To the Parents of Gay Children—I’m Sorry

mother-childA few months ago I wrote my sincere apology to my LGBT brothers and sisters. Both who are in the church and those who have left.

Today, I offer my apology to the Mormon and ex-Mormon parents of gay children.

Back in Time

Five years ago, I was the high priest group leader.  In one of our quorum meetings, the lesson topic was teaching the gospel to our children.  This scripture was highlighted:

Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.  D&C 68:25

One brother asked with concern, “How can I know if I taught my children as I should?”  He then shared some of the bad decisions a couple of his children had made.

The balance of the meeting was filled with a fascinating back and forth discussion.  Finally, somewhat of a consensus was reached.  If your kids follow the commandments, then you can know that you taught them well during their childhood.  However, I don’t think this sat well with a few quorum members, including me.

I was about to close the meeting, when a brother interrupted me.  He had been totally silent during the entire discussion.  This good man happens to have 3 gay children.  As he began to speak, I realized how insensitive the discussion and conclusions had been to his situation.  His voice betrayed a sense of discomfort, maybe even pain.  He said something like this, “I think I did a pretty good job raising my kids.  They have their free agency to make their own choices.  All my kids are very good people.”  In the following years, my friend has seldom ventured back into our priesthood meetings.

I’m Sorry

To my friend and to all parents of gay children….I apologize.   You see, we were taught by our church that ‘blame’ for children being gay rests on the shoulders of the parents, on bad choices made by the kids, and on other, now discredited, speculations.

There is no ‘blame.’  Blame doesn’t even belong in an LGBT discussion.  Maybe…credit, but not blame.  And I give the credit to God.  Your children came into the world perfect.  Just as God created them.  Beautiful babies with beautiful spirits.  Blame and shame rests only on the shoulders of parents who do not embrace, love and champion their gay child.

I Apologize for What my Church has Taught

hartman-rector

These words were pronounced in General conference by Elder Hartman Rector;  April 1981-Sunday afternoon session.  I’m sorry that these and many other misguided statements were ever part of our church teachings.

I’m Sorry that We Accepted These Teachings as Truth

That’s right.  I did.  We did.  We absorbed this erroneous instruction from our leaders.  As a result, an unfounded prejudice towards gays permeated our LDS culture.  And…towards their parents…who hadn’t provided “a happy family experience.”

Unfortunately, these hurtful beliefs still abound within the church membership.  Our leaders have done little to counter the unsound teachings of just a few years ago.  A few months ago, I told my home teachers that during their next visit I wanted to discuss the November 2015 policy regarding gay couples.  I commend them for their dutiful and well meaning response.  They brought a paper discussing how homosexuals become homosexual.  Guess what was at the top of the list.  It’s the parents fault!  Several other reasons followed.  All totally discredited by modern science and experience.

I don’t hold any of those views today.  But, I did.  I’m sorry, my dear friends who have gay children.

I’m Sorry That We Are Now Hiding Our Past Teachings

You can find the audio and print versions of Elder Rector’s talk HERE.  But, there’s a big problem.  The written words don’t match the spoken words.  The quote above, along with the entire section dealing with homosexuality, have been scrubbed from the written version.  You can listen to the deleted section starting at the 6:45 minute mark.

We should not silently whitewash our past teachings about families with gay children. Rather, we should condemn and disavow them.  Otherwise, this false and damaging ‘knowledge’ will live on in our culture until it dies of old age.

Well, I’m disavowing it right now.  I disavow the false theories that were presented as truth in our recent past.  My dear friends with gay children, the state of happiness in your home had no effect on the orientation of your children.  I’m sorry that we are now hiding what was once openly taught.

I Love You

Finally, if you have gay kids, I love you and your beautiful children.  If you are gay, you had better know that I love you.  Our society is marching forward in a wonderfully positive direction.  I love it that the younger generation has no compunction regarding LGBT.  Thank heavens.

I also love my church.  It has beauties.  It has blemishes.  Ignoring our imperfection only leads to greater imperfection.  So, no way am I going to ignore.

 

21 thoughts on “To the Parents of Gay Children—I’m Sorry

  1. Lies, deception, cover ups, and false accusations by top church leaders?

    Well gee, what would an outsider make of this? It sounds like the church is being run by a bunch of frauds and con men.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. These are beautiful words and, I believe, are the sentiments of many lds folks who are less orthodox, nuanced, or have stopped attending altogether. Thank you for your raw honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those words were spoken in Conference and came out in the Ensign almost exactly a year before my third child and son was born. When he was 2 or 3 I started suspecting he was gay and spent literally decades wrestling with that horrible rhetoric that it was my fault–I was “too domineering”, our home life was unstable, etc etc. Some of those things were actually true, as we were struggling to make ends meet and I had to work full time while my spouse attended school and did several part-time jobs for several years; making it even more traumatic for me that I might be the one responsible for causing this situation in my son.

    However, I held on to a strong inner belief that I was NOT to blame for such an orientation. My heart told me my little son came from birth with this and I tried very hard over the next two decades to NEVER allow any harmful rhetoric to be spoken about gay people. I was unaware of the lessons given in their youth classes, but at least none of my children ever heard such things from our family.

    When he came out to me in the late 1990’s, I was semi-prepared for it, also having read many articles in the Sunstone magazine and Dialogue journal discussing various views on homosexuality vs the church and helping me to see another paradigm to support what I knew in my heart. Our family supported my son completely, but I still had to endure the blame from several leaders that I was responsible for it and that our flawed family life caused it… He is currently legally married and living a happy and productive life and we thank the Lord for it.

    I think being blamed and the feelings of humiliation that the church’s teachings on this subject have caused me contributed greatly to my current inactivity, even though I already had had a shelf increasingly cracking under the immense weight of the doctrinal and historical conundrums… The November 2015 policy was just the nail in the coffin.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good to disavow an obviously false and hurtful teaching. But he can get back to me when he is disavowing the LDS church’s current – also false and hurtful – doctrine and policy on people who are LGBTI.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Getting back with you. In 2016 I voted opposed to the church’s gay policy at all 4 voting conferences. There were a total of 262 of us who stood up and spoke out against it.

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  5. Sam, once again you show what a loving compassionate person you are. However, I am concerned.

    You have such a caring heart that I worry you let it get in the way. Sometimes we have to be strong. We have to take a stand for the right even if it causes pain to the unrighteous. Firmness of commitment is called for.

    Similarly, in the past you have shared a desire that members and leaders of the church act differently. But, life isn’t always what we want. We have to face up to the truth of how things are and not live in unrealistic wishes. You can’t be an effective representative of God if you constantly question. Only those who know of a certainty can stand the darts of the adversary. Trust the certain knowledge that the church is true, and don’t desire beyond the mark.

    Finally, you seem to have a assurance about what it means to be Christ-like. But if there is anything the teachings of the Gospel encourage it is to be humble. We must look to those called of God to lead us in the paths of truth rather than arrogantly trusting our own wisdom. This calls for obedience.

    We must constantly guard against taking our eyes off the path and loosening our grip on the iron rod. In the end we must rely on firmness, realistic expectations, certainty in the light we have been given, and above all obedience.

    It is easy to go down a slippery slope and replace eternal with empty ephemeral values. Firmness diluted with love, truth with unrealistic desire, and worst of all lack of obedience. Surely on judgement day you don’t want to face God with nothing more substantial than faith, hope, and charity, when you could have firmness, certainty, and obedience, do you?

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    1. Wouldn’t is be great if there was a church culture whereby the leadership regularly encouraged members to “study it out” for themselves if it be right. A leader could say, “Read the scriptures and various books, talk to different members, non-members, and former members about their viewpoints. Ask people why they joined the church, didn’t join the church, or left it. Pray about it and form your own conclusions. It’s okay to form a worldview and then change your mind.” Truth can stand triumphant against continual examination, doubts, etc.

      For too long I neglected my own conscience in favor of submitting to other people’s agendas they wanted me to live by and I replaced my judgment, conscience, and intellect with theirs. Eventually integrity meant more to me than conformity and pretending. I knew I had to face the hard truth instead of hiding from it so I choose to follow my own conscience, reasoning, and insight rather than preconceived notions, consciences of others, or traditions.

      Just because church leaders say things over the pulpit in general conference or that a book of religious scripture says certain things doesn’t mean one should roll over and accept them. In my opinion, part of gaining a “testimony” of the truthfulness of a church and its doctrine is vetting current and former church leaders and church governance for integrity, honesty, reliability and credibility. When there are mistakes, miscommunication, poor policy, etc., they should be proactively acknowledged and be transparent, instead of being hidden by a façade, spin or half-truths. Otherwise, it’s blind faith.

      My beliefs and moral compass are just as valid and important to me as I bet another person’s are to them.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It took me a couple of paragraphs before I got where you were coming from. So, thank you, Garth for calling me to repentance. I have been sliding down the slippery slope of Christ’s teachings and example. How did I not see that I’d taken my eye off the obedience ball. Although, I don’t know how I’m being disobedient. I know I must be. So, at your wonderful suggestion, I’m going to move past the childish virtues of faith, hope and charity. Time to embrace that all knowing certainty again.

      Garth, you’re the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, my post was very facetious. Perhaps I should have put big … tags on it. However, since the sparkle in my eyes always gives me away when I try to pull someones leg, I have to resort to venues where the eyes are hidden.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. “Surely on judgement day you don’t want to face God with nothing more substantial than faith, hope, and charity, when you could have firmness, certainty, and obedience, do you? ” In the NT Jesus is asked for the most important commandments and his response is to love God and to love your neighbor. I’m not Mormon, so perhaps in the D&C you can find your response, but for me, I’ll stick with Sam’s approach.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your kind, supportive words. I was as excommunicated from the LDS in 2003 when I started transition. My children, three, had their Baptism annulled because I had performed them. As one who grew up and educated in the Catholic Church and after being dragged out of the Rectory at 19 and told I was “forever condemned to hell” for my gender feelings I had found a home in the LDS. Through the years I tried to conform to society’s demands but could not. After years of deep depression and fourteen siucide attempts I found myself and have never been happier. Of all the friends, family, and things I lost nothing hurt as bad as being cast out by my faith.

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    1. Dear Michelle, you normal human being, Thanks for sharing your vulnerable story with another normal person, at least I think I’m normal. I’m sorry that you had to endure so many horrendous challenges. “Of all the things I lost, nothing hurt as bad as being cast out by my faith.” I’m going to reveal my judgmental self. Casting you out was wrong. I can’t right it. But, I can express my love, empathy and support. All my very best wishes to you going forward.

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  7. My now 16 year old child cut all of his hair off while hiding in our master bedroom closet at age three. When I found him in there is asked him “Lexie? Why did you cut off all of your pretty hair?” To which he responded… “I want to be a boy Dad!” I asked why do you want to be a boy? He said… “Well daddy, I want to be a Prince!”

    This has in a way been a real blessing because he was so young that I never wondered if this was a “decision”…

    The tragedy occurred when my returned missionary wife and I began to study everything our church had said on being LGBT… President Kimball’s Book, A Miracle of Forgiveness played a particularly large roll in our future. See, the book says that Gay Kids are made, not born. Exposure to pornography, sexual abuse or too much masturbation and a poor home life… are all reasons. Two years after Tyler came out as a three year old my now ex divorced me and took Tyler to LDSSocial services for “Gender lssues”. She told them that she suspected sexual abuse from Tyler’s father… me… we had joint legal custody and when she asked for me to pay I said that’s fine… counseling is probably a good idea for a 5 to 6 year old going through a divorce but I wanted to be involved… and I got all the records and I still have them.

    When this counselor said there is no sign of abuse she took him to another… poor kid was traumatized by their probing questions… but the second counselor said the same thing as the first… there was nothing. This of course put me in a position where I was terrified to talk to Tyler as a mormon Dad… about being LGBT and though he lived as a boy with a girls name he eventually figured out what “transgender” was and came out again at age 11.

    The church began to acknowledge that gay kids are sometimes born gay with the release of the website mormon and gay in 2009 but it was about 5 years too late for our marriage and the book is still commonly referenced and is available via Deseret Book’s online service… it needs to be publically disavowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lots of info to digest here. Not sure that anybody knows all they express. God has his guidelines for the celestial inheritance. Married or not married as we get to choose. The prophets do their best to understand doctrine and express it to us . God doesn’t make mistakes on who he prepares for the high callings of prophet,seer, and revelator . Satisfying unrighteous desires will not result in happiness . All of us eventually have to work though our weaknesses and with hope to triumph through the influence of the Holy Ghost . God Bless as we work though this period of time.

    Liked by 1 person

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