it comes to my standing before Him.

    Look at it this way, empathy is about my relationships with the people around me. Repentance and Obedience is about my relationship with Deity. I don’t control the second relationship for anyone but myself. All I have to offer them is empathy on their journey toward God. If they invite me to offer suggestions for their journey or seek to model their journey on mine, that is their choice. But again, it is first, last, and in the middle between them and God.

  97. it's a series of tubes says:

    I have no ability to bring someone to repentance. Only Jesus can do that.

    But see Acts 2:38, 3:19,17:30; 2 Nephi 26:27; Alma 29:1-2; Helaman 5:41; 3 Nephi 30:1-2; D&C 6:9, 33:10-11, 133:16…

  98. “Once again there are huge generational differences here. Millennials simply look at all this radically different from Baby Boomers. (With us Gen-Xers perhaps a mix of the two) I think there’s really non-comprehension of both sides of each other.”

    This is spot on. But our church leaders are not Boomers. They’re the PARENTS of Boomers who are still fighting the counter culture of the sixties. (No beards for temple workers, no hippies at BYU!) There are now multiple generations between the senior apostles (parents of Boomers) and the rising generation (Millennials). This is significant as the last half century has seen its fair share of social change.

    So… what’s the middle ground? How about the church just stops performing marriages entirely? Everyone gets married civilly, as is currently the case for church members in Europe and other countries. No one gets “married in the temple” because everyone would be married civilly. Married civilly and then sealed in the temple later, because marriage and sealing are different things. Getting “married in the temple” would become a quaint 20th century expression.

    LGBT members would not be allowed to be sealed to each other as that would require a doctrinal change. (Something they can petition the prophet for, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.) This would probably be challenged by LGBT activists but the church could argue, legitimately, that sealings are a religious practice separate from marriage and therefore protected. (I’m sure the many lawyers here will correct me on this if I’m wrong.)

    In the meantime, LGBT legal civil marriages are recognized by the church. Everyone comes to church, including LGBT married couples and their families, and we are nice to each other. We love each other. We treat each other with kindness and in a Christ-like manner. And we stop using the church as a battleground for political and cultural wars.

    There. I’ve sorted it all out. No fuss no muss. That was easy. ;D

    As a Gen X-er, I don’t expect to see any of this in my lifetime. But it’s probably where we will eventually end up. Again, look to Europe as a predictor of social trends. (Here in Canada we’ve had over a decade of gay marriage.) If this is where we are going anyway, why not go willingly, without doing so much damage to individual lives and to the reputation of the church as a whole?

  99. @it’s a series of tubes says:

    Beat me to the punch.


    Thank you for your response — I think there are underlying assumptions that we disagree on that will result in us not seeing eye to eye on too much, but I do appreciate that you are responding civilly and intelligently.

    In that spirit, I would appreciate some responses to understand your position a little bit better (even though we are unlikely to agree, understanding is certainly a good thing):

    “Inflicting pain on others, especially those without the ability to defend themselves is to be avoided. Individually, especially and organizationally whenever possible.”

    How do you reconcile this position with the amply scriptural evidence that suffering is a positive force in the world? Alma is pretty clear to Corianton that suffering is a necessary part of repentance, so how does a Church that avoids pain “whenever possible” simultaneously fulfill its purpose to call others to repentance?

    “All I can do is empathize. I have no ability to bring someone to repentance.”

    This, to many of us, is why we react poorly to calls for empathy. Empathy seems to often contain a hidden injunction against the more important obligation to call all men everywhere to repent. After all, if we live to spare others a little pain in this life in such a way that inflicts a great deal of pain in the next life, we are not being loving. Of course, that is my perspective — how do you reconcile your belief in empathy in this manner with the scriptural obligation to preach repentance? How would you distinguish your position from the abdication of our individual moral responsibility to serve and help our brothers and sisters on their path back to God?

    “If they invite me to offer suggestions for their journey or seek to model their journey on mine, that is their choice.”

    Is there any scriptural backing for the idea that we only preach repentance when invited? Speaking from experience, the times I was in sin are the times I am in the most need of being called to repentance and the time I am least likely to invite suggestions from others. I have been blessed to be called to repent (call it a spiritual intervention, if you will) during times I didn’t want it. Should we be passive and watch those who reject the teachings of God fall into misery and pain simply because we are waiting to be invited?

    I am being a little more blunt that I usually am online, and I hope you see that as a mark of respect. Your answers would help me to understand a perspective that is honestly fairly foreign to me.

    Needless to say, it is my belief that (independent of the short-term pain it may cause) calling others to repent is the greatest love that we can show for them. I base that not only scripturally, but also experientially — with age and experience I have learned that the people who showed me the greatest love are those who have interceded when I was going the wrong way and helped me to change my behavior even (especially?) when I didn’t want their help.

  100. Living as a wed homosexual couple is a worse sin than sleeping around. Has it ever been tolerated in the church?
    And children living with such couples would be barred from baptism and advancement in the church anyways, because of the interview process. “Do you affiliate 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, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?”
    This policy “change” was no change at all, just a clarification of existing policy reinforcing existing doctrine.

  101. Clark Goble says:

    I think comparing it to events with the priesthood in the 70’s is helpful. It seemed even the most hardened literalist to statements in 19th century sermons in the Journal of Discourses acknowledge the practice would end. Really the only issue was having an authoritative end. Everything else was all arranged. In this case there’s really nothing remotely like that.

    As Jared noted, even a vague middle ground most people in same sex relations would find unacceptable would require pretty well abandoning all the theology of marriage and fornication with zero historic precedence. Even the precedences that say Quinn found in his book are much more about how serious such acts were seen at various times, not that they were acceptable. The idea that fornication would be seen as a sin on par with swearing seems difficult to reconcile. That is how could someone active sexually be considered worthy of non-temple ordinances?

    None of this is to deny the potential of new revelation is always possible. But I think we should be clear exactly how radical such revelation would be. Even ignoring the problem of reconciling such changes to scripture (which just wasn’t an issue with ending the priesthood issue – there arguably the ban was more at odds with scripture), it pretty well goes against the entire cosmology of the church. It also opens up a huge can of words as to what relationships even mean in the hereafter.

  102. Clark Goble says:

    Mark (12:10) in one sense bisexuals have no issue since they can enter into a loving relationship with a person of the opposite sex. However with the rapid social change of the past few years there’s become a pretty strong position that bisexuality should be acceptable. This is part and parcel of the changing social norms such that expecting people to be sexually abstinent except out of marriage is dismissed. That is, while this is particular issue for gays that I think is particularly difficult for Mormon theology, it’s also part of a larger set of social trends towards sexuality that have been developing since the 60’s.

    Mormons aren’t alone in dealing with these issues. I think just the type of implications of our materialism limit us theologically in a way that Evangelicals don’t face. That is sexual rules for Mormons aren’t merely somewhat arbitrary rules but are caught up in the very meaning of our cosmology and what salvation means. For an Evangelical, gender could easily be seen at best as a feature only of mortality. That changes how sex is contextualized theologically. Throw in that Evangelicals aren’t terribly theologically oriented typically and how they react is quite different despite having a very conservative religious stance that’s more aligned with Mormons.

  103. From the OP: “Is anything more sacred than human life? The idea that human life is the most sacred of God’s gifts feels innate to me.”

    I agree. However, that is most assuredly not the message that I hear in church.

    In the Book of Mormon, Nephi is told “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” So he breaks one commandment to obey another. I have heard LDS use that scripture to state that the systematic slaughter of Native Americans was acceptable to Heavenly Father because cleansing America of the Lamanites’ unrighteousness was necessary to bring about Joseph Smith and the restoration. I have known of LDS who would extend this idea to believe that it is perfectly fine, desirable even, to lose a brother or sister in the gospel than to have that person lead other LDS astray. So, yes, I know LDS who are *glad* to see people like Glenn leave the church. Can’t have them muddy the waters, so to speak.

    I know of other LDS who view recent church resignations as “a sign of the times,” or as a “separation of the wheat from the chaff” with a sort of glee–they put on a mask of sadness and tsk-tsk, but I get the sense that they can check off the box next to “the very elect will be deceived” and hope that the next sign will occur soon, because, hey, Jesus is coming and everything better be ship-shape. Get those homosexuals, feminists, and so-called intellectuals out of here.

    And the comments above from people complaining about Glenn’s appearance or the style or quality of music–all those superficialities–do you not hear his message? Can you put aside your desire for a cheap joke and focus on the real issue? Because your snarkiness is evident that you just won’t, or can’t, “mourn with him.” Is it too much to simply believe him?

  104. Interesting that the United Methodist Church is struggling with some of these same issues. Some difference and similarities with the LDS Church.

    What if the Lord sent lepers, homosexuals, Aspergers/Autistic and other assorted neurodiverse individuals among us to help us develop compassion and as a test thereof?

  105. Man, you win!

    This is a depressing thread. Y’all are making me pine for the good old days where I’d just ban everybody.

  106. “I think there are underlying assumptions that we disagree on that will result in us not seeing eye to eye on too much.” Yes, I agree. I’m not horribly worried about that if you aren’t. This is going to be long though…

    “How do you reconcile this position with the amply scriptural evidence that suffering is a positive force in the world?” I think perhaps I wasn’t clear on my stance on this (which was exactly what I was trying to explain, so my error). It’s not that I don’t see the growth and positive outcomes that can come from suffering. I absolutely do. I’m a better person for some of the trials I’ve been through. My faith and relationship with God are so much stronger for my faith crisis. But.. I don’t see me inflicting suffering on another person as a good thing. Nor do I see the church inflicting suffering on individuals as a good thing. I don’t want to be the noun before the verb – if that makes sense.

    Although, I can see suffering as effective in manipulating someone (I’m thinking shock-and-awe situations with employee relations at work). I don’t know that this is relevant to this conversation and I’d never say such use is Christ-like. It does seem important to acknowledge that intentionally causing suffering can be effective though.

    “So how does a Church that avoids pain “whenever possible” simultaneously fulfill its purpose to call others to repentance?” To be honest, I’m less interested in the church than I am in individuals. I’m also totally uninterested in calling others to repentance. Perhaps that is a cop out, but it’s hard to argue point-for-point something that I don’t particularly care about.

    “This, to many of us, is why we react poorly to calls for empathy. Empathy seems to often contain a hidden injunction against the more important obligation to call all men everywhere to repent.” If I look at ‘call to repent’ from a different angle, I’d say empathy is a call to repentance. What is kindness but acting as the savior would? What is comfort, but a gift of the spirit. Is calling someone to repentance a different behavior than calling them to Christ? Do not the actions of Christ witness of him? And is not his witness a pull to be more like him?

    “After all, if WE live to spare others a little pain in this life in such a way that inflicts a great deal of pain in the next life, we are not being loving.” So this might be the heart of what I had a hard time with originally. That WE (caps for clarity only) comes off to me as if WE hold the power of Christ’s role in the atonement. As if WE are the decision makers for others life paths. I trust Jesus to handle his role, guide his children, take the reins in their journey in the way it appears to me you think we should do for each other.

    “How would you distinguish your position from the abdication of our individual moral responsibility to serve and help our brothers and sisters on their path back to God?” I don’t abdicate. I see empathy as the way to help others find their own relationships with Christ. And my reasoning is from my own spiritual journey, but it’s also just practical. I’ve spent (and continue to spend) years of life struggling to help, guide, love family members in extreme situations (homelessness, drug abuse, familial abuse, etc.) and if I have learned one thing in all of it, it’s that I won’t solve their problems. I can’t. The more I tried calling them on their sins (both bluntly and not so over the years – definite learning curve here), the more I realized I was making the situation worse. Especially in terms of my relationship with the individuals – the only thing I actually had any control over in the first place.

    So now I let go. I said (and do say still), Lord I can’t solve this problem. I stop trying to control the other person and just love them. I listen. I acknowledge their feelings and their problems. I let them be in charge (I’ve found that what most people want from each other is just to be heard). I stop letting it be about me, my goals, my need to check off a box called ‘called that one to repentance.’ I make it about them and acknowledge I don’t know nearly as much about their situation/struggles/sins as they do.

    This has brought an immense amount of peace into my own life (for the giant problems and the minor ones). And I (‘we’ really as I’m not alone in the major stuff) have watched family members find solutions to their problems (I believe with the Lord’s help) that I would never have anticipated nor encouraged.

    So that’s the heart of my position. I trust God to guide his children. Sure, I’ll help, but in a secondary role.

    “Is there any scriptural backing for the idea that we only preach repentance when invited?” Apparently the word ‘invited’ came off more literal than I intended. Barring that, I’m interested in the scriptures inspiring and motivating me toward Christ, not becoming an exacting checklist.

    “Should we be passive and watch those who reject the teachings of God fall into misery and pain simply because we are waiting to be invited?” Hmmm… I’m not sure where I said anything about being passive. Do you see empathy as passive? I don’t. Again, for me empathy is a call to Christ and what greater repentance can there be?

    “I am being a little more blunt that I usually am online, and I hope you see that as a mark of respect.” No worries. This is rather fun, although I can’t promise to keep it up for long as life doesn’t usually leave me this much free time. Excellent conversation though and thought provoking.

    “I have learned that the people who showed me the greatest love are those who have interceded when I was going the wrong way and helped me to change my behavior even (especially?) when I didn’t want their help.” That’s lovely. Really. My experience is different and perhaps that is what builds the differences in our views overall. My greatest experience with someone interceding and calling me to repentance was about the other person wanting to control me and not finding me of worth. (I recognize that isn’t a universal application.) My greatest moment of love was someone interceding, taking my punishment, and telling me I was worthy of love and headlining despite my flaws. (which sounds like a reference to Christ, but isn’t.) So perhaps your POV comes from relating love to justice. Mine comes from relating love to mercy.

  107. Clark Goble says:

    Erin, I confess I’ve not seen that view about native Americans. It’s certainly not in line with the Book of Mormon where it seems like God isn’t happy about such events. Rather it’s the natural consequence of leaving people to their own devices. There’s no doubt some individuals have odd or even offensive beliefs. I’m not sure it’s fair to generalize to the church as a whole from such things.

    The question of Nephi and Laban is of course a hard one. Whether God is that brazenly utilitarian is something I tend to dismiss. That said I think if we say life in inherently valuable I also think we then have to ask, “what kind of life?” These are not easy questions and get in contemporary terms into issues like how long to you use life saving technology to prolong life in pain. Our moral intuitions generally push us against even thinking about such calculus. Yet we do this all the time in regular life. When is a recall done? How safe must food be to avoid listeria and other microbes. What cost is acceptable for speed limits. We do cost/benefit analysis on such things and typically don’t see the setting of the speed limit at 55 as a rejection of the value of life even though that choice means people die.

  108. @RT:

    Thank you for your response. As I read through it, I was struck by the fact that (assuming I am understanding you properly) there is not as much of a difference between our opinions as I thought at first glance.

    For example, we agree that we cannot be responsible for the relationship that others have with God. We agree that God knows best how to guide His children. We agree that we are secondary in that process. We agree that anything we do in this process must absolutely respect human agency. We agree that loving the other person is essential to having any positive role in the process.

    You say:

    “I trust Jesus to handle his role, guide his children, take the reins in their journey in the way it appears to me you think we should do for each other.”

    I absolutely trust in Him as well. But I also have learned that He has placed others in my path who have blessed my life. Because of those blessings, I have a desire to likewise play a role in the “journey of others” (as you have described it). It is true that the Lord does not need me at all. But it is also true that the Lord has placed me in a position to help others. The “we” is because each of us are put in the responsibility of being Saviors on Mount Zion. Of myself, I have no role in the Atonement. But because He has asked me to be involved, it is important that I try my best to do what He wants me to do.

    It seems like, with all we agree on, that our biggest disagreement is related to the most effective way to accomplish a shared goal. My perspective (shared by you, I believe, though not explicit) is that the best way we can intercede to help others to repent is through inviting the Spirit. Your perspective seems to be that empathy towards others shows a Christ-like example and helps them to feel His love. This will invite the Spirit and the Spirit will invite repentance (am I understanding and summarizing you correctly?). My perspective is that testifying of the doctrine likewise invites that same Spirit, although love is absolutely a necessary component (in fact, testifying of the doctrine is a demonstration of our love). The same goal, but two different methods of reaching that goal…

    Though we disagree with each other in method, it would not be hugely surprising to me to learn that the Lord put each of us in our place because there was a time for your approach and a time for mine.

    Regarding the issue of suffering, there seems to be a larger disconnect between our positions. If I can summarize that disconnect, it would be as follows. You believe that increasing the suffering of others never is appropriate. I believe that it is often necessary even for individuals to increase the suffering of others in order to avoid even greater suffering down the road. This, as you say, may be a difference in our personal experiences — I was blessed to have others who increased my suffering (some lovingly, some unlovingly) that ultimately brought about a great deal of happiness and peace in my life. Each time we prick the conscience of those who have become comfortable in sin, we increase their suffering — and that, to me, is a necessary part of loving one another. Where I think we agree is that increasing the suffering of others casually, selfishly, or hatefully is wrong. Where I think we disagree is that I believe that increasing the suffering of others in the short term is sometimes more loving if it decreases their suffering in the long term. Your position is that increasing the suffering of others is un-Christlike, where my position is that increasing the suffering of others is a necessary part of walking the pathway of discipleship with Him.

    You say:

    “I’d never say such use is Christ-like.”

    I would argue that D&C 121 (THE scripture on unrighteous dominion) even recognizes that there is a time to reprove with sharpness.

    I will correct you on one way that you misunderstand me. I do not associate love with justice — I am all about mercy in my personal life and the lives of those around me. The call to repentance is the call to take advantage of the wonderful blessing that is mercy. The call to obedience is the call to take advantage of that same blessing of mercy.

    One final thought — there are some social issues where it seems that merely stating the doctrine has become synonymous with hatred. Oftentimes those of us standing for what we perceive as the Church’s position feel as did Mormon:

    “Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.” — Moroni 9:4

    This is the suffering that I am referring to causing. From my perspective, that seems a good summary of the events surrounding the introduction of the policy. When the Church used no sharpness, there were those who convinced themselves that the doctrine on homosexual relationships would ultimately change (or there was no doctrine). When the Church became more blunt on the issue (speaking with sharpness), there were those angered and hurt. Accepting as true that gay marriage is a sin, what could the Church (and those who feel compelled to defend it online) do?

    There is no place for mocking those who believe differently or shunning those who believe differently. Christ loves Mr. Glenn more than I have ever loved anything in my life. Christ values Mr. Glenn more than I have ever valued anything in my life. But there is a time for speaking with sharpness (particularly when with other types of speech there seems to be a hardening of the hearts against). When merely stating that sexual relationships between homosexual partners is a sin becomes a source of suffering for the listener (and it often seems to be), then that is a time when our legitimate desire to alleviate the suffering of others in the long run would require us to speak the truth and testify of the doctrine — even if that increases the short-term suffering of those who are dealing with temptations, sins, and challenges we may not ever fully understand.

    Anyhow, I really do appreciate your thoughtful response as it helps me to see where you are coming from (and to see that there really isn’t as much of a difference between us as I first thought).

  109. Ryan Mullen says:

    Clark (2:00) “I think comparing it to events with the priesthood in the 70’s is helpful. It seemed even the most hardened literalist to statements in 19th century sermons in the Journal of Discourses acknowledge the practice would end.”

    I’ve heard this from a couple different people, but all the quotes I’ve seen say the practice would end after certain nebulous criteria were met–e.g. all the seed Abel would have had being born into other families or after the Millennium. Since the Church now disavows that Cain and Abel had anything to do with the priesthood ban and the Millennium did not begin in 978, neither of these criteria could have precipitated Pres Kimball’s revelation. Are you aware of any statements regarding the priesthood extension that reasonably could apply to 1978?

  110. @Ryan:

    President McKay stated that he expected it to change, though he also stated that it would require revelation to change it. His biography references a time when he came out of the temple ashen-faced, and when a security guard asked what had happened, he told the man that he had again taken the matter of the blacks and the Priesthood to the Lord and was informed that the policy was not to be changed at that time, and he was to cease asking.

    Elder Hugh Brown stated that the issue of blacks and the Priesthood “would change in the not too distant future.” As far back as 1963, Elder Brown was openly speaking on the issue and the possibility of blacks receiving the Priesthood. Persons of African descent were ordained at the beginning of the Church (Elijah Abel, for example, who was ultimately ordained a Seventy).

    President Lorenzo Snow spoke on the issue, and wondered whether it was a permanent thing. Joseph Fielding Smith stated that he could not promise that blacks would receive the Priesthood, but likewise he could not be certain they would not.

    I think you will agree that there has been nothing similar on a change in the doctrine on gay marriage as what was said about the potential for change on the issue of blacks and the Priesthood.

  111. I’m late to this party, even though I wrote the invitation. My apologies for that.

    Jonathan Cavendar, you are correct to say that [divine] love can hurt. My meaning would have been better served had I used the word “harm” rather than “hurt.” So thank you for that observation. As far as obedience being more important than empathy, our perspectives part ways. Elder McConkie had a great deal of influence on Mormon thought when he declared that obedience is the first law of heaven. He seems to have forgotten the admonition to first love God and secondly, to love our neighbors. All hangs on these two commandments, which, to my thinking, means all other commandments exist to support love. Someone could argue that obedience to the commandment to love remains obedience; hence obedience is the first principle. But that’s an intellectual game that falls flat for me. I’ve seen Elder McConkie’s statement used too often to perpetrate tyranny, so I prefer to approach the idea otherwise.

    This next remark is not intended for Jonathan, or anyone in particular, but I’ve often been struck by how people (myself included) become convinced that the way they think is what God thinks/means/wants. I’m of an age where I understand that that idea is as okay as it is wrong. God doesn’t think like us, and our ability to understand Him with purity is limited, largely by the reality we are given only one perspective. God understands all perspectives. Its okay to highly esteem our ideas, but wrong-headed to be tied by them. When I speak of empathy, I mean not only a feeling of love, but a willingness to overcome our one perspective and acquire that of another person. I sense this is part of our march toward being as God is. Acceptance, as we commonly use the term, is a word with thick secular connotations. God possesses all Truth and “truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:25). Speaking of empathy, then, for me, is a quest to understand things/people as they are and as they were, in order to grasp their potential, their future. “Empathy” is the word I use for this process.

    KL, I want to tell you that I support the decisions of homosexuals who opt for mixed orientation marriages (or celibacy), as long as everyone understands the situation going in, and I certainly want those marriages to survive, particularly for the sake of their children. I do recognize that some MOMs “must” end for the emotional health of one spouse or the other, but this is true of all marriages. I’ve heard complaints from my friends in MOMs who don’t feel supported and who are pressured to “live authentically.” I despise that expression. Its not much different than saying “live righteously.” Both phrases roil in on an undercurrent of judgement. We (well, most of us LDS anyway) are trying to overcome the natural man, to broaden our understanding, and live in a way that honors our God. Mortality is exhausting. I wish you the best.

    Thank you all for reading, especially those of you who liked the post! ;)

  112. @Lisa:

    Thanks for the article and comment. One correction to your comment, however. For my source on the importance of obedience, I don’t look to McConkie but rather the Savior (“If you love me, keep my commandments.”). That is why I see obedience as tied to the first commandment. Of course, that does not justify tyranny, and violating the agency of another is not only violating the principle of charity and empathy but violating the principle of obedience as well.

  113. So God created all of us and created some of us as homosexuals.
    We grew up, went through puberty, and began to experience strong sexual urges.
    At church we were taught that it’s a sin to act on those urges before marriage.

    So most of us heterosexuals get married. We get to have sexual relations regularly. We wake up to a warm body and get ready for church and take the sacrament. We get to have children and experience the joy of watching them grow and become mini versions of ourselves. We get to teach them about eternal families. We have a unit of people that are ours, and will be ours through eternity. We get to have grandchildren. They honor our names. And at our funerals they express gratitude for their knowledge that they get to live with us again. And our legacy lives on through our posterity.

    We get so, so much. So very much. The privilege of my heterosexuality in the church has afforded me so much, and it’s all socially approved! How do I have any right to talk about judgement, sin, or calling others to repentance when they just want what I get to have, something we’ve been taught is righteous to desire?

  114. Clark Goble says:

    Ryan (6:29) the requirements and time period shift around a bit from the stuff I’ve read both in the Journal of Discourses and other sources. It’s still racist and disturbing, but clearly everyone expected it to end. That is the key issue – there’s a theological way forward. Move to the postwar era and it seems like lots of people including Pres. McKay (as Jonathan notes) expected it to end sometime in the future. So really the issue in 1976 wasn’t that it happened but that it happened then.

    Doubling (8:47) That’s why it’s painful for many of us. There appears no solution yet the situation seems inherently unjust on the face of it. It’s definitely something we need some major revelations for no matter what.

    Lisa (7:05) How can you love God without being obedient to him? Beyond that though I think Elder McConkie’s exegesis largely is just following Abr 3:25. I don’t think Elder McConkie wanted anything like tyranny. But I also think we can’t dismiss obedience to God as key. The problem that gets trickier of course is when we know what God wants.

  115. @DoublingDown:

    “So most of us heterosexuals get married.”

    At any given time, approximately one in three adult members of the Church is unmarried. Counterwise, 3.8% of the American population are gay (according to Gallup — no measurements were available for the Church in particular). The point being, at any given time there are ~10 adult heterosexual members of the Church waking up without a warm body who do not get to have sexual relations regularly for each adult homosexual in the same situation.

    “How do I have any right to talk about judgement, sin, or calling others to repentance when they just want what I get to have, something we’ve been taught is righteous to desire?”

    We call others to repentance because we trust that the Lord knows more than we do. The Lord, in His wisdom, has taught us that homosexual relations are a sin. We know that sin leads to unhappiness. We love our brothers and sisters, and want them to be happy. Thus we share the truth that we know. We don’t do it because it is our “right” to speak of these things — we do it out of love and because we are given the responsibility to speak of these things.

    “We get so, so much. So very much.”

    On this, you and I agree. And we will never know what it is like to bear the burdens of anyone else. But we trust that the Lord’s Plan is perfect, His commandments are perfect (and perfectly designed to lead to our happiness), and thus we speak the truths that we know.

  116. Jonathan, thank you for your participation. Please take a break.

  117. Jonathan, I too want to thank you for your participation. You have been so civil and kind even when discussing points of disagreement. I admire your willingness to find common ground, assume nobility of intent, and express you own perspective respectfully. Your comments have helped me feel loved and supported. Thank you.

  118. sirdidymus24 says:

    “Counterwise, 3.8% of the American population are gay.”

    I hear this argument a lot from LDS members who insist no one should be upset by the policy change because “not that many” people were affected.

    Christ taught to leave the 99 to go after–not the 3.8%–the 1. The 1%.

  119. Lisa, (and RT and Rivkah)

    Thank you for your kind words of support and love. I perceive that they are genuine. Please know that I value members like you all who are working to be supportive and understanding without prescribing a solution to LGBT members across the spectrum of belief. I have noticed that I have experienced a shift over the last day in my attitude toward Tyler Glenn. This surprised me, as I started hearing and reading about the Music Video much earlier without any change. I attribute that to feeling attacked, partially by Tyler, but severely by “Allies.” I was angry at them for using his pain to attack my faith. I was angry at him for providing the stick.

    But as I shared authentically here, I received a different response than I had come to expect in more progressive Mormon spaces. The empathy (not glib, faked empathy-in-a-can, but real I’m -grappling-with-this-digging-deep-and-willing-to-really-seek-to-understand-and-respect-you empathy) you all provided helped create a space where I could safely look at Tyler’s pain and engage in the same dig-deep empathy process with him. Empathy doesn’t require me to accept that his experience was unavoidable, that his perceptions are accurate, or that he made the best decisions. What it does require is that I accept that he perceives his experience as true in the same way I perceive my own contradictory experience as true. It requires that I accept that his decisions we made sincerely and that from within his personal view, they appeared to be the best options available to him. And in that, I can mourn with him even as I mourn the fact that he has not been able to find the peace and happiness in the Church that I have.

    Empathy leads me right to the brink of my knowledge and faith. Is it possible that the Gospel as taught in the Church isn’t meant to work for everyone? Could it be that the very doctrines that soothe my aching heart, provide an anchor to my soul, and bind my wandering mind to Christ, also unavoidable harm and alienate some of my brothers and sisters? I don’t understand how, I don’t understand why, but regardless of whether their pain comes from misunderstanding some doctrine (as my first, self-focused judgment tends to be), insensitive comments from members or general authorities, a policy that I see as benign, but from which I may simply be more shielded, or any other source, I ultimately have to admit that I don’t know all things. I know what the Spirit has told me to do. It has brought me so much joy, that I want to share that story and option with others, so that they too might partake and be happy. But I can also create room for a loving Father in Heaven who is big enough and powerful enough to have different plans for others of his children.

    That turned out to be longer than I intended. Summary: Empathy really is the best way to touch people. But almost never can empathy be coerced. Telling people to be empathetic to Tyler (or anyone else) may not be effective. Sometimes I’ve even seen attempts to shame people into being more empathetic. Instead, providing empathy and understanding first to those struggling to find empathy may be the most beneficial solution. .

  120. JakeJ,
    Really? We were asking 8 year olds about their affiliation with apostate groups? I mean, I object to labeling gay folk in committed legal relationships as apostates in any case, but I’m skeptical that the bishop was sitting down and asking Lil’ Timmy about that.

    Mark B. and Clark,
    Polygamy is actually illegal in most states. And, as it has been traditionally practiced, often has negative effects for the parties involved, particularly women. So, while it made a convenient hat to hang the new bad policy on, it was a bad analogy and continues to be one. And I acknowledge that a mandatory disciplinary council is not the same thing as a mandatory excommunication. I phrased things poorly. But requiring a disciplinary council for being in a committed, stable, legal relationship, while not requiring one for promiscuous behavior, stands all of our rhetoric on chastity on end.

  121. Lovely comment, K.L. This line “I ultimately have to admit that I don’t know all things. I know what the Spirit has told me to do” is my feeling entirely. I had my moment where God made clear my role years ago and I still let emotional responses drag me into bogs of ‘my right = universal right.’ It is, I’d argue, a human strength sometimes, but mostly a human frailty.

  122. lehcarjt says:

    One more thing occurred to me… Perhaps for me this is also related to Jonathan and my discussion above. I see ‘calling to repentance’ as saying ‘do things the way I interpret the Lord’s will’ – which I just can’t square with true empathy. I can see why Jonathan would call it empathy though as the one doing the calling can (and usually does) have the absolute best intentions of bring the person to Christ through the same method they were brought to Christ.

    My definition of empathy is wanting the other person to not find MY solutions or the church’s solutions, but rather God’s individual solutions for them – and only they can do that work. And part of empathy is accepting that the solution God gave to them may be in vastly different from mine or the church’s. Which is possibly what Lisa was saying as well…?

  123. lehcarjt says:

    Lehcarjt = RT (old name I haven’t used in forever, but somehow switched to the login here)

  124. Clark Goble says:

    John C, I think polygamy is quasi-illegal. Typically that’s not what such groups are prosecuted on. I think most people think that were polygamy brought to the supreme court the laws would go the way of gay marriage laws. (Which is why the blocking of that legal battle here in Utah this year on surprising technical grounds was so interesting) From the Church’s position though it doesn’t matter in the least whether polygamy is legal or not.

  125. Clark Goble says:

    I’d second what others say. The number of gay people seems beside the point. The problem is an apparent injustice in what people see and how they reconcile it. As I’ve said I think this is deeper and more unreconcilable than some portray it. However one thing I’m sure about is that the absolute numbers matter very little. Especially given how at least a substantial number of members view the issue. Clearly a lot of people in this thread aren’t gay at all yet are deeply disturbed by the issue. So whatever the number gay is (and I think the number is unclear especially given how these issues are becoming more fluid as they become more acceptable) it’s not the number that matters in terms of those feeling alienated.

  126. Clark,
    It would seem to matter since the standard for some covenants mentions being legally wed.

  127. KL,
    great comment, I appreciate your insight.
    Upthread you mentioned the hostility you have received by allied members which both surprises and saddens me. It wasn’t until after a few of your initial comments that I realized you were an active LGBT member yourself so I apologize if you felt any of that from me. My perspective is that when an LGBT member weighs in, whether they agree with the policy or are against it, I should respectfully pay close attention. So thank you for your perspective, it isn’t one I’ve heard enough of. My personal frustrations surrounding the conversation on this issue are with those folks who are heterosexual members and are quick to judge/opine/etc. against those LGBT members who are struggling with the policy change, since it’s a struggle they haven’t had to endure themselves. Especially members who don’t have family or close loved ones in their lives who are affected. I just saw so many knee jerk responses of defensiveness by some of those members on November 5th. It was frustrating to me, but I guess I also need my own mirror in that situation. Perhaps I’m not trying to understand those members enough. I tend to judge their defensiveness as coming from a place of fear and “black and white” thinking. I feel like they’re putting obedience to our leaders before even attempting to love their neighbor. I feel like they too easily disregard the feelings and struggles of an entire group of people, throwing them out like the trash T.G. describes. But those are very judgmental thoughts so I should be careful.

  128. Context matters, too, John C. I think you probably know that the “to whom you are legally and lawfully wed” language was added to the covenants only in the early 20th century, as part of making it crystal clear that the Church no permitted polygamous marriage. Before that time, all through the era of plural marriage, being “legally and lawfully wed” played no part whatsoever in covenants. Latter-day Saints could and obviously were married by ecclesiastical authority very much in opposition to civil authority.

    If the “legally and lawfully wed” language were to no longer to serve its purpose in clarifying what unions are acceptable to the Church, there is no reason why it couldn’t be modified or dropped. There’s no suggestion anywhere in revelation that God defines marriage the same way that any state government does.

  129. I wrote an article on the matter here:
    But my perspective is that Pres Kimball was acting on his own, not by revelation. After all, lets face it, They never claimed a revealtion, or published one. Even the most positive descriptions simply say they felt good about it, or inspired, but none of them say if the Lord actually said anything, and none say he actually appeared. Just that they felt the way was clear. Whatever that is supposed to mean…

  130. it's a series of tubes says:

    I wrote an article on the matter here

    Sir or Madam, your “article” is replete with repulsive arguments and quotations that have been expressly repudiated by the Church. See

    “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

  131. Off thread, I have reached out to folks who have schooled me. As Ardis indicates, the “legal” here doesn’t appear to refer to state or federal law. Which is wild (can common-law people get married in the temple?), but there you are. In any case, I admit that my assumption regarding that phrase appears to be wrong. But the policy is still, very much, wrong. Possibly wronger than me.

  132. @ to Jonathan, regarding the origins of obedience. Got it. Of course Christ told us to obey commandments. I guess my brain went to the closely connected cultural phenomenon that encourages us to obey leaders as if all leaders are Christ. This is where the tyranny comes. Again, your point is well-received. As to the second point you made in another comment, that the Lord’s Plan is perfect, I agree. I do not agree, however, that we have full knowledge of that plan. I suppose you do. We part ways on that, but I trust can do so respectfully.

    @KL. You ask, “Is it possible that the Gospel as taught in the Church isn’t meant to work for everyone? Could it be that the very doctrines that soothe my aching heart, provide an anchor to my soul, and bind my wandering mind to Christ, also unavoidable harm and alienate some of my brothers and sisters?” If opposition exists in all things and, ultimately, for our benefit, then the answers must be yes.

    @lehcarjt = RT: You write, “My definition of empathy is wanting the other person to not find MY solutions or the church’s solutions, but rather God’s individual solutions for them – and only they can do that work. And part of empathy is accepting that the solution God gave to them may be in vastly different from mine or the church’s. Which is possibly what Lisa was saying as well…?”

    This is interesting. I tend to reject the subjective approach to truth; or, in other words, I reject the idea that “things that are true for one person may not be true for another.” I would classify ideas like this as a misuse of the word “true.” I do agree, however, that things that are meaningful for one person may not be meaningful in the same way for another. Or healthy. And I think meaning is what we are in the act of acquiring in mortality, not so much Truth with its capital T. There are few things that are quantifiably true, especially if we are speaking of philosophy or theology. I’ve forsaken the idea that our path to Truth is linear, with right or wrong answers provided by God in ways that help us move in the direction of perfection. In fact, I reject the word “path,” though I sometimes use it or similar words because its easy. The acquisition of Truth–through the Holy Spirit, the exercise of reason and study, or whatever means–is an experience of expansion. So rather than think in terms of this person or that person being in a different place on a God-guided path than I am–and rather than think in terms that “the solution God [gives] to them” is “vastly different from mine or the church’s”–I think in terms of overlap, in terms of a space that has some knowledge/Truth but not all, a space we all exist in and have a purposeful part in. Rather than think that people are guided in opposite directions (which does appear to be the case), I think that there is one expansive understanding of Truth that we can’t master in mortality, but that connects us. I sense God sees all our conflicts as progress toward each of us, as individuals, attaining more understanding. I see the concept of obedience to his commandment to love as the quickest way to access this space because it allows us to understand that each life, no matter how in conflict it’s ideas seem to be with the light we have, is also expanding. This expansion model permits me to put aside judgment and to see us all as involved in the same process, whether it is acknowledged or not. I’m not talking Buddha, but perhaps there is that kind of flavor without the disappearance of the individual. As I quoted above, truth is knowledge of all that was, is, and will be. So, in the strictest sense of that, what we are right now, exactly as we are right now, is truth–obedient or not, faithful or not, questing or resting; we are all part of Truth simply because we exist and God knows us.

    Phew. Sorry to be so philosophical, but hey. I was in the mood. Good luck figuring out what I mean. Yeah, “path” is a much easier thing to say.

  133. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Y’all are making me pine for the good old days where I’d just ban everybody.”

    Me too, Steve, me too. At least we have gay people being compared to a drug dealers again. That brought a nostalgic smile to my face.

  134. Lisa – I love your response to me. While I wouldn’t phrase it the same way exactly, I agree with everything you said.

  135. Love ya, Mike.

  136. Rob K, the church has never been a safe place for those who think and feel and love differently than the norm. It wasn’t safe for gays, trans, women who didn’t fit the church’s extremely narrow definition of “womanhood”, intellectuals, asexuals, intersex, minorities — anyone but straight, white men — starting in Joseph Smith’s day. It still isn’t safe for them today. Not safe to love or not love, not safe to express how they really feel, not safe to speak out when they are victimized, not safe to exist. The LDS church has always been this way; the lack of safety was built into its very foundation.

  137. Steve, banning only has the desired effect if you ban the children of offenders too. Don’t forget to ban the children.

  138. Jacob H. says:

    Talon FTW!

  139. Niiiiiice.

  140. Aussie Mormon says:

    Would the ban also apply to children of people who willingly comment on multiple mormon blogs at the same time?
    Also, is there a higher level mod we can appeal to? If not, how about a plurality of lower level mods?

  141. I finally watched the video. It just isn’t very good. Vulgar (perhaps pornographic?), not in the sense of being offensive, just in the sense of being kind of shallow and didactic. The singer is angry at the church and he’s singing about it. Ok, great. Not much artistic nuance there. Hopefully he delivers the goods on the other songs or else this promises to be a very short solo career.

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