Crumbs from the table

“Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” —Matthew 15:27

The Church is not a welcoming place for LGBT people, and most are either forced out or leave. Meanwhile, there are still very many LGBT Mormons who want a place in the church. There are even more who don’t have a choice because they are being raised there. Most of these LGBT Mormons are willing to accept that their relationships may never be recognized by the church. Many are even willing to live a life of celibacy in order to maintain their membership. I mourn with these people and I want to plead with the church leaders that they at least let these LGBT people eat the crumbs that fall from the table.

Our Youth

Can there be a crumb for our youth? Can there be a single positive message for our LGBT youth in the curriculum? Can there be a single message specifically for their parents? A message that Christ would want them to love and nurture their LGBT children and prepare them to succeed in whatever life they choose for themselves?

Can there be a crumb for that gay youth who has never disobeyed the law of chastity but who has ward members who won’t take the sacrament if he passes it to them?

Can there be a crumb for that gay youth at a youth conference who hears speech after speech about how terrible homosexuality is, but hears nothing that speaks to him/her?

Can there be a crumb for that lesbian youth who is told at church that it is better for a child to be raised in a group home or foster home than to be raised by two loving lesbians?

Can there be a crumb for the 15 year old who is kicked out her Mormon home because of her orientation, and sleeps in the snow near the entrance to her school because she has nowhere else to go?

Can there be a crumb for the 400 LGBT Mormon youth who are homeless and wandering the streets along the Wasatch Front and who get no support from their families, nor their Bishops (nor the state of Utah who offers excellent services to homeless adults, but no services to homeless teens, leaving them to survive in the streets as best they can, many of whom have to sell their bodies to survive and take stimulants to avoid the dangers of sleeping in the streets)?

Their Parents

Can there be a crumb for the parents of a gay youth who feels like their family is divided and are told that their child won’t be with them in eternity?

Can there be a crumb for these parents who mourn that their family no longer sits together at church, because their gay child feels too much pain at church?

Can there be a crumb for these parents who worry that their LGBT child will take their own life, or get involved in unsafe behaviors? Who wish their child could have the guidance of a church that rejected them?

Can there be a crumb for the parents who take a stand for their LGBT child, but then lose their callings or their temple recommends as a result?

Our Young Adults

Can there be a crumb for that young adult who has decided to end his life because he concludes that the only release from this painful conflict is death?

Can there be a crumb for the BYU student who after 3 years of school there is facing expulsion because she held another girl’s hand (with a further punishment of having her academic records withheld, thus wasting 3 years of education)?

Can there be a crumb for the BYU-I student who lives in constant fear of being discovered or the BYU-Hawaii student who is reported too often to the standards office by overzealous roommates for minor things such as having a rainbow flag in his room?

Can there be a crumb for the BYU graduate who is sitting in her commencement exercises celebrating her great achievement, but is crushed when she is told from the podium that she must fight against her own equality in order to be a good Mormon?

Our Active Members

Can there be a crumb for those active LDS celibate LGBT people who live according to all the church rules, but still find themselves marginalized in their ward? Who are reminded every week that they are less than their heterosexual peers?

Can there be a crumb for the active LDS celibate young adult who strayed as a youth, and now has his membership record permanently annotated, thus restricting him from callings with youth and children for life, even though he has fully repented?

Can there be a crumb for the return missionary who is now in same-sex relationship but wants to enjoy the fellowship of her ward and remain active, without facing an excommunication (even though she knows that she won’t be allowed a temple recommend)?

Can there be a crumb for the excommunicated but believing LGBT Mormon who is not being allowed baptism unless she divorces her wife of 25 years?

Can there be a crumb for the man feeling stuck in a mixed-orientation marriage of 20 years? Who wants to stay for his children, but is getting more and more suicidal every day?

Can there be a crumb for all LGBT/SSA people who pray every general conference that there will be even a single message of love directed toward them?

Our Family Members

Can there be a crumb for those who have left the church, but are then demonized and ostracized and excluded from family relationships?

Our Neighbors

Can there be a crumb for those who have never been Mormon but are seeing their civil rights restricted because they live in places that have a Mormon majority and these places won’t grant basic protections against housing or employment discrimination until the Church endorses it?

My Hope

There are many LGBT Mormons who will settle for even small crumbs, but only a few of them are being offered a place at the table, thanks to those rare sympathetic local leaders who are making a difference in their congregations. When will all LGBT Mormons be offered a few of these crumbs that fall from the table? Will the Church decide to minister to those who fall outside of the model promoted in the Proclamation?

My hope lies in the rising chorus of brave, faithful church members who are loving and welcoming their LGBT brothers and sisters into the fold. They are slowly changing attitudes in their wards and in the hearts of their fellow Mormons. I have a deep gratitude to these LDS allies who have blessed my journey. They have set an example of how it can be done. I know that Christ would have numbered himself among them if he had lived in these times.

I challenge every LDS person who loves their LGBT brothers and sisters to write a letter to their local leader as well as a member of the 12 apostles and plead with them to consider giving some crumbs to the despairing, isolated LGBT members of the church. Even if the church leaders can’t promise a change in doctrine, they can offer love, hope and empathy and they can inspire the all church members to do the same.

18 comments for “Crumbs from the table

  1. Janet Roberts
    August 17, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Thank you, Daniel. You have such a beautiful way of expressing the truth.

  2. Phil Berry
    August 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Hi Daniel,

    These are such great questions. I’ve found that when engaging with church leaders or friends who aren’t sympathetic to the lgbt issue due primarily to the effectiveness of the inculcation of the Mormon culture, not necessarily due to their own biases, asking these types of questions can really get people to take the time consider their own personal positions rather than simply repeat the party line. So very often, the best questions make the best arguments. These paradigm shifts take time for people and it is pieces of writing like this and conversations like this that will start to chip away at people’s hardened hearts. Thank you, Daniel.

  3. Meg
    August 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I have never read anything I love more. Thank you so much for this, Daniel! You are a treasure of a human being.

  4. Carla Hoffman
    August 17, 2014 at 11:37 am

    This is the very first thing I read this morning as I prepare for Church. Thank you for giving me a focus for my worship today. And so long as I can breathe I will not stop advocating for change; crumbs are not okay! Your thoughts, Daniel, have given me even more fortitude to tell the truth about our beloved LGBT. And I already had a lot of fortitude–now I am an oncoming train. With the horn blaring.

    • Vanessa Barton
      August 17, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Awesome post. Carla I would love to get to know you!

  5. August 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Very powerfully written! Thank you.

  6. August 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    We at Youth Futures are preparing to help these Utah kids within a few months!!
    They won’t have to sleep on the streets anymore.
    https://www.facebook.com/YouthFuturesUT?ref=profile
    http://www.yfut.org

    Envision as world where all youth have a safe, supportive and affirming place to call home…WE DO!

  7. Jake Abhau
    August 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Yes, well written and actually very critical. But you do it in such a loving way, I’m envious of this gift you have. Hopefully, people will understand that your intention is not to combat the church but wrestle for needed change.

    I hope our peers are supportive in your efforts. You know I am. I “know” this is beautifully written and tremendously needed.
    🙂

    Thank you, Crazy-Eyed Bearded One.

  8. August 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I was reading this as I was riding the train home from my first ever experience at Metropolitan Community Church of Washington DC. This is very well written and everything in it, is very well said/

  9. Jeff Ray
    August 17, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Very interesting article. Exactly what type of crumbs are you asking for?

  10. Stephen
    August 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Why should any LGBT person wait around in such a toxic environment hoping for elusive crumbs – CRUMBS!? – when there are banquets of love, joy and spiritual blessings to be found elsewhere?

  11. LeAnn
    August 18, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Daniel,

    I’m someone who’s left the Church recently. I didn’t leave because I no longer love the Lord, or the Church. I left because I am not strong enough as a Lesbian woman who’s sense of integrity and honesty requires me to be open about my orientation with all whom I trust, and cope with all of the stigma and misinformation spouted by many members of the Church. I had one brother whom has grandkids that identify as LGBTQ, whom kept conflating pedophiles with gay people,even when I informed him that it wasn’t an appropriate comparison. I knew then I just couldn’t cope with it. I also had a bishop that, when I informed him of my orientation and my knowledge that the Lord accepted me fully as I am, and that I had been less active in part because of my discomfort with the general attitude of the Church towards this issue, start out by asking if I was acting on my orientation, (no) and immediately talk about his role as a common judge in Israel and how he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy. To say the least, I formally left several weeks later as I do NOT feel safe with this bishop. I’m not sure that i feel very comfortable with the stake presidency either at this point.

    In line with the thoughts of church inculcation and the general stigma around LGBTQ issues, I am bothered by a statement you made here:

    “Can there be a crumb for the active LDS celibate young adult who strayed as a youth, and now has his membership record permanently annotated, thus restricting him from callings with youth and children for life, even though he has fully repented?”

    That statement reminded me too much of the brother who kept conflating pedophilia with being gay. As you and I are well aware, the vast majority of LGBTQ people are NOT pedophiles. Well over 95% of known pedophiles identify as straight. Pedophilia is about power and control, and children are unable to consent to the relationship. Gay relationships are between two consenting adults. I really think the “crumb” you should be asking for is for the Church and it’s members to recognize that Homosexuality and Pedophilia are two separate and very different things, and that the conflating of the two MUST stop.

    If the Church believes in speaking and teaching the truth about things as they are so to speak, then they must recognize this truth and stop spreading this particular lie. We also have a responsibility, I think, to call this erroneous idea out for the damaging falsehood that it is.

    I wish all much peace and blessings from the Savior.

  12. Robert
    August 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks, Daniel, for this outstanding, powerdul article. As an LGBT ally, I just posted it on my Facebook page. I hope to meet you at the Affirmation conference next month.

  13. Lori
    August 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    These aren’t hypothetical stories asking for crumbs. These are REAL. They are our brothers and sisters, and they will always be welcome at my table.

  14. Thomas Price
    August 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    define crumb. if by crumb you mean teacher who tells the chaste deacon that it is the refusers loss? yes. if by crumb you mean members being told that mistreating those with weaknesses different from our own is a sin? yes. if by crumb you mean denial of eternal truths and accepting the false doctrine that homosexuality is not a sin? no.

    • Cindy Richards
      August 22, 2014 at 3:28 am

      I totally agree with you Thomas. Well said!

  15. August 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    We are in very difficult times Daniel. Thanks so much for sharing these insights. I hope our church leaders will read your post and that their hearts will be softened to act.

  16. Chelsea
    September 9, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Hello,

    I read this article and have thought about it extensively. To clarify the meaning of terminology, instead of using the word gay, I am going to refer to those with same-gender/sex attraction. This means those who are attracted to someone of the same sex, but desire to follow God and be chaste, active members of His Church.

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I have a strong testimony that it is God’s church on the earth. I am sad that certain members with same-gender attraction are feeling marginalized or rejected. That is not what Heavenly Father or the Savior want. I agree that there needs to be more compassion and charity. There have been messages from general authorities that address the challenge of struggling with same-gender attraction, and issue a call to be kind and loving. Here are few of these messages:

    1. The website mormonsandgays.org is a great source for messages from leaders and members.

    2. The pamphlet “God Loveth His Children” – “This message is intended for Latter-day Saints who are troubled with same-gender attraction and sometimes feel discouraged but sincerely desire to live a life pleasing to our Father in Heaven.”
    https://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children?lang=eng&query=same-gender+attraction+online

    3. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s article from the October 2007 Liahona: “Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction”. This is a good article for parents and friends of someone with same-gender attraction.
    https://www.lds.org/liahona/2007/10/helping-those-who-struggle-with-same-gender-attraction?lang=eng

    4. Elder Dallin H. Oak’s address from the October 2006 general conference: “He Heals the Heavy Laden”. This is a wonderful reminder that “the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ … is available for every affliction in mortality.”
    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/he-heals-the-heavy-laden?lang=eng&query=same-gender+attraction+online

    5. Elder Dallin H. Oak’s article from the October 1995 Ensign: “Same-Gender Attraction”.
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/10/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng&query=same-gender+attraction+online

    6. Elder M. Russell Ballard’s CES Devotional for Young Adults, May 2014: “Be Still, and Know that I Am God”. The 3rd subject is “The Doctrine of Marriage”.
    https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2014/01/be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god?lang=eng&query=same-gender+attraction+online

    In addition to these messages, there can be direction and comfort in studying the scriptures and praying to Heavenly Father. He can teach us through His Spirit. We can receive personal revelation as long as we seek it and are worthy to have the companionship of His Spirit.

    Daniel, I hope you and others can find comfort in knowing that Heavenly Father loves you, and has a plan for you. He gave us commandments that, if obeyed, will bring us eternal joy and life with Him. We cannot change His words or His doctrines. He and His Son can help us find joy in this life, in spite of the many challenges, as long as we obey them and do their will. I know that God’s prophet is Thomas S. Monson, and he and the other general authorities of the Church love and care about us. They have said much on the topic of same-gender attraction, and I know they are concerned that many members are suffering. President Boyd K. Packer expressed the attitude of the Church towards those with same-sex attraction: ‘We do not reject you,’ he said. ‘… We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.” (“Ye Are the Temple of God,” Liahona, Jan. 2001, 87.)

    It is important to remember that members of the Church are imperfect. It is unfortunate that some local leaders, ward or family members do not understand or do not have compassion for those with same-sex attraction. Also, remember that Christ taught us to be tolerant and loving of people, but not of sin. Our leaders have said, “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is.”(mormonsandgays.org) If local leaders or ward members know someone who is acting on the attraction, they might have a difficult time separating the sin from the sinner, but that is not the Lord’s way.

    I sincerely hope this helps! I am sorry about the situations you mentioned in your article. I had a friend in a singles ward who said she was attracted to girls. I admired her for being true to her testimony, staying active and participating in the programs of the Church. I hope I can help other friends I make to feel loved and part of God’s family, no matter their sexual orientation.

    -Chelsea

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