A Letter to Ward Leaders and Sunday School Instructors

By Gina Crivello

A painful lesson is coming up that causes many anxiety. I hope this helps. I will be talking to my SS instructors and giving them this letter. I’d like to give credit to Matthew Vines for his hard work. You have my permission to use this.

Dear (Sunday School Instructors, Bishop, and SP),

I friend of mine shared her anxiety about an upcoming GD lesson, Lesson 8: Living Righteously in a Wicked World, and I felt inspired to write about it. Please feel free to utilize the following information the way the spirit moves you whether it’s in class, for your own pondering, or as something in your pocket when another person who doesn’t understand happens to comment.

This lesson includes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is traditionally attributed to homosexuality and where misinformation about gay people begin. My goal is to bring understanding, compassion, and sensitivity toward our gay brothers and sisters by expanding on the materials in this lesson already provided.

First, allow me define homosexual because I have found through discussions with members that many equate homosexuality with child-molestation, bestiality, lustfulness, and a non-stop sexual appetite for sodomy. This is false. Most gay people don’t like the word homosexual because it presents their identity as being all about sex. That simply is not true. Gay people experience attraction to the same gender on a heart-to-heart emotional level, spiritual level, committal level as well as the physical level — just like heterosexuals. So, when I say “gay” or “homosexual,” I am speaking about people with age-appropriate same-gender-attraction. The Church recognizes that being gay is not a choice nor an illness.

Lesson 8 teaches that the destruction of S & G was sexual sin, (Genesis 19). Sexual sin is a component, but it’s also the attitude behind the sexual sin (inhospitality). The sexual sin that the city men show towards Lot’s guests is sexual assault or gang rape, which is an act of humiliation and aggression. This was a common tactic during warfare and other hostile contexts of ancient times (and today, too). They wanted to shame, degrade, and conquer these guests. This has nothing to do with sexual orientation nor attraction. The story of S&G is to show us their cruelty to outsiders, especially compared to Gen. 18 (the chapter right before this story) where Abraham and Sarah are so kind to outsiders.

{Side note: Sexual sin, as you already know, includes infidelity, prostitution, human trafficking, pornography, rape, child molestation, impropriety with a minor even if minor isn’t fully aware of it, objectifying women/girls, and casual sex especially when it results in pregnancy.}

In the lesson manual almost at the end under “Additional Teaching Ideas” is a significant scripture that explains the reasonS for the destruction of S&G. Ezekiel 16:49-50 state, “Behold, this was the iniquity of they sister Sodom: Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters [and…um…sons ;)], neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.”

Pride. Unsharing. Idleness. Turns-away the poor and needy. Haughty. Abominations. << We see all of those everyday in the news and communities. What can we do to be less prideful? Less idle? More charitable towards the poor and needy? Less arrogant? Less abominable? More hospitable and welcoming? More understanding? More interested in seeking truth? More humble? I have to disagree with the staff-writer of Lesson 8 when he or she writes in the manual (still under the section “Additional Teaching Ideas”) about Ezekiel’s reasons for the destruction of S & G as being “small sins.” There are somewhere around 20 scriptural references about S & G, and only one of those connects their sins to sexual sins; the rest are about their inhospitality and arrogance. Christ, himself, discusses the grievousness of inhospitality in Matthew 10:15 and Luke 10:12, referencing S&G. Therefore, inhospitality and lack of charity must not be “small sins” after all. I am glad that Ez.16:49-50 was at least mentioned in the manual, although it appears to only be an after-though. Last year, when I began studying the six scriptures traditionally used to persecute gay people, I discovered by chance that the hard-copy Bible Dictionary completely leaves it out. When I looked up “Sodom” in the BD, it told me to “See Gomorrah.” When I looked up “Gomorrah,” it only listed scriptures with the word “Gomorrah” in it. As you can see above, Ezekiel’s scripture only contains the word “Sodom,” so getting the full picture is hindered. This is very frustrating. It’s also discouraging that the lesson manual barely gives Ezekiel’s verses a mention and minimalizes its significance at that. It is very significant to our gay brothers and sisters as well as those who love them, including our Heavenly Father. “Good teachings are not destructive to human dignity.” - Matthew Vines I won’t be attending GD class for two reasons: One because I enjoy my husband’s lessons over at Gospel Principles, and two because I don’t want you to think I’m looking over your shoulder and ready to pounce. I have confidence in all of you and your ability to teach with love and direct the class to do the same. Sincerely, Gina Crivello

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