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.
Today I am posting the remarks I gave at the 6th annual ALL Arizona conference on April 28th, 2018. The conference had some remarkable speakers, singers, and presenters who together wove a picture of love and community.
With much sadness Out of Obscurity mourns the passing of one of our bloggers, Megan Howarth. Megan lived a purpose driven life, touching those she came in contact with in profound ways. Megan never turned down an opportunity to advocate for the many causes important to her.
One of her friends writes, “The only thing we can do now with our broken hearts is to help support the family and continue on with the causes most important to us.”
May we all work to leave this world a better place than we found it.
Please click here to learn more about Megan and how you may support her family in this difficult time.
To honor our fellow LGBTQIA+ and commemorate her life, we leave you with her Out of Obscurity bio, which she wrote to introduce us all to her life.
‘Til we meet again Megan ❤️
Megan H (she/her/hers) is a quiet, introverted Hufflepuff who nevertheless has gotten involved in feminist, LGBTQ+ and other types of activism, showing that you don’t need to be loud and flashy to work for social justice. She writes for the blog with an A (asexual and aromantic) perspective. She has also lived with multiple autoimmune diseases for close to a decade, giving her a unique perspective on invisible illness and ableism. Megan is a lifelong Mormon with pioneer heritage and served a service mission in Family History as a less-physically-taxing alternative to a proselyting mission; while she is now investigating Community of Christ (formerly known as RLDS), a part of her will always be Mormon. Megan recently bought a little house in Logan, where she lives with her cat Noel, is learning how to be a homeowner through trial and error, and works in tech support.
On August the third, 1908, the brothers Jean and Amédée Bouyssonie entered a lonely cave in the Sourdoire Valley of France. For three years they had carefully excavated over 1000 Neanderthal artifacts, however on this day the brothers uncovered a nearly complete 50,000 year old Neanderthal skeleton which they described as being carefully buried in a sleeping position, legs bent with head tilted over the chest and surrounded by flint tools and animal bones.
It was shocking at the time to think that a species other than our own would have the capacity to ritualize death through intentional burial. Continue reading →