Even though it’s more important to do right than to be right, its frighteningly easy to convince ourselves that the two always correspond, particularly in matters of religion. The recent Mormon Women Stand (MWS) post, “A Protected Class of Sin,” is an example of what happens when the desire to be right supersedes the desire to do right. MWS has a history of arguing ideas that are divisive. The group seems to envision its job as that of separating the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, this post (like many others) risks dividing the faithful from the Spirit of the Lord. Continue reading
There was a time I accepted the phrase “Love the sinner; hate the sin,” but I always felt uncomfortable using it. Eventually, I started giving the expression second thought, and I realized the parallelism of the phrase suggests a balance between the ideas of love and hate. But love and hate don’t balance one another. Just as light cannot be where there is darkness, love cannot be where there is hate.
Of course, once I became aware of this difficult dichotomy, that voice of contrariness we probably all know popped into my head, insisting it is possible to love a person and, at the same time, hate what that person does. But is it? Continue reading
I watched the news out of Baton Rouge with my 15-year-old son, who is considering a career in law enforcement. When the reporter upped the death toll from two police officers to three, I turned my eyes from the TV to my son. Nearly two years earlier, I had watched him just like this, watched him watch Ferguson burn.
Ten days ago, at a peaceable Black Lives Matter march, a gunman shot and killed five Dallas police officers, wounding several others. One of the murdered officers used to escort my daughter-in-law from the Dallas theater where she worked late shifts to her parked car; she loved his sense of humor. The young man who killed him grew up in the town in which my two oldest children spent their elementary school years. Had we not moved, they’d have gone to high school together, my oldest son a grade ahead of him, and my daughter, a grade behind. As is, we have friends who knew the killer.
When Ferguson burned, I begged my youngest son to reconsider his future career, saying the world is too dangerous and that I’m afraid for him. His response was, “Imagine how dangerous the world would be without police officers.” As Baton Rouge unfolded, he said nothing. He just stared. Continue reading
So often, discussion of doctrine, particularly related to homosexuality, becomes academic in its characteristics. For so many believers, God is found in a book–in the Bible–and the inclination is to scour the words of the book for evidence with which to bolster the preferred argument. But the scriptures were not meant for argument, but to settle arguments–to settle them with the one great power all human beings can harness. Not priesthood, not the gift of the Holy Ghost, but love with its many names: empathy, compassion, kindness, and charity. Continue reading
John Bonner, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has given me permission to publish his open letter of encouragement to his 14-year old self, posted initially on the Mormons Building Bridges Facebook page. I can’t thank John enough, either for the honor of sharing his words with you or for his candor. This is a must-read for all people of faith who seek to follow the admonition of Christ to better love and serve the LGBT community.
Dear 14 year-old me,
I see you there in the pews, head bowed, lines of tears marking divides down hot, embarrassed cheeks and pooling up in blurry smudges on the pages of the hymnal as you let the sacrament pass you by because you believe you’re not worthy. I see you standing alone in front of the basement window in complete darkness and silently mouthing the words, “I’m gay,” for the first time and vowing never to speak those words aloud to anyone. I see you pleading, begging, night after night on calloused knees to have these feelings taken away from you–rooted out of you and destroyed. Continue reading
We’ve had nearly two months of discussion about the recent policy change regarding same-gender, committed couples and their children. The “wheat and tares” analogies are flying, with each side sure it is the wheat and the other, the tares. Just like in politics. That can never be a good thing within a religion. So, for a moment, I’d like to put aside arguments about the policy and talk about our kids. Not our gay kids. Not our straight kids. Not the kids of same-gender couples. Not the kids of traditional Mormon marriages, of mixed orientation marriages, or of divorce. But all of our LDS kids, regardless of orientation or circumstance. Let’s talk about what happens to them in the aftermath of the policy change because what happens to them affects us all. Continue reading
A blog post is circulating, written by Angela Fallentine over at Mormon Women Stand, titled, “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church.” She argues that, in order to be truly faithful, a Latter-day Saint must accept “fundamental, core doctrines of the gospel; namely that marriage is only between a man and a woman and the law of chastity.” She isolates these two doctrinal points, I would assume, because of the on-going controversy surrounding the recent policy change and subsequent policy clarification that specify formal church discipline must occur for those in same-gender marriages or committed relationships; such discipline manifests as “church courts” and will result in the excommunication of any same-gender committed couples. While the church membership generally understands the difference between policy and doctrine–a lesson learned with the lifting of the priesthood ban–Fallentine seems to be swinging a few decades behind the curve ball. Continue reading
Yesterday the world became aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will now classify any member who joins in a same-sex marriage as apostate, or as one who has renounced the Church’s teaching that marriage is defined as a male/female relationship. This will have difficult repercussions for LGBT people and their families, especially their children, who will be denied saving ordinances unless the permission of the First Presidency is gained. This is an extremely controversial decision and will bring a great deal of criticism to the formal Church, which had, of late, seemed to be making strides toward inclusion through the support of gay rights initiatives. The Church is large and powerful and will withstand these attacks. As the controversy runs its course, however, there are those who are small and powerless who will feel the words we speak as either daggers to their hearts or balm to their wounds. Continue reading
Earlier this week, I spoke to a mature, faithful, conservative LDS mother about her family’s experience with the April 2015 General Conference. She said, “Sunday’s talks filled me up. But Saturday’s hurt a little.” She then told me that, after Elder Packer’s talk Saturday morning, one of her teenage daughters turned to her and asked point blank, “Why don’t they ever say how much God loves his gay and lesbian children?” By the time Elder Perry finished his talk, her other teen daughter likewise pressed her mother to explain why apostles of the Lord didn’t speak with compassion and encouragement about a group of his followers who are often maligned. I wonder the same thing. Continue reading
RECENTLY A FRIEND, whose husband seems always to be in one or the other position of local leadership within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed that she tries to help her husband understand how women in the church feel and, essentially, wondered what I would tell him, or other local leaders, if I could. Easiest writing challenge ever. So while I am just one woman and cannot be said to represent all LDS women–not even those of a more feministy persuasion–here’s my Top 10 list of things I’d like to say to bishops and stake presidents about how women in the church “feel.” The list is in no particular order. Continue reading