Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:34
Because I live in Arizona and am currently serving as president of Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends, I was particularly interested when those two worlds intersected in Neil L. Anderson’s boast during his Saturday conference talk: “We, as Latter-day Saints, are pleased to be part of a coalition of faith, business, LGBTQ people, and community leaders who have worked together in a spirit of trust and mutual respect to protect gay and transgender Arizonans.”
There is no way around it, learning that you have a gay father and then experience the dissolution of your parent’s mixed orientation marriage is a monkey wrench in the life of an 18-year-old preparing to serve a mission. It can take some time, especially for older children, to work past a binary understanding of heroes and villains in the deeply complex narrative of religiously facilitated mixed orientation marriages.
But when you are leaving on a mission, you don’t have a lot of time to do that kind of heavy lifting. You just don’t have the bandwidth to talk about the elephant in the room in that moment. You move forward not ignoring what is happening, but prioritizing all of the sensory input to be processed on your own timetable.
This timetable meant that my blessing as a father for my son in the name of God, to arm him with the strength of the Kitchen house, the hope of generations gone before, and the courage to sustain him through his mission, wouldn’t be able to be delivered in a conventional in-person manner. But it could be delivered nonetheless, filled with power and authority.
I penned this letter and asked that he open it on the plane to the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
The policy and practical implications of entombing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
What if you could have a do-over to write the November 2015 exclusion policy? A chance to take everything you learned when you went into full attack mode on your LGBTQ members and their children while in panic mode from the June Obergefell ruling—a chance to learn both internally and externally from the pushback and feedback during the three-and-a-half-year execution of the ill-fated policy—to recraft an exclusion policy in a manner that achieves the same outcome but doesn’t counter your member’s experiences with their LGBTQ loved ones, trigger the red flag of punching down, or publicly broadcast a path that veers from the gentleness of the Love of Christ towards the marginalized.
Is it possible to hide the ugliness of the exclusion policy in plain sight?
The moon was rising in the east as I parked my car on the side of the road in one of the remaining rural neighborhoods that pocket the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. The pastures, horse properties, and acre homesteads showcase old money and legacy Mormon families. This island is the seedbed of all four of my stake presidents since my move to Arizona in 1998, who from this seat presided over the new growth suburbs that surrounded them. For twenty-two years, I was a witness to the administration of Church government from this ultra-conservative pocket in the suburbs, where the echoes of the 1850s Mormon Reformation and the Ezra Taft Benson era still inform power today.
I stepped out of my vehicle and noted my direction. With no streetlights, the moonlight guided me as I made my way along the dusty shoulders of the road towards the home of my stake president. Before he moved here, he was my neighbor in the outlying suburbs of the masses. Ten years ago, I met with him in his home and spent a Sunday afternoon training him in his duties as a newly called second counselor in the bishopric in our ward. But tonight I was called to his new home here for another reason.
Large old growth trees surround his property. It is a walled fortress, with a keypad for entry through an iron gate. As I stood under a tree there on the side of the road, I squarely faced his house and reflected on all the events that brought me to that moment in time.
I felt the Spirit wash over me, telling me it was time.
I bent down and cast off the dust from my feet, brushing my shoes with my hands and wiping the soles of my feet as I spoke the words of an ancient Mormon rite, almost as old as the restoration itself, passed down to me while a missionary in Alabama.
But I was not finished, I still had one more place to go.
Elder Holland explained that the Church does not make judgment about feelings or attraction but rather on behavior and what one actually does. “We don’t make an ecclesiastical judgment or a disciplinary decision on the basis of what someone feels or attractions that they have. What we ask is, please do not act contrary to the commandments or contrary to covenants or contrary to the teachings of the Lord and the prophets. Please don’t act on attractions that would alienate you from the Spirit and from the body of the Church.”
Those who are willing to behave consistent with the commandments of the Lord will be able to hold a temple recommend, receive temple covenants, hold a calling and enjoy all the blessings of the gospel. “But it does take effort on the behavior side,” Elder Holland said. “Through that effort we will wait with you, cry with you and be patient together as we bless each other with true brotherhood and sisterhood.”
A comment from a gay member on Facebook:
“The GA’s claim ‘commandments’, but have yet to cite to any correctly translated chapter and verse of scripture, particularly directly from God’s mouth, that prohibits gay marriage. They can’t, because it doesn’t exist. It’s not ‘commandments’, it’s ‘philosophies of men mingled with scripture.'”
The apostles don’t back up their commandments with scripture, unless they want to. They don’t see it as necessary, because, well, they’re apostles, and see themselves superior to Jesus and all of God’s previous teachings.
This Ensign article doesn’t come without an amount of controversy. Many in my gay Mormon community feel this article does not fully represent the gay Mormon experience, does not acknowledge the human impact of celibacy, and will be weaponized, as other stories have been, to create only one narrative for how a gay person can legitimately live. Continue reading →
This article isn’t for everyone. If you’re white, and you’re questioning racism, keep reading. This is for you. If you’re white and you’ve said you’re not racist, keep reading. This is for you too. If you feel the internal tension between your sense of compassion and equity, and opposition to the current conversation on race, continue on. Continue reading →
This article isn’t for everyone. If you’re white, and you’re questioning racism, keep reading. This is for you. If you’re white and you’re anti-racist, keep reading. This is for you too. Continue reading →
In his book Torn, Justin Lee introduces the concept of the Side A and Side B Gay Christian. The Side A Gay Christian believes same-sex relationships including intimacy within same-sex marriage is not inherently sinful. The Side B Gay Christian believes that being gay is not inherently sinful, but that God does not approve of gay sex. Continue reading →
At the Women’s Conference session on October 6, 2019, President Oaks gave a talk that gives an unusual and chilling interpretation of Jesus’s teachings. Referring to Jesus’s discourse that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor, Oaks equates loving God with obedience to God’s laws. He also states that the second commandment to love one another does not supercede the first commandment to love God, which Oaks presumably uses to justify judging, condemning, and hating others who he thinks are not obeying God’s law. This is his argument for justifying bigotry which is based in hating others and not loving your neighbor. Continue reading →