In July, a BYU-Idaho professor was fired for a Facebook post supporting homosexuality. Her story was well-covered in the Rexburg Standard Journal. In the end, she seems to believe that her firing was a bad call on the part of the university.
I agree with her on some things:
- “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a problematic attitude. Hate tends to bleed from the action to the person acting.
- LDS treatment of homosexuals hasn’t and isn’t always been the greatest. However, I don’t believe that it is a problem that emanates from the leaders of the church. I believe it is a problem of the “rank and file membership,” as we try to figure out how to navigate a world that embraces something we call sin.
While I could scientific issues I have with our current social take on homosexuality, I have done that before and do not feel the need to do so again.
What I want to consider is how a faithful, dedicated Latter-Day Saint can support a brother or sister in the church who is homosexual but wants to remain in good standing with the church. The article I read that changed my thinking is no longer available online, but it was written by a gay LDS member and it made a lot of sense.
Supporting Gay Rights
As I try to write an analogy to point out the harm of the stance that some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have taken, I want to be sure to point out that no analogy is perfect. I mean no offense, and I am no going back to the 1950’s when homosexuality was classed as a disease. Rather, I wish to make a point about helping people deal with things that are innate and not necessarily of their doing.
So, I will compare helping a gay member remain faithful in the church to diabetes.
I fear that members who are marching for gay rights, supporting gay marriage, and vocalizing discontent with church doctrine are actually harming members of our church who are gay.
We have a large number of members who have diabetes. Do we invite them to potlucks where there will only be lots of sugar-laden treats? Do we then denounce the way people with diabetes are treated in the church? Do we agonize over how unfair it is that those members with diabetes cannot join us in the feast? Do we denounce our leaders for not making the sugary treats accessible to all members?
The whole idea is absurd. But, when we think of LDS people marching for gay rights, blogging for the church to change doctrine, denouncing our leaders, and other things, it is very, very similar.
Supporting Gay Members
Personally, I cannot completely fathom why the Lord would ask anyone to bear the burden of homosexuality while trying to be a faithful member of the church. I was a single mother for 15 years, and it was way beyond difficult! While there were some people who thought that an eight-year non-sexual relationship was absurd while I waited on the Lord’s timing to marry the man he had sent me, others simply listened and encouraged me. I was very grateful for the members of the church who listened with compassion and assured me that I could, with the Lord’s help, wait on his timing and remain pure and faithful.
So, let’s go back to the analogy with diabetes.
Any ward with members who have diabetes would first and foremost, be aware of the needs of those members. Any event that was planned would be planned so that these members could feel included. Whether they are asked or not, many members would bring treats that could be consumed by those with diabetes. Not one member, knowing that someone has diabetes, would be crass enough to offer them an inappropriate treat. No one would make fun of or shun ward members with diabetes. And, some members would even be praying for those members to have the strength to manage their condition with grace and wisdom. Most would be willing to listen and offer support when a member with diabetes wanted to talk about how difficult they feel their condition is, knowing that it is a passing feeling and that they can offer strength and comfort.
Why should it be any different for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is gay? Sure, we have to place emphasis on marriage — it is the Lord’s way. But, can we not help those members who struggle with same-sex attraction focus on things they can do in righteousness — forming solid friendships, supporting their family, etc.? Can we not reach out in love and embrace them, can we not listen when a member who is gay needs to talk about how difficult life is for them? Can we not offer compassion and the encouragement that they can stay true and faithful? Can we not send messages through our words and deeds that they are valuable members of our church who are also valued sons and daughters of God?
As I have stated before, I don’t know why God gives harder struggles and trials to some of his children than to others. I do know that he has fashioned our experiences in life to be exactly what we need to become exactly who we can be if we will remain faithful and turn to him.
I know that the Lord always provides a way through our trials when he doesn’t remove them. I know that sometimes it seems to be taking a long time and it’s easy to become impatient.
I also know that encouraging others to sin, thinking that it will ease their burdens, only causes deeper eternal heartache.
May we all (including myself at the top of the list) be a little kinder and much more thoughtful of our brothers and sisters.