Social Justice Sunday School

A guest post from Christina Taber-Kewene

My husband of twenty years gazes back at me from across our cafe table with tears welling in his eyes. 

“I just don’t know that I can go back.” 

Framed, limited edition print reproduction of Banned Books by Joel Penkman.
The original artwork is painted in egg tempera.

What began as questions and concerns as we evolved in our understanding of queer rights has grown into a pain that is eviscerating him. Our son is gay. Theologically and pragmatically, this means there is no place for him on the Mormon covenant path. The hetero supremacy of the church is wrong. We feel that. We know that. The pandemic provided space for us to spend a year away from church attendance, but with pressure from leadership mounting, and the pull of my husband’s role in the bishopric, a decision is imminent. 

“If we leave, we will never return. You should consider that,” I nudge back, gently. “Are you sure this is what you want for our family?” 

We laugh just a little through our tears as we acknowledge that we are taking opposite sides in a decades-long discussion. We round the bases of the same old argument once again, but this time he is the pitcher, and I am the catcher. 

Like Mary after she learns she is to bear the Christ child, I take these things and ponder them in my heart as I consider my husband’s faith crisis. I have never believed the way that he and others do. Mormon practice is not only high-demand in action, extracting labor and sacrifice from its members, but also in belief, teaching that members must believe certain things to be card-carrying members– we require orthopraxis and orthodoxy. It’s that doxy part that my skeptical nature has never embraced, and I long ago released the idea that this religion had any special truth claims for me. For my husband, though, those truths are still there, colliding with the other truth he knows, which is that our son and his queerness are precious to God. 

I start to make a list, trying to put reason to each side of the argument:

Staying: 

  • Ethical structure for children
  • Good for adults to serve
  • Cultural importance in our lives

Leaving: 

  • Protecting our children from misogyny and homophobia
  • No longer financially and socially supporting an institution that does harm to others

I put down my pencil. I am not going to resolve this complexity with a list. 

Is it possible, though, that my faith need not be in the historicity of what is taught but in the lived truth of it? Can I remain agnostic about the church’s historical and truth claims while still fighting for the beauty of an institution that, at its best, helps us to be kinder, humbler, and more loving to the other children of our God? 

As I sit in this liminal space I consider what I do believe: Jesus’ commitment to flipping the social order upside down, the Mormon soteriology that just makes sense to me (a universalist saving of all in a web of connecting generations), the social support for raising children to learn to be accountable for living the commandments and for adults to continue to do so. 

Is all this enough to counterbalance what is wrong and whom it hurts?

As I prepare my lesson for youth Sunday School, I read: Be ye not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. As long as we are here, we must do our part in laying the foundation for this work, for righting what is wrong here. 

So in class we read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to remind us of Jesus’ actions and teachings: he ate with publicans and prostitutes, turned the moneychangers out of the temple, and taught us to find– and rejoice at finding– the one when even ninety and nine are accounted for. He came to upend the social order, making space for those on the margins, radicalizing our understanding of social hierarchies. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Having spent some hours in my garden this week, I introduce the idea of Jesus as a composter, taking our worst qualities (the onion skins and egg shells and banana peels of our nature) and turning them into rich soil from which we can change our natures and our world. 

We talk about the origins of Pride month and the newly nationally recognized Juneteenth holiday. We cover the Stonewall riots and the Thirteenth Amendment, sharecropping, voter suppression, Loving v. Virginia, and Obergefell v. Hodges. I ask them, Do you see injustice around you in the institutions of which you are a part? In capitalism? At school? At church? What will you do about it? And I ask myself these same questions. 

Comments

  1. The Second Great Awakening was amongst the middle and lower class. How does one who enters the elite class fit now and how do we maintain allegiance and connections to those not in our class? As a new postmodern critical awakening spreads out of academia and through mainstream America, how does one balance the pulls of those awakenings and community allegiances? Stratification and tribes wants us simplified and isolated. How do we really counter that but by continued engagement?

  2. This resonated with me. Thank you for writing this piece and sharing your story. I would have loved for my kids to be in your lesson.

  3. Remind him of the good the two of you can do from within the church as role models for those who struggle against hard right beliefs and actions.

  4. lynne685 says:

    I have many of the same thoughts, but with the exception of my husband feel that I cannot express them to anyone. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Such a good message. I really like the final thought. Many leaders and members have the feeling,though, they are fighting injustice when they fight against same-sex marriage, for example. As long as they don’t have a close friend or a relative, people don’t realize.

  6. Christina says:

    Don, that is where we are, and it is the place that has left me straddling the line between in and out for years. I see the good in the church, and I also see what causes harm. Is it enough for us to stay and try to make it better? I really don’t know.

  7. Our daughter is gay and will marry her sweetheart this fall. The answer to my inquiring prayer was to “love her unconditionally.” We will celebrate this marriage just as joyfully as our other children’s wedding events. We adore our future daughter-in-law and she feels loved and accepted in our extended family, unlike one side of her family, strict Baptists who now shun her. The church is not and cannot be perfect because, of course, Christ champions free will – and human error will always be a result. The Lord expects each of us to live a life of learning and improving, and to figure out how to love one another and build a Zion community. It’s so important that we hang in there and share our various experiences and perspectives as part of this journey. I highly recommend two books by Fiona and Teryl Givens: “The God Who Weeps” and All Things New” … thanks for sharing your struggles and thought process!

  8. Chadwick says:

    “If we leave, we will never return. You should consider that.” Is this really true? What if the church and its members over time changes to become affirming of our LGBTQ friends and family?

    With respect to your list, the reasons for staying are not unique to Mormonism. There are a multitude of institutions that can provide these things.

    I don’t share the above to be critical but as food for thought. Perhaps you have already considered these things but they couldn’t be conveyed fully in an abbreviated blog post. Your post resonates with me in so many levels and so thank you for sharing.

  9. Allan Garber says:

    I was raised in the Mennonite Church, where social justice issues divided the church and ultimately displaced the doctrines of salvation. The resurrection is no longer taught in many mainline Mennonite churches. I see the same thing at play in these conversations. Same-sex marriage is not scriptural. It is not supported by the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  10. Christina says:

    Thanks, Todd, I have read those books– great recs! This is not a new topic in our family or a new wound. Rather, it is my husband’s struggle and my apparent reluctance, despite years of discussing it, to now jump off the proverbial deep end of leaving the church. I am surprising myself as well.

  11. Christina says:

    Chadwick, that is an interesting question about whether we would return. I think when you have children, it becomes very difficult to move one way and another and then try to backtrack. As for other institutions, of course! Of course. We have explored. I suppose, as another friend recently said, I feel “too Mormon” for that. We shall see.

  12. “I long ago released the idea that this religion had any special truth claims for me.” I wonder if you shared this reality with the leader who called you to teach the youth – seems to me a testimony of the restored Gospel of Christ is a pretty necessary prerequisite for that calling. Without it, one might be tempted to focus on issues that are germane to the moment but less relevant from an eternal lens (ie, the perceived injustices of capitalism.) Perhaps I’m reading your conclusion incorrectly, but I’d be disappointed to find my child being taught at church to hunt for motes in what they are clearly too young to understand instead of learning to look inward and upward for peace and improvement, topics that are best learned in a spiritually uplifting environment like Sundays at church surrounded by other believers.

    At the risk of coming across flippantly on what is clearly an emotional and serious subject, I’m curious why so many LDS insist on placing sexual orientation at the pinnacle of the self-identity hierarchy. Shouldn’t “child of God” hold primacy in a Mormon’s self-definition? Surely our sexual attractions affect many levels of identity beneath it, but do they therefore exempt us from God’s commandments or His revelations on what should be paramount in our lives? If so, where does it stop? Are commandments only meant to be followed if it’s easy?

    The more I write here and subsequently erase, the more I realize this is a rabbit hole that I won’t continue going down right now. The previous paragraph is largely rhetorical, as I’ve read now for several years the counterarguments and positions and still don’t really understand why so many believing LDS are sucked in by them. I guess I’m still surprised to find – on a supposedly Mormon blog – a post that is doctrinally unsound and so openly (and proudly?) bereft of testimony.

  13. Bensen. In my estimation, your comment not only comes across as flippant, it actually is flippant. By assuming that a person places their sexual orientation or gender identity above their identity as a Child of God, simply because their sexual orientation or gender identity does not align with the typical cis-hetero-normative imperatives that are held up as being “doctrinally sound,” ignores the painful journey that so many LGBTQ people have traveled in trying to align their orientation to the “normative” expectations that has come at so great a cost for so many of them. This is not only an “emotional and serious” issue as it is often a matter of core identity or even survival. Just because a person is not successful in “white-knuckling” it their whole life in order to comply does not mean that they do not consider themselves just as fully children of God as you do. I am a transgender woman.
    For nearly all of my life so far, I had buried and suppressed who I was in order to comply with the directives of the church that I love. I received many positive things by doing so- a testimony of Christ’s love, and what I feel is a confirmation that revealed and restored keys do exist in this church, I even share and love the soteriology mentioned in the OP that I believe that through these restored keys all generations of the earth will be blessed. The problem is that I found that complying with the normative imperatives about killed me, no matter what I did, how much I prayed, how I served- even in bishoprics, and even better- teaching the youth- none of this filled the emptiness that came from not authentically being who I was. It was less a matter of “being sucked into something,” than of being something I could not shake. I am now medically and socially transitioned to the female role that has been in my heart my whole life. I am in a same sex marriage now with another transgender woman, the path that led me to that point personally was fraught with both sins and strivings, both joys and heartbreaks for which I appropriately continue to be held accountable, but my ability to rejoin the church is blocked by the fact that my membership cannot be restored as long as I am in that marriage.
    Despite this, I am not bitter, I am happy an joyful, and personally feel Christ’s comfort to a fuller degree than ever before. Do I miss the sacrament, the temple, the ability to serve, or even comment in Sunday School? Yes. But I do not miss it to the extent that I would trade what I feel is my true nature and connection I feel as a Child of God for the more extraneous aspects that are currently withheld from me. I still feel Christ’s comfort in the meetings of this church, I feel Christ’s power here- but that does not mean that I am going to assume that those who hold the keys are right on this (truly) serious and emotional issue. I do receive comfort in knowing that those who hold the keys have been wrong multiple times on key and important issues in the past (an easily recognizable example is how the priesthood/temple was withheld from people on racial grounds). That is not surprising, we can expect fallible mortals (certainly myself included), to be fallible. There is grace for that, and although I have been excluded from the church on (almost) every level, I do not hold any aspect of my life higher than my knowledge that I am a child of God. I have hope that I may be included again some day, but little hope that it will be in my lifetime. I am at peace with trusting my membership to those who have they keys of membership, but I have decided I will not trust them with my life- it is just too sacred.
    Also, I am not sure that the view in the OP is as “bereft of testimony” as you say, I think it reflects fewer assumptions and less hubris about what other people may be going through than what I read in your comments, as for me, if the “greatest of these” is charity, I would rather listen to a Sunday School teacher somewhat bereft of testimony than one who was somewhat bereft of compassion.

  14. Thank you Bensen for your thoughtful reply. Unfortunately, the progressives that comment here are not tolerant of view the dissent from their own. I admire the brethren and their steadfast resolution in the face of ever increasing animosity and hate they face daily. The easy thing for them to do would be to change policy and allow same sex marriage. But for some reason, (a reason I confess I do not know) they resist. It takes courage to stand for the harder right rather the the easier wrong.

  15. Christina says:

    Lona, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I appreciate the vulnerability in that sharing and in what you have endured in your life. I celebrate the happiness you find in living the life that is authentic to you. Why our church continues to consider you, my son, and others in your position as lacking the right to participate fully in the body of Christ is beyond me. May you travel in peace.

  16. Stephenchardy says:

    Bensen:
    Let’s review just some of the commandments that continue to be paramount in the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals:

    Love of God
    Love of neighbor
    Love of family
    Kindness
    Generosity
    Sexual fidelity within marriage
    Tithing
    Word of wisdom
    Integrity
    All temple covenants
    Service to community
    Service to church

    You understand of course that I can go on. What I can’t understand is why some people are so focused on what form physical intimacy someone needs becomes more important than virtually every characteristic we value; above seeking to be Christ-like.

  17. Bro. Jones says:

    Stephenchardy—if this were 1967 or so, my family would have been cut off from priesthood and temple ordinances due to our racial background. I have exactly zero doubt that well-meaning members would have provided us a similar list to yours of “commandments that continue to be paramount.” They would also likely have chided us for taking an interest in the work towards civil rights taking place outside the institution of the church — and indeed, with the church’s only participation being indifference, silence, or outright condemnation of that civil rights work.

    True, the commandments of Jesus are still incumbent upon all of us. But it’s asking a lot for people to support an institution that invites them to follow certain of those commandments while expressly barring them from fulfilling others. I can’t tell you what my family would have done in ‘67, but at the very least I hope we would not have insisted that we deserved the treatment doled out by the church.

  18. Stephenchardy. This is a good list of commandments. Living these can and will bless our lives. It is indeed difficult for some people to understand the challenges that come with non-cis-hetero-sexual orientations or gender identities. Many people cannot or will not seek to understand these challenges because they have not had to face them. One way to imagine what it would be like can be undertaken by the following thought experiment. Picture, for example, how cisgender heterosexual male would react if his church and community started to tell him that he had to live the life and social roles of a female and engage in initmacy- even within the bonds of sanctioned marriage, only with other men. It would feel oppressive and difficult. Would he be able to do it? If the pressures were powerful and ubiquitous in his milieu and culture and support, and scriptural interpretations would he feel despair? If he sought to comply, would he be able to sustain it? Would he question the hermeneutics and scriptural interpretations that were used to tell him that his cisgender identity and heterosexual impulses were not scriptural? Would he question if prophets and apostles were making a key error in their directives, just as they had done so on different issues in prior decades? (Remember, there is no LDS doctrine that states that prophets and apostles are infallible). Perhaps there is a part of learning to be Christlike, and learning to love your neighbor that might include granting grace and compassion for others who are experiencing the world in a different way than you are. As for me, I am now nearly left only with the comfort and grace that I feel Christ gives to me every day. I am grateful for those LDS church members that treat me well when I attend meetings, and pull me into their fellowship despite my differences from the norm. I am saddened by those who have stopped associating with me or have started withholding their prior business from me despite in some cases, nearly two decades of prior friendship and service. But I know it is hard to understand, but when we shift the view and wonder, “how would I like it, what would I do?’ … Perhaps it becomes a little easier to picture. Perhaps we can begin to become a little more like Zion, being one. I have hope.

  19. Thank you Christina. Peace be with you as well. Since we are all (truly all- except for Christ) imperfect in our travels in this life, perhaps the most critical aspect of being on the covenant path is to be willing to receive and grant whatever grace is granted us, and to love as best we can. I sense goodly portions of this in your honest and vulnerable OP. Thank you.

  20. Stephen Hardy says:

    Lona: I never post without soon regretting it. My comments were pointed to Benson, not you. I have complete respect and admiration for your journey which you so beautifully laid out. Please consider re-reading my comment with the understanding that I was responding to Benson.

    Let me say it another way: I do not believe that my LGBTQIA+ friends live the gospel different than I do as an ally. I understand that my queer friends aspire to love God, to build Zion, and to be treated as equals. I long for the day when our church can find the courage and the love to do the right thing.

    I’m sorry that I misdirected my comment to you.

  21. Stephen Hardy says:

    Benson had suggested that LGBTQ people feel that they are somehow “exempt” (to quote Benson) from obeying the commandments. I was trying to point out how utterly ridiculous that assertion is.

  22. Stephen Hardy says:

    Would the moderators please consider fixing my comment: remove “Lona” and insert “Benson?” Or remove my comments altogether? I am aghast that I would be seen as criticizing Lona.

  23. Our family left the LDS church about a year after the POX. Our oldest teenage daughter had shared with us that she was gay just prior to that. My wife was released as a seminary teacher, and I was released from the stake presidency as we tried to reconcile the beautiful things about our lives in the church and the things that clearly were harmful to our family.

    Leaving the church was extremely difficult, but with a few years behind us now, we know it was the right thing to do for us. Zero regrets at this point other than wishing we would have left sooner to spare our daughter the trauma she experienced as a member of the church who was made to feel so awful about herself at church that suicide was considered a possible way out.

    For those like Bensen who I believe are sincere in wanting to understand why a family like us would make this choice, all I can say is that it is impossible to understand until you or your child is gay and is trying to live within the LDS doctrine.

  24. In “Gay Rights and the Mormon Church” Greg Prince outlines the unbelievable ignorance and fear-mongering that characterized the Brethren’s response to the gay liberation movement all the way through to the first decade of the 21st century – to the point of describing homosexuality as a “selfish choice” that may very well be contagious and actually decrease the birth rate! – IOW the antithesis of anything remotely approaching inspiration. Biology to the rescue. Trust science, the greatest method for ascertaining truth (otherwise known as “reality”) yet devised by man.

  25. Stephenchardy. Knowing who you were addressing changes the full lens and view of your comment. Please accept my thanks for your clarification. Even when it was addressed to me I still did not necessarily think you were being unkind. I hope there is still the chance that my reply might have some useful perspective from a general sense. Thank you.

  26. Chadwick says:

    Thank you Christina for your charitable response to my first comment. I have four kids and therefore yes I do understand wanting to make a decision and move forward. I also completely understand that Mormonism is our tribe regardless of whether or not it’s our religion.

    And thank you Lona for your contributions to this blog. I’m inspired by your courage and your story.

  27. Stephen Hardy says:

    Lona: than you for your generous reply

  28. After multiple attempts at a reply, I think I’ll cut to the chase instead. We all have other things to do, after all. Here’s the gist of the law of chastity, from Elder Bednar in April 2013 GC: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan.”

    The author of this article and many commenters believe that this description is flat-out wrong, that a loving God would not condemn a small – but significant in its own right – portion of his children to a mortal life bereft of sexual fulfillment when those sexual desires point towards members of their own gender. Or they believe that the commandments as described by ancient and modern prophets are more like a buffet: you pick and choose the ones that make sense for your life, not bothering to work through the tricky ones. After all, “the [commandments are] more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual *rules*.”

    So to one of my original questions: where does this line of thinking end? The “scientifically evidenced” sexual desires of humanity range well beyond consenting adults that are hetero- or homosexual. What about legitimate sexual desires for pre-pubescent children? Or sexual desires for animals? We might be disgusted at the comparison, but those feelings are very real to the person experiencing them. A recent mayor in Portland (my hometown) got into hot water for having a gay relationship with a 17-year old. Many people thought it was fine. (I mean, what’s so sacrosanct about age 18 anyway, amirite?) A field of psychology growing surprisingly quickly in Japan helps men navigate their romantic feelings for their “partner dolls.” Human sexuality is shockingly diverse.

    To my mind, it makes sense that a loving God would establish boundaries to prevent us from ‘missing the mark’ in mortality by wandering in strange or forbidden roads (1 Nephi 8). I believe our “thorn[s] in the flesh” should not just be accepted and embraced as normal; rather, they are vehicles by which we can access the Savior’s grace and become something better and holier. Hence, the need to identify first and foremost as a child of God who happens to experience same-sex attraction, and not as a ‘gay child of God.’ The distinction matters.

  29. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan.”

    Wrong right out the gate, brother. I think you mean “a man and as many women as humanly possible.” Brother Brigham had 55, and 59 children by 16 of them. The definition of “marriage” seems fluid even within our own institution. That said, I am not defending or advocating pan-sexuality- but let’s get real about who we are & from whence we came.

  30. There are legitimate disagreements, and then there are troll disagreements, p. Please refrain from the latter – I confess I find it rather obnoxious. Brian and Laura Hales have done exceptional research into polygamy, if you’d like to learn from their work: https://josephsmithspolygamy.org/

  31. Bensen. Sigh, oh my goodness. Just a few things in reply that just cannot be left unsaid.
    First: yes I guess I will also cut to the chase, yes it is true that myself and others have posited that maybe, just maybe… the Q15 might be wrong on the solid stance they have taken that same sex marriage and gender diverse expressions may be doing more harm than good, for many people in this life, and perhaps also in the eternities. They quote scriptures from Leviticus on lds.org, for goodness sake with an the interpretation seen as being based on a highly questionable hermeneutic by many. The people who have been cast to drift outside a possibility of finding a home on the covenant path, are often lost to the church within the confines of this earthly sphere, many of them have had great despair and suicidality, and actual self harm because of the seeming irreconcilable chasm between who they are in their core,, and what they are allowed to express within the parameters. So yes, quote Elder Bednar, he might be wrong. I myself have heard Elder Bednar preach openly from the pulpit that the Q15 do not have all the answers given to them all the time, and that they do make mistakes and have room to develop. It was in the context of a very prosaic example of how they had to change from having Assistants to the Twelve to a Quorum of the Seventy, so yes- not significant at all in terms of real peoples lives and well-being when compared to this serious and emotional issue, but he at least could consider the possibility that he could be wrong about something. I think if he can be wrong about little things, he might certainly be wrong about big things, especially when his stance results in so much ministerial harm to LGBTQ people within his flock

    Second: it is a common trope to invoke a slippery slope argument- Where will it end? Well, I can tell you where it ends for many faithful LGBTQ people who find that they have no way to express intimacy with another human being within the bounds of a marriage that is sanctioned by their church- when they get married, they get kicked out of their church. Again how would you like it? Would you not question if they were wrong if you were faced with such a dilemma? It is disingenuous to accuse or conflate same-sex attraction with all sorts of promiscuity, and then provide no sanctioned covenant in which people can be married and stay in the church. It is not only disingenuous, it is actually cruel. Again, how would most cis-hetero people cope if they were placed in this predicament, would they stay in a church that told them they could not have sex with the person they loved whether they were either married or unmarried? Are we in any way equally yoked in this? Elder Bednar also essentially did this in the September 2020 Ensign when he conflated promiscuity and homosexual attraction in a way that I know does not fit into many LGBTQ persons’ framework or desire. Yes, I guess I can posit that he was wrong, clueless actually when he did so.

    Third: You are right, it is disgusting as you say, in fact it is very disgusting to conflate same-sex attraction, behavior, or marriage between consenting adults with they type of sexual abuse of minors that you have mentioned. The majority of child sex abusers are heterosexual – by far.

    https://lgbpsychology.org/html/facts_molestation.html

    So do NOT go trying to pin someone as an abuser of children because they are gay. Where does the difference lie as you ask? It is simple, whether it involves children or animals, it lies in the power differential. That should be fairly obvious and your question is not even relevant to the question at hand. If you need prophets, seers, and revelators to tell you that it is wrong to abuse children, then what you really need is much more spiritual self-reliance than what you seem to have learned so far.

    Fourth: Is it possible for prophets, seers, and revelators to have divinely appointed keys and still be wrong about matters great and small? I guess we can leave it up to each individual to study it out in their mind and pray about it. Trying to follow their strict cis-hetero-normative imperatives, nearly killed me. You may not believe me, you may think that I would have been better off dead, you may even care more about the Proclamation that about the people it excludes. I feel abandoned by my church that taught me to love the Savior. I am grateful that this church taught me about Him, because I feel abandoned by his church, I do not have to feel abandoned by the Savior. Wickedness never was happiness, I am so happy, and at peace and joyful in my life, so by the commutative property I can infer certain things about my status and relation with God that no other can judge. He employs no servant there. So we can have hope. I would love to come back in the church someday, but I will not abandon the very real joy and grace I have been granted now in order to do so. Anyway, as you say, we have much to do. I am signing off now. I think you might have shown your true colors, or your ignorance with your conflations nevertheless, I do wish you well. But I leave with one question:

    Is it worse to pick and choose “commandments” especially if they cause real harm to real people, than to pick and choose which Children of God matter enough to include?

  32. Bensen has been blocked from further commenting. Comparing homosexuality and pedophilia is not an argument we will tolerate.

  33. (We also changed Stephen’s comment as he requested.)

  34. Wow. If anyone knows of a good diplomacy book, drop the title here for Bensen, yes? I think I can see his intention, but he’s misreading this audience.

    Lona, thanks for being willing to share your experiences, which are surely close to home and deeply felt. I realize you may be just done with this thread – and you have my understanding and respect if you are – but I do have a follow-up question if you’re willing to entertain it.

    Bensen’s original comment dealt with how we self-identify. I’ve heard and read over the years that some LGBTQI-identifying members of the faith see a difference between “gay LDS” and “LDS with same-sex attraction”, or “LDS with gender dysphoria” vs “trans LDS”. In your experience, do you see a distinction? Is this even a thing?

  35. Ubri,

    “As long as they don’t have a close friend or a relative, people don’t realize.”

    So right about this, I took the hard line for many years feeling that homosexuality was wrong and against Gods commandments and that it would never change, probably like many others have a strong sense of loyalty to the church and it drives a lot of my feelings and beliefs. Then about a year ago I found out my wife is queer. She had suppressed it for many years, not fully acknowledging it to herself. She had a crisis of faith that lasted most of our 8 years of marriage. She stopped attending and has been doing much better. She used to have anxiety all the time in church and would frequently get so upset she felt she had to leave. She tried really hard but in the end it was better for her to leave. I wish that wasn’t true but there it is. Now I feel alone in that regard and it’s really hard for me, but I can’t fault her. Anyway two years after she stopped attending she had this experience where she felt a very strong sexual response to another woman. It took a bit to process and she grappled with identification and went from thinking maybe I’m asexual, to a maybe a lesbian, to queer to definelty queer and maybe bisexual. Scary time for us, for awhile she had to grapple with the question of if I’m a lesbian can I be happy in my marriage. Scary scary time, I do feel very fortunate even though it was very hard and I think both of bear some scars as the result of that experience, we were also brought closer together than we could have been otherwise. I know her more than I did before and she knows herself more than she did before. I feel incredibly lucky this could have broken our marriage and I know that for some couples the right answer is separation as much as my heart rebels against it. She has some big hurts from the church, she feels a great sense of loss that she was never able to have a first kiss with a woman as well as having the history of internalized shame. Now I feel like my eyes are opened and I’m glad that they are. I hope one day the church will teach a doctrine that is more inclusive. How can we think it’s reasonable that the only valid option in life is celibacy or being in a relationship where they are not sexually attracted to and perhaps repulsed by their partner. I think this will be another blacks and the priesthood issue where we were on the wrong side for far too long. I want it to change. I hope it changes soon. I want her and others to feel like they have a place, a full place within our church. Part of that is self motivated I’m pretty sentimental but sometimes it breaks my heart to sit alone at church. I love this church it’s brought so much good into my life and marriage, but it has also hurt my wife significantly. That’s hard to reconcile. I’m staying but I’m adapting my beliefs especially around this issue. I watched a show recently about a transman married a women and their lds family wouldn’t come to the wedding. Come on people, what a painful way to withould your support of your child. I thinks it’s clear as a church we’ve made mistakes here. I hope it changes and we can stop dividing family’s because “that’s the way it’s always done things.”

  36. Y’all, for real. This is a thread about how to reconcile faith and support for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s not the place for your musings about the ethics of sex with minors.

  37. I’m sure it’s not easy to be an editor with subjects such as these. However, with all due respect, Admin, the discussion you have since erased deals specifically with the point of the thread that you called out: how to reconcile faith and support for LGBTQ+ rights. Put another way, the Church draws the line on chastity one way, and the author and many commenters on this post draw it more inclusively. I think it’s a reasonable discussion to ask why they feel the line shift is appropriate…and if so, where that shift stops. We are a global church. It’s reasonable to bring in global examples that don’t fit Western norms.

  38. Allan Garber says:

    2 Timothy Chapter 3:

    3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. …

    7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  39. Allan, as fun as it is to leave contextless quotations of scriptures in comments sections, it’s actually not fun.

    And Sam, I don’t know what the deleted discussion entailed. But the post isn’t broadly about line-drawing; the post is about faith and practice in the face of something hurtful and harmful to one’s children. Ultimately, where the church draws lines is not as important as how we love our children and our neighbors and how we navigate imperfections and harms in the church and in ourselves. Turning this into an argument about lines misses both the message of the post and, I would argue, the underlying demands of Christianity and Mormonism.

  40. Allan Garber says:

    Sam, this has nothing to do with “fun” and I don’t understand why you would think that. Your comment trivializes the scriptures. The context of this discussion is an attempt to justify same-sex marriage in the last days. I am seeing outright apostasy when the apostles and prophets are accused of being wrong or misguided on this issue. Like blogger Mark 1 said, “It takes courage to stand for the harder right rather the the easier wrong.”

  41. Hey Allan, honestly, your dropping scriptures into a comments section with no context and no commentary, and with the assumption that they’re self-interpreting, trivializes scripture.

    And to be clear (again), the post has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. If you want to argue about that, break a leg, I suppose, but I would probably do it elsewhere where it’s relevant.

    And one last thing, which I say in my capacity as a blogger here: you don’t get to accuse others of apostasy. You can certainly disagree with them, you can certainly believe that they are wrong or misguided, but once you claim that someone is an apostate, you’re the proud false accuser who denies the power of godliness that Paul warned about.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    The scripture you quote has nothing to do with modern same-sex relationships.

  43. Nice of you to weigh in, Sam B, if only long enough to proclaim I’m missing the point of my religion. The author writes this at the very beginning of her post: “Our son is gay. Theologically and pragmatically, this means there is no place for him on the Mormon covenant path.” This statement is categorically false – hence the discussion about drawing lines and the danger in placing sexual orientation at the top of the identity hierarchy. Can you not appreciate that there is a life-altering difference between, “I’m gay, therefore the Church will never accept me” and “I experience same-sex attraction, therefore all the Church offers me can be my lifeline to feeling God’s love and acceptance more fully in this life”? What line / perspective could be more important to understand and clarify?

    The author explicitly renounces what the Church teaches about the Law of Chastity and concludes with a report on her youth Sunday School lessons that focused on social justice activism. I’m not confident at all that this is a healthy reconciliation of faith and LGBTQ+ issues.

  44. I mention this to emphasis that I’m completely understanding, and maybe a little envious, of those who work up the courage to walk away. That said, I’m really puzzled by the backlash against the commenters trying to defend their understanding of the faith. The author pretty clearly stakes out her position that (1) the church has no special claim to ‘truth’ and (2) queerness is precious to God. I’m not bothered by these views but posting them to a Mormon focused blog and expecting that the commentators don’t contest these views is beyond silly.

    I’ve noticed over the last decade that the Mormon blogosphere has become more fractured. Some blogs have become more conservative while others have become more liberal but they are all becoming ever stronger echo chambers. Unfortunately, that’s made them less interesting to me. The comments here are a good example why. It seems that anyone who dare disagree with the prevailing wisdom of this blog should be ran off with a metaphorical pitchfork. Exercising just a tiny bit of charity when reading others comments would go a long way.

  45. Kristine says:

    Miles, I don’t think anyone minds a defense of the faith. If we didn’t care about the faith, there wouldn’t be any anguish in these disagreements. The problem is accusing others of apostasy (or of being “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” etc.) There’s a difference between saying “this policy is wrong” and saying “that person is wicked.”

  46. Miles, what Kristine said. There’s no charitable way to read dusting-off-my-feet comments which accuse others of being wicked. Even if the commenter also makes a substantive argument, that substantive argument has been swallowed and subsumed by the attack on the person.

    And especially when the post is by a guest, we expect a level of respect and politeness in the engagement. Saying you disagree and why is fine; saying, “You’re wrong,” or “You’re bad” is not.

  47. it's a series of tubes says:

    Sam, it doesn’t seem the blog itself conforms to the standard you demand of others.

    https://bycommonconsent.com/2020/10/13/it-is-a-sin-to-vote-for-donald-trump/

  48. tubes, if I felt like spending more time than I feel like spending, I’d post an eyeroll gif here. Steve argued that voting for Trump was sinful. He didn’t accuse anybody of apostasy. He didn’t say, “Hey tubes, you’re a sinful apostate.” He made an assertion about actions that constitute sin, an assertion that you’ll notice commenters agreed and disagreed with. So again, calling someone an apostate or sinful is not appropriate here and if that’s really what you want to do, you need to do it elsewhere. It turns out there are a lot of elsewheres on the internet.

  49. it's a series of tubes says:

    So again, calling someone an apostate or sinful is not appropriate here and if that’s really what you want to do, you need to do it elsewhere.

    Sam, via the magic of Google anyone can easily review my comments here over many years and see that’s not “what I really want to do.” What I do want to do, from time to time, is identify when what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I fully expect to be meted the same in return.

  50. All, I’m a regular consumer and infrequent commenter here. I have carefully read all of the comments and I believe I understand the various threads of thought reflected therein. I concede that my comment is only tangentially related to the original post insofar as the author implied that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, intentionally or otherwise, excludes people. I am commenting now because I am disheartened by the several comments that are critical of others (to the point of labeling them apostate) for advocating, or at least making room, for a more inclusive, more loving, more tolerant view of Christ’s Gospel. I am old enough to remember how my grandmother reacted to people who opposed the Church’s ban on black members’ full participation (priesthood, temple, etc.) and how she reacted in 1978 when that ban was lifted. Suffice it to say, my grandmother’s behavior in those regards could not have been less Christ-like. Curiously, she sounded very much like several commenters here who write as if the brethren have never gotten anything wrong, have never changed course, and have never let their personal feelings interfere with their ability to receive revelation. We all know how incorrect those perspectives are. In truth, my grandmother was simply uncomfortable around black people and she hated change. Consequently, she embraced every policy and doctrinal explanation that perpetuated the Church as she knew and loved it. There are many reasons Church growth has plateaued, young adults are leaving in droves, “faith crises” have become ubiquitous, and the Church membership is more philosophically divided today than at any time I can remember since 1978. I believe that at (or near the top) of that list of reasons is that there is a large segment of the Latter-day Saint population that (like grandma) is also more comfortable when the “others” are excluded–especially if they want the Church and its policies to evolve. Imagine a Church if that mentality had successfully stopped past changes: polygamy, less female participation in and leadership of the Church, no black priesthood holders, no black leaders, no black people in our temples, blood atonement, a preference for theocracy, no interracial marriage (and certainly not sealing), prohibitions on the use of birth control, no opportunity for devout women to seek an abortion under any circumstances, etc. Why are so many of our brothers and sisters so afraid of change, so resistant to what ongoing revelation has to offer, and so certain that the Q15 are infallible? In the end I fear there is a reasonable prospect those people will get exactly what they seem to want (whether or not they will admit it): a white hetero mail dominated Church that looks and feels like what they’ve always known. If that it what is will/must be then count be among the apostates and out of the Church. Were Christ here today, I suspect we would find him among the homeless, the downtrodden, the politically and socially marginalized, the fearful, etc. I don’t expect we’d find him in a big hurry to get to the Conference Center, Temple Square, or the Church Office Building–such was never his gig. So, for those of you who would like the heretics among us to stop commenting on this Church-oriented blog, be careful what you ask for. You may just find yourself sitting (literally and metaphorically) in a much more empty chapel.

  51. I’m late to this conversation, but: the comments are garbage. Good to see some things never change.