Wednesday, 19 July 2017
So last week the ELM AP's got in touch with me, the Britannia 1st missionaries were teaching a gay guy and they wondered if I could help. I agreed, they phoned me & we arranged a time for me to go over and teach him with them. He was a cute guy, with a boyfriend, and very intelligent. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and the Elders thought that the best way to bring up being gay & mormon was to teach the Law of Chastity. We got to the point where we discussed no sexual relations outside of marriage nor any homosexual sexual activity, and this is where I entered stage right and took centre stage...where every gay man loves to be.The Elders explained I was a gay mormon and asked me to share my story with him. I did so. Warts and all. I felt if he was going to make the decision to enter the waters of baptism then he deserved the full truth, not the glitter covered one. (For those who don't know my story it can be found here).
He had met with the missionaries before and unfortunately he had learnt of the churches position on homosexuality when they had told him that homosexuals go to the Telestial Kingdom with rapists and murderers. I rounded on the Elders I was with, demanding to know if this was what was written in Preach My Gospel, they assured me it wasn't. I profusely apologised to our investigator for having been taught false doctrine and we discussed the real truth that all that God offers he offers to all His children, wether gay or straight. We discussed the churches current position, how members unfortunately can sometimes be behind the times on this subject & the problems that can bring. We discussed how the UK church can be more up to date than the US church, and how we can affect the change that is needed in the more bigoted members of the church. it went well, the Spirit was present and we closed and arranged a future teaching appointment.
The next day I received a message from Elders Nelson & Mauerhan telling me that the investigator had dropped them, with the following message.
Elder Nelson, I'm writing this to both you and Elder Mauerham. I hope that you can grant me a last favour and ensure that he too gets a chance to read this.
When I think about the Church of Latter Day Saints, unlike many of you I cannot think of a happy childhood in the Church, nor of times in which the organisation has been there for me in moments of hardship. Instead, I think of an organisation that denies me my existence. As I made no attempt to hide, I am a gay man. I was upfront about this from the beginning by mention of my boyfriend. Your language, whether deliberate or not, made clear your opinion on this fact. And unfortunately I cannot say that I am surprised at what I heard.
Your claim that it is fair to ask gay couples to be celibate, as you ask the same for straight couples, holds little water. Straight Mormons have a chance of family in the Church, they have a chance of marriage ordained by God. Gay people are not given this chance. Our relationships are seen as sinful. Our relationships are seen as not fit to raise children in. Our relationships are less than. Under your doctrine these are indisputable facts. I have zero time for any movement, doctrine, or speech, which denies the love I have for my partner as real.
I am lucky that I am only insulted and disgusted by this, for too many of my fellow queer people who are raised in the Church suffer far worse fates. More than 60% of queer youth self-harm, and more than 20% attempt suicide -- yesterday you spoke with two such people, Scott and myself. Not even to mention how for trans youth these figures for suicide almost triple -- how do you think this aligns with the Church's policy to deny them their gender? In the LDS heartland of Utah these statistics are even more troubling. Here children hear loud and clear the denial of their identities, and how they will never know love, and how they will never have their own families. The state government here has supressed the collection of information on LGBT suicide, the LDS influence on their legislature ensures this. Preventing this collection continues to allow the mass suicide of queer Mormon youth to go unnoticed. This is Church violence on my community, on my personhood.
One can attempt a defense of the Church here on the grounds that Church doctrine is written by earthly men. But doctrine that allows the death of its youth cannot be the word of God, it cannot be a part of the Gospel. Scott made a case of hoping for change, which I understand. Your organisation has often had doctrinal change to suit modem politics and public image -- the outlawing of polygamy, accepting black Elders, no longer teaching that non-white races are unclean, and hopefully one day the acceptance of same-sex relationships. But the hope for change is no reason to excuse the Church's current state. No one would stay with a business that is killing its young workers, even if they say that they might change their minds in a few decades or so. I will not deny the love I have for my partner for any misplaced trust in your organisation. To deny this would be to deny myself.
As both you and Elder Mauerham told me yesterday, my interpretations of the scripture thus far have been cogent and well thought out. I have been honest with you in my thoughts and action all this time, but I will never deny any part of myself as valid in exchange for a place in your organisation. As I told the last pair of Elders, I will warmly and willingly walk into the Telestial Kingdom as punishment for this. But let it be known that this will never be punishment for me, the unwavering expression of my love, in the face of opposition, is the greatest freedom I have.
I hope that the two of you may one day see what the real loving and accepting world has to offer.
And I find it difficult to argue his points. What do we offer the LGBT community as a church? Yes we offer the ordinances required for Eternal Salvation, we offer the gospel in it's fulness and continuing revelation, but can we appreciate that from the outside looking in as an investigator these are conceptual rather than actual? That without having received that testimonial baptism of fire of the truthfulness of the restored gospel they don't actually mean very much. That what we're telling our gay/trans investigators is we expect you to give up the one you love, or the hope of ever finding him/her. That in a church where every facet points to you having a family, you will be denied this unless you marry against your sexual orientation. Depending on your local leadership you may be allowed date according to your attraction, but you will never be allowed to marry them if you fall in love. So even that tender mercy may end up being a curse. If you're trans you will never be allowed to hold the priesthood, nor enter the temple if you have had elective gender assignment surgery, even if you have it reversed.
Thousands of our youth are looking in the mirror and hating themselves, an enormously high percentage are so desperate they decide that mortality has no more to offer them and choose to end their second estate. Too many succeed. It destroys me that as an organisation we are doing nothing to reach out to these youth. That no one is telling them they are not a mistake, that their Heavenly Father loves them. There are false prophets & prophetesses out there that are giving them this message, and it's taking them away from those saving priesthood ordinances, from the power of the temples.
His message hurts because it has too much truth in it. The blood of our children is being split and it needs to stop. And I don't know how to make it stop. My heart aches, my tears are split but I sit here helpless. This situation is an abomination that stains the true church.
Our children are dying, spiritually and physically, I beg you please make it stop!
Sunday, 8 January 2017
|With her grandaughters|
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.
Hugh B Nibley, a noted historian and fluent in all the major ancient languages, teaches that on occasion the greek for word, logos, can also in rare circumstances be translated as council. This brings us greater knowledge of this verse.
In the beginning was the council, and the council was with God, and the council was God.
In Jermeiah 1:5 God tells Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” In this passage we learn that Jeremiah lived with our Heavenly Father before he was born, and was set apart to his calling. Jeremiah was a man like all men and so this teaches us that we too lived before we came to Earth. We are all children of our Heavenly Father and we are not here by accident.
Before the earth was created God called all his children together in a grand council, here we lived as spirits, and he told us that the time had come for us to progress further. To do this though we had to gain for ourselves bodies, like he had and the only way for us to do that was to be born into them. He would create us a world, a perfect world, and our first parents would be created there with perfect bodies. Before long sin would enter the world and this would lead to a fall. Those perfect bodies would become imperfect, we would be subject to illness and disease. Death would enter the world. We would suffer trials and tribulations, but that this was needed. In the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 2:22-25 we read
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
Here we learn that it is only because of our trials and tribulations we can understand what joy is. For how can we understand something if we have no perspective? How can we appreciate the good times without knowing the bad?
He told us that as we entered this world a veil would be passed over our minds and we would have no memory of our life before. This would be so that we could learn who we really are? Where are our real hearts desires? When living in his presence it was easy to be good, but would we still desire to do so with that veil in place? We would make mistakes, we would trip and fall. We would commit sins ourselves, but that the lessons we learned from those errors had the potential to teach us much. As my own dad often says, it doesn't matter how many times we fall, just how high we bounce.
Another consequence of this fall is that death would come upon us, we would be separated from our physical bodies again and they return to the earth. Because all of us would do wrong things this would also mean we would be able to return to our Celestial home for only perfect beings could live in that perfect place and we would all fall short, but there was a plan for this. What would be needed is a perfect man to be born, a man who would commit no sin. The laws of justice demanded a price be paid, but a perfect man who had done no wrong could pay that price and by doing so he could pay the price for all mankind, that the arm of mercy could be extended. Because this perfect sacrifice was so all encompassing he would gain the power to break the bonds of death itself and all of our Father's children would regain their bodies back, all would be ressurected. Death would lose it's sting! If we sought forgiveness for the wrongs we had done that atoning sacrifice would pay the price that we could not and we could return home to live with our Heavenly Father and continue in our eternal progression, we could gain all that he had, we could become like him! Perfect exalted beings! This plan was called the Plan of Salvation and all who sit here today was there when this plan was presented, and we shouted for joy. We rocked the very heavens with our hosannahs! And the knowledge of this plan today gives hope, and joy and strength.
My mum's life in this mortal realm was filled with many trials & tribulations. She barely knew a day where life did not batter her and anyone who knew her could see how weighed down she was from this struggle. The knowledge of this plan teaches us there was purpose for this, so how did she react to all she had been through?
|with her grandson|
For some these things would have turned them bitter & resentful. Jealous of the seeming happy, carefree lives of others. It would have eaten them up and they would have turned that anger back onto what they perceived to be a hateful world. Not my mother. She sought out those who were suffering and sought to relieve them of theirs. That others would go through alone what she had gone through was unbearable for her. She refused to judge or condemn, always seeking to understand so that she could help. In her role as a teaching assistant at Oak Park School, she would often tell me of this child or that child that was struggling seeking to lift them up, to better them. Sometimes she would tell me of a comment one child would make ridiculing those that were less fortunate, instead of rebuking them she would teach them why it was wrong. How we shouldn't judge because we all had our own journey. This was a woman though broken would seek to lift others from their misery. She did not have much, but she would give all she had to help another.
|Glens wedding day|
Children were her life and to see one suffering was something she could not bear. Her grandchildren were her unashamed delight, she adored them more than anything else in life, and I have no doubt that from the Spirit World she will continue to take joy in watching them grow. She raised 3 sons under trying circumstances and although like all parents she made mistakes she raised 3 good men into this world. She instilled in us her morals, her values. It was on my mothers knee I learnt my alphabet, I learnt my numbers and later learnt my words. I remember once when I was very young I had been put to bed and I was reading the ladybird book 3 Little Pigs, when I finished it I came down running excited exclaiming “mum mum I just read it from beginning to end all the way through” This was the first time I had done this by myself. She quickly hugged me tight and told me how proud she was of me. She pulled out her purse and gave me a whole 50p for me to spend as my reward...an absolute fortune in the early 80s! But this instilled in me my love of books that I still have today. She never considered us ever too young to learn.
I was so happy when Glen gave her her first grandchild, it made her so happy, although when John gave her her 3rd it wasn't so great for me. This was she realised I had yet to give her any “the other 2 have when are you going to??' I tried to pull the gay card to little avail, “this is the 21st century...that's no excuse these days!!” There was no such thing as too many children for her. Bishop you should mourn for her loss, she would have made an amazing asset to your Primary organisation.
An outsider may look at my mothers life and see it as being less than, but when I look at her life through the lens of the plan of salvation I see nothing but success. I see a woman who bore all of lives troubles and though she struggled through the dirt of mortality was never too weary to lift the burden of another. If I see a weakness it was that she would never turn to another for help with hers.
What does it take to be accepted of Christ? In Matthew 25:31-46 we read:
31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
By this standard we can know that my mother is accepted of Christ, her sins have been paid for and she will receive her Eternal Salvation.
|With Glen, Kylie & Olly|
|At Mama Mia|