Dear Straight Mormons

Dear Straight Mormons—Dear Friends,

I love the way President Uchtdorf characteristically opens and closes his conference addresses—“My dear brethren and sisters, my dear friends.”

I get that this may seem very straight forward and cut and dry for many of you.  I understand what it’s like to feel as though the world is up in arms against an organization that you and I sustain as the kingdom of God on the Earth—an organization that has brought the deepest meaning and most profound comfort to your life, and to my life.  I know what it’s like to see men you love and support as witnesses of God be the subject of so much criticism and even anger.  They are well meaning and good men who are doing their best to communicate the love and dictates of God to his children on Earth.  It hurts, it’s confusing, it’s frightening to feel as though the whole world is against you.

I’ve felt this.  And I feel it now.

Please, stay with me a moment while I try to share with your some of the pain my friends and my community have felt.  I don’t ask you to disagree with something you agree with.  I don’t want you to question your leaders.  I just want you to sit with me for a few minutes while I tell you about myself and my friends.

For us LGBTQ or same-sex attracted Mormons, life was always going to be hard.  I don’t know that people generally understand the gravity of what that looks and feels like.  Our options have always been limited and painful.  We can make 1 of 3 choices:  Seek a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, which is not possible or healthy for a large majority of us, and a gamble much more likely to end in divorce and heartache than any heterosexual marriage. Remain celibate and stay in the Church—forgo the comfort and strength that comes with having a romantic companion, face living alone for the rest of our lives.  Yes many people do not marry in this life, but no one else has to actively choose each day to not marry, to not fall in love. And finally, some of us, weighing all of the options, will choose to find a romantic partner of the same sex.  Not because we hate God or the Church or its leaders, but because for some of us, it might be a choice between that and suicide.

This new policy means that those who choose to pursue same-sex relationships face the certain conviction of apostasy and likely excommunication.  It means that our children will not be able to participate in the Church we were raised in, and that many of us still love and cherish.

It hurts to see my friends wake up one morning to see that they are now automatically considered apostates. It hurts to see friends whose children now have to wait an extra 10 years to get baptized or fully participate in the Church, despite their parents’ approval and encouragement.  It hurts to see the secondary pain this has brought to my straight friends—friends who believe in the Church and sustain the Prophet and Apostles and who this won’t affect personally, but friends who realize the pain this is inflicting on their queer friends.  And who are confused and saddened and hurt that something they love so dearly might cut so deeply against people they love and care for.   It hurts to feel like all that hope I had for the door of openness and goodwill and increased understanding and empathy has been suddenly slammed shut.

All of those things actually happened to me.  They are not hypothetical.  It hurt to wake up to an early morning message telling me our mutual friend was suicidal and I needed to go check on him. The minutes ticked by as he didn’t answer his phone, I found out no one had seen him in hours, and I had the gut wrenching task of knocking on his locked bedroom door.  Thankfully he was alive, and relatively ok.  But it’s not an experience I wish on anyone.

A different friend of mine has been so disquieted, she could barely make it through one of her classes in the past few days.  And the other stories are beginning to poor in: college students who’ve been told they can no longer live with their parents between semesters, children who were about to be baptized or go on missions who will no longer be able to.  These are the real and human consequences of this policy change.

And lest you think the heartbreak was only among my friends who had chosen to pursue same-sex relationships, consider the hurt I felt as I watched dozens and dozens of my most faithful, believing, rock-solid testimony fellow LGBTQ/SSA Mormons recoil in fear and pain at the policy change.  While nothing in the policy would seemingly apply to them, they felt that at its core the message was “you are not welcome here.” They wanted nothing more than to feel welcome and belong.

My mission president, whom I admire and respect a great deal, once told me that “priority is genius.” He was and is a very busy man (as many of us are) and he explained how in a world with only a limited amount of time, how and what you prioritize says a great deal about you and who you are.

The Church and its leaders have a limited amount of time and energy to carry out its mission.  So when it chooses to do anything, you know it must be important—that it could’ve chosen to perhaps do something else—but that whatever it has chosen is more important or better than whatever else it might have done.  So one of the most painful things for me is that the leaders of the Church frequently and consistently find the time to write rules and preach against same-sex marriage and the evils thereof but so rarely find the time to reach out in comfort or understanding to the LGBTQ/SSA members of the Church in any way that feels meaningful or long-lasting.

It hurts that instead of saying “To our friends, the children of God who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or same-sex attracted, we love you. We know the world has often been a cruel and lonely place for you.  We know that at times members and even leaders of the Church have contributed to the loneliness and confusion that so frequently comes with being LGBTQ/SSA in this fallen world. The Church is a place to feel of God’s love for all his children and the comfort that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Come, worship with us,” that the leaders of the Church further defined the punishments required for people who “act upon” their sexuality.

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 43 says, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”  It feels like there has been a lot of sharp reproving and very little increased love.

It hurts that implicit in these policy updates is the assumption that LGBTQ individuals who decide to marry someone of the same gender must necessarily be opposed to the Church and all its teachings—that they would inherently not want their children to learn the good, beautiful, ennobling principles of the Gospel. I can testify that is not true of most of my friends pursuing same-sex relationships. It can sometimes feel like standing on a doorstep, trying to decide which side to sit down on, and someone comes along and slams the door.

On Sunday night, I went to a vigil held at Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City.  Gathered together were people gay and straight, active Mormons and former Mormons huddling together in the cold.  We held tiny flickering candles and sang hymns.  Hymns that I have sung since as long as I can remember, and have loved for even longer.  As we approached the group, we passed a group of several homeless people.  I was overwhelmed by the poetry of the parallel—I was here to mourn with those that were mourning because they were or would soon be spiritually homeless because they chose to marry someone they loved of the same gender, or were the children of such a union. Surrounding us were people who had no physical home.  My heart ached that both groups of people were realities.  A reminder of the cruelties and imperfections of our fallen world.

A speaker recounted the history of the early Christians.  Small bands of believers who had to meet in secret because their beliefs were mocked and against the law and social norms.  People who believed in the redeeming power of the Atonement of the Son of God.  People for whom this spiritual truth meant the transformation of life from meaningless and doomed to a pointless end, into a period of bittersweet meaning before a more glorious future.  For these beautiful, soul enlarging truths they believed in and wished to share with others, these people were hunted.

Two-thousand years later, we—the spiritual descendants of those early Christians—stood huddling alone in the cold, on a patch of ground commemorating the sacrifice of pioneers—people who had been forced from their homes and families for beliefs that had transformed and enriched their lives.  We were not hunted, at least not physically (though this still happens to our queer siblings around the world), but we were alone, together, in the cold of the night.  Despite the loneliness, heartache, confusion, and pain, we remained.

The speaker continued about how the word apostasy meant to turn away and abandon; to forsake something, to turn your back and walk away.  And yet we remained. Courage, the speaker said, meant that we remained—that we asked to be seen, to be heard, to validate our humanity and our existence.

Brené Brown said, “It’s difficult to respond to the tragedies of strangers—even those we think we know—because we will never have access to the whole truth. In the absence of information, we make up stories, stories that often turn out to be our own biographies, not theirs.”

“Our only other option is to choose courage. Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty. Courage is my friend Karen standing up and saying, “I am affected.”

The courageous choice also does not mean abandoning accountability—it simply means holding ourselves accountable first. If we are people of faith, we hold ourselves accountable for living that faith by practicing grace and bringing healing.”

If you understand and support the recent policy changes, ask your mourning friend why it hurts.  I’m not asking you to change your convictions, I’m asking you to, perhaps, enlarge your heart.  If you don’t have any friends who are hurting over this—look again.  Someone you know is gay—or they love someone who is gay.  And they are hurting. Maybe not because they disagree with the policy changes, but because they know the impact and the toll it will have.

We come from the same spiritual lineage.  My ancestors bloodied the Great Plains with their feet. I stand in wonder at the sacrifices those first Christian disciples endured for their beliefs – just as you do.

And so, my brethren and sisters, my dear friends, all I ask of you is that you see us. That your hear us. That you listen to us. That you sit with us.
Thank you.

-A

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108 thoughts on “Dear Straight Mormons

    1. I worry about the children who will be stigmatized by this. Any child who is perceived as “different” or out of the “mould” in SLC schools suffers greatly from the rejection by their peers. Will these families be forced out of Utah in order to maintain their childrens mental health? So sad, and I am so sorry.

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      1. Honestly I feel like that’s one of the worst parts of this to me…because to me, it indicates now is a time for an increased outpouring of love, understanding how hard this must be for those affected…but probably a lot of people will see it more like a target painted on, a designation of “Yes, these people are outsiders, do not include them.”

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  1. This was very well written. Thank you for sharing your experience and the experiences of others. I am not directly impacted by the policy change, but I am very disappointed in the policy and feel pain for all of the people who are directly effected by it. Thank you again for this thoughtful and well written essay.

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  2. I understand the feelings of rejection everyone is feeling. But when push comes to shove, none of us feel it for the polygamous people who have had to deal with this policy for years. For them, it’s not a matter of rejection and barring them or their children from church, it’s just kind of an acknowledgment that that lifestyle and the church doesn’t really fit and would really create a conflict with their kids, not to mention make it difficult as a church teacher to teach the youth “marriage is between a man and a woman” when you have a girl whose dad has three wives. I’d always need to preface it by, “I’m so sorry, I hope I don’t hurt any feelings, but we believe that marriage is between a man and a woman….sorry, are you okay?” Because I really wouldn’t want to cause offense! or for the girl to come to church and feel anything other than love and approval from me, her leader. What if she actually believe polygamy was a really good way of life? Could I blame her for that, considering she had a happy childhood and loving parents? No, of course not. But it makes it harder for her to undersand that truly, marriage between a man and a woman is an eternal principle.

    That, I’m assuming, she’d better grasp when she was 18, at least. So, why is this completely acceptable to put on polygamous families, but not on same sex married families, whose idea is even more against the eternal idea of families and marriage being ordained of God before earth. This is, of course, setting aside all the rejection gays have truly had. I just don’t see what the difference in application is besides gay marriage is socially acceptable in the world and the world still finds polygamy gross and an aberration.

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    1. For what it’s worth, I think the situation with the polygamists is even worse, because it’s a situation the church created. Not only that, but D&C remains canonized doctrine, and we still practice a sort of spiritual polygamy in the temple because a man can be sealed to more than one woman at the same time. He just can’t be married civilly and/or cohabitate with more than one at a time. Plus, there are many people in the church, including some general authorities like Bruce R. McConkie who believe that the practice of polygamy will be reinstated before the millenium, so the polygamists should have some hope. That the church would punish the children of either group in this manner is tragic.

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    2. Your comment assumes one thing: that this policy is appropriate or is not upsetting in the case of children from polygamous families. Guess what? There are people who don’t think this policy is right for those children either. Suffer the children to come unto Christ… ALL the. children.

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      1. Thank you for writing trying this, you describe things beautifully. my heart aches because of this announcement for so many reasons. In addition to this church policy, I was shocked when it was compared to how polygamist children are treated the same way. That certainly doesn’t help me feel better, it just upsets me further that this same policy has already been in place and it has not been common knowledge. Love and embrace everyone, no matter what the circumstance is , right?!

        My heart goes out to everyone that is personally affected by this policy. You are loved.

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    3. You have missed the WHOLE point of what this post was about. Open your heart for just a moment and realize these are living, breathing people. It’s not about policy. It’s about love, acceptance and understanding.

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      1. I believe that the one disconnect that people are making in this entire situation is that the LGBTQ community is not being banned from church. It is a clarification on what everyone in that community already knew – if I act on my feelings of same-sex attraction, then I cannot have membership in the Lord’s church, despite my devote faith in the Atonement, or truthfulness of His gospel.

        By changing this one thing about children receiving ordinances before the age of 18 who live with same-sex married partners, everyone is quite entitled to feel the initial brunt. HOWEVER, there is faith to be had here, knowing that it might be wise to keep children from receiving ordinances and making the correlated covenants before they fully understand the weight of their decisions. AND, even in a devote family, who loves God and follows every other commandment of God, believing that an LGBTQ relationship is ok, in any form, can cause confusion, and ultimately excommunication for unrelated reasons, like teaching principles that are against doctrine by defending their parents and saying that it’s ok for them to be together AND Mormon.

        I am DIRECTLY affected by this change in many ways, however, the call to be compassionate to your “spiritually homeless” situation is hurtful to me, as a straight member who DOES have compassion and empathy for the LGBTQ community. You are still welcome to attend church. You are still welcome to be a faithful person. You are still welcome to bring your children to church, to learn and grow in a faith you so desperately love. You are NOT, however, welcome to try and convince people in that same church that this is a travesty of the worst kind. Seek more diligently this understanding that you so urgently are requesting from others.

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    4. Speak for yourself. I don’t think it’s fair that the polygamous policy is in place either. You can’t point out one discrimination as justification for another. “We have a blacks-only water fountain. But it’s okay because we have an Asians-only water fountain too and everyone is okay with that.” Do you see how silly it sounds?

      The church pioneered polygamy in the United States. The church is directly responsible for these off-shoot LDS groups still practicing. They should take more responsibility and be more caring. They once taught that polygamy was THE way to the celestial kingdom.

      Now, to be fair, polygamy is currently against the law in the United States. However, same-sex marriage is not. I can slightly accept a policy against a practice that is illegal (however I still don’t agree with it). I cannot however, accept a policy against something legal. Particularly a policy as discriminatory as this.

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      1. I think this is a great article, but the ending of your comment is a little weird. Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean the church should accept it. Should the church get rid of the law of chastity? Should we be allowed to do marijuana? Drink alcohol? It doesn’t matter if it’s a legal law of the land. What matters is if it’s a legal law of God or not.

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      2. We live in a very wicked world. And do you not understand that the world is continually growing further apart from God? Just because it is now legal in the United States (which was just legalized this year on June 26th) doesn’t mean that it’s ok in the sight of God. What would have you said about this policy before it was legalized?

        I believe and know that our church leaders are called of God and they receive inspiration from him. We do not understand everything that God understands. But we can pray with faith and real intent to receive answers.

        I do understand that this can be very hard for some people. We all have different challenges in life that make it hard to accept or live the gospel fully. But that is why we are here! To grow and learn how we can perfect ourselves to make it back to our Heavenly Father. That is our goal in life and we need to learn how to be like God so we can return to his presence. No unclean thing can live in the presence of God.

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    5. Stop right there. Section 132 does not define one man and one women as an eternal principal. LDS are so hypocritical. It is part of your own doctrine. The Church only stopped so Utah could become a State. And read your doctrine, although it is not practiced now, it will be some day. So drop your eternal principle nonsense of one man and one women. That is lie in the Mormon Church.

      You do make a good point about the conflict of teaching children of either polygamist or same sex families. What an inconvenience to the teacher. Breaks my heart.

      The real question I have though is about the Mormon parents that have a gay child. What does this policy tell their children and those parents? Children born in the church. They are nothing, they are discarded, unworthy. The real true Church would have a better answer than this nonsense. It might actually have answer other than condemnation.

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      1. What church are you talking about? You moron. When did the policy ever say people are discarded and not welcome? Everyone is always welcome if they have a desire to change and live the way God wants us to. Obviously you don’t understand the policy.

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  3. Thats just the thing though… God has spoken. The leaders of the church are not hating or discriminating against anyone, they are speaking God’s word. People are only excommunicated if they CHOOSE this course of action. I understand, (and agree) that same sex attraction is a feeling that you cannot choose. People who have same sex attraction do not choose, it is just that, an attraction. I also understand that it is a very difficult and hard life, and agree that they would be very lonely and have struggles in this life. But instead of choosing faith and choosing God, they have chosen to sin. There is NO other way around it. It is as simple as that. God has defined someone who is in a same sex relationship as a sin. Just the same as God has defined murder as a sin. A sin is a sin no matter how you put it. God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, otherwise he would cease to become God. He HAS to obey the law of Justice and not look upon our uncleanliness. Luckily, God is one super smart dude and he sent his Son Jesus Christ to the earth to atone for every single sin that every human being has and will commit. This way, those who come to Christ and ACCEPT HIS TERMS, can gain forgiveness for their sins and move forward in this life and in the next. Christ allows for repentance and change. But ONLY if you come to him and accept his terms. One of those terms is to repent of your sins and turn from them. If you sin, and choose that course of action then you must be accountable for your actions and accept the consequences. I believe that everyone has the God given right to choose their actions, but nobody has the right to choose the consequences of said actions. This is a natural law that nobody can get around. If a man chooses to jump off a cliff, he cannot choose to not fall to the bottom and possibly die. He chose to jump, but he cannot choose what gravity does to him. This is the whole point. People are now Apostates because they CHOSE that route. How many years has God defined the action of being in a homosexual relationship as a sin? Since the beginning of time I do believe. People have always known God’s and the Church’s stance on this. It is up to them to CHOOSE whether they will follow or not follow. Its up to every human to CHOOSE to not sin. While I am not perfect, or any other human on earth is not perfect, Christ and God are. They can help us make the right choices. They still love us when we make wrong choices. But they CANNOT change the consequences that come from choosing to sin. Simple as that.

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    1. There is no need for, nor is this post a call for you to defend your faith. It is a call to notice those that are hurting. They understand mormonism just like you do, but you obviously completely missed the point of the post.

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      1. The point of the post does not change the truth that needs to be faced. When we come unto Christ we commit to sacrifice our desires and appetites to him and then be willing to submit to his will. We cannot negotiate the terms with him, he commands and we obey. Same gender attraction is Lucifer’s way of holding people bound. He put those desires in your hearts and have you believe you’re different. The Lord is waiting to heal those who would come unto him and willingly submit to him.

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    2. We get it. CHOICE. These are also PEOPLE. Get off your high horse, re-read the article and realize it’s not about black and white rules. It’s about souls understanding other souls.

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      1. The Handbook of the Lord’s church is created by revelation from JESUS CHRIST. It is not some arbitrary book of guidelines. Don’t spread untruths because you think someone just wrote new rules without communion with the Lord. That is blatant ignorance.

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  4. Thank you for this poignant and beautiful essay. As followers of Christ we must hold space in our pews for anyone who seeks to emulate him. Know you are not alone; we mourn with you and we love you.

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  5. I was touched by your words. They have caused me to want to finally post something about what has been going on since the referenced “policy changes”.
    I am (what many would label) a gay man. I am attracted to men. I am married to a woman and we have five children– my life, my choice. These policies make sense to me. I am not the only “gay” Mormon that feels this way. Many of my “gay” Mormon (single & [mostly] celibate) friends feel the same way; we’ve talked about it. We know that this sexual orientation we have been “blessed” with is a mortal mask that we will most likely wear for the duration of this life. But we know it is a mask we will one day, beyond mortality, be able to put down. We support the Brethren because we know they are guided, through faith, by a Heavenly Father that wants what’s best for his children. We feel sad for those who are broken-hearted, who are feeling a sense of confusion and despair. But we do not feel sad because of anything the Brethren have or haven’t said; have or haven’t done. Believe me, I do feel despair at times as a result of my attractions, but I do not despair because of the actions of my church.

    I feel it is important for our “straight” Mormon brothers and sisters to hear another “gay” Mormon point of view. I’ve read enough of our straight membership protectively taking sides against the Brethren. We appreciate the love and protection, but, please, not at the expense of our beloved prophets, seers, and revelators.

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    1. There was a time when the church taught that black and brown people would be ressurrected as white people. Many of them found that teaching offensive. Many gay people also feel similarly offended that a key part of who they are could be changed in the next life. Glad you don’t.

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    2. @NotSilent, thank you for your comments. Others have commented how straightforward the Church doctrines are, and while I agree, there is a human element in their application that is not so cut and dry. Thank you for highlighting this for those of us not directly affected but who are committed to morning with those who mourn. You have a friend and a sister in me.

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  6. The church doesn’t make want you. They will take every step to reject you and your children. You are in abusive relationship to look or hope for understanding and acceptance from an organization that rejects you and your DNA.

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  7. The new policy isn’t keeping same-sex couples or their children from the church. They are still invited to attend, fellowship, and participate in church. It’s just that they want the children to be mature enough to realize that the covenants they make may say one thing whereas they are taught another at home. This has been the same with polygamous families for decades. Same with Muslim converts—only with them, sometimes they are denied baptism into the church for safety for them and their family that may or may not be back in the Middle East because it is actually against the Koran to convert away from Islam under punishment of death. The Church just doesn’t want to add tension between parent and child in the home because they care about the family. I do still feel saddened by it and am mourning with those who mourn because I know they feel heartache, but I still feel hope with it. It’s just a delay. My nephew just turned 8 and got baptized. After the policy came out a week later, my sister-in-law said, “I wish they’d change this to affect everyone–that all Mormons should wait until they are 18 to be baptized—I don’t think my son was ready because I don’t really think I actually understood the covenants he was making.”

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    1. Have you ever attended primary? Ever? I am in a primary presidency right now and I tell you: We MAKE A VERY BIG DEAL for every child that turns 8. They are announced in church, the whole ward is invited, they are sustained and welcomed by the entire ward. Can you imagine attending primary and every child in your class gets baptized except you, because your parents are apostate? You think this same kid is going to progress in testimony and love and community the same way? You think this child will WANT to magically be baptized at 18 by the people that condemned his parents and family and kept him on the outside his whole life? That isn’t fellowship. It’s ostracism. “This new policy isn’t keeping same sex couples from the church.” Except they are labeled in the handbook as worse than child abusers and murderers and rapists, labeled as apostates and their kids won’t do the things every other child is doing in a humiliating, obvious way. That is not participation. That isn’t fellowship. It isn’t Jesus, it’s not doctrine. It’s a bad policy. Period.

      I am so sorry for everyone hurting. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And in my heart, the Spirit whispers, “this policy isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and as such, I am ashamed. I am ashamed to be associated with it by my mere membership.

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      1. @S–“I am ashamed. I am ashamed to be associated with it by my mere membership.” So, now, the question clearly becomes what are you going to do about it? If you truly feel the Spirit is telling you this is wrong, what is your next step? Will you align with this policy and publicly and painfully leave some children on the periphery? You are theoretically called by inspiration to have stewardship over all the children in your ward–will you allow some of them to be abandoned by another adult supposedly tasked with caring for them and protecting them? When they rightfully begin to look upon the Church leadership as unsafe for them, will you join in chiding them for their lack of faith? Are you going to continue to have them sing songs like “The Still, Small Voice” and extol the virtue of listening to the Spirit when you are intentionally going against the admonition of the Spirit in your own life? I know it’s tough love, but I am going to go full Sean Connery from “Untouchables” here and ask: What you prepared to do?

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      2. I don’t know how you and the other many good primary leaders are going to handle this. My mom was a primary president for years and she cared so deeply for each and every one of the children in her care — this would have broken her heart in two. My own heart breaks for the children affected and their good parents. You are right, it is not love, it is ostracism, and if you set up a system where children see their parents who love them and support them for 18 years be condemned by a church that then asks them to reject their parents and never live with them again as a condition of membership — here’s a shocker, those children will reject the church instead. And if not, do you understand that you’re asking children to reject their parents as a condition of entrance to church? What kind of “family first” policy is that? You realize, children of attempted murderers and rapists don’t have that precondition put on them? I left the Mormon Church years ago but I know so many good people still inside the Church. What a terrible policy for all involved. I think the Church is going to “reap the whirlwind” in due time. In my own church, I currently teach Sunday School and have twins whose daddies are married and guess what — everyone loves them, everyone accepts them, their family worships in equality and unity with the rest of us. What a concept.

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      3. S, I agree with you. I also am a primary leader and I think we’d have to stop teaching the importance of baptism at age 8 in order for this to work. Please notice, also, that Elder Christofferson said that it wouldn’t be appropriate for children with gay parents to attend primary because it might create a conflict. So basically, there’s no way around either banning children or sending them conflicting messages. 😦 What a disaster.

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      4. If you are a primary teacher and the policy bothers you or you disagree, that leads to apostasy and i would recommend you speaking to your Bishop who may help you understand better in a way that will comfort you and the Spirit will bear witness that this is part of the Lordd work in this day and time.

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      5. I hope the world knows this policy hurt many of us with NO same-sex attracted members in our families – not just because we have sympathy for those affected, but also because it actually affected us too! Some of our heterosexual, return missionary, married in the temple loved ones are leaving the church over this! Please know I personally felt devastated at the news because I have deep compassion, and because it didn’t make any sense – like what about a family with 3 kids 10, 7 & 5, and one parent comes out and chooses a same-sex partner? Now you have one kid subjected anyway to what the church says they’re trying to prevent, and worse you’ve split the family in pieces – a family who was already dealing with a lot of pain. Additionally, some of us are groaning from our own direct pain as our families are being torn up, as our closest relatives are leaving because they now feel the church is not being led by God and it’s tearing at the foundation of heterosexual marriages due to one partner leaving the church. The fall-out from this is horrific and I knew it was coming the moment I read the news. So much grief, so much pain! Please just know all you who are feeling singled out due to your sexual orientation; many of us are right there grieving with you for multiple reasons. In a weird way, I think the church just brought you a ton of sympathy even if that isn’t what they intended to do. You are not alone!

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  8. Got news for ya – divorced sisters and widows face very similar but much more subtle ostracism and bullying from members and ward leaders. While Jesus does say LOVE EVERYONE, he does not pronounce all actions acceptable. People in SS marriage have already, by their own choice, become apostate. Many of us face very hard choices in life. Some more publicly than others. All the porn addict priesthood holders just hide their sins and duck out on the shunning I get for being a widow. Mortality isn’t fair. I am hoping for mercy, not justice and try to provide the same for others.

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    1. @Melissa Overson–You understand you are mad at the wrong folk, right? You get that being in a group which experiences awfulness does not preclude the fact that other groups are being treated equally badly, right? The Church is a hostile place for anyone who isn’t a straight, white guy. Everyone not them regularly gets the shaft in the Mormon church. There’s enough oppression to go around.

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    2. Where are you attending church? All of this talk of oppression and being ostracized even for just being a widow??? Really? This is not my experience in the church at all. Perhaps the members of your ward are not listening to and following the teachings of Christ. Have they listened to conference ever? Do they actually read their Scriptures? Or is the LDS church just a social club that they are a part of? The thing that bothers me most about this whole thing is the people who don’t stay on topic. Instead of expressing their concerns in a peaceful and heartfelt manner (like this article beautifully did) they bad mouth the church leaders and it’s members. As if all 15 million+ members are the same. As if every congregation is cold, unfeeling, unwelcoming, prejudiced, bigitoted, and pretty much evil. If this has indeed been your experience with the church, I am truly sorry for you. I have attended the LDS church since my birth and have been taught the gospel in my home. We were taught to love the sinner (even if that sinner is ourselves). When our former primary president came out to her family and began showing up to church with her partner and later, their baby, we were taught by my parents that they were loved of the Lord. And my father (who was bishop at the time) followed policy. They did not participate in a calling or pray/speak in sacrament meeting, but hand shakes and hugs were freely given. Service and smiles were never withheld from them. I’m pretty sure she was excommunicated, but never abandoned by her ward family. THAT is how a person should experience membership in God’s church. Our sins sometimes separate us from all that God offers, but His love is ALWAYS freely given.

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    3. Where are you attending church? All of this talk of oppression and being ostracized even for just being a widow??? This is not my experience in the church at all. Perhaps the members of your ward are not listening to and following the teachings of Christ. Have they listened to conference ever? Do they actually read their Scriptures? Or is the LDS church just a social club that they are a part of? The thing that bothers me most about this whole thing is the people who don’t stay on topic. Instead of expressing their concerns in a peaceful and heartfelt manner (like this article beautifully did) they bad mouth the church leaders and it’s members. As if all 15 million+ members are the same. As if every congregation is cold, unfeeling, unwelcoming, prejudiced, bigitoted, and pretty much evil. If this has indeed been your experience with the church, I am truly sorry for you. I have attended this church since my birth and have been taught the gospel in my home. We were taught to love the sinner (even if that sinner is ourselves). When our former primary president came out to her family and began showing up to church with her partner and later, their baby, we were taught by my parents that they were loved of the Lord. And my father (who was bishop at the time) followed policy. They did not participate in a calling or pray/speak in sacrament meeting, but hand shakes and hugs were freely given. Service and smiles were never withheld from them. I’m pretty sure she was excommunicated, but never abandoned by her ward family. THAT is how a person should experience membership in God’s church. Our sins sometimes separate us from all that God offers, but His love is always freely given.

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  9. I don’t know why some people feel it’s appropriate to compare a polygamous relationship to a homosexual one. There is nothing biologically inherent about polygamy. You aren’t 12 years old struggling with the desire to be married to multiple women. It’s not remotely comparable.

    I’m divorced. And I was really struggling during the months when I was separated from my ex but waiting for my divorce to go through. I wanted to seek companionship and intimacy but was barred because I had to wait for a judge to stamp my papers. Now imagine that for a lifetime. An otherwise healthy, contributing person can’t be with who he or she wants to without losing a huge part of life.

    This was an excellent post and I am deeply saddened by the church’s policy on this.

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    1. Policy wise they are being treated the same way, that doesn’t mean they are the same in every way. I heard one person say that with a case of somebody living in sin, it doesn’t re-define marriage the solution is that they can marry, but with a same sex marriage or with polygamy it does re-define marriage and there is no way to harmonize the family as it is with the standards of the gospel. It made sense to me.

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  10. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

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    1. @Jason–You realize you used the sacred parent/child relationship to justify a policy intended to separate parent and child, right?

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      1. @speakeasy25 the policy is intended to help, not harm parent child relationships in such families by keeping children from being caught in a tug of war between family and church until they are old enough to make choices about their own life for themselves.

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      2. Just keep on telling yourself that. Whatever helps you sleep at night, huh? Man, Mormons are the best little script-followers ever. They must love you.

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      3. @speakeasy25

        I’m more than a little suprised by your consistent neglect of the actual substance of people’s comments. be respectful of what they say and then respond to what they said. Please just stop making false, loosly-connected statements to the church’s change in policy and the reasoning for doing so.

        If you’d like to hear the voice of a woman with lesbian parents (and thus knows a lot more about what the effects of this policy are on families) please read here > http://www.ldsliving.com/redirect/story/80508

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  11. This is a touching post. I feel for you. I feel for all gay people. It’s heartbreaking to me. Being gay is the very last earthly challenge I would want to face. I can’t imagine how hard it is for you all–especially if you still love the church and want to abide by God’s law. I can’t imagine those three choices being mine. It doesn’t seem fair. And it’s sad there is no other comforting, God-approved answer for gay people in the church. I wish there was. To be quite honest I can see both sides of the policy issue. I really can. I choose to err on the side of believing that since it did become policy, it must be right. Because I still, and always will, believe 100% in a living prophet and living apostles who would only do what God asked them to do. I can also see how people perceive it to hurt children. This, however, isn’t DOCTRINE. It’s policy and policy can change. But for some reason, right now, God saw it necessary to implement it. HE can see the whole picture while our view is very limited–as educated, enlightened or as smart as we may think we are.

    Now my sincere question is to the gay Mormons, or ex-Mormons who have chosen to live a life with a same-sex partner. This questions is not to be rude or judgmental, I am honestly trying to figure this out. Are there really any of you who still go to church or encourage your children to do so? I honestly want to know if there are couples like this! Who are you and how do you find the drive to go to church and/or encourage your children to go to church when you don’t live and/or believe the fundamental doctrine of families yourselves? Please don’t take this as a judgmental question. I sincerely want to know how this works. I would also want you to know that I would welcome you, regardless of your lifestyle to church and would hope that you could still feel like you can be there–even living a gay lifestyle. There are millions of people like me, who don’t agree with gay marriage or gay relationships that still love you and welcome you. I’m not sure why so many of you feel like we are so hateful. I think maybe many FEEL like they are being judged just because they know the church’s teachings on the matter. I think if a gay couple were to show up to church my reaction and many others reaction would be surprise, but not judgment. For people like me, our fear is the fear of people thinking we ARE judging or shunning or not accepting them, when indeed we are not.

    Last thing I wanted to mention was this: I have a lot of Mormon friends who feel this policy is not of God, is not correct and absolutely not right. They are disgusted with those of us who believe it is. So, rightly, while you all are hurting, so am I. I am hurting because of the judgement place on me and on my church. I am hurting because I feel this policy is affecting so many of my friend’s testimonies. Seeing my friends disagree with leaders whom I believe to the core speak FOR God hurts me. It hurst because I see them on a path to leaving the church, which is probably the most heart-breaking thing for me on earth.

    Thanks for reading.

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    1. From my experience with many gay mormons who understand (and some have lived through) the church’s changing teachings/policies regarding homosexuality over the decades no longer trust the church in regard to this issue. Some of these teachings– Homosexuality is a contagion that must be stamped out, homosexuality is caused by poor parenting, homosexuality absolutely is not an inborn trait, homosexuality can be cured by faith and temple marriage, followed with (now) homosexuality is actually some people are born with and experience in this life, it cannot be “cured” and should not be overcome with attempts to marry heterosexually, the cause of it is unknown, etc. These are some of the reasons why gay mormons do not continue to trust the church’s policies on this issue. We know people who have committed suicide over the pain they experience. Many on good faith tried their best to marry, subsequently went through a messy divorce carrying the shame encouraged by LDS culture that the gay spouse is the cause (ironic–they were promised in good faith by their priesthood leaders that gay feelings would go away if they married in the temple). Many are treated with distain in their families and wards. Some are not. I still am trying to understand how to repair relationships with siblings who have cut me off after coming out and still remaining active in the church even. The reality is that some families treat their gay loved ones kindly, and many do not. Instead of agreeing to disagree, the LDS culture over the decades has continued to perpetuate that these gay ones should really be cut out of the family more or less. Tragic that policy and cultural traditions often trump personal cordial family relationships. I am a gay mormon who is partnered in a long term committed relationship and who attends church. My ward welcomes me and I am acutely aware that most wards are not welcoming of gay people when it comes down to it. I am part of a facebook group with hundreds of other mormons who are affirming of their Mormon faith and affirming of their sexuality, wanting to date someone of their same gender and/or marry/settle down in life. I have often contemplated, when the time is right, adopting children to have a family. I am crushed that these children will not be able to receive baptism and be fully integrated into the church. A majority of gay mormons feel they must leave the church because their wards and the culture can be extremely toxic for them. A small percentage try to stay and make it work. Also, there are others who identify as same-sex attracted who are either single or married to someone of opposite sex. My desire to go to church? I know the restored gospel is here on the earth. I know Jesus is my Savior and has been with me in my darkest times. I know the Book of Mormon is scripture. I believe in the sanctity of the family, and I acknowledge and know that some people are just born Gay–that aside from heterosexual relationships in God’s creation there are people who just happen to be different, and God knows and will take care of what that means in the eternities. My bishop has said, and I agree, that there needs to be a place in the church for gay people who are wanting to walk their spiritual path here. Now, many are taking a step away farther because the church sais “well of course you are welcome, but we are going to excommunicate you–we hope you enjoy your stay!” As for why we might feel welcomed but feel like people might be showing hate (a pretty strong word). Its like being welcomed home for thanksgiving and being stopped at the door and told how much is wrong with you and how you will never fit in and you better not make yourself comfortable…ok now you can come in and p.s. “we love you!” I’ve found that many LDS people feel they must put conditions on their love for me. I love you…but you are apostate, and I am obligated to remind you of that yearly. I love you but….you just need to have more faith so you are not deceived. You have really disappointed me that you had chances to get married but chose that lifestyle instead (I heard that one this week!) I had family members sit me down and preach what a sinner I am, then leave me with a hug, and never speak to me after that. It is so strange. It seems like a twisted conditional love–this is what many gay mormons experience. However, some people do say “We love you, we want you here and welcome home. you are family and are needed here. ” I hope some of these ideas could help answer your questions. They are meant in all sincerity and I hope I could express them with kindness and gratitude for your asking. When I look back on my life before coming out and after coming out, as well as my faith journey, I see tremendous good fruits poured into my life by accepting myself honestly (and to each same-sex attracted or LGBT person, this will be unique and individualistic), committing to my companion, being honest before myself and God, and living life as best I can with the light and knowledge that has been given to me. I am grateful for the people who take time to listen (one of the most powerful forms of love) and express their love. I too try to understand others and leave space for disagreement on such sensitive topics. At the end of the day we need to love and accept each other on this issue. I pray that local leaders will prayerfully examine and apply this policy to bless the lives of others, not use it to keep children of divorced families (where one spouse is gay) away from gospel ordinances such as priesthood ordination, etc. I have friends where this is already being implemented (and yes, this is an honest statement). The kids and parents are sad about this

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  12. First: Children to same-sex parents are welcome to participate in all services, so are their parents.

    Second: You speak of courage and staying with Christ by not turning your back, but yet confess an open rebellion towards the ordained family unit.
    I will not judge, since I’ve myself fallen short, so I’ll just leave it at that and hope it’ll benefit you to know of this oxymoron.

    I hope you guys find some peace. We all deserve to be happy, but it won’t always be easy, but then again how can we expect it to be when the footsteps were trying to follow suffered ALL things?
    There’s always hope with Christ, and there’s always a way.

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    1. Hi. I’m the author. I in no way confessed an open rebellion towards the family unit. I spoke of the experiences of both my friends who have remained faithful to the Church’s teachings by remaining celibate or pursuing opposite-sex relationships, and of my friends who have chosen to pursue same-sex relationships against the teachings of the Church. I spoke of the 3 option choice all LGBTQ/SSA Mormons must face and choose, including myself. I did not, nor do I now advocate an “open rebellion towards the ordained family unit.” I am active in my local ward and hold a calling. Please read more carefully before you make passive-aggressive assertions about my life and my choices. And again, the purpose of this post was to invite those who haven’t been personally affected by this policy change to reach for understanding, empathy, and compassion for their LGBTQ/SSA brothers and sisters. I’m saddened that your commented is 9 parts correction and misinformation, and 1 part “I hope you guys find some peace.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @byuusga–“And again, the purpose of this post was to invite those who haven’t been personally affected by this policy change to reach for understanding, empathy, and compassion for their LGBTQ/SSA brothers and sisters.” Well, they would have to care at all before this could happen. And many of these comments make clear they do not. Worse, many of them are seeking sympathy for the oh so tough times THEY are going through right now. Mormon business as usual–oppression is vital to their origin story.

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      2. “And again, the purpose of this post was to invite those who haven’t been personally affected by this policy change to reach for understanding, empathy, and compassion for their LGBTQ/SSA brothers and sisters.”

        OK, but to what end? Just commiserating them doesn’t accomplish anything. I can’t justify trying to make somebody feel comfortable in continuing a sinful lifestyle. True compassion is to try and help them change towards living after the manner of happiness.

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  13. This is as beautiful and as heartbreaking as anything I have ever read. I want the author to know that it is not only his LGTBQ friends who felt they were gut-punched…I think most tender-hearted Mormons of good faith were right there too. I want the author to know that I see him, hear him, and to the extent I can, feel his pain, too.

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    1. @Al–Yeah, and they got over it in record time, didn’t they? As soon as the official script of “We did this ’cause we love the gays sooooooooooooooo much” came down the pike, they latched on and absolved themselves of all guilt and congratulated themselves on being smart and compassionate enough to belong to such a forward-thinking and loving organization so fast they broke the sound barrier. And, OK, they’re sad–what are they going to do about it? If all those feels do nothing but result in some angst-y hand wringing, how sincere are they? And if they do decide to stay and be represented by this awful policy, what WOULD it take to get them to speak up? How bad would it have to be? How transgressive of doctrine would it have to be? Because, obviously, this wasn’t it.

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  14. Ok, I must say something. I’ve given snippets of my opinion here and there but never gotten it all down in one place before.

    If we truly understood the nature of God this would be a non-issue. So let’s delve into that a little shall we. Above all else our Father in Heaven loves us. Think of the way you love your own children in the moments they aren’t irritating you when you feel pure undiluted adoration that swells your heart and makes you want to squeeze them as you ball like a baby. Now times that by a million and you might begin to have a small inkling of how much you are loved by our Father in Heaven. Now take into account that your personal mistakes cannot alter that love at all neither can they diminish it. He may not be able to look at son with the least degree of allowance but again that does not alter how he feels about you as his child. Next he is not a vindictive or controlling God. He will not ‘punish’ you for making incorrect choices. We do that to ourselves. You are never to far from his grace he is simply waiting for you to acknowledge He’s there. He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. And yet he is aware of you and cares about you personally at every moment of everyday. He wants to give you every good thing and mourns with you when you hurt, or are sad. He has been where you are and knows the best and easiest way back to him. Because as a parent even when your kids leave don’t you think about them constantly. Don’t you have advice that can assist them through their trials at the time because you’ve been in similar situations? Lastly he wants us home with him. So he has given us guidelines on what choices and behaviors will help us return to his presence the fastest and most simply. (And I don’t necessarily mean dying, we have been promised the second comforter, the presence of Christ himself, if we will work out our own salvation while in our mortal tabernacle). With that being said I get to my original point.

    Now with knowing just an inkling of the nature of our Heavenly Father I approach the homosexual debate.

    Now I have no prejudice against my brothers and sisters in the church or outside of it who struggle with this trial. I hold only empathy and compassion for we all have a cross to bare in this mortal existence.

    I struggled with all the different angles of this debate because it is a very confusing one. I mean no one wants to be told who they can and cannot love, who they should or shouldn’t be attracted too. Who they’re allowed to spend their life with. These are issues that have been fought for, for generations. And who wants to be told that something that is at the very core of their being is evil.

    As I weighed the different sides, to me it felt like unkind and cruel almost, an attack really to tell someone they were a sinner to love someone else. And yet the prophet, and apostles were calling it a sin. I saw people who just wanted to have families, living in monogamous relationships. Having the same hopes and fears I did. They didn’t seem like disgusting perverts. And so I prayed read my scriptures and pondered. I even fasted. When I took into consideration the Nature of God, ostracizing them as evil felt very un-christ-like and yet, we still hear it called sin, an abomination in the site of our Heavenly Father. Which sounds like the wrathful punishing God of mainstream Christianity and not the loving Father I had come to know. So where was my reconciliation.

    Then one night as I knelt in prayer, pleading for understanding, for an eternal perspective, the answer came. In very simplistic terms, sins are those things that halt our progression on the road leading back to our Heavenly Father and gaining ALL He has. From that perspective sin would be gross to him because of the loss of us his children. So from the issue of homosexuality a relationship that would remove us from having an eternal family, like he has, it is abominable to him because they can never have joy in an eternal posterity, or an eternal companion. An eternal marriage between a husband and wife which is the only relationship that can create offspring naturally is the only relationship that leads to eternal progression and being heirs to all the father hath.

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    1. Not all marriages are able to create offspring. Is artificially creating a baby considered acceptable? That certainly isn’t the way God designed children to be created.

      Oh, but they want a baby soooo bad! No one should be able to deprive them of their natural rights to create a baby! Meanwhile, there are millions of children who need homes and God calls us to take care of them…yet millions of couples choose very expensive procedures to create “their own” babies, and never consider providing a home for those children.

      Is that God’s plan too?

      Why is it okay to step outside God’s eternal plan for creation and progression for some things, but not for others?

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    2. “An eternal marriage between a husband and wife which is the only relationship that can create offspring naturally is the only relationship that leads to eternal progression and being heirs to all the father hath..”

      So anyone who can’t pro-create shouldn’t be allowed to get married? Are you saying God is limited? Unable to overcome the “natural laws” he Himself created?

      You’re a bigot. Quit making up excuses for your deep-seated hatred that was indoctrinated into you from birth. Oh and get over yourself.

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    3. @Kathleen–“Next he is not a vindictive or controlling God.” And, yet, He turned right around and made some people outcasts from birth, didn’t He? He could have made rules which embraced those creations, but instead chose to screw them from the beginning, didn’t He? Sounds like a super nice guy. If you caught an earthly father doing that sh**, you’d call it something other than “perfect.”

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      1. @speakeasy25 Your username is speakeasy25, yet you don’t sound like you speak that easy. 20 bucks you’re a faggot too.

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  15. To quote a friend on mine:

    “This new policy means that those who choose to pursue same-sex relationships face the certain conviction of apostasy and likely excommunication.”

    Funny how that happens when you blatantly flout God’s commandments and openly reject His church’s standards.

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      1. Careful, your posts here might lead those with limited critical thinking skills to believe that all people who support the LGBTQ community are bigoted, arrogant, stereotyping individuals who engage in the exact behavior they like to accuse others of. If that happens, surely you’ll explain for them why it’s perfectly fine for you to freely and openly do it, but perfectly awful if others are even suspected of doing it.(I say limited critical thinking skills because no one else could possibly miss the irony and flawed logic)

        Why don’t you tell us what YOU believe and feel instead of pretending to know what everyone in the LDS Church believes and feels? We see you. We’re listening.

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  16. I was baptized at 8, and the same day I was baptized a convert, a man in his early 20’s, was also baptized in the same service. He was a faithful member and we became friends. He was like an older brother to me. He lived with my family for a short time, sharing my bedroom with me. One day my parents sat me down and told me he died, hit by a truck while crossing the street. His was the first funeral I ever went to.

    Later, when I was 16 I found out the truth. He was sexually attracted to other men. He stayed with us because the Branch President asked us to take him in to get him away from his non-member parents who rejected him, and he deliberately jumped in front of that truck.

    I’m not unsympathetic to how the new policy can emotionally impact people, but there are other things to take into account as well. Saying everything I have to say would be too long, so I made my full comment in my blog at:

    http://thewhitestonelds.blogspot.com/2015/11/dear-lgbtq-members.html

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  17. I have read this article I have a lot of love for & empathy for author. I work in the Theatre and have many Gay friends. Both LDS & non LDS. I lived through the years of aids and saw so many friends get so ill and died. But I belong to another group. I am single, but much older than the Author. I have passed the age of being able to have children. Over the years I’ve heard it all. “You aren’t living the commandments. You must be doing something wrong. You are ugly. Etc. This society has change a great deal since I was young. In the 60’s the sexual revolution started. Sex outside of marriage became more acceptable, unwed mothers started keeping their babies, Abortion became legal. Science made it possible to have a baby with a sperm donor (which is not approved for singles). I was to poor to adopt. And I didn’t think it would be fair to a child to not have a Father. You said that you had three choices. Since I never met anyone that I felt right to make the covenant of marriage, I had two choices. 1. To keep the covenants I made in Temple 2. To break those covenants. I chose to keep my covenants. As you anticipate being alone. I have lived without a companion for forty years since I was in College. I have felt depressed, unloved, felt I must’ve committed some sin, in worthy, lonely. So many difficult feelings. There are many singles in the church of all ages. We grow older, we study the scriptures, we serve, we attend the Temple, we teach other people’s children. We become caregivers to siblings, parents & grandparents. Some of us slow down & start to lose our health. Then we might think that we might not be a very good companion if we did meet someone. One thing I haven’t felt for a long time is bitter. I have felt the tender mercies of God. I know this life is a test & we all have our struggles. But the older I get, I find what I most strive for is the peace that the Spirit of God brings to us. For many years I lived with my Mother & because of her faith & endurance (in spite of losing two sons to death & being a widow for 15 years), the Holy Spirit surrounded our home. We all have temptations that we struggle with & have the struggle for many years. But it really the choice to turn to God or to turn away. I ache for your pain. But I want to tell you that there is always hope that God will bless you & be with you!

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  18. Part of my sadness was the way that these changes were announced. Painting the church in the worst possible light caused many to become defensive on both sides. Much of this pain was unnecessary. However, since the pain is here, all that is left to do is pray for and seek healing for everyone hurt by this.

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  19. At the end of the day it all comes down to our choices, Gays,Lesbians, Straight people etc.. we all have tough challenges and choices to make. Gays expect too much from an organization that clearly does not fit their lifestyle and to be fair they don’t really any institution to feel the love of God. God is available to everyone, everywhere regardless of race or gender. So gays should stop trying to change the LDS church and its policies, if they are the true church of God then one day you can ask God as to why his church had so much history of discrimination, I don’t think God will be mad to be asked that, until then, do good, love everyone and leave institutions alone.

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  20. I find this article and many of the comments to be what I was thinking… I’m a disabled asexual. I had a hard time going to church because of pain and realizing how much we influence certain things (both having a mother and a father can make single parents feel like they’re harming their child, How the church focuses so much on having children, that those children less often feel left out, focusing on clothing as a way to control what other’s think, not a choice made with God, etc) I disagreed with in a strong way. I’ve been married in the temple, and was raped by that man, who I thought understood me and my troubles with sex in general…. I trust women more than men now, not only because of him but because of other men who’ve abused me. If I fell in love with another woman, I wouldn’t be having sex. Sometimes I feel like that’s almost worse. The policy doesn’t state that those who are married/cohabitating have to be actively engaging in intercourse for this to apply to them, they just have to be in a same sex relationship. In my mind this includes love without sex as well. The policy change defined it for me, and I felt at peace that now, the church didn’t seem to want me either.
    I feel for my mom, who wants so much for her daughter to come and enjoy church again, only to have the church repeatedly make me want to stay away. I cry for her and try to find the strength to go anyway, but then I read things my ward members post on facebook and my courage fades.
    I love the basic principles of the church. I love God, Jesus… but going to a place that not only causes me literal pain but makes me feel like, if everyone knew me as more than the disabled girl who can only show up once a month or so, they would hate me, or do what my ex-husband did and try to fix me.

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  21. I am gay and an active member of the LDS Church. I have my own story of faith and pain and courage. My story includes the decision to choose to believe and follow the teachings of modern prophets and not participate in a same-gender sexual relationship. I won’t lie … this was a hard choice and has been a difficult road. It includes sacrifice. But when was sacrifice ever exempted from the annals of Christian history? I do not follow the counsel of modern (and ancient) prophets as a blind sheep. My faith has been tested many times. Prayer has provided peace that I know is from God.

    I’m human. I’m not always strong. I suffer. I understand. Your letter touched my heart. I can’t change the recent policy. I trust that it was implemented for reasons that are well considered and after much deliberation and prayer. I trust that church leaders have never lost sight of the central message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is love. Though I don’t believe the doctrine that marriage is designated by God to be between a woman and a man will ever change, policy can change. Perhaps this one will change, or be refined.

    But I have a question for you? Do you hope to change the doctrine of the church because it doesn’t fit the life choices you’ve made? There is no example in scripture where Jesus was convinced to change his core teachings to conform to popular culture. Having asked that sincere question about what you hope for, I am with you. Not about attempting to persuade the church to change its doctrine. But I am with you. I am one of you. If you feel disenfranchised or rejected or alone, you can come to my ward and I will gladly sit with you in church and offer you my friendship. I will introduce you to my friends. We’ll add a plate (or plates) at the supper table for you. You and I may not agree about what is required of a gay Christian with regard to choice of sexual partners (for me there is only one choice I can make in good conscience), but you are not alone. You are welcome. I will not attempt to change your mind. I will listen and care. Your feelings and sorrows matter.

    I don’t know if including my email address is allowed on this site. If so, here it is: bryanlunstad @gmail.com If you live in the Salt Lake City area and feel like you want to come to church but need the support of people who care, I will make a place for you. I will sit beside you … and introduce you to others who care and will welcome you too. Or maybe you just want to talk with someone who understands at least some of what you’re experiencing right now. Either way, I’m here.

    Bryan

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    1. Dear Bryan,

      You note that, “There is no example in scripture where Jesus was convinced to change his core teachings to conform to popular culture.” Please sit with that for a while. Because there is nowhere in the New Testament or ANY of the alleged teachings of Jesus where anything is said of same-sex marriage. Instead, Jesus taught fundamentally two things: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Upon those two commandments rest all of the teachings of the prophets. The “policy” — and that’s all it is — violates those commandments, and adds to the words of Jesus an idea that he never addressed.

      The Book of Mormon is silent on it.

      The D&C and PoGP are silent on it, too.

      The Old Testament makes a few oblique references, but I don’t advise anyone to go there: that would then make members in mixed-race marriages (and there are legion) also apostate, as they are an abomination according to the same book that the religious lean on to derive any guidance on this matter from the scriptures. And of course, if we go there, then by all means, bring back polygamy. And concubines while we’re at it.

      I’m really not taking up a fight with you, as I don’t know you, and I realize your struggles are internal, and a yoke you have taken up. I only suggest that when you take it up, you realize you do so without the benefit of “knowledge” pertaining to the reasons why you take it up. You have cast your faith on men, but as the church itself has admitted as of late (see the essay on LDS.org on Blacks and the priesthood), the leaders make mistakes, they have always made mistakes, and they will again.

      I myself abandoned this faith long ago. My choice. But I recall that we were taught that if the leaders teach something, it is your obligation to obtain your own witness rather than rely on their words alone. I would posit that the “witness of the church members” is far, far from solidly unified on this issue. That begs for examination.

      So you ask the author of this piece if she wishes to change the doctrine of the church. To which I offer, “there IS no doctrine of the church” on same-sex marriage. Such perceived doctrine is by inference only, by an interpretation of the Plan of Salvation that speaks only to the eternal nature of marriage for the purpose of populating worlds without number.

      In other words, the church can — and should — change their policy on this matter. And the doctrines need not be affected.

      My two bits.

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      1. Paul, my one reference to the scriptures was that Christ did not change his core doctrines to appease the popular beliefs of His time. I did not reference the scriptures as proof of the doctrine that marriage is determined by God to be only between a man and a woman. My personal compliance is based on the teachings of living prophets regarding the doctrine of marriage. And as a member I share my witness that, even though it has required sacrifice from me, I believe in my heart it is right. It all comes down to a testimony of living prophets … and if you don’t believe these men speak for God in our time then of course you aren’t going to believe all the doctrines of the LDS church. Are the prophet and apostles imperfect men? Absolutely …. as was Peter (who denied Christ three times) and Paul and Nephi. But I believe our current prophet receives revelation from God to guide the church. And that’s what it comes down to in the end … belief. A testimony. What came out in the press last week was policy, not doctrine. My heart went out to everyone who was affected by the policy. It caused me pain to know the pain others are experiencing. I was troubled and distressed by their distress. But yes, I trust that church leaders had thoughtful reasons for the policy and I trust that they love the gay members of the church (of which I am one). Paul, you said you “abandoned this faith long ago” so, given your decision, it’s not surprising you don’t believe it’s teachings. The spirit of the article was one of reaching out. A request for understanding and compassion …. and not a call for readers to renounce or attack the church. I can’t deny what I believe to be true. But I can support those who want to be at church and who are asking for support. I can care and try and understand (which doesn’t take much since I’m gay too and experience the same feelings and attractions). I can definitely love someone regardless of whether or not we share the same views. And I can be a friend. My response to the article was an effort to be transparent about my own experience and to respond to the plea for understanding by offering my love and friendship to anyone who feels shut out or alone in this. You are not alone. There are many active members of the LDS church who believe in the teachings of modern prophets who care about how you feel. Who care about and share in your sorrows. And who will offer you fellowship and love.

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    2. Bryan, this is the most touching response I have seen on this blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts; clearly you have the Spirit with you. I commend you for the integrity to resist temptations that I cannot understand in order to keep the covenants you have made with the Lord.

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  22. Many of you are misinformed or uneducated about our church and how our Prophet receives revelation from God. Thomas S Munson is God’s mouth piece. There is no hated involved, but there are standards that the church stands by and because gay pride had become so socially acceptable doesn’t mean that all churches will accommodate this movement. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of the homosexuality and whordoms. The children had no hope in growing up in the filth that was prominent there. Remember Abraham asking God’s several times about saving 100 people, 50 people, 10 people etc. God’s made it clear that there was no hope. The city was destroyed. The bible also condemns sodomy, and clearly states that God gave Adam a “help mate” which was Eve. Members of the Church are taught clearly and lovingly to love everyone and that’s the way we are supposed to live BUT it does not mean that because society changes that the church will. It won’t when it comes to homosexuality. People may leave the church, but so many others are looking for a church that stands by the standards and morals God holds us to. I have many friends that are confused about their sexuality, I will always listen with an open heart but as non members YOU also should respect our stand on knowing that just because society changes doesn’t mean God’s plan does. HE IS THE SAME YESTERDAY TODAY AND FOREVER. he is no respect of man and will not change His plan on marriage which is between a man and a woman. We are taught regardless to love the sinner, hate the sin and this is for all of us. Each of us sin differently so it’s not our place to judge but we have to stand for our beliefs just as you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Ugh. I hate this. I found faith some 15 years ago, but at the time I didn’t know all the Church’s policy, heck after I was baptized I didn’t know that we were “counseled” by the brethren to not watch rated R movies. I didn’t have too much trouble with it, I didn’t because I could see all the bad that a “typical” rated R movie had in it. This is all besides the point, I am torn. I have felt like my faith and testimony was strong enough to endure the storms and changing seasons, but I am truly struggling. I just don’t feel the conviction of what has been happening lately. I being a convert have tried to teach my kids tolerance. I had a drinking swearing father who I loved and wouldn’t keep my children away from. I taught them that, that was the choice he made, we make the choices we make, and one day they will need to choose what they want, not what I want. I feel like this makes it a point to where it puts a strain on still trying to teach them tolerance, when those children are to be left out. When children have to move out and say that their two moms or two dads are sinners and they shouldn’t have anything to do with them. I feel the church has been harsh and without love or kindness and this is what makes “think”. I am lost in a torrent of whirlwinds with a testimony I thought was strong. I guess it hurts because my father died a little over a month ago. I am glad I didn’t turn him out of my life and we loved him unconditionally. He did things that wouldn’t get you into the temple, he lived a life that would be considered by the church unworthy, but he had a different life, a hard life, yet was a good man, more so then some members I have known. It seems like the church members that are in agreement have shunned those, that are what they are. I can’t do this to those members, because if I do, then I see it as doing so to my father.

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    1. Hold on to your faith Matt. I believe more understanding will come … for all of us. The church isn’t going to change it’s doctrine that marriage is designated by God to be between a man and a woman, or the requirement for members of the church to live the doctrine. But the gospel of Christ teaches us to love our brothers and sisters regardless of their choices and regardless of whether they share the same beliefs.

      I grew up in a part of the country where, after we were baptized, our family was the only Mormon family in our town. My friends had beliefs that were different from mine. They didn’t change their beliefs to conform to mine, but they didn’t let the differences in what we believed get in the way or our relationship either. They loved me and were my friends. You loved your dad. You didn’t have to say, “I believe in drinking and swearing” in order for your dad to feel loved. He knew you loved him by the way you treated him, and by the way you taught your children about the freedom to choose and to love their grandfather even if he made choices different from yours or theirs.

      You speak for a lot of people when you say, “Ugh. I hate this.” But is it possible the distress you feel is about contention and divisiveness? You don’t want to judge or condemn others. You want to accept and love people, right? Though the church is being clear that they expect all members to keep the covenants they’ve made, they are not asking us to condemn or stop loving people. This issue isn’t easy. I’m gay and I had to make hard choices for my life. Choices that required sacrifice. I admit it’s been painful. But my friend who has an illness that has put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life has to deal with painful realities too. Neither of us chose our challenges. But life is filled with challenges, and part of the test is to have faith even when you can’t always clearly see the answers in the moment. My road has been hard, but I’ve received help along the way to give me the strength to hold onto my faith. Sometimes that strength has come from the Spirit helping me understand something or softening my heart. Sometimes the help has come from other people. Often it has come from attending church or reading and pondering the scriptures. And the more I feel God’s love for me, the more I’m able to be like you described and love people with less judgment. I hope your faith will remain strong enough to sustain you through all the rough times. Because there will be rough times for all of us. Bryan

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  24. I can not say that I understand all the reasons behind the policy, but I do sustain it because I have felt the still small voice confirm to me that this is approved by the Lord. It did not come immediately, in fact my first reaction was confusion and disbelief, but not the pain that some have felt. We must remember that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they introduced both sin and sexuality into the world, as well as the imperfections that come upon our bodies. I don’t know why some are attracted to others of the same sex. The best scientific explanation I have heard is that it has something to do with a hormone imbalance during pregnancy. But whatever the cause, it is a product of the Fall; it is not a reflection of how God created our spirits. It should be clear that there will be no gay relationships in the next world; only straight marriages will exist in the Celestial Kingdom. We must all resist whatever weakness in our bodies that we have inherited as a result of the Fall. The Brethren have made this clear; if it takes this policy to get the point across to some who were under a mistaken impression that someday a revelation would come allowing gay marriage in the Church, so be it.

    As for children from divorced parents affected by this policy, who want to get baptized and whose parents both consent, and document that allegations of custodial interference will not be made, I say, ask your bishop and stake president to request an exception to the policy be made. Exceptions to policies are granted all the time by the 1st Presidency. So ask. Maybe you shall receive. I hope and pray that all the pure in heart will be granted permission for baptism, ordinations, and immediate mission service at graduation. And that those who have a temptation that I can never understand will have the courage to resist it and stay faithful to the covenants they have made with God.

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  25. one needs too remember that the changes made to the pilicy is to protect and guard against those demanding to be married or sealed in the Temple, I’ve come to realize that little children dont like to be grounded or disciplined, and now to witness grown adults having hissy fits and temper tantrums, because namely the Church takes a stand, I as well have a child who struggles with same sex attraction, though my allegiance is to this sacred church, gosh stop being so offended, go find another church that accepts your way of thinking, I’m ever grateful that Church is standing now ever powerful and strong, we have the courage to stand on the Lord’s side!

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  26. @ speakeasy25 do you just need some love? Because i think you just need some love. What can I do, what can any one do to make you feel love because you are sending out a lot of hate. That Hate is just really sad for a post that is all-out morning with those who morn which is an expression of love. and to all those other people commenting on this post. where is love. Where is the spirit of love in your comments that allies with the kind of love that pours out form this post. If your comment does not have love it then what it the point in putting it up here really. because if you want to be in the right if you want to be taken serious and your opinion heard then fill your opinion with love as this post was filled with love that is why it is a good post not because it was any or contentious. Last thought and i am saying this with tears in my eyes. did your mothers never teach you if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all. This post is nice this post is worth while and amazing and whether i do or don’t agree with all or any or part of it it is good. where is that good ness in the comments….. very few and far between.

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  27. To be faithful to the church is to disavow gay marriage, including, for those this pertains to, that of one’s parents. Personally, I’m more incredulous, bordering on horrified, at the thought of asking that of an eight year old. Or a twelve year old. Or even a fifteen or sixteen year old. Who asks something like this of a kid? And then has the gall to preach about loving them and their parents? Wouldn’t that just stink of hypocrisy?

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    1. The law of God requires that a person disavow any and all sinful behavior, He has been extremely clear on that. This often requires children and adults alike to disavow activities their parents may be involved in without any intention of stopping. Examples could include the use of drugs by a parent, sexual relations between a parent and their unwed partner, a parent who commits any sin (yes. INCLUDING the marriage of a parent and a person of the same sex).

      I too, would be horrified at the thought of asking an eight-year old to disavow any behavior of their parents – who should be their role models, which is why the church changed this part of its handbook. It removes the issue until the child is much older (at least 18) and can truly begin his of her own life and make choices that may or may not coincide with those of his or her parents.

      Remember that this is not at all about disavowing anyone, but loving and encouraging to follow God. I do and always will accept my fellow sinner, as I hope he will accept me (for are we not all sinners?). But I will not, and I cannot accept the sin.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. 1 – Dunno why someone would think that a person that rejects a church’s teachings should not considered an apostate.

    2 – Every organization on Earth gets to decide what conduct it expects of its members. In the minds of some, churches — especially the LDS church — do not share that right.

    3 – All of the people I know who denounce the LDS church’s standards of conduct have no intention of ever returning to full fellowship — even (especially) if the Church were capitulate on all their demands.

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  29. We have become far too accepting of gay relations and of gay marriage.

    Of course we must accept all people. I am a sinner, I’m working on it, and I ASK THAT PEOPLE ACCEPT ME, BUT we must NEVER ACCEPT MY SINS. There’s a difference

    Just because it is difficult for a person to have same-sex attraction does not mean it is OK to act on that attraction. Everyone has their several temptations but we need to have the faith in the word of God. He has said that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

    It never has been – nor ever will be OK in the eyes of God for a man to have sex with a man or for a woman to have sex with a woman! It is plain and and it is simple.

    Please do not pretend that marriage or sexual relations with someone of the same sex is not the worst possible sin for a person to commit, save denying the Holy Ghost and murder.

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    1. Alex, I know that gay relations are a very serious sin, but it is unwise for us to rank sins where the scriptures do not. The only place I can think of where sins are ranked is in Alma 39:5 where Alma tells his son Corianton that his sexual sins with a woman are worse than anything except murder and denying the Holy Ghost. Homosexual sins are not separated from heterosexual sins. All sexual sins are abominable in the sight of God. But there is a double standard in the way we treat the two. We have become much more accepting of heterosexual sins, turning a blind eye and become very narrowly focused on homosexual sins.

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  30. If the church wants to be accepted in this new move they need to explain the time, place and how new revelation was recieved on the Gay Community. If there was no revelation on this then they should shut the f-*k up.

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  31. I don’t mean or intend to be disrespectful. I hope no one takes offense at what I say.

    This article seems to me to essentially be saying “The Church should stop being opposed to it — because it makes people who are homosexual and Mormon sad.” I think that there is a further related idea: “If only you got to know us you would accept us with our same sex relationships as normal and healthy”.

    This is imaginary.

    Some of the most important precepts of the Church do not allow for it to declare same sex relationships as normal and healthy in a spiritual and eternal sense.

    There is no room for such relationships to be anything but within the realm of sin.

    I believe that the fundamental assumption behind the idea that homosexuals are on the cutting edge of religious truth (and must hide from the authorities like the early Christians) stems from two notions. One is not proven and the other is not always true. Here they are:

    1. Homosexuality is a condition from birth (and thus normal).
    2. Whatever behaviors come from (or are believed to come from) circumstances of birth should not be considered sinful.

    The first is not proven. This is not to say that there is no evidence, but it is extremely weak. There appears to be a better case to be made that if you are happy or depressed it is genetic and that is also sort of weak.

    The second is even more important. For example whether genes might cause one to be happy or depressed, the Church will not stop declaring that it is intended for you to be happy and you should seek to be happy. Regardless of genes.

    The natural man is an enemy to God. Our goal is not to appease the natural, but to overcome it.

    God bless us all that we may overcome. We are really sort of in it together, each of us seeking to overcome the natural man inside us. It is appropriate to love one another in this effort for us each to become stronger. But love does not mean appeasing the natural man or allowing behaviors that go the other direction.

    I understand you want to be accepted. I think that most Mormons can accept you as a person. But this does not mean that all behaviors must also be accepted.

    Can you accept that?

    As you said, you have 3 choices. If you cannot tolerate being accepted as a person while some behaviors are not tolerated, then you have decided to eliminate some options.

    This would be a mutual decision. The Church deciding some behaviors are beyond its standards and you deciding that this position is unacceptable to you.

    There is no overlap there. I hope you find a way to work within the Gospel. And I hope you will be very happy. I think you can be.

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    1. Also, even if it was proven to be a genetic condition existing from birth, it in no way proves that it is normal. Some people are born blind, that is not normal, normal is to be born sighted. Some people are born with fewer limbs, or more finger, or with any number of other genetic abnormalities. Our bodies are imperfect mortal bodies subject to all kinds of deviation from normal.

      If you have the mental capacity to be accountable for your actions, then you have the ability to choose your actions. No matter what your genes are, you can choose to live a commandment or not. A genetic predisposition towards alcoholism doesn’t exempt anybody from living the WoW, and any supposed genetic factor in homosexuality doesn’t change that they are expected to live the LoC same as everyone else.

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