Passed the Tipping Point? Really?????


I have to begin this post by letting you know that my life has been managed by the fact that I am a Libra. I walk around with my hands out like the scales, saying “On the one hand there is this–on the other hand there is that.”

It renders me quite paralytic when I stand in the middle of a room and hold something in my hand wondering, “Throw it away? Put it in the box for the thrift store? Might it have historical value? Save it for one of the children? Or maybe one of the great-grandchildren?”

Yes, I know. You want to rip it from my hand and pummel me about the head. So do I. My Libraness gets in my way quite a lot.

But in other ways my Libraness has been a great blessing. It has, for instance, helped me navigate the tension between the LDS Church and homosexuality long enough to assist in making a difference.

I read the comments that readers printed here after my blog of a couple of weeks ago (See “The Tipping Point and the Penny”)–asserting that our church as well as society has passed the tipping point in terms of gay issues, and that in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard the Lord paid equally those who came early and those who came late–and I found myself agreeing with those who agreed with me–-and also agreeing with those who did not agree with me.

“I think there is such a thing as being too generous…So far, their [LDS general leadership] work has been limited to cleaning up the charred remains of the part of the vineyard they and their predecessors have burned.” I can see that.

“I don’t at all see the church at the tipping point. I was recently excommunicated for being gay. I was told that by being gay I was ruining the good name of the church. Ostracized throughout the community.” I nod my head. Terrible.

“Except that coming late won’t un-dead those that took their life nor remove the heaps of emotional and mental suffering.” No argument here.

“I hope you are right that we have passed the tipping point as a church. But I’m afraid that being a lesbian and living in Utah Valley has taught me otherwise. I can’t come out to anyone but my closest friends. My family relationships are strained. When I told my sister that I was dating a woman she looked at me as if I had just killed a puppy.” I sigh. Absolutely understand.

And yet–we are past the point of no return even though sometimes it does not look like it. There is now enough momentum on the side of shifting attitudes about gay and lesbian people that there is no going back. In society, yes! In the LDS Church, yes!

In my last post I told of watching the second in a three-part series on PBS called “The Abolitionists.” That program ended at a sad place in history, but the narrator said, “The abolitionists–Frederick Douglass–William Lloyd Garrison–Harriet Beecher Stowe–could not know it, but their long struggle had passed the tipping point.”

I watched the last program in the series a couple of days ago, and things got even worse!–a stronger challenge to freeing the slaves–then the civil war! But then–though still with harsh times ahead–freedom!

The narrator spoke: “The abolitionists seemed prophetic. They had bent the arc of history.”

On the subject we are addressing, the arc of history has been bent. We are not home free. But even now a family member who goes to the new website will find instruction that if followed would not allow them to look at a lesbian sister in a relationship as if she had “just killed a puppy.”


On the one hand–we have indeed passed the tipping point. Continued and more rapid change is inevitable.

And on the other hand… Usually I am a Libra, but on this one, to quote Tevye in “Fiddler On the Roof,” “…there is no other hand.”

Not on my watch.


6 comments for “Passed the Tipping Point? Really?????

  1. Diane Oviatt
    February 2, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Carol Lynn,
    Your “Libraness” has need served you well, and is, of course, one of the many things we all love so much about you. As the efforts continue on behalf of our LGBT friends and family members, I feel a bit of your “balance the scales” mentality myself and I find that much of the back and forth pull , for me, is related to geography.

    Admittedly, you and I are so blessed to live in the heart of the liberal Bay Area and have had largely positive experiences in and out of the church compared to some of the horror stories our friends in Utah (and even other parts of Ca.) have shared. If I look at my own experience with my gay son and his coming out to an amazing Bishop and Stake President , I can wholeheartedly agree that, yes, we have reached a tipping point. Then, listening to some of the heartbreaking interaction others have had , especially at the hands of their fellow saints, I can revert to bitterness, anger and despair.

    The question for me is, how do we reach these misguided souls who are so deeply entrenched in their bigoted culture, so that they stop maiming (and, yes killing) the tender souls of our gay friends (some of whom are their own children!)? I don’t know if a website, even one sponsored by the church, will be enough to eradicate such deeply entrenched, fear based prejudice.

    • February 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      You are right. The website is not nearly enough. We must all continue to be vocal and brave. Stand up. Write letters. Speak out. Make waves. Dare to “get in trouble.” Hold a vision of LDS life as it should be for EVERYONE and behave as if that vision is already here. I know no other way. I respect those who jump ship. But this is the ship I have been placed on and I love the passengers enough to make the kind of waves that will help steer the course. Sending love to you. CLP

  2. Tom Montgomery
    February 2, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Being beyond the tipping point as you artfully described does not mean our work is done. It simply means the inevitability of change has enough momentum that it can not be stopped. The time period for continued change is still variable based largely on our efforts. You noted that the Abolutionists never knew that they were beyond the tipping point. In our age and crisis, it is remarkable that we are even cognizant that a tipping point has been reached. That fact in and of itself speaks to the speed and power of the current movement.

  3. CMB
    February 2, 2013 at 10:28 am

    One the one hand, I want to agree and rejoice with you. I hope that things are changing and will continue. On the other… I don’t really see things changing here in this part of the kingdom. I was recently told by my bishop that gay members of the church are not required to live “celibate” lives; they are required to live “chaste” lives. Well… to live how he views a “chaste” life, a gay person has to be celibate. Playing with the language doesn’t take away the sting. At this point I only have hope that a tipping point has been met and that things will change for the better.

  4. Pablo
    February 5, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Thank you for a thoughtful response to the comments to your earlier piece. I agree that we are past the tipping point in much of the world. However, the jury is still on its lunch break when it comes to meaningful institutional changes in the LDS church in my lifetime. I appreciate your work to make the lives of individuals and families better, both within and outside formal Mormonism. That is a lasting and meaningful legacy. Based on my own experience and the experience of thousands of once-devout Mormons, I’m still convinced that the most healthy path for LGBT people with Mormon heritage is to get out of the church and make a life filled with genuine love, acceptance, and commitment to real-world facts. That is a very difficult path for all sorts of reasons. But for a super-majority of gay mormons, it is the way of life rather than physical and emotional death. The LDS church is simply not worthy of the contributions and membership of LGBT people.

  5. Jefferson
    February 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Fun article. I feel the same way as you do in your “libraness” sometimes. It makes me less of an opinionated person than others sometimes, which can be annoying . . . (I think we value strong opinions in our society) . . . but I like listening to both sides of each argument (or all three sides, etc) and often find myself understanding the reasons each side uses.

    I compare social progress to a ratchet – it turns in one direction, slowly, ever so slowly, but is almost impossible to turn back once it has. Once white people felt love and friendship towards black people, society’s option to regress to slavery was gone. It just couldn’t happen, at least not without some apocalyptic war or something. I think the same thing applies to gay rights, and I’m glad that the ratchet seems to be turning faster and faster.

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