Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Mormon Crisis and the "Gay Question"

A few years ago the nation recognized a new phase for my community. They called it "the Mormon Moment." Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a number of significant events took place that put Mormons in the spotlight, largely in a very positive way.

I think it began around the time of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. It built up over the course of that decade. Members of the church seemed to be in the spotlight everywhere. Music, politics on the highest level, movies, reality TV, business, etc.

And for us Mormons, this was incredibly exciting. The generation just below me is probably the first generation to not really remember a time before the "Mormon Moment." In their lifetimes, the church and the culture that trails it has always been relatively well-known in America. But I remember a time when it was almost shocking to hear the word "Mormon" on TV.

There were never any movies about Mormons. No characters in TV shows that shared our faith. And in fact, back then pretty much every Mormon could proudly list all of the "famous" Mormons in existence since the beginning of time. These included Donny Osmond and a slew of people who were not actually Mormons but who kind of seemed like Mormons and so someone started a rumor about them and the rest of the community just latched on. Because this was before the Internets when you could go somewhere to verify.

Now a mention of the church on CNN hardly catches my ear. I consume media all the time with Mormons in it and it doesn't really phase me. The idea that a Mormon could be the leader of the free world isn't farcical anymore (because when I was a kid, such an idea was farcical).

Some people have claimed that the Moment died. That it passed with Mitt Romney's failed presidential bid.

I don't think that's true. I don't think that Mormons have fallen out of the spotlight. But I think it feels like the Moment has passed because it has been covered up by a much more dramatic era of Mormon history. Something that I'll tepidly call "the Mormon Crisis."

Maybe because the Mormon Moment forced my community to face questions from a whole new segment of society, the Mormons have had to deal with struggle in a way that I think has not really happened on this scale for a long time, or maybe ever before.

Mormons have had to suddenly and dramatically face really difficult questions about how to reconcile gospel, church, and culture, which many have begun to recognize for the first time do not perfectly mirror one another. Emotional strain has resulted when church policy seems to face off with practical experience. And severe cognitive dissonance has engulfed so many who have struggled to find a way to live "correctly" when two seemingly conflicting things somehow both feel right and wrong at the same time.

It seems that the majority of the conflict surrounds or at least somehow involves the ever-growing wonder about how to approach and think about the "gay question."

It used to be easy. It used to be the case that virtually all of society treated gay people like garbage. Discounted their feelings. Invalidated their realities. And so when a church we loved condemned a trodden segment of society, we could confidently and figuratively pump our fists in the air in the name of "righteousness" and keep that segment trodden, right along with the majority.

To be fair, some church leaders, even during that awful time, encouraged Mormons to view the issue in a more compassionate way. Not all leaders, mind you. But a few of the very significant and influential ones did. This included long-time president of the church, Gordon B. Hinckley, a man who I think was nearly perfect and who made great strides in the '90s and early 2000s getting the community to at least acknowledge that gay people were real, that we should love them, and that ostracizing and disowning is ungodly.

Interestingly, it was for these teachings that President Hinckley's funeral was picketed in 2008 by the Westboro Baptist hatemongers.

But even still, Mormons, who largly-admiringly believe that there is value in following difficult counsel from those who they have come to determine are inspired leaders, didn't have a very difficult time shifting in this way. That's not to say that my community immediately embraced the idea that gay people should be loved. But they at least didn't feel conflicted between showing kindness to their gay family members AND somehow following prophetic counsel.

But that peaceful shift could only last for so long. Because with the societal shifts over time, those same Mormons started to have to face much more difficult questions. Like how do we stay true to our religion when we feel that doing so sometimes feels inequitable? Or what do we tell our gay sons and daughters who are so miserable being inside the church that they are actually becoming suicidal?

The usual "church activity makes you happy" and "counsel from the pulpit is infallible" eternal truths suddenly started to seem to have some holes. And the dialogue in the church community about how to approach and deal with this question has become very heated and confusing.

I have a great and deep-seated love and respect for the church and its leaders. But I feel like I need to say that I think the church organization and our culture have done an absolutely terrible job handling this issue. I think it's important for a lot of innocent people that that be recognized.

This doesn't make me question my entire belief structure. I've never believed the church was perfect. It doesn't even proclaim to be. I just have a clear example now of the organization's imperfection. An imperfection I hope it corrects so as to do even greater good in the world than it already does.

The church has relentlessly stated that the "gay lifestyle" is unacceptable. But it has totally failed to show gay people a reasonable alternative or make room for those who disagree on this issue in practice.

Notice, I said "reasonable."

I often imagine the conversation between the church and gay people to sound like this:

Church: God wants you to get married.

Gay: Ok. I'm gay. So should I marry a man?

Church: No. You are a man. And marriage is between a man and a woman.

Gay: Ok. So should I marry a woman?

Church: No. You shouldn't do that to someone. You would ruin her life.

Gay: I completely agree. And I don't want to do that anyway. But God wants me to get married?

Church: Yes. He wants us all to get married and have families.

Gay: And it would be wrong for me to marry a woman?

Church: Yes. How dare you consider the thought.

Gay: Then I'll just marry a man.

Church: No. That's wrong. Homosexuality is a sin. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Gay: Yes. But if either way is wrong then I might as well marry someone I can actually love and feel fulfilled with.

Church: If you do, you are no longer welcome in this church. BUT WE STILL LOVE YOU.

Gay: Well then what does God want from me?

Church: God wants you to get married.

Gay: But I shouldn't marry a man or a woman, according to you. So what's my alternative?

Church: Well. It's not part of God's plan. But we guess you'll just have to stay single and alone for the rest of your life.

Gay: Oh is that all?

Church: Yes. Now if you'll please excuse us, we the leaders of the church need to get back to our spouses and children for some family time.

It's a gross simplification of a much more complex conversation. And perhaps the biggest flaw in presenting it this way is that it doesn't account for the fact that church leaders often, if not always, are keenly aware that the counsel they are providing is difficult and that the situation is sensitive. But I know many gay people in the church who feel like this is the conversation they have been having.

What ends up happening, then, is that folks who have never been in the shoes of the people they govern demand an all-or-nothing face-off between gays and the church. Stay here, alone and miserable, or find someone to love and lose everything.

Young gay Mormons are thrust out of their faith, taught to believe that failing to follow church policy on this issue strips them of the opportunity to receive any blessings from God or true fellowship from those who proclaim to follow Him. When departing from church teaching on this one BIG issue leads to such harsh treatment, there is suddenly very little motivation to follow any standards that have previously governed the young gay person's life. But increasingly, young gay Mormons are determining that they don't want to go the way of generations past who stayed in the church and were ostracized, if not in word, at least in deed, and lived out their lives unfulfilled and lonely.

I understand that that isn't the experience of every person in the history of the church. And I have no doubt that some have navigated the course peacefully and would be happy to testify to that. And I hope that I haven't discounted those types of experiences, inasmuch as they exist.

But the purpose of this writing is to suggest a possible reason that young gay Mormons are falling away from their families and faiths by the thousands. There is a reason that many of them end up directionless, confused, and bitter toward the church and community they once tried so hard to love.

And that reason is that not enough people are actually listening. Perspective has been lost on this. Obsession over traditional idealism has saturated policy so much that there is no longer room for compassion and understanding and open-mindedness in that policy. The kind of open-mindedness that could prevent so many people from spiraling out of control into a lonely course of self-destruction after discovering the impracticality of following that policy and lacking the support system to discover an alternative path.

And everyone is a casualty in this crisis. Some more than others. But everyone suffers.

I'm talking about the parents who don't know how to convince their child that there is a God who loves him when rhetoric repeated from a pulpit by those who represent that God make the child feel hated.

I'm talking about friends of gay people who love their faith but don't know how to continue in that faith when strict allegiance to it feels grossly uncompassionate.

And I'm talking about those young gay people who have spent a lifetime so far trying to fit in to a church and community that has mocked, judged, and condemned them, all in the name of righteousness.

I don't know exactly what the answer should be to all of this. But I suspect that my community and the church leaders could do a much better job at compassionately considering the pain and impracticality of the proposed courses. I imagine that there is a much better alternative than telling gay people that they do not belong if they seek same-sex companionship and only letting them feel like they kind of belong if they don't. And I have to believe that there is a better solution than approaching the situation in a way that is causing people to feel they have to toe the line or totally leave.

If the church is going to wander the Earth proclaiming to be for "everyone," then I think it needs to act like it's for everyone. I think it needs to focus on its incredibly beautiful and pure doctrines of selflessness, and service, and charity, and sacrifice, and embrace anyone who tries to live those doctrines on whatever level and in whatever capacity they are able.

This probably starts with at least ceasing the unnecessary and unproductive rhetoric about the "evils" of same-gender companionship. And it certainly extends as far as actually embracing those around us who don't face the exact same life and choices we do. It means embracing them in deed and not just in word. And it means doing so to create a safe and truely charitable environment for every sincere soul to live in, regardless of their life circumstances.

It's not going to be an easy evolution. But it's a necessary one. And one that would help a wonderful organization do much greater good. And that's not such a bad thing.

~It Just Gets Stranger

154 comments:

  1. I've sat looking at this screen for awhile now. I'm sure I'll botch up expressing what I feel.

    I am LDS and the last few years I often find myself often loving and defending what I believe and questioning it all in the same breath. I don't think that's a problem, we have been taught to ask questions and seek answers (despite how the world views us as brain-washed). And I was taught by my parents, one very much in the Democrat camp and one in the Republican camp, to love a good, open, respectful of all views, dialog about the hard topics. So let's bring it!

    I just have a question, or two, to add to the mix of your thoughts. How is it rhetoric when Mormon's believe God has said marriage is between a man and a women and anything different goes against the direction of Him? Rhetoric means "language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content." If one believes the leaders of the LDS church get council from GOD, isn't that very sincere and meaningful?

    I know you nothing about sex, I PROMISE HE DOESN'T, CATHY, but the LDS church teaches that those not married shouldn't engage in that activity. And some go their whole lives not finding anyone to marry. They go their whole earthly lives without that companionship. Without that fulfillment. Without being able to fully obey God's commandments. Those in that situation are taught that, if they follow all the commandments they can, that they WILL have the opportunity to be married, to have that companionship. It just might not come in this life. Isn't that what the LDS church is suggesting for young gay people?

    I wouldn't mind seeing openly gay people, who are choosing to follow the commandments, holding leadership positions. I don't see how it's any different that openly straight single people, who are choosing to follow the commandments, holding leadership positions. As far as I understand it, the LDS church's position, now, isn't that being gay is the issue. Just as wanting to have sex isn't an issue. They don't teach young people in the church to never WANT to have sex. They teach them there is an appropriate time and situation. But I can also see that in that situation the young people have HOPE that there will be a appropriate time and situation in the future.

    Are you asking for the LDS church to offer more hope? So, something like, " yes, this is a hard life, and no, we don't think you should get married, BUT there IS hope because of xyz" ? Is that the direction you are hoping it goes in?

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    1. I agree with a lot in this comment.

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Emilie. To address your concern about my use of the word "rhetoric," I'll refer you to my response to Alyse below.

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    3. Emilie, you said

      "Those in that situation are taught that, if they follow all the commandments they can, that they WILL have the opportunity to be married, to have that companionship. It just might not come in this life. Isn't that what the LDS church is suggesting for young gay people?"

      No, no, no, the Church is NOT suggesting this for young gay people! They are telling young gay people "You will NEVER be able to be with someone you are attracted to. Not in this life, not in eternity." I understand that some people believe homosexual attractions will be changed to heterosexual attractions in eternity, but this is just speculation. And even if it was true, it's pretty incomprehensible to us humans!

      The church tells heterosexual singles that their attractions are good and righteous. They tell homosexual singles that their attractions are perverted and evil. They tell heterosexual singles to date all they can, to flirt, hold hands, and hug. You can get kicked out of BYU if you're homosexual and go on a date or hold hands with a partner. As you mentioned, it boils down to hope. The church gives heterosexual singles hope -- there is always hope that they will marry someday, and if not now, they can marry someone of the sex they are attracted to in heaven. Homosexual singles are given no hope -- they can never flirt, date, hold hands, or marry someone they are attracted to in this life or the next.

      Put yourself in a gay person's shoes, but reverse the attraction (assuming you're straight). Imagine if you went to your church leaders, and they said "Emilie, we know you like men, but it's just not right. God's plan is for women to be with women. You're going to have to stay single in this life, never having any hope that you will marry. But don't worry -- when you get to heaven you can marry a woman!"

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    4. Honestly I don't know what Mormons believe but I do know that the Bible says that there will not be people given in marriage in heaven. So I don't think people will be straight or gay in heaven. We will all just be happy with what we are. I don't think it's wrong to be gay. But I think it's wrong to practice the gay lifestyle. I believe it is a sin because the Bible says that it is. I think it's a temptation that some people have much like pornography or something like that. It's OK to struggle with it, but with God's help you can keep from giving in. Also I don't agree that being married is basically the biggest thing for you to accomplish on this earth. I know lots of people who are single and are happy and fulfilled. Also, The Bible says that some people don't get married because they are able to serve God better because they are not taking care of a family.

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    5. anonymous at 11:47... YES. thank you.

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    6. I think you're that Katie's argument is spot on. Every gay mormon has heard Emilie's argument a million times, and it does little to provide the answer that they are looking for. Being a gay mormon, I've tried to summarize what Katie wrote as I have tried to explain the my answer to Emilie's question and have never been able to express it as eloquently. It really does comes down to hope. As I've gotten older and watched my friends marry and have children, I have had the continual realization that life really doesn't begin until you have someone to share it with. We are often referred to "eternal perspective" and "the plan of salvation" when consoled by our straight mormon friends. But its that eternal perspective and plan that makes it so hard. That plan that tells us that true joy comes from serving a partner, having kids, and progressing through life together, is the very plan that straight mormons try to use to explain why its a better idea to stay alone and hope for that in the next life. While it may help us stay "right" in the eyes of God, it does not provide much hope. I know this is all pretty hard to swallow if you really put yourself in someone else's shoes in the way that Katie has explained(reconciling what the church has taught for decades with the reality of considering your gay sibling or friend's situation), but the church has never said we can't question our own beliefs (after all, it was questioning his beliefs that allowed Joseph to have the first vision). So maybe its time to start questioning. It took a lot of questioning for the church to reverse its stance on blacks and the priesthood, and another 40 years of questioning before they admitted it was never right in the first place. And we rejoiced when they finally issued the statement saying it was a misguided practice. But why did we have to fool ourselves into believing it was anything other than bigotry for soooo long? Why can't we accept that maybe, just maybe, our leaders are flawed human beings just like the rest of us, and that maybe, just maybe, the answers we've been given aren't perfect? Just as we can ask God if "the church is true," we can ask if there might be a better way to help our gay friends in the church.

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    7. Katie, thank you for that very well-articulated point.

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    8. Thanks for the reply, Guys! These really are just questions I have, not statements. I appreciate everyone taking time to share their perspective. I love a good sharing of experiences!

      I think it's good to also remember there is going to be a lot of back and forth on this as people talk about it and discuss it and process it and shift. What shifting means, I have not idea, but continuing the discussion rather than completely agreeing after one exchange does not mean people are against something. I believe, for many, it's just a way to truly understand a point of view they have no way of actually experiencing. It's going to take time and more than one exchange.

      With that being said, I, timidly, ask another question and hope that it is received with the knowledge that I truly am just trying to wrap my brain something I have no experience in and have no true way to experience it. There will be questions. Respectful ones, always, but questions none the less.

      First of all, Katie, thank you for pointing out the lack of being able to flirt and hold hands and such things. I had not thought about that aspect. It makes your heart hurt, no? Yet another important reason to try and understand things. I really appreciate that insight!

      Katie you also said,

      "I understand that some people believe homosexual attractions will be changed to heterosexual attractions in eternity, but this is just speculation. And even if it was true, it's pretty incomprehensible to us humans! "

      I agree. Totally speculation! But isn't that it WON'T be changed also speculation? Isn't that were faith and hope comes in? Especially considering that Mormons truly believe in a God that loves them and has their back? Given that how easy something is for Humans to comprehend plays no role in it's likely hood to happen and since we can't know for sure which way it will turn out, why focus so much on the scenario we want least when the scenario we want most it is equally as likely to happen?


      It's just as easy to see the glass half full as it is to see it half empty right? Either view point doesn't actually change what the glass will be or is, but it does change the experience you have with it.


      I've tried, as best as I can, to put myself in a gay's persons shoes. Just as I do with every person I come in contact with that experiences the world differently than I do...which of course, is juuuust about everyone. And I have no doubt it. is. hard! No doubt at all. And as hard as I think it to be, I would bet it is much, much harder than that! There is no way for me to truly grasp that. I recognize that limitation and respect that.

      You asked me how I would feel, as a straight women, being told I could only marry another women even when attracted to men. My answer to that is, of course I can't really know. It's much different to "think" about what it would be like than being actually asked to live it. I don't want anyone to take from this that I am absolutely certain I KNOW how I would feel or react, I don't, I can't. BUT I keep coming back to the belief that Heavenly Father sees the whole picture. I believe He knows a WHOLE lot more than I do. If being with a women was what I was told, I believe it would be painful for me, but I *think* I would choose to have hope that He would make it all right in the end. I *think* I would have hope that whatever "all right in the end" means He knows me well enough that when I found out what it was, I would agree with Him and it would all make sense.

      Thank you again for this dialog! It is so helpful for me to be able to ask these questions and get answers from people with actual, valid, experiences to answer me from.


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    9. Emilie, thanks for being thoughtful in your response. For many, the idea of putting oneself in someone else's shoes is easier said than done. While we can speculate all day long about how we would react if placed in certain situations, its impossible to really know. Just as you can say what you *think* you would do if faced with this situation, I can only say what I *think* I would do when placed in your shoes for a day.

      With that said, I think what most gay people want, and what I believe Eli wants us to consider, is that we don't know how we would react, and therefore have no grounds to judge how someone else is reacting to a truly perplexing paradox.

      I personally grew up in an active LDS home, never skipped seminary, was an assistant to the Mission President, have served in Elder's Quorum Presidencies, as the Ward Clerk, and have taught Sunday School. I graduated from BYU and diligently looked for the right woman to marry. I tried to remain hopeful that one day I would indeed find a way to happily marry in the temple and have the life that I was always promised. But after every emotionless kiss and heart breaking end to my opposite gender relationship I was left feeling more hopeless.

      I tell you all this so that you understand that I come from the same camp as you. I always *thought* that I was strong enough. That I had enough faith, and enough belief in Christ and his atonement to get through this. It took asking God and realizing that maybe being with a woman was NOT my path, to finally feel some sort of hope.

      For me the cognitive dissonance remains. I still feel a conflict between my religious beliefs and my personal attraction, but accepting that God does not hate me for being Gay, and that in fact he has allowed it and wants me to have this experience in this life has allowed me to feel hope for the first time.

      And that experience of asking God myself I think is where the shift needs to be. As a church we are taught to believe in personal revelation and personal discovery, but we frown on anyone that claims to have received revelation that tells them anything other than what the prophets have taught us. We encourage prayerful study, but discourage study of any books or texts that preach anything other than what the prophets have taught. We send out 18 and 19 year old men and women asking others to look at their own religions and faith with a critical eye and truly question if what they've been taught is true, but if our members do the same they are called "wayward" or "apostate."

      Personally I don't know what the future brings for me, or for the church. I have to believe that the church is going to speak up on this more. There are gay men and women out there that want to remain in the church, and just don't know how. And the church isn't helping. But it has gotten better, and I think as the general church populous ages, acceptance and understanding will improve, which will make it easier for people like me to speak about our experiences, which will in turn promote greater acceptance and understanding.

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    10. Emilie,
      Thank you for looking for real dialog and being so respectful and desiring to understand. I've been in so many heated debates about this topic, that I often get too snippy from the get-go. Again, I really appreciate your response.

      So, you asked about my speculation. You said

      " agree. Totally speculation! But isn't that it WON'T be changed also speculation? Isn't that were faith and hope comes in? Especially considering that Mormons truly believe in a God that loves them and has their back? . . . . why focus so much on the scenario we want least when the scenario we want most it is equally as likely to happen? "

      I think that for many gay people, the scenario they want most is that God will tell them it is OK to be with their same-sex partner eternally, in a fully accepted relationship. (Just as if a straight person marries, they sure hope they can be with that partner eternally, not a same-sex partner.) So they *are* focusing on the scenario they want most.

      Interestingly, we really know nothing about how spirit bodies are created. In some teachings, God and Jesus and even Adam are the ones who do a whole bunch of creating (of the earth, the first human bodies, etc.). So who knows if it really requires a male and female?

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    11. Thank you for your comments. I am LDS myself, and I don't know all the answers but I do know the Lord loves all his children. All of them. He will find away for us to live in harmony. We need to listen to him and love one another. I think love will make following his will easier.

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    12. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30)
      I really don't think it matters if people will be gay or straight in heaven. I think that will be the least of our worry when we are up there praising God eternally.

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    13. I really agree a lot with what Emilie has said.I understand this is an extremely sensitive topic, and it I try to have only love and compassion for everyone involved.
      There have been multiple mentions of speculation on what will happen in the after-life. I think we need to remember the most important thing here is that we have a merciful and loving Father in Heaven, who would never condemn his children to an eternity of misery. IF we follow all the commandments to the best of our ability in this lifetime, we are promised a paradise in the next. I can't imagine that does not apply to homosexual individuals as well. If that means their attractions are changed, or they can be with the individual they love, I do not know. That is not up to us to decide. I only know of my faith in our Heavenly Father, and in His ability to choose what is best for us in all things.

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    14. I think most of you are trying to reconcile a faith that just isn't true. I understand it's hard to leave the faith.

      It was noticing that people who leave the church are still Christlike, contrary to what the Book of Mormon says, and contrary to what is taught about the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

      And once I realized that, I was able to criticize the church more. The COJCOLDS has a lot of cracks in it, it just makes it so you feel guilty about critiquing it. And you shouldn't feel guilty. Look at its funding, look at what it does with those funds, where is all the money actually going?

      Look at it, and figure out how nice it would be to be free of the guilt, instead of trying to stay in it.

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    15. Well said, unknown.

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    16. I find it interesting, Unknown, that you would post such a comment here. My question to you is, do you actually understand what faith is? It is choosing to believe in something that is unseen. I have faith that I will wake up tomorrow morning and there will be air to breathe and sun in the sky. Do I know it for sure? Can I prove it or disprove it? No. But, I cannot "leave" or "reconcile" my faith that those two things will be present tomorrow just as they are today. I understand that for some it is easy for them to "leave" a faith but for those who actually have that strong belief (aka faith) in something, that is something that is not cut and dry and can so easily be done. Nor can it be summed up in a 8 sentence, misguided attempt at starting trouble or inserting your own "FAITH". Eli was merely trying to express his own concerns and opinions, just as everyone else here is doing. For you to come to this page and bring up things that clearly have NO part in what has been said ("Look at its funding....") only labels you as a ignorant bigot. Clearly, there are many people of this faith reading and commenting. However, there are several who are not of this faith also reading and commenting. Do you see those who do not believe badgering others in this way? This is not a place for you to come searching for a place to insert your inappropriate rantings against something you so obviously have no idea about. You think you do and I applaud the fact that you would even assert yourself on a matter which doesn't concern you. The funding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church, is none of your business. So, in that respect, well done for showing yourself using a platform you are hiding yourself behind so that you can shove your own personal "faith", and reconcile it, down other's throats. What a perverse world you must live in.

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  2. I like the evolution you described--how the church moved from, let's be real, blatant bigotry to general compassion, but now that the issue is so publicized and so much a part of the prevailing culture, it has become hugely polarizing in the church. The general leadership, and, by extension, some members, seem to feel that softening the church's stance on homosexuality would be to conform or yield to pressure from popular opinion/culture and WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE OF THE WORLD BECAUSE THIS IS GOD'S CHURCH. But many other members, including many in the rising generation(s), feel that the current church line on homosexuality is, as you said, unrealistic and uncompassionate.

    It's also interesting to note that this same polarization is also occurring in regards to the growing/more vocal and visible feminist movement in the church.

    I think (and hope) that in these two areas, at least, tradition is fighting a losing battle against progress. Thanks for a thoughtful analysis.

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    1. This is a question and an issue that I don't fully understand. However, I would recommend you read http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club-unicorn-in-which-i-come-out-of.html

      Josh Weed is an interesting fellow. He's gay, he's known he's gay since he was sixteen (or so), and he's happily married with a couple of kids. So while Eli's article is one point of view, Josh Weed is another. Josh Weed, if you read more of his posts, talks about how he reacted to some of the bigotry inside the church. Yeah, the people are flawed. Prophets, apostles, leaders, etc. But the Church is the Church of God. It is true, even if it seems unfair, or hard to follow.

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    2. Thanks for sharing this. He is an amazing man and so is his wife.

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    3. like anonymous at 4:29 said...'the Church is the Church of God. It is true, even if it seems unfair, or hard to follow.'

      We are not going to like all of God's rules. It goes without saying. But we don't get to pick and choose which of His laws that we follow. We don't get to say, 'Yes, I'll follow this rule because it seems reasonable' or 'No. I'm sorry I don't like this one. I'm not going to do that.' Proverbs 14:12 says, 'There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.' We cannot fully comprehend the mind of God because we are only human. There are going to be things in this life that we don't understand, don't like, and don't want to do. But we have to trust that all those things will be made better in heaven - and follow His commandments that we might have a home with Him there someday. One such commandment is to love your neighbor. I LOVE everyone in the gay community. That does not mean that I can support actively engaging in sinful activity. That may mean that someone is lonely in this life. I'm sorry for them. I wish this wasn't God's stance, but it is. And who am I to say it isn't right? I can't imagine what that must be like for gay people and I won't say that I know the hurt they must feel because, truthfully, I don't. I just know that for His followers, God has promised that there's a better tomorrow in His eternal home - where none of the hurt or loneliness will even matter or be remembered.

      " And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” - Revelation 21:4

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    4. I'm sorry Anonymous at 1:48, but I don't think that argument is true. I highly doubt you follow all of God's commandments. Have you ever worked on a Saturday or Sunday (Leviticus 23:23)? Do you eat pigs (Leviticus 11:4)? Do you wear wool and linen together (Leviticus 19:19)? If I owed you money, would you forgive my debt after seven years (Leviticus 25:8-13)? Do you shave and cut the hair on the corners of your head (Leviticus 19:27)?

      These are all Biblical commandments from the Old Testament, that I would bet you don't follow. It's ok. I don't follow them either. And I know you may say that when Jesus died for our sins, those laws were nullified. I'm totally fine with that interpretation. But you have to understand that the laws against homosexuality were ALSO in the Old Testament, and if it's ok for us to eat shrimp now, than maybe it's ok for gay people to be in loving relationships, just like straight people are.

      Finally, you don't love everyone in the gay community. You love those who are not engaging in an activity that is part of life, and part of who they are. You conditionally love everyone in the gay community, and that is not love at all. That is prejudice disguised as righteousness, and that to me, is just as bad IF NOT WORSE than outright prejudice.

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    5. 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

      there's a New Testament verse for you. by commandments I didn't necessarily mean only the TEN commandments. I mean God's word in general.

      I won't argue with you on whether or not I love people in the gay community. that's obviously an argument that neither of us could agree on. but I will say that the fact that I don't approve of someone's actions doesn't mean I don't love them. I don't have to agree with you to love you and that doesn't make me any more prejudiced against gays than it would an atheist against my religion. we do not agree. simple as that. disagreement does not equal hate.

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    6. and before anyone says that the above verse is the work of an apostle and not the word of God....

      2 Timothy 3:16
      'All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.'

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  3. As a queer woman married in the temple to a man that I absolutely love and adore, you would not think I'd feel so uncomfortable and ostracized at chuch but I do. Every time I hold my breath at a temple recommend interview with a new bishop, every time the subject of gay rights come up on Relief Society, and every time I am told that I cannot be called to the Primary or YW because of my sexuality. I made amends with the fact that the gospel does not equal the church or it's culture a good 20 years ago, when I was a teenager. I continue to attend because I love my husband and I want very much to honor the temple covenants that I have made with him and I have a fervent hope that the church will evolve. And I hope that in doing so I can show the queer adults and youth that I have met in numerous wards over the years that although we may be hard to see at first, there are always other queer members that are ready to defend and support each other.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Veronica, and your strength and courage.

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    2. I would let you teach my children in Primary. Is it really the Church's position that you can't serve in those callings? Or is it just a bishop with a prejudice? Do you know? Why would your sexual preferences even come up in a lesson? I can't imagine a straight person getting asked what kind of sex they like at church, so why would a gay person? (Sorry if "gay person" is not the appropriate language to use.)

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    3. I recently found out that a former bishop of mine is gay. While the fact that he is gay was not known by most in the ward/community at the time, I am FAIRLY sure that the man who called him knew about it as he had not hid it from his prior bishops. From this experience it seems that anyone who is not allowing someone to serve in a specific assignment based solely upon their sexual attraction is not basing this decision on any church doctrine or guideline. If there is such a guideline, don't hesitate to correct me.

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  4. You are a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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    1. Gosh, I hope not. Sheep's clothing was SO last season.

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    2. Oh yeah, asking a group of people who preach compassion to show more compassion in a specific area is super awful Eli. Who are you to want a more peaceful and loving world?

      Also, I love you.

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    3. Let us assume that the LDS church is true. Just for the sake of the argument. If the church is true and it is actually directed by God, then its teachings and doctrines are true. One of those doctrines is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Now. You invoke compassion; define compassion. Is compassion love? Is compassion charity? If compassion is charity, then according to church doctrine (which, for the sake of this argument, is true) compassion "rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1 Corinthians 13:6). Again, assuming that the Church is true and that the teachings of it are also true, then it would not be compassionate to support someone's decision to live the gay lifestyle.

      If, on the other hand, you define compassion as tolerance, or as not wanting someone to experience suffering, that's a different story. That definition does not involve wanting what's best for someone; a man will kill an injured dog to put it out of its misery.

      I guess it comes down to this question: Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints true, or is it not? There is no gray area. Either it is true, or it is false. Either it is directed by God, or it was invented by man.

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    4. Anonymous, I don't think it really just comes down to a question of whether the church is or isn't true. As Joseph Smith was re-establishing the church, most of the principles revealed to him came because he asked questions, not because the information floated down from heaven. Joseph Smith learned line upon line, precept on precept, and as he learned he asked more questions. E.G., priesthood, the word of wisdom, plural marriage, etc. Spencer W. Kimball spend hours and hours and hours praying over the issue of extending priesthood rights to all worthy males. Saying that a complex question boils down to whether the church is true or not ignores the Lord's willingness to let us use our agency in learning to handle complex matters and them confirming with Him whether that approach is right.

      I feel that in asking for a more reasonable solution, or in asking for more compassion, Eli brings up points that sorely need addressing. I wouldn't say I agree with all he proposes. But I feel that there are many things that we as members can and should be more sensitive about. For example, portraying marriage as the end-all and be-all of this life. I'm 31, soon to be married, and it's hard when faced with implications even in my own family that even being as old as I am, my life won't really have purpose until I'm married. And if I were gay, that gets even more awkward when the question is, well whom am I dating and why am I not married yet. I could tell the truth and then experience the stigma and uncomfortableness of being labeled, and know that people don't believe me or don't know how to respond or how to act around me. Or, I could lie. But either way, someone is going to end up uncomfortable.

      And as humans we are inherently born to love and be loved. It's in our spiritual and genetic makeup. But when, as Eli said above, there is no way to find an outlet for that inborn desire to love and connect with another person, that is a hard, depressing thing to deal with. For your whole life. On top of which, again you face stigma and misunderstanding. These aren't doctrinal issues - these are social issues within the church. We are taught to love one another. And we should do into others as we would have them do unto us. But until we really truly try to feel what others are feeling, we don't know what we would want others to do unto us.

      I fully believe the church is true. But I fully believe that we members are imperfect and we do not respond as compassionately as we think we do. I don't support naming same sex unions as marriages because I view marriage as an institution developed for the benefit of children, not adults. I think we need to find a much better way, as Eli says, to help youth and adults alike reconcile the gospel and its requirements with their inherent feelings and desires to be loved, inasmuch as those provide conflicting choices. And overall we need to show that we really do love everyone and we really want them to live in the way that will help them draw closer to God.

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    5. (This is the same Anonymous as before.) Yes, I see what you mean. There is a lot of judgement and prejudice within the Church. This isn't a question with an easy answer - but then few answers are easy.

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  5. brilliantly said, my friend. i adore your thoughts and words, and the way you say them! thanks for the lovely sunday morning thoughts.

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  6. Eli what I get from this post is that you're not trying to find a middle ground, just encouraging more understanding from the people on a certain side? Do you think you could state your position on gay marriage in a single sentence, just for us that can't decode it from this post?

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    1. Well, this post isn't about gay marriage. But I have stated my opinion on that previously. I am for it.

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  7. Eli, I am curious what your thoughts are about mormonsandgays.org.

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  8. As someone who is not religious (and a staunch supporter of "gay marriage", or as I like to call it, marriage) I applaud this post. It's a very honest and realistic point of view. You're not asking them to hold marriage ceremonies, but just asking them to be tolerant and that's all you can ask for and I think it's pretty radical that you are asking.

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  9. okay, a few things come to mind when i read this. i don't know if i'll share them all, but here we go -

    a couple of references/resources for those struggling with same-sex feelings (yes, i know my word choice there will cause some people to freak out) are a dvd "i do exist." and youtube videos of a panel "reconciling faith and feelings."

    because creation happens - and can only happen - between a man and a woman, it doesn't make sense to me that God's plan would change and allow same-sex couples to be sealed. husband and wife is the fundamental unit and i don't see that changing any time soon.

    i also had a few issues with your hypothetical conversation, but i have to get back to work and won't get into those this time.

    i will say that i completely agree with members needing to extend love and acceptance (acceptance is different from approval...) to those with same-sex attraction. it breaks my heart when i hear of someone being disowned by their family because of it. i think it's important to remember that the Lord will not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. everyone has something that they struggle with - some being much harder than others. i wouldn't wish that struggle on anyone, and my heart goes out to those who are suffering - both the individuals and their families.

    okay. that's all. i really do need to get back to work.

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    1. The issue of gays not being able to procreate...what about adoption? I know gay couples that would be GREAT parents! I also know a lot of straight couples that would be/are dare I say it shitty parents. So are you saying just because a man and a woman CAN procreate they should because God told them to? There are multitudes of people that should never have children but do! But because people are gay they shouldn't?

      I think as I get older and more "grown up" I realize the flaws within the Church. I'm a member, I have a temple recommend, I'm in a presidency, but I have questions. I am so torn because I shouldn't have these questions, but I do. Lately i've been tearing myself up inside because I have so many questions. I want to be good and just do what i'm supposed to but I see the suffering and see the injustice and I can't be complacent.

      Eli, you bring up so many good points. I guess those "for" the Church could say "oh, you're being tempted by the world and by the devil" and those out of the Church say "you're coming around, you're finally freeing yourself of this tyrannical patriarchal reign". But me? I'm still confused....I wish there were answers and I fear there aren't going to be any, at least any time soon.

      -B

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    2. Attempt two to respond to this.

      B, thank you so much for your well-thought out comment. I agree with you that there are some who would say that I'm "being tempted by the world and the devil" and others who would say I'm "coming around" in making the comments that I have. But I think these are both pessimistic views. I think that what we are doing here is engaging in a very difficult conversation the way we are *supposed* to in order gain the wisdom and maturity we are supposed to try to gain in this life. We are asking the hard questions and sincerely seeking understanding and compassion the way every God-fearing person has always had to do to progress as God has wanted them to. I'll include Joseph Smith in that group for my Mormon friends.

      At the end of the day, I can't help but think that the process on this matters so much more than the answer. And I wonder if there isn't really much of an answer at all. That maybe God doesn't actually have some specific direction he expects everyone to follow on this but instead this is an opportunity for us *all* to either engage in sincere soul-searching and do so without becoming calloused in one way or another. That maybe this is really just an opportunity for us all to figure out how to be more selfless, which I believe is actually the whole point of life.

      I feel confident in saying that people like you who are grappling and engaging in this heart-wrenching process are in a better place in the eyes of God than anyone who bluntly accepts whatever is said by any church leader without thought or question. Because I think you are engaging in the process that God wants you to engage in.

      But gosh. There I go judging again. This stuff is hard.

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    3. You made my heart smile. :) Thank you.

      -B

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    4. B, just to clarify, my comment about procreation was made in reference to what we believe about eternity and how we can become Gods and Goddesses and create worlds and children. in my opinion, it will still require a male and female for that creation process, however it is accomplished. i absolutely don't believe that just because a man and woman CAN procreate they SHOULD. parenting is definitely not for everyone, and my previous job exposed me to plenty of parents - all straight, as far as i know - that did horrifying things to their children. so no, again, i don't think every male and female should procreate because they can.

      i hope this clears things up in terms of what i was thinking. i really liked Eli's comment in the original post about how the church isn't perfect. i know it's semantics, but the church isn't, while the gospel is. the gospel, in it's purest form is perfect.

      i don't have all the answers, but i do think there are some fundamental things in the gospel that aren't outdated as some would say, but just evidence of how much further away the world is moving away from God.

      i don't know if this makes sense. but hopefully my thoughts are a little more clear now.

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  10. Did I just read, 'rhetoric from the pulpit?' YIKES, Eli! Too far...:(

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    1. Alyse, I don't think that "rhetoric" and true eternal doctrines are mutually exclusive. Rhetoric is conversation meant to persuade. When a church leader teaches true doctrine from the pulpit in an effort to encourage and motivate positive behavior, I think this is good rhetoric.

      But even if rhetoric is defined as something negative, I think there is certainly some "rhetoric" shared from pulpits in this church. On a bigger scale, this includes at least times when people like Boyd K. Packer make light of violence directed toward a young gay missionary who was attracted to his companion or when Sheri Dew indicates that seeing same-sex couples with children makes her feel sick. And it surely encompasses every time someone says something insensitive and unproductive from the pulpit in your ward's meetinghouse.

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  11. I disagree Eli. Doctrine is doctrine. It is God's law. He is unchanging. Doesn't mean we can't love and have compassion towards all men. But God's laws cannot change. The church is not ruled by men. They are truly led by God. Although imperfect, I know our leaders are very very inspired to make the decisions that they do. And I stand by them.

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    1. This assumes you know what God's law is and I'm pretty sure your information comes from the pulpit, not God. In addition to being a weird word, the 'pulpit' gets things wrong all the time. And yet history keeps repeating......

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    2. I do know what God's law is. I've read it in scripture. I've heard it from prophets of God. And I've personally studied and prayed to learn truth myself. I do know what God's laws are. :)

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    3. Why can't God's laws change? Isn't God as capable of changing his mind as any human?

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    4. If God changed, it would be horrible for those who believe. I mean, can you imagine not being sure of His statutes, ever? What's okay today is wrong tomorrow? What's forbidden today is allowed tomorrow? Abomination is suddenly celebrated, or vice-versa? Here are a few scriptures where we are assured that our Lord will never change.
      "For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. 7"From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you say, 'How shall we return?'…
      Cross References
      James 1:17
      Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

      Numbers 23:19
      God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

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    5. But we know that God does change. See Belle's comment above on specific examples of things God has changed his mind about. For mormons, the doctrine of change is fundamental to their belief system. The 9th Article of Faith (one of thirteen declarations of belief that mormon children are asked to memorize) states "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

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    6. Remember, in 1976 God changed his mind about black people. Could happen with gays also.

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    7. Anonymous at 7:39. God has not changed his mind about anything. Someone told you that God has changed his mind and you believed it. Revelation 22:18... And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.

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  12. Eli, how is it that you are able to so adequately express my thoughts on this subject? I am LDS, I was born and raised in "the church", I too believe that so much more could be done on the behalf of the church to help our gay brothers and sisters. Bravo.

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  13. Alyse, look up the word "rhetoric" and see that it was used correctly for the context.

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    1. I know what "rhetoric" means. Perhaps you do not. Here you go, "language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content." I stand by my comment. Too far.

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    2. I responded to this on Alyse's original thread. Hope this helps.

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    3. Our friends from BYU have a great description of rhetoric - http://rhetoric.byu.edu/encompassing%20terms/rhetoric.htm. From an academic perspective it is much more about how language works both orally and in writing, the 'how' of language. Rhetoric isn't positive or negative; it is more an examination.

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  14. I think the best thing the Mormon church can do for homosexuals is be honest about what "your community" actually believes about them. That they are evil and unholy and are going to hell. Then they can leave your damn religion and move on with their lives.

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    1. I'm sad you feel that way. I believe that the Gospel is for everyone, that the message of the Atonement and Restoration is for everyone. However, the church is made of imperfect people who make mistakes and are offensive and so people are hurt and discrimated against. Does that make the church doctrine false? I think it merely means people are flawed - I do not that those who experience same gender attraction are going to hell because they experience same gender attraction. Sure, they could get there if they tried, but it would have to be because of their actions, not because of their trials or temptations.

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    2. I'm going to make a t-shirt that reads "Katie Belsher is a moron" - won't change her ridiculous opinion, but it sure will make me feel better.

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    3. Amen, Katie Belsher!

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    4. I wish that most Mormons would remember (and others could learn) that we don't really condemn anyone to Hell.We believe that there are three kingdoms of glory and that almost all people who have lived on the earth will inherit one of them. Apparently keeping our first estate (choosing to obey God and come to this earth before we were even born) was such a bid deal, that everyone gets to live in a kingdom of glory after this life.
      And, not a person on this earth gets to choose who goes where, that's up to Jesus Christ, who will judge us fairly.

      When you think about that, it's pretty darn awesome.

      So, let's quit saying that Mormons condemn Gay people to Hell. We don't. Our doctrine of Salvation is a lot nicer than many creeds out there that do indeed promise eternal burnings to the disobedient.

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  15. Thank you for being brave enough to be a much-needed voice on this.

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  16. I think that this is an interesting topic. I am a convert to the church so I grew up with liberal viewpoints and was open to same sex marriage. I think what everyone is asking for is more awareness and respect. I know people who are involved in http://www.ldsvoicesofhope.org. I personally know one of the couples and they wanted to get their voice out to help others.

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  17. I'm am LDS and I don't have any answers to this. Eli. Youre a lawyer. How do you define marriage?

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  18. I usually don’t comment on these posts, but this time I find myself confused. This post is almost all an emotional reaction to something you obviously feel very strongly about. I hate to think of thousands of young LDS members feeling pushed out of the faith because they feel same-sex attraction and don’t know how to reconcile that with their faith. Remaining faithful, covenant-keeping LDS members while having those feelings must be the biggest challenge of all time. Especially to do that without resentment or hostility on their own part.

    But I’m left with some questions about what you’re trying to say. Sometimes emotion/feelings can get in the way of logic and truth, so I just want to try and clarify a few things. I doubt you’ll address my questions, but I’m going to ask them anyway.

    What rhetoric, specifically, are you referring to that might make gay youth feel hated? It sounds like you’re accusing the Prophet and Apostles of speaking this rhetoric. I would like to hear a quote or two, please. (You said: ” rhetoric repeated from a pulpit by those who represent that God make the child feel hated.”)

    What specific changes in church policy, doctrine or culture would you like to see? What are you asking for?

    And it sounds like you're saying that the church should “evolve” to be more accepting/supportive of gay members who chose to live in gay relationships and still be members of the church. Am I hearing you right or not?

    So this leads to the question, ultimately, are you proposing that the church change its stance (and thus its doctrine) on marriage? That's the big question, isn't it?

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    1. Stephanie, I responded to the rhetoric comment on Alyse's thread above. But I think negative statements have been made about gay people by members of the church in all sorts of positions, not just top leadership. It's a broader cultural problem.

      I do think the church should evolve by not pushing away gay people who find companionship. And I think the church is making a mistake on the marriage issue and is causing an exceptional amount of harm to itself and others. That's a controversial thing to say, I know. And I understand that I am going to receive some backlash for that. I don't like disagreeing with church policy and I hope anyone who reads this understands that I don't mean to antagonize in any way. This is a very thoroughly contemplated and prayed about conclusion that feels painful in a lot of ways. But I think the point of this life is to learn and grow through the confusion and figure out how to not fixate on the flaws of things that otherwise do great good. I hope I'm not out of line in expressing my views on this, but I also feel strongly that for the sake of many people who are living in misery, it's important for me to express what I sincerely believe here.

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    2. Thank you for your reply! I appreciate a little clarification. :)

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  19. Great post!

    What I don’t understand is how someone who is gay would even want to be a part of a church that treats them this way. I don’t understand how a person could feel that “the church is true” when they are having the maddening conversation (you can’t marry a man or a woman, and you’re only sort of welcome here if you stay alone forever) that you described. As you mentioned, there are a lot of positive things about the church (selflessness, service, charity, sacrifice). The thing is, these things are not tied to ANY religion. Any human being can seek out and experience them – so why stay? I wouldn’t if I were gay.

    I feel like members of the church are always dismissing difficult issues like this by saying “oh, the church is perfect, but the people aren’t” and that’s why things like this are happening. But if the LDS church believes in modern revelation, then why aren’t they receiving guidance to fix the freaking problem? You’d think God would give a shout out to President Monson and give him some pointers on how to better handle the situation…

    I don’t know maybe this is just something I can’t personally understand since I’m not particularly religious and don’t feel strongly that any faith is “the one, true faith”.

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  20. How about just treat people the way you want to be treated? Everything else is just rhetoric... and worse, propaganda.

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  21. I like your thinks on this, sir. I'm among those who left the church because of being gay and not finding a place, and I feel I'm the better for it. But the pain I still find I have is for my relationship with my family, my parents in particular. They're of that particular generation where "gay" is "bad" and there's no question. If the Church would have, could have found a way sooner - sooner than immediately - to promote that listening and compassion you mention, maybe things wouldn't be so hard with my mom and pop today (honestly, sometimes I'm just so jealous of your relationship with Bob and Cathie). If the church would flex on its stance, as I believe it needs to, then my mom and day could feel that it wasn't going against their religion to support me and welcome my future partner into the family, like they did with my brothers and sisters. And that - THAT right there - is really the only thing I want from the church at this point in the game - that they tell my parents I'm alright as is, so maybe then my parents will feel safe treating me equally with my sibs. I would wish my folks would come to the conclusion on their own, but with the church playing such a large part in their lives, until it makes the needed change, I'm afraid I'll have to wait for them, too. Thank you for your clear and sympathetic thoughts here.

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    1. Hi Gospod Young,

      What a difficult circumstance that must be for you. To not feel the love and support from your parents and family is heartbreaking, and I hope that they will find what the difference for them means between loving the sinner and not condoning the sin.

      I will tell you an experience I have had with this in my family. My sister is gay, and for many years has lived with her partner (they have never married). Originally this would tear my mom apart whenever they came to town because she felt the conflicting tugs of being taught that "'gay' is 'bad' and there's no question" as you put it. My dad has lead with his example by absolutely loving them both and accepting my sister's partner into the family. I remember a time seeing him hug her as they were leaving to go back home from a visit as he would hug one of his own kids or their spouse and feeling like this is right. He acted on counsel from his priesthood leader and from seeking guidance from the Lord. My sister and her partner were just in town briefly this last weekend, and I remember feeling excited to see them both and loving their company. During a very difficult time I went through I spent a lot of time with my sister's partner who was in town for work and developed a closeness with her as deep as I have with any of my siblings' spouses.

      Now, I don't support legalizing same gender marriage and believe that homosexuality is a sin as much as premarital sex, adultery, or any other sin is a sin, and I also don't think the church's stance on that is going anywhere. Does that mean I cannot love and adore my sister and her partner to death? It doesn't. My dad's example taught me that as have my own struggles with heterosexual sins. I believe that we are all given different natural desires to deal with and master in this life. I believe that our Father in Heaven allows us to have these trials because he knows what will stretch us the most and allow us to progress eternally. I can't even pretend to know what that means for my sister and her partner, but somehow I know it will work out and will love them and trust God's more capable knowledge and wisdom on the manner.

      I have felt alienated and abandoned by my parents, family, the church, and God because of my own sins which aren't accepted, but whenever I have been humble enough to turn to God He has shown me in very personal ways that He knows me and loves me and that He has been there waiting for me all along. He has also shown me hope and a way out from all of the shame, rejection, and self loathing I have felt for 2/3 of my life through the atonement, and I still have a good chunk of it left to live and continue to learn, grow, and progress. As for this article, I don't know what that means for you or any other struggling gays or lesbians in the LDS church. I am glad I don't have to judge and figure that out. I think we all spend too much time writing and speculating on it to be honest when we could all work harder on loving and accepting others without judging them for their flaws, but what do I know really. I do know there is a bright and happy future available out there whether it is in this life or the next, and God can show it to you and anyone else who doesn't believe in God, struggles with sin or addiction, thinks the Mormon church is full of crazy intolerant homophobes, or whatever their beef my be.

      I hope there is something helpful in there, and if not it was a good chance for me to reflect on my own issues and imperfections. I am sure you have realized this, but I am not as random and anonymous of a poster as I might appear, but I figured it would be more fun to post anonymously and leave you wondering if it's not totally obvious who I am in the first place.

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    2. This post illustrates the key problem, how could you "love and adore" your sister but be against same-gender marriage? You love your sister, but not enough for her to get the legal protections and rights under the law she would have if she was married to her partner. That sounds like pretty "conditional" love to me. That is why people "think the Mormon church is full of crazy intolerant homophobes."

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    3. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard!!! Are you a human? Haven't you ever loved someone but hated what they did? I love my kids, but hate when they fight. I love my husband, but I hate when he snores. I know those are simple examples, but that's how I feel about my gay friends. I love them as the person they are but don't agree with every single thing in their life. Look into each relationship in your life and you will like things about people and disagree with other things. If you say you don't, I still won't believe you.

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  22. I am a Christian and a psychologist. I work in human research. I say this to try and give people a little perspective on my ideas on this issue. Do you know how many things come together so perfectly to make you an average human? Sometimes, quite often actually, those things do not happen so perfectly. You may have enough of a hormone to determine your gender, but as far as sexual attraction, it leaves you in a grey area. Hormones determine who you are attracted to. Not your brain. I, therefore, cannot blame this on you.

    If we believe that God is charge of our creation... well, you see where this is going.

    Humanity is always changing and I believe that we sometimes have to question things and pray and consult with others to determine what the correct path is. Sometimes, we, as Christians, have to determine our own path. This path will be based on everything that we have learned from the Church and what we feel is correct based on our study and prayers.

    Have some compassion. Just consider that maybe these people have not made a conscious choice. Put yourself in their shoes. How alone would you feel? To be told that what you are feeling, and have no control over, is wrong and there is nothing you can do about except live alone. We, as Christians, need a better answer than simply "it's wrong, but we love you as a person".

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    1. Yes! I couldn't have said it better myself.

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  23. As a non-Mormon ex-Catholic who lived in SLC, married an ex-Mormon who became an atheist (I'm a Pantheist), and someone who believes that marriage should be legal to gay and straight alike, I find this post and comments interesting. I think the part that intrigues me the most is the LDS members constantly reminding everyone that their leaders aren't perfect, that their messages aren't perfect, that the path they ask everyone to follow isn't always perfect, but because God talks to them, it's a guided path....but still very imperfect. Along with the constant reminder that members "shouldn't leave the church because of flawed and imperfect leaders hurting their feelings" , it seems like a recipe for a cluster f*ck, which is exactly what this post describes, to a T. If you follow a Church that says, "Sure, we screw up constantly, and have a long history of changing our doctrine because we cant get away with our screw ups anymore, but some of our message is good!", then you may as well pick a book off the shelf at the library (any book, doesn't matter) and use that as a bible, because, sure, I bet somewhere in its pages is something redeemable. Trying to get the Mormon Church fit gay people, or making gay people fit in the Mormon Church seems like a effort in futility.Why bother? One way or another, someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to have to hide who they are.

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    1. Nicely said... sadly, this is true of every religion. Every. Single. One.

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    2. As an ex mormon, I also agree!

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    3. I disagree. While our leaders are not perfect, when they speak in, say, General Conference, I believe that everything what they say is inspired directly from God. What is said from God is the doctrine, and the doctrine does not change in the church. The prophet is not going to say, "Drugs are bad and addictive." But then if a lot of people get addicted to drugs and are feel outcasted because their body craves drugs in a more intense way than that of others, he will not turn around and say, "I messed up. Drugs are okay now." The church doctrines have been and always will be the same.

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    4. Addiction ruins peoples' lives. It takes over and they cannot function as a productive member of society anymore. You cannot compare that to a sexual preference. There are gay people all around you holding offices in your government, waiting your tables, running large companies, etc. To compare them to addicts is so misguided and judgmental... I just don't even have words.

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    5. l agree with Cheryl Dactyl. Being gay is no more an addiction that needs to be overcome, than being straight is. To a gay person, being attracted to someone of the same gender feels just as natural as it does for a straight person to be attracted to someone of the opposite.

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    6. Anonymous at 8:25:

      "While our leaders are not perfect, when they speak in, say, General Conference, I believe that everything what they say is inspired directly from God."

      Interesting. So you still believe in blood atonement, that the "only" true order of marriage is a polygamous one, that all of us will be in a polygamous marriage in the eternities, that the civil rights movement of the 1960's was inspired by Satan in order to take away the free agency that we fought for in the war in heaven, and that blacks can't be sealed in the temple (to anyone) or hold the priesthood because they were spiritually inferior in the premortal life?

      I'm an active, believing Mormon. But I don't believe any of those things, even though all of them were taught by Apostles or Prophets from the pulpit. And here's the crazy thing: the Church doesn't teach them anymore, and in many instances has actively disavowed them...even though previous generations of church leaders taught them.

      So perhaps you may want to rethink your truth-telling litmus test.

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  24. Thank you for writing this. I'm a gay mormon, and have felt the cognitive dissonance you describe.

    I feel it most days. It is so hard to know what will bring me joy. I currently plan on a celibate life, which is the path i think the church suggests now. I do know quite a few gay men who have married women, with full disclosure and they have happy lives together.

    But as much as I want a family and children, i have no desire for a wife. No romantic attraction to the fairer sex.

    And I don't have the answer. But i do know that it can be painful in the church. It can be painful in a singles ward. I spent saturday stake conference in a room by myself, with the talks piped in from the chapel. I was there because of how alone i felt, and how hard it was to hear message after message of the joys of a married life. To hear a leader describe how sincerely wonderful his mariage sounded.

    And to realize i'm missing that.

    I don't know the answer, i feel like the LDS church is where God wants me, and so i stay. But it is hard. I wish for more guidance on being happy, for more acknowledgement that this is a hard thing asked, and that i am literally asked to give up something that would bring me joy.

    But i don't always get that. I do find it, but not always. If the doctine can't change, hopefully the culture can.

    Thanks for writing this. I believe God has prophets, and I Don't know why i am going through this.

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    1. When I read your comment, my heart went out to you. I am a woman who has been married for 15 years. We have had many trials in those 15 years and it's been very difficult. Many times I have felt "it is hard. I wish for more guidance on being happy, for more acknowledgement that this is a hard thing asked." Those of us who have struggled with difficult trials have all felt this way. This is not unique to you. You are not alone in these feelings, they are part of earth life. I don't have answers, but I do have empathy.

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    2. I am sending lots of good vibes to you, Jake. I hope you find your answers soon. I'm not sure if this helps, but I don't think your god wants you to feel this way. You might need to look outside of your church for the compassionate support it sounds like you desperately need, but know that there are people out there who have gone through this before and there are other people who are going through this now. I hope you seek out people who can support and bolster you because loneliness hurts and you don't have to be alone.

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  25. I hope I can say this in a way that is not rude and expresses my opinion at the same time. I'm not really sure why I'm adding my opinion to the barrage of comments already posted. I doubt it will even make a difference. Maybe I just need to write down my feelings about this somewhere so that I can see it all organized and understand my own thoughts.

    I am a Mormon. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know that President Monson is a prophet of God, and he is God's mouthpiece here on this earth for this time. The prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said this: "The Lord has established all things in order and has given us a perfect system. Men cannot improve upon it. If we would carry out that which the Lord has revealed, as he has revealed it, then all things would be perfect, for the organization is a perfect organization; the theory of it—the plan of it—is without flaw." I believe that. If God is perfect it stands to reason that everything he does is perfect.

    I know that people are not perfect. I certainly am not perfect. I can tell you this though, if God has called someone as a prophet, I generally assume that they are closer to perfection than myself. I also believe that if God has created such a perfect organization, He is going to make sure that it is not led astray. How else would such a perfect organization operate? Joseph Fielding Smith has also said this: "There never was a time since the organization of the Church when a man led the Church. It was not so in the days of Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young; it has not been so since. It is the Lord’s work, and do not forget that it is the Almighty who is going to do this work, and not man...Let all men know assuredly that this is the Lord’s Church and he is directing its affairs. What a privilege it is to have membership in such a divine institution!"

    God has a prophet for His church here on earth, but do not think even for a second that we believe He restored the gospel to Joseph Smith, and then left him to his own devices. God is at the head of His church. God tells His prophets what to say and what to do to help all of His children eventually come back to Him. Sometimes His instructions are difficult. I can't imagine for a second that these mouthpieces of the Lord think it is easy to simply tell God's children when they are sinning. The beauty is that they aren't telling them that they are sinners and that they will never be happy, or they will live out their existences in loneliness. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I believe homosexuality is a sin just as much as being drunk is a sin. Do you think it's easy for anyone addicted to any kind of sin to choose to be better. It's so easy to simply do what our minds and our human bodies want. But if we return to live with God, we will not have the weaknesses that our human bodies bring us on this earth. We will be perfect like our Father in Heaven is perfect. We will be as Gods. If that's what we want, we HAVE to overcome our weaknesses, whatever they may be.

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    1. This is God's church on earth. He is at the head of it. His prophets relay the messages He has for us. If you have a problem with the messages we are receiving about what is sin and what is not, then you have a problem with God. He is the one you need to be talking to. He is the one you need to be having a discussion with. No matter how perfect or imperfect we are we all are entitled to speak with God through sincere prayer and receive our own personal revelation. However, I can promise you that God will not tell you anything different than He tells His prophets. God can see the bigger picture. He knows each of our hearts. He knows our weaknesses and He knows how we will react. This life is a test. The way we react to different things is part of that test. You may disagree with how a message is delivered or what you perceive is the overall feeling of a message. Perhaps this is part of God's test for you and every other person who struggles with any sins ever mentioned ever.

      I hope this helps someone, and if not at the very least it helped me organize my thoughts. The quotes were from the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith chapter 8: "The Church and Kingdom of God." (I ran out of space)

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    2. I agree that this is a test. I think you ought to be careful about making assumptions about who is being tested in this situation.

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    3. Well, I'm not going to have a contest to see which of us is most humble or needs to be humbled. That would be ridiculous. I also think it's easy to read words in the wrong tone of voice on the internet because I promise that if this came across as condemning that was not my intent. And you're right it could be a test for me, and I am glad to know that Heavenly Father will always be there for me or anyone else who asks and will help us through anything.

      I will say this though. If God will not tempt us above that which we are able, then that means all of us are capable of rising above our weaknesses. You ask any person currently struggling with repentance and overcoming a sin, which of all the sins is the most difficult or worse sin to have a problem with, and they will almost always choose the one they are trying so hard to beat. But sometimes I have to say that I am grateful for my weaknesses. When I think of what they could or the problems I could be dealing with I sometimes find myself grateful for my own situation. When I think of the pains of struggling with same-sex attraction, I am think I would be overwhelmed. I have the highest regard for anyone who has fought that fight, and managed to rise above it. It cannot be an easy struggle especially in a world where it surrounds us, and we hear so many justifications for sinning. I can only assume they must be a pretty amazing person, and probably a better person than I am.

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  26. I keep fighting the feeling that I need to share my thoughts. I am not gay but at one time had a very close friend who was gay. I saw him go through deep depression even being suicidal at points. I was grateful he finally said that it was better to be alive than dead. He thought if he went on a mission the same sex attraction would go away. He then thought if we was Elder's Quorum President it would go away. He has a deep testimony of our Savior and His atonement. Honestly probably the deepest I know. We are called to be a light not a judge. I highly recommend the book, "In Quiet Desperation". I got it when he first came out to me. He ended up reading it and taking it to his parents. If someone is reading this and is struggling with same sex attraction I hope you all know how dearly loved and valuable you are. You are not defined by your sexuality. I hope you feel support and love from those around you. Just big hugs to everyone hurting.

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    1. Love this: "We are called to be a light not a judge." I think one of the most mis-quoted and perhaps misunderstood parable in the New Testament is that of Christ and the woman taken in adultery. This story is often referenced when justifying the "love the sinner not the sin" idea. What is so often overlooked when discussing this story, is the fact that Christ himself dismissed all the onlookers telling them "he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." HE then told the woman to go and sin no more. We are the other onlookers in this story. Christ alone is the judge, not us. WE have never been told to love the sinner and not the sin. We've only been told to love. The judging should be left to Christ alone.

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    2. That's really a good point. I have discovered that our job is to love not to judge. Any time we judge we push the Savior aside and try to sit on His throne. It would be crazy to do so but every time I am tempted to judge I picture that in my mind. I love a lot more and judge a lot less now. And our Savior went to those who needed Him the most. What an amazing experience for the woman at the well. Who knows what she had struggled with and for how long she had struggled.

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  27. Interesting, isn't it, how many comments are written when it comes to homosexuality. You may have faith in your male-dominated religion (which is all of them) but this dogma is based on fear and the agendas of these scared little men. Do you really need your religion to tell you how to think? To control you? Come on people - you know what's right and you know what's wrong. Too many people try to justify their attitudes by invoking faith. Faith is the willing suspension of logical thought. Scary!
    Good for you, Eli, to have the balls to tackle the subject with compassion and force people to think... with their brains.

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    1. Thank you, anonymous, but I need to say that there is great value in faith and great value in my religion. Clearly my religion does not tell me how to think or control me, but it has provided me wonderful opportunities throughout my life to gain a much better perspective on how to find peace and happiness. I hope that nothing I've written has led anyone to believe that I do not value faith and belief in these things.

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    2. There is great value in faith and I have the utmost faith in myself to figure out how I feel about a subject without religion clouding the subject. I also have great faith in YOU as you are an eloquent communicator with a good heart (enlarged or not). Peace and happiness can be found with or without religion - I am a recovering Baptist myself, so I know a little about crazy. Anyway, I was referring mainly to a few rabid commenters who have every right to their opinions but who will never find peace and happiness by discriminating in the name of religion. Now go to bed. I'm sure you have to be up early tomorrow!

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  28. I know you can express your feelings and say whatever you want on your blog. I can imagine that those who are gay and active in the church must really appreciate words of support. But I almost find it distasteful that every time you write about issues like this, which you seem to feel pretty passionate about, it's like you provide the setting for people to come and hate on the Church and say things, a lot of things, about the Church that are not true and are opinions based on the lack of knowledge of how the Church truly operates. And you never seem to do anything about it. Also, it almost sounds to me like you refer to the leaders as "the church". I for sure know they are not perfect, but the Spirit touches me strongly whenever any apostle, prophet, counselor, etc speaks on any topic, especially homosexuality. I love my gay brothers and sisters. And I wonder how you balance your opinion stated in this post and some previous ones you wrote on the subject, with your testimony (if you have one) of our leaders being called and inspired of God. What do you think "the church" should do?...

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    1. Anonymous, I wouldn't mind having this conversation with you in person or over the phone if you are ever interested.

      I'll say briefly that it is of course never my intention to create a space for people to attack something that means a great deal to me, like the church that I love and in which I do have a very strong testimony. Unfortunately, any time the church is discussed on any relatively well-read forum, people are going to take the opportunity to attack it. And this is a relatively well-read forum. I don't think it's productive for me to decide that it's best not to discuss these things here for that reason. And I think you are very wrong to suggest that I do nothing about the attacks. I hope that anyone who reads Stranger has gained a somewhat better view of Mormons over time. I have tried to share openly the things that I love about my faith and my community and *even* in posts like this when I have expressed concern about aspects of that faith and community, I still don't believe that I threw my religion under the bus, so to speak. When a comment seems overly unfair, I try to respond to it directly (you can see plenty of examples in this comments section as well as in other comments sections on other posts). Please do not disrespect me with these kinds of unfair accusations.

      The spirit touches me also when I hear inspired counsel from inspired leaders. And I do believe that those leaders exist in great numbers in this church and have throughout its history. I also believe that questions like these are much more complex than "either the leaders are inspired or they are not." Anyone who knows our church history can see very clearly that church leaders have given some very wrong counsel in the past. It is our job, and it is crucial that we understand this, to have these conversations and fervently, sincerely, humbly, seek a better understanding. If we are not doing this and if we are not living how we feel is right and if we are not actively trying to understand what *is* right, we waste this life and our membership in this church is a total and utter waste.

      I have never had a problem believing that God has called someone to fill a role and that that person has given some counsel in that role that wasn't perfect. Please do not try to force people like me into a nonsensical corner where that conflict must necessarily arise. That is an unproductive and pointless pursuit.

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    2. I'm not trying to force you into anything. Thanks for replying to my post.

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  29. Thank you for posting this. I know opinions are like certain rear-end holes and everyone's got one, but I think it takes incredible courage to publicize an opinion that doesn't necessarily coincide with what you were brought up to believe. I've struggled with my own dissonance of what I believe but I think that directing our beliefs and actions with love is above all else. Being raised in a very closed-minded family, I've had my reservations about Mormon people and their beliefs, but Eli you are one incredible guy and KUDOS to you for sharing this.

    That being said, I've been following your blog for a couple of years now and your posts have me nearly in tears most of the time. I always check your blog for a good laugh. Keep it up!

    P.S. I have strong reason to believe that I had a run in with Q of C's evil sibling today. Terrifying, to say the least.

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  30. I have read all the comments. A couple of points that I didn't see covered and that I'm wondering what rationalizations people who are in opposition of gayness (for lack of a better word) can come up with:

    1) If being gay is a choice, how do you explain when reasonable, responsible, and good people are willing to loose their families and communities, whom they love, in order to live an openly gay life?

    2) Isn't this issue different from the issue of "blacks can't hold the priesthood" since being black isn't called out specifically in the bible as being a sin like being gay is? Maybe I'm missing something though; it's been a while since I have read the bible.

    3)One of the fundamental principles of the LDS religion, and most other religions, is love, so why is love bad if it's between the same sex? (I really hope someone can give me a better answer than "because God said so." I also assume someone might try to answer with "because the purpose of marriage is to have children," but if that's true then shouldn't we damn straight people who choose not to have children or who can't have children and not allow them to marry either?)

    Nobody gets points for loving those that are different from them only when they act like them. You only get points if you can love someone who is different from you just the way they are, the way god "made" them. The attitude of "I love these people, BUT..." has got to go. I don't care how it happens, whether the LDS church gives their members permission to UNCONDITIONALLY love gay people, or if people decide to leave the church and make up their own minds, but it's GOT TO GO. End of story. There are MUCH more important things going on in this world that need the amount of attention we give to this issue.

    One last point. I saw someone liken being gay to being an addict and that the church would never go back on their stance on drugs and they will never go back on their stance about being gay. Addiction ruins peoples' lives. It takes over and they cannot function as a productive member of society anymore. You cannot compare that to a sexual preference. There are gay people all around you holding offices in your government, waiting your tables, running large companies, etc. To compare them to addicts is so misguided and judgmental... I just don't even have words.

    Thanks, Eli, for providing a forum that encourages people to think outside the box and outside their comfort zones. It was definitely outside my comfort zone to read some of these comments, but I did it, and it reminded me of what my friends and loved ones who are gay deal with on a regular basis, and it helped strengthened my own beliefs.

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    1. Cheryl, I hope you have never eaten at Red Lobster, because the bible also says shellfish is bad; but anyone who goes to Red Lobster on a Friday night knows that little law isn't being followed. Also, I really hope that you got your husband's or father's permission before posting this because:

      Genesis 3:16 -- ...Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you...

      1 Corinthians 11:3 -- ...the head of the woman is man...

      1 Corinth. 14:34 -- ...women... must be in submission...

      Ephesians 5:22 -- Wives, submit to your husbands...

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    2. Thanks for the response, Anonymous. I appreciate you pointing out the hypocrisy in professing to believe the bible to be the word of god while simultaneously throwing out "little laws" contained in it here and there. This is what is so confusing to me about the whole argument of "it's ok to love gays as people, but we admonish their natural sexual preferences." Can't one simply pick and choose what they want to believe in from the bible and throw the rest out? In my opinion, people need to make up their own mind about what they think is right and wrong and not rely on an archaic book and a religion that is not quickly responsive to issues of morality and ethics because it is so mired in dogma.

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  31. As someone who wasn't raised in a particularly religious household, I find this discussion fascinating and instructive. Some of the strongest marriages I know are gay marriages, and I am a very strong proponent of gay rights. That said, I understand that even if you're not gay, if a church that has given so much meaning and blessing to your life seems to be shutting out and judging members based on their sexual preference, it is a real struggle to reconcile your faith with your gut. I don't know. I am a semi-lapsed Jew married to a semi-lapsed Catholic. Our conception of God is pretty similar, despite the different religious backgrounds we had: we think, and we're trying to teach our son, that God is a force and a spirit for good: He is all about mercy, compassion, and being kind to others- choosing a path that practices kindness, grace and patience, even though we live in a world that usually makes that the hardest path to follow. Basically, I believe God is love, and love is a human right. What can I say? I believe it is that simple, and simultaneously, it is that hard.

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  32. I am an avid reader of the blog but I've never posted a comment. I have laughed and cried with you. Your latest entry (and the comments) have been weighing heavily on me the past 24 hours and I feel like I need to say something. I am not going to discuss the church as it relates to this issue, as that would take me at least 20 pages. Full disclosure: I am an active member of the church. I am also gay (although if you asked me I'd probably tell you that I'm "bi"). I support marriage equality. I do not believe being gay is a "sin."

    However, I am happily married to a woman and have been for nearly 9 years. I spent nearly a decade after my mission trying to decide "which way to go." To say that I struggled with the decision would be a huge understatement. Long story short, I decided to marry my best friend from high school. She knew my struggles but loved me anyway. I have been 100% faithful to her and it has been a blessing in my life. We have been blessed with beautiful children who are the light of my life. My children mean everything to me and I can't imagine life without them.

    I know my path isn't the right path for everyone, and I'm not suggesting that it is, but I am saying that it was the right path for me. It took an incredible leap of faith. That leap of faith has paid off ten fold. Is our marriage easy? No. All relationships are difficult. Were there times I was tempted to stray? Yes (but this is true of all relationships - whether I'm attracted to men or women). My decision to get married to a woman was less based on religious reasons and more based on "what kind of life do I want to have?"

    Here's my point: the decisions you make in your 20s and 30s affect the rest of your life. There are some paths that once you travel a certain distance, you cannot return. I would not trade my children and the experience of being a father for any relationship with a man. That's the bottom line and that's what it ultimately comes down to.

    I have heard the comment that marrying a woman will "ruin her life." My experience is that you will ruin your wife's life if you choose to ruin your wife's life. It doesn't have to end in heartbreak. 90% of marriage is friendship, companionship, having a history together. The other 10% (lust) fades somewhat with time anyway. My advice to any person in the church who is gay and is struggling with life changing decisions is to pray about what is right for you. Think about the type of life you want for yourself - where you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years. Things are never black and white. There are only shades of gray. Don't limit yourself. Don't listen to other people who tell you what you are or who you are. Do what is right for you and you can have it if you want it.

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    1. Thank you for separating love into its categories. Too often it seems like when people say "love" they mean "sex." When love is so much more than that (as you said, friendship, companionship, having a history, raising children, etc.). Lust/sex is such a small part of it in comparison.

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  33. I will add just a few comments to this passionate discussion. The language that we choose to use in these discussions is important. Reading here, I see many default phrases on both sides - cultural idioms that are so deeply ingrained in our cultures that we speak them as Truth without giving thought to what we are saying or why we are saying it.

    I hear "the church" and understand this to mean "the global church leadership," "local church leaders," "local church members," "church members along the Mormon Corridor," and many, many more meanings of "the church." Specifying which portion of the church you are speaking about goes a long way in promoting discussion and understanding.

    The danger in a revealed religion is that whatever God says is right is right and what God says is wrong is wrong. In the Old Testament, God provides the commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. Then, at various times, God instructs Moses, Saul, and David, to attack and wipe out entire cities and peoples. In the Book of Mormon, Nephi is instructed to kill Laban.

    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." There is much of Mormon culture, predominantly in the Mormon Corridor, that is held as Doctrine when it is actually cultural practice.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: Adam fell that man might be and men are that they might have joy. Happiness in life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful relationships are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. Christ gave unto us a new commandment, that we love one another. As Christ has loved us, that we also love one another. If you love Christ, keep His commandments. For got sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. And this is life eternal, that we may know our Father the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent. That is the good news - that for me, a sinner, Christ suffered, He bled, and died. That I can have the choice to take up my cross and follow him, having faith that whatever I may suffer in this life will be repaid to me in the next.

    The Law of Chastity is simple - sexual relations are to be kept between husband and wife within the bonds of marriage. Some have covenanted to keep this law and some have not and it is not our place to judge between them. Individuals have the burden and blessing of reconciling thoughts and feelings with God while loving and being loved by their brothers and sisters.

    One failing of the Church, at least in the Mormon Corridor, is the lack of teaching Faith in Jesus Christ. Too often, Mormon's in this area revert to practice and ordinances while not developing faith in the Savior. Cultural practice leads many to believe, as the Pharisees did, that if we follow the law, we will be saved. Thus, when people do not follow the Law, they are lost and without hope. Those who think this way are in the gall of bitterness and have neither faith, hope, nor charity. They deny the mercy and grace of Christ and lack the faith sufficient to be saved.

    Forgive me, I'm getting a little preachy. Okay, what then? Carry on!

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  34. Eli, I really admire the way you respectfully express yourself. We may not agree 100%, but I appreciate your ability to calmly, respectfully, thoroughly state your opinions without causing people to put up a heated defense and it rubs off on the people commenting. For the most part this has been such a civil conversation..... And I agree! Sheep's clothing was soooo last season! Ha!! - Cara Johnson

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    1. I just have to agree with your comment. I just read an article today about how so many people in these kinds of forums are so much more aggressively negative than they would ever be in person, and that was just referencing interior design blogs! With a topic as controversial as this, I am pleasantly surprised that most everyone seems to be keeping the discussion very civil. I think it's great that we're having a discussion and not an argument. I also agree with your judgement about how Eli presents his own opinions very respectfully. His writing style and choice of topics is why I am an everyday reader.

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  35. Eli, there is so much on this topic that I think you've mischaracterized about the Church and its understanding and teachings that I would go so far as to suggest you actually reexamine what you've wrote and make some corrections. The Church teaches a much more eternal and infinite view on the trials of this life. You mention nothing of this, yet perspective is vital.

    The doctrine, from a passage in http://mormonsandgays.org/ is this: "We believe that with an eternal perspective, a person’s attraction to the same sex can be addressed and borne as a mortal test. It should not be viewed as a permanent condition. An eternal perspective beyond the immediacy of this life’s challenges offers hope. Though some people, including those resisting same-sex attraction, may not have the opportunity to marry a person of the opposite sex in this life, a just God will provide them with ample opportunity to do so in the next. We can all live life in the full context of who we are, which is much broader than sexual attraction."

    Also, the Church does teach the love, service, and compassion that you"wish" it did. I hear this. My active homosexual friends also hear this. To the question: Can we all be more compassionate? The Church teaches, resoundingly, "Yes!". Should we be even more compassionate? Again, "Yes!" the Church proclaims this.

    An example from http://mormonsandgays.org/: "As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender."

    If you believe that this is all just idle talk, let me share you an experience that I witnessed last weekend. A gay friend of mine, who came out as gay and was recently divorced, is still lovingly welcomed at Church. He recently attended a large stake party here in Las Vegas and was lovingly embraced by all--leaders, members, missionaries you name it. I witnessed it. It wasn't even a big deal. It was just like how Mormons are taught to treat everyone. I am confident that this experience is not unusual anywhere in the church because I have seen similar scenarios in many other places. For example, the ward pianist in my ward in Washington D.C. was openly gay. No one made any noise about that. He was just another member dealing with the problems of mortality. We all have trials. Being homosexual is a big one, but there are bigger still.

    Still, God's laws on morality are not determined by men. I was very surprised to see you state that "same-gender companionship" (assuming you mean homosexual relations) is not evil. Regardless of any wishful thinking by the world, the Lord has been clear about what constitutes sin on this matter. You know that. This ain't nothing new. There were lots of people struggling with pornography at that Stake party (which my gay friend was at with me) as well. We also say viewing pornography is evil (which the world also doesnt' by the way). And getting married doesn't solve that problem either. But Mormons are taught to love everyone, regardless of their sins. Either way, we are all imperfect and struggling through life. We all need the Atonement and an eternal perspective.

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    1. To prove your point I think you should also go without sex or marriage. I am also so sick of the argument, "The Lord has been clear on this matter." He was clear on the fact women were second class citizens, that you could own slaves, that Blacks couldn't hold the priesthood, that some Egyptian hieroglyphics were actually "The Pearl of Great Price," that you couldn't eat shell fish, etc.

      Either the Lord changes his mind...A LOT...or people are making stuff up and calling it the word of God.

      Just for argument's sake, next General Conference Thomas Monson gets up and says, "God has proclaimed to me that everyone who had green eyes is part of a new cursed generation because of the unrighteousness on the Earth. Green eyed members can no longer hold certain positions in the church, get married, etc." Would any amount of prayer or repentance change that person's eye color? Perhaps they could get brown contacts and fake being a "non-cursed" person. I suspect that is exactly what your friends in Vegas and DC are doing. Putting on the appearance of being a by-the-book, God-fearing Mormon, but inside, knowing every day, they aren't as good as you, because of something they cannot change.

      That is why this part of the church is so insidious. It is hatred described as "love." It is intolerance described as an "eternal view."

      What I fear, is that Eli's stake president will read this and he will be excommunicated for stating he doesn't think the church's leaders got it right on this issue. Remember the witch hunt of the feminists who wanted to be Priesthood holders. They weren't excommunicated for their desire, they were excommunicated for heresy...preaching against what church leaders taught. Eli, you have a "national stage" here with your blog, so be careful.

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  36. I think we're forgetting one really important thing: faith in the Atonement. The scriptures say that the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is infinite, covers all: sin, sickness, sorrows, guilt—I would even deign to say temptations and attractions. In situations like this, we, as believers, have to stick to the pure doctrine: the scriptures and whatever modern revelation we have been given. If we believe, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that revelation has not ceased, then we know there are things we still don't have answers to. I believe this situation is one of them. We don't know what things will be like after this life, exactly. Those things are largely yet to be revealed. But, we do know our Father in Heaven is loving and merciful. More loving and merciful, in fact, than I think we ever give him credit for. We have to have faith that there is mercy and a plan for those people who struggle with same sex attraction in this life. Or those people who aren't able to be sealed in the temple to a spouse in this life. Or those people who battle pornography addictions their entire lives. The key is, are those people living in faith, letting the Atonement work in their lives and support them through their trials—however great or small they may be? Do they seek out a relationship with God and know how much He loves them? Do they live the gospel to the best of their ability, not expecting it to bend to suit their lives or their circumstances? In last General Conference, Elder Holland said this, which I think applies well here:

    "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.

    Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of 'comfortable' God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart … No wonder that, sermon after sermon, the local communities 'pray[ed] him to depart out of their coasts.' No wonder, miracle after miracle, His power was attributed not to God but to the devil … the bumper sticker question 'What would Jesus do?' will not always bring a popular response.”

    Too many people, when they face these big trials, find themselves confused and frustrated because they want a God who conforms to them; who makes life more comfortable for them. But that's not the way God works. We are here to be tested; to see if we will do whatever it takes to get back to Him, even if it means enduring trials like same sex attraction for our whole lives. Even if it means pressing forward with faith, when we aren't sure exactly what will happen. It's not convenient, at all. But so very few things with the Gospel are.

    I believe that we probably don't have all the answers ... yet. But that's the beauty of the restored Gospel. God still speaks to His prophets! In the meantime we have to have faith and believe and hope that the Atonement and God's infinite love for us will make things right in time. We have to stick to the doctrine and try our best to live what we know. And along the way, we have to be doing our best to love other people. Let this be the message of hope we are all looking for. Let us realize that the doctrine of Christ is perfect, but the people in His church are not.

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    1. This seems so vague to me. Having faith, sticking to "doctrine", following leaders....isn't this what is causing all of the strife with all the controversial issues in the first place? Everyone is so lost. Everyone is trying to do what the leaders say, while also feeling like they should do what feel right in their hearts, which can be very conflicting! Your advice is to sit and wait. To those people who are dealing with this in (very) real time, how do you think they feel?? The message of "hope" is very hopeless. The imperfect people in the church are not helping, either.

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    2. Welcome to mortality, Kate:) As imperfect mortals we do not know the end from the beginning. The test of this life is to see whether we can walk by faith. Faith is a principle of action, then power. We gain more knowledge as we continually keep our commitments to God. If one has done what it takes to gain a testimony of the Church, one can increase their understanding of God's will line upon line by following His Prophets. No one is saying sit and wait! The Church is saying live, act, grow, serve, etc...but don't expect things to always go the way that you've predetermined they should. God's ways are higher than ours. If the purpose of life is to learn obedience and bring our will to the Father's, then what greater catalyst to learn how to do that than being a homosexual with a testimony could you ask for. If you want to increase your faith in this life, ask God. Ten to one he'll give you trials to overcome.

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    3. Oh my gosh, Anonymous. Your perspective would be so different if YOU were gay and in the church. You sound incredibly self-righteous. I get so tired of the straight folks telling the rest of us how circumstances they could never understand are just an opportunity to get to know their version of God.

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    4. As a Pantheist, I expect the Universe to self-correct, which means I most definitely know that I will be dealt a hand that is balanced because it requires knowing the WHOLE picture (all of time, space and creation), not just my perspective. My commitment to my "God" is to be a part of the whole design, and remember that I am simply a part of the Universe expressing itself as a human for a time. I DO NOT believe gay people are given their "challenges" so that they could simply spend their entire lives being bashed about by religious groups just so that they could stand up in some church and give a "compelling testimony". We are amazing, glowing jewels hanging in the perfect design of the Universe. Why would anyone be expected to be something else for God?? That seems to go against the very nature of God/Universe.

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    5. "these folks"?!? Dangerous things happen when you have us against them mentality. How about thinking of "these folks" as your brothers and sisters. You know the way the Savior taught.

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  37. If you want to know my Mormon's are driven to suicide over the "gay issue." Read almost any talk by Boyd K. Packer. Here are some of the "highlights."

    There is a nicely written post at this link that details Packer's, and by proxy the Church's, history with gays and lesbians.

    http://www.withoutend.org/elder-packer-danger-homosexuality-20-years/

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  38. Eli,
    Thanks for posting this because it was helpful for me to read other perspectives and think differently about the topic than I had before. I don't agree with everything you said, but I don't think that was your purpose either. I think that your over simplification of some things does some disservice (like your conversation with the church) but that's what happens when you try to generalize complex issues.

    I have a question for you though, you argue that the church should support gays in companionship, but my question is, how would that be fair or just to heterosexuals who are unmarried? If you're gay, and since you don't know (either yes or no) that after this life you'll be able to enjoy those blessings, you should be allowed to now. But if you're straight and you do know that after this life you'll be able to enjoy those blessings, so you should be celibate until then, how does that work? That seems mighty unjust. I think that chastity by the way is more than sex, and that sex is as much as spiritual experience as a physical one (based on my marriage).

    Another point I have is that you need to give then Brethren a little more slack in terms of what they know and don't know. You said, "What ends up happening, then, is that folks who have never been in the shoes of the people they govern demand an all-or-nothing face-off between gays and the church." But, as I understand, your article is about friends and family of gays as much as it is of gays. We don't know a lot about the personal life of many of the apostles and their friends and family and what they face, and from their personal visits with members around the world, my guess is that they know about this issue more than we think they do. Here's an article that gives a good example, make sure to read all the way to the bottom. I think the author does a good job of teaching the love and compassion you mention. http://www.jeffbenedict.com/index.php/blog/35-blog/378-maybe-ill-meet-a-girl

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    1. If same-gender marriage were legal, your main question would be irrelevant.

      We could teach all of our children that celibacy before marriage and fidelity after marriage are most healthy.

      Right now, our gay children hear that holding hands with a date will earn them the same spiritual consequences as having sex would if they were straight.

      What spiritual motivation is there to abstain from sex when it is see as the same activity as hand holding or a kiss good-night?

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  39. Replies
    1. I can only assume that this was asked merely out of curiosity, but I find it interesting that as speaking as one of The Gays, this is often asked by a straight person and the answer tends to be used to divide or otherwise cause distance between people. Respectfully, the question is irrelevant as is the answer.

      Supporting and showing a caring and open mind to a disenfranchised group are wonderful traits to possess. I admire Eli's willingness to speak from his heart. But his support of gay rights should not result in personal questions like that. Support does not necessarily indicate inclusion. It indicates a broad worldview I wish more people had. Would supporting ethical treatment of animals mean he is a closeted German shepherd?

      Eli chooses to share (overshare?) aspects of his strange life on this blog. If at some point he shares enough to satisfy this question, that is up to him. All I know is that he is very mature for his age and that his hair is stunning. Always. I mean seriously, do you have some kind of hair-related superpower, or something? Freaky.

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    2. As another one of The Gays (but a more private gay) it's really not supportive or helpful when you ask people about their sexuality. People will tell you when they're ready to tell you, and continuing to ask someone, in my experience, just makes them more nervous.

      But Michael's right, you can support something and not be a part of it. I support a sensible immigration policy, and amnesty for young undocumented immigrants, even though I'm not one. Eli is just a very supportive ally to the gay community.

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  40. I've enjoyed your blog in the past. I agree concerning increased tolerance and understanding in the Church. I would hope that no one would speak ill of another going through such a hard and difficult trial. That hope is likely in vain - people in the Church are not perfect and some intolerance will remain in certain people and hurtful, inappropriate things will be said and done by some. I hope understanding and love will increase throughout time.

    However, I strongly disagree with your view concerning the Church and "same-sex companionship." The Church of Jesus Christ cannot embrace or sanction sin. Period. Homosexual "actions" - not feelings - are extremely serious sin. Murder is literally the only sin of greater degree and greater eternal consequence. The true church of Christ can preach acceptance and love of the people that commit such sin but it can never allow acceptance of the sin - or marriage in which the sin is expected to take place. Further, homosexual unions or marriages will not endure after this life and therefore do not promote lasting happiness. While the governments acceptance may "legitimize" these unions in the eyes of some, including those who enter into them, no governmental action can legitimize these unions in the eyes of God.

    The prohibition of same-sex marriage is a firm and clear Church position - http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage. This blog post is directly contrary to and opposing Church doctrine.

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    1. There are so many things wrong with this. Please don't ever have a gay child. Your inability to even attempt to actually be compassionate may kill it.

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    2. Unfortunately this is the very sentiment that is literally killing many gay youth. When you're 14 years old and you hear that homosexuality is second only to murder in grievousness, the distinction between "homosexuality the feeling" and "homosexuality the action" becomes irrelevant. The only thing you hear is "you are evil, and likely going to hell for these things you have no control over." Never once as a gay teenager in the church was I ever given any productive council on what I should do with these "feelings." All I ever heard was I shouldn't have them. And yet I did. So I must be evil.

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    3. Please consider getting to know a healthy, happy gay couple. Those that I have met would be happy to visit with you and answer questions.

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    4. Since when did feelings and actions become irrelevant. We've probably all felt angry enough to kill someone before, but I can assume that most of us have never acted on it. We've all felt temptation.There is a tremendous difference between feelings and actions. Sorry that you never received any better council. I am sure you can tell by even these comments that active members of the Church don't think you're evil. The church has always taught, "hate the sin (the action), love the sinner (the person)". If you want some productive counsel now, go to mormonsandgays.org. You'll hear what the Church is really teaching.

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    5. Feeling anger and killing someone = taking away another person's right to life.
      It damages another human being and those associated with him/her.

      Falling and love and starting a family with someone doesn't take away anything from any other person.

      One causes death.
      The other is actually proven to PREVENT death.

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  41. Eli, thank you so much for speaking out abut this. I've been struggling to understand this issue for most of my life and I could never reconcile my conscience with the "doctrine." I've prayed for years, staying awake late at night, talking myself through this catch-22, just trying to figure out how we can claim to be compassionate and expect an entire group of people to go through this life without even the hope of companionship, or how we can claim to love justice or freedom or equality if we believe that any church should be allowed to dictate the laws of the land, especially in a way that withholds the rights and choices and freedoms they enjoy from others. I could never feel the comfort of the Spirit until I asked God if He would understand and forgive me if I just decided to support same-sex marriage and have felt at peace with that decision ever since, but I also feel very small. Standing with the minority for this belief when the bigots and bullies feel justified in the Lord can be terrifying and your words help more than you know.

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  42. Leaving the LDS church was a decision that I agonized over for many years. It was to date the scariest choice I've ever made. I didn't leave because of any sort of "sin" or glaring temptations. I didn't have the desire to rebel. It was a result of a period of much studying and fasting and prayer and contemplation, of which at the end I couldn't find resolutions within the Church for many of the questions that I had about culture, money, doctrine and history. So with a broken heart and a lot of fear, I took a chance and stepped away, hoping desperately to experience the darkness, fog and despair that we're taught will be waiting for us if we let go of the iron rod. The contrast would have been my answer and I would have come running back with a full heart, ready to make peace with the lack of answers and clarity.

    But life on the "other side" isn't anything like what active Mormons say it will be. Mine is full of genuine happiness, joy, and clarity, and if this is what Satan's influence feels like then I'll take it. (Tongue in cheek obviously - just to be clear I do not feel that Satan is influencing my life and decisions at this time) The clarity is what I'm grateful for when reading dialogues like these. We as members of the Church tend to believe that suffering and martyrdom are commendable, and while I still believe that questions and trials can act as a refiner's fire, I can't express emphatically enough the peace that I experienced with the realization that Church leaders get it wrong because they're not as inspired as members think they are. They don't have a direct line to God. They're men, good men even, who are doing their best to lead a large organization under difficult circumstances. But they don't speak for God. What a difference a clear mind and heart made when I came to accept this.

    I know how this comment will come across to members of the Church, but despite what they will think it's not an attack. I love and respect my many family members and friends who are faithful and active Latter Day Saints. I would never try to convince them to leave the Church, and I avoid voicing my own questions that lead to my leaving because I would never want to introduce doubt to those who have none. That being said, this comment thread made me sad in many ways and I felt the need to say something.

    Much love and respect to everyone on their own spiritual and life journeys, whatever winding, unique path they may take.

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    1. I feel this way too anonymous, my experiences are similar to yours. Thank you for sharing.

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    2. Anonymous, my experience is so similar to yours! I, too, went through a very thoughtful but scary and agonizing transition phase over the course of a few years from being LDS with a strong testimony to being a non-member.

      It has been about 10 years since I left the LDS church and I don't have any regrets about it, not one. Reading the hurtful and dichotic comments in this thread makes me sad that otherwise intelligent and kind people are being so misguided and judgmental. I know that LDS people get a lot of support, friendship, epiphanies, strength, etc. from belonging to that community. However, I can attest that it's so much better on the "other side" because you can still have all the same great feelings and close relationships with people, but the big difference is everything isn't conditional.

      Among other things, I feel much more free and happy now that I can make up my own mind about things and am not tied to any unethical teachings of any religion. For example, I never have to say to my gay friends, "I love you, but I believe that you and your boyfriend are engaging in a sin on the same level as murder (even though you aren't actually hurting anyone and I can plainly see that you make each other's lives better by being together). You're just being tested (and you're obviously failing that test because god said so)." It gives me so much peace of heart. :)

      I still look for the light in everything, and when a couple of my gay friends have decided to make a life commitment with their partners (like a marriage ceremony without the marriage – only because they can't legally marry), I see so much love and light and I get the same feeling that I used to call "promptings of the holy spirit." But now I know that it comes from within me.

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  43. Everyone, we're all missing the bigger picture here. Eli is using this one blog as a tactic to keep us talking and not realize he hasn't posted anything in 3 days. 3 DAYS!!!

    You can't pull anything on me...this is not just a hat rack my friend.

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    1. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo!!!! I've been discovered! I got busy and hoped you wouldn't notice!

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    2. Lee.. You are my favorite comment... My head was about to explode from all the adult conversations going on.. I really wanna know what Tammy thinks of all these comments!

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  44. I'm an Episcopal priest who cares a lot about this issue. I also have a lot of conservative Mormon friends who would never dialogue with me about church and homosexuality. Eli, you are brave and wise to offer your views, and providing a context in which dialogue can happen is real ministry to a hurting world and a hurting church. Thank you.

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  45. I have only one thought. It seems to be suggested that being unmarked equates with being miserable. As a young single adult with many single adult friends. A life without marriage or even without sex does not by definition have to be miserable, unfulfilled, or not worth living. No one says it isn't hard--I would be the first to say is absolutely is--but it is possible to live singly and still have joy in this life.

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  46. The idea of avoiding all homosexual behavior as a commandment from God, is an interesting one to ponder when you look at statistics.

    I am unable to think of any other commandment that (if followed) increases depression and increases suicide by up to 8 times the "normal" population.

    Living as a single heterosexual person is NOT the same as vowing a life of celibacy for a homosexual person.
    There are some people who fill called to live a life of celibacy (priests, for example) who live up to that calling happily.

    But, not everyone feels called to that.

    A heterosexual, single person can talk about crushes. He/she can pray every day to find a special someone. He/she can date and hold hands and kiss someone good night. He/she can cuddle on the couch and watch a video. A heterosexual single person gets lined up. People are excited to discuss possible relationships. HOPE exists. And the single person may struggle, but their support system is strong and they are not made to feel that their desire to date and have a relationship makes them some sort of a pervert.

    A homosexual single person is NOT having the same experience. This person must, instead, ignore and repress anything that feels like a crush. He/she prays daily to not meet someone that they are attracted to. There is no hope of a date, a kiss, a snuggle, holding hands... ever. Except, possibly after death, if everything about their attractions completely changes. There is no conversation about possible relationships. Nobody lines them up. Everyone reminds them that their only chance at happiness is to live alone and die alone and then become a completely different (good) person.

    NOT THE SAME THING and we need to quit pretending that it is.

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    1. B***S***. Let me assure you, as a 47 year old single woman, it is just as hard. Being lonely is not ok for some of us and hard for others. No, I don't have "hope", I am too old to have children, nor do I talk about crushes or hold hands with anyone. So let's quit pretending that it's easy for heterosexuals.

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  47. What is Best for Time:
    ----------------------

    Homosexuals should be allowed to marry, because that is what is best for them, and for the society in which they live.

    Here are their options:

    1. They can be celibate (BAD)
    2. They can be promiscuous (VERY BAD)
    3. They can be in committed but un-married relationships (Mildly bad, at least sub-optimal)
    4. They can be in a Mixed orientation marriage (VERY BAD most of the time)
    5. Or they can be in a homoexual marriage. (BEST).

    To deny that being married is the best thing for homosexuals undermines the foundation of marriage and the family itself, namely that married people are better off, and that their children are better off, and that the society around people is better off if they are married. To deny homosexuals the right to marry, is thus an attack upon the family, because it says that they either need to be unmarried, uncommitted (and thus, promiscuous), or else celibate, or else they have to enter into a mixed orientation marriage that is most likely doomed to fail, and which will most likely seriously damage their lives, and the lives of their children. To support any of these options is an attack on the family.

    Therefore, the only option that remains if one wants to support the family, is to support marriage equality.

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    1. Homosexual Marriage and the Plan of Salvation:
      ----------------------------------------------

      or, "What is Best for Eternity"

      In response to my claim that homosexual marriages is best for God's children for time, one of my friends asked: "Why is it impossible that the Gospel requires a sacrifice requisite with what it promises?" Essentially, he is asserting that even if homosexual marriages are temporarily better for His gay children, it is still possible that a good God might ask them to sacrifice this temporary benefit in order to be worthy of the far greater blessings of eternity. I must admit that it is entirely possible that God might require such sacrifices of His children, however, I don't believe that He requires this one.

      I believe that the sacrifices that He requires are those that lead to the good of the people in the long run. In fact, that is the very definition of a "good God". Any other type of God would be essentially immoral, and we should not follow Him. But the current Church policy with regard to homosexuality does not lead to the benefit of humanity, either in the short run, or in the long run. Even in the long run of eternity. That is because there are many ways that a truly loving God might incorporate homosexual marriages for time into the plan of salvation, just as He does heterosexual marriages for time.

      An example might best illustrate this point. My father just re-married after the death of my mother. He married a widow. Both are sealed to their earlier spouses. Their marriage isn't about having an eternal marriage. It's about the benefits that marriage has for time, and we are taught that God approves of such temporary marriages for the benefits of marriage for time. Similarly my step grandfather married my widoewed grandmother for time, because she was sealed to her first husband. He was promised by Church leaders that he was making a good sacrifice, and that God approved of his actions, and that he would be sealed to a good woman of his choice in the next life, and that there would be no negative eternal repercussions of his marriage for time. On the contrary, he was promised eternal rewards for his actions based upon the benefits his marriage offered to him, to his wife, and to his wife's children (my mother) for time. IF God didn't want His gay children to have those benefits for now, even if they can't last into the eternities, then God would be immoral, and according to the Book of Mormon, He would cease to be God.

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    2. Now, let's say that one homosexual individual chose to be celibate for time, and was then heterosexually married in the eternities (what the current Church policy seems to be advocating). Now, let's assume that another homosexual individual chose to enter a homosexual marriage for time, and was then married (perhaps to an opposite gender spouse, perhaps not, depending on some details of how godhood and the plan works) in the eternities, much as my grandfather must have been after his marriage to my widowed grandmother for time. In that case, the latter person is that much FARTHER ahead of the first person in terms of knowing how to love and form a family, and will therefore "have so much the advantage in the world to come." The latter person is better off for time, AND for eternity, unless (and here's the key point) God chooses to impose an EXTRA artificial penalty on the second person for some reason. But it is the artificial nature of that extra penalty that makes it so wrong. Without this artificial external penalty, the second individual would have been better off. Thus, there is no "natural" consequence of homosexual marriage that would harm a person, rather, it benefits the person, even in the eternities. Imposing such extra penalties upon individuals seeking to do the best thing for themselves and for society would be an immoral act. If God attempted it, He would "cease to be God".

      I do not believe in an immoral God. If God is sufficiently cruel as to not want these benefits for his children for time, then He is not worthy of my worship. So either the Church's policies with regard to this matter will change, or else the Church isn't true. And if it's not true, then it will likely change anyway, through shifting public opinion. Either way, that means that the LDS Church's position will one day change. I look forward to that certain day with great anticipation.

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  48. This is not in direct opposition or support of the post—just a thought I have been having about the general discussion. There are several singles within the LDS church who will likely never marry (straight or GLTB) "in this life." I am one of them and I think that we have to be careful when talking about "being alone forever" or "lonely for the rest of our life". Marriage is one relationship that can provide several meaningful experiences. I do believe marriage is ordained of God and do my best to support marriages in my community. Although “I’m alone” in the sense that I am not married—I am very much not alone. I am a part of a family, church, workplace, and community. Many of the debates about gay marriage or single Mormons enrage me (from opposing and supporting perspectives) because there is the underlying theme that because I am single and celibate, I cannot contribute, I am supposed to feel lonely/alone, and I should be suicidal and depressed. I honestly have made valuable contributions (most beyond married people I know), I am surrounded by people who care about me unconditionally, and I have actively identified coping mechanisms in my daily living that help me keep any depression or anxiety in check (which is essential for married, partnered, and single people). I think one discourse that could be helpful to create for those who choose to remain single (regardless of the reason) is that they/we can still meaningfully contribute to communities, their churches, and the world. It is reasonable to argue that the standards/doctrines of the church will not change any time soon (see mormonsandgays.org) and that changes to state laws will also take several years (considering that 31 states at present have amended constitutions or have laws in place that ban the practice of gay marriage) change. Why not start eliminating this “lonely. I don’t know what I want to do with my life” discourse by emphasizing the core teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of finding ourselves through service. I know that people (regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, gender) are better people when they are contributors. Contributors are likely to find connections with people, develop meaning in their life, and are ultimately happier. I went through a phase in my life where I took the “loneliness” context and ran with it. I was miserable and felt like an outsider (work, community events, family functions---everywhere—because the value of marriage is not exclusively found in the LDS church). One day I woke up and thought—why should I expect so much kindness from the world when I am sitting here embracing a life of loneliness and seclusion (that the world tells me I should be feeling). I decided from that point on that I would be a contributor. Some of the most meaningful impacts on the world have been completed by people with a single marital status (e.g., the Wright Brothers, Mother Teresa, Isaac Newton etc.). Instead of focusing on “What I don’t have in this life” my meaning has come from “What can I do to make a meaningful contribution in this life.” I recognize that this doesn’t directly solve the human rights issue at play in our country, but I think if more people were contributors our world would be a better place. Essentially, I find the argument that because I’m gay and choose to live the standards of the Gospel that I am ultimately alone and will not find happiness devaluing and harmful.

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    1. I think this is an excellent attitude for anyone to have.

      Church members can contribute to the success of a person in such a scenario by accepting their contributions. I still think gay people are going to have a harder time having their contributions be accepted than a straight single person would. Or the policies of the organizations would be a problem. For example, a single man could make an excellent scoutmaster. But if he's a gay single man, the BSA doesn't allow that.

      Unfortunately, church members still have an awful lot of prejudices when it comes to gay people. Wendy Montgomery's son came out as gay when he was 13 years old. He had never even touched another boy. Yet multiple people in his California ward refused to take the sacrament from him! We have a long way to go. (And the Montgomerys stayed in the church despite these people.)

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  49. I AM NOT SHERI DEW!!!

    I'd love it if well meaning straight members of the Church quite comparing me being gay and staying single to Sheri Dew. Allegedly, she is straight, so she has the option to marry, she's just being picky. I am a gay man, so that means I get nothing but, "stay single, active, and true and things will all work out in the end".

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