“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)
I spent the holidays this year in Utah, and stayed the whole time with my brother and sister-in-law. Over the two weeks I was there, I had some really great conversations with them. They are very conservative members of the Church and believe in following the prophet with exactness, no matter what, and that we will be blessed if we do so. However, when talking about the plight of gay members in the church, I was surprised at how open minded they were to the idea of the Q15 coming out with a revelation accepting same-sex marriage in the Church. With two more vacancies in the Q15, we are getting closer to this possibility.
They even proposed that maybe the reason there hasn’t been a change to the policy yet is because the majority of members of the church are not yet ready to receive it. This really surprised me that they would be so supportive of same-sex marriage, and they even said they would pray for the day that the Q15 will be unified for this change. I just felt such an overwhelming feeling of love and support from them, and it really gives me hope. If they can be this supportive, then I believe more and more true believing Mormons will be also, preparing for the day the Q15 makes the announcement that the hateful policy of November 2015 is done away with and same-sex marriage is accepted within the Church.
The November 2015 policy is rightly called a “hateful” policy. This is what I explained to my brother and sister-in-law when they started reciting how important it was to follow the prophet no matter what. I bore my testimony that I know the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love. Jesus himself taught that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love our fellowman. “As I have loved you, love one another”. It’s all about LOVE! The commandment to love is even greater than the commandment to follow the prophet.
Any time the prophet or any other Church leader promotes a policy or practice that is based in bigotry (just another form of hate), then it is not in alignment with the gospel of Jesus Christ and must be done away with. Therefore, we can know that it is just a Mormon culture relic, not a correct principle or true doctrine. Just like the Church’s prior bigotry toward women (polygamy) and racial bigotry (priesthood and temple ban for blacks), those things had to be done away with because bigotry is hate, and hate is in direct conflict with the Savior’s commandment to love one another.
When I explained it this way, suddenly my brother and sister-in-law could see that following the prophet was not as clear cut as they always thought, and that we have a responsibility to put more thought into it before accepting what any Church leader teaches. We have a responsibility to scrutinize all such teachings, practices, and policies and gain a confidence that they are in alignment with the core principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and most importantly Christ’s commandment to love one another. If it passes that test, then we can be relatively safe in accepting and adhering to it. Only then will the Holy Spirit bear testimony that it is right.
Conversely, if a teaching, policy, or practice of the church conflicts with the Savior’s commandment to love one another and other core gospel principles, then we can know with a surety that it is not right, and we are absolved of having to follow or abide by it.
Granted there will likely be consequences, such as spiritual harassment, church discipline, and even excommunication, for not following what the prophet says, right or wrong, particularly when talking about same-sex marriage. However, the ban on same-sex marriage is clearly a bigoted policy that is based in hate, not love, and we can know for sure that this ban is against the Savior’s prime injunction to love one another. Therefore, gay members who choose to enter a same-sex marriage will likely experience harassment and persecution (all hate-based reactions), but they can do so in peace knowing that they are not forfeiting their own happiness just to blindly follow a Church policy or practice that clearly contradicts the Savior’s prime injunction.
In addition, same-sex couples who remain active in the church, despite the almost certain persecution, will play a huge role in helping lay the foundation for the eventual acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church and the rejection of the hateful and bigoted policies and practices of the past. To me, this a battle worth fighting and a cause worthy of my all.