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 “The Responsibility of LDS Members after Same Sex Policy Changes”
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 “Why Don’t They Just Say God Loves All His Children?”
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 “Dear Bishop: With Love, Mormon Women”
When considering people who have had an influence in Mormon literary art and film, Margaret Blair Young’s name surfaces among those of greatest influence. A creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University and a leading Mormon author in her own right, Young has, most recently, paired up with Darius Gray, founder of Genesis Group, and, together, determined to bring the stories of African American Mormons to the forefront of LDS cultural knowledge. The pair have given us the Standing on the Promises trilogy, a series of novels that fictionalize the real lives of Mormon African Americans, and the documentary film Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. Her current project, a feature film titled Heart of Africa, is based on the experiences of a real-life American missionary from Idaho and his Congolese missionary companion as they forge both a relationship that supersedes their cultural prejudices and spreads the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the African continent. Many consider it a rebuttal of sorts to the popular Book of Mormon Musical. While Young expects LDS audiences to gravitate to the film, her aspiration reaches far beyond the LDS world; Heart of Africa carries a universal message of hope and redemption. The players and the situation just happen to be Mormon. Continue reading “Mormon Woman, Artist, Filmmaker on Heart of Africa”
It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live; it doesn’t matter our political persuasion or the breadth of our testimony. Our income doesn’t matter, nor does our level of education. None of that matters when we face the startling reality that Mormons who are LGBT, particularly the young, often feel devalued and alienated from their faith community–rejected by us, their fellow Mormons, and the Church they were raised to love. A recent Salt Lake Tribune article suggests that the suicide rate, as well as the rates of attempted suicide and homelessness, are higher among young, gay Mormons than the national average, at least in the state of Utah. This means not only are we burying so many of our beloved family members, but we have in our midst an untold number of those who suffer the unquenchable thirst we call grief. In response, this Sunday, December 7, 2014, has been established as the first annual LDS LGBT Suicide and Homelessness Awareness Day. Members are asked to wear traditional (black) mourning attire to church, and, if willing, a rainbow ribbon as an outward, visual demonstration of their individual, inward commitment to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. It is a simple gesture of love for LGBT individuals and their families, a group of people who have, too often, felt alienated and excluded.
Ordain Women is changing the name of their teaching platform from “Six Discussions” to “Conversations” in reaction to criticism that the name of the original program demonstrates their desire to evangelize LDS toward female ordination. The term “six discussions” is, after all, reminiscent of the former missionary program used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This title change is bringing the expected banter—claims that the name switch is as silly as the women behind it and other similarly dismissive things. As a non-member of OW (but then, OW doesn’t have a formal membership) who has participated in an online “conversation” group regarding these “discussions” (I’m confused), I recognize some validity in the charge that the Six Discussions are evangelical-ish in their appeal, but only insofar as any argument attempts to make its case convincing. It seems to me the silliness resides in the initial accusation that the Six Discussions were designed to convince others. Not because the accusation is wrong, but because making the accusation is, in itself, an act of silliness. Its a “duh” and a “so what?” Nearly every human conversation is designed to convince, to open or alter minds, to change ideas and, sometimes, hearts. In some ways, argument can be considered the engine of free agency. It is essential.
I am a Texan, a conservative, a practicing Mormon, and an ally of the LGBT community. Two recent events have unfolded in my peripheral vision that have struck an emotional, intellectual and spiritual chord in me, leaving me both disheartened and heartened.
First, Texas Republicans held their 2014 state convention in Fort Worth, a process that establishes the party’s platform plank by plank. One of those planks will include language that rejects homosexual relationships as legitimate or valuable to society. The plank will also specifically support reparative therapy, an odd inclusion but for California and New Jersey’s recent outlawing of such therapy for minors. The fiscally conservative group, Log Cabin Republicans of Texas (who were denied booth space at the convention), optimistically finds progress in the party’s compromise to drop from the platform the words “homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.” I appreciate their optimism and patience, but feel sorrow over the party’s rejection of the skills, talent, and voting power that could potentially follow once Republicans open their arms to conservative-minded members of the LGBT community. Although supporters of the anti-gay, supposedly “pro-family” plank of the Texas Republican party will argue their stance is a godly one, I find it not only uninspired but judgmental, self-righteous, and crippling to the foundational fiscal messages of conservatism.
The second event that has moved me (this time, positively) was seeing the 400-450 strong delegation of Mormons Building Bridges marching in the Salt Lake City Pride Parade. Families came with their small children. Faithful members who have served at all local levels of leadership put their best foot forward in support of love and inclusion. Continue reading “Love is a Behavior: A Conservative Mormon Reminder to Love our LGBT Community”