not in Primary anymore

the gay law of chastity

By Averyl Dietering

It’s been about three weeks since I met with my bishop and sat numbly in his office while he told me I can’t take the sacrament because I have a girlfriend.  Yes, I know it was silly for me to have even the slightest hope of remaining worthy to take the sacrament while I, a woman and lifelong Mormon, have a girlfriend.  Like many LGBTQIA members, I’ve read the Church’s stance on homosexuality dozens and dozens of times: “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is” (mormonsandgays.org).  I was raised to see same-sex relationships as wrong and wicked. I’ve been told time and time again that the only temple worthy union is between a woman and a man.

Yet the official stance didn’t fit with my understanding of loving Heavenly Parents and an inclusive Plan of Happiness.  Why was I raised to want an eternal companion and family above all else, then told that my “special mission” was to remain celibate for life?  Why did my Church criticize the Catholic Church for asking their priests and nuns to be celibate, using the argument that “it is not good for man [or woman] to be alone” (Moses 3:18, Abraham 5:14), and then tell me that celibacy was my only option if I wanted to remain a worthy member?  These questions swirled in my mind as my bishop forbade me to take LDS communion.  I tried to maintain my composure.  Maybe, I thought, he simply misunderstood:

“So, you’re saying that even if my girlfriend and I were to only hold hands with each other—no hugging, cuddling, kissing, or anything else—then the simple fact that I was pursuing this relationship with her would mean that I was breaking the law of chastity?”

“Yes.  As a woman, if you are actively pursuing a relationship with another woman then you are breaking the law of chastity.”

I felt my heart sink.  Here was a man whom I had trusted with my secrets.  I had told him that I am queer and have a girlfriend. For the most part, he was understanding.  I asked him tough questions about the Church’s stance on gay marriage, and I was surprised that instead of calling me to repentance for questioning, he had agreed with many of my beliefs.  It was for these reasons that I was even more hurt by his assertion that I was unworthy to take the sacrament, even if my girlfriend and I kept the law of chastity that is given to heterosexual members.

At this point I need to take a break in my narrative to explain my goals for this post.  First, I hope to share an authentic, heartfelt experience about what it’s like to be a gay Mormon in love. Second, I will address the difference between the gay law of chastity and the straight law of chastity.  It’s often fruitless to make a case for whether or not the LDS Church can abide gay marriage or not—either you believe it can or you believe it can’t. It’s not my intent to change your mind.  Instead, I want to simply share my experience as a fellow human, and hope that it can open a useful space for conversation and introspection.  Regarding the second goal, I believe it’s high time we admit that there is a huge difference between the law of chastity that we expect straight members to follow and the law of chastity we expect gay members to follow.  As I will explain later, they are not the same and they are not equally difficult to follow. For this reason, I will refer to the two separate laws of chastity as the gay law and the straight law.

Back to the scene in my bishop’s office.  I could feel my heart sinking as he told me I had to break up with my girlfriend in order to be worthy to take the sacrament.  I had entered his office so full of hope;  for about a year and a half I had guilted myself out of taking the sacrament because I was ashamed of my homosexual feelings, desires, and actions.  Through prayer, study, introspection, and clinical counseling, I had begun to escape my self-hatred and accept myself as a queer daughter of God.  I began to see my sexuality as a blessing, and my relationship with my girlfriend as wholesome and healing.  I’d had great hope that if I discussed my emotional and spiritual journey with my bishop, he would encourage me to take the sacrament again so I could have the added strength that came from weekly renewing my baptismal covenants.

“Would you like to take the sacrament?” my bishop asked.

I didn’t know how to answer such a question.  Did he honestly think I was enjoying the burden of not taking the sacrament?  Was he trying to use the ordinance as a bargaining chip to make me break up with my girlfriend?  Or did he really not understand how much his little question meant to me?

“Not anymore,” I muttered.  I didn’t see his response, because I had to leave before the weight of his question crushed me.  I thanked him for his time and began to walk out, but he stopped me and asked if we could meet again and talk.  I tried to focus on his question, but I couldn’t. My life, my belief in a benevolent God, and my trust in sympathetic church leaders was caving in, and I had to escape.

There’s a quiet little alleyway behind the church that’s just private enough for a desperate young woman to call her girlfriend without fear of anyone overhearing.  I called my girlfriend (for the sake of the story we’ll call her Helena) and sobbed while she tried to convince me that I was still a worthy and loved daughter of God.  I sure didn’t feel like I was.

As I left the alleyway and made my way home, I remember walking along some of the very busy streets that I live by and thinking about how simple it would be to step out into the traffic: not only could I escape a homophobic culture that forced me to choose between my faith and my love, but I might even be able to rid myself of my sexuality.  After all, many Mormons—my mother included—tell me that they believe homosexuality is only a trial of this life, and that just as God takes away our defects when we die, he would take away my homosexual desires and replace them with heterosexuality.  I’m sure they thought they were comforting me by assuring me that my trial was temporary.  But like many gay Mormons, hearing that I could get rid of my homosexuality by killing myself only made suicide look more appealing.

Miraculously, my despair only lasted for a couple days.  I somehow refrained from throwing myself headlong into traffic for long enough to realize that if I was going to continue along my path as a Mormon who refused to choose between her religion and her girlfriend, I needed more support than going to counseling once a month and complaining to Helena over the phone whenever I was upset.  As wonderful as Helena and my counselor are, I couldn’t maintain my spiritual, emotional, and mental health if I only had two other people to talk to.  Luckily, I remembered hearing about Wendy Montgomery, a gay rights activist who also happened to be a Mormon.  In a moment of extreme boldness (or awkwardness, really) I contacted her on Facebook and sent her a long message about my situation.  I wish I could spend the rest of this post talking about how Sister Montgomery took me under her wing and showed me a welcoming world of loving Mormon members who are also LGBTQIA allies.  But, like a Book of Mormon prophet, I don’t have room to share “even an hundredth part” of the hope, love, and reassurance that these Mormon allies bring to my life. I will say this: if you are a gay Mormon or ally and you need a community who will accept you and love you for who you are, trust me. There are people who would love to help you.

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I’d like to say that this is my happy ending.  After all, it’s great to not be dead and to have found a community of allies.  But is that really a happy ending?  I’m still afraid of being public with my sexuality and my relationship for fear of very probable retaliation.  I still am afraid to speak up when my family members fume about Satan and his minions fighting against “traditional” marriage. And I am still forbidden from taking the sacrament because I refuse to live by the irrationally strict gay law of chastity.

My experience with the gay law of chastity has led me to some very dark places.  My heart aches every time I think of another gay brother or sister who seriously considers leaving the Church or killing themselves because they cannot live up to its impossible demands.  The LDS Church says that they welcome and love gay members, but given the current gay law of chastity, this only seems to be lip service.  If we really want to show gay members that we love them and respect them as fellow children of God, we need to consider the following:

1)      The gay law of chastity isn’t clearly explained.  Think about it.  How many lessons and talks have you heard on the straight law of chastity?  How many articles have been printed in the New Era and Ensign to help members understand the purpose and requirements of the straight law of chastity?  Now ask yourself how many times you’ve had a lesson on the gay law of chastity.  Really, the only information we have about the gay law of chastity is what is at mormonsandgays.org—“The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is”—and the section on homosexual behavior in the Church Handbook: “If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts.”

This may seem to be clear-cut, but is actually quite confusing.  How is a gay member supposed to separate their sexuality from the rest of their identity?  What if a gay young man decides he likes to bake cupcakes, dance ballet, wear pretty bracelets, and otherwise deviate from twentieth-century Western masculine gender roles?  According to the gay law of chastity, if these behaviors are a result of his homosexuality, then he is breaking the law of chastity.  What if my sexuality plays a role in the way I walk and carry my body? Again, just by moving my body I would be breaking the law of chastity because I was acting on my sexuality.  Do we realize how absurd it is to ask someone to not act on their sexuality?  Essentially, we are telling gay Mormons that if they can’t pass for straight, if they can’t completely mask the gay, they are unchaste. Furthermore, we are also implying to all members that sexuality is a button that can be turned on and off, or a part of our mind that we can cut out and kill if it doesn’t act the way the Church wants it to.  This view of repressing homosexuality is dangerous because it encourages members to see their sexualities as evil or problematic instead of natural and healthy. By teaching our gay members that their sexuality is a bad thing that should be ignored or destroyed completely, we reinforce unhealthy views of sexuality and damage the sexualities of all members.

2)      It isn’t universally enforced.  In some regions and countries, bishops tend to be a bit more lenient in their interpretation of the gay law of chastity, and are kind enough to give the same law of chastity to all of their ward members, whether they are gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor.  Therefore, if an activity would not be against the law of chastity for a heterosexual member (such as holding hands with their significant other), then it would not be against the law of chastity for a homosexual member either.  Luckily, my girlfriend lives in one of these regions.  However, there are other places in which bishops—like mine—take a stricter approach to interpreting the gay law of chastity, and make it their responsibility to determine whether or not a gay member is “acting on it.”  Does it make sense that my personal worthiness as a gay Mormon depends on geographical location?  This would be akin to saying that it some geographical regions, YSA bishops encourage dating, while in other regions YSA bishops discourage and penalize it.  This is an alarming inconsistency, and surely cannot be a strength to the Church or reassuring to its members.

3)      Statistically, the majority of gay Mormons choose not to follow it.  This argument is a bit more tenuous than my others because there have been so few reliable, academic studies of the gay Mormon population.  I only know of one academic study of gay Mormons: “Exploration of Experiences and Psychological Health of Same-sex Attracted Latter-day Saints” conducted by William Bradshaw, Ph.D. (BYU), Renee Galliher, Ph.D. (USU), John P. Dehlin, M.S. (USU), and Katie Peterson, M.S. (USU). (If you know of any more academic studies of gay Mormons, please let me know about them in the comments.)  According to this 2011 study, only 32% of gay Mormons surveyed were celibate, and of those 32%, only 14% were celibate by choice. Some might be tempted to look at these statistics and assume that gay members are just more sexually deviant than straight members.  But this viewpoint leads us to judgment, not understanding.  If a commandment has an 86% failure rate, then maybe we need to revise the commandment, not chastise gay members for not being “righteous enough.”  After all, in Mark 2:27 Jesus teaches that “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”  Likewise, Heavenly Father didn’t create a huge list of commandments and then say to himself, “Gee, it’d be great to create some sort of creature that could obey all these.”  Rather, He created us—His children—first, and then created commandments that we could all follow, and could improve us and help us grow: “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Cor. 10:13).  If a commandment has only a 14% success rate, then it does not seem to fall under the category of commandments that everyone can follow and that can help us grow.

4)      The gay law of chastity operates on a dangerous all-or-nothing mentality.  Many bishops use a slide as a metaphor for teaching the straight law of chastity.  The slide metaphor conveys two concepts: first, that there are different levels of physical affection; second, the further you go, the more likely you are to break the straight law of chastity.  Part of the wisdom of the straight law of chastity is that it allows unmarried people to show healthy affection in ways that strengthen relationships and let off a bit of sexual steam (let’s be honest). In addition, the straight law of chastity points to marriage as the fulfillment of sexual desires, which is one reason why so many single Mormons are motivated to refrain from sexual relations before marriage.  This is a concept that’s missing from the gay law of chastity, because it ensures that gay members have NO hope of fulfilling sexual relationships.  In fact, the best metaphor for the gay law of chastity would be a large pit: all levels of affection are breaking the gay law of chastity. If holding hands or flirting brings just as much condemnation as committing adultery or fornication, then there is little incentive for a gay Mormon holding hands with his boyfriend to refrain from premarital sex (besides, I’ve been told that sex is a lot more fun than just holding hands).  Surely we don’t mean to teach our gay members that for them, holding hands with someone of the same sex is on the same level as adultery or premarital sex.

5)      It’s a double standard, and is not equivalent to the straight law of chastity.  For the majority of straight Mormons, the straight law of chastity provides guidelines from dating to courtship to marriage.  If used correctly and reasonably, it can help foster healthy relationships, assist in building beneficial companionships, and possibly build a foundation for raising children.  On the other hand, the gay law of chastity leads to none of this.  In fact, many gay members trying to live the gay law of chastity find themselves in a catch-22: they avoid building friendships and relationships with those of the same sex because they are afraid of falling in love with them, and they avoid building friendships and relationships with those of the opposite sex because they don’t want to lead them on.  (Obviously building friendships and relationships is more complicated than this, but this is the general trend that I’ve seen.) Because of this, the gay law of chastity tends to lead to isolation instead of companionship or connectedness.  It simply isn’t fair that Mormons of one sexuality are allowed to follow a law that encourages them to love and guides them to fulfilling relationships, while Mormons of other sexualities must follow a law that tells them their love is wrong and leads them away from fulfilling relationships.  Furthermore, how can we be sure that the way our culture constructs sexuality (the homo-hetero continuum) reflects the way God has constructed our divine natures?

Something must be done about the gay law of chastity.  At the least, we need more guidance from the Church—official guidance explaining how and why the gay law of chastity should be correctly and uniformly followed, so that personal worthiness no longer depends on geographical location.  But how do we get this guidance?

The Church listens to its members. If enough members speak up about an issue, it’s only a matter of time before they address that issue.  Too few members are willing to speak up about LGBTQIA issues.  It is our responsibility to be vocal about the injustice facing our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters, to facilitate conversations about the Church’s stance on homosexuality, and to ask our bishops and stake presidents about why the gay law of chastity is so different from the straight law of chastity.  We can’t change the way the Church operates, but we can start the conversation. We can show our Church leaders that our LGBTQIA members are just as worthy of love as any other member.

Sexuality is a fraught issue. Hawaii has just legalized gay marriage, with Illinois likely to follow. These changes come to the great consternation of social conservatives and many Mormons. The rhetoric surrounding the issue is often religious on one side, human rights on the other, with few attempts to bridge the two. Let’s build that bridge now. Let’s bring the conversation home to our own playing field—to our religion, our beliefs, our rights, our homes, our brothers and sisters.

133 Responses to “the gay law of chastity”

  1. Julia

    Dear Hermia (oh your pseudonyms are the best!), I don’t have answers for you and I am so sorry that your bishop, someone you turned to for hope and counsel, hurt you that way. I echo Wendy – you are loved, you are precious just the way you are, and I hope someday (soon, please let it be soon), that the church’s doctrine will catch up with that.

    There was an article on NoMoreStrangers that also talked about this that I thought you (and other readers) might like: http://www.nomorestrangers.org/clarify-the-sin/

    Warm wishes to a life of romance and love.

    Reply
  2. Bryan K

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Spot On and so personal. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Mama

    You are a brave, brave, well spoken young woman and even though I don’t know you, I am proud of you. I’m LDS, married and bi-sexual. I support the LGBT community even though I fell in love with a man and made the choice to live “straight” 14 years ago. It’s not easy and you bring up very reasonable points about the differences in the laws of chastity. I’m so glad you have found a group to support you. I truly feel like the Savior wouldn’t want any of us to loathe ourselves for feelings we have. I truly believe there will come a time when it will all be worked out… After all, there are hardly any “typical” families out there anymore and even at church I’m seeing more and more diversity and people from all walks of life. Keep praying. I’m so happy you haven’t given up on the gospel!

    Reply
  4. juliathepoet

    “Let’s build that bridge now. Let’s bring the conversation home to our own playing field—to our religion, our beliefs, our rights, our homes, our brothers and sisters.”

    This. As a straight Ally, *This* is why I am willing to be vocal about my love and support for my LGBTQA brothers and sisters. I want both straight and gay members to know that I am an ally, safe to talk to as both a friend and ally. I also want to be safe, for anyone who is willing to learn more about LGBTQA issues, and who wants to talk about how to negotiate Mormon church doctrine and cultural issues. I also try to be an example, of a loving ally the huge variety of people whose lives don’t follow the “typical” Mormon pattern.

    Thank you for your bravery, and know that there are many allies who would love to have you and your girlfriend over for dinner, and won’t bat an eye over holding hands, or other “public displays” of natural affection. Hugs!

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    There’s no such thing as the gay law of chastity. Two women or two men in a sexual relationship is not part of God’s plan. It never has been, and it never will be. Until you gain a testimony of the family unit, you’re going to continue to be frustrated that you can’t have a girlfriend. I agree with your bishop wholeheartedly. You having a girlfriend is a DEAD END. Same sex marriages will never be allowed in the church so where exactly do you think your relationship with your “girlfriend” is going to go? I’m incredibly sorry that you have to struggle with same sex attraction; it’s a trial I’m so thankful I don’t have, but this blog is full of blaspheme and does not at all sound like it is coming from someone with a strong testimony of the gospel or Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for his children. The family is central to God’s plan and procreation is an eternal commandment. Same sex couples can’t procreate. Of course as you said everyone is “worthy of love,” but “loving” someone sexually in a gay relationship is not part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

    Reply
    • Curtis Penfold

      “There’s no such thing as a gay law of chastity.”

      Gay people are asked to be celibate. Are straight people asked to be celibate? Gay people are asked not to kiss and hold hands. Are straight people asked not to kiss and hold hands?

      It seems to me that gay people are treated differently than straight in the law of chastity that’s presented by the leadership of LDS Church leaders. It seems to me that the writer is correct in saying that there is a gay law of chastity as opposed to a straight one, and it doesn’t seem to be a very good law of chastity at that.

      “…the gay law of chastity tends to lead to isolation instead of companionship or connectedness. “

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        I’m just going to say right out that I don’t know why not being straight is a sin or why some people are straight and some people are not. I don’t know why some people are born inter-sexual. There are many mysteries of God that I do not understand. I know that my heart aches for Mormons who aren’t straight and can’t be called worthy. But I do know that since biblical times the Lord has repeatedly stated that acting on homosexuality is a sin. Holding hands with and kissing a person of the same sex that you love romantically is acting on homosexuality. That is why the “gay law of chastity” is zero tolerance. Indulging yourself in your homosexual behavior is not going to change a law that has been set for thousands of years.
        All I know is that God exists and is a God of love. I know that if he hasn’t changed his mind for thousands of years, it probably won’t change anytime soon or in the future. I know that if you are struggling, the Lord will send his peace, spirit and love to comfort you and that he has a divine plan for you and whether your sexual identity is worked out in this life or the next, it will be. I also agree with the person a couple spaces up that who ever wrote this does not have strong faith in our leaders and their current counsel on the law of marriage, chastity, and homosexuality.

      • Bryan K

        Dear Anonymous – Please read Josh’s full post, especially the following:

        “8. Should all gay people who are LDS or Christian choose to marry people of the opposite gender?

        I want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.

        I have two general recommendations:

        1. If you know and love somebody who is gay and LDS (or Christian), your job is to love and nothing more. Let go of your impulse to correct them or control them or propel them down the path you think is right for them. Do what you need to do to move past that impulse. Do not condemn the choices your loved one makes. Love. Only love. Show your love in word and deed. Embrace them, both literally and figuratively. I promise they need it—and they need to feel like they can figure out this part of themselves in a safe way without ridicule and judgment. It’s what Christ would do. It’s what your loved one needs. Accept them. Love them. Genuinely and totally.”

      • Anonymous

        And isolation leads to depression and sometimes suicide. Humans are social beings with real needs .

      • Anonymous

        There is no such thing as “the gay law of chastity”.

        Read it again. Gay Mormons are held to the same standard as straights. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Sexual contact should only haoorn between a man and a woman that are legally and lawfully married. Period. Mormons don’t differentiate and it seems harsh to many people who are gay mormons because they don’t understand that gay relationships, sexual or not, mock real relationships as God has intended them to be. I hate that there is so much hate out there on this topic, but any argument trying to justify gomosexual activity as okay in the church is against the church and its teachings.

    • Nouner

      “The family is central to God’s plan and procreation is an eternal commandment. Same sex couples can’t procreate.”

      So naturally you also oppose marriage of impotent men, post-menopausal women, and people who cannot create children. I support your honesty and willingness to apply an equal standard. How do you propose to ensure childbearing ability? I would imagine a full medical examination might help to ensure that procreation remains an option. If people can’t have children, they can’t marry.

      What about couples who had children when they were younger, but now cannot? Is their marriage still valid? I mean, if marriage is only for making babies, then no babies=no marriage. Right?

      Reply
      • Katy

        I don’t think child-bearing is the only purpose for marriage, but it is an important part, even if not in this life. Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20 teaches us that marriage between a man and a woman has the potential to lead to exaltation and glory “…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end;” Gay people are God’s children and worthy of our love and respect just as much as anybody, but it doesn’t feel right to me to encourage homosexual relationships that don’t have the potential to produce seed in this life or the next.

      • E.D.

        Also, there are people who don’t want to have children for various reasons. Should they not be allowed to get married? Or should people who get married have children they do not want?

    • Cheryl

      There is so much I can address in your comment that is not only illogical, but also extremely hateful and offensive.

      I’ll just start with: “The family is central to God’s plan and procreation is an eternal commandment. Same sex couples can’t procreate”.
      This is so flawed and illogical.
      Should we not allow infertile couples to marry since they can’t procreate?
      What about post menopausal women?
      What about those who choose not to have children?
      Basing your argument against gay marriage on the concept of procreation is ridiculous.

      Also heterosexual couples adopt and conceive through egg/sperm donation and in vitro fertilization all the time. The same methods as homosexual couples. I think God cares more that His children are taken care of and loved here on earth.

      Your last sentence basically says, “of course everyone is worthy of love…unless you’re gay”. Part of a loving relationship is sexual love. That’s not all of it though for straight or gay couples. It’s part of what makes a healthy relationship. She said her bishop wasn’t ok with them having even an emotionally loving relationship. She isn’t in a sexual relationship. So why the double standard in defining the Law of Chastity for straight versus gay people.

      Reply
    • David

      What a load of piffle. How do you know the details of God’s plan? What you know is what God has allowed us to know. How do you know same sex attraction is no a trial for YOU to see how Christ-like you can be when confronted with a contradiction? Ya’ll need to get off that procreation nonsense, plenty of people that can’t procreate get married.

      Reply
    • gouda

      “..this blog is full of blaspheme..” My dear friend you are using the word blaspheme incorrectly, it is a strong word so you should know what it means before you use it. According the lds.org to blaspheme means “Speaking disrespectfully or irreverently of God or sacred things.” It is not irreverent or disrespectful to have a different opinion than you do, just fyi.

      Reply
      • Kathy Carlston

        As an aside, Gouda is my favorite — superior to all other cheeses. Kudos to you.

    • Anonymous

      speaking as a member of the church who has battled with homosexuality my entire life, this person ^ has it right. We cannot vote on changing the commandments. When has that ever happened in the scriptures? The Lord reveals His will slowly and surely, but he will never change such a crucial doctrine as the family. It’s what our whole hope revolves around. I feel for you and for those who struggle with this concept. I was once one of you. But now I have gained a testimony that God has chosen certain trials for certain people. I am proud to say he chose this one for me because through it I have come to know a more loving God THROUGH keeping all of his commandments, no matter how hard. I would never change this doctrine or trade it for something the world gives. May God help you on your journey to discovering the Master’s true plan.

      Reply
      • Kathy Carlston

        I definitely agree that it’s not up to a vote, but I would point out that God’s commandments/decrees that the church has laid out have been changed in the past. The revelation in 1978 to give any worthy man the priesthood regardless of race is a big one. The manifestos on polygamy were too. Then, if we point to the bible, there’s Jesus bringing the new law and ending most of the rites and rituals so painstakingly described in the old testament. Then there’s Peter receiving revelation to preach to the gentiles through his dreams.

        Basically, what I’m trying to get at is that I believe that God DOES have a plan for us, wants to reveal His will to us, and wants us to be happy. I also believe that sometimes He waits to reveal his will to us and our leaders until we’ve chewed on things enough to ask the right questions. I’ve described a bit of my own experience with God and asking Him about the fact that I’m gay in this post: http://www.nomorestrangers.org/flipping-the-switch-letting-god-light-the-path/

    • Chris L.

      Your comments exemplify the compassionless dogmatism that drive so many -straight and gay- to leave the church over this issue alone. This hard line approach is not effective, never will be, and sadly is responsible for more than a few suicides. Additionally, how dare you claim to know the strength or lack thereof of this woman’s testimony. Only God and she truly know what is in her heart. I echo Josh Weed and Byan K in saying “your job is to love and nothing more.” And finally, anonymity is cowardice.

      Reply
    • Kelli Anderson

      this is seriously the most closed-minded, obtuse, naive, ignorant response to this post. open your mind! i really wonder if you’ve ever been in love or have the capacity FEEEEEEEEL in your heart what someone else might be feeling or going through?

      also, no such thing as the gay law of chastity? HAHAHAHAHAHA.

      Reply
  6. Jake Hampton

    I’ve been really frustrated with this topic lately, and I don’t even have anybody to date. It’s just been driving me crazy that there’s no actual standard. I’ve heard some bishops say exactly what yours did, yet I’ve heard of other bishops saying that gay dating is fine even to the point of kissing. It’s like the degree of your sin is based on the opinion of a local leader.

    Reply
  7. James Liljenquist

    It’s pretty simple: If an organization is treating you like a second-class member, you leave that organization.

    Trying to conform to these rules against your nature is only going to bring spiritual and emotional harm.

    Leave the church and maintain your personal faith. I did it, and so can you.

    Reply
    • Emily Y.

      I am very sorry you left the church; I feel for you and your situation. May I kindly respond by saying that the people that are members of the LDS church are not perfect (Myself included!) But I truly believe the gospel and organization of the church as given by revelation are perfect.

      I agree that the way LGBTQ members of the church are treated by other church members is unfair and seems to demean the church organization, but ultimately, we are commanded to forgive those who persecute us, and yes, even forgive the church members who, as I aforementioned, are not perfect.

      I sincerely hope that you come to terms with the LDS church organization one day, and to anyone else reading this, that you don’t leave the church because of offense to you or others. There are good LDS people out there who really want to understand and show love, especially when we don’t have all of the knowledge that Heavenly Father has in store for us. Please don’t give up on the church, because I truly believe that we will get to a point where the gap caused by homophobia and misunderstanding of doctrine will be bridged.

      Reply
  8. Paul

    Please try to not react to this based on emotion. I know you won’t like what I’m about to say but please consider it calmly.

    1) I think the church is pretty clear about things. The statement in For the Strength of Youth and elsewhere is that “Homosexual and lesbian behavior is a serious sin.” Pursuing a romantic relationship with a person of the same gender is very clearly homosexual/lesbian behavior. Trying to stretch the meaning to cover how you walk or what your hobbies are comes off to me as kind of grasping at straws to try and find something to complain about.

    2) I would like to see more consistency too, but Bishops are humans, so some of them may not have a correct understanding of the church’s position, or some may understand but lack the courage to uphold it. That doesn’t do anything to change right and wrong. It is not merely homosexual sex that is a sin, but homosexual behavior. If a Bishop permits what he knows he should not then he shares in the guilt of that sin. Your Bishop’s position is in line with the policy of the church. You could shop for another Bishop and move, but do you really think that is going to make a difference to God? It won’t. And in 5 years or less you will likely be in the same situation.

    3) It doesn’t matter what percentage of gay Mormons follow it or not. It doesn’t change right or wrong. The level of obedience to a commandment is not a measure of how good or right the commandment it, it is a measure of the people given the commandment. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way and FEW there be that find it.

    4) Your own story about what the Bishop said shows there is not an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. You were asked to stop taking the sacrament, you were not excommunicated. It is true that all romantic/sexual behavior between two people of the same gender is out of bounds, but that is not a mentality, that is the commandment.

    5)There is not a ‘gay law of chastity’ and a ‘straight law of chastity’, there is a single standard of behavior. What is forbidden to you is forbidden to straight members too. What is allowed for you is allowed for straight members also.

    You also have the option to marry a guy. The church won’t push you to do that but they don’t forbid it either. It won’t hurt to at least consider it. Perhaps you and some gay Mormon guy can become close enough friends that you could do that. You could help and support each other, understanding the challenges you face in your situation. Perhaps even raise a family together. Now if you find that unacceptable, fine, it’s your right to choose to not do that, but don’t say the church is trying to force celibacy on you when you have that option.

    The choice you have before you is to decide who you love most, God or your girlfriend. Sorry to put it in harsh terms, but that is the reality you have to face up to. God does love you but we can’t be like children saying that ‘if you love me you’ll give me what I want’. God gives us what is best for us, even if we don’t realize it is what is best for us. He demands sacrifice, he demands we change, and if we do that he will bless us so richly that we will have nothing to gripe about.

    I know that a lot is being asked of you. Perhaps you agreed to this before you came, I don’t know, but I do know that if you submit to God in this and live faithfully the rewards will be all the greater for it after this life.

    Reply
    • curtispenfold

      When people say not to react emotionally to what they’re about to say, you know they’re about to say something they probably shouldn’t be saying…

      Reply
      • Paul

        Or that they are about to talk about a very emotional topic.

      • Monica Pignotti, PhD

        It means a condescending lecture explaining arguments many of us are already aware of, have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered and rejected, is forthcoming. Some call it mansplaining.

    • Taylor

      Paul, you prove the point the author was making…

      “Pursuing a romantic relationship with a person of the same gender is very clearly homosexual/lesbian behavior.

      5)There is not a ‘gay law of chastity’ and a ‘straight law of chastity’, there is a single standard of behavior. What is forbidden to you is forbidden to straight members too. What is allowed for you is allowed for straight members also.”

      So if pursuing a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite gender is okay, by your own words, shouldn’t pursuing a relationship with someone of the same gender (if that’s who you’re attracted to) be okay, too?

      Paul, You’re trying to say there’s no double standard, but there clearly is one and you pointed it out so VERY clearly. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Paul

        If you are going to call it a double standard to allow one kind of behavior and forbid another kind then you either have to allow or forbid every behavior. But that is not what a double standard is.

        A doubles standard is when the rules are different for one group of people from another, that isn’t the case here. It is the same standard for each person, gay or straight. If they said that gays can do something I’m not allowed to do, or I’m allowed to do something that gays are forbidden, THAT would be a double standard. Saying that for all members heterosexual behavior is allowed and homosexual behavior is not does not qualify as a double standard by definition since it is the same standard of behavior for each person.

    • Monica Pignotti, PhD

      Don’t react emotionally, but instead, twist yourself into a pretzel with a lengthy response that is probably not convincing to anyone but the author of the response, to try to rationalize the simple fact that no one should be treated the way this young woman has been treated. And yes, there is no way around it. There is a double standard and the Law of Chastity is very different for gay people than straight people. The fact that it is an unspoken law, makes it all the worse. Yes, let’s do drop emotion and face the facts. Gay people are held to different standards than straight people. A straight, single person can date and hold hands with a person he or she loves. A gay person cannot. A single person has choice to marry, should he or she meet someone. A gay person never can.

      The bottom line for me is whether something violates the primary commandment of love, and when I see someone being treated this way, clearly it does. No way could condoning this kind of treatment possibly be “submitting to God”. Instead, it would be submitting to fallible men, which is a violation of the first commandment. That is one thing that I do know. Indeed, God is a God love love, and no God of love would do this to any human being. I really hope the leadership of the church will follow the example of Spencer Kimball and go to the temple and sincerely pray about this and be open to the fact that they could be wrong.

      Reply
      • Paul

        The only way you can cast it as a double standard is to oversimplify it and ignore very key details that make a big difference. Somebody with a PhD should recognize the flaw in making an argument that way. Homosexual behavior is a serious sin, that is the position of the church and kingdom of God on earth and it is not going to change.

        Just because you have certain emotions doesn’t make acting on them right. A person who is truly in love with another person’s spouse can’t rightfully act on those feelings, it would be wrong for them to date, make out etc. with that other person even if they didn’t have sex.

        God loves you enough to give you commandments and just because you don’t agree and don’t like the commandment doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. The commandment is there for your eternal welfare. Most parents have to do the same thing with their kids, making rules for them they don’t like and don’t understand until they grow up and become parents themselves. I really do hope you love God more than you love engaging in homosexual behavior because your path to eternal happiness and the celestial kingdom is in obedience, not rebellion against the church.

      • Anonymous

        Well, Paul, President Uchtdorf stood up and admitted in the most recent conference that church leaders have made mistakes in the past and I believe that this is one they’re making now and the result is causing people pain. Our leaders are far from perfect and although you and I may not live to see it, someday their error will be realized.

        And please drop the straw man arguments. I never said people should act on something just because they feel like it. That’s not what this is about. There is nothing rational about defending homophobia.

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps the real courage is the bishops that are being more understanding, rather than taking that hard line. Those bishops that are willing to “share in the guilt” if they end up being wrong, because they chose love over hard line policy interpretation. It seems more courageous to put your own soul on the line for the sake of another, and loving them than it does to condemn them based on something that is open to interpretation.

      “but we can’t be like children saying that ‘if you love me you’ll give me what I want’.” – Not to be blasphemous, but could this not be taken as saying God is acting like a child? We are often taught “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” Or, do what he wants. Asking for answers, or help is not acting like a child. Seeking personal truth and understanding is something I thought we were encouraged to do. Sometimes, you have to seek that from communication with others though.

      Reply
      • Paul

        Being courageous for the wrong side doesn’t help anybody.

        And there is nothing wrong with asking for help or seeking understanding, but when somebody runs into a commandment they dislike that choose to brush it off saying that if God really loved them God would not make such a commandment in order to try and justify disobedience, they are acting in a childish manner.

        God is wiser and smarter than all of us, it only stands to reason that we would not understand everything he asks or find all his commandments agreeable to our fallen nature. That doesn’t justify disobedience though, so ask away all you want, but ask while obeying God. Those who do God’s will will are the ones who will come to know the truth.

      • Anonymous

        Paul-

        Or perhaps consider that the side of wrong is where you stand. Courage is often doing the right thing, even when others claim you are wrong.

        Pride often prevents us from admitting the possibility we could be wrong.

    • vickyb

      Since when is “For Strength of Youth” a book of commandments? For that matter, the Bible is not a perfect intepertation, and we don’t follow all the other rules it advocates, like not eating pork or not permitting women to speak in church. Plus, I think its telling that in the only book that is considered to be perfectly translated, the book of mormon, says nothing about homosexuality.

      I’m straight, but a lot of the hateful discourse around queer-ness was one reason that I ended up leaving this church. It is much easier to genuinly love my fellow men and women without the dogma of the church.

      Reply
  9. Sherri

    I applaud your ability to express yourself so clearly. I am writing a comment but I want to give you some advice. Don’t read the comments. People just get into polarizing positions and pretty soon it ends up in arguing. Read more on the internet. Read other blogs for ideas. Talk to people. Write more. Daniel Parkinson is right. Many people need to hear your message.

    Reply
  10. Bryan K

    I quoted Josh Weed’s imperative that we need to show love above, but here’s some more thoughts.

    This post was a sharing of someone’s heart.
    Imagine someone you love crying after they left the Bishop’s office.
    Would you chide them off the bat? Would you quickly tell them how wrong they were? Or would you take them in? Give them a hug? Listen to what they had to say? Try to Understand?

    From the records we have, Christ said nothing about same sex relationships, but he did say a lot about Love. Our responsibility as fellow Christians, Mormons, humans beings, etc is to Love first.

    The pharisees were willing to have the Lord killed over debates about who was right and who was wrong. Are we going to keep falling into the same trap?

    Our knowledge of God’s will is limited, but certain things we do know. We should care for our neighbor, we should bind up his wounds, we should avoid walking by those in need on our way to our own “righteous” lives.

    We have barely had a couple years where gay people in the Church could even mention their experiences to their closest families and friends without living in terrible fear or suffering strong ostracism. As Mormons, we have a choice, are we going to reach out to those in need, show them that we live, invite them to worship with us through the compassion we show? Or will we continue to proclaim what we think is right and ignore our obligation to show love?

    I would argue that unless you yourself are gay, or you’ve taken the time to truly sit with someone and hear the sufferings of their heart over the years, you known nothing of what it is like to be in that position. Until you do, love first, and leave the rest to God.

    Hermia Lyly, I loved your post. I loved you sharing. I hope you will find people in your life who will show you love and kindness and bind whatever wounds you feel. Thank you for your courage!

    Reply
  11. ApolloOMD

    I can’t imagine the struggle you are going through. Words can’t express how much I admire you for puting your feelings out there for the world to see. I am a straight member of the church and I find myself conflicted these days with this whole issue. You mentioned and forgive my lack of eloquence that if a commandment isn’t being followed by many people maybe it needs to be changed. That is so against anything God has taught us that I found the statement a bit alarming. It doesn’t matter if not a single person on Earth isn’t following a commandment, God does not need to change that law for our convenience. He won’t change it to suit us, in fact God has always wanted us to change to suit the commandment. I really don’t want to sound insensitive to what you have said because like I said I can’t imagine your struggle. However, the church will not change their stance on this. They have said what they are going to say on this issue. You either have the choice to follow the church or not follow the churches stance on this. There are not two laws of chastity, there is only one and it covers all sexual behavior. The rule is no sexual behavior for gays or straight members. Expecting different rules for holding hands, kissing, etc is only going to drive you crazy. Two women holding hands will lead to kissing which leads to other stuff just like it does for straight people. That’s why your Bishop took the stance he did. One thing always naturally leads to another. I know this because I sinned before marriage. I hate to say this so directly, but it will come down to a choice of the church or your lifestyle. I think you know this and that is your conflict. All throughout the bible that was the case. Choosing one path or another, can’t do both. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Thank you again for your honesty and I applaud your bravery in bringing your struggle to light. A choice will have to be made just like a straight person makes a choice to follow the churches teachings or not. I wish you the best in your life and I know God will never stop loving anyone of us. I know he loves me no matter what but I know for sure he has not loved the mistakes I have made in my life. That’s the difference.

    Reply
  12. latterdaytruth

    Dating somebody of the same sex romantically is essentially the same thing as a married person dating somebody other than their spouse. The argument here is no different than a married person saying it should be OK to date somebody other than his or her spouse as long as he or she does not do more than hold hands or kiss.

    God has clearly set the boundaries for romantic and sexual relationships. Anything outside those bounds is sin. Choosing one type of activity outside of those bounds and claiming it is somehow different than other types of activities outside those bounds is a waste of time and is little more than arbitrary loop jumping.

    Support groups cannot save any of us. Christ can.

    Each of us has to decide, at some point, whether we are lobbyists or disciples.

    Christ loves each of us. But coming unto Him must be done on His terms, not ours.

    I empathize with those who struggle with same-sex attraction. I recognize that such struggles are different than mine. But truth is truth. And neither I nor anybody else can change that.

    Reply
    • Joshua

      Eh, I’m not sure if your analogy holds. Dating someone other than your spouse violates very clear marital vows as well as the personal vows you make when you commit yourself to another person. You promise your heart to them. So, you’ve broken two very direct, clear vows: one to god, and one to your spouse.

      Gay members of the church don’t have that clarity yet since the “rules” depend on the personal opinion of local leaders. That’s the whole issue Hermia is bringing up. There isn’t clarity.

      Reply
      • Paul

        A lack of consistency isn’t the same as a lack of clarity. The policy is very clear, homosexual behavior is a sin. It is a matter of commandment, and your baptismal covenant obligates you to follow it.

        Any romantic same sex relationship is out of bounds, and if a Bishop turns a blind eye to it that doesn’t change that it is a sin.

    • curtispenfold

      Except that if you have a spouse, you have somebody you can be close with romantically, socially, sexually, and emotionally on so many different levels.

      But here we are, asking homosexual people to never experience that, even if they’re able to.

      Reply
      • Paul

        Because to be romantic or sexual with somebody of the same sex is a sin. No matter how much you want such a relationship, that doesn’t make it right. It comes down to what do you put first, God or sexual satisfaction?

        As I said before gay do have the option of marrying somebody of the opposite sex, and a gay man marrying a lesbian woman may be able to find a righteous life together that is easier than celibacy for them. They can choose that, or choose celibacy, but if they choose to engage in sin there will be consequences.

        I know it’s a tough spot to be in, but God doesn’t give you more than what you are able to deal with. Others are in tough spots too, married people with a spouse who refuses sex to them (very common it seems) single people who can’t find a suitable mate. People who find themselves deeply in love with somebody else spouse. They all have to deny themselves a personal desire to follow God.

    • natalialaurena

      So, as someone studying for the LSAT, I could list the reasons this argument should be torn to shreds. You are assuming all premises of each situation in the analogy are equal relevant to the conclusion. I’m totes sending this to all my friends studying for the LSAT. They’ll love it!

      Reply
      • Nouner

        Wow

        so logical

        so impressive

        I am literally in awe of your deductive skills or at least at your halfassed insinuation that you possess such

  13. latterdaytruth

    Our covenants are between us, as individuals, and God. And this includes our marriage covenants.

    A person who is baptized has made covenants to keep the commandments, straight or gay. And the commandments regarding chastity are quite clear.

    The church could not be clearer as it relates to acting on same-sex impulses. The church website reads, “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.” Entering a romantic relationship with a person of the same sex is “acting on” same-sex attraction. How is it different than having a date with somebody other than your spouse?

    I think it is disingenuous to focus on what we have heard about opinions of local leaders when the prophet and apostles have spoken clearly.

    Reply
    • Joshua

      I just can’t imagine a life completely cut off from not only sexual fulfillment in a relationship but also non-sexual affectionate contact.

      What kind of life is that?

      If that’s a life you’re OK with, more power to you.

      Reply
  14. M

    I thought this article was pretty well written. Nice work. I am very impressed with your self-control, faith, and research! How amazing. However, there were 2-3 things in this article I just don’t agree with so I thought I’d express myself. My intent would never be to hurt you or any other LGBT individuals. I don’t understand all of God’s ways or anything like that and I don’t know why this lot falls upon some and not others I don’t know the answers either. I wish you didn’t have the pain, or anyone else, associated with it.

    My opinion, though, is that you can’t change God’s laws and saying that the “doctrine needs to catch up” is an age-old, wrong, ideal. The Sabbath is a special law. God’s laws have been in force for more than thousands of years, since the beginning of time. God’s laws cannot and will not be changed and it’s mocking him to think they would be. However, some more instruction on specific ways members like you who want to remain faithful can act is a wonderful proposition. It’s amazing you’d seek out that instruction.

    Best wishes in figuring out the life that lies in your future!

    Reply
    • Joshua

      Meh, God changes his law as his children are ready for higher ways. His commandments are not for his benefit but for ours, and he gives them to us line upon line and precept on precept. The tricky thing is when He changes things in a way we don’t like.

      No wonder the Pharisees had such a hard time letting go of that whole Law of Moses thing.

      Reply
      • Joshua

        Nope, but as a hypothetical, viewing it that way would be a really good lesson in empathy.

        What if God’s law was for everyone to enter into gay relationships, and the straight folk had to find a way to follow both their heart and their desire to follow their faith?

    • curtispenfold

      She wouldn’t be experiencing this pain, though, if we just told LGB people that they can have a family with any individual they love, regardless of gender.

      What we thought were God’s laws have changed quite a few times throughout history, and I’m personally hopeful for this one to change.

      ——————————————————————–

      Examples of changes being made: The OT claimed that God commanded us to kill non-virgins on their wedding night, Sabbath breakers, witches, and homosexuals. Would you approve of killing them today? If you don’t, you aren’t following God’s commandments.

      In more recent days, early LDS Church leaders taught that God commanded us to practice polygamy until Jesus came again. They also taught that God commanded us not to give blacks the priesthood. Both of these commandments changed, and their changes had dramatic effects on the individual members of the LDS Church.

      Reply
    • Reading Gay Rainbow

      Hey remember when the Sabbath day was changed during the early church?
      It was Friday, now we worship on a Sunday.
      Remember when Paul said women had to veil their faces in church?
      Now, they can even pray and speak in General Conference!
      Hey remember when black people were banned from the temple?
      Now they can get married for eternity to whomever they choose (provided they are heterosexual, of course)
      Remember when interracial marriage was banned by Brigham Young?
      He said it would be death on the spot!
      The laws totally have changed, and all due to societal pressure.
      Take a look! It’s in several books!
      Reading Gay Rainbow!

      Reply
  15. Christa

    Much love and peace to you. I will be a regularly attending church member till I die, and I fit in well because of my lottery of genetics, orientation, and typical pioneer heritage. But sister friend, I would love for you and your girlfriend or someday wife and kids to sit next to me at church, because when I ask God what to do about this issue, when I ask what is right and what is wrong, I consistently am told to love.

    Reply
    • Wendy Montgomery

      Christa – you are a beautiful and Christlike person. Thank you for showing love, empathy and compassion. How I wish all the members of this Church could know you and follow your example. We should lead with compassion. JUST LIKE THIS. ❤

      Reply
  16. Rob Starks

    I’m very impressed with Mormons who are LGB, or who are LGB allies, and still go to church and still believe in the gospel. I don’t remember meeting many of them until the last couple of years. This issue has caused me some serious cognitive dissonance for years, and it doesn’t even affect me directly. The church’s stance on this just goes so against my own moral sensibilities that I just can’t reconcile it and haven’t been to church in quite some time. I admit this isn’t the sole reason I no longer attend the church I was raised in, but it’s certainly a big part of it.

    I guess what I’m really trying to say is hats off to those of you who continue to stick around despite the inconsistency, despite the ultra-conservative, illogical rhetoric, despite the inadequate support from most leaders and other members. If the church is ever going to change (as history has shown it does in fact do from time to time) it will be because of strong, brave people like you who stuck around and stood up for yourselves and for others. So kudos to you.

    Reply
  17. Wendy Montgomery

    As straight members of the LDS Church we get it all. We don’t have to choose between the God we love and the man or woman we love. We get BOTH. We don’t have to choose between having our faith and having a family. Again, we get BOTH. Lucky us.

    But gay members have to choose. How in the world could such an impossible and heart-wrenching choice be asked of anyone? All of you that have so self-righteously passed judgment, think for a minute if you would be willing to give up your spouse and children because you thought God asked you to. And this from a God who leads a Church who has as one of its most fundamental values the sanctity of the FAMILY.

    We are asking our gay brothers and sisters to choose between two of the most important parts of oneself. It is like ripping yourself in half. It is the most unfair of unfair situations. So the callous and dismissive tone in which it has been addressed in some of the above comments is truly staggering. There has been very little love, and even less compassion, shown for those going through this.

    When the Savior was on the Earth, He was asked a question, “What is the greatest of the commandments?” His response, “To love God. And the second is like unto it – to love your neighbor (which has been defined as everyone else).” So if we all just love God and love each other – regardless of who we are, who we love, who we marry, who we worship, who drives what car, who we vote for, etc. so many of these problems just go away. We are so busy trying to micromanage everyone else’s life. It’s actually none of our business how someone else lives. We each are only responsible for our own salvation.

    Getting back to when Christ was on the Earth, He reserved His harshest words and most stinging rebukes for those who were judgmental of other people. Especially people who were judgmental members in His own faith – the Jewish faith. That is something that we in the LDS church fail to remember. It is a sad fact that we are an incredibly judgmental church. I see it EVERY WEEK. So often we judge a group of people without ever trying to walk in their shoes.

    So maybe before you all start quoting the laws, commandments, scriptures, rules, restrictions, etc. you just say to the author of this article, “I love you. Come sit by me this Sunday in church. I’ll walk with you. I’ll be your friend. I don’t care what path you choose or who you marry or where you go. You are my sister in the gospel and I love you.”

    Because this is EXACTLY how Christ would respond to her. And we profess to be followers of Him.

    Reply
    • latterdaytruth

      Wendy,

      I have had and have now very close friends who are gay. We have very good relationships. But you seem to be suggesting that any degree of fortitude among those who believe the prophets regarding same-sex relationships do not love others or are bigots or are like the Pharisees. This is the Modus operandi too often among those who hypocritically try to shame or bully those who disagree with them about some issue. Is it possible for a person to disagree with you about same-sex relationships and attraction within the context of the church and not be a bigot or unloving in your view? If the answer is no, that is a very big problem IMO.

      In our canon- the Doctrine and Covenants- the Lord commands us to “do the works of Abraham.” Do you think that suggests doing things that are very difficult and go against our natural instincts and desires? Must the life of a disciple be comfortable or void of sacrifice? You seem to be suggesting that it is unfair or wrong for God to expect us to “cross ourselves” if that means resisting same-sex feelings. I don’t judge those who have same-sex attraction any more than I judge a person who struggles with the word of wisdom. But I certainly do not suggest that the word of wisdom does not matter or is wrong.

      I have known individuals who very deeply struggle to be faithful to their marital marital and baptismal covenants- they have to fight and plead for help every day to avoid heterosexual thoughts and feelings that are contrary to their covenants. Do you or anybody else have the ability to judge who has it harder- a heterosexual person who deals with such impulses and desires or a person with homosexual attraction?

      You mention the first two and great commandments. Consider the first commandment. You seem to be suggesting that it is OK to live a homosexual lifestyle if it is difficult not to. How do you reconcile your quotation of the first commandment with this suggestion and argument?

      I suggest that there is a fundamental hypocrisy in arguments here where people are pointing their finger at members of the church as being judgmental and unloving. It seems that this argument is coming from folks who are above criticism themselves. And in reality, the comments you are probably referring to as being unloving really are just pointing out the problems with trying to reconcile a same-sex relationship with the doctrines of the church. It is not a matter of being unloving. It is a matter of logic and reason.

      Reply
      • Bryan K

        Actually it is a matter of being unloving.
        Perhaps there should or shouldn’t be a debate about doctrine, but thats really not the point.

        LGBT members of the Church go through untold suffering. Their families reject, condemn, and judge them. More often than not, Members are note quick to point out their errors than to seek understanding or try to comfort their hearts. Even if you believe God has asked LGBT people to live a life of celibacy and devoid of partnership and love, there’s plenty of room to be more loving and kind. As a beginning, it would help for people to listen.

      • latterdaytruth

        Bryan,

        A person could just as easily claim that the posts here are “unloving” toward those who disagree with the campaign to change church doctrine regarding same-sex relationships. Get the point?

        I have heard more criticism of members of the church who do not accept society’s ever-shifting sexual mores than I have heard criticism of members involved in same-sex relationships.

        It seems that those who want the doctrine of the church to change are just as intolerant of those who disagree with them as those members of the church who struggle to accept (the definition of which is quite variable) those members in same-sex relationships.

        And that is the hypocrisy to which I allude.

        It is a weak argument that refuses scrutiny or analysis. Anybody who insists on being the focus of a monopoly on tolerance.

        The way the campaign and argument here is made inherently claims that “loving” and “tolerating” members of the church who struggle with same-sex attraction is to accept same-sex relationships as morally OK. And that is disingenuous and manipulative.

        If we leave the argument that members of the church who struggle with same-sex attraction need love and acceptance- I am completely in agreement. Everybody needs love and acceptance. But it is unreasonable and childish to expect others to go out of their way to tell us our sins are not sins.

      • Bryan K

        Latter day truth.
        I find it hard to see justification for a generalization that comments supportive of this blog post’s author as unloving to those who disagree on the morality of same gender relationships. Meanwhile, in your own post you’ve thrown out the words hypocracy, intolerant, childish, or somehow refusing scrutiny. I’m glad we agree that LGBT need love and acceptance. Some of the comments disagreeing with the original post have been harsh, and what I see is a response to that and a desire to share support. Some of us disagree, but this back and forth in pointing fingers is besides the point.
        I go back to what I said originally. If you had found this author crying behind the Church after meeting with her Bishop, what would your response be? The D&C does say that chastisement is required but also an increase in love after. So, I don’t think it’s inappropriate or childish to suggest that even if people disagree on ideas about same gender relationships, we still need to find a way to show love.
        As one who has experienced devastating ostracism and abandonment over this issue, I will plead that things do need to change in how we treat people. Even Elder Oaks says as much on mormonsandgays.org

      • Joshua

        If you feel there is a lot of pain in being called a bigot for telling others your beliefs, write a blot about it, and we can talk about it and develop more empathy for your plight.

        If keeping heterosexual relationships together presents a tearful struggle, let’s talk about why and how to make it better.

        This isn’t a contest over who has the hardest life. It’s one person sharing a difficult experience.

      • Thomas Palani Montgomery

        Latterdaytruth,

        It is amazing how many of these types of conversations I have had with TBM Mormons who feel the need to preface their intolerance with how many close gay friends they have. Try having this conversation with them and see how many you are left with.

        A previous comment by a legal student noted how your arguments are not equal. Comparing the intolerance experienced by LGBT individuals from deeply conservative religions will never compare to the intolerance you think you have endured from other people commenting here. The intolerance experienced by LGBT youth in the LDS Church makes them 8x more likely to commit suicide, and exponentially increases their risk factors of depression, homelessness, drug use, and sexually transmitted diseases. The intolerance you have experienced makes you feel sad followed by increased amounts of righteous indignation. You will not be driven to kill yourself. Please check yourself before continuing to make Mormons look more bigoted and ignorant.

      • latterdaytruth

        BrianK,

        If I found a person crying in an ally, I hope I would comfort and show love. That is entirely independent and separate from what this article seems to ask in relation to the bishop. It is an entirely different thing for anybody to criticize the bishop when they were not there. This story is essentially asking us to take the side of the person being interviewed and join in dismissing the bishop. And I think it is childish to expect absolution from others who were not there.

        Why is it that these articles must connect the idea of loving and accepting and either criticizing somebody in authority in the church or a member who disagrees? If a person really just wants love and acceptance, I think he or she should leave out the appeal for absolution and validation of behavior. Otherwise, it is simply not honest.

      • latterdaytruth

        Thomas Palani Montgomery,

        First of all, I never suggested I had endured any more or less than anybody else. Go back and read the post. It is a matter of logic here. I am saying that some people could claim that they endured intolerance for not sharing the opinions of those here. Do you get that? I am pointing out the arbitrary nature of this complaint. Any person could claim that certain people in the church do not show tolerance and love toward them. And I used the example of people who are criticized here for disagreeing with the majority of people in this forum.

        And it was not a “legal student” who made the comment. It was a person preparing to take the LSAT. I found it extremely interesting that such a fact was offered as an appeal to authority. In other words, “I hope to get into law school, so you should take my word for it.” Sorry, but that doesn’t work.

        Please provide the data that show that the church and/or its members contribute to an 8-fold increase in suicide, depression, drug use, etc. I would be interested to see your source.

        You know nothing about me. But I understand it is convenient and usually effective to dismiss folks who disagree with this campaign as intolerant or righteously “indignant.”

        Is it possible to discuss these issues without emotional appeals and accusations of self-righteousness and bigotry? Because the extremely low threshold for dishing that type of language out only eats away at the credibility of those making the arguments with which you agree here.

  18. Julia

    I say this as a 35 year old, straight woman who has never had a boyfriend, and never been kissed: those who wish celibacy for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and tell them that it is just a struggle for this life, or whatever overly pious message, have no idea what they are wishing. Invariably, those who suggest such things are usually married and/or a returned missionary of 3 months.

    A life without companionship and intimacy is lonely and painful. Overall, I have come to be satisfied with my life; but at least once every few months, it hits me again, to the point where I break down in tears. I didn’t choose this life – my prayers have been long and pleading to God. So my heart is bent in empathy towards those who are told that they also must live a life of loneliness and I hope someday that those who lead this church will also listen with empathy.

    (And also, I will hulk smash anyone who suggests that this will all work out in the next life. We are in this life now to have joy. That is the whole plan, remember.)

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    I believe that our Father in Heaven in his infinite wisdom, made a variety of differences when he crated the race known as man. There are many different races and creeds we see this in natural world. I was told in many sources, (ie, primary, mutual, seminary, & gospel doctrine), that he did this to see how we all would get along. For awhile our faith was failing this till 1978-79, before it was reviled to be wrong to deny the priesthood to all who are worthy, there were many testimonies from high church officials that this was the natural state of things, we know this to be wrong. Once again the church is facing a similar but different issue regarding our LGBTQIA brother and sisters. We are all once again failing, were not opening our hearts and our doors to them, we are not trying to use our love to help there REAL pain. Instead we judge them and use ridicule, and thankful it is not “us” that is afflicted.

    I have seen from the pulpit and testimonies it being said that they “LGBTQIA” are dammed from birth (since science proved it isn’t really a choice, by the way this breaks the second article of faith). That if your a alcoholic in this life you will have the same urges and failing in the next, so if your queer in this life you will be queer in the next (so the dying and you’ll be fixed isn’t true doctrine now). That you to be accepted must be celibate or marry opposite gender (Which is a sin to the Lord almost as bad as being a son of perdition, to Love and it is a lie. ) That “gay” people don’t feel “Real” love only righteous people do, it is only lust that they feel, or they don’t have real feelings. That science isn’t real anymore and holds no truths, since it has been proven it isn’t a choice to be “gay” (this breaks the Thirteenth Article of Faith, and the writings of Joseph Smith who told the saints to go out and seek all Truth to not be afraid of it). What I have been seeing is the church straining doctrine and gospel teaching to say or mean what “true” conservative message they want. The church is straitening at the gnat but is swallowing the camel.

    I admonish us all for our failure, and our reprehensible treatment that we will be all held accountable for. None of us are with out sin, none of us, we all have to go to Christ the Lord and beg and ask of him to wash us clean of our sin with his blood, and he said he will forgive who he will forgive, so remember that and be humble unto him and be as little children.

    But mostly remember this the Church or it’s members are not perfect, nor are they the truth. The Gospel is perfect as is the Atonement with the example of Christ the Lord.

    Reply
  20. bemarquez

    Hi. Whenever I read stories like these I feel to take the shoes from my feet for I am on sacred ground. It takes so much courage to be willing to be vulnerable and to share your story when there are so many who will be ready to weigh in and to cast stones. I have no idea what it might be like to be you but I am sorry for your suffering. Always there will be a place for you and any other LGBTQ soul beside me in the pews. I’m sorry for the way things are right now in our church. I hope our culture will become more inclusive and loving. Whether it does of doesn’t I hope you will find much happiness and peace on your own terms, in a way that is life-affirming, authentic, sustainable and life-giving to you. Much love and best wishes to you on your journey.

    Reply
  21. Jessie

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this blog! Way to go and how brave you are! To hell with all the negativaty you are receiving! You are so loved by so many more of us! There are so many of us out there that are LDS and have feelings for the opoosite sex.

    You keep on writing! There needs to be better equality throughout the wards…not just areas.

    Love ya sister! Keep strong! Keep the faith!

    ♡ Jessie

    Reply
  22. S

    Hermia,
    You are correct. The double standard does indeed lead to isolation. My straight Mormon friends don’t get it, my lesbian non-mormon friends are confused by it, my straight mormon husband Really doesn’t get it, and off and on, life is unbelievably painful, because nothing fits.

    I had I bishop once, who ‘got’ it, because his brother is gay. This was 15 years ago. Bless him and the things he said. He was a very wise and thoughtful leader.

    Reply
  23. megabhau

    Thank you. Thank you for this amazing post. I was so moved. You put into words exactly what I have been thinking. I have nothing but love and respect for you. Please keep doing what you are doing.

    Reply
  24. Sister Slut

    I am so glad you’ve shared your experience with true authenticity. I just love you. I’m also heartbroken that you have to choose at all–love & joy are for all of God’s children. I just hope as more LGBT members and allies speak out that we can change hearts and minds.

    Reply
  25. Gina

    “Through prayer, study, introspection, and clinical counseling, I had begun to escape my self-hatred and accept myself as a queer daughter of God. I began to see my sexuality as a blessing, and my relationship with my girlfriend as wholesome and healing. ” — Go with that, my dear sister. Go with that.

    Taking the sacrament (to me, anyway) means to reflect on Christ’s love for us and to try to be like him. It helps me remember to mourn with those who mourn, to love unconditionally. And it also means taking a moment to reflect on my short-comings during the week and vow to try to be better (imagining Jesus by my side supporting me). If that’s the intent behind those taking the sacrament, that’s what is important.

    Sure, there are volumes of other rules and commandments that leaders attempt to understand, and even though what they think are God’s rules may not change, the understanding of them does. There are other interpretations of the scriptures assessed from understanding the history and context from which they are written. Most members of churches don’t have access to that information and just take someone’s word for it generation after generation without studying and investigating it for themselves. I’ve investigated. And I wish I could be invited to your future wedding and meet your future wife.

    Reply
  26. Jody

    Thank you for your courage and faith. This is an amazing article. Please don’t give up on trying help others be aware of the contradictions you deal with. This church began with pleading to God for answers. Every revelation on any level comes after questions and inquiry. Enough of us need to show a willingness to open our minds and hearts to receive what God would have us learn so we can see as They see us and love as They love us. There are so many who love and appreciate your willingness to bravely, generously, faithfully share your story.

    Reply
  27. Jake Abhau

    “For a gay person giving up any chance of a loving relationship in life shouldn’t be compared with giving up drugs, (alcohol, or really any other addiction). A better comparison would be giving up food. I challenge any straight person who wants to know what it would be like to give up on love, to try a diet of nothing but rice and beans with no spices for a year. Meanwhile, go sit in restaurants every day and watch people eat delicious food that they want to eat. Smell the smells, watch the normal people, then go home and eat your unseasoned rice and beans. For a year…better yet for 5 years, or 25 years. That would be a better comparison. That is essentially what we are asking gay people to do when we pressure them to choose celibacy. ”
    -DP

    So any of you on this thread telling a gay person to just blindly follow the prophet when prophets have admittedly made doctrinal mistakes in the past (Blood Atonement, Adam-God theory, for example),

    Try it.

    And by try it, I mean you go and try to give up on finding love… forever.
    or
    If you say go find a heterosexual relationship for love, why don’t you go and find a gay one and see how that works out.
    Good luck.

    Reply
  28. NTJ

    As a fellow gay Mormon, I am so saddened to hear this story. You are very brave for being so open about your experiences. Stick in there! Us gay Mormons can help change the church for the better. You rock!

    Reply
  29. Joe Rawlins

    Hermia – delightful moniker to use with your Girlfriend’s “Helena” – as an excommunicated man, I must encourage you to examine leaving Mormonism. There is only one language that an organization understands and that is numbers. Consider, for a second, that you disagree with the Prophets, already. You disagree with the Scriptures. You disagree with the “commandments”. What peace you get from Mormonism, you get from a personal relationship with people or God or yourself. Leaving Mormonism does the same thing but it also sends a clear message that you disapprove of the Church’s policies and strengthens the resolve and argument of your allies fighting to improve conditions for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. You are not too young, you are not too weak, you are not going to lose your should or some special place in eternity. You have only a Stockholm-syndrome-driven monkey on your back to lose and peace of mind to gain. If Mormonism doesn’t suit you, you can save yourself and need to wait on a Savior, any longer.

    Reply
  30. StillConfused

    Please do not ever put your self esteem and self respect in the hands of a man. You know who and what you are. You don’t need anyone else’s approval. And don’t worry about the various rules/threats related to “eternal families.” Do you really think God is bound by masonic rituals? Or is he bound by his love?

    Reply
  31. Charles

    As others have commented, I too am so sorry for the pain you have been through. I think this is an interesting post and interesting comments. I think it’s interesting because unlike other LGBT posts/blogs, this post is from a person who sincerely desires to do the right thing and live a good LDS life. You essentially organized your thoughts into two sections (1) a brief history of your experiences and feelings around this issue in your life (2) a series of arguments that attempts to show the possible inadequacies of church policy and doctrine (I hope that is a fair assessment). If you only provided a history and your feelings then I would not feel inclined to comment (it’s your life and I wish you well… I’m not here to call foul when not invited). But when you argued your position in this public forum, I feel it’s an invitation for others like me to make some observations and possibly engage in some respectful scrutiny of your ideology. The notion that someone is hateful because they challenge someone’s else ideology in a public forum I think is unfair. If you knew me personally you would know that I love my fellow brothers and sisters instantly and without reservation regardless of their orientation, beliefs, or choices.

    I am a male in my mid thirties, I am a returned missionary, I’m active and social, I have never been married and I keep the law of chastity. Let me make a few observations on each of your five points.

    1. The gay law of chastity isn’t clearly explained.
    For a majority of this section, you make an argument against a quote from the church handbook and then remark “How is a gay member supposed to separate their sexuality from the rest of their identity?” In my opinion, this is a straw man argument. Your question is not congruent with what the handbook is saying. The handbook is talking about sexual behavior between two same sex individuals but not behavior/preferences/activities that are sometimes associated with homosexual individuals. That is a crucial difference. It’s a straw man because you are attempting to prove your point with examples of “carrying your body” but you are arguing upon a completely different premise than what the handbook was relating. I’m sorry but that isn’t sound logic in my opinion. No one is telling you to turn off your identity, or your passions, or your interests. What the handbook is asking you to do is not engage in sexual/romantic behavior with another woman.

    2. It isn’t universally enforced.
    I’ll agree with you that there should be more consistency but that is a function of poorly trained bishops or bishops who simply do not understand the doctrine. Just because a law isn’t enforced doesn’t mean it’s not a viable law. While a bishop’s job is to act as a judge in Israel, his more important duty is to guide you toward righteousness. Furthermore, the law is not there to restrict you but to empower and free you, although I know you don’t see it like that. With all that aside, my main point is enforcement is actually quite irrelevant to whether a behavior is right or wrong. Skirting the law based upon enforcement is a weak argument in the gospel and, in my mind, very dangerous.

    3. Statistically, the majority of gay Mormons choose not to follow it.
    Even you know this argument is very poor. Do you really believe that just because most LDS homosexuals don’t choose to follow this law, that it should be abolished or that homosexual attraction is so powerful that it’s beyond a reasonable temptation level and therefore the law should be reexamined? I think you are missing a very important point. The Lord said you won’t be temped above a certain point. Period. Yet, you seem to be trying to disprove the Lord by providing an observational statistics. I find it very disrespectful. Not only are you saying that Christ is essentially wrong, but you are by extension also suggesting some homosexuals are no longer moral agents because they cannot control themselves since the temptation is too high. To be a moral agent is at the very core of our existence in this temporal world and is perhaps the most protected attribute of our probation. We are always in control. One of my favorite scriptures speaks to this D&C 93: 30-31 (All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man).

    Are homosexual desires more powerful than heterosexual drives? Certainly not. But me and the vast number of LDS singles choose to deny our impulses until the appropriate time.

    4. The gay law of chastity operates on a dangerous all-or-nothing mentality.
    Here I tend to agree with most of what you are saying initially but then I take serious issue on your final premises and conclusions. I think I understand your position, you are saying that because smaller signs of gay affection (e.g., gay hand-holding) and gay sex are forbidden, there is no incentive to not have sex once you participate in any gay affection. I would agree with your logic if your premises were true, which unfortunately they are not. LDS doctrine, unlike some of our Christian friends, teaches the severity of sin. While all sin will hold us from back from God, we believe that gay sex is far more egregious than gay hand-holding. It’s the same for straights folks. Just because my friend participated in some petting, doesn’t mean he might as well have sex now. There is always a huge incentive for him not to participate in any degree of sexual misconduct regardless of any past or in-the-moment transgression.

    5. It’s a double standard, and is not equivalent to the straight law of chastity. Again, I’m sorry but you are making a good argument based upon a false premise. As Paul said above, the idea that there are two laws of chastity is woefully untrue. There is a single law that the Lord has outlined for sexual behavior. You are separating the law into pieces and if you can separate it into two pieces, then by logical extension why not three or four (do I need to spell out those)? In my opinion, where your thinking is flawed is you believing the law(s) is given singly to individuals without any relationship context. But a careful observation of the law reveals quite the opposite. The law is given in context of how a man AND a women should and should not interact sexually with one another. We are to have no sexual relations with anyone (including ourselves), or with any thing, EXCEPT with our husbands or wives. There isn’t a straight law and a gay law, there is A law of how men and women should sexually interact with each other and everything else is prohibited. The law is not just for you and me, it’s for US as opposites. It’s a subtle but crucial detail that is explicitly presented in the temple.

    One last observation. Having debated this topic a few times and reading in the comments, there is in my opinion many mistruths propagated by the culture of today. One of them is that above all, this life’s purpose is to have JOY. Let me unequivocally state, NO, it is NOT. From Julia above: “And also, I will hulk smash anyone who suggests that this will all work out in the next life. We are in this life now to have joy. That is the whole plan, remember.)” This is in my opinion a perfect example of philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Please re-read 2 Nephi 2:25 and D&C 93. Sure, the over arching premise of God’s plan is to bring us to Eternal Life so that we might have joy. Granted. Adam fell so we could have joy, but it’s joy in the broader context as we progress from a fallen state into a resurrected sate. Having joy in THIS life is great but not requisite and frankly not eternally important. The only thing that matters in this life is IF we obey. That’s it.

    …and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will PROVE them herewith, to see if they will DO all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall COMMAND them; (emphasis added).

    Too often we have such a myopic view of our eternal lives while on Earth. We just need to obey and endure. I suppose I will get “Hulked Smashed” by Julia because it will in fact work out in the end… because that was His promise. Easy for me to say? I do not struggle with homosexuality… I’m deeply sorry you do. I don’t know what’s it’s like. But you know, it’s not easy for me either. I live in chronic pain everyday due to a disease that will kill me soon enough. It sucks to say the least. Is it fair you were born gay? Is it fair that I was born with a genetic disease and am now dying? Sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes. However, I know it’s all fair because I agreed to this trouble existence. It’s just the grand test and we knew stuff like this would happen. And we knew the only safe way out is to let Him save us by being obedient. I do wish you the best.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      A few questions. If all that matters is obedience, then why try and teach that God is loving and merciful? Why does the church teach that this life (and what we do in it) has such great importance to us from an eternal standpoint and where we end up, but then trivialize it by saying “Oh hey it all works out in the end. Don’t worry about love or anything, just obey.” Why teach that we should seek out knowledge and truth at all? If we just need to obey what the prophets are saying, and wait these years of life away till they are done, then what is the point? Is the great “test” we hear so much about this life being about that we were given our agency only to see if we would willingly give it up to just strictly obey? That seems to lack the very things that people are asked to obey in showing love and compassion.

      Joy and happiness are absolutely a part of things. A part. Certainly not all of it, and certainly not the only thing we should seek or only thing we will ever feel in life.

      For the record, I do happen to agree with you that obedience does seem to be of utmost importance to the church these days. Even over love, and honesty. I find it very difficult to reconcile the many contradictions within the faith.

      Reply
      • Charles

        I think your key question is “what is the point?” It’s actually a great question. I think the Lord gives us the reason for all of this, to bring to pass our immortality and eternal lives (Moses 1:39). But what does that mean? It means that we progress forever without an end in the new and everlasting covenant with our spouse. To achieve this state (i.e., the upper degree of the celestial kingdom) we must not only be made clean but rendered as a new creature. In other words, Christ doesn’t just clean us, he changes us… we become something new. So what is all really for? Well in short, we must be prepared to accomplish our eternal work after this life is over and that can only be accomplished by being put in a situation where the veil covers our memories and we are left to our devices. What choices will we make when we are seemingly left alone?

        The beauty of this plan is that joy, knowledge, love for others, etc. all come and are maximized if we first choose to obey. If we exalt joy for example over obedience we will undoubtedly lose our way, that is why I was so opposed to that ideology in my original post. The great plan isn’t complicated, nor can it be, because it must be simple for every person to comprehend. Obedience is a simple truth that everyone can identify and follow. Our focused obedience sets off a chain reaction that fills our soul with all attributes we need to be a loving, compassionate, and Christ-like.

        Therefore, in this light let me address specifically your first question. We teach mercy and the love of God because as we attempt to yield our will to God, we will fall short and will need the Atonement of the Savior to rescue us. But I should note that the Atonement doesn’t just make up that difference, it makes ALL the difference. As I said before, we are not just seeking to be clean but also rendered as new creatures in Christ and even our works of obedience will not achieve that goal. It is He and Him alone that changes us. But by our obedience we let the Savior into our lives. So yes, we give our will/agency to Him and in return we are changed.
        While I am at it, let me present one more idea, that I’m sure will tick off a lot of people, but here goes. I bang the obedience drum so hard because I see a lie that has infected our communities and even members of the church. Let’s assume that I serve the needy on the weekends, I am kind to my family and friends, and I walk the old lady’s dog etc., but I also choose to sleep around, break all sorts of commandments, a disregard at will counsel from my church leaders, etc. Does it really matter that I do “good” things if I choose to break commandments. I might be a “good” person but unless I obey it is all for nothing, because nothing else matters. The Savior was clear on this issue: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Joseph makes one translational change to this passage, “And then will I profess unto them, YOU NEVER KNEW ME…”

        The lie that I spoke of is we think our worth is judged by our deeds on scale… good deeds on one side, bad deeds on the other. And if that scale tips in in our favor then we are good. No we are not. It’s a lie that God will justify in committing a little sin (Mosiah 3:19). He won’t.

        And this is where some will be ticked. I think we can all agree that Hermia is good person with a wonderful heart. But there are those in the comments above that while saying they love her are encouraging Hermia to break commandments, or at least condone disobedient behavior, as if it will profit her in the end. It won’t. It just might destroy her. If you truly love her, and feel it necessary to counsel her, then encourage her to obey.

        Anonymous, I think I addressed most of your questions in a round about way. I hope they are of some value to you. I would like to know other contractions that you may have with the gospel.

      • Anonymous

        Charles-

        First, I do respect your faith, but I will admit I do not share in it. This often causes an initial problem whenever I discuss anything with a believing mormon because the automatic approach I have always gotten is the basic “I’m right and I know. Period.” which I do admit is hard not to get defensive about because while I try to see their side and points (I have put in great effort throughout my life to even do the things asked of me, and tried very hard to be obedient and see the changes it made in my life. The promise of that confirming spirit and feeling I would get from reading the Book of Mormon etc. Feelings that never came, though even still I try to give it an honest effort), my side is never looked at as I am automatically assumed to be “wrong” or “mislead”. I assure you, I feel and believe as strongly about the things I say, as you do about the things you say.

        I happen to agree with you. As taught, and as read obedience is the way. It doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. You mess up, and don’t follow this one single path set for you, then ultimately you are damned. (Not necessarily damned meaning going to Hell like some Christian religions believe, as I understand it for Mormons, damned would mean not to end up in the presence of God. One of the other kingdoms, not the Celestial.) My understandings with speaking with many people of many different Christian denominations, is that they have the same stance as the things you stated. Your works will not save you, and by the grace of God alone you will be saved… as many of them teach. Granted, from my understanding within the mormon church it is taught that both faith and works are needed, as well as the grace of God. Unless I am mistaken on that teaching.

        In this instance, how is obedience causing her to find such great joy, and maximizing that and helping her find all these wonderful things you are teaching? I don’t think we can argue that she hasn’t been obedient (100% obedience, sure, probably not. But as imperfect beings, my understanding is perfection is not required, hence the sacrament every week. As I understand from what I have been told, or researched within the church), or put in a tremendous amount of personal effort to do so. As an obedient mormon she has been left feeling conflicted, alone, hurt, and confused. When she chooses to love over obey, she then starts to feel those things fade away and feel better as a person. These psychological effects can be tremendous.

        One major contradiction within the church is the teaching that God is so loving, and so merciful and forgiveness is so huge… yet, only if we obey can we be forgiven. Only if we do what he wants, are we forgiven. How is that in any way loving and merciful? Because his commandments are there for us and to make us better? In whose eyes? In the eyes of those around us, who are so judgmental? Can any servant of a God of love, truly claim another will be damned and not forgiven if they don’t follow things which can most definitely be taken as meant to control, rather than uplift them? When have we ever been asked to only forgive somebody after they have done what we want them to do? Are we not commanded to forgive no matter what? Yet, the one giving this commandment does not have to obey it himself? Please forgive me for not being able to reference scripture very well, or teachings very well. But I remember in essence the teaching basically being “I the lord will forgive whom I choose, but you are commanded to forgive all others.” (if I have this wrong, please feel free to correct me.)

        Thank you for taking the time to answer my previous questions without attacking me either, or calling me blasphemous etc. That does not happen often, and it is appreciated. I respect your view, from what you believe in when you say that encouraging disobedience will destroy her. I think you have illustrated clearly why and how that happens. I believe and support that as being right, if God is a being of pure order rather than a being of infinite love and mercy/forgiveness. I just disagree with that because if choosing to love, and pursuing love as pure as it is no matter whom you love makes you truly feel peace within yourself, then that is the proper way. Not what you have been taught, because no matter how many times you’ve heard the words “I know” from testimonies, the lie could be within the teachings and not within yourself. Perhaps it’s best to be cautious of both the feelings within you, and the feelings proclaimed by others as well.

      • Charles

        Anyonomus,

        It’s a true honor to engage in a theological debate with a person not of my faith, especially with someone as cordial as you. I really mean that. While it’s true I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Joseph Smith as the only correct faith, I listen to everyone and try to reason together with fairness and equity. My words below are a bit complex but I didn’t want to write something watered down for you. You asked tough questions, which if answered properly require complex answers. And I am sorry this is a little delayed. I wanted to spend a bit more time making sure I gave enough attention to your good questions.

        You said: “In this instance, how is obedience causing her to find such great joy, and maximizing that and helping her find all these wonderful things you are teaching?”

        True joy and peace comes from following the Gospel. However, a fullness of joy for Hermina may never be realized in this life. I never said she would find absolute joy in this life. This life is a struggle for many of us… it surely is for me health wise. While she may never have a fullness of joy, I do promise that if she chooses obedience to things she knows to be true, she will find His peace. Where His peace is, joy will soon follow. Sure there may be questions, and voids in our life, but we can have His peace.

        Your question about the mercy of God is very good. But let me take it one step further and ask another question (don’t worry I’ll come back to your original question). Why did Jesus really have to die? Why couldn’t God just forgive all of humanity of all of its sins? Why did Jesus have to suffer, bleed from every pour, be tortured, and subsequently slain on the cross? That seems unbelievably excessive if God could just wave his hand and forgive us. Why would a merciful God allow his beloved Son to endure such torment and a horrific death if it wasn’t actually necessary? This question is actually a famous imponderable that has baffled many theologians for a long time.

        I am not going to answer that imponderable today. The reason why I bring it up is to highlight one important idea… It is this: Jesus had to die. There was no other way. God would never subject his son to the most horrific moment throughout history if it wasn’t necessary. Jesus said,“if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) He plead to let the cup pass but, “glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (D&C 19:19)

        If we believe in Jesus’s mission and Atonement, then by default we must believe in a punishment, and if we believe in a punishment then we must believe in a law. Furthermore, by extension we must then believe that God needed Christ as a sacrifice to answer the ends of the law because surely the Father would not have sacrificed his Son for no purpose.

        The point here is, God has a law and justice MUST be satisfied if the law is broken. God MUST enact a punishment. Does this mean that God is limited or coerced to do something? No. The reason why it’s not a limitation is because He established the repentance process and to change it would constitute a lie and God cannot lie. He is only bound by His unchangeable nature, which is why we can always rely upon him. You see, we are on the hook for sins we committed. They must be paid for. The demands of Justice must be fulfilled, else God would be a liar. But He provided a way that mercy could satisfy the demands of justice. He provided a Savior that would pay the ransom… to endure the weight of justice for us. However, that ransom only works for those that submit to Him. That to me is a fair trade. Isn’t that wonderfully merciful?

        And even more to your question, why does he ask us to obey? Why obedience? The answer I think is in asking another question: Why is there law? See, obedience is only pertinent to a law. If there were no law, then no you couldn’t obey. So why have laws in the first place? This idea is actually one of the other great imponderables of Christianity. And guess what, I don’t know have a complete answer. However, let me share one or two ideas. God, heaven, and the ethereal world are based upon complete order (I think we can all agree with that). In my mind, law is just another word for order. We are asked to obey the law for probably many reasons, but here are two: (1) obeying the order of heaven brings order into us and gives us eternal peace and (2) obeying the law molds and prepares us to live for an eternity in a place of order (This is discussed at length in D&C 88). If we don’t abide a heavenly law here, we are not worthy to live in a divine glory). So again, he isn’t just forgiving us, he is molding us. (There actually is a 3rd huge reason, which has to do with priesthood, but that is beyond our topic… just wanted to mention that if anyone else is following along.)

        So that as a long backdrop, let me quick fire some of your other questions (some aren’t so quick though, ☺) :

        You said: “Yet, only if we obey can we be forgiven… How is that in any way loving and merciful?”
        The logic here is a bit complex, but you have to trace it through a few steps to find the answer. (1) God cannot break a promise or a law, or allow us to break a law without repercussions. The necessity of the Savior’s sacrifice, as mentioned above, is evidence of that. (2) When we sin, there must be a punishment affixed. [2 Nephi 2:10 & Alma 42:18] (3) The Savior paid the price for that punishment. [Alma 42:22-23] (4) To use the Savior’s Atonement, to be forgiven, we start by admitting fault, saying we are sorry and repenting (which means to “to turn” or “turn away” in Hebrew). (5) Here is the key and the answer to your question, how can we be truly sorry if we have no intentions to change our behavior? That isn’t repentance. That is lip service. What is the difference between someone who doesn’t ask for forgiveness at all and someone who asks for forgiveness but isn’t sorry. Do we really think God will grant forgiveness to either? No way.

        Helaman 5:10 “…the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them IN their sins, but to redeem them FROM their sins.” (emphasis added)

        So let’s put this principle into a scenario just so we are clear. Let’s assume someone participates in immoral sexual behavior. We have established that God can’t just turn a blind eye since it would negate the entire purpose of Christ suffering and the Atonement. Theoretically, then the sinner has three options: (1) maintain the status quo and continue to sin. (2) Ask for forgiveness and not be sorry. (3) Ask for forgiveness and genuinely express sorrow. If the sinner chooses the 3rd option and is actively pursuing sexual behavior with no intentions of changing, then how is that any different than option 2? It just isn’t in my view.

        This is my view on how obedience and forgiveness are directly linked.

        You said: “Because his commandments are there for us and to make us better?”
        Yes.

        You said: “In whose eyes?”
        God’s eyes, the only ones of consequence.

        You said: “In the eyes of those around us, who are so judgmental?”
        No, man is irrelevant in this context.

        You said: “Can any servant of a God of love, truly claim another will be damned and not forgiven if they don’t follow things which can most definitely be taken as meant to control, rather than uplift them?”
        Yes, the mission of the prophets throughout time has been to call God’s people to repentance. It’s not control… It’s what is best for his children. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Are we smarter than God? Do we actually allege to know more about life and eternity than Him? His wisdom is infinite and that is one reason why he gives us commandments. Laws that govern sexuality don’t make sense to some, as in the case of Hermia, but nevertheless, they are there to help us.

        You said: “When have we ever been asked to only forgive somebody after they have done what we want them to do? Are we not commanded to forgive no matter what?”
        Yes.

        You said: “Yet, the one giving this commandment does not have to obey it himself?”
        I think the scripture you are after is: I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men (D&C 64:10).

        When we forgive others, it’s really for our benefit ONLY. Ultimately, we can’t truly forgive someone of their trespasses… only God can really do that. The alternative is to not forgive and what would that accomplish… nothing, but make us spiteful, dark, and hateful. So whether someone is actually sincere when trying to make amends is frankly irrelevant. We are to forgive without any regard for another’s sincerity. What He is really saying is, let it go… move on… be at peace.

        On the other hand, the Lord’s forgiveness is an entirely different process. He is already at peace so there has to be something lese happening here. The Lord knows the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart. He has told us that he only accepts an apology if the person is truly penitent. He reserves the right to not forgive if a person isn’t sincere. The Lord said: “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” His forgiveness isn’t arbitrary or unfair; it is available for all who humbly repent. But for God to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, does a disservice to that person. When we grant forgiveness to someone or when God grants us forgiveness, it is all for our benefit.

        You said: “I believe and support that as being right, if God is a being of pure order rather than a being of infinite love and mercy/forgiveness.”
        Ok, now we are getting down to the crux of the matter. On one hand we have a God of pure order and on the other, one of pure love. God can’t possibly be both, so which one is he? I’ll give you the answer but I need you to know the answer is the most crucial point I’ll make in this post. What you are really asking is, is God more a God of Justice (i.e., order) or a God of mercy (i.e., love and forgiveness). Here is the answer, he is infinitely BOTH… they are NOT mutually exclusive. If you really want to learn more about this concept, I implore you to read Alma 42 from the Book of Mormon. The perfect duplicity of God in relation to Justice and mercy is beautifully expressed in that chapter. I promise if you read it, it will tie everything I am saying together and make so much more sense to you. Alma just says it so much better than me.

        “Alma 42:15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a PERFECT, JUST God, and a MERCIFUL God also.” (emphasis added)

        God is perfectly merciful, but we cannot rob justice. There are ZERO exceptions. We cannot continue in sin with the delusion that because our sin is masked in even “pure” love that it is ok. It isn’t. Certainly, those who wish to participate in homosexual behavior may do so. But no amount of love for their partners will ever override that fact that God has deemed it an admonition. From what I can tell, and I mean no disrespect, your apparent construct of God is he will turn a blind eye to sins if that sin is done with good intentions. What you are really saying is, the ends (pure gay love) justify the means (homosexual behavior). This is the same as if you were given the option to murder one innocent person in cold blood to save 100 people… or a billion people. Murder is murder, no matter what goodness comes in the end. God cannot brush sin aside or justice would be robbed. Justice must be satisfied.

        I know what I said has been pretty heavy and traveled among many ideas, but there is a common thread here. Mercy and justice perfectly coexist within God. Justice will ALWAYS be satisfied, yet he provided us a Savior to deliver from this punishment… to make us clean again. But there is a price for that deliverance… its our repentance and obedience.

      • Anonymous

        Charles-

        Thank you for taking the time to respond with such depth, and sharing your own thoughts and beliefs. I do find value even with the points made that I disagree with, because it helps me understand the conversation between us better and the way some others may also think. That is something I personally hold as valuable to life’s journey. I may forget to touch on all points, but wanted to respond in kind.

        You said “True joy and peace comes from following the gospel.” A sentiment I do hope works for you, and many others as I do believe faith is important, and those that have great faith I certainly hope and wish for them to find that peace and joy they seek and deserve. However, based mostly on my own personal experiences, this is something I just do not believe. The many, many years I put into being obedient, penitent, and following the laws and ordinances asked of me, and the ones I found out from other teachings etc. From following the LDS gospel. I did not find joy and peace. I found things that made me feel even more guilty, or like I was a faulty person for not feeling that spirit everybody was always bearing testimony about feeling so strongly. There was always just this emptiness, or darkness, or feeling of complete inadequacy in all I was doing. Something just felt really wrong, and off. I never wanted to admit it to anybody else, and especially myself. The hardest person to admit that the Church just felt so wrong to, was me. I felt tremendous guilt. Spoke with many priesthood leaders. Was judged very harshly by friends of the faith, and leaders as well. None of that bothered me though because I understand we as people make mistakes all the time, and don’t always handle things too well. The feeling just never changed no matter how much I studied the scriptures, or listened to conference talks, sat through church meetings etc. So I searched. For me, in my life, one thing truly made me find that inner peace and joy. Selfless love. Letting go of all desire and want for myself, and loving and serving those around me over putting God and the gospel first. I want no reward for myself in this life, or the after life (if there is one.) I am just happy to help those in need if I am able to in any way. It is a pure feeling of joy to watch them go on, and progress with a smile.

        This brings me to another point I struggled with, and it is the atonement. I agree with the things you said, as they are the same I have been taught. And it is a tough one for sure. My question is why was there no other way then for Jesus to die? If I make mistakes, if I “sin” or cause harm to others, then why not punish me for that? I most definitely do not want another to have suffered for choices I made. I accept responsibility for my imperfections, and I do not mean to not show respect for the taught about great sacrifice of Jesus… but if he is my brother, then I certainly don’t want him taking on pain for me as much as I adore the gesture. Justice does demand certain things. It is not justice for another to suffer for the crimes he did not commit (it is, however, mercy and love by the one that suffered.) It really falls apart to me where you state that ransom can only be paid if we submit. It can be taken as a control mechanism, and not very benevolent, merciful, or loving. To put it another way “The law states you can’t sin, or there must be a punishment. Here, I am going to make your brother pay for your sins and suffer really badly. This is happening whether you want it to or not. Ok, now that’s done you need to show your appreciation to what he just did for you and submit to my will, and you will be forgiven for the crime he just paid for.” Order, love and mercy definitely aren’t mutually exclusive, but these things point to a God of order, rather than a God of love. Now I do not mean to make light of something so sacred and important to many with the Savior’s death and sacrifice. I am only trying to illustrate an example.

        I don’t know if I agree with the statement that god, heaven and the ethereal world are all based on law/order. Depends on the context I guess. Within the teachings of the LDS church and using that as the backdrop for the truth of things, yes no question or argument there (from what I learned at least that God ordered everything in the universe, from various Sunday school lessons etc.) As an absolute truth though, arguments can be, and definitely are made. Your following thoughts/reasons pertaining to that though I did like in that context, and make sense to me.

        I was not very clear with my questions pertaining specifically to the commandments being there to better us, and in whose eyes. What I should have, and meant to ask was “In which God’s eyes?” To convey that there are so many out there that seem to be worshiping different versions of the same god. The one of Order. The one of Love. The one of wrath. Etc. Many different faiths, many different interpretations. For a believing member I know this is much less of a question, or issue because you believe you have the truth right there, the one true church. But for others, they don’t have that. The possibility of other gods, and truths is what they are trying to sift through. The prophets also being called to call man to repentance is a tough pill to swallow. Am I to trust another imperfect man that claims to be chosen by God, even though I am also promised personal revelation? Where do I reconcile the two, especially when they seem to be giving conflicting information? Follow blindly? I don’t think that is a wise path, nor the path any type of god would want us to follow, especially if we are allowed personal revelation. Prophets will make mistakes, just as I will. No matter their good intent, or my good intent with the things I say and feel.

        I do agree that forgiveness is definitely something that benefits us greatly. From personal experience, it’s like letting go of some heavy weights that you were carrying around and just slowing you down. My main point with that line of questions though was this: The end goal as taught within the LDS church is that we are to become as God. Gods ourselves. If all of these commandments, all of these things are given to us to mold us into becoming that, then why, if things are based on pure order does God not have to follow the same laws that lead to divinity? Is he, or is he not bound by law as we are? If he is not, or if he exists above it all, then why would there be only one path? Why doesn’t that open up the possibility to numerous paths? Especially with the infinite wisdom of God, and an infinite understanding of the great diversity his children would have.

        I take no offense, but no. I do not adhere to or believe the ends justify the means. I see where you are coming from on that and how I may have portrayed what I believe that way, but I do happen to agree that ends don’t justify the means, just like in your example. Murder is murder. However, it lies in my belief of what is sin. Your claim is that God says homosexuality is a sin, or admonition. My claim and belief would be that this came from man, or man’s faulty interpretation and presentation for whatever motivation, or possibly even just a mistake. (And for the sake of saving us both time, I think we would just argue in circles about that one without changing the others mind, so I will say I can at least see why you have your belief, stemming from the fact you do believe in the teachings of prophets as the voice of God, and that is fine by me, I just don’t and disagree… respectfully.) My own personal belief, which is just from me and I don’t encourage people to abandon what they believe to follow the words of a fairly simple guy like me, is that if there is a God, and the scripture is true that “God is love.” Than loving will lead us to that path of divinity, rather than obedience. Love is the guideline rather than order. To truly show pure to another, I don’t see it as possible to sin, because with love you are seeking their betterment. Their happiness. Their ultimate joy. The same things which I think we are both saying God wants for all of us (we just believe in different paths to get there.)

        And lastly, this is just a thought. Something that has been on my mind for some time, but if the church is true and with all this going on, what if homosexuality isn’t the sin or thing being tested? What if what is truly being tested is pride. Look how much pride has been shown by many of faith in their bold claims to know the truth (all those “I know.” testimonies, with no willingness to acknowledge they could be wrong.) To be unflinching, and not budge. To present themselves without compassion to the plight that many suffer through. And I don’t mean the plight of homosexuality. I don’t see that as a plight at all. It’s just something that’s a part of people. Like hair color, eye color, or skin color. It’s just there, a part of them that should stop being seen as a defect, because I don’t think any of us would tolerate somebody thinking or believing somebody with brown eyes is defective etc. But to see how all of this has at times lead this young lady, and many others to thoughts of suicide, how can we not see that as a serious issue? How can we not let compassion step in on that and close our mouths, open our hearts and say “Ok, so how do we help?” Instead it is hammered down their throats that they are just wrong, and that is crystal clear.

        The best moves I’ve ever made in life were to stop talking, and actually start listening to what others had to say about how they truly felt, and what made them feel that way.

  32. Marlee

    Oh sweetheart, you are strong and beautiful and very very brave! Hang in there, I so hope that change is coming! I am so sorry for all of your pain. Best wishes for love and happiness!
    xoxo

    Reply
  33. juliathepoet

    I am saddened at the level of judgment that my fellow members of the church have chosen to display in this *conversation.* I do not see the image of Christ in the condemnation of those who sin/struggle differently than the person who tells Hermia to be obedient, instead of seeking continued personal revelations.

    I feel comfortable saying that if Christ was here, He would stand with President Uchdorf, and tell everyone to attend to their own beam, and let Him hug Hermia and bless her for seeking Him. I can’t imagine that Christ would tell anyone to give up their agency in exchange for obedience. That makes absolutely no sense in the context of Christ’s teaching in the New Testament or in the Book of Mormon. He tells people that He brought a new law, that of loving God, and showing that love, by loving those who are most abused and hurt among us.

    Christ asks us to let Him make our weaknesses into strengths. In my own life, I have seen how Christ has taken some of my most *sinful* behaviors, and allowed me to become stronger, more close to Christ and my Heavenly Parents, and even to share the gospel with those that I met during that time in my life.

    One of the sweetest experiences of my life was a shared fast, where most of those fasting for me were LGBTQA identified people. As we shared evening prayers, I had the chance to feel the great love that Christ and our Heavenly Parents have for them, and that was true whether they were active LDS, or not. I have only my own testimony, but I know that there is a great deal of love that gets lost *because* obedience to a misunderstood principle, is put above loving our neighbors. I will always be willing to take the chance of loving too much, rather than unrighteously judging my brothers and sisters, based on who they love.

    Reply
    • Charles

      Juliathepoet,

      I’m sure not all your comments were pointed at me directly, but it seems most of them were since your comments were partially refuting my post, which is just fine. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

      I am not trying to judge any one. Heaven knows I have my own struggles and sins that I working to overcome. However, as I said above, Hermia posted her thoughts on a public forum and argued for her position. It is only natural and appropriate that under those circumstances for those who feel inclined, like me, to also share their ideas even if they are opposed to what was initially said.

      Furthermore, we are discussing principles of the gospel and how they relate to homosexuality. It’s not an easy topic. But it is disingenuous to throw down the beam-in-your-own-eye trump card and tell us to leave her alone and worry about our own issues. I think it’s just really intellectually dishonest. I am not judging others because they choose to sin differently than me (Uchtdorf). I am merely commenting on gospel principles in relation to the topic.

      Specifically to your position, I agree with about 90% of what you said. And listen, I am not trying to be a jerk here, but if I am reading you correctly, 10% of your post is incongruent with church doctrine in my opinion and that 10% makes all the difference in the tenor of your post.

      You said: I can’t imagine that Christ would tell anyone to give up their agency in exchange for obedience.

      We’re mixing words a tad here but in my post I combined ‘agency’ and ‘will’ together. In that sentence, I used them as synonyms, which can be appropriate, but in the broader contexts, will and agency are not exactly the same thing. Strictly speaking, no one can give up their agency per se (unless they commit sin and find themselves in bondage, but that is really a separate issue). But if you are saying that you don’t think Christ would tell anyone to give up their WILL in exchange for obedience, then I would take serious issue with that. That is the entire modality of the atonement. But I don’t want to go down that path unless that is what you meant… just trying to clarify.

      Christ did bring the new law of loving the Lord with our whole soul and THEN loving our neighbor. The order is crucial (see Matt 10:34-37). And what does it mean to love the Lord. It means to follow him… to keep his commandments to obey him. John 14:15: If ye love me, keep my commandments.

      President Benson said in 1967, “The world largely ignores the first and great commandment—to love God—but talks a lot about loving their brother … But only those who know and love God can best love and serve his children, for only God fully understands his children and knows what is best for their welfare… When we fail to put the love of God first, we are easily deceived by crafty men who profess a great love of humanity.” That is so well said. Wow.

      Your next paragraph is beautiful and well articulated. I am with you up until you say: “there is a great deal of love that gets lost *because* obedience to a misunderstood principle, is put above loving our neighbors.” I think you had a typo in there, but I think I understand what you are saying and I couldn’t more emphatically disagree. Can you see why I take such issue with that? I have clearly delineated that to love God with your whole soul is to obey Him. Nothing should take precedence over that… even if that obedience seemingly hurts or is at odds with another person in the short run.

      I mentioned this scripture above, but I think its imperative to quote it here. Christ said: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother…” Choosing to obey, even if it divides us from those we love is what we are asked to do. And sure, this takes tremendous tact to be sure we don’t come off as ‘holier than thou’.

      We all have our ideas of how the Savior would react if he were with us right now. For instance, I think he wouldn’t be with us much in sacrament meeting… rather I think he would be at the local soup kitchen mending the broken hearted. And I also expect the savior to react as he represented himself in scripture. He would define what is good and what is evil. He would cherish us. He would forgive us but send us our way and admonish us to “sin no more.” He would ask for our undying devotion and to obey him.

      In relation to your last sentence, my comments have never been about judging anyone. My comments were specifically directed at Hermia’s five arguments that, in my opinion, were constructed with poor logic and had doctrinal issues. But I became more proactive in my comments as I discovered many people encouraging her in her ideologies that were inconsistent with scripture. I worry that when people voice an opinion and are greeted with an echo chamber they falsely interpret that to mean that they are speaking truth. If I was caught in that predicament, I would want someone to bravely and yet lovingly help me see where I had maybe misunderstood or misstepped. This is all I was attempting to do.

      All the best.

      Reply
  34. latterdaytruth

    Charles,

    You have articulated very well many things I attempted to say. I think you have got it just right in your comments.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Charles

      latterdaytruth ,

      You are most kind. Thank you. I very much enjoyed your comments as well.

      Reply
  35. VNMarshall

    Paul, latterdaytruth, and Charles, you three have been most vocal in opposing Hermia’s argument, so I’m writing to point out some of the flaws in your arguments.

    Paul, you have been arguing for “marriage therapy,” or, in your words, for Hermia to marry a gay man for the purpose of raising a family. You’re about thirty years behind the LDS church’s advice here. Like you, the church used to advise homosexual members to start heterosexual marriages. Unlike you, they have now learned that this is bad advice. This resulted in so many broken marriages that church leaders realized that marriage is not merely a contract in which two (or more, if polygamous) people agree to become intimate and produce children. If it were, this advice would work. Shouldn’t marriage partners also love each other, be attracted to each other, have some level of friendship? This is the model of the companionate marriage, which Western cultures have embraced as we’ve moved away from arranged marriages. You are suggesting a radical new approach—not an arranged marriage, nor a companionate marriage, but a union based primarily on reproduction. According to a recent study (the same one Hermia cited in her post), 75% of gay people who marry someone of the opposite sex get divorced. Surely you wouldn’t like to see more LDS divorces. Here is the language from the church report:

    “Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems. The lives of others should not be damaged by entering a marriage where such concerns exist. Encouraging members to cultivate heterosexual feelings as a way to resolve homosexual problems generally leads them to frustration and discouragement.”

    Charles, your central argument is “Obey and endure to the end. We aren’t necessarily meant to experience joy in this life.” Let’s remember, when considering this approach, that we are not the first Christians to encounter this problem. This was a major question for the Christian Victorian social reformers in England in the nineteenth century (and remember that much of Mormon culture grew out of Victorian Christianity, given the time that the Church was organized and the great influx of English saints in the early years): Should we work to fix social problems and injustices here on earth, or should we merely trust that everything will be resolved in the afterlife? It certainly demands a great deal of faith to do the latter. However, this approach is also dangerous; it enables us, as Christians, to ignore social problems rather than working to fix them. Because we believe in building the kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 2:35, D&C 138:44, D&C 90:2-3, D&C 105:32, Luke 17:21), shouldn’t we invest ourselves in righting the wrongs around us?

    For the Victorians this was a particularly difficult question. To give just one example, Victorians relied on child laborers for jobs like chimney sweeping, factory work, and mining. The jobs were extremely unsafe, and many children ended up with severe health problems and injuries. It was rare for a chimney sweep to live past his teens, for instance. Yet because society relied on their labor, the children were told to do their duty, and everything would be made right in heaven. It took a long time for social reformers to outlaw this child abuse. Part of this was because so many Christians believed that God would sort everything out in heaven. Why attempt to fix the problem, particularly when it’s working so well for people who need their chimneys cleaned, if everyone will receive their just rewards or punishments after they die?

    Hermia is not a chimney sweep, nor would I be so naïve as to compare her experiences to those of the nineteenth-century child laborers. But the question is the same: Should we work to fix social problems and injustices here on earth, or should we merely trust that everything will be resolved in the afterlife? Hermia has identified a social problem, an injustice in the form of a double standard. Will we work to change the problem, the injustice, so that Hermia needn’t cry in the alleyway behind the LDS church after meeting with her bishop? Can we possibly re-envision LDS LGBT suicides as a social problem rather than problems of personal righteousness? Or will we merely tell them to endure the injustice because God will sort everything out in the end?

    This brings me to another major flaw in all of your arguments. In order for your points to make sense, each of you were compelled to conflate romantic with sexual behavior. The law of chastity has never forbidden hand holding, nor could hand holding be reasonably construed as a sexual activity. If holding someone’s hand were sexual, then half of the unmarried LDS YSAs would be breaking the law of chastity at any time. If you read Hermia’s post, you’ll know that her bishop interpreted hand holding as breaking the law of chastity. That is where the double standard comes into play. No heterosexual couple would be forbidden from taking the sacrament for holding hands; no bishop would condemn their behavior as breaking the law of chastity. It would be very difficult to make the case for hand holding as a sexual behavior.

    Latterdaytruth, several people have already commented on the false analogy you’ve created between homosexual feelings and adulterous desires (and Paul has also fallen into this logical fallacy). An analogy works insofar as the similarities between two entities outweigh their dissimilarities. Because of this, it is a tenuous argument to make. All one needs to do, as Joshua, Curtis, and Natalia have already done in these comments, is demonstrate that the dissimilarities between the entities are so many as to invalidate the comparison.

    As an aside, latterdaytruth, your pseudonym is very problematic. It reminds me of Bruce R. McConkie publishing racism under the title Mormon Doctrine. Whence do you base your authority to speak “latter-day truth”? Are you President Monson, having authority to speak definitively on behalf of the entire Church?

    Reply
    • Charles

      VNMarshal,

      Sorry for the delay… traveling… holiday… family. I’ll let the others defend their posts and I’ll stick to defending mine. I think what you have attempted to do is turn her trial into a social problem by claiming the law of chastity be a double standard. I hope that is a fair assessment.

      I’ll state it again; the Law of Chastity is not a double standard. But let’s be fair. If it’s not a double standard, then I should be able to point directly to a scripture that specifically delineates that gay hand holding and kissing are wrong. Right? You and I both know that scripture doesn’t exist. But you know what else doesn’t exist, there isn’t a scripture that specifically forbids a guy from tongue kissing his dog because he’s in ‘love’, nor does it forbid making out with his mother either. Not only should we not be commanded in all things, but we should apply some common sense. The scriptures are clear about incest and bestiality, but they don’t delineate that we shouldn’t be frenching our dogs. Do they really need to? Honestly? We know those behaviors are wrong. We feel they are wrong in our gut and we can point to doctrine that speaks generally against it. But all the sudden with homosexuality it’s different? It’s not wrong?

      That actually makes sense to me. I don’t know anyone who is into incest or bestiality, but we all know homosexuals. They are our friends, co-workers, and family members. We love them dearly. Clearly, any behavior they are into cannot be that bad… it’s Jim… it’s Sally for heaven’s sake… these are good people. But make no mistake, practicing homosexuality is an absolute perversion of everything central to the Creator’s plan of happiness. Everything about that behavior is degenerate, unnatural, and wretched. It is the definition of the profane – the height of defilement. And we think that engaging in just a little of this heinous behavior is ok? If the Savior were standing in front of a lesbian couple who were holding hands, you honestly think He would be indifferent about it? The church allows for appropriate handholding, hugging, and kissing for heterosexual couples as a prelude to marriage. Furthermore, it is inappropriate to use these behaviors to “blow off steam” as Hermina noted, which is an implication of releasing some sexual energy or frustration. We can show signs of affection but to deliberately arouse a sexual response in our partner is inappropriate, but I digress.

      So no, the scriptures do not specifically state God’s position on homosexual kissing. But do they need to? Have the brethren given us any counsel in this regard? Elder Oaks said the following in relation to homosexual behavior: “We don’t understand exactly the ‘why,’ or the extent to which there are inclinations or susceptibilities and so on. But what we do know is that feelings can be controlled and behavior can be controlled. The line of sin is between the feelings and the behavior. The line of prudence is between the susceptibility and the feelings. We need to lay hold on the feelings and try to control them to keep us from getting into a circumstance that leads to sinful behavior.”

      Not only does he say that the line of sin is between feelings and the behavior (notice he is saying ANY behavior… not just sex) but he even counsels that prudence is between susceptibility and the feelings, which I would argue is even more conservative. This is an incredibly insightful concept that I encourage everyone to ponder for a few minutes.

      This is why we have apostles. They are living scripture. They are here to adapt the words of God into modern times. I don’t fault anyone who initially questions the Law of Chastity as an apparent double standard, but they should look to the brethren who clarify doctrine.

      So to me there is no social problem here. She has a trial, and if I interacted with her, I would show her love, help her in her trial, but I would be firm in expressing the doctrines of the church. But to just quickly address the issue you raised about combating social issues with regard to your observation of the Victorians, I would invite anyone to read section D&C 123. “…that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness…” It is our duty to uncover the works of darkness, even though we know ultimately God will win the day and all injustices will be corrected. He demands our efforts in fighting for righteousness and wisdom. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this issue since its not crucial to my overall point and I think my position on it is readily apparent.

      Let me make one last observation regarding the main topic of my post. As discussed, one of the main things the LGBT Mormons want is to be able to hold hands and kiss. This would effectively get camel’s nose in the tent. If the church were to turn a blind eye, soon they should say, “why would you let us hold hands and kiss but then forbid the next step? That is totally unfair!” Not only are these behaviors doctrinally forbidden, but it’s important to be firm on this issue so this outcry never happens. There is no wiggle room here. Therefore, as I initially stated in my original post, I do believe there should be more consistency. Hermina GF’s bishop is in error and does a great disservice to both of them. He needs to focus on the doctrine and the comments from the Brethren more in his calling.

      Reply
  36. Twin Lights

    Many indicate the problem is that hand holding or a light kiss are allowed on the heterosexual side but not the homosexual side. Let us say that such actions were allowed. Would that really solve anything if marriage and full physical union were still forbidden? It seems we would be allowing people to just get closer to a locked gate. There is still no entrance. So, would partial movement here (allowing the hand-holding and light kissing) be of any real use or would it just create more problems down the road once folks had developed their feelings and they were now more intense and ready to act on them?

    Though others have compared this to the priesthood issue, my understanding is that it was long understood that the priesthood would eventually be extended to all – but the timetable was unknown. I just don’t see that here.

    Reply
    • latterdaytruth

      About the pseudonym- yeah- I suppose it could come off as somehow lifting myself up. In reality, I wanted to comment on a thread a while back and quickly came up something to put on the required line- it was a reference to what it found in the restored church, not me. Forgive me. I see your point.

      As far as the analogy- I would argue that the weaknesses of the analogy are really non-existent if you take the perspective of eternity and the law of chastity. Do you want to base changes in the church that asserts to be lead by Christ upon legal rational or eternal truth? I think the arguments against the analogy are weak and do not address the fundamental issue of what the law of chastity is all about. It is an eternal law. There is a glaring disconnect between this eternal law and the laws of our land. So if your interest and desired change is based more upon the law of the land, why even bother? Doesn’t that undermine any belief in the law of chastity as an eternal law?

      A married man lusting after a female neighbor is no different than a single male who lusts after another single male. Having romantic feelings for a neighbor and having romantic feelings for a person of the same sex are the same. Both may be very understandable. But both may be considered temptations which if acted upon become sin and disobedience. They are both against the law of chastity. They both go against the philosophical and doctrinal bases of the law of chastity. What is our doctrine about that law and the purpose of this life? It really is pretty clear if you consider the issue from that perspective.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        They’re not the same. The married man is being unfaithful to a higher, more sacred covenant. Yes, they’re both breaking the law of chasity, but to very different degrees.

      • latterdaytruth

        Anonymous,

        Upon what do you base your claim that they are not the same? I suppose we could assume that adultery is a more significant sin than fornication, but such a distinction doesn’t change the argument. Is homosexual fornication different than heterosexual fornication? If a person wants to argue that standards or policies of the church should be changed regarding homosexual dating, etc., this is a very weak foundation upon which to argue, IMO.

        All homosexual romantic relationships are sinful from the perspective of our church doctrine. So the argument that the church should accept homosexual romantic relationships that do not include outright sex simply does not work. It is an argument that legitimizes homosexuality to some degree. And there is no basis for that if we claim to believe in the faith claims of the church.

      • Anonymous

        I thought just having the thought was the same, and just as bad as if acting upon it. At least scripture, and seminary classes have taught that, and many other contradictions.

  37. LDS Mother of 6 and Grandmother of 12

    The church changed its stance on blacks getting the priesthood as soon as it became self-aware enough to realize it’s own bigotry. Organizations are not true. They are always evolving. They are flawed. Hopefully they are becoming better. But they are not true. What is true? It is the question of the ages. You deserve to ask it and so do I. I have been a member of the church for almost 50 years. I am only now asking some of the questions. How can our church whose first prophet married other men’s wives (yes, polyandry, not just polygamy, is well documented) be so willing to rethink our stance on polygamy and not on this issue. Too many people are being deeply damaged. Too many suicides because of this subject. I believe that we are actually going against God on this one. Take charge of your own life and find your own truth. You deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else. Never sit in the room alone with a man judging you again. You don’t deserve it!

    Reply
    • Charles

      The reason why black folks didn’t have the priesthood until 1978 (except for a few instances) is because that is what God wanted. Either you believe these men are inspired or not. But you are not calling the church bigoted… you are calling the Brethren bigots… men like Spencer Kimball, Bruce McConkie, and our beloved prophet to just name a few. Criticism like that will likely pave your way to apostasy faster than just about anything. Good luck with that.

      Reply
  38. Alan Michael Williams

    To all those people who are saying there’s no double standard, do a very simple thought experiment. If two women are holding hands, does the church consider this sin? For hetero members, the answer is no. For gay members, the answer is possibly yes if there’s “romantic” feelings involved. This is the exact same action performed by two members, but for one member it’s not a sin, and for the other it possibly is. Hence, a double standard exists.

    Reply
    • Charles

      It might be late, but I don’t follow you. I’m with you until you say “two members…” Would you mind explaining your point again. Sorry.

      Reply
    • Twin Lights

      Alan,

      The question on the other side is, to what end? If (and in all cases let us stipulate “romantic”) hand holding or even a light kiss is the issue, how would a policy change solve anything? It would appear to me that, unless there is movement on the issue of marriage, allowing these smaller displays of affection just end in greater frustration for all. The couples keep dating, keep developing their feelings for one another (and those feelings become more intense) and yet there is no facility for them to act on them in a gospel framework.

      We can argue that they should or should not be allowed to marry and prognosticate what we think the future will be. But, for the foreseeable future marriage will not be made available to them. So do we help or hurt the couple by encouraging them to pursue this relationship?

      Please note that I don’t want to argue about marriage (lots of comments above on this issue already). I am just trying to suss out this one issue.

      Reply
      • Alan Michael Williams

        Well, above you say, what’s the point of allowing same-sex (romantic) hand-holding, if in the end, there’s a “locked gate.” If, for the foreseeable future, there is this “locked gate.” Well, my sense is that most people in the Church don’t even see the nature of this gate or its lock because they’re standing in a fog (a fog that includes double-standards, for example, where the same exact action taken by two people is a sin for one and not a sin for the other). For a long time in the Church, anything to do with same-sex attraction was forbidden, even the attractions themselves were considered evil–there were/are therapies to try to rid oneself of them. How do we explain this change in thinking in which same-sex attraction was no longer viewed as evil in itself? If two people of the same gender develop intense feelings for one another, and there’s a change in thinking in which people don’t hold their feelings of affection to a different standard, then when it comes to the “locked gate,” it might actually be unlatched and most people never knew it because they refuse (or, as straight people, have no interest in) walking up to it. Plenty of gay Mormons through their own lived experience and loving relationships see the gate differently. Others might think they’re fooling themselves, but well, I guess it makes sense to “fool yourself” rather than suffer a culture of double standards and be told your love is wrong or disoriented or whatever. At some point, you have to have self-respect and say, “Actually, I’m not the one who’s broken…it’s the people around me who are broken.” This is pretty much the dilemma all minorities have to deal with.

  39. Twin Lights

    But does relaxing the “double standard” make sense if one set of actions has an acceptable end (in the gospel sense) and the other does not? What benefit is there to the couple of allowing/promoting actions that will just lead them to a significant problem (from the gospel perspective)?

    I cannot tell you pre-1975. But in my time in the church, I have known several folks who were older, unmarried, no interest in dating the opposite sex, and were (in all likelihood) gay. They had held callings and had temple recommends. So, other than things like the website and statements which make this more front and center, I don’t see that the base policies have really shifted. In my (certainly limited experience) it has been actions that count.

    Much of your argument goes to whether there should be a change in marriage policy. As I stated previously, others have been arguing that vociferously. I am just trying to get to the issue of whether a policy change on hand-holding etc. would be of any real use absent other changes. So far, it appears not.

    Reply
    • Alan Michael Williams

      Eh, it’s cute when two boys or two girls hold hands, lol — that shouldn’t be considered a crime. It’s an action that in itself does not “end” in sex, regardless of orientation. Forbidding it for those who do it out of more “romantic” intent screams homophobic to me. The writer of this post is basically spot-on to state that there is a “gay law of chastity” and a “straight law of chastity.” Agreed?

      In terms of base policies, “don’t act on it” of course hasn’t changed over the years. But certainly what people have thought about the attractions has changed. It used to be that stating you were gay could land you in a disciplinary council, because the orientation itself causes too much of a disruption to the Mormon worldview — because it basically means that you’re “oriented” away from what the Church says is for everyone. Also, the policy used to be to usher those with same-sex attraction to get married, because the thought was that once you were “oriented” to the Mormon lifestyle, your attractions would diminish. Obviously, that’s not the policy now — as they now say marriage “isn’t a cure.” There’s lot of little changes along the way that may be hard to see by those who want things to be black and white.

      Reply
      • Twin Lights

        Alan,

        I agree that there is a different standard applied if considering only the action itself. But that is a naively limited view.

        The church is, of course, interested in where things lead. It makes no sense to encourage actions that will later result in a disciplinary council.

        I think there may be some difference in how we understand the statement that someone is gay. Today we see it as an attraction that may or may not imply action. But 30 years or so ago, I think most folks understood the term to imply acting on the attraction.

        As we have come to understand homosexuality more, I think there has been a desire to make a comfortable space for those who are living the standards. I (and most I know) welcome that.

  40. Alan Michael Williams

    Well, the Church can try with all its might to make single gay folks “comfortable,” but it’ll keep running into this conundrum of denouncing people’s families…even though it has a mantra that “families are forever.” Maybe they should change it to “only particular families are forever.”

    Reply
    • Twin Lights

      Alan,

      Again, I am not here to engage in the larger debate. Those positions are well staked out above. But I think the move to try to help where it can is positive.

      Reply
    • latterdaytruth

      Where does your logic end?

      You could just as well claim that allowing one person to drink water and yet forbid another person from drinking wine is a double standard. In essence, that is the logic in your argument.

      If it is all about fairness, I suppose Abraham should not have been willing to offer Isaac. One can look back and see only unfairness and flaws if that is what you are after. It wasn’t fair that Christ had to carry the burden of all of us. Should that have not happened because it wasn’t fair?

      I think trust and faith are the currency of heaven.

      Reply
  41. Anonymous

    I don’t feel that this argument is going to help anyone grow closer to our Father in Heaven. None of us here have the authority to speak for God or say what He really means by His commandments. There are, however, men on this earth ho have received that authority. Instead of listening to the arguments from both sides of this issue I went to the church’s website to determine exactly what the leaders of the church state concerning this issue.

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/10/helping-those-who-struggle-with-same-gender-attraction

    I hope everyone will get a chance to read this article written by Elder Holland. Love is the answer but that does not mean tolerance commandment breaking is the only other option. May the Lord bless us all with understanding on both sides of this issue so that we can assist in helping to establish the Kingdom of God here on the earth.

    Reply
  42. Teresa

    Oh darling lady, do you know what I kept thinking as I read your story? I thought of children who love their abusive parents, they rail against them, sometimes hate them, but feel an incomprehensible (to others) loyalty to them. I haven’t read all of the comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating something already discussed, but I really encourage you to research reasons (there are a MILLION of them) to not believe in god or religion. I truly understand having your family, friends, community, history wrapped up in an organization and the fear and sadness that accompanies the separation from that, but oh!! There is such FREEDOM to be enjoyed without the constraints of religion. That is the true “light at the end if the tunnel”. I wish I could write you a whole book of encouragement, and my story, but I’ll just leave this by telling you that you are perfect just like you are! Your sexuality, your personality, those things are acceptable and beautiful, and I hope one day you’ll be able to know that it’s ok for you to make your path in life without a drop of fear of divine or human retribution. May you be free, sister.

    Reply
  43. Teresa

    Ok, sorry, I must amend my previous comment, I got a little carried away , wishing for “ideal” instead of “reality”. I acknowledge there very well could be human retribution. But may you find the power within to stand strong and love and believe in yourself, despite the punishment that people may try to inflict. You are worth it.

    Reply
  44. Anonymous

    “Because I feel differently, I must be allowed to act differently” is the nutshell of this article. An incorrect assumption is made at the very first, without which these thoughts could never be penned and it is this: “I am different”.

    Being inclined to homosexuality does not make you different.

    You have a gender, and so does everyone else. They’re all expected to behave a certain way (sexually) depending on their gender and so are you.

    Your complaint is not that you’re being held to a different standard. Its that you are being held to the SAME standard, so you’re asking for an exemption. You think you should be allowed to behave differently…. because of your feelings.

    If you are gospel literate it should be obvious that commandments/counsel/etc are designed to instruct us how to control feelings. Feelings are something everyone has. No one gets to redefine the standards based on their feelings. To attempt it is to have the entire formula backwards.

    I’ve never heard of anyone getting an pass on tithing because they had special “feelings” about money. I’ve never heard of anyone getting an exemption on the word of wisdom because they had strong “feelings” towards coffee. We have commandments, and we follow them to obtain blessings. Feelings do not enter into it. If you believe in the doctrine, then you believe controlling your feelings will bring blessings.

    We are all commanded to control our feelings. Your particular type of feeling grants you no exception.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      You have a very narrow world and gospel view with an astounding ability to pass judgment without listening, or reading. You had a bias when coming in to read, and you left with that bias. No shocker there.

      Homosexuality is not some inclination, or choice. It’s not something that can be changed like an inclination can be. That right there needs to stop before any discussion can progress further.

      Reply
  45. jack

    This is just an example of “Yet the official stance didn’t fit with MY understanding” Maybe we should just acknowledge that God might know a little more than us?

    Reply

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