The Illogic of Gay Marriage

Gay-marriage-guys

Thirteen years ago, a gay couple (two men) moved into my neighborhood.  We met during a national-night-out held at my home.  My wife and I were sitting in lawn chairs set up in the driveway, awaiting whatever visitors might come.  Up walks 2 tall, slim and nice looking men, along with two young children.  Introductions were made.  It quickly became apparent that they were gay.  Their children were adopted.  It had only been a few days since they had moved in.

At the time, I was still a traditional believing Mormon.  I KNEW homosexuality was a sin.  One of the absolute worst sins.  Maybe worse than murder.  Never before had I met a gay couple.  I had read about them.  I was aware that some even had children.  Now, open homosexuals had moved in just a few houses down the street.  My first thought was, “How will this affect the value of the neighborhood?”   Warily, I put a friendly smile on my face.

As the night transpired, I found these two men to be delightful and normal.  At least, as normal as homosexuals could be.  It turned out that both my wife and I really enjoyed their company.

At the time, I was serving as the ward mission leader.  During my 64 years on this earth, I have served for over 15 years in missionary callings.  For those not familiar with the Mormon church, when I speak of anything missionary, I’m referring to proselytizing…recruiting people to join the LDS Church.

Over the next few days, this gay couple and their children were frequently on my mind.  I had told them I was Mormon, but hadn’t invited them to church.  In their sinful living arrangement, these heads-of-household were not worthy of baptism.  I pondered, “Will the church eventually make an accommodation for gay couples to be accepted in our culture.”  I mulled over various possibilities of how this might happen.

Finally, I reasoned out a conclusion.  It’s the children.  Jesus loved the children.  Both in the Bible and Book of Mormon.  He invited all the children to come unto him.  At one point he fussed at His apostles for restricting children from coming to him.

My logic went like this:  Jesus will find a way for the children’s sake.  If the parents are gay, the only way to reach the children would be to somehow accept the parents.   So…I was confident of a coming prophetic declaration on how gay couples were to be accepted into our congregations…for the sake of the children.

Oh…The Illogic of My Reasoning!!!

In November 2015, eleven years after that memorable national-night-out, the prophetic declaration came.  If gay couples married, they would be subjected to a mandatory church court.  Excommunication was almost certain.  And their children….they were immediately excommunicated from the blessings and ordinances of the gospel.  No church court required.  These innocents were simply and summarily banned from the blessings that were privileged to the children of hetero parents.   No baby blessing.  No baptism.  No gift of the Holy Ghost.  No priesthood.  No temple attendance.

The children that Christ beckoned were now banned, prohibited, outlawed, censured, forbidden and discriminated against.  Vulnerable before.  Victimized now.  “The least of these” before.  Totally excluded now.

Eleven years previous, my logic had spoken.  Eleven years later the prophet had spoken.

Eleven years previous, I had a vision of all children accepted by Jesus.  Eleven years later, a prophet had a vision of which children were not to be accepted.

Just So You Know

My logic is often flawed.  But, in this case my logic and my heart are in agreement.  The November 5th policy is NOT of God.

If the apostles think this policy IS a revelation from God…then put it up for a vote.  I have the guts to openly speak out for the marginalized children.  They should have the guts to obey the Law of Common Consent.  This gorgeous law requires that all revelations be presented and ratified by the rank and file members.  Or rejected!!!

How Do I Feel Today About Anyone Who Is Gay?

My opinion has changed….a lot!

I offer this apology for my church’s past wrongs to the LGBT community.  And…an apology for my prior support of those wrongs.  Click HERE.

We’re all normal.  Click HERE.

Information on the Law of Common Consent.  Click HERE.

 

God is in the Dirt

dirt

I loved my Grandpa Jack.  He smoked.  He drank.  He enjoyed his coffee.  And….he was perhaps the best Mormon I have ever known.  He didn’t go to church.  I never really had any long conversation with him.  But, I knew the stories.  He was a man’s man.  Hardworking and generous.

Today, I had a conversation with a Facebook friend.  He shared a story about his grandpa.  It brought tears as I realized that the character of his grandfather had a lot in common with my Grandpa Jack.

My friend’s name is Ben Jarvis and here’s his grandpa’s story.

Twenty-two years ago, when I was talking to my 84 year-old, hard scrabble grandpa about being gay.  He said he didn’t raise his kids or grandkids to be second class citizens.  He expected me to fight for my rights, and when that was done, go fight for the rights of others…and to take on the world!  He was quite progressive for a man from SLC and the Uintah Basin.

Grandpa was very active in his ward, but he took the church on his own terms and always asserted his individuality and had strong sense of right and wrong.  He once clocked the stake president for stealing water out of turn. When the stake president came to, he had a shovel blade on his neck, with my grandfather, then an angry 12-year old, telling him the farm relied on water and he didn’t take kindly to water thieves. That would have been around 1921 or 1922.

In 1991, Gramp and I were working in his garden.  He started in on the church and about how some people get caught up in the temple or the idea they need to go somewhere to find God.  He then talked about the miracle of life and how he planted seeds that magically grew. “I don’t need to go to the temple to be with God. God is right here in the dirt.” Those were the words of a lifelong farmer.

My family got a lot of things right. I had the good fortune to come out to three of my grandparents; my maternal grandfather passed away before I came out.  My parents were big proponents of being honest about who we are, and encouraged LGBT people to come out and be visible.  When my nephew learned to speak and began presenting as female, mom and dad, along with my sister, embraced her and accepted her transition. My niece is now five years old.  Mom passed away last year, her granddaughter will grow up knowing her nana knew her, loved her, and was thrilled to have her as a granddaughter. We aren’t talking tolerance or tepid accommodation.  We are talking about unbridled love, acceptance, and the anticipation of a life filled with adventure, just like any of mom and dad’s other grandchildren.

I still can’t read this story without tearing up at the beauty of this whole family.  ‘Fight for your rights and then go fight for the rights of others.’  What an amazing legacy from Grandpa Jarvis.  A great man who found God in the dirt.

Ben, thank you, my friend, for sharing.

 

 

 

I am Heterosexual–And I’m Normal

temple-visitLet me say that again, I am heterosexual….and I’m normal.

You may be gay.  Nevertheless, I’m just as normal as you are.

You may be lesbian.  Well guess what.  I’m every bit as normal as you.

You may be transgender.  You are not one whit more normal than me.

After 64  years on this planet, I can finally say that I am a normal human being.  I confidently claim that rank, among my fellow gay, lesbian and transgender human beings.

God

I trust in God more than I ever have.  He knew what he was doing when he created my species.  On purpose, he gave me my straightness.  On purpose, he gave to gay people their gayness.  I love the variety of our skin color, hair color and eye color.  Now, I marvel at the diversity of gender and orientation.  It causes me to marvel at God and his creations.

Book of Mormon

My view of the Book of Mormon has changed over the past couple of years.  Of late, I have again come to regard it as a marvelous volume of scripture.  Here’s why.  We have been taught that it is the “most correct on any book on earth.”  The fullness of the gospel is contained in its pages.  It was written specifically to address the major issues of our day.

And…it contains…not…one…word…condemning the creations of God.  Gay, lesbian, transgender and even straight people were never turned against each another by teachings against our sexuality.  All God’s creations are honored in the keystone of my religion, the Book of Mormon.

 

Savannah & 12 Year Old Mormon Girls

Savannah

Savannah

I really admire the courage of a 12 year old LDS girl named Savannah.  In May, she bore an amazing testimony at church.  Last Sunday, I showed this video to my wife and two of my daughters.  They all said it was a beautiful testimony.  And…that it’s unfortunate she was cut off.  They speculated that if this had happened in our ward, she would not have been shut down.  The members would have rallied around her in love and support.

We ought to treasure and embrace our gay children!!!  All of us!!!

For Savannah’s testimony, click HERE.

So Many Other 12 Year Old Mormons

I cringe at the thought of what will happen tomorrow in Mormon chapels all across the country.  Twelve year old girls, like Savannah, will be taken behind closed doors, alone, by an older man.  He will proceed to ask the innocent young girl questions of a personal sexual nature, like, “Do you touch yourself down there?”  He will have no professional training.  He will not have the parents’ permission for his probing questions.  Frequently, the parents will have no idea that the inappropriate interview even took place.  Often, the 12 year old child will not understand the questions.  The man, the only other person behind the closed door, may then give additional graphic details.

Tomorrow, this will not only happen with 12 year old girls, but with 12 year old boys.  13 year old girls.  13 year old boys.  14 year old girls.  14 year old boys.  15 year old girls.  15 year old boys.  16 year old girls.  16 year old boys.  And who knows at what age it stops?  Or IF it stops?  If you are OK with this practice….well, that’s fine with me.  They are your children.  Every person outside of the church, who I’ve brought this up to, has been horrified.  Frankly,  I AM TOO.  I wish I’d known this was going on with my own 2 youngest children…when it was going on.  But, I had no idea.  Bad on me.

Related Posts

Behind Closed Doors–Don’t Let it Happen  An account of a Mormon dad protecting his child during an inappropriate interview.

Happy 12th Birthday!  Let Me Ask, Do You Masturbate?   Some members don’t believe this interview practice is actually happening in the church.  This post relates numerous accounts.

Reparative Therapy–STEELS My Resolve to Obey

steel

Twenty Years of Reparative Therapy

I’ve been stewing on that all afternoon.  Finally, decided to blog it.

 T….W….E….N….T….Y     Y….E….E….E….E….E….E….A….R….S

Heart rending  Heart breaking.  Heart sickening.

           T….W….E…N….T….Y     Y….E….E….E….E….E….E….A….R….S

As I pondered what had happened for TWENTY YEARS, my eyes welled up with tears….then outrage.

Lunch with a New Friend

Today, I lunched with a man and his fascinating story.  I won’t recount much of it here, except what struck me in the heart.

He’s gay.  Just a few years younger than me.  Growing up, we were taught that gay people were evil perverts.  They chose to be gay and could be cured.  We completely believed this line, as it came from the church and its leaders.  At 19, he served an honorable mission.  Then married.  Knowing full well that his attraction to men would subsequently go away.  Of course it didn’t.

TWENTY YEARS of reparative therapy followed.  Demeaning, disheartening, debasing, depressing…and now discredited.  How faithful this man must have been to endure twenty years.  How loyal he was to the church and to what it had told him.

My friend survived those TWENTY YEARS.  But, he, his wife and his children still bear the scars of two dehumanizing decades.

Outrage

How can any reasonable, compassionate person look upon this without feeling outrage?  Reparative therapy was supported, sustained and championed by the LDS church. Its leaders referred both children and adults to endure this dreadful ‘cure.’  It didn’t work.  It never worked.  In only harmed.

No one spoke out.  No one spoke up.  We watched and listened.  We trusted whatever came from leadership.  No one terribly interested in what was happening to gay people.  Bad things were happening.  All sanctioned by the church that we believed could not err.  It errs.

I Will Obey

I have been waffling a bit about continuing to obey the Law of Common Consent.  In today’s Mormon culture,  it’s uncomfortable and costly to cast a disapproving vote.  It’s so much easier to take the cafeteria approach to the commandments and just ignore our role in church governance.

Today’s lunchtime horror has steeled my resolve to continue in obedience to the gorgeous Law of Common Consent.

Things have gone so awry that the current apostles have seen fit to condemn and disavow past practices and  teachings.  Good for them!  Doctrines that were in the church for the vast majority of our history have now been denounced.

Jesus, through Joseph Smith, mandated a self-correcting system for governing the church.  If we were to follow and obey Christ, we would get a lot less wrong.  We could correct missteps before centuries passed.

We have hurt so many gay people with our discredited theories and practices.  The church hasn’t yet condemned and disavowed reparative therapy or even worse ‘treatments.’  Well, I do condemn what we have done to our LGBT brothers and sisters in the past.  Especially, after hearing of this man’s TWENTY YEAR subjugation.  What we did was outrageous and wrong.

So…I’ve steeled my resolve to obey the Law of Common Consent.  There are problems in the church.  It’s time that the membership lived up to the responsibility that Jesus has given to us.

                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Are You Opposed?

If you are a member of the LDS church.  If you are opposed to “policies, major decisions and other things that affect the lives of the Saints,” especially, policies that have never seen the light of Common Consent, then consider voting your true opinion and feelings.

Common Consent is the Law of God and the Law of the Church. It’s up to you and me, the common members, to make Common Consent the common rule of Christ’s church.

You have a voice.  Consider standing up for what is right.  Consider speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Consider taking the step to publicly register your disapproval on the Register of Common Consent HERE.  I’m not alone in living Christ’s law of consent.  We are now 311 strong.

Other Resources

  • Information on LDS.ORG regarding Common Consent, click HERE.  Please take note of this paragraph:  “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints.”
  • Scriptural information about Common Consent, click HERE.
  • Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
  • Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
  • The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
  • My personal sadness over my friends and family leaving, click HERE.

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.

 

A Mammoth & Moving Spiritual Experience

primary-program2

Last Sunday I visited my daughter’s ward.  The annual primary program was being presented at Sacrament Meeting.  Three of my precious grandchildren were on the program.

I literally WEPT the entire meeting.  A couple of times my emotions had to be reined in, as I verged on trembling.

Why the cry?  The ward has a huge primary.  60 children were at the front of the congregation.  They sung their songs.  Recited their lines.  Some squirmed.  Some monkeyed.  All were beautiful and cute.  But, my attention was soon diverted by haunting questions.

Tears for the Rainbow

Among these 60 innocent, lovely and dear children…….how many are gay?

Is it 3?  Is it 4?  Or is it more?

What do they face in the coming years in MY church, the church of the gentle Jesus?

What of their coming teenage years?  Will their self-esteem be destroyed?  Only to be recovered after years of pain?  To be reclaimed only after leaving the beloved church of their youth?

Will their family disown them?

Will their friends turn away?

In the past, my church has not been gay friendly.  Even less so this past year.

Oh, that I could know who the gay children were.  That they might be spared the fate of so many gay children who have gone before.  What problems, what pain, what agonies await?  Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep that rainbow on your lapel.  It will touch my little ones.  Likely, they won’t remember you.  But, they won’t forget the image of the ribbon you wear.  When the time comes, they’ll take comfort that someone in MY church cares.”

Tears for Safety

I thought about their parents.

Which children have parents who are struggling in the lonely silence of questions and doubt?

These innocent children have no concept of the pain their questioning parents will suffer…alone.  The children feel safe at church.  How could they possibly comprehend that their parents could feel unsafe?

Which are the children whose parents will agonize and finally leave?  Making that choice without any consultation with their active member friends?

Which of these little ones will be gone in 6 months?  In a year?  In ten years?

If current trends continue, at least 60% will eventually depart.  60% will be gone?  Why, oh why?  These tender children of today, gone tomorrow.

Oh, that a safe place existed for their parents.  A safe place, before their parents made their fateful choice to pull out and pull out their children with them. Yes, I sobbed!

Then I heard the spirit of Jesus whisper, “Sam, keep pressing forward to make a safe place inside my church.  It’s MY church, Sam.  Soon there WILL BE a safe and loving spot for discussion & deliberation.  My apostles are now openly addressing this in public.  But, sometimes nudges from my sheep are necessary.  You are on the right track.  Please don’t stop working for it.”

This sacrament meeting, filled with the voices of innocent children, will be recorded as one of the most precious spiritual experiences of my 63 year journey through life.