Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Two Cents

So, I know that this is a sensitive topic, and might not fit in with what we normally blog about, but I feel its very important to address it and deal with it in an open minded, loving way, while still acknowledging the principles and beliefs that we hold dear.

Not sure how many have heard about this, but on Wednesday, BYU held a meeting at which BYU students were invited to listen to and ask questions of 4 gay and lesbian BYU students. The meeting was not recorded, but here is an article about the event. From my understanding, the event was focused on increasing understanding of and kindness towards those who experience same gender attraction on one of the campuses ranked highest for intolerance of LGBT persons. You are free to read the article and interpret it how you choose. Personally, I think this was a great initiative, and in fact, made me like BYU a lot more (as I have not thought its all some people chalk it up to be). I was pleased to see that even my idea of the cold, judgmental, close minded Mormon doesn't apply to everyone out there.
This morning, I found a youtube video sponsored by Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA), "an unofficial group of Brigham Young University students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction". Take a look at this video in which several gay and lesbian BYU students, as well as straight allies are interviewed about their experiences and faith.

I also enjoyed this video and the openness with which the students discussed their struggles, feelings, and hope. My heart breaks for those who, like some of these individuals, have feared the hatred of others so much that they have contemplated suicide. That alone is something that needs to be addressed.Going back to the article about the BYU event, the author mentioned a group called the Standard of Liberty. According to their website, "Standard of Liberty is a Christ-based foundation which exists to raise awareness of cultural and institutional licentiousness overrunning America and to provide motivation to restore God's essential sexual boundaries thereby protecting the young, preserving true marriage and family, ensuring religious freedom, and preserving civilized society". They even note that they see all people as children of God and love all people. 

However, after reading their article about the BYU event on their homepage, I'm not so sure they know what that means. Again, this is all my opinion, but I found their website and specifically the article, to be extremely biased and unfair to views that oppose theirs. They used cheap logic in an attempt to cut down in particular Charlie Morgan, the BYU professor who helped hold the meeting. Their remarks about those who are gay and still uphold the Honor Code at BYU were hurtful and judgmental, and not at all what I would consider as valuing "all people as precious children of God". They also argue that we should basically be supporting therapeutic attempts to get rid of one's homosexual feelings and those who are helping people cope with their feelings are only promoting immorality and social degradation. However they have not done their research, or they would know that attempts to "switch" one's sexuality in such a way (aka: conversion therapy) are ineffective and even hurtful to the individual, and only contributes to the suicidal thoughts that affect many Christians with homosexual feelings. Again, I will let you read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. 

So after spending quite a bit of time researching all of this (which consequently, meant not doing my homework once again), there are just a couple things I want to say. In general, I am not a very extremist person, and I "pride myself" in my ability to think open-mindedly and consider various opinions (something I learned from my mom). I also work to make sure that things I believe are in harmony with the principles and commandments of my faith that I hold dear--and if there is some discrepancy, I try to reconcile those things and seek to know what is right. That being said, I've thought about some things that are important to remember in all of this:
  1. God loves his children--all of them. He does not use homosexuality as a punishment for that person, their parents, etc.
  2. God's church is ordered. Nothing will change--specifically doctrine on homosexuality and marriage--without divine revelation to those appointed to oversee the church and its members. 
  3. God still speaks to His prophets. If, for reasons we can't comprehend, God in His wisdom decides to change something, He will do so through his prophets. That being said, their are fundamental, unchangeable truths that church standards are based, and those will not change. People don't need to worry that because of "these gays", the church will institute gay temple marriage. 
  4. When we go to sunday school or listen to church leaders, we must remember that we must teach correct principles, but be compassionate towards everyone. We don't know where people have been or where they are going, but can only see people for who they are now. But in order to continue to have the fullness of the Lord's church on earth, correct principles must be taught.
  5. Groups like the Standard of Liberty are not the voice for the church, and people would be wise to remember that. Likewise, all members are entitled to their own opinion, but it does not reflect the ultimate views of the Church (and please remember this applies to this blog too!). To know exactly what the church believes, one should go straight to the source.
  6. Those who express their views in the forum and the the video are not going against church doctrine. Further, I don't believe they are calling for a change to church doctrine. They simply want to be understood and to help others who are like them to lead happy lives as strong, faithful members of the Church.
  7. As explained by Dallin H. Oaks (link at the end), a way in which we can understand the struggle of homosexual thoughts is that it is a trial that a person has. Just like my trial is anxiety and depression, and another person's might be alcohol, some people must fight homosexual thoughts and feelings. We cannot know yet why people have some trials that they have, and we certainly cannot assign punishment or assume they are a bad person. We are not like God and do not know all.
  8. Since we don't know everything, our only choice is to love those around us. We can indeed support and love those with homosexual thoughts without condoning homosexual behavior. In fact, the distinction must be clear that thoughts and behavior are not the same. God's standard is the same for everyone, straight or not. Acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage is inappropriate for anyone. But if a person has homosexual feelings toward someone, but doesn't act on them, they have not sinned. In the Handbook of Instruction for Church Leaders (link at the end), it is clear in the differentiation between thoughts and behavior. 
  9. Being supportive of someone with homosexual feelings doesn't mean that they will try to "turn you gay" or push their lifestyle on you. It does not mean you are a bad church member or have sinned yourself. On the contrary, our judgment of others, rather than our love and support, will condemn us (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012)
  10. One who identifies as homosexual is in no way less of a human being, less of a church member, or less of a child of God. If they follow the commandments (that again, are asked of straight people too), then they can serve in the Church and also receive temple ordinances. 

If you are still reading, kudos to you! I know this was a lot. But this is a topic I feel strongly about. I am a straight woman with a testimony of the church--which includes knowing that God loves his children! The hatred and judgment I have seen from some other church members towards homosexuals is heart breaking to me. I struggled with this in high school because I went to school with some homosexuals who were more Christlike in their behavior (as kind, loyal, charitable, nonjudgmental people) than kids I went to seminary with. In my mind, that happens when there is not a clear understanding of the church's stance and other aspects of the church's doctrine, like God's love, the order of the kingdom, and the process of revelation. I can see some people being horribly offended by my calling a homosexual Christlike in their behavior. But I truly believe that this is possible (remember points 8 and 10?). 

I hope that for even one person, this has helped clarify some things, or perhaps soften their hearts to their brothers and sisters. This is a difficult topic, but I do believe it is possible to make some sense of it all, if we focus on loving others as God does, and holding to the doctrine and counsel with which we have been blessed.


The Handbook of Instruction (instruction on Homosexuality and same-sex marriage can be found on pages 195-196)

God Loveth His Children (A booklet released in 2007 for helping members who face same sex attraction)

Articles on Homosexuality (from LDS Family Services, with links to other talks)

Same Gender Attraction (A Q&A with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B Wickman)


  1. Megs,
    I too came across an article on the forum held on BYU campus the other day and this video this morning. I agree with all you have written, and it was beautifully written. While we may not agree with choices others are making the thing we must constantly remember is that we are all children of a very loving Heavenly Father and that if at any point doctrines are to change he will communicate that through our Prophet, and that we, as imperfect children of a perfect being, are in no place to judge others decisions and must leave that to our Father.

    Thank you for taking a stand on it, and writing something like this. I hope it comes up as people search on the topic because it really does express things that need to be expressed. Thank you for your beautiful testimony on it.

  2. This was brilliant. Well said.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this! I have a little brother who will be attending BYU when the new school year starts and he had been so terrified of anyone finding out about him. He hasn't even told most of our family because he is afraid they wont love him anymore. Your fist point is so important and I'm always trying to remind him of that.

    After reading your post I got on and looked at the Standard of Liberty website. As I read through the post on the BYU forum I couldnt help but feel appalled by much of what they said and the lack of love in that article.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion, I hope that more people can come to the conclusions you did.


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