Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Hearth both Wide and Warm

On Sunday, October 19, the Washington Park Ward of the Mormon Church held a special Sacrament Meeting, officially welcoming Mormons who have felt on the "outside looking in" for any reason. While the message of inclusion was broad in approach, it has special meaning for those of us in the LGBT community.

Taking as its theme Ezekiel 34:16, local stake leaders set out this year to "seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and bind up that which was broken" within its boundaries--including LGBT members who have been damaged by past experiences of prejudice at Church. 

This talk was delivered that amazing Sunday, heralded on Facebook as, "The best Sacrament Meeting of the decade." Delivered by Molly Bennion of the Washington Park Ward  (and posted here with her permission), it describes how diverse Mormon communities can not only survive--but thrive. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

###


We all want to love and be loved.  That’s our most basic human need.  We seek to fill that need by belonging to all kinds of communities, both large and small.  For instance, as Mormons, we want to love and feel loved in our wards.   Sadly, sometimes some of us don’t feel loved in our congregations.

Instead of cherishing unique core Mormon doctrines that unite us, too often we focus on less important doctrinal, cultural and personal differences that prevent us from fulfilling the Lord’s two greatest commandments: Love him with all our hearts and minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Such a failure of love is tragic in light of Mormonism’s enlightened teachings on acceptance and inclusiveness.

Two doctrines come quickly to mind. First, we believe we are all literally brothers and sisters, children of heavenly parents who created our spirit bodies long before our earthly births.  Can you imagine how different the ward, let alone the world, could be if we all truly believed and treated one another other as  literal brothers and sisters? 

A second unusual core doctrine is that of God’s grace as a free gift to all humankind.  For almost 400 years after Christ, Christians believed that God offers His grace, His love, His Son’s atonement to every single person.   It was St. Augustine who taught that God’s grace is not given to all but to only some—and that there was no way to know to whom God gave this precious gift. 

Luther and Calvin, two great Protestant reformers, extended Augustine’s false teaching during the Reformation and it has dominated the Christian world ever since. It was Joseph Smith, our Mormon founder, who restored Christ’s original teaching—that God’s grace and gifts are available to all His children.

The Church I want to attend is a Mormon Church whose meetings I can leave as though I were walking from this Sara Teasdale poem, “Grace Before Sleep:”

“How can our minds and bodies be grateful enough that we have spent,
Here in this generous room, this evening of content?
Each one of us has walked through storm and fled the wolves along the road;
But here the hearth is wide and warm.”

We all walk through storms and flee wolves and then come together, in this generous room, and in this Church. I want to leave the storms and the wolves behind and gather with loving brothers and sisters at a hearth, nourishing both to mind and body, wide and warm enough to welcome anyone who would like to deepen their spiritual strength among us. 

That’s my litmus test.  I simply want to sit in this room with anyone who is here to deepen their spiritual life, regardless of the storms and wolves they’ve encountered along their way.

A good friend sent me this quotation from Sue Bergin, a new Relief Society President in her ward in Orem.  That’s right, Orem, Utah—and what she said in her first Relief Society lesson may surprise you.

"I don't care if you smoke, drink, abuse substances, are unchaste, wear pants to church, hate relief society, don't sustain church leaders,  don't have a testimony, have a weak testimony, wear tank tops, don't know if you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, have had an abortion, don't love your husband, don't like being a mother, think women should have the priesthood, are LGBT, don't know if you believe in God, don't relate to Jesus Christ, don't want to go to the temple, wonder about polygamy--you belong here.  You belong here.  We need you and you need us."

Of course, Sister Bergin’s list is not complete; I could add more issues, many of them my own. You may have yours as well, but nonetheless you get the point.

Of course, such an inclusive, healing community doesn’t just happen. Just because we say it once doesn’t make it reality.  So how does it happen?  

Community has been on my mind recently as I’ve been developing a new community and spending time with a treasured old one. Last Sunday, my husband Roy and I were in New York City with four other couples. We originally met 44 years ago, when the men were all classmates in business school, and we’ve met every few years since.  We were all married then, and are still married to the same spouses.  All ten of us are very different.  We live in all corners of the country.   We are actively Jewish, not so actively Jewish; actively Christian, and not so actively Christian.  We are politically and socially liberal, and conservative.   All of us have worked at very different endeavors.  One couple is much wealthier, and one couple much less wealthy than the rest.  And yet, no matter how long it’s been since our last gathering, we fall into each other’s arms and share our deepest secrets. 

This year we five women talked about why our little community works.  We concluded that it is because we trust each other.  We trust each other not to judge, and not to seek to control or change one another. We trust each other not to be arrogant or competitive.    In short, we trust and love each other enough to feel free to be our authentic selves with one another.  No community thrives if its members offer less than their authentic selves, or withhold their essential generosity and love.

In this small community of friends, we do not fear that what we say will be interpreted with less than the most generous interpretation.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  If I say to my granddaughter, Catherine, “You’ve never looked prettier,” she won’t take that as a negative statement on how she’s looked previously. She’ll know I’m saying “You look great,” not feeling that what I am saying is, “In the past you’ve looked pretty ugly.” 

And, if her sisters hear me say Catherine looks pretty, they will not think “Why didn’t Grandma say I never looked prettier?  Doesn’t she think I look good?”  No, they all trust I love them dearly.  They know while I just spoke to Catherine, I could have said the same thing to any of them.  They interpret what I say generously, with the most positive connotation, because they know how much I love them, and they trust me. 

Our little community of ten old friends also sacrifices for our joint relationship.  Meeting is expensive, in both time and money.  Each gathering is usually quite inconvenient for at least some of us.  Sometimes one of us needs more listening ears, and others must forego their fair share of time in the spotlight. 

A Mormon Church community is similar in that it asks us to serve and bless, as we are simultaneously served and blessed. It is expensive in both time and money.  We each must give to the community to get anything meaningful in return.  

Visiting Teaching and Home Teaching are good examples of this. These programs are not about numbers, or even duty.  They are about widening and warming the hearth.

I’ve been trying to build a new community among old friends.  Over the last 18 months, I chaired a dinner dance for my high school’s fifty-year reunion.

There were 736 of us in 1964.  Originally bound only as Lewis and Clark Tigers, many of us have forged a new community which is likely to warm us for the rest of our lives.  To encourage many to come to the reunion, I posted on our website something Garrison Keillor wrote in a National Geographic cover story last February.  The piece was titled “Coming Home” and talked about his decision to return to Minnesota.  It also teaches us what makes communities work.

Keillor writes:

“I come home and feel so well understood.  I almost don't have to say a word.  I was not a good person.  I have yelled at my children.  I neglected my parents and was disloyal to loved ones.  I have offended righteous people.  People around here know all this about me, and yet they still smile and say hello, and so every day I feel forgiven.  Ask me if it's a good place to live, and I don't know--that's real estate talk--but forgiveness and understanding, that's a beautiful combination."

The trust that underpins healthy communities requires forgiveness and understanding.  The forgiveness starts with refusing to be offended in the first place;   we don’t have to get permission to forgive.  We can carry interpreting what others say generously to a new level, and we can let irritation roll off our backs.  

And if we have been offended, we can forgive—not for the sake of someone who has treated us poorly, but for our own sakes, to stop the canker of pain and anger in our souls.   Forgiveness demands that we decide we have our hands full working on our own salvation. 

My own patriarchal blessing warns me, “The cleansing of the soul takes time.”  I’m spending so much time cleansing my own soul, I figure I just don’t have time to cleanse yours, too. 

Forgiveness smiles, and says hello. And if we can live this kind of forgiveness, we can use our energy to try to understand each other.  Then we can trust and love without judgment, control or arrogance.  And only then we can have a healthy, satisfying community of Saints.

Brothers and sisters—my literal brothers and sisters—Joseph Smith was right. God offers His grace to each of us equally and always, whether we are reaching for Him or turning our backs.   Knowing that, together we can create a hearth both wide and warm, a generous room for those fleeing the storms and wolves of life, whatever they may be.

Together, we can do better.  Together, we must do better.


Taking as its theme Ezekiel 34:16, stake leaders set out this year to “seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and bind up that which was broken” within its boundaries.
That includes gay members who have been damaged by past experiences of prejudice at church.
- See more at: http://janariess.religionnews.com/2014/10/14/seattle-mormon-leaders-gays-join-us/#sthash.W9Q8pDgw.dpuf
Taking as its theme Ezekiel 34:16, stake leaders set out this year to “seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and bind up that which was broken” within its boundaries.
That includes gay members who have been damaged by past experiences of prejudice at church.
- See more at: http://janariess.religionnews.com/2014/10/14/seattle-mormon-leaders-gays-join-us/#sthash.W9Q8pDgw.dpuf

55 comments:

  1. Wonderfully, inspiring and vwell written. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This has been the most inspiring and important piece I have read in a very long time. Thank you! I have shared it with my community and friend's.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If the church is accepting gays I quit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as I have been a member (28 years) I've only been taught tp try my best to love ALL whom I encounter. The church welcomes anyone, including homosexuals, who are willing to make and keep their baptismal covenants to be baptized and partake in full membership. And last time I checked our chapel doors are open to all who want to enter and worship.

      Delete
    2. One who participates in homosexuality is not upholding their baptism covenants . they cannot be fully engranded in the gospel and be intitled to all the blessings and benefits .
      They and everyone are always welcome , although specific,callings and temple attendance is not available to them.

      Delete
    3. @Kish North,
      "Participates in homosexuality"? You mean being unchaste? That has nothing to do with being gay, and your assumption that it does in demeaning and rude. I know multiple gay Mormons who are gay under the radar and have families and go to the temple all the time. There are lot of gay Mormons in good standing who hide their sexual orientation. You probably know several and don't know it. There are a lot of gay Mormons for the reason that there are a lot of gay people. I heard a statistic that the average ward has six people who identify as experiencing attraction to the same sex. I don't know if that statistic is valid, but from the amount of gay Mormons that I know, that seems to be about right.

      Delete
    4. Well said, Ricky. Being morally clean is what it's all about, whether one is homosexual or heterosexual. These is NO sin in being homosexual until one becomes unchase.

      Delete
    5. How sad that Marjorie is so young and so willing to quit church because if inclusion. Even though that's what Jesus would do / he turned away no one.

      Delete
    6. Marjorie dear, if you have that much ugliness in your heart, you wouldn't be happy in God's kingdom anyway. How is your judgement and hate less a sin than breaking chastity. You are assuming your faults are more ok with God than anyone else's. Yuck.

      Delete
    7. Marjorie Mccubbins, if you were to "quit" the church for accepting all of God's children, then I say good riddance. The church doesn't need that kind of negativity and blasphemy. Christ taught love. Bigotry is not love. It is hate.

      Delete
    8. Marjorie, don't quit Church, we need you, and you need us.

      Delete
    9. Eduardo seems to be the only one who got the message out of all the responses to Marjorie.

      Delete
    10. Majorie, My brother was 12 yrs older than me, and was gay, I knew he was gay, but I loved him more than anything. To me he was my best friend, my confident, someone I could turn to when I couldn't go to my parents. I could never think of not loving him. For someone to say what you said, is beyond me, He was a child of god, and nothing can, nor will ever change that. To think that someone would hate him just because he was gay, how could anyone feel that way. I don't care what his sexual orientation was, that was between him and god, not him, god and me. I do feel sorry for people that feel they have to hate someone because of their sexual orientation, they have missed out on possibly having a true and loving friend that would never hate them for any reason. My brother passed from this life to another when I was 24, and I miss him terribly. He died from AIDS, he came into contact with someone that knew they had AIDS and was infecting everyone he could. Do I judge this person for taking the life of my brother, no, I can't judge that person, only heavenly father can, but I do know that Heavenly Father loves that person, and understands more than I ever will why he did what he did, and I can't hate him for what he did.

      Delete
    11. Wow! That is a fantastic testimony to share about Christlike love, true forgiveness and matureness. I have family and relatives that are homosexual and I could've not said any better. Continue to strive to do your best in God's eyes because you are right it's between and the Lord. No one else. And if you have chosen a different path, you must realize that God will forever eternnaly love you no matter what. There is always consequences to our action whether it's bad or good, you have made that choice and you are accountable for it. I wish we don't live in a world of confusion and prejudice but we do. All we can do is learn, grow and keep on living. Love you my brother! I hope you continue the fight for faith. From an LDS member, no matter if someone who has a different belief/nine, background, different sexual preference and etc. I would love to be there for them. I will respect your point of views and I will expect for you to return the same gesture. And I hope that we can learn and grow from each other and share that light to others who have the same issue or not. I will love you because the man above does and you are my spirit brothers and sisters, I will not want anything more or less than that. Thank you again for your input it add on to strengthening my testimony of God and Christ's love. I hope all the best and Marjorie please do not use that as an excuse to decrease your faith and testimony of God. Continue to Join us in giving reverence to each other's beliefs, background, sexual preferences, spiritual growth and etc. Please use this as a learning experience and continue to draw closer to God. Because I had found my answer towards this issue and it brought me peace. Like our prohets and revelatory have asked this Conf to pray, be silent for a few minutes and ask the right questions. Be willing to humble yourself and be sincere about it. Sometimes the and we is not quite clear or somethings that you don't want to hear or feel but God has given an answer. Pray with no contentions or anger it won't work that way. Don't let others or the world change your faith, you are the one doing that. Please just love our brothers and sisters no matter what. Its All on you, on us. Between God and you, you and God. Thank you:)

      Delete
  4. Christ's church accepts and welcomes all sinners, including you Marjorie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said and how wonderfully true for us all.

      Delete
  5. I am all for repenting, but part of repenting is forsaking your sins too. You cannot say: "I'm sorry" and continue in sin. That is not true repentance.

    Also, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24. Cannot remember who said it tho........

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Danny, as a married, straight, male, I as well in no way, shape or form condone disobeying the commandments. However, I do believe that people with homosexual tendencies seem to suffer with this problem at a greater level than you or any other straight person could ever imagine. It sounds like you are categorizing all homosexuals as sinners who do not repent nor forsake of their sins. If you have children, imagine, out of your control, them developing homosexual thoughts or tendencies. Only Heavenly Father can judge the actions and sins of men, and I'd imagine views things through a much different lens as this really is an issue that many members in our church struggle with. Instead of saying stop being gay and "sinning" (which is also suggesting that you seem to believe that all gay people have sex) we need to be supportive, understanding and welcoming. It doesn't matter the sinner, when would our church not be accepting of someone, no matter the circumstances. Perhaps the thought that not every gay person wants to be gay or enjoys having those tendencies. You and I can speculate what God thinks, however, any person, no matter the sin, as long as they come to church, are penitent and seek help, we as a church and fellow-members need to be accepting.

      Delete
  6. From what I have read there seems to be a misunderstanding on what it means to be a homosexual. My understanding is: sexually attracted to people of the same sex. This statement has no action in it only a temptation. Is it a sin to like the taste of alcohol? Is it it a sin to like the taste of coffee? Is it a sin to desire the company of a man or woman? It only becomes a sin once you give in to the temptation. An alcoholic forsakes alcohol but they still like the taste and are tempted to partake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt.5:28)

      Love and welcome the sinner? Yes. Pretend it'snot a sin? No.

      Delete
    2. It's not a sin to be attracted to the same sex, just as it's not a sin to be attracted to the good-looking stranger next to you on the bus. Just as Tyrone said, it's only a sin when they act on it. The scripture you're quoting specifically mentions lusting after someone. I would say that's stronger than simply finding another person attractive. I would consider that to be acting - in some way - on that attraction. Whether it's through physical action, pornography, or simply inappropriate thoughts, those same challenges (and sins) are faced/committed everyday by straight people as well. Just because someone is homosexual doesn't mean they're condemned more for the temptations they face.

      Delete
    3. In general conference a few years back a talk was given about lust. Thinking it is just as bad as doing it. Thinking it is acting upon it.

      Delete
  7. Marjorie, I think you should read this article. I don't think you understand it. And if the church suddenly changed it's stance on homosexuality it's interesting that you'd leave the church. One might wonder where the heart of your testimony lies. When the law of Moses was done away with many left the church. What is your testimony built on? Whether the church accepts gays or not?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Did I miss something? All I heard was to love one another. Welcome everyone. Wasn't that the message all along? Has something changed? If so I missed it and could use some help.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think it is very sad that the whole idea of this article is taken from a gay stand point when really the whole idea of this talk is taken from all of our standpoints. We no matter who we are or what we practice are God's children and loved by Him unconditionally. This ward is trying to welcome back all who have left the ward for whatever reason. They are living God's commandment to love one another. They are leaving the judgement up to the proper authority. Remember the Lord looks upon the heart and soul something most of us see unclearly if at all. I have decided to take the idea of community to my sweet family who have been suffering with differences for some time. Some I have contributed to in my well intentioned way. We will welcome all who come to our home without trying to change them or judge them. When we get to this state the Lord will change those who need to change including me! Thank-you for a beautiful perspective on things. One last thing ....When we feel unloved and unwelcome in this most human world if we but remember and bask in the love from our Savior and God we can do anything.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Beautifully written! There is nothing that I could add that would enhance what this wonderful sister said in her talk! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was a nice talk, but it surprises me that for a group of people that claims to have received the Holy Ghost that they have to be taught how to behave AS IF they actually had that spirit, instead of inviting the Spirit into their lives and letting it manifest through them.

    D&C 11:12. "And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit."

    King Benjamin tells us that the natural man is an enemy to God and always has been unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and has no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually.

    Mormon reminds us the following:

    Moroni 7:47 "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

    Moroni 7:48 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. "

    If this type of behavior is does not come naturally to you, but instead, you have to be taught how to imitate charity, then may those nice words in this sermon drive you to seek the Spirit that your nature many be changed, that you may always have the image of Christ engraved on your countenances, that you may always manifest a Spirit of unconditional Christ-like love and acceptance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am judgmental and intolerant and impatient with those who are judgmental of our LGBT brothers and sisters...have great difficulty feeling pure love or charity toward people whose views, opinions, actions and words have caused so much pain in both community and church settings.

      I also struggle to have charity toward the church for doctrines and policies that have created and/or fostered the feelings of judgment in many members.

      Any advice on how to "manifest a Spirit of unconditional Christ-like love and acceptance...", and soothe my feelings of bitterness and outrage toward those who harm marginalized groups, individuals and their families?

      Could my outrage toward injustice be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit? The scripture says to "put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good...to do justly...to judge righteously", but outrage is certainly not listed as a "fruit of the Spirit". I somehow need to apply the "...to walk humbly..." portion of the same passage... :-)

      Delete
  12. Well I was thinking of returning to the church after a 13 yr avoidance thanks to this inspiring article, however after seeing some of these comments it has really put a damper on that as I now see not much has changed. Btw i'm not gay but I do have my own vices I am just very grateful that being JUDGMENTAL is not one of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julia, we all have vices. Don't judge God's Church by what anyone says. Don't let someone else's comments keep you from returning back to the Lord. It is the only way that you will find peace and joy in this world. Everyone is judgemental at times. You are needed. You have gifts from God that are needed in your Ward. Don't let others keep you from God's Church. You are loved and needed.

      Delete
    2. Isn't that akin to not going to the gym because there are fat people there? Come back if you want. Don't let other people hold you hostage.

      Delete
    3. Julia, remember to refuse to be offended for Satan tries us all at times as we are weak at times refusing to be offended helps us stop Satan from ruining a great friendship or sisterly or brotherly love for one another regardless of our flaws, this could be the very reason your needed to return to teach others to refuse to be offended, thanks for listening and love you!

      Delete
    4. Julia, remember to refuse to be offended, Satan loves to tear us apart because he hates that we are trying to live the right way, by refusing to let a brother or sister of the church offend you, please realize we are all human and make mistakes some we don't even know as in hurting others and not realizing it,, this is not an excuse buy may be the very reason your ward is waiting for your return so you can relay this message and show that if anyone offends you take it to them in private and give them the chance to make it right and if they don't love them anyhow for you are making the righteous choice, hope this helps from one sister to another much love from NC

      Delete
    5. Trust me....not all are this judgemental. The church is for those who need it (which is all of us for one for one reason or another), and that includes those sinning for being judgemental.

      Delete
    6. Please come back to the church! Remember, this is about YOUR salvation and your peace and connection to God.

      Because of certain things in my life I've seen the nasty side of a lot of members who "just want to help" and end up gossiping instead. It almost drove my dad to leave the church, but I always told him that I wouldn't follow, because I don't go to church because of the people, I go because of my faith. I will still work towards making myself a better person even when others around me make it hard and make me doubt.

      Members don't go to church because they are perfect, but because they need to be work on their flaws. It's only natural to meet flawed individuals who sin in various ways.

      Delete
  13. It is not up to us to decide if someone is repentant, remorseful, sinning or abstaining. All we have to do is love each other. That's the only duty He has given us in regard to each other. He and his appointed officers will take care of the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's the hate of individuals who push all people away. You don't have to be LGBT, an alcoholic, a single parent or anyone else to feel rejected, hate and disrespect. I am an LDS wife,mother, teacher and friend. I have to felt out of place. I have felt ignored,. I've cried, yelled and just walked away. I know however, my/your Father in Heaven loves all of us. My faith assures me of that. No one has the right to place judgment unless you to wish to be judged and in the same manner. All we are asked to do is love one another and live righteously. Is that really too much to ask?

    ReplyDelete
  15. We all struggle. Some of us are given more obvious struggles and others less so. Each person, regardless of their adversity, will need the power of the atonement to survive and progress. If we can understand that and believe that any individual worshipping among us is trying to access Christ's enabling power and overcome the temporal self and master his or her weaknesses then it behooves us to extend a loving hand of fellowship and pray that they will do the same for us. Some things do not make sense right now but someday we will see things "as they really are." In the meantime be generous. Elder Oaks said, "though we may disagree we should not be disagreeable."

    ReplyDelete
  16. Come on home we all need you. Yes, there will always be those with problems in the church. Those who a sicker than most. There are those of us who will welcome you with open arms. The Church isn't the same with out you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love is kind, love is patient, it does not hate it does not judge... I'm sure u all know where I'm going with that, my question to all the negative comments is this "by judging had people and forsaking them and saying they don't belong in a church, are you not sinning yourself by doing this?" This article was clearly about LOVING AND ACCEPTING people from all walks of life and the fact that all you got was that it was about gay people seriously is astonishing, we as humans of the earth are not to judge others or forsake anybody only god himself is supposed to do this yet reading these comments I am completely astounded, I seriously think a lot of you need to read this again and maybe the second time around you will get the point of it,... Does God not love black, Mexican, Asian, Filipino, or "white" people? Does he not love people with tattoos or piercings? Who are we to decide what people deserve or don't deserve to be loved? Just saying

    ReplyDelete
  18. The atonement atones. Why do "active" Mormons assume their sins require less atoning? No one is perfect. The church is a place for EVERYONE to come to feel spiritually uplifted and edified. It is not OUR place to judge....

    ReplyDelete
  19. Surely we need to love all people, regardless of their difficulties, and that includes welcoming everyone and make sure they feel loved. But we need to be very cautious about it. Our message is a message of love but also a message of CHANGE. Though change is hard and may take time, all people need to get rid of the natural man and that includes same-sex attraction. When I read the above statement "..I am an openly gay.." along with the rest of the text, it gives me the impression that the message being conveyed here is that it's ok to be gay and no change is needed. Which, of course, is not true. I believe our message to gay people (and everyone else) is more like: "Come ye, come ye. Regardless of your personal difficulties, here you'll find strength, support and the tools you need to overcome your weaknesses and CHANGE. Be a new man/woman. New creature". After all, the Atonement of Christ has power to heal us from all our weaknesses, provided that we recognize our faults and strive to change, instead of being proud of our natural man traits to the point of raising a banner for them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. we have been taught to love everyone from all walks of life love thy neighbors as our selves. We have been taught the word charity which is the pure love of Christ no matter what we are to love one another. Some people do not truly understand that meaning or truly believe that that's what we're supposed to do we are to love everyone wear to forgive everyone or else we will not be forgiven.

    ReplyDelete
  21. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 A church unit is not functioning at it's potential without valuing diversity. This is the true doctrine of Christ. The most loving, uplifting and moving congregations I've enjoyed over the course of my lifetime were in California and Hawaii where there is a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, incomes, mental and physical challenges, manners of dress and decorations, former prisoners, and smelled like smoke and alcohol. In such a place, where diversity is welcomed and valued, the spirit can operate completely unrestrained. To be one with Christ is to love Him in a way that honors Him and to love our brothers and sisters without restraint, as He does.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm just fortunate to have no sins whatsoever. This allows me to parse doctrines very carefully in applying them to others -- the lack of sinning gives me a lot of free time. (You'd be surprised at what a time-sink sinning is!)

    Likewise, my ward's perfections are well-known. No one there is looking at porn or cheating on their spouse or knocking their kids around or breaking the Word of Wisdom or lying to anyone. That stuff would just be uncouth, and we would (as prescribed in some scripture or other) kick them right out if they did things like that. Who wants to hear about repentance from someone who actually has to do it, am I right?

    The important thing about relating to our brothers and sisters is to be able to name all the sins, and point out when someone is committing one of them. Otherwise, I'd have to pay attention to myself, and as I've already noted that's just not necessary.

    The gay thing is what is wrong with America, frankly. Why just on my block, we have a single mother who struggles to get by. She can't afford health insurance, and her two kids are in poor schools and can barely read. Next to her is a guy who lost his job, has been looking for over a year and is now losing his unemployment check so he's going to be homeless. There's a gay couple down the street. I, for my own part, struggle under a staggering tax burden. Across the street is a family with a son serving in the Middle East. The whole state wonders what to do with immigration reform. Obviously, the main thing we need to worry about is not letting those two gay guys get married.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "I was judged, or felt judged, so unless everyone at Church is perfect like the Savior I am never going back!"

    In my life I have worked or gone to school with all kinds of judgmental imperfect people so I quit school and every job and am now on welfare. Now everyone judges me because I'm on welfare, so I went to the mountains with my laptop and am writing this and waiting to die, but those dang magpies are watching, and judging when I will die so that can feed. Judgment is every where!

    We live in a telestial world. We can either grow up, accept life and it's mistake prone and sin laden populace and pray for the charity we all so desperately need. Or we can blame others for our problems and fill our lives with recrimination and bitterness.

    Jesus Christ loves us unconditionally but I have never found where he promoted sin and disobedience to commandments.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I grew up in the church, served a mission, married in the temple, and currently serve in a calling. For whatever reason however, I have never felt I had a testimony like "everyone else." I am totally happy and at peace as an Atheist. Given the occasional rude comment and/or cold shoulder, I do wish members would focus more on my ability to contribute rather than my inability to believe. For this reason I still have one foot in the closet. Maybe the philosophical differences are just too great...?

    ReplyDelete
  25. My heart would break if one of my kids was shut out and felt unloved by one of my other children. I love then no matter what. I want them to be happy. Do I always agree with the choices they make along the way? No. Do I see that each of them is different from the other and that means their struggles and personalities and strengths and talents are different? You bet. Do I try to give them what they need to make their lives better and help their spirits and hearts grow? In all of my own imperfection I certainly try. And ultimately, is it up to them to choose the things that will strengthen them and help them I their own journey home? It is. No matter what choices they make along the way I will be there to help them when they fall and skin a spiritual knee, share in their joys and accomplishments, be proud when they choose to show kindness, cry when their hearts are broken and celebrate their hard earned victories.

    My values about family and marriage are the same as what has been outlined in The Proclamation on the Family. I also know that Heavenly Father has commanded that we love and care for each other and has asked that we recognize that each of us is important and special and precious to Him. Someone being LGBT has nothing to do with that.

    I believe those feelings I have about my own children are only a glimmer of how Heavenly Father must feel about us. We need each other. We're here, right now for a reason. We break His heart sometimes, I'm sure we make Him laugh and I know we bring Him joy. I'm grateful for the knowledge that I'm always surrounded by family. Everyone, EVERYONE deserves to feel the comfort and peace and love that comes from that.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear J, I hope you'll stay and make the contributions that only you can make. If you have never felt the love or reality of God, I hope you do someday. If not, then I hope that those who profess to know you are a child of God will treat you as such. If they don't, that is their loss. Everyone has a learning curve, and our "curves" don't usually line up; so, we are rude to, ignore, offend, or refuse to forgive others . . . UNTIL we decide to be our best selves and let others do their best without taking their behavior personally. As the author of the article said, we do well to focus on cleansing our own souls and let others focus on cleansing their own. May you find many who appreciate and love you and your contributions.

    ReplyDelete