As a heterosexual, married, Republican-leaning white male living in Utah County, I’m not a natural to speak on a political subject like the potential for the LDS church to allow gay marriage. This is going to be kind of a brain storming, thinking out loud kind of blog article, where I’m sure I’ll be educated by my readers. I expect to make edits to this and have my thinking refined over time. But here goes.

The Tyler Glenn story I blogged about Friday has really put me in turmoil this weekend. I listened to the entire five and a half hour Mormon Stories interview. I hope there can be something in the church we can do to help gay members of the church that are struggling so badly.

We’ve got a problem in the church.  Many gay members don’t feel loved and accepted by the church.  They have no idea where they fit in the church or if they even do.  Parents or family or close friends of gay members see their suffering and are leaving the church with them.  Millennials don’t understand the church’s position.  As many times as the church restates “we don’t hate gays,” our own heterosexual children raised in the church and loyal to it are not buying it.  And their peers outside the church certainly aren’t buying it.  That’s a problem.  But that’s not a reason to change.  Many doctrines and policies of the church have been unpopular over the years, and we don’t change just to satisfy the world.  But what if…

What if?

What if the brethren announced a policy change.  No doctrinal change.  Simply a policy change.  It might not even require a revelation, since there would be no doctrinal change attached to it.

Possible new policy: the church announces it would recognize gay marriage and that sexual activity within such a marriage or officially sanctioned civil union would not be against the Law of Chastity.  Gay married members who are faithful to their spouses can have full fellowship in the church, qualify for temple recommend and serve in callings.

Talking out loud and brainstorming, here are some points to consider in this discussion.

1.  This could be seen as similar to the Law of Moses or the Aaronic Priesthood, preparatory in nature.  Marriage between man and wife and sealed in the temple is eternal.  Though gay marriage would not be seen as eternal, it could be viewed in preparatory kind of way.

2.  This could be done without making a doctrinal change.  We don’t have to modify the Proclamation on Family. We don’t have to retract our belief that eternal families consist of husband and wife and those roles are eternal and important. We don’t have to change our teachings that ideal family life is with a father and mother.  This policy would not require changing temple marriage to include sealing of gay couple.

3. We don’t believe sex is just for procreation.  We believe it’s given by God to help those in married relationship find joy together and deepen their love and relationship.

4. The brethren seem to have changed their position on viewing homosexuality as something to “overcome” through faith and obedience.  Elder Holland taught that we no longer expect gay members to have their sexual orientation changed.  In his Oct 2015 talk, he talked about a young man who went home early from his mission due to emotional trauma he was experiencing due to same sex attraction.  After a lot of anguish, five years later, he was able to repent, find peace, and go back and finish his mission.

And, I must say, this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would.

I take this as a change in position among the brethren of the church.  I think clearly in the past, church leaders would assume there could be a change in sexual orientation.  I don’t know how strong of a point Elder Holland meant to make, but it seems important.  Conversion therapy is no longer endorsed by LDS psychologists or performed at BYU or any other church institutions, which is a change from past views.

5. What’s the worst that could happen?  It seems our biggest fear in legitimizing something like gay marriage and sexual relationships within gay marriage would be that by legitimizing it, more people would do it.  But would that really happen?  Would someone who otherwise could lived a fulfilling heterosexual life now be more likely to experiment with homosexuality now that it’s allowed by the church?  I guess that’s possible.  How much?  It doesn’t seem like it would be a lot, but that would probably be an important point to consider.

6. The recently popular film Spotlight showed the depth of the Catholic priest abuse scandal where it was uncovered that thousands of Catholic priests had molested children.  LDS have it right that we don’t require celibacy for clergy.  I think behind closed doors you would probably find most conservative LDS say something like “yeah that’s what happens when you force adults to be celibate and spend their life repressing sexuality.”  I’m NOT suggesting that a likely result of denying gay LDS sexual expression would be the sexual abuse of children.  But what I am suggesting is that by demanding celibacy and denying someone the ability to find romantic love and a healthy sexual outlet, it’s very likely to inflict emotional and psychological damage that could potentially manifest in a number of unhealthy ways.  One of those unhealthy outlets might be the “hook up” scene.  Another devastatingly sad manifestation could be in the number of suicides in Utah youth recently.

7. For a long time, homosexuality has been associated with promiscuity. My observation from hearing stories like Tyler Glenn’s is that due to societal stigma of public gay relationships, the expression of homosexuality developed underground and was associated with secrecy and shame.  We’ve had mistaken understanding that homosexuality is promiscuity-based not relationship-based, due to the secrecy and shame, which was kind of what society forced on the homosexual world.

8. It could be difficult for the church to make a big change without damaging the faith of its members.  Sometimes it’s hard for us to change because we look at past statements prophets have made and don’t want to disagree or make them appear uninspired.  But, since homosexual sex within marriage is a completely different act than homosexuality outside of marriage, it can be understood that “homosexuality as sin” when referenced in the past was clearly talking about homosexuality outside the bonds of marriage.  Why would God’s prophets speak this way in the past?  Were they wrong?  I think with gay marriage becoming part of society, this completely opens up our view of homosexuality and what about it is sinful.  Gay marriage had never been a possibility in the past.  The homosexuality that past prophets preached against could easily be reframed to understand as being sinful due to status as extra-marital sexual relations.  Homosexual sex that is outside of marriage would still be sinful.

9. One of the theories for a long time for why blacks weren’t allowed the priesthood was that the church wasn’t ready.  God wanted it to happen.  But the racists culture in society and within the church caused God to withhold the revelation until the church was ready.  I don’t know if that’s right.  I don’t know if that’s even possible.  But maybe attitudes in society and within the church that have harmed gay people are being changed.  Maybe the church is ready now.

10. This should NOT be seen as being forced on the church.  Many people mistakenly view changes the church has made in the past, such as with polygamy or with black LDS receiving the priesthood, as being reactions from external pressure.  This should not be seen that way.  This should be seen as the brethren presenting God with a request for revelation due to new information, and the realization that prior policy might have depended on cultural perspectives and not doctrinal mandates.  The new information being:

• Homosexuality is genetic, or at least not reversible, we no longer expect gay people to be “cured”
• We no longer counsel gay people to attempt heterosexual marriage. We’ve seen the failures of these attempts and this is no longer the counsel the church provides.
• Gay people seem to thrive in same sex marriage, something not understood previously.

 

I think it’s very possible something like this will happen.  How long from now?  The church is conservative and moves slowly.  I think there’s good reason for that.  If you’re a gay Mormon and are struggling, or a close family or friend, I hope you can hang on a little longer.  Can you hang on ten years?  I know the sacrifice being asked of you must be unimaginably difficult.  I think of the black LDS and those that mourned with them in the time period leading up to 1978.  I wonder if they felt reward and fulfillment for pioneering the way for so many in the future.

I support the brethren and think they must have a good reason I don’t understand for the Nov 2015 policy.  I believe the brethren are seeking answers on how to help you.  I believe the brethren are listening to those who are struggling and will respond.

Tyler Glenn’s song Trash and the video he made was difficult to watch. But, this video he made in 2014 as a gay Mormon that loved and believed the church but struggled with his place in it, was difficult to watch for different reasons.  Tyler Glenn singing Where Can I Turn for Peace:

Until a change is made, I hope those with wounded hearts can find peace in the One who provides peace.

 

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.

 

 

 

Follow up:

Here are some additional good resources I was introduced to after writing this.

Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology by Taylor Petrey published in Dialogue

Presentation by Brad Cormack at Mormon Transhumanist Association in 2012

Presentation by Brad Cormack at Sunstone Symposium in 2011 
 
 

Like it or hate it? Share and discuss.
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  • Brian T

    Nice comment Andrew.

    I’ve had similar thoughts, so I don’t think this is stupid.

    I think the challenge, though, is just not being treated as an apostate probably wouldn’t be enough to keep from still feeling like a second class citizen. The next reasonable desire would be to have a marriage sealed, and that would not just be a policy change. It would be similar to only extending the Aaronic priesthood in 1978, it just wouldn’t be enough to be satisfying.

    • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

      I thought about this also. I’m not in tune enough with the LGBT community to know how satisfying this change would be. Would it heal the pain and make gay members feel accepted or would anything short of eternal marriage be considered “second class citizen” status?

      • Dan Burton

        As a gay exmormon, here are my 2 cents. Anything short of treating all couples the same will come across as “second class citizen” treatment, because that’s literally what you’re doing: delineating a “second class” that receives different treatment than the first.

        Now obviously, I think it would be a huge step forward for the church to at least not treat any married couple as living in sin just because of their genders. But that’s only one step on the road to first class citizenship.

        How would you feel if you were told that your relationship with your wife was acceptable in this life, but not ever allowed to be eternal? That would suck, right?

        • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

          Yeah, I get it. Thanks for the input.

  • Lior-el

    You don’t seem to know what a doctrine really is, do you?

    I appreciate that you realize that there is a difference between a policy and a doctrine, but you seem to fail to grasp what that difference entails.

    Also, being a white person and a male and a Republican living in any state or city doesn’t make you more qualified than anyone else. I’m not sure why you included that in your opening paragraph….

    • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

      I included that as kind of a self deprecating statement acknowledging my position of privilege on the issue and that I don’t have the same kind of perspective someone more closely relating to LGBT issues would.

      • Lior-el

        Perspective has nothing to do with not understanding what doctrine and policy are. Truth is eternal, regardless of personal perspective.

        Our responsibility is not to try to change truth. It is to discover truth, and live by it. Truth may be uncomfortable, it often is at first, but the Kingdom of God is not a Democracy, and morality is not relative.

        • Thersaa Alexander

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f853c942f60e5c45defffdd3fb4a031a6ab8122961a494cd0f26c93f71eeba76.jpg

          YOU WERE TAUGHT TO THINK THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD. IN
          ACTUALITY HE DID, IN THE BELLIES OF THOSE FOLLOWERS WHO ATE HIM. THEY CONSUMED
          JESUS FROM HEAD TO TOE AND JESUS WAS CONSUMED, LATER LAID TO REST AS EXCREMENT
          IN THE PRIVIES WITH ALL OTHER VILE UNMENTIONABLES. THIS IS A RITUAL CHRISTIANS
          PERFORM TO THIS DAY TO REMEMBER THE DISGUSTING TASK THESE FOLLOWERS PERFORMED
          TO FOREVER HIDE THE BODY OF THEIR MAN GOD.

          Christians are cannibals because of this
          passage in their sacred Gospels:

          [John 6: 53] Jesus said “Very truly I tell you
          unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life
          in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will
          raise them up on the last day for my flesh is true food and my blood is true
          drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.
          Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father so whoever
          eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven,
          not like that which your ancestors ate and they died. But the one who eats this
          bread will live forever.”

          I guess
          Christian vegetarians don’t get eternal life, bummer.

          Laws of God our Creator – 3500 year old laws are TRUTH.

          TORAH [Genesis 9:4] “Only flesh with the life thereof which is the blood

          thereof shall ye not eat.”

          TORAH [Leviticus 7:26] “And ye shall eat no manner of blood whether it be

          of fowl or of beast in any of your dwellings.”

          TORAH [Leviticus 7:27] “Whosoever it be that eateth any blood that soul

          shall be cut off from his people.”

          YOU CLAIM TO “FULFILL” THE LAW OF MOSES? THIS IS NOT
          FULFILLING THE LAW OF MOSES, THIS REBELLING AGAINST IT. THIS IS BLASPHEMY AND
          HATRED OF GOD AND THE LAW

          • Lior-el

            You’ve never heard of symbolism, have you? It’s a common theme in religious text. Sheesh, what a freak.

  • UtahLegal

    My view is that the real rationale behind “the Policy” was that the church leaders do no wants gays, and particularly happily married gay couples, to be normalized within LDS wards and culture. They don’t want LGBTs as role models for LDS youth, and so they needed to make them “other” by specifically excluding them from the church, and even excommunicating them in many cases simply for getting married.

    • SunburntGinger

      This.

      I believe the policy was specifically designed to create greater separation between same-sex couples and church members. Any expert on the subject will tell you that the best way to decrease homophobia and improve understanding of gays is to spend time with them and get to know them. I believe that church leadership could see that this was already beginning to happen, and stepped in with this policy as a way to “otherize” the gays and make it more difficult for this normalization to occur.

      I think church leadership understands that any policy like the one you are describing would be setting up the unavoidable slippery slope to full acceptance, including sealings. I’m not saying it would never happen, but if it does, then it will just be a stepping stone to transition the church membership to full acceptance.

  • R. Ashley

    I don’t know that this is a Chastity issue; Sure the general concensus of the LDS culture is to turn all this into a Chastity Issue or a ‘SEX’ Issue by the way we have taught the Law of Chstity. By Using different methods to get young members of the Church to ‘abide’ by this Law as opposed to. ‘educating’ them more bout the true ‘priciples’ of the Law of Chastity. By simply allowing same sex marriage in the Temple, we ‘WOULD’ be changing Doctrine, not the Doctrine of ‘The Law of Chastity (since the bonds of matromony might satisfy that claim) but it would change the Doctrine of ‘The new and everlasting Covenant’ and the innitial step of procreation in the Plan of Salvation and the initial step and goal we should be taking on as Gods,… Ie, “….to bring to pass the immortality and eternal Life of Man: There are many phases and priciples of rasing family unto God, using marriage as the basic Principle and Reason for the union between ‘Man and Women’. Without That Union, there would be no Man to bring immortality or eternal life to. Hence the Reason for different degrees of Glory in Heaven. “…In my fathers house there are many Mansion”. So some are just. “…not willing to enjoy ‘that’ which they Might enjoy”. They are not condemned to purgatory but like other people not married under the covenant, “….they will not be married nor given in marriage but shall remain Angels in Heaven”. This Truth will stand as an Eternal Principle forever. “…herein is the agency of Man and the condemnation of Man, That All Truth is independent in that sphere where God placed it,.. to Act for itself (or be acted upon) otherwise there is no existence. As a Church we should not Condemn or Judge their Acts “Jesus is the keeper of the gate and he employeth No Servant There.”. My only Issue with the ‘same sex’ issue is the 12 maintaining that its best to exclude the children of those parents, from Restored Principles, Rights, Priveledges, Blessings and Ordinances that were Restored for All who are willing to Receive, its a Prejudice fear based on uneducated thinking, and will create dessention and lack of Respect and as in Alma 4:10-12 eventually (if continued) bringing on more destruction of the fabric in our society and culture losing the faith of Smart Youth we should be examples to; As a father I will not advocate this opinion to my own children to be hypocrites, by creating inequality amoung their peers, by lifting themselves ABOVE others nor will I teach them to despise others, turning their backs on those who have potentially MORE need for the Gospel than we as full members do.”. To Teach Prejudice to our children is to lose the Progress we as humans have achieved. As for those who agree to this new concept, I say,… “The Well, hath no need for a physician”. But others might.

  • Andrew Sargent

    Randall the biggest issue I see is that you’re acting as if the Gospel is a bunch of hermetically sealed, insulated and isolated principles, that you can simply change one and not affect anything else.

    That isn’t how it works, there are several interconnected pieces here all of which require changing to do what you propose, which changes would be in many cases dereliction and abdication of duty and covenants already made.

    This alone makes it impossible to do as you suggest and simply issue a policy change. There is a lack of foresight, insight, oversight and comprehension in this post.

    Which I won’t even get into how from a Gospel perspective there is no difference between homosexual behavior whether in or out of marriage, in fact I would go so far to say the same sex marriage actually compounds the sun, not makes is less severe.

    I hope that helps you better understand what I meant by my earlier comment

  • Ms. Sing

    What makes people think they can change doctrine such as this? If we appeal to God long enough He’ll just give in?? I don’t think that’s the way it works.

    • brent_tubbs

      It worked in 1978.

  • Michael Ray

    I can’t understand how your proposal could work. As others have cited, it still creates a “second-class.” At the same time I struggle with knowing that in many congregations there are faithful Latter-day Saints who are gay. How do we include them? Currently I am afraid the official answer is to ask them to sacrifice something extremely significant. Those of us who are like you are “heterosexual, married, Republican-leaning white” males are beginning to understand the despair felt by these excluded people. Thanks for raising this. I hope we can learn as we grow.

  • Gwennaëlle Cojan

    “Why would God’s prophets speak this way in the past? Were they wrong?”
    Er….yes.
    Prophets have been wrong at times voicing their own belief and thus making everybody believe it was God’s will.

    This is the only thing I wanted to point out.

    Otherwise I came to the same conclusion as yours and I am longing for this time to come.

  • Brad

    “I think it’s very possible something like this will happen. How long from now? The church is conservative and moves slowly. I think there’s good reason for that. If you’re a gay Mormon and are struggling, or a close family or friend, I hope you can hang on a little longer. Can you hang on ten years?”
    I appreciate that you are trying to give needed hope to gay members. But I have 2 issues:
    First, after the November policy, I find it extremely difficult to believe that in 10 years we will see an official sanction of some type of gay relationship. It may happen in our lifetimes, but certainly not within a generation. Not after officially labeling gays who get married as apostates. This will take a long time, even if the ‘wheels get rolling’ immediately.
    Second, I understand that you find a lot of value within the church, even as an unorthodox believer. But your plea for gay members to remain in the church because of some hope of a future policy change really is based on your value system. There may be relatively few gay people who do value their full membership in the church (I know a couple), but I think it is pretty clear that the majority of them will be much happier outside the church that really doesn’t want them for who they are. Hanging on, even if some momentous policy change happens relatively soon, is I think false hope for most gay members. They need to live fulfilling lives now.

  • http://yahoo.com Linda Kellogg

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Say it and don’t judge. Love and don’t reject. Stand firm in the gospel that tells us to love everyone and including the sinner, just not the sin. Love is bigger than all of this. Parents love you children regardless of the sin. For all have sinned a fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 paraphrased. I most of the kids knew that were love above all would the numbers be so tragic. We are suppose to be a light to the world. Don’t be so judgements. Give these kids the love that the savior has given to us.

  • http://yahoo.com Linda Kellogg

    Well, anyway aside from my poor spelling, I have 6 children of my own, thank God and the Mormon Church for the light that it has brought into our live. Done

  • Sothguard

    I expect that the LDS church will fully embrace gay marriage and relationships in the near future. The signs of change are everywhere if you look. Given this, I have actually terminated my relationship with the Church. That’s right, I’ve rejected them for what they *will* do.

  • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

    Interesting you bring up Law of Chastity. Law of Chastity is definitely doctrine. How the law is specifically defined and applied has changed a little over time. That would be what I would call “policy”. Here’s a thought. With gay marriage, the temple definition wording will actually need to be changed if it’s meant to exclude gay marriage. Things that make you go hmmmm.