I’m a bit baffled when people bear their testimony and say they “know the Church is true”. The statement that the Church is true is meaningless to me. The Church is an organization. Certainly it is a unique organization, and even very unique compared to other churches, but the Church cannot be any more true than the United Nations is true, or the US Government is true, or McDonald’s Inc. is true, or the Utah County PTA is true. It’s just an organization, and organizations are not true or untrue.
On my most recent trip to Utah to visit my children who are living there now with their mother, my 17 year old daughter opened up her feelings to me about the divorce. She said she has been really mad at me, but has been trying to get past it. The divorce has been really hard on her, and she has been feeling something is wrong with her because her parents are divorced. She had a lot of questions for me about when I knew I was gay and about when I was dating women as a young single adult and eventually dated and married her mom. She wanted to know, if I knew I was gay, why did I marry her mother in the first place. Continue reading
I am a gay member of the church and have been disfellowshipped from the church for eight years. Through all these years I have remained active in the church. Even though I have thoroughly repented and been in full compliance with the hyper-religiosity and everything my bishops and stake presidents have asked me to do, and was living my life fully in alignment with church standards, my multiple attempts to be reinstated have been denied over and and over. It has always been very puzzling to me, since my whole experience as a member my whole life, and serving as a bishop for four years, taught me that church discipline is not intended to be like this. Church discipline should always be done in love, maintain the dignity of the individual, and for the repentant it should be brief. Even if someone has been excommunicated, after a year they can be re-baptized if they have been repentant.
There are several reasons why I think my case has gone on for years and years. First, I should clarify that my disfellowshipment was not due to any illegal or heinous behavior. However, I have been told that while the sin was relatively minor, because I was a bishop, the penalties are much higher. Though I was only disfellowshipped instead of excommunicated, the Office of the First Presidency intervened with my stake president’s decision and mandated that my discipline last a minimum of five years. Normally, disfellowshipment lasts no longer than a year, and it is almost unheard of for the church employees of the Office of the First Presidency (who hold no priesthood keys) to interfere with the decisions of stake presidents who hold the priesthood keys for church discipline within their stakes. The fear of having First Presidency scrutiny of my case has deterred my three stake presidents over the years from reinstating me, even after the five-year minimum was met. Combined with some other factors, it has been a continuously unsuccessful effort to try to be reinstated.
Most LDS church leaders will agree with the official church position that a homosexual orientation is not a choice or a sin, though there are far too many bishops and stake presidents in the church who won’t even agree with that. But even in official church teachings, they always follow on by saying that acting on those attractions IS a choice and a sin.
For instance, talking about homosexual orientation, Elder M. Russell Ballard stated: “Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the experience of same-sex attraction…itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.” (italics added)
While I agree that all members, straight and gay, have the God-given power of agency to choose how they respond to any situation, straight people are not qualified to make a judgement on this topic as it relates to gay members. Continue reading
“Hmm, I don’t know where to begin. Do you mind telling me how you feel as a gay Mormon?”
That was the question a recently returned missionary asked me today — he’s only been home from his mission for two weeks. My friend (we’ll call him Tom) had never met anyone that he knew was gay. Continue reading
Church leaders are going to great lengths to defend what they are labeling as religious freedom. In our church history, members of the church (including my own pioneer ancestors) suffered great persecution and were denied their right to practice their religion according to our conscience. It only seems natural that church leaders would continue to be engaged in efforts to defend this God-given right. However, there is much more to this than meets the eye. Continue reading