The church needs to clarify the sin. There are many of us already in same-sex marriages, and if we want to be part of the church, then we need to know specifics about what is sinful. Local leaders (Bishops and Stake Presidents) need specific, coherent guidelines to determine worthiness, and also to determine church disciplinary actions. But most importantly, LGBT people need to see this framed from our perspective, as we ask the questions we are genuinely concerned about. So I am asking the church here to answer the questions we are asking ourselves, as LGBT people, about our lives, and about our loves.
Is it the companionship?
Is it a sin that we spend time together every day? Is it a sin that we have long philosophical discussions about science and religion? Is it a sin that we laugh together? Is it a sin when we go to movies together, or enjoy the company of friends together? Is it a sin that we share hobbies and interests that occupy our time together?
Is it the affection?
Is it a sin if I hold his hand or his arm as we walk down the street? Is it a sin if I give him a kiss hello after a business trip? Is it a sin if a stroke his hair while he is taking a nap? Is it a sin if I hold him in my arms as we wait for the bus to keep him warm on a winter day? Is it a sin to sit side by side and hold hands as we watch the sunset? Is it a sin to sleep side by side?
Is the the commitment?
Is it a sin that I promised to keep my husband in my presence so that we are not alone? Is it a sin that I promised to care for him in sickness? Is it a sin that I want to provide for him in the case of my death by letting him inherit my pension and our house? Is it a sin for him to receive my social security benefits if I die? Is it a sin to have the legal right to visit him in the hospital and be involved in medical decisions? Is it a sin to have the legal right to plan and attend his funeral if he should die?
Is it the family?
Is it a sin if I provide substantial financial support to his parents who are having difficulties in old age? Is it a sin if his nieces and nephews love me and accept as an uncle and as an integral part of his family? Is it a sin if I help his niece buy a computer, or offer to let a nephew live with us while he attends university? Is it a sin if I provide a loan so his sister can buy a home to live in with her family?
Is it the children?
Is it a sin to provide for his children? Is it a sin to give them a two parent home instead of a single parent home? Is it a sin for us to adopt a child in need of a home and provide them with love and stability?
Is it the same-sex marriage?
Is it a sin to commit to the person you love, if that person is the same gender? Is is a sin because it ‘weakens’ other peoples heterosexual marriages? Is it a sin to marry someone you can’t have children with?
Is it a sin to stay married?
If I committed to stay with my partner for the rest of our lives, would it be a sin to keep that promise? If we are raising children together, is it a sin to continue to provide a two parent home for these children? If my spouse depends on my financially, is it a sin to continue to support him? If I only have the means to support one household, is it a sin to continue to support my spouse instead of making him move out? Does this change if he is disabled? Would the sin be less if I support him through cancer or disability? Does this change if he is already too old to work or support himself? If I have also been supporting his parents and caring for them is it a sin to keep doing that?
Would God command me to divorce my same-sex spouse?
Would God command me to abandon my husband? Would He command me to refuse to care for him? Would He command me to leave him alone, or leave him destitute? Would He command me to abandon any children we care for together?
Is it the sex?
Is it sin if we are having sexual relationships in a legal, committed, monogamous marriage?
If it is the sex, then what is it about the sex? Is it a sin because of sodomy (normally referring to oral or anal sexual intercourse). Is it a sin when temple-married couples engage in these same practices? Is this part of the temple worthiness interview for temple-married men and women in the church? Is same-sex sodomy sinful while heterosexual sodomy allowed?
Is it a sin if we are having sexual relationships in a legal, committed, monogamous marriage?
If the sin is same-sex sodomy then are other sexual activities within the same-sex marriage sinful?
If the sin is sex, then would the marriage still be sinful if there was no sexual relationships (after all many heterosexual marriages have no sexual relationships)?.
What is it exactly?
I have a feeling that the church can’t answer these questions yet. These aren’t just questions about sin. These are questions about moral and responsible behaviors. These are questions about being human.
I have a feeling the leaders haven’t asked these questions yet. So far the leaders haven’t said anything that makes me believe they have contemplated our realities. I really hope they seek God’s inspiration on these issues.