Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Discussion: LGBT issues

It's June.  When I was younger this meant no school, softball tournaments begin, swimming, and BBQs. Now, June means Pride Parades and Festivals begin, swimming, BBQs, fairs, and Hiking.  This year, like last, we were able to walk in the Utah Pride Parade.  We walk as allies.

Twelve years ago, I didn't know allies were needed.  I was naive about the teachings from my own church concerning LGBT issues.  I was naive about the treatment of LGBT people in their daily lives.  I was naive about the view of LGBT people all over the country and world.  And I had no idea about the huge number of LGBT suicides every year; especially in my own state.

I thought that love was love.  I lived in my own little world where I thought we each lived and let others live. I grew up with a member of my family who is gay.  It was a normal thing at our house.  More like, NOT a thing.  I thought that life with a gay family member was fine, happy, loving even.  It never occurred to me that loving my Uncle could be looked down upon, was unacceptable, or bad.  Then, my eyes were opened. . .

I was sitting in a sociology class at BYU-Idaho and our new topic to discuss was LGBT equality.  We discussed things like marriage, adoption, work opporunities, etc.  I have no idea where my professor (visiting from the University of Utah) felt about these issues, but I sure found out that I was a minority in my class concerning LGBT people.  I was the only person who questioned the reversal of roles:  "What if straight people were the minority and not allowed these simple human rights?  How would we feel when being publicly judged and condemned?  What would people do to us?  What would they say?"  Others in the class became angry and argumentative.  I was surprised.  I didn't know until then, that my views were perceived as wrong.

It was then that I removed the rose colored glasses and spent the next decade seeing my surroundings. I evaluated how I felt about cultural and religious norms, what I believe, why, and what I felt I needed to change.

Some of what I found:

Teachings/Actions of the Church:

8: The Mormon Proposition

  • I watched this very first. This documentary sent me searching for answers about political activities the Church is involved in.  Hawaii.  California.  Federal proceedings. 

"8": A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality

  • I saw this live at Utah Valley University.  There were less than 100 people there.  It adds humanity to the court proceedings.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters: 

October 8, 2008 Satellite Broadcast re Propsition 8 

On Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. PDT, there will be a satellite broadcast regarding Proposition 8 to stake centers throughout California. General Authorities and others will speak during the broadcast. 

We ask that the following please be invited to attend: stake presidencies; bishoprics and branch presidencies; stake, ward and branch Relief Society presidents; and all members working in grassroots support of the Proposition 8 campaign. 

In addition, we ask that a special invitation to attend the broadcast be extended to young single and young married adults. With only this coming Sunday to make this announcement before the broadcast, we ask that you please ensure that this invitation is personally extended to all who are invited. We greatly appreciate your support of this most important matter. 

L. Whitney Clayton
Presidency of the Seventy"

  • I heard about this broadcast.  I remember being surprised that the church was butting into a political issue.  I was taught that the church NEVER told us which way to vote.  I was not there in California to hear it.  I did see clips of the video after the fact.  I cannot find those videos anymore.

"The unholy transgression of homosexuality is either rapidly growing or tolerance is giving it wider publicity.  If one has such desires and tendencies, he overcomes them the same as if he had the urge toward petting or fornication or adultery.  The Lord condemns and forbids this practice with a vigor equal to his condemnation of adultery and other such sex acts.  And the Church will excommunicate as readily any unrepentant addict.

This is a most unpleasant subject to dwell upon, but I am pressed to speak of it boldly so that no youth in the Church will ever have any question in his mind as to the illicit and diabolical nature of this perverse program.

"God made me that way," some say, as they rationalize and excuse themselves for their perversions.  "I can't help it," they add.  This is blasphemy.  Is man not made in the image of God, and does he think God to be "that way"? Man is responsible for his own sins.  It is possible that he may rationalize and excuse himself until the groove is so deep he cannot get out without great difficulty, but this he can do.  Temptations come to all people.  The difference between the reprobate and the worthy person is generally that one yielded and the other resisted.  It is true that one's background may make the decision and accomplishment easier or more difficult, but if one is mentally alert, he can still control his future.  That is the gospel message -- personal responsibility." -President Spencer W. Kimball, Oct. 1980

  • So, homosexuality is an addiction?  Are those addicted to smoking, alcohol, drugs, and food excommunicated?  It's a temptation to be overcome? What about babies born with no sexual organs, or both sexual organs?  What about people born with physical or mental disabilities?  I don't think that God is using a cookie cutter for all of us or there has been a serious lapse in quality control.

"With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman.  The scriptures plainly condemn those who "dishonour their own bodies between themselves... ; men with men working that which is unseemly" (Rom. 1:24, 27) or "women [who] change the natural use into that which is against nature" (Rom. 1:26).

The gates of freedom, and the good or bad beyond, swing open or closed to the password choice.  You are free to choose a path that may lead to despair, to disease, even to death (see 2 Ne. 2:26-27).

If you choose that course, the fountains of life may dry up.  You will not experience the combination of love and struggle, the pain and pleasure, the disappointment and sacrifice, that love which, blended together in parenthood, exalts a man or a woman and leads to that fulness of joy spoken of in the scriptures (see 2 Ne. 2:25; 2 Ne. 9:18; D&C 11:13; D&C 42:61; D&C 101:36)." -Boyd K. Packer, Oct. 2000

  • I cannot comprehend God telling a group of His children that they are not worthy of His love. This last paragraph is a perfect example of speech that pushes LGBT youth that will never measure up to the requirements of the Church over the edge into suicide.

"From the proclamation, we learn, "In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father."  In that realm, we learned about our eternal female identity.  We knew that we were each "a beloved... daughter of heavenly parents."  -Carole M. Stephens, April 2015 General Conference

  • If spiritual identity existed before merging spirit and body together, then each individual person's male or female "role" cannot be confirmed or denied to match the one they had in the pre-existence.

"I observed that when various faiths and denominations and religions are united on marriage and family, they are also united on the values and loyalty and commitment which are naturally associated with family units.  It was remarkable for me to see how marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic, or religious differences.  When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries, and dreams for children, we are all the same." - Elder L. Tom Perry, April 2015 General Conference

  • This is beautiful.  We are all different and that's okay.  Political, economic, and religious views don't stand in the way of us seeing each other as people.  People with families.  Families that we care for and want to receive happiness.  I think this statement might have been the most important thing that Elder Perry forgot when he followed it with...

"We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established."

  • Oops.  We're not all people.  We are different. Our families are real and matter, but yours are "counterfeit," so they don't matter.  And our religious differences will stand between us forever.

The Problem:

These are just a peek into the teachings that come from the LDS Church.  Yes, along with my own commentary, so that you know what I was thinking when I heard or read these things.

Here is where I run into a problem.  I've spent my life being told to "love one another," "do unto others as you would have others do unto you," be "willing to bear one another's burdens," "willing to mourn with those that mourn," and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort." All of these things taught to me as characteristics of a witness of Christ.  Characteristics that I was to spend time developing; even until death.

What happened to "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almightly God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may"?

None of the teachings about love from the Church are applied to the LGBT community.  Dismissing peoples feelings is not love.  Desiring them to change into something else is not love.  Declaring someones condemnation based on your belief, one that isn't theirs, is not love.  Demanding celibacy, a situation that will never reach the highest level of happiness, is not love.  Depriving people of the right to make decisions about their own kids is not love.  Depriving partners the ability to make medical decisions is not love.  Trying to keep a group of individuals in second-class citizen status is not love.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is trying to do these things.  And I don't agree.

Thoughts and Fears:

I don't remember having any.  I just knew that I needed to be true to myself.

Our Discussion:

This discussion might have been the shortest.  Or maybe it just felt that way to me.  We were on a date.  One that had turned into an emergency trip to Harmon's to get Benedryl.  We sat on the couch above the shopping center while we waited for the medication to take effect and just talked.

I told my Hubby about some of things I had learned.  Mostly, I talked about how I had discovered that the values I had been taught weren't being expressed by the Church; part of the foundation of which they were supposed to be built on.  "By their fruits ye shall know them," right?  But I no longer know them.  I no longer relate.  We no longer believe the same things.  And, ironically, I can no longer associate with an organization that doesn't align with my values.

What Happened:

My Hubby asked about my feelings concerning my decision.  I assume you want to know them too.  Originally, I was sad.  Experiencing grief, even.  Grieving for the loss of my religious organization.  As most Mormons will attest to, "The Church" is part of us.  It's part of our identity.  It's weaved into our daily lives.  Every moment of every second is laced with it.  It's why we take a disagreement about religion personally.  We have a hard time finding separation between ourselves and the religion.  So, when I decide to separate myself from the religion, it's painful.  It feels like someone just told me that Santa Claus isn't real.   It warrants many tears.  But also comes with the calming assurance that this is right.  For me, love will always be the right choice.


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