By now, we’ve all felt the fall-out from the November 5th policy change. Our church has been bleeding members, both gay and straight. This is a clear marker that our LGBT community needs us to demonstrate our love for them. We have that opportunity this Fast Sunday, June 5th, 2016 if we participate in the Rainbow Mormon Initiative. The initiative organizer, an LDS psychologist, asks us to don a rainbow ribbon as an outward sign of the inward love we have for our LGBT members, especially our young people who remain in hiding, unsure as to whether or not they will be accepted and understood.
The Rainbow Mormon Initiative is neither a political statement, nor a protest against current LDS policy. Rather, it is a spiritual undertaking, a communion between our straight and gay members. While a rainbow ribbon may mean one thing at a political rally, at a Sacrament meeting it becomes a symbol of hope. The organizer, Dr. Kristy Money, explained the purpose of the event to me this way:
We live in a post-policy revision reality. The Rainbow Mormon Initiative isn’t about what anyone is against—it’s about what we are FOR. It’s time to put our shoulder to the wheel and do the hard work of supporting all children. I’m energized by looking to the future and the hope that we can provide to every child and teenager in the church who is wondering if anyone understands and accepts them for who they are. The rainbow is a signal of hope and safety to these kids—I will always be FOR offering unconditional love and acceptance. I believe that’s what Jesus Christ would do if he were here and what he wants us to do because we are here. He wasn’t afraid to reach out with his powerful message of hope and love, even if it made some people uncomfortable–and we shouldn’t be afraid either.
If you a faithful, practicing Latter-day Saint who feels uncomfortable wearing a rainbow ribbon through your Sunday meetings, ask yourself the following:
If your child or grandchild someday tells you that he or she is LGBT, will you wish you’d worn a ribbon?
If your niece or nephew, your best friend’s child, your student in Primary or the youth organizations, come out as LGBT, will you wish you’d worn a ribbon? Will you wish you’d signaled to them, before you knew, that you are a safe person they can turn to for support? That you will love them without caveat?
The Rainbow Mormon Initiative offers us the chance to wordlessly commit our love to those who have not yet found the courage to speak up. For those who worry the rainbow ribbon might be seen a protest against the Brethren, remember that the Lord looks upon the heart. And in this case, your heart can be worn on your lapel where, as Dr. Money has pointed out elsewhere, “It can save lives.”
Six months ago a lovely woman from my ward—a lesbian and mother of three–resigned her membership. Throughout her life, she had lived in denial of her sexuality, pulling a shadow of secrecy over her like a security blanket. When I learned of the Rainbow Mormon Initiative, I asked her what it would have meant to her to have seen members of her ward wear the rainbow ribbon as a token of their love, support, and compassion for her. She paused, seeming to need a moment to process that idea as a possibility. And then she said the words that still ring in my ears.
“It would’ve been wonderful.”
And it will be wonderful when, on Sunday, June 5th, we pin those rainbow ribbons to our clothing to let those in hiding know we love them, we want them, we are trying to learn, and striving to be like Christ. Let them know you are a safe person for them to turn to, no matter what.
God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7
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5 thoughts on “The Rainbow Mormon Initiative and the Promise of Hope”
And maybe someday, a General Authority will wear a rainbow tie or scarf during his/her talk in General Conference, signaling that their Love is unconditional, as it always must be.
“While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional.”
If the people in your life don’t know you love them without wearing a rainbow pin, then you’ve failed as a person.
A few minor inconveniences for you, my counterfeit Russel M. Nelson reader.
“You are constantly mindful of the Savior’s atonement and rejoice in His unconditional love.” Elder Russel M. Nelson. October Conference 1991, from the talk “These … Were Our Examples”
“I am stunned at [Jesus’] perfect, unconditional love of all.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April 1976 General Conference, from “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King”
“God is our father; he loves us; his love is infinite and unconditional.” Elder Ronald E. Poelman, April 1982 General Conference.
“In moments of quiet, we reflect upon His matchless life and His unconditional love for each of us.” Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Christmas Devotional December 1993
“My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” President (as in Prophet) Thomas S. Monson, October 2013 General Conference, from the address “We Never Walk Alone”
Russell Nelson: Way to cherry pick a quote. The problem with quoting leaders of the church as if every word they utter is eternal doctrine is this: these men and women spend a lot of time in thought about the gospel and often what they speak is not revelation, but the things that they have been thinking about. So the debate is over whether God’s love is “unconditional” with former and current leaders of the church lining up on both sides of the argument. I am left to decide for myself the nature of God’s love and my experiences tell me that, regardless of past and present sins, God’s love is ever-present (ie – unconditional). That you would even seem to find satisfaction in the fact that your God’s love for you has conditions is disturbing.
I’m so happy to see this initiative and feel honored to wear a ribbon tomorrow. I believe strongly in divine, unconditional love. “… as I have loved you…that ye also love one another”