Someday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have to recognize how eager many of its women are to access all the spiritual gifts delineated in scripture and, thereby, realize their full spiritual potential. We saw this hunger most clearly during the apex of the Ordain Women movement, which was often unfairly labeled a misguided group of sisters who without the humility to understand their role as servants to and under the priesthood. What the Church does recognize, however, is its ability to deny women access to any spiritual gift it likes. All it takes is a few lines inserted into the Church Handbook of Instructions. This time, the power of official disdain is aimed at a much less vocal, seemingly less organized, set of LDS women–our energy healers.Continue reading “Energy Healing and the Update of the LDS General Handbook”
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 “Why This Mormon Rejects “Love the Sinner; Hate the Sin””
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 “The Members are True; the Church is True.”
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 “Letter to 14 Year Old Me, by John”
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 “A Response to “Why You Can’t Be Loyally Opposed to the Church””
Last Saturday, my husband, our 13 year old son, and I enjoyed a thirty minute drive through rural east Texas to the Morris County Twin Cinema in a tiny town called Daingerfield. As we drove, I opted to discuss a miscommunication I’d had earlier in the week with my older brother, something that had already been resolved. But before I got to that point in my monologue, my husband made a classic man-mistake by offering me what he perceived to be the solution to my difficulty with my brother. Please understand that, over the course of our twenty-eight year marriage, I’ve told my husband a billion times that I’m a big girl and can solve my own problems, that when I speak to him of the issues in my life, I don’t need him to fix anything: I want empathy. But when I opened my mouth for the billion and first time to repeat his training, the shadow of words I’d read just hours before left me speechless. Continue reading “Empathy Without Works is Dead”
Today I accepted what many will consider an unconventional Book of Mormon Challenge. The challenge directs participants to read a chapter a day (which means finish the Book of Mormon in 239 days) “and then apply your mind to consider the implications, search for and refine meaning, and PONDER the significance of the chapters you’ve covered. ” Hardly radical. The only unconventional aspect of this challenge is that isn’t coming from some bishop or other church leader, not from a seminary teacher or family member, but from Affirmation, a support group for LGBTQ Mormons, their families, and friends. Continue reading “An Affirmation Book of Mormon Challenge”
This morning, I awoke in our cabin, nestled in the piney woods of east Texas, and found, on the floor, the same beautiful black and blue butterfly that had, only yesterday, fluttered by me each time I stepped outside to enjoy the natural world. Somehow, she is trapped inside this morning, motionless, with her wings outspread in the attempt to camouflage against a maple-colored plank floor that will have none of it. I know from the experience of capturing butterflies in my childhood that if I touch her wings, I condemn her. Instead, I find a piece of paper and lay it before her. Although it doesn’t seem natural to her, the butterfly steps onto the paper and I carry her outside, where she flutters back into the trees.
I love symbols. I look for them all the time. As I have struggled to come to terms with the pending disciplinary action against leading LDS feminist Kate Kelly, I couldn’t help but find an imperfect symbol of her predicament in this butterfly. Continue reading “On Kate Kelly’s Summons to a Church Court: An Epistle to the Saints”
Story 1: I gained my testimony at the age of 14, was baptized exactly one week before my 17th birthday, and entered Relief Society the Sunday following my 18th birthday. I couldn’t wait to get out of the Young Women organization and its non-stop lessons on what I should wear and who I should date and marry. I chomped at the bit to get into adult classes where intelligent things would be discussed. (Stop laughing.) Continue reading “Seven Little Stories of Me”
I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in early December of 1978, six months after the church lifted the ban prohibiting black men from ordination and one week before my 17th birthday. Oddly, two years earlier the ban was, in large measure, what led me to scrutinize the Church. As an eighth grader, I was so upset to learn that a church would blatantly discriminate that I spent several lunch periods boring my friend and fellow Catholic, the bespeckled and knock-kneed Maria Campagne, with my tirades. The ban put the “Mormon Church” on my radar screen and, shock of shocks, in no time I was trembling under the weight of a newly-found, but solid, testimony. Continue reading “Doubt, Mormon Women Stand, and Traction”