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
On November 5, 2015 the policy change to LDS Handbook 1 regarding homosexual members became known to the public. Since then, in the US, 34 LDS LGBT young people between the ages of 14 and 20 have committed suicide. The numbers are being tallied by Wendy and Thomas Montgomery, leaders in the Mama Dragons and Dragon Dads support groups for LDS LGBT families. That’s 1 suicide every 60 hours, or every 2 ½ days. That number does not include a count of suicide attempts, nor of suicides by any closeted LGBT young people. Twenty-eight of these suicides occured in Utah, a state that averages 37 youth suicides in a 12 month period. Thirty-four in 84 days is a stunning statistic. It’s horrifying. And gut-wrenching. It is also telling. It tells us we adults are not sucessfully supporting our LGBT youth. Continue reading
Several weeks ago, a Gospel Doctrine teacher stated that “The Church is true, but the members are not.” Judging by the nods of assent, I’d say those sitting with me agreed with her. My natural inclination, as a language person, is to pick apart the word “true” until there’s no meat left on its bone. But I’ll spare you that. I do, however, want to to focus on the underlying assumption of the statement, namely the inference that the Church, as an institution, is better than its people. I’m not sure we really mean that. 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
Slob. Slut. Prick. Princess. Tree hugger. Tea Bagger. Feminazi. Fruitcake. Cracker. Coon.
And then, in Mormonism, there is “apostate.”
Derogatory terms are meant to dismiss, demean, and devalue people, to set them aside as Other, or Less Than. Every one of us is guilty of using this or that term in our bad moments. Stupid. Radical. Nerd. Fool. And when we do, a silent, internal script soothes us by whispering, “At least I’m not that.” 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
Dear Members of the Heath Ward, Heath, Texas Stake:
I’m sorry to miss the opportunity to participate in our ward’s slated discussion of the First Presidency letter regarding the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine on marriage, but I must be absent. Knowing the letter is intended to be used as part of a ward-level, but church-wide, discussion, I’ve been pondering its message and what I might say were I able to be with you. This letter represents a few of my thoughts. 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
Sometimes I think we Mormons aren’t aware of how differently we think from other groups. This can lead to communication problems with “outsiders,” but it can also keep us talking only to ourselves and ingrain ideas in our collective mindset that go unchallenged. When ideas aren’t challenged, they can become distorted and wind up doing us harm. Take for instance, our mindset about boys and, in particular, the Boy Scouts, the sacred cow of Mormon youth programs. Continue reading