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!