During a recent conference for LGBT/SSA Mormons and their family and friends, one of the participants shared a gut-wrenching statistic: at least 32 LGBT Mormons have ended their own lives since November 5, 2015. The actual number is undoubtedly higher; many cases are not reported. There are ongoing efforts to improve the tracking of such numbers. I was not present at the conference but heard the news afterward in an event recap by John Gustav-Wrathall and later as it was shared on social media.
To be candid, I don’t know quite what to do with this information. It’s horrific. I am reminded of an assertion made by a tour guide at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, that every person who dies is an entire world that is lost to us. We are losing worlds too quickly.
A gloriously divine principle was revealed to us through Joseph Smith: “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” This is a beautiful thought, and it has power to transform our lives to the extent that it enters into us and we become convinced that it is true. I am absolutely convinced.
This morning, as I was talking to a friend I had a deep realization, the buddy system works. The Buddy System, something many of us were taught as children to keep us safe from would be kidnappers, in adulthood has much broader uses.
In fitness having a work out buddy can make you much more committed to working out on a regular basis. In weight training or gymnastics, having someone to spot you can help you not to injure yourself. As I found out this morning, the buddy system can also help encourage you to make important doctors appointments that you’ve been putting off out of fear and deep loathing of going to the doctor.
In my life as a member of the LDS church, the buddy system played an integral part to many key moments of my life. Continue reading
In 2009 I was scouring the internet for hope. I knew was attracted to men, but what worried me more was that I was not attracted to women. My search led me to the website for Exodus International, a non-profit Christian network that provided assistance to those with concerns of unwanted homosexual attraction. The URL at the time was exodusinternational.org, but you won’t find it there anymore. In fact, the only place you’ll find it now is on archive.org’s Wayback Machine. This is what it looked like back in 2009:
Yes, I stole an Adele line to grab your attention. But, I do think it’s time we answer the call from that person “on the other side”. Now, what I’m about to write is hardly innovative. I might as well just tell you to be a well-rounded individual and let your life move on. However, in listening to the story of many, many LGBQ Mormons, this was a constant theme of either heartache and struggle or balance and peace. Don’t wait until Adele has to come calling after 20 years for you to finally listen. Perhaps it is best if you answered now.
When I “came out”, most of the people in my life were die-hard Mormons. Sure, they might have sworn once or twice or watched that R-rated movie once, but it rarely seemed that they questioned the Church. Most of our conversations about religion were your typical conversations of young adults at BYU: why did Bishop allow him to be EQP? What does faith really mean for Alma? And can we please make the closing prayer last only a minute? One of the apostles said so.
Years ago, my older sister came home from school with a terrifying short story to share: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I was only around ten years old at the time but I read the whole thing, and the image of the black spot remains ingrained on my mind these nearly 20 years later. I almost cried when I finished it. If you have not read it before, please do. I can only say that it is indeed terrifying.
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that membership in the Mormon church is a lottery, and one with extremely low odds. I say it is a lottery because it is largely based on chance rather than merit. The probability of living in a time and place where the church even exists and is accessible is very low. If you were born into a Mormon family, you’ve got a pretty good chance of being Mormon for life. But if not, the chances you will join the church as an adult are very low. This is the “lottery of joining.”
We recognize that same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States and some other countries and that people have the right, if they choose, to enter into those, and we understand that. But that is not a right that exists in the Church. That’s the clarification.
With the Supreme Court’s decision in the United States, there was a need for a distinction to be made between what may be legal and what may be the law of the Church and the law of the Lord
Elder D. Todd Christopherson, November 6, 2015
This is not the first time the church organization has made a distinction concerning the law of the land versus the law of the Lord concerning marriage.
However, the first time this distinction was made it was between what was illegal and what was the law of the church and the law of the Lord.
President Russell M. Nelson and his wife Wendy held a devotional tonight for young adults, with a focus on millennials in the millennial day. It is likely that President Nelson’s brief comments on the policy changes may receive more attention than the rest of the devotional.
A number of sources have reported slightly different versions of the story of how the policy changes were decided upon and instituted. During his devotional message, President Nelson described in his own words the process through which the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve arrived at the final version of the policies. He reported the following: Continue reading