Sunday, November 22, 2015

Response to the Change to the LDS Church's Handbook of Instructions

I've tried to know what to post for the last two weeks. My reactions to the church's new policy have varied from grief to anger. This surprisingly harsh policy has caused me to reflect on my relation to the Mormon church in a way that few things have.

Let me state this simply: A policy that calls same-sex married couples apostates is not ok. Even less so one that keeps their children from being blessed, baptized, or receiving other rites and ordinances in the LDS church.

The question is why?

I know a lot has been said about this. My point is to simply add my voice, to talk from my position and my experiences.

This policy affects me in a few ways directly. First, if I do end up getting married I will officially be an apostate. Since I haven't yet resigned from the Mormon church I may face church discipline for that decision. Second, my future (and at this point hypothetical) children can no longer get even a baby blessing. If I had wanted to share in the community aspect of Mormonism, that is being denied not only to me but my family.

And isn't that the point of the policy? To make it so same-sex marriage, though legally recognized, is seen as something that's not ok? Something worse than promiscuous sex. That having children in such a union is not only condemned in the eyes of the church but by their family, friends, and loved ones?

None of the apologetics for the policy, from what I've read-and let me say I can only take so much- have addressed this point. Why? Because they condemn homosexuality as something unnatural, sinful.

And so the idea that it's just like polygamy, or a Muslim wanting to join the church, or wanting to protect the children from conflicting teachings at home and church rings hollow. This article The Deepening LGBT Divide in the Mormon Faith - The Atlantic addresses how it isn't like polygamy at all. And if it hasn't been said already, the historical and cultural context of a Muslim joining the church is in fact different from an LGBTQ member who either wants to remain a member or allow their children to be.

No, what is at stake here is what Sam Wolfe's excellent piece Op-ed: Dear Mormon leaders: Know the truth about homosexuality | The Salt Lake Tribune addressed.

Is it ok to be gay?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. It's ok to be different from the majority. It's ok to feel attracted to someone of the same-sex. No ifs, ands or buts. And it's ok to marry them if that's what you want, and it's ok not to get married too if that's how you feel.

What's not ok is discrimination, whether it's codified in a policy or reflected in the attitudes of parents, family, friends towards God's children.

I don't worry about asking the church to change anymore. I do hope they will, that they will see the error of their ways and make this right. But it's one of many things I see as problematic with the LDS church, although for now it's the only one I want to address outright at this point.

What I do worry about is reaching out with love and compassion to anyone who has gone through sadness, pain, misery, or even suicidal thoughts because they feel rejection or betrayal. I have felt all of these things. I will mourn with you wherever you are in your journey of faith or lack thereof. And I will listen.

If you disagree with me, if you feel this policy to be right, I ask only one thing: stop and listen. Listen to the people this is affecting.

And then if you want to know more, read. Study this out. Read what the American Psychological Association says about sexual orientation.That having a different sexual orientation than the majority is natural. And it's about more than sex. Science may not have all the answers but it should at the very least inform your opinion.

And then if it helps, if you believe in this, pray. God told me when I was a scared teenager contemplating taking my own life that it was ok to be gay, something that contradicted the messages I received growing up and even from my own church. (As a side note, never read the Miracle of Forgiveness. The lack of understanding about homosexuality in that book is abhorrent). I believe in prayer, and I believe in peace, and love, and respect. And I believe good people will start to overcome their biases and prejudices and see truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment