By Loren Evans
A story of shame…
Back in the late ’80’s I lived with my family in downtown Salt Lake City. Not long after moving there our 3 month old daughter died. The best the medical establishment could tell us was SIDS. Not long after I was called to the Stake High Council.
Life was good for us in Salt Lake City. I was establishing myself professionally as a computer programmer and often traveling to points around the United States assisting in the sales efforts of what I was producing.
It wasn’t long in my role on the High Council that we were having disciplinary courts every month as part of our agenda. Some referred to the Stake President as a hanging judge…he was out to purify and cleanse the stake membership. The courts were always done with deliberation and a feeling of love often accompanied with many tears of both the offenders and the council members. In all cases a high council member was assigned to the member to assist them on their road to return to full membership. Despite what seemed to be good, every night following the high council courts was much anxiety for me.
After many months of this, one high council night, the stake president again announced another court. By then we had been hardened to this again and again. This one was different the stake president said, this is a homosexual. Immediate, the majority of the high council started with gay jokes. I was stunned. The young man was brought in. He introduced himself. The court proceeded by allowing him to make a statement. His position was he loved men and in time wanted to be with a man. Unlike prior councils of kindness and patience, the men jumped at him quoting scriptures, asking for his interpretation of what they said clearly indicated his ways were wrong.
There was an attempt by the young man to argue, but he quickly gave up. The council seemed to be pleased, the young man was excused. After a brief time, the Stake President announced his decision of excommunication. The young man was brought back and given the decision he was excommunicated and he left.
The Stake President quickly got us back to stake business. I interrupted and asked, “Is a council member going to be assigned to this young man?” His response was, “I am not assigning anyone. He is a waste of my time.” I sat stunned through the rest of the meeting. The meeting was over, rather than going home, I walked down a side street, sat on the curb, and vomited my guts out.
That night there were two men on trial, the young man and myself. One was freed from the church, both of us were a waste of time.
Not long after I asked to be released. In the meeting with the stake president he let me know that I had been called knowing that my daughter had died and the pain that would be there figuring I just as well be on the council as anywhere else. The coldness of that bundled with my court experience led me to state to him, I need to be released because the gospel does not exist on this council. Next conference I was released.
Not long after the stake president was sent out as a mission president. He was proud of the connections he had with the brethren and got the mission he wanted.
Soon my wife and I were called as stake young adult reps. We loved all of our young people. Odd enough, many of the young men were return missionaries and gay. I had the opportunity to visit with the new stake president some time later. I brought up all these beautiful young people we had in our home. Then I carefully broached the subject of a number of them being homosexual. His response was he did not care even if they were with partners as long as they were not public stating being homosexual and Mormon, he would never intrude on their love. Again markedly stunned…in him I found the gospel alive again. Unfortunately that beautiful wisdom and spirit I observed in the years since seemed to be found less and less in church leadership, at least by my limited observation.
Through the years I assisted dozens of young men to get their Eagle Scout awards. I have spoken at dozens of missionary farewells, and have been at many weddings for these young men. I have been a good father, temple worker, several bishoprics, much charity service, yet frequently, particularly with church’s public actions and positions and discussion within the ward and stake, I have been reminded that despite all I am and have done…I am a waste of time.
I personally believe we are created by God just the way we are, be it gay or straight. Many times I have thought God created us gays to add beauty and spice to life and the earth. In any case, all any of us want is to love and be loved, which for me is the closest we become like the Gods. Be us gay or straight, where there is love, there is God.
Loren Evans came from original members of the church’s founding in New York state. He is the father of 3 sons and a daughter and now lives in Mesa, AZ.