A Difference of Opinion

Over the past few years, I have had dozens of conversations with friends and family members who are active members of the LDS Church on the subject of homosexuality.  Most active members feel misunderstood and maligned by the ‘world’ and the ‘liberal press’ and labeled haters.  My wife and I have encountered this sentiment first hand as the majority of the LGBT people we have met believe that Mormons hate gay people.  Beyond our anecdotal evidence is a recent Pew Research Study that revealed that Mormons are perceived as the second most unfriendly religion (worldwide) to LGBT individuals. (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/06/13/a-survey-of-lgbt-americans/7/#feeling-unwelcome)

In our polarized political and social world, both the LGBT community and the Mormon community continue to speak past each other without genuine understanding.  Today I wanted to specifically help the Mormon community come to a place of better understanding.  Most Mormons I know try very hard to be kind and understanding.  They truly believe in attempting to be Christ-like to everyone.  Of course, the success of this effort varies widely from individual to individual, but on the whole they are very good people.

A friend of mine recently lamented, “I wish we could learn to stop interpreting one person disagreeing with another person’s beliefs or lifestyle as being hateful.  That feeling isn’t one any human being should ever be made to feel.  Equally it hurts me when others are accused of being haters simply because they disagree with another person’s lifestyle or beliefs.  I have struggled to understand how one can interpret a difference of opinion as being hateful.”

This line of thinking is very common in the LDS Church.  The incredulity of being hated for standing up for your beliefs is substantial.  And because homosexuality is so far outside of their life experience, it is like talking in a foreign language.  Here are some key points I want my Mormon friends to ponder and consider.

1)      This isn’t a simple disagreement over a personal preference.  People do not choose to be gay.  Whether it is biological or environmental in origin, being gay (or SSA) is an unalterable fact of life.  This is beyond debate as it is the conclusion of every major medical and psychological association in the country.  It is also accepted by the Church: “Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.” (www.mormonsandgays.org)

2)      Your opinion takes everything precious away from me.  At a very fundamental level, our doctrine is devastating to LGBT youth and adults.  From a Mormon perspective, the only acceptable choices for someone who is gay are celibacy or a mixed orientation marriage (MOM).  This doctrine robs LGBT youth of hope.  It robs them of self-esteem and worth.  At best it tells you that you are broken and will be fixed in the next life.  It is a complete rejection of who you are now.  It tells you that unless you can change to a more worthy state (straight), you can never have the one thing that Mormons value most in life: family.

3)      There is no experiment you could devise that could duplicate the experience of being in the closet.  My son came out at age 13.  He was remarkably young.  He knew he was gay for probably less than two years before he came out.  In that time he suffered tremendously.  He was isolated and alone.  He felt hated by God and his family so much so that even suicide was an option.  As my wife said powerfully in the film ‘Families Are Forever’, “There is something not right with a 13 year old having to think that.”  For those of you who have suffered years and decades longer than my son, I can only imagine your pain and try to empathize.

4)      Sexual orientation is not cured through the Atonement. Many faithful LGBT Mormons pursue fixing and changing their orientation.  They become zealously obedience and faithful, many completing full-time missions with honor.  I personally know those who spend years and even decades dedicated to changing themselves, often to the point of self-hatred.  This dark path has also ended in suicide, extreme depression and drug abuse.  Best case scenarios result in an individual moving toward asexuality rather than completely reversing their orientation.

5)      Mixed Orientation Marriages (MOMs).  This is viewed as the gold standard of achievement for an LGBT individual raised in the Church.  While sexual orientation cannot be cured, some have been able to minimize their sexual attraction.  In a study of over 1,600 LGBT Mormons (the most extensive and current of its kind; http://ldshomosexuality.com/ ), 70-80% of those MOMs failed.  That’s an astronomical divorce rate.  Of those that succeeded, the gay spouses were far closer to a bi-sexual range than homosexual (as measured on the Kinsey scale).  Expecting and demanding this of all of our LGBT brothers and sisters is fraught with real danger.  There are straight spouses and innocent children involved.  President Hinckley specifically cautioned against MOMs as a cure or fix for homosexuality

6)      Celibacy.  Again, to end yet another prevalent assumption:  Celibacy is in no way comparable to being an older, straight single adult who never marries.  An LDS LGBT friend of mine said recently, “Single people pray every night to find someone to fall in love with.  Gay people trying to stay in the Church pray every night not to find someone to fall in love.” (Jamison Manwaring) Celibacy demands asexuality.  A straight single adult can date, hug, kiss, show affection for and pursue relationships.  A celibate LGBT youth or adult is shunned for showing any hint of affection for the same sex.  My Stake President was very specific to me regarding my son.  No activities that even encouraged same sex relationships are to be allowed or encouraged (Even holding hands).  Setting sex completely aside, we are forbidding someone from having what we find the greatest satisfaction in life.  Are we still just disagreeing?

7)      When have you ever expressed love to an LGBT person?  Our rhetoric is full of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’  I find it to be one of the most hypocritical and condemning statements that religious people make.  Because loving the sinner would require you at some point to have actually in some tangible way demonstrated love for the sinner.  We are condemned as haters by that same statement because there is no evidence of love.  I think back to Prop 8 in California.  There has been no outreach or effort of any kinds from the LDS community to the LGBT community in the past 6 years.  Just saying it doesn’t make it true.

8)      The stereotype of the “Gay Lifestyle” is an extreme born out of rejection.  The stereotype of the gay lifestyle is one of debauchery, lasciviousness, promiscuity, pornography and depravity.  The truth is that unlike the stereotype, every LGBT person I have met is remarkably….just like everybody else.  There is as much diversity among LGBT individuals as among straight people, but when you add in the devastation of being in the closet and the rejection of family and religion, you find a great backlash against those morals, principles and beliefs.  A backlash born of pain and suffering.  In the end, who is responsible for that pain and suffering?

9)      The true Gay Lifestyle.  I have met hundreds of LGBT people.  Most of them have Mormon roots and many still love the Church.  Many are doctors, lawyers, nurses, leaders, scout masters, store clerks as well as kids in high school.  They are as normal as you and me (even if some have a bit of flair and fabulous thrown in.)  They have normal life routines and very normal, loving relationships.

10)   Gay parents.  Again, I know hundreds of gay parents.  A few are in MOMs, many are amicably divorced yet still wonderful parents, and others are in same sex marriages.  I know a lesbian couple that I tremendously admire who have adopted 7 special needs young adult foster children.  We can hold to the ideal of one man and one woman all we want, but the truth is that two parents of any combination are more secure and stable than either one parent or no parents at all.

11)   Gay Marriage does not threaten traditional marriage.  The dangers to sexuality for heterosexual people are the same as those for gay people: debauchery, lasciviousness, promiscuity, pornography, depravity, etc….  These evils are alive and well in the heterosexual community.  In my children’s schools the majority of their friends are from broken homes.  But with contempt we point to the gay community as a threat?  Condemning homosexuality does nothing to improve or change the state of traditional marriage.  And because homosexuality is an inherit trait, there will be no more or less LGBT people in the future than there are now.  Our acceptance or condemnation does not influence how many LGBT people there are, but it would have a massive impact on their quality of life and life spans as they experience less rejection in their lives.

12)   I support Gay Marriage.  I don’t think I have ever written or declared this, but here it is.  The best way I can express this is by using the measure that Elder Oaks put forth in a General Conference talk entitled Good, Better, Best.  Here are my personal thoughts:

Current State of Affairs

First, let’s take a moment to evaluate where we are starting from.  Currently, most LGBT youth and adults leave the Church. I am sure this is not a surprise or a point of debate.  Unfortunately, many of their family members follow.  In this article, I have put up no contention with policy or doctrine, but simply look at the fruit of the current state of affairs.  Statistically, highly rejected LGBT youth are 8 times more likely to commit suicide, 3 times more likely to be homeless, 3 times more likely to abuse drugs and 3 times more likely to get sexually transmitted diseases (http://familyproject.sfsu.edu/publications.)

We can stick to our guns and defend the Proclamation on the Family until we are blue in the face and it will not save one LGBT life.  Each political action we take further cements our reputation as the most unfriendly religion to the LGBT community.  We currently alienate and drive our LGBT brothers and sisters from our stakes.  At the same time, those who are rejected from among us are left to the mercies of the world and fall straight into all the stereotypes we sought to protect them from.  Are we perpetuating a cycle of unintended yet devastating consequences?

What would be Good

Can we withhold judgment long enough to just let them be among us?  Can we acknowledge that perhaps this subject is infinitely more complex than we ever considered?  Can we not assume that ‘different’ is the same as ‘depraved’?

But while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same.  Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin.  We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God.  This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold – that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other.  This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. (President Uchdorf)

For some reason, our Heavenly Father has LGBT children.  I refuse to believe that the status quo is acceptable.  Many remark that the “Gay Agenda” is seeking to change the doctrines of God to accept their lifestyle and want a ‘comfortable God’ that demands nothing of them.  Are you so sure of your positon that you are willing see a 13 year old boy commit suicide because of it?  I advocate for LGBT youth (especially LDS LGBT youth) because my ‘comfortable God’ finds that unacceptable.  There is something wrong.  This has been confirmed via the Holy Ghost to my soul.  If you want to not be hated, stop acting like a victim and acknowledge there needs to be change.

But what is changing – and what needs to change (emphasis added) – is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere. (www.mormonsandgays.org)

What would be Better

My wife and I were privileged to meet with Elder Christofferson recently last year.  He listened to our story and that of our gay son and the hardship we have encountered in the Church.  He was loving and compassionate.  He cried with us.  He didn’t attempt to give excuses or marginalize our experience.  His simple instruction to us was to “lead with compassion”.  I think this applies equally for those seeking a place for LGBT individuals in the Church as well as those that would label people in the Church as ‘haters’.

As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate.  Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach.  Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. (Elder Cook)

Leading requires action.  Nobody should be more loving or compassionate.  Being at the forefront requires a desire to reach out and make a difference.  Being at the forefront in today’s world means having the fortitude to endure the criticism that is sure to come from every side.  To not exclude or be disrespectful requires an elevation in the dialogue.  Instead of recounting our polarizing positions, perhaps we could actually just listen.  Listen with the intent to hear, not with the intent to respond or judge.

Lead with compassion. (Elder Christofferson)

What would be Best

What should the Church do with its righteous LGBT members?  Currently there is no distinction made in our doctrine/policies between:

1. A straight person who lives a life of debauchery, lasciviousness, promiscuity and depravity

2. A righteous LGBT person in a committed same sex marriage.

3. An LGBT person who lives a life of debauchery, lasciviousness, promiscuity and depravity

I don’t know how we can’t see the inequality in the application of morality.  Accepting gay marriage as an acceptable civil arrangement does not threaten temple marriages.  Such individuals should be allowed to be part of the body of Christ; our wards and our stakes.  We are poorer without them.  They should be able to partake of the Sacrament and worship with us.  They are as committed and moral as any straight people I know.  Many are spiritual giants waiting to be included in the Church and serve with us.

In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. 

Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience.  When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.

Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the “facts” really mean.  A question that creates doubt in some can, after careful investigation, build faith in others.

And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes.  There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings.  God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure.  But He works through us-His imperfect children-and imperfect people make mistakes. (Elder Uchdorf)

So, can we ask the question, “What should the Church do with its righteous LGBT members?”  Let us give hope to those who have little.  Let us show love to those who have been hated and despised.  Let us raise our dialogue to lift up the spiritually wounded and find a place in our congregations for our LGBT brothers and sisters.  And if we can’t achieve what is Best, can we at least raise our efforts to what is Good or even Better.

Tom has also written:

52 comments for “A Difference of Opinion

  1. Gina
    June 25, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Perfect. Now if only members and leaders would listen.

    • Paul
      June 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      If only God would listen.

      • June 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

        The problem is not that God is not listening. I assure you he is. The problem is people aren’t listening to God.

  2. Paul
    June 25, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    With all due respect, and recognizing the thought and effort you’ve put into this, you are subtly dancing around a show stopper: God’s opinion on homosexual relations is clear in the Bible and it’s clear in our day. It is a sin. Do you think God will change that now because of public pressure? There is no way around this. You are arguing that God created people to be homosexual. That is a huge assumption, and might even be offensive to God. You are saying that God purposely created some people to be gay while at the same time telling His prophets all along that gay relations are sin. Does God create people to be adulterers too? There are many who can’t control that urge either. He allows us to have our faults, and we have to learn to deal with them. Your suggestion, that the Church allow gays to particate in gay relations and be in good standing would mean they should be allowed to be sealed. There is no way around that. All you are doing is arguing that the Church should condone homosexuality.

    There is nothing in what I have written that disagrees with our needing to love and sustain gays in their struggle, just like anyone else struggling with a commandment. An adulterer is welcome to come and attend meetings too, and we should live and sustain them too, while helping any way we can so they can repent.

    • Thomas Montgomery
      June 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Paul, my understanding of the Bible is clearly different from yours. We could talk extensively about that and there is a large body of work addressing our understanding of Biblical passages. More importantly, did any one of my points reference God bending to public pressure? I am also not arguing that God creates gay people, I know this to be a fact. He created black people for centuries and yet only revealed to the Prophet that they could have the Priesthood in 1978. Clearly God teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept both individually, collectively as a Church and even to Prophets. Also, civil marriage does not equate to temple marriage nor did I say it should. The majority of the Church is ‘in good standing’ yet only a minority have temple recommends. As far as sealing, my gay son is sealed to me and my family as it should be.

      I did not advocate any solutions to the Church, however, I highlighted some sever problems that are having devastating effects within the Church and to individuals and families. You highlighted a great example comparing a homosexual and an adulterer. An LGBT person does not choose to be gay. He can choose to honor relationship commitments or not. An adulterer can be heterosexual or homosexual because it is a choice. I hope you understand that this is a distinction the Church makes on http://www.mormonsandgays.org. This is something the Church understands and accepts. I hope you choose not to make that comparison again.

      • Marian
        June 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

        So well stated, Thomas.
        I would also remind Paul that the Bible also states clearly that a divorced person who remarries is committing adultery. Yet, within the Church as elsewhere, this is a common occurance. Yet those people are not treated as unrepentant sinners. They take the Sacrament, hold callings and temple recommends. How do you reconcile that with your arguments against accepting LGBT members?

        • Nigel Bristow
          July 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm

          I agree wholeheartedly with both Thomas and Marian. A reading of LDS Church history and all that the LDS Church subscribes to as scripture suggests that God has changed the rules He wants us to abide by many times in the past. Even if we were to accept only the Old and New Testaments as true, God has changed some of his revealed rules and the corresponding penalties quite dramatically. I for one am grateful that I will not be stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.

  3. Anne
    June 25, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Not everything has been revealed as to why things are the way they are, but it has been revealed that marriage is between a man and a woman. Furthermore, we believe that God reveals all through a living prophet who guides the church. Our modern day prophets have always stated that marriage is between a man and women and that has been God’s plan from the begining. It’s in scripture, it’s in conference talks, it’s in the proclimation to the family, and it’s in every press release where church leadership comments on same sex marriage. Your argument seems to belittle the power of the attonment by saying it is not powerful enough to heal the wrongs of the world and the wrongs of sin. Our Savior’s atonement is powerful to make anything and everything right. To heal sickness, injustices and sin. You also ignore the fact that God has commanded that marriage is between a man and a woman. It offers no solution for the fact that modern revelation says man cannot inherit the highest degree of glory without woman and woman can not without man. If these commandments are not true and what the scriptures say is not true and what the modern day prophets say is not true, then what truth is there? What is the point of any of it if we can dismiss docterine that is contrary to our personal desires?

    • Thomas Montgomery
      June 25, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      Hi Anne. Thanks for reading and commenting. In my opinion, as Mormons we like to view things in absolutes. We believe that marriage is between a man and a women (Noting the obvious exception of polygamy) with an emphasis on an eternal plan of having children. That plan works excellent for you and me but it hasn’t worked out for many. Does divorce mean the failure of one’s eternal hopes? Are you cursed if you are barren? God has methods via adoption and sealing to account for these issues (Whether they have been revealed to us or not.) Also, even if our plan to reach the highest degree of the highest kingdom doesn’t work out, who goes to the rest of the Celestial kingdom? What of the majority of the world who will never have known our beliefs? We do not have a complete knowledge of these things, but I do recall a statement by Christ about ‘in His Father’s kingdom there are many mansions.”

      As far as the Atonement being able to cure the gay out of people, this has been the dedicated plan of thousands of people for decades and probably longer. While I am not gay, I know hundreds and thousands and the first person I meet who has been cured of homosexuality through the Atonement will be the first. I don’t say that flippantly, but it is a reality. I think you greatly overstate the Lord’s purposes that it is his intent to heal us of all wrongs, sins, sicknesses, injustices, etc…. Job was unbreakable in his devotion and loyalty and he was endlessly persecuted. Inside the Church or not, peoples lives are full of heartache and pain and to teach that the Atonement is a protection from the world is not accurate. Perhaps the Atonement blesses and helps us deal with all the challenges the world will throw at us, but it doesn’t make them go away. Otherwise you are saying that everyone who is sick, unhappy, persecuted deserves what they get because they don’t have the Atonement.

      For 100+ years it was the doctrine of the Church that blacks could not have the Priesthood subsequently denying them all temple blessings. This doctrine was reinforced and stated as doctrine by every Prophet from Brigham Young to Spencer W. Kimball. By the way, the scriptures say more to defend slavery than to condemn it. None of this invalidates the truth claims of the Church or the scriptures or the Prophet. We learn both individually and as a Church line upon line, precept upon precept. If we can just open our hearts to love our LGBT brothers and sisters, I think the Lord will take care of the doctrine.

    • Liz
      June 26, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Thank you for your comments Anne. I feel empathy for what our brothers and sisters who feel same-sex attraction are feeling. I have friends and family in that group, but we must never go against God’s teachings. Do we claim to know better than Him how to live our lives? We have scriptures and the words of our prophets to guide us, and sometimes what they say isn’t going to be comfortable to those who want to live other lifestyles. I agree that we should always show kindness to others around us, even if they believe and live differently from us, but we have no right to overstep God’s commandments.

      • Ron
        June 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

        Liz, it is a great thing to speak for God to the general membership of the church. I think the greatest fear the leaders of the church have is that the general membership, rather than gain their own understanding, conviction, and spiritual witness of doctrines, policies, and teachings of the church, blindly follow leadership without personal conviction. This is especially true of geographic areas of high Mormon concentration population wherein Mormonism is cultural not just religious/spiritual phenomena. No one is questioning priesthood authority here, or revelation. Frankly, personally, I have yet to here, “Thus saith the Lord . . .” even within the proclamation of the family, as to the issue of same gender attraction. Church leaders operate within the context of their understanding, and the Lord has clearly stated, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts . . . “, and “come, let us reason one with another.” As pointed out, we ALL make mistakes, and that is why personal prayer, fasting, and hungry searching for truth gives us conviction through the testimony of the Holy Ghost. I wonder how many members of the church have fasted and prayed over the LGBT issue and not simply dismissed it out of hand because they simply don’t have to deal with it personally.

        • Lisa
          June 30, 2014 at 12:07 am

          I have prayed extensively over this issue, beginning with Prop 8, and have had spiritual experiences over the past several years with regards to this subject. One of the strongest for me was while campaigning for prop 8. I stood at my sink, thinking about what to say to those who opposed prop 8, and almost like a voice, the thought came to my mind of how much Heavenly Father loves these children – no less or more than He loves me. But I did not feel that I was supposed to stop supporting prop 8. What I did feel was that kindness and patience in anything that I did needed to come first. When prop 8 did end up passing, there was no celebration in our home, no “the good guys beat the bad guys”.

          Since then, I have continued to pray about the subject. My understanding of LGBT not being a choice has changed. I pray that should I know of someone in my ward who is LGBT that I would be a friend, not someone who adds to their pain. That all being said, I have to follow the church’s current stance on same-sex marriage. I can’t support it. I know of no other way to feel peace then to follow what is officially being said, in faith.

          I apologize for what I am about to write, because I didn’t always find comfort in these sentiments when I was single, but I do believe strongly that no blessing will be denied someone who remains faithful. Right now, being faithful includes no same-sex sexual activity in or out of marriage. Will that change some day? I certainly do not know. But that is the word we have today.

          • Ronald McCormick
            June 30, 2014 at 8:48 am

            Liz, it is good to know that someone actually has taken the time and made the effort of prayer. No one is asking anyone to go against their direction from church leaders. This is a discussion. Often I read things written that I do not necessarily understand or agree with, but it stimulates thought and imagination, and often I learn something from the experience. I believe as I understand it, even the prophet Joseph Smith had to study thinbgs out in his mind first when he had questions before revelation was given. In regards to same sex marriage, what isn’t fair is that straight singles have the option to marry, while still being expected to live the law of chastity, whereas the LGBT community is also expected to live the law of chastity, nevertheless are told they cannot marry someone of the same sex without jeopardizing their eternal welfare. At present, not only is that religious injunction being placed on LGBT Mormons, but the state of Utah is seeking to reaffirm this policy as civilly binding, which in my mind is a clear violation of our constitutional separation of church and state. I think from an LDS standpoint, I have to remember just who’s plan it was anyway to force all mankind to righteousness?

  4. Anne
    June 25, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    From Elder Hales Conference Talk April 2014

    Because our Savior was obedient, He atoned for our sins, making possible our resurrection and preparing the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father, who knew we would make mistakes as we learned obedience in mortality. When we obey, we accept His sacrifice, for we believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws, ordinances, and commandments given in the gospel.4

    Jesus taught us to obey in simple language that is easy to understand: “If ye love me, keep my commandments,”5 and “Come, follow me.”6

    (“If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments”)

    • Thomas Montgomery
      June 26, 2014 at 12:20 am

      Anne, in all honesty, I have trouble understanding your point of view. I outlined above some very clear problems in the Church. Your response is to sing a hymn and blame the victim. It would be GOOD if you could withhold judgement long enough to recognize the complexity of this issue. It would be BETTER if you could “lead with compassion” instead of judgement. And it would be BEST if you could distinguish the inequality in our current understanding of moral doctrine. Our pride has lead us to being one of the most hateful religions toward the LGBT community. Unfortunately, your post has exemplified why that is.

  5. Lori
    June 26, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Beautifully written. It’s interesting to me to note that most folks who have an “opinion” about homosexuality, have no basis of understanding it. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. That will not change. But it is interesting to note that the Proc doesn’t say “and all other unions are not ordained of God.” We fill in those blanks ourselves. Paul, Anne…I would venture a guess that you don’t have a gay son, daughter, brother, father, mother, etc (at least not known to you). When you DO discover that a dear loved one is gay (and you will), I hope you will reach out in love and acceptance. Did you catch the part about it NOT being a choice? That is a FACT. So when you say it’s a sin, what you’re really saying is “it’s a sin to BE.” How would that feel to you? Our ninth article of faith asserts that God will reveal many great and wonderous things relating to the Kingdom of God. That gives me so much hope. I know there is room for all at His table. If we are blessed enough to be among them, we probably shouldn’t judge who else comes.

  6. June 26, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Thank you for this awesome explanation. Your son is lucky to have such compassionate parents. One definition of compassion is “to suffer or feel together with.” Christ exemplified this during the Atonement when he willingly experienced all our temptations, afflictions, and infirmities (Alma 7:11-12). What I love about this is that after seeing all the pain, darkness, and mess of our lives, He was filled with mercy and compassion toward us—not disgust or disappointment as might be imagined. When we actually learn to understand and feel what other people are going through, we will be filled with love toward them and a righteous desire to relieve and alleviate their suffering. You obviously have put serious effort into understanding and feeling empathy for your son with beautiful, Christlike results. I am most encouraged to see that a straight person who is open can “get” what it means to be gay and Mormon. You expressed it as well as I’ve ever seen. Thank you for walking with us.

  7. June 26, 2014 at 8:27 am

    “What should the Church do with its righteous LGBT members?”

    Good question. Which of those items in your list of 1, 2, and 3 do not belong?

    Obviously, #2. Faithful gay members who are in a committed marriage should enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges as all other faithful, married members.

    Adultery is defined as having sexual relations outside the marriage covenant. Faithfulness to that covenant should be far more important than the gender of the covenant with whom that covenant is made.

    The church needs to make the important distinction between the treatments of persons in categories 1, 2, 3. This is not a major change in doctrine. Only a minor tweak to exclude the qualification of gender.

    I believe that if the general authorities humbly asked God in prayer, with real intent to seek and discern the will of the Lord, listened to that answer, and committed themselves to abide by that answer, they would find that in the case of gender, God is no respecter of persons.

    2 Nephi 26:33 “… and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God”

    I know this is true because I fought the same battle your son fought, many years ago. Like Nephi and Alma, in the Book of Mormon, I sought and found out these answers for myself.

    And, like Nephi, I can say: 1 Nephi 10:22 “And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.”

    I have been with another good Mormon boy for over 27 years. Neither one of us have been members, but we have enjoyed the Spirit of the Lord in our home over the years, and many of the members of both our families tell us that your relationship (and now our marriage) is an inspiration to them, and shown them what a marriage really can be.

  8. nicole
    June 26, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thomas-Thank you for writing this article. I used to be a member of the lds church and this was an issue that always troubled me. I myself am not gay but I know many good people that are and it saddened me that they could not have the things that I could simply because I was heterosexual.. not only in church but in other things like marriage or other basic human rights. I am praying for your family that you will feel love from your fellow church members & from us afar that support this issue. I hope all people read this article- it applies to us all; not just Mormons. Thanks again for speaking out. I choose LOVE.

  9. Bryan
    June 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    So very well put. Thank you for taking a stand on this issue and devoting your time to understand and show love to LGBT Folk.

  10. Bec
    June 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Brother Montgomery,

    I recognize so much of what you say as things I would be saying in your situation or with your understanding, with a story like yours to tell. Also, the similar feelings of unfair stereotyping also resonate with me, as one who has long opposed and still opposes same-sex marriage.

    In all candor, I can describe my opposition as based on two fundamental premises.

    First, it is that when small movement is made from the heading, without correction, the journey will inevitably fall off course. This is why, in my opinion, taking gender out of the legal definition of marriage, when gender is so fundamental to humanity, will bring about negative changes.

    Second is the way that the legal conceptualisations of same-sex marriage have created new ways to disenfranchize children, to deny children of a mother and father. For a long time I supported adoption by GLBT couples. Then I started to come across testimonials from children of gay couples who felt denied of one parent or the other, or both.

    Your example, which is the prime one used in the public debates, of a same-sex couple being a better alternative for a child without a home who is living in the system, does not paint a complete picture of gay parenting. We are seeing more and more same-sex couples using surrogates or sperm donors to create a child. While the desire to give life is something I thoroughly understand, the deliberate creation of a child, having no intention to alow them a relationship with their mother, or with their father, (or any mother, or any father, respectively) is entirely different from taking in a child who has no viable means to return to their parents. The former deliberately creates a child in a simultaneous state of alienating him or her from atleast one parent, or a mother and a father. The latter is simply a response to a child who needs a home.

    But, this said, I also intuit your propositions of good, better, and best responses.

    If I could guess about how this all may eventually shape out, it will be a necessarily nuanced understanding of human sexuality and moral accountability. To be absolutely clear, I am speculating. I don’t claim to know. Perhaps the sin of homosexual activity will remain, with the caveat for those who are unable to honestly engage in heterosexual relationships and who limit that behavior to a committed partnership.

    Furthermore, in my speculations, perhaps Church will solidify what it has previously only strongly or otherwise discouraged, that human beings are not to be brought into the world except by their biological mother and father who intend to be their mother and father, in marriage. Obviously this also goes against the trends of sperm and egg donation, even for heterosexual married couples, but this may eventually be the clearly moral choice that must be made to avoid, and at least within the Church, stem the tide of the commoditization of children.

    As I have tried to give voice to my own intuitions over the years of this subject, this is basically what remains. Please allow me to extend my prayers and best wishes to you and yours and your allies. May we all find a way to fully be allies in Christ.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      June 26, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Bec, you used this argument against same-sex parents:
      “For a long time I supported adoption by GLBT couples. Then I started to come across testimonials from children of gay couples who felt denied of one parent or the other, or both.”

      I felt denied of both my parents because I was the 8th of 9 children, and there is inevitable neglect when parental attention is so thin. I guess we should forbid people from having big families because of my sense of missing something that I didn’t have.

      Testimonials of a few children raised by same-sex couples is hardly a judgement on the ability of those parents to raise healthy happy children. Meanwhile, extensive studies have tried to prove damage done, but the studies overwhelmingly support that the outcomes are equal or better for children raised by same-sex couples. The state of Utah was embarrassed in the Federal Court by trying to make that claim, and several courts and every major medical body has overwhelming rejected the highly flawed Regnerus study.

      • Bec
        June 27, 2014 at 2:02 am

        Daniel, I agree that the testimonials are anecdotal. However, the fact is sound, the point is made by those witnesses: they are being completely alienated from at least one biological parent, IN their creation. It’s not by degrees, as in somewhat alienated, but out of their homes, out of their lives, out of any legal recognition of their ties.That’s not something that changes with socio-economic status or the commitment level of their legal parents. The social and technological changes made in the last 50 years have occurred at startling speed. I do think that there are some trends which have progresses too quickly. I encourage you to look up the state of commoditisation of human life today, it’s big business when it should not be.

        This said, heart yearns for the best solutions for all touched by these questions, posed here and referenced by Thomas Montgomery. I hope I can say that we both join in seeking them.

        • Tom Montgomery
          June 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

          I think Daniel’s point is anecdotes do not constitute fact. I think we need to separate our ideals from reality. The ‘Good, Better, Best’ process is useful here. The Proclamation points to what is Best – one man and one woman, but it is completely real that having two parents of any combination is Better than one or none. It is also Better to have legal monogamous civil marriages for the LGBT community to encourage more stable and healthy relationships.

          As Mormons, we have a tendency to look down on things that are Good and want to make them illegal because we don’t think they are the Best. I am calling for us to get focused on far worse problems, like youth suicide, homelessness and drug abuse. Things that are actually Bad.

          • Bec
            June 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm

            Tom, I pointed to anecdotes because they alerted me to facts. I’m sure you’ve likely had similar experiences. I didn’t make a case saying two moms or two bads are better or worse. Adoption of orphans and fostering is only one part of the facts. Should we really allow the creating a child while automatically and deliberately cutting him or her off from their parent or parents? That doesn’t sound best, better, or even good.

            There are many issues here, and there are bad things happening, I’ve pointed specifically to the commoditization of children, of human beings. Look up the situation in India with surrogacy and corruption, for example.

            We can focus on more than one important thing.

    • Daniel Parkinson
      June 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      It is also kind of heartless to imply that infertile couples are going against God’s plan when they use sperm donation or egg donation. Do you also imply that these infertile couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry, because that is pretty much where this line of reasoning leads.

      • Bec
        June 27, 2014 at 2:15 am

        I respectfully disagree on both counts, Daniel.

        Procreation is still not something that should be treated as it is treated today. It shouldn’t be about the needs of adults, but should be first and foremost concentrated on the needs of the human being to be created.

        As Latter-Day Saints, with the faith we have of spirits awaiting their advent into physical bodies, we of all people should especially be mindful that these brothers and sisters are depending on how we prepare for their arrival. And, by the way, there is moral authority that shines outward on everything when things are done in righteousness. It is recognized by other hearts and minds. What we do as a Body of Christ can, does, and will have an impact on the world.

  11. Eon
    June 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I absolutely agree that people, members and non members alike, should treat everyone with respect and love. We should not judge each other based on the person we choose to love … it isn’t really any of our business anyway. We as a people need to include rather than exclude be accepting and humble. You have outlined some awesome steps for us all to take along these lines but I am wondering what the ultimate aim is … it seems that, and correct me if I am wrong, you would like the Mormon Church to set aside its doctrine and allow all members (same sex and hetero) to be married and as long as they live by the commandments of the Lord (except for the same sex thing) to be in full fellowship. Is this the goal?

  12. Morgan Poland
    June 27, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I see a lot of speculation here vis a vis what God does and does not think or do. I don’t believe that we will ever know, at least on this earth. That said, I keep going back to black males holding the priesthood. There was never a revelation that they should not, and in fact, many did under the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was politically expedient to exclude them in Brigham Young’s time. I have never really understood why a revelation was necessary to allow black males to hold the Priesthood. My point is that it may be possible that in the greater scheme of things God waits for us to be ready for big changes and eases us in to them. I am speculating, I know. I do not know what God’s plan is. I do not, however, believe in an angry, wrathful God. I believe that God places events and people in our lives so we can learn from them and they can learn from us. Finally, I believe that the most valuable and dangerous gift he gave us was agency. We need to wield it with love and understanding. We need to be mature and informed. The LGBTQ community is here and I don’t believe that God hates them. I do know a lot of humans do.

  13. June 27, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Seldom do I read a post that resonates within me confirming truth and urgency within me as this does, Tom. I have a dream that one day this message will be spread and read far and wide and it revolutionize our homes and our churches for the better. God is with you, way to lead with compassion. Bless you for such inspired leadership and words.

  14. James Gatz
    June 29, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    “What should the Church do with its righteous LGBT members?”

    Brother Montgomery, what do you consider a “righteous” LGBT member? I think most members of the church would say that a righteous member is one who lives their life in accordance with the commandments as revealed through prophets, and who repents of sinful behavior when they fall short. Hence, a righteous LBGT member would be one who abstains from homosexual behavior (i.e. lives the law of chastity including prohibitions against engaging in homosexual sexual relations).

    Yet you seem to be contemptuous of the notion that LGBT members should live their lives in compliance with the law of chastity (living celibately or entering mixed-orientation marriages). Do you believe that it is sinful for LGBT members of the church to engage in homosexual sexual relationships if they are civilly married?

    • Thomas Montgomery
      June 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      James, thanks for contributing to the dialogue on this subject. Can we measure the righteousness of an individual solely on one commandment? I would definitely encourage you to get to know more LDS LGBT people. I think it would introduce you to a very righteous demographic of people who are doing their best in circumstances that we can barely understand. Right now it doesn’t seem you can picture what a righteous LGBT person looks like outside of celibacy and a MOM.

      Also, I would not characterize my attitude as contemptuous of the Lord’s Law of Chastity. What I have outlined in some detail is that the current state of affairs is extremely damaging to LGBT youth. Rates of suicide, depression, homelessness, etc… all multiply extensively for these kids. Not to mention that a high majority of them (and their families) leave the Church. I am pointing out in clear ways that something is drastically wrong and I provided my good, better and best scenarios to improve that situation. I have a very hard time believing that our current practice of morality regarding LGBT people is as the Lord would have it when the fruit of that practices/policy/doctrine is the death of these innocents. I believe that the Church leaders are aware and bending their thoughts, prayers and energy toward improving this situation.

      • Jim Gatz
        June 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm

        You have dodged the question.

        “Can we measure the righteousness of an individual solely on one commandment?” Baptismal, temple recommend, and other worthiness interviews consist of a series of questions about our obedience to important commandments and covenants we have made. You don’t pass if you answer 80% or 90% of the questions correctly. Failure to affirmatively answer any one of the questions will disqualify the individual. So yes, the righteousness of an individual can be measured on one commandment.

        I do know gay people, in and out of the church. Most of them are quite wonderful. But that’s not the point. I have lunch nearly every day with a man who moved in with a woman, now his wife, when she was still married to another man. He’s one of my best friends. They are wonderful parents to their four children (their twins plus two older kids from her prior marriage). As fantastic as my friend and his wife are, they are unworthy to fully participate in the church (temple attendance, holding callings, etc.) as a consequence of their unrepentant adultery. They think they did no wrong because it was done in love and because the end result, so far, has been a big improvement over her crappy prior marriage.

        I am not inclined to think of people as righteous or unrighteous. Thank goodness that is not my job to decide. But based on what I have learned through my lifetime in the church I understand that adultery is an unrighteous behavior that requires repentance for my friend and his wife to progress.

        I have another friend who is a full-blown alcoholic. We met when we were missionaries decades ago. He is talented and brilliant in just about every way. My friend fits the profile of one who inherited an alcoholic gene, was born with an addictive personality, or whatever you want to call it. His father was an alcoholic who dried up before my friend was even born. Due to my friend’s alcoholism, he is unworthy to go to the temple or hold most callings in the church. In fact, he feels uncomfortable attending church at all – he feels judged. So he doesn’t go. He often hates himself for not doing better. Through it all, he still knows the church is true. I love this guy and I pray that he doesn’t drink himself to death.

        I could go on. Everyone has their challenges and weaknesses, some much greater than others, and we in the church should be unfailingly understanding and compassionate with them because we are all flawed and have need of repentance. Yet there are certain behaviors that if not repented of render people unworthy of full participation in the church. So let me rephrase my question: do you personally believe that it is sinful for LGBT members of the church to engage in homosexual sexual relationships if they are civilly married or are in a monogamous relationship? The answer to this question is the logical fulcrum on which your argument of “What would be Best” hinges. In other words, I think what you have written only makes logical sense if you first accept the premise that homosexual sexual behavior is not a serious sexual transgression.

        • Thomas Montgomery
          June 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm

          It would be nice if we could easily categorize homosexuality as being like adultery or being like fetal alcoholism. Adultery is a choice to break ones marital vows. With homosexuality we would deny them even the ability to make marital vows.

          Alcoholism in addition to being addictive impairs judgment and has other disastrous consequences. Both situations require the extreme compassion and are very different representation of life’s problems.

          A friend of mine noted that homosexuality is like asking a perfectly fit and healthy person to sit in a wheelchair his whole life. Why? Because he doesn’t walk like everybody else. His legs work fine but in order to be acceptable, he has to forever be committed to the wheelchair.

          There is nothing comparable to homosexuality, except heterosexuality. If you can empathize that God would ask you to forgo not just sex, but all intimate relationships including your wife and resulting family, you are beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.

          I support gay marriage for every reason outlined in my article. I believe that homosexuality is vilified in the world but in most respects suffers from the same sins as heterosexuality. I don’t present this as doctrine. There is a significant problem in the Church today regarding our relationship with our LGBT brothers and sisters and the current status quo is awful. It will take our best efforts and the inspiration of The Lord to make progress.

          • Jim Gatz
            July 1, 2014 at 9:25 am

            Still not answering the question…

            It would be nice if you would be honest about what you really believe. But your answer is clear, you just don’t want to say it out loud: you do not consider homosexual sexual relations to be sinful. Maybe you think that gays are not accountable, but more likely you just want to think that it is okay.

            Everything about what you have written here an in other articles implies that homosexual relations are okay and that the church must alter its doctrine to fit that belief. You cannot say that you “don’t present this as doctrine,” because by implication the church would have to rewrite what has been revealed about key doctrines, most especially the New and Everlasting Covenant and the Law of Chastity.

            Members of the church as a whole certainly must do a far better job of loving our children and friends that are gay. But you aren’t stopping there. You are saying that we must believe that homosexual behavior – that has been abundantly identified as sinful under the Law of Moses, in New Testament times and in the restored church – is not a form of serious sexual transgression; that it is the same as heterosexual unions. And you do so without offering one shred of scriptural, historic or prophetic evidence.

            What you believe – and what you, at least by implication, are espousing – is false doctrine. You are way outside the church on this. Perhaps that’s why you don’t want to admit publicly that is what you believe, because you fear it might put your membership at jeopardy.

          • Jim Gatz
            July 1, 2014 at 10:10 am

            If we side with the scriptures and the men that we (and I presume you) sustain as prophets, seers and revelators, you say that this “opinion takes everything precious away from [you].” If that is true, maybe you should consider that in your heart you have left the church.

            And maybe you should open your mind enough to consider that there are faithful people within the church – people who have “A Difference of Opinion” with you regarding gay marriage and sin – who nevertheless are appalled when they hear about kids being beaten, kicked out of their homes, and that feel that the only recourse is suicide. We are people who are trying to follow scripture and revelation regarding sin or marriage, but want to embrace gays with love and compassion. “It’s Complex,” as you have written, so differences of opinion are inevitable. As such, your lack to tolerance of a diversity of opinion in this cause is offensive.

          • Thomas Montgomery
            July 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

            It is surprising that you find I have a ‘lack of tolerance of a diversity of opinion’. I have laid out the case that the current state of LGBT issues in the Church is awful. Not much to debate there. I laid out my opinion in a Good, Better and Best format. It seems you agree with both my Good and Better scenarios but do not agree with my Best. Therefore, 2/3rds of my recommendations you agree with. How am I not being tolerant of your diversity of opinion? Have I demeaned your opinion or personally attacked you? Your opinion is the majority opinion in the Church today (although most have not given it the thought to even begin the Good and Better scenarios.) The fruit (results) as outlined in my article of the current policies and doctrine are suicide, homelessness, drug abuse, etc…. as well as the majority of our LGBT youth and often their families leaving the Church. I am absolutely advocating for change and that I support gay marriage (As I have already stated multiple times.) I support the Prophet and the brethren in just about every way and I account my article as support because unless a problem is recognized and addressed, the same results will continue. Our understanding of the nature of homosexuality has changed. I hope your reading of this article motivates you to Good and Better ways of approaching our LGBT brothers and sisters. If you don’t agree with my Best scenario, then we have a difference of opinion. You can call me apostate, intolerant and offensive, but none of that will save lives or keep our LGBT brothers and sisters, sons and daughters connected to the Church.

        • Jim Gatz
          July 1, 2014 at 4:05 pm

          “Your opinion is the majority opinion in the Church today…”

          It’s not my opinion; it is what the church teaches. You repeatedly cite the Mormonsandgays.org as marking a sea change in the Church’s position, but you only seem to register half of what is said.

          “The attraction itself is not a sin, but ACTING ON IT IS. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, THEY DO CHOOSE HOW TO RESPOND TO THEM.

          “[I]t would be easier for the Church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That we cannot do, for GOD’S LAW IS NOT OURS TO CHANGE. THERE IS NO CHANGE IN THE CHURCH’S POSITION OF WHAT IS MORALLY RIGHT.” (Mormonsandgays.org, emphasis added)

          The Church’s policy on how to handle gay members has change, but the doctrine of what is morally right has not, nor is it likely to.

          You have, in your own roundabout way (“I support the Prophet and the brethren in just about every way”), admitted that you do not believe that homosexual sexual activity is a sexual transgression. The underlying premise of your so-call “Best” leads people away from the Church.

          Your message to LDS gays and lesbians: It is okay for you to date and marry, so long as you live the Law of Chastity (except for the whole homosexuality things… just pretend your mate is of the opposite sex). Don’t worry about what the Prophet and Apostles are saying; they are just a bunch of duffers who don’t get it. They’ll die off soon enough and when they do, the new blood will change the rules.

          Do you really think that is how it works?

          And to straight members: You are either with us or you are oppressing us (i.e. “Your opinion takes everything precious away from [us].”)

          I do not have a problem with you expressing a difference of opinion. But I do have a problem with you pretending that it somehow compatible with Church doctrine. I have a problem with you presenting yourself as a faithful member of the church when what you are advocating is in direct opposition to what the Church teaches. I have a problem with you condescending tone toward Church members who aren’t as enlightened enough to reject a fundamental church doctrine. I have a problem with you implying that it is acceptable before the Lord that gay Mormons participate in homosexual relationships. That is not true; your “Best” scenario is founded on a lie. How can that be “Best?”

          • Thomas Montgomery
            July 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

            Jim, I am going to have to sign off on our discussion as this has turned into personal attacks. You make an excellent case as to why we are the second most hateful religion toward LGBT people. My article outlines a huge problem for LGBT youth and adults in the Church. Problems which threaten their well being and even their lives. If you find nothing compelling in this article, then I can’t help you. ‘By their fruit shall ye know them.’ You can spell out the Church’s position a dozen times, and it won’t save one LGBT kids life. My son was suicidal at the age of 13 because of what he learned in Church and from Prop 8. Does that negate everything good that the Church does and represents? No. But in this arena (as with blacks and the Priesthood) the fruit of this doctrine and policy is wrong. The Church spent decades having Bishops tell LGBT individuals that getting married (MOM) would cure or fix their homosexuality. That was not true and was founded on a lie. If your belief system doesn’t allow for the Church to grow and change, stumble on occasion and receive new doctrines as circumstances in the world change, you are going to be severely disappointed when you discover that we don’t live in a perfect Church.

            I think it is time to end this thread as the comments have devolved into personal attacks.

  15. Jim Gatz
    June 30, 2014 at 10:08 am

    The comparison between gay marriage and prohibition of blacks from holding the priesthood that keeps being used on this website is quite flawed. Many members of the church have treated gay church and family members terribly, as has was done toward blacks in the past. For that, we must repent and treat all of our brothers and sisters with love. But that is where the comparison between blacks and gays ends. Consider:

    1. The bible does speaks with validation (or, more often, indifference) to slavery. And the blessings of the priesthood throughout much of the Old Testament and on into the New Testament was constrained to specific families or tribes, at the exclusion of everyone else. Nonetheless, what differentiates this from the issue of homosexuality is that there are also scriptural examples of the gospel being spread to all races and peoples on earth, including those bond and free. There are no scriptural examples of homosexuality being characterized as anything other than sinful in any scripture.

    2. Joseph Smith presided over the baptism of black members, the ordination of black men to the Melchizedek priesthood, and one man, Elijah Able, being called to the office of Seventy and called to serve a mission. There are no historical examples of Joseph Smith or any other latter day prophet treating homosexual behavior as being anything other than a serious sexual transgression.

    3. Being black has never been a sin per se. “We believe that man will be punished for their own sins, not for Adam’s transgressions.” In other words, everyone is born innocent and it is what we do (or not) in this life that will condemn us. Conversely, homosexual sexual behavior has been identified as sinful. “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them” (mormonsandgay.org).

    4. So-called “gay marriage” has never been a part of the gospel or plan of salvation, as taught anciently or in the modern church. It is wholly without scriptural or revelatory example. It is a secular creation that has become popularized in the last half century. On the other hand, the blessings of the gospel apply to all worthy people, descendants of the House of Israel and gentile (including blacks).

    5. The prohibition of black from holding the priesthood was a temporary practice. As David O. McKay said in 1954, “There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse… It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed. And that’s all there is to it.” LDS belief regarding the nature of marriage and family is revealed doctrine. No prophet of God, ancient or modern, has indicated the law of chastity will “someday be changed” to accommodate homosexual relationships.

    Maybe someday a new doctrine will be revealed, but speculating that the Church will inevitably declassify homosexual behavior as a transgression is completely without basis. It is no more than hopeful thinking that has the dangerous potential to mislead.

    • Thomas Montgomery
      June 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Jim, I will attempt to answer your points as best I can:

      1. In Biblical times there wasn’t even a word for homosexuality and it is only referenced a handful of times. Jesus, the Book of Mormon and D&C are silent on the issue. More important to Mormons is how it fits into our overall understanding of the Plan of Happiness and the Proclamation on the Family. Celibacy and MOMs are not mentioned in scripture or the Proclamation. It is simply what you are left with when you are an LGBT person living in a straight man’s world.
      2. I am not aware of Joseph Smith ever considering homosexuality one way or the other. If he did, it would probably be from a very early 19th century point of view. I don’t see much relevance.
      3. There is extensive per-1978 thought given by prophets and apostles regarding why blacks could not have the Priesthood. Every prophet from Brigham Young to Harold B. Lee confirmed that blacks not having the Priesthood was the doctrine of the Church. Articles about ‘the curse of the seed of Cain’ or ‘blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence.’ Most of this information is either out of print or has been disavowed by the Church today. So to make your point, you have to ignore everything pre-1978 and then use our current doctrine on homosexuality which has only existed for less than 20 years. The doctrine on choice and homosexuality is new and evolving. As you pointed out, it didn’t exist until mormonsandgays.org (2012).
      4. I would like to point out that ‘So-called “blacks and the priesthood” has never been a part of the gospel or plan of salvation, as taught anciently or in the modern church. It is wholly without scriptural or revelatory example. Seems a pretty good parallel to ‘gay marriage.’
      5. For a temporary practice, it denied the priesthood and temple blessings to everyone who is black. As you cited, David O. McKay anticipated it would change, however, you can’t act like that was the predominate thought in the Church. I could give you a dozen quotes from modern prophets declaring the ‘practice’ the doctrine of the Church beginning with Brigham Young. That evolution of thought changed during the civil rights movement in which our Church showed no leadership or direction. We were dramatically behind the times with minorities and the rights of women – again an excellent parallel to today.

      If you review my article, you will see that in both my good and better scenarios, there is no change in doctrine. In the best scenario, the only thing I suggested was that civil marriages be honored as keeping the Law of Chastity. This would allow righteous LGBT individuals to be baptized and welcomed in full fellowship. I am not condoning debauchery, lasciviousness, promiscuity, pornography and depravity (which are moral sins committed by both straight and gay people.) We already make a distinction between temple marriage and civil marriage, so this does not impact our beliefs regarding eternal families or the temple.

      I can’t say how the Lord will resolve this situation, but I imagine it will be better and more loving and inclusive than anything I could imagine.

      • Jim Gatz
        June 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        You wrote 524 words yet you failed to provide any examples of homosexuality or gay marriage ever part of the gospel. That’s because, as I indicated, there are no such references. The scriptures show that at various times, the priesthood was withheld from the gentiles (including blacks) and was rolled out to them at other times. Homosexuality has no such history, ancient or modern.

        If homosexuality was a component of the eternal family in the plan of salvation, do you not believe that it would have been so taught by now? Maybe there is some new revelation that will show us that gay couples belong in the Celestial Kingdom. That would certainly be a welcomed relief to many people. But there is no indication, scriptural or historic, that this is immanent. It is a movement being pushed from secular circles, nothing handed down via revelation. The blacks in the priesthood revelation was foretold by men who were prophets of God. The fullness of the gospel rolling out to all races and nations of the earth are replete throughout the scriptures. Homosexuality? Nothing.

        • Jim Gatz
          June 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

          I want to quickly amend my prior comment because I was flippant and I don’t want to come off like I’m making light of this. To the contrary, this is of the utmost importance to me and my family.

          I think it is crucially important to be carefully accurate about all of this. We should not sacrifice truth in our zeal to make our young gay children feel better about this in the short run. If we “get ahead” of the church on these matters, we risk waking up one day to discover that we are outside of the church. Reminding and teaching members of the church to treat gay members with compassion and acceptance is one thing. Perpetuating false doctrine and offering false hope is quite another.

        • Thomas Montgomery
          June 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

          I think you would find considerable opposition to your argument that there is any precident in scripture supporting blacks and the priesthood. Many believe that the Church did cave to social pressures as they only came around after the civil rights movement. There are substantial parallels. FYI – as far as prophecy, Brigham Young prophecies that blacks would never receive the priesthood until after every other living man had it.

          What has changed recently is the distinction on choice and homosexuality. It has never existed before in policy or doctrine. If anything this is a truth the secular world has taught the Church. It will be exciting to see what the future holds.

  16. Nigel Bristow
    July 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you, Thomas, for such a thoughtful and compassionate essay. I particularly liked your statement that there are spiritual giants among our LGBT brothers and sisters. I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly. The LDS church is poorer for creating an environment that deprives church members of the service and full fellowship of gay members.

  17. David
    July 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    This was so wonderfully written. As a gay mormon father of 4, I lived most of my life in the closet. One of the reasons I choose to come out to my family was for my posterity. Back 15 years ago I started to realize that I didn’t know what we should do but I knew we had to treat homosexuality in a different way then we were doing. Over the years line upon line the spirit led me to come to the same conclusions as Thomas. I appreciate no only your opinion but that you doing in a way that invites the spirit to bear witness to the readers that what you have said is true.

  18. Tim Bone
    March 3, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    The Mormon Church could not simply “recognize” legal and lawful same-sex marriages without addressing a slew of other, interrelated concerns. The Church would have to say something about accepting a marriage arrangement that has been a non-starter for 6,000 years. The Church would also have to say something about the Temple. Here are some possibilities:

    (1) “We recognize legal same-sex marriages, and the sexual relations within them, as acceptable to God – but only in mortality. Such unions are dissolved by death and will not be reconstituted thereafter. Therefore, these unions will not be sealed in the temple.”

    Related issues:
    Will same-sex attraction be felt after death?
    Can for-time-only same-sex marriages be performed in the temple?
    Will spouses in same-sex marriages be available to be called as bishops, Stake presidents, Youth leaders, Primary and Relief Society presidents? If not, why not?

    (2) “We recognize legal same-sex marriages as valid in mortality, but we don’t know all the conditions operative in the next world or in the resurrection and therefore cannot comment on them. So we will accept legal same-sex marriages but will not seal such unions in the temple, and wait to see what comes. Spouses in same-sex marriages will have to hang on and hope for the best.”

    Related issues: See above

    (3) “We recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in this life and because we don’t know what will obtain in the next life, we will go ahead and seal these unions in the temple anyway and let it all get sorted out in the next world.”

    Related issues: See above, minus the temple restrictions

    (4) “We have expanded our understanding of doctrine: We now hold that marriages in heaven are of three types – man and woman, man and man, and woman and woman. Eternal same-sex unions are an exact analog to eternal heterosexual marriages in their rights, privileges and destinies. Being eternal, same-sex marriages have always existed, though we knew it not until now. It is on this understanding that we will seal these unions in the temple.”

    Related issues: Presumably, all issues above are resolved.

    In recognizing same-sex marriages as valid in the Church, some form of the above would have to be considered. Policies and rationales would need to be articulated. Same-sex marriage doesn’t exist in a theological vacuum. Nothing does. And which policy would same-sex couples settle for?

    How would such decisions be made? The LDS Church being what it is, and to be true to its claims, there can be only one answer: Revelation.

    And here is the sticking point, the deciding line: For Mormons, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not run by a group of men in Salt Lake City. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

    What if Jesus Christ says no?

    For Mormons who want the Church to recognize same-sex marriages, what is their contingency plan for this?

    • March 3, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      You did a good job of laying out the various options the Church might face. Looking at these choices, the Church, in following the traditional Catholic/sectarian view of the Gospel, instead of relying on the light of revelation, has appeared to have painted itself into a theological corner.

      Joseph Smith there were many great and important things to be revealed that pertain to the Kingdom of God. But, by following the precepts of men, they may well have tied the Lord’s hands.

      What is Jesus Christ says yes? What if he rebukes the false prophets, and calls true prophets, maybe even starting a new church, instead of trying to put new wine in old bottles?

      Jesus Christ has already said “yes” to the prophets of other Restoration churches. Why would he say “no” to the Mormon leaders? Have the Mormon authorities even bothered to ask, or are they so wise in their own conceit that they refuse to inquire of the Lord, as did Laman and Lemuel, before them? Or will they be like Reverend Lane and other paid ministers who claim that God has already spoken through Joseph Smith, and the cannon is now closed?

      When members of the Church are forced to choose between their families and the Church’s homophobic stance, and the members choose their families, and people leave the Church in droves, what is the Church’s contingency plan for this?

      If the choice is not between loyalty to the Church and loyalty to one’s families, it will always be the family. The Church has taught us well. The Church is only temporary. Families are forever.

    • Thomas Montgomery
      March 4, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Tim, thanks for reading and applying some serious thought to the subject. Similar to your 1st and 2nd points, I think the Church could move easily to accepting same sex marriage in much the same way it accepts civil unions or marriages outside the temple. The Church already makes clear distinctions between temple marriages and civil marriages for heterosexual people. This would be the fist step and could be framed as a ‘policy’ change, in order to keep the appearance of unchanging doctrine (Which, of course, has already changed dramatically over the past 40 years.)

      • Tim Bone
        March 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

        I don’t see the Church “moving easily” on this. Here’s the problem: It couldn’t be simply a policy change. The Church would have to affirm that sexual relations between men or between women are acceptable in the eyes of God – not just the Church – as long as there is a legal civil marriage. Prostitution is legal is some areas, and consensual sex between adults practically everywhere, but the Church doesn’t follow suit. I am not saying that same-sex marriage is like prostitution — it isn’t — but that the Church (or any church) isn’t obligated to follow whatever sexual expression flies within the civil law. Ordinarily, a legal marriage comes with sexual relations as part of the package, but I don’t see the Church as accepting this package unless the position I give as #4 in my original post makes an unexpected appearance.

  19. Bec
    March 4, 2015 at 1:08 am

    I agree Tim, well-said.

    Religion never did occur in a vacuum, at least not historically.

    Consideration of God’s word to man can be well-compared to a parent’s word to children. As much as I try to be as accurate as I can to my children when telling them things, sometimes the words I say to a small child, if addressed to an adult, would be incorrect. Yet, to the child, they accord with the child’s definitions and context so that the child understands. When that child is ready, they’ll be able to understand more exacting definitions.

    So with this in mind, are we ready to hear God’s word? There are two obvious possibilities, 1) we still have so much bias against homosexuality that we would not understand the vocabulary, we would not be ready as a Church to integrate it into our theology and practice, and 2) the modern world has such strong opinions about sexuality and love that we might not be able to accept a rejection of same-sex marriage by God, we’ve created a vocabulary where an acceptance of homosexual people cannot happen without an acceptance of same-sex marriage.

    I’m sure there are possibilities 3,4,5, etc…, but I hope I’ve helped affirm your point. Are we seeking God’s word, His language?

  20. Tim Bone
    March 18, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Your two options are certainly strong contenders. LDS supporters of same-sex marriage recognition certainly push Option 1: God has always been ready to accept sexual expression within same-sex marriages, but a blind, biased world just hasn’t been ready to accept this until the 21st Century. Now we too can get onboard.

    I see no support for this. Zero. I see no evidence that God has ever tried to steer mortals in this direction. He might have done so in Adam and Eve’s time, before social stigmas had developed and before there could be much in the way of dissent, but there is no record of such.

    An argument associated with this is that since the scriptures do not specifically condemn (or even address) same-sex marriage, this leaves wiggle-room for acceptance. I would argue that the silence is more simply explained as a recognition that same-sex marriage has been a non-starter for 6,000 years. Jesus didn’t need to condemn a marital arrangement that no one accepted and no one expected to be accepted. For the Church to do so now would require addressing the issues I included in my orginal post above.

    As for Option 2, the modern world is hardly in step with God on much of anything anyway. The modern ethic on love and sexuality is simply this: Sexual expression between consenting, single adults, gay or not, is acceptable and, when “responsibly practiced”, can be indulged in without guilt. There is no eternal consequence. (There seems to be a lot of leeway for married couples as well.) Get pregnant? There are many options, including abortion, all of which are ethically and morally neutral. Sex is in, guilt is out.

    That ship has sailed in the modern world, and it isn’t coming back. This actually frees the Church to continue proclaiming God’s word. Sophisticated moderns have already rejected us. Remeber the angel and gold plates?

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