Mormon & Gay — the New LDS.org Resource

 

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Again, with feeling

If there’s one thing that Mormons get, it’s that perfection is iterative. Line upon line, and all that.

A Little Splash

Mormons & Gays made a bit of a splash when it came out, back in 2012. No one saw it as the end-all-be-all resource for queer members or their families. No one thought it would bring an immediate end to the Church’s dogged embrace of its ill-informed anti-gay cultural baggage.

Many queer Mormons (and our allies) saw it as a well-dressed retrenchment, meant to placate detractors while ceding no ground to infidels and—gasp!—progressives. But I saw it a little differently. I saw it as a minor miracle—a sign of the Church’s growth in an area that really and truly needed it, an inward-facing document meant to bring the faithful up-to-date on what Church leadership felt was as an enlightened approach to a vexing doctrinal issue.

All too soon, the English-only site was lost in a sea of Church properties and initiatives. It was hard to find, and plenty folks openly questioned whether it was a real Church website at all.

Then, about two years back, there were whisperings: the Church was revisiting the site. It would be so much better. It would be linked to from the home page. It would be localized for members outside the US. So many rumors. So much hope.

But a year went by and nothing.

Hope flickered.

Then… November 5th. The POX.

Hope faded.

In the year that’s passed from that dark day, many just assumed that The Little Website that Could had fallen victim to the pogrom. But good ideas have a way of sticking around… especially the small ideas—the ones that get under your skin when you’re not looking.

And poof! this morning, a retooled and retitled website was born…

A Little Bigger Splash

This new website isn’t what anyone is looking for…

  • It’s an inconvenient weapon for those among us insisting gays are destroying the world.
  • It doesn’t promise a cure for the SSA itch.
  • It doesn’t, to any great degree, budge* on any well-trod teachings of the 15.
  • It doesn’t address (directly, at least) our trans brothers and sisters.

… and that’s fine by me.

(Well, “fine” may not be the right word…)

Instead, Mormon & Gay sets a new—and deeply (dare I say it?) authentic—tone to the conversation. It doesn’t shy away from the messiness of it all. It doesn’t wince when the mother of a gay son acknowledges that he may no longer be in the Church, five years down the road. It doesn’t flinch when an employee of the Church speaks candidly about their homosexuality—or blink when a returned sister missionary speaks about kissing another woman.

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In fact, Mormon & Gay does what no other official resource for queer Mormons has ever done: it puts away childish things, and speaks as an adult—an adult that doesn’t see itself changing its mind any time soon, mind you… but one who values the people in its life and who’s making a solid effort at having the hard conversations. To borrow a quote from Affirmation Int’l president John Gustav-Wrathall:

“If we were to point to any single part of the site as praiseworthy, it would be its tone. It models the sorts of conversations that we hope to hear about between LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families and fellow Latter-day Saints. The release of the new web site comes just before the holiday season, when families around the world gather to celebrate. Perhaps this holiday season can be a time of healing.”

LGBTQ/SSA Mormons Getting More Coverage on LDS.org

I have to give mad props to everyone who worked so hard to make it a reality. I have no doubt but there were many—to repeat myself—hard conversations in the halls of power. It’s not a perfect site, mind you. But I expect that it will (if given half a chance) continue to grow, to evolve. You know… line upon line, and all that.

But! But! But!

Look, the POX is its own battlefront.

I’m on record: it should be repealed and there should be an apology. It’s the right thing to do; it’s stain on the Body of Christ. Hearts and minds aren’t changed in a single-front war. And until the lion’s share of Church membership wraps its head around what’s found within Mormon & Gay—until coming out of the closet isn’t a death sentence for members in developing nations—the POX (or, at the least, its legacy) won’t be going anywhere. The future of the Church is in Africa… is in South America… is in the Asian sub-continent. Unless and until families in these places are having meaningful discussions about sexual orientation, we’re stuck. We’re stuck and our queer brothers and sisters are in danger.

This resource is currently being translated into 37 languages—including Spanish and Portuguese. Think about that, for a second. The branch president in Guatemala. The Relief Society president in Senegal. The young mens president in Sri Lanka. Read this site through their eyes…

Mormon & Gay gets members of the church to the starting place of change. To use a pioneer metaphor: we need to get the body of Saints to Winter Quarters before we can get them to the Promised Land.

And it’s out there, that Promised Land. I know this; the Spirit whispers it to me.

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* I grinned when I read this. We have a history of saying things won’t ever change.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I am heading out for the day but will return to night anxious to dive into the new site.

  2. And until the lion’s share of Church membership wraps its head around what’s found within Mormon & Gay—until coming out of the closet isn’t a death sentence for members in developing nations—the POX (or, at the least, its legacy) won’t be going anywhere.

    Powerful! And very true. Sad that it must be this way. But I think you’re right.

  3. Hurrah for tone! Seriously; not cynically. Even without any movement in principle (for which I look for revelation or a new generation).
    For this line alone, I would be pleased: “If you decide to share your experiences of feeling same-sex attraction or to openly identify as gay, you should be supported and treated with kindness and respect, both at home and in church.”

  4. A Happy Hubby says:

    I also agree with the statement of “until the lion’s share of members [and world wide society becomes more comfortable with gays]” (my words re-framing it) is probably true. But when I think of that, my management training just jumps up and says, “that isn’t leading, that is administrating.” To me that SOOOO weakens the notion that the church is what we need to follow. It almost seems to me the individual church members are more the leaders and over time the “leaders” of the church finally give up holding on to things like racism, homophobia, patriarchy, etc. Then the church can finally officially move on. I don’t find that attractive nor something that makes me feel like it is of God.

  5. Christain, thank you so much for bringing this to our attention!

  6. Christopher Jones says:

    Bless you, Christian.

  7. Love you, brother.

  8. Thank you Christian. I’m sure you are one of the examples why this is here in the first place.

    The message of “We love you” but don’t accept you is completely problematic and unsustainable (in families and in church). There is a strong message here of “we accept you in your identity” (of course, up to the point that the POX outlines, then obviously they are unacceptable.)

  9. I’m thrilled at the udpated the tone as well, but pretty skeptical at the timing. I can’t imagine it’s an accident the new website came out 10 days prior to the first anniversary of Nov 5th.

  10. EmJen: Agreed (that there is tension that is ultimately not sustainable). But I celebrate the “accept you in your identity.” That’s a big step. Maybe a first step, but an important one. The alternative is to treat homosexuality as counterfeit or disordered. Those attitudes are contrary-to-fact ways to relieve tension, and so long as they prevail(-ed) there will be no change. From where we begin, a move to an unsustainable divide is a good thing.

  11. So glad for your perspective on this. thanks for writing.

  12. ReTx–I second your suspicion. Along with the new Gays and Mormons, the timing for the new diversity video series truly saddened me and made me sick. I can’t bring myself to watch leaders of the church preach about “unity through diversity” after the POX …. and especially not when they release these videos mere days before the POX anniversary. Too little, too late. It’s entrenchment at its finest. It seems so disingenuous to me. What ever happened to “love unfeigned”?

  13. Just changing from “Mormons and Gays” (a sort of us vs. them) to “Mormon and Gay” (there is no them, there is only us) makes me happy.

  14. Perhaps it is reading too much into tiny gnats, but one change that strikes me is the name/web address. Before it was “Mormonssss and Gaysssss” as if each class of people were on opposite sides of an aisle, and the website was trying to provide a bridge between two different groups of people. The new title — Mormon and Gay — gives me more of an impression that it is possible for someone to be both Mormon and Gay at the same time.

  15. The church just (minutes ago) sent an email out regarding the new website, with the title “Ministering to People with Same-Sex Attraction.” They’re making a lot of noise about this right now.

  16. perhaps “love unfeigned” went the way of unconditional love — the legacy of President Nelson?

  17. I find it somewhat disturbing and disappointing that the second part of your article puts blame on developing countries. Okay the future of the church might be there but they did not make the decision. The church is a very much American-based church (and I speak as a non-american living in Utah) and its doctrinal and administrative decisions have nothing to do with what might the “poor south american, african, or asian members” feel about it. In fact, you are making the assumption that all members there are so non-progressive and so under-developed that they are going to make us all good mormons stay stuck in the mess we started. I can guarantee you that most of them don’t even know about this policy. In fact, when I talked about it with my family over-seas they had no idea it was a thing. And they attend church every Sunday. So progress won’t come from there, it will come from where the church is the most developed and where the mess was started. Leave the developing countries out of the mess we started. They have other things to worry about.

  18. Not Buying What Is Being Sold says:

    I’m sorry, but after the POX, this feels like an attempt to hold firm to old ideas by simply applying a new varnish. Real change means talks in General Conference that actually use “gay” instead of SSA; real change means all local level leaders teaching by example to love and accept LGBT+ members; real change means showing that our LGBT+ youth who are literally losing their lives to the current form of “love” that they are heard, that the leaders can understand, explain, and respond to the pain they themselves created (no God, did not create this wound). The lack of accountability and the one-ups-manship of taking POX from a policy to a revelation was 10 steps back and this site without a fully, widespread (top to bottom) full-court press is half a step forward. It’s pandering to quiet those who are willing to hold their nose to stay in the church. It feels calculated with squinty “we love you” eyes but no real balm, no real action. The reason I hold them to a much higher expectation is because they can and have for other programs or initiatives that were considered to be worthy of the effort. If this is not as worthy, it shows clearly the importance they place on real cultural change within the church members themselves.

  19. The email that Tim mentioned is exactly what I hoped to see: a directive for leaders to become familiar with the Mormon and Gay website and to use it. It would be a significant step forward if this material forms a minimum expectation for bishops’ personal counseling of members and for the content of lessons in church classes.

  20. Yes, LouW, I think that’s correct. As Marlin Jensen recently said on RadioWest a few weeks ago, change on this will need to come from and be modelled from the top down.

  21. I hear the commenters who are not impressed with the new website, and I agree that in real terms the change is not huge. But in relative terms, there is movement happening, and it means something. If we can get bishops to read this material and take it to heart, that really matters. If we can get ward councils to discuss this material and remember it in their work—especially in their teaching—that really matters. We continually declare that we believe in love. If we create openings for genuine love and acceptance among us, then love will eventually have its way.

  22. LouW’s comment wins the thread today. “The Policy” barely made waves where I live (an under-developed country as well).

  23. Thank you for this, Christian.

    And, John, President Jensen is absolutely right that it must be top down. I missed that interview. Is there a transcript or an archive?

  24. The parent tips are sappy but good. Tthis is a very, very Mormon-voice, Relief-Society-voice treatment of it. Start with love, start with the heart, and that has real value for changing the tone in families and helping parents have a good reaction to a coming-out. https://mormonandgay.lds.org/articles/ten-tips-for-parents

    I wish there had been a clear, concrete “for realz though don’t kick your kid out of the house” bullet point in addition to the sappy stuff though.

  25. I think the website is a great resource that can give hope that a person who has same sex attraction can actually stay in the Church. I have read through the posts, since I was curious, and I felt that there were honest, candid thoughts given about the subject.
    Now, I don’t think that the policy change from last year has had as large of an effect as others outside the Church have claimed, but I feel like this is a sincere effort by the Church to reach out to members in the LGBT community and help them feel like they aren’t alone.

  26. @Cynthia L, it is sad when a parent does kick their kid out of the house. I wish that was emphasized. You don’t kick somebody to the curb just because they are struggling with something that you find hard to accept. That’s certainly not what Jesus would do.

  27. @Bryce, right. I think their thinking in not saying it explicitly was that it would naturally follow from the tone they set and the idea that it’s certainly not what Jesus would do. However, sadly, we’ve seen that for a substantial number of parents that does not naturally follow.

  28. David Day says:

    My 2 cents, mostly 100% pure uninformed speculation.

    My sense is that society, the Brethren, and the Church as a whole continue to wrestle with a complex issue and the thinking continues to evolve. My opinion is that the Q12/15 are not of one mind on many of these issues and that’s one reason that we see some “push and pull” or “steps forward” and “steps back”. I’ve heard that the Q12 had very little time to review the POX (48 hours) and I’ve also heard that the debate on what final language (as compared to the current status of the “old” language and the “clarifying” letter) to put in the handbook still rages on. As I’ve thought about and struggled with Pres. Nelson’s “revelation” talk, I’ve come to focus not so much on the “revelation” part of the quote (since I still have no idea which version(s) of the policy he intended to mean) and to instead focus on this:

    … we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration.

    That statement, from Pres. Nelson, shows to me that the issue is complex and they did not/do not know what to do, they are still seeking direction and inspiration. That may sound critical to some, but its not intended as criticism. It’s instead an acknowledgement that the revelatory process is complex, especially when dealing with complex issues. I think Christian (OP) is correct when he describes this website as a minor miracle. I don’t think any of us think this process is complete.

    One thought on the last FAQ, which asks if the Church will ever change its doctrine and sanction SSM. I’ll simply note that neither the word “yes” nor the word “no” appear anywhere in that answer. Make what you will of the “answer”, it simply does not answer what is ultimately a yes or no question. That leads me to believe that the answer may well be some version of “we don’t know” or “we think we know but with something less than the 100% certainty we’d require to actually answer the question” or “we don’t agree on the answer to that question”.

  29. The “tone” is better – really? Wow. If the Brethren still maintained the priesthood ban, but improved the “tone” of a website sanctioning that approach, would we celebrate that as movement in the right direction? Don’t think so.

  30. Anonforthis says:

    Anon to avoid putting my bishop on the spot. (Actually, I suspect he reviewed the new site as soon as or before I did.) But for those bishops who are not so hip or so quick, what would you like to point out? What’s the elevator pitch? Tone is hard to convey in a one-liner. Criticism (not enough, baby steps, POX isn’t fixed) are great for blogging, but probably not a useful one-liner to my bishop. My vote is for some version of the “supported and treated with kindness and respect, both at home and in church” line, with emphasis on *supported* and *respect*. If there’s any hope of change in how people are treated, in the pastoral role of the church, it’s going to be tied up in those words, support and respect.

  31. Michael H says:

    I recognize the “love more,” message in the new site, but to me it gets eaten up in the “we’re not budging” message.

    Are fifteen prophets, seers, and revelators still incapable of obtaining from God a theological explanation of homosexuality? I’m frequently told to stop expecting a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow when I say that, in which case I wonder if current apologists are really OK with the idea of a God who doesn’t yet want his children to know his mind on the issue. Is it so transgressive and illogical to beleive that the arc of Revelation isn’t such a long one, in a God who wouldnt wait decades for his messengers on earth to reveal his will?

  32. Thank you, Christian. Any movement gives me hope.

  33. Sue Donim says:

    As the mom of a lesbian daughter, I served as a panel member for the church’s retooling of this website. That in itself spoke volumes to me: the leaders care.

    They know they aren’t doing it right. They aren’t saying anything right. People are leaving the church or dying as a direct result of the FP/Q12’s imperfect, fumbling, years-behind-accepted-scientific-knowledge efforts (or lack thereof). They know.

    It was incredibly cathartic to spill my mama guts to the staff who conducted the research exercises, particularly so quickly (about 6 months) after the POX was released. To cry and rage at them, to engage them in my pain. That they wanted to know.

    This was a good first step.

  34. Some have mentioned the need for “modelling from the top down.” That kind of leadership is necessary but not sufficient. It’s also essential that the members of the church be ready to accept that guidance. One way to prepare is by taking this new material seriously and sharing it as the opportunities arise. The opportunities will be there. Right now top-down action is coming in the form of the new website. It’s up to us to use it.

  35. LouW–I read Christian’s reference to developing countries as a positive thing. Many members of the Church live in countries where homosexuality itself is illegal, and possibly even a death sentence. The existence of this website will help members in those countries realize that this type of legislation is not supported by the Church–this is a message that really hasn’t been clearly stated yet, and a step in the right direction.

  36. Not all Mormon members of the community will accept the word Queer. It is a deeply offensive term to many, perhaps to a majority, that is divisive in the extreme. So stop using it to refer to the community as a whole. We have never been, nor will we ever be a Queer community.

  37. Last Lemming says:

    If the Brethren still maintained the priesthood ban, but improved the “tone” of a website sanctioning that approach, would we celebrate that as movement in the right direction? Don’t think so.

    Well, there were no websites back then, so Conference addresses will have to suffice. When Hugh B. Brown was allowed to make a statement in Conference in favor a extending full civil rights to “all of God’s children,” that represented a distinctly more enlightened tone than had previously been heard from the brethren. And even though it left the priesthood ban in place, the statement was rightly celebrated.

    https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V12N02_62.pdf

  38. Michael H says:

    Last Lemming, I’m not sure your example holds up. I don’t think Brown openly said that the priesthood ban should be lifted (he was also sidelined for his views on things like civil rights), and I’m certain that I haven’t heard any recent conference speakers come out against the POX.

  39. Not all Mormon members of the community will accept the word POX. It is a deeply offensive term to many, perhaps to a majority, that is divisive in the extreme. So stop using it to refer to the policy regarding the apostasy of those engaged in same-sex relationships.

  40. Michael H., though LL can speak for himself, I think that’s kind of his point: speaking in favor of extending civil rights is less than arguing for extending priesthood to all worthy men. But it was a step in the direction of better policies on race, and may have been a necessary step toward lifting the ban. Not sufficient, clearly, but valuable (and praised) at least.

    Again, like Christian said, this isn’t far enough, but it’s a step. And the way the church (and. for that matter, pretty much every institution I can think of) works is through incremental steps. There’s value in acknowledging steps forward, even while we don’t accept those as enough.

  41. Mark B – at least get the policy right, it’s just against same-sex marriage, not relationships.

  42. I figured people reading this blog knew already.

  43. Can someone please explain why there’s always some church member claiming that changes like these are “nothing new”? This from the Facebook Mormon Newsroom post:

    “None of this is new. It is basic teachings of Jesus Christ. Love. We do not know everything. We are asked to Love. I’m thankful for Church Leaders who care about all of our brothers and sisters and continue to give us guidance”

  44. Mark B., please stop referring to those in same-sex relationships as apostates. Not all will accept such a deeply offensive term.

  45. The prophets, seers, and revelators who lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said that “apostasy refers to members . . . who are in a same-gender marriage”. You don’t have to accept that, but if you reject it you might be concerned, as Gamaliel said, “lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”

  46. A#4, my now standard response to those who say there is nothing new here is as follows: I ask them to pull 10 or so paragraphs (their choice, but try to limit the cherry picking) from both the new website and from Church materials from the 70s/80s on homosexuality (here’s an example: http://www.connellodonovan.com/horizons.html) and send them to me unlabeled and see if I can tell them which quote came from which time period.

  47. Mark B (10:05), we have a method for establishing doctrine in the Church and for receiving words from prophets, seers, and revelators. It is an oversimplification to equate handbook policies with the words of the prophets. Our current handbook includes a letter, signed by the FP, that directly contradicts the wording in the policy of exclusion (sometimes abbreviated as POX for short).

    Prior to the POX, conduct was never considered to be apostasy (in much the same way that hamburgers have never been considered a subset of ice cream). However, if one reads the handbook and goes through the various categories for discipline (i.e. actions requiring discipline as compared with areas where there is more leeway), I think one can see why the member of the Church handbook committee first charged with drafting the POX was had pressed to determine where/how to draft language conveying the idea that being in a SSM triggers a court (do you really want to just add it in as a new paragraph between “murder” and “incest”? It would have been better (from a drafting/language standpoint) as a separate new category rather than a subset of apostasy, but I do kinda understand why they did not want to do that). Most people have not (and often can not) read HB 1 or thought about what would be involved in drafting something like this. Ironically, I think the current wording still doesn’t say what it’s intended to say, since it focuses on gender rather than sex, and therefore seems to sanction a SSM in which the partners have different gender identities (but the same anatomy). I very seriously doubt that was the intent, but that is the current wording.

  48. Last Lemming says:

    LL can speak for himself

    No need. Sam got it right.

    David Day–good idea!

  49. orangganjil says:

    I agree that the website changes, updated essay (it’s not really new, but has been highly edited – you can see the changes at archive.org), and communication to local leaders are all wonderful, great steps. I recognize the improvement and it gets a “hoorah” from me.

    However, I sometimes wonder if my excitement for such minor change and improvement doesn’t make me today’s equivalent of the “white moderate” from MLK’s Birmingham letter. I read that letter and fret that not enough is being done; that not enough of us are speaking clearly, boldly, and letting the consequences follow. I don’t have the answers, but ponder this at times.

  50. D Christian Harrison says:

    Mark B: would you prefer “Our Tithe to Molech” over “Policy of Exclusion”?

  51. So, you’re still using the obnoxious term. It’s obviously not a value-neutral abbreviation, because then the person who dreamed it up would have gone with the first letters, and come up with POE.

    And your “conduct was never considered to be apostasy” is slicing the ham way too thin. If entering into plural marriage was not an action, and if it was not considered apostasy, then I would grant your statement. But it is an action, and it is and has for over a century been considered apostasy.

  52. @Happy Hubby — leadership is not as facile as you describe. Part of leadership is assessing the readiness of your followers to follow. It’s a finesse…planting seeds of vision, disruption and change, combined with fertilizing that soil long enough for the folks to come with you. I’m not suggesting that the church is motivated this way, but I do think it’s important to distinguish this feature of leadership.

  53. David Day (11:09) – “… since it focuses on gender rather than sex, and therefore seems to sanction a SSM in which the partners have different gender identities …”

    It’s common for those of us who aren’t progressives to use “gender” as a synonym for [biological] “sex”. In that context, “same-gender attraction” and “same-sex attraction” are the same thing and “same-gender marriage” and “same-sex marriage” are the same thing as well.

    That said, I recommend people say “same-sex” rather than “same-gender” to avoid confusing progressives, who seem to believe that life has become too simple and is in need of further complication – thus “gender identity”.

  54. For the many on this thread who see the webpage update as a step in a process of greater rights/acceptance for LGBTQ members, what do you make of the site’s clear statement that the doctrine of marriage “will not change”? I’m also thinking of Pres. Packer’s “if they think we will change, they do not know us” statement in the MormonLeaks video.

    In light of those statements, what would you envision as ideal/plausible next steps/softening of policies of the Q15’s treatment of LGBTQ members? (Legitimate question that I’d like to get thoughts on, not just an attempt to prove a point.)

  55. Sorry, above I meant to say ideal/plausible *final* step. In other words: If all of those in a same sex marriage will always remain at odds with a doctrine that has been repeatedly (and this week) declared eternal and immovable, what is the best church policy we could expect to see?

  56. Mark B, according to the handbook, it is not the act of entering into a plural marriage that constitutes apostasy, it’s following the (now) false teaching. The relevant phrases in the handbook are:

    3. Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.

    4. Are in a same-gender marriage.

    My broader point remains, apostasy, prior to the POE, has always been defined around teaching/following falsehood. The least remarked aspect of the POE was it also changed the definition of apostasy by adding to #5, which previously simply referred to joining another church, but now reads as follows:

    5. Formally join another church and advocate its teachings.

  57. Michael H, one possible step would be to allow those in an SSM to be members of the Church in good standing, but perhaps ineligible for temple blessings. That is the standard we currently use for both tithing and WoW, i.e. you won’t be excommunicated but you can’t have a temple recommend. Most people will say that that proposal either goes way too far or not far enough. But I’ll throw it out there anyway.

    For a different take, see this: http://rationalfaiths.com/lds-marriage-2112/

  58. Pres. Packer’s “if they think we will change, they do not know us”

    That is one of the most important things corrected in this website update. Gay people are not some uniform amorphous antagonistic distant “they” with a diabolical agenda to bring down the Lord’s work. Gay people are among our seven-year-olds making the decision to get baptized when they turn eight. They are among the deacons handing around the sacrament tray on Sunday, among the young women bearing testimonies at camp, among the missionaries out knocking on doors while we sit comfortably at our computers. Gay people are the father or mother or brother or sister or cousin of your Elder’s Quorum president or Relief Society president or compassionate service leader. They may be your bishops or Relief Society presidents.

    They are not “they.” “They” are “us.”

    Mormon and Gay.

    Some commenters get anxious about the emotion over this issue, over the use of certain terms, but when is the last time you sat and listened to parents who feel (to borrow Christian’s image) like the church has been sacrificing their children to Molech? Do you understand why they feel like that? If you don’t, it might be a good idea to stop talking and start listening.

  59. Michael H, between the extremes of apostasy-excommunication for SSM (plus barring families from ordinances) on the one hand, and permitting SSM temple marriages on the other, I can imagine an entire range of humane options.

    FWIW amongst my entire liberal LDS cohort I am not aware of a single person who sees SSM as a temple option.

  60. CSC, I think you’ll find that its not just LDS progressives who recognize that the word “gender” is no longer a synonym for “sex” (feel free to consult a few online dictionaries). Sometimes the meanings of word change over time. Gay and Happy are no longer synonyms. The “#” on your (rotary?) phone is now often called a “hashtag”, although “pound sign” and “number sign” are still probably useable.

    One of the strengths of the new website is that it openly acknowledges that words matter. It uses phrases like “openly identify as gay” in a non-perjorative way. Words matter.

  61. Ironic that words matter when the wind blows one way, but apparently not when it blows the other.

  62. I avoid using the terms “policy of exclusion” and “POX” because I recognize that they are often deliberately provocative. However, I also recognize that describing the policy as a “policy of exclusion” is quite accurate, and I do not regret the discomfort that it seems to cause for someone as touchy as Mark B.

  63. Gay people are among our seven-year-olds making the decision to get baptized when they turn eight. They are among the deacons handing around the sacrament tray on Sunday, among the young women bearing testimonies at camp, among the missionaries out knocking on doors while we sit comfortably at our computers. Gay people are the father or mother or brother or sister or cousin of your Elder’s Quorum president or Relief Society president or compassionate service leader. They may be your bishops or Relief Society presidents.

    Really powerful comment A#4 — thank you for that. I think that’s exactly right.

  64. Mark, is it the acronym POX that bothers you? Would you be fine with using the accurately descriptive term “policy of exclusion” written out like that?

  65. Since the acronym was obviously chosen to cast the church and its leaders into the most negative light possible–even people who don’t know what “the pox” was in Shakespearean English get the sense that it’s something dreadful–it would be an honest response if the acronym died its deserved death.

    But “policy of exclusion” is scarcely a full or fair description of the policy. So calling it “accurately descriptive” is rather like calling one of the blind men’s description of the elephant “accurately descriptive.” Yes, of the tail, perhaps, but it misses the rest of the animal.

  66. Why isn’t it an accurate description? It literally excludes people living in same-sex marriages *and their children* from the ordinance of baptism.

  67. I think Mark B. would rather it be referred to as “The Policy for the Maintenance of Purity in the Kingdom, Exercised with the Utmost in Christlike Love.” The Ministry of Truth worked very hard to come up with this title.

  68. Thank you for the gracious words in the OP, they touched me. I clicked on the link to the site and read for myself, and it seems like a small temperature change in the direction of a warm welcome that one hopes to see from the Body of Christ, but it’s not there yet. I see this as a net positive, I guess. But it’s what the church needs for *its* movement into growth, which as we all know is glacial. It is not really what an individual gay Mormon needs. So I appreciate the positive take in the post and some of the comments.

    As for whether the policy is exclusionary, I could debate either side myself, but would defer to people who actually have experienced it, like my friend, whose children can neither be baptized nor ordained due to their divorced father’s remarriage to his partner. Everyone works hard to be inclusive and loving amidst the untidy situation, except the institution of the church.

  69. Terrence White says:

    Wow. So very well-thought and well-written, Christian! Congratulations!

  70. But it’s what the church needs for *its* movement into growth, which as we all know is glacial. It is not really what an individual gay Mormon needs.

    That’s a great comment, MDearest — thanks for putting it that way!

  71. A Happy Hubby says:

    Michael H asked , “In light of those statements, what would you envision as ideal/plausible next steps/softening of policies of the Q15’s treatment of LGBTQ members?”

    I honestly can’t figure it out short of saying, “Ooops – we goofed again. Sorry.” I don’t see it happening until the pressure gets to the point like it was with Polygamy or Blacks and the temple/priesthood bans.

    It sure feels like the “inclusion” videos last week, this week the BYU HC/Title IX change, and this website change are all preparation for the “anniversary of the POX”. When the articles come out over the next month or so touching on the year after, they can point to, “but we are progressive!”

  72. @Happy Hubby
    My sentiments exactly. These are more PR moves rather than sincere change. Or else trying to position ourselves in politics as more progressive in preparation for a possible Democrat presidency? We still want favors from mammon…..in the name of a God:/

  73. Brian Benington says:

    Loved this, Christian, and love you for the wonderful man you are! I have so much respect for you.

  74. I view the new website as a positive step forward. Of course it does not go all the way and feels scripted, but it displays progress on a meaningful level, in my opinion.

    I echo what David Day says (11:09am). Based on data fragments to which I have access, POX may not be explicitly addressed because the Q12/P3 is divided on the issue, possibly sharply so. If I were to guess, I would say six or seven oppose POX. There may be even two or three who have more radical ideas about gay Mormons and marriage. I know that last idea is a stretch, but I think it’s plausible.

    While I can see the disruption and division it would cause, I wish the Q12/P3 were more transparent about where each stands on a variety of issues. I know…that’s dreaming.

    Overall I think the new website is a positive step forward and swings the gate open a little wider for continued progress.

  75. Ronkonkoma says:

    Militant gays and those who support them want full acceptance into the LDS Church. LDS members who wink wink at this problem run the risk of losing their own exaltation.

  76. D Christian Harrison says:

    Hehe. Militant gays. Oh Ron… you’re just the person the Church’s new website is meant to bring into the fold.

    Thank you for making my point.

    Time for me to close-up comments—thank you, everyone, for a lovely conversation!