My thoughts on the newly re-released official Mormon church website called Mormon and Gay.
-The website is linked to the official church so members cannot mistake this for something unofficial which is an improvement over the last one. Many didn’t believe it was official since it wasn’t hosted on main church site.
-The website name itself is more inclusive in that it states you can be both gay and Mormon (an improvement on wording from previous website which was mormonsandgays).
-The stories shared on this website are loving and nuanced (while showcasing personal experiences that reflect folks choosing to follow church guidelines and not be in a LGB relationship).
-It’s an updated look/feel.
-The website does express that families/folks/parents can and should still love/support LGB folks.
-It does seem to suggest that hoping for change, praying that someone will no longer be LGB should not be expected or demanded.
Compared to the language used in the past, compared to the perspectives in the past, compared to the understanding of LGB issues, and compared to the treatment of LGB Mormons in the past…..it’s an improvement. If you believe the messaging has always been like this……please read/research past church teachings/talks/books. The old stuff is distressing to say the least. So this is a welcome improvement and I’m happy to see the church produce this. My hope is it will offer guidance/comfort to family/friends that are trying to understand things better.
At the same time……
The reality is that the expectations of a LGB member are still the same. Those haven’t changed. The expectation is that they remain celibate or date/marry someone of the opposite sex (mixed orientation marriage). That’s the only two options if you want to remain in full fellowship and able to fully participate. It’s just the bottom line and there’s no way you can make that look/sound/feel good for LGB folks. It’s an excruciating situation for them if they love the church.
There is also no possible way to get around the official Mormon belief that God does not approve of LGBT relationships/marriages/intimacy. The official Mormon view is that God views this as a temporary state. That this is not a part of his eternal plan because his plan does not, and will not, include LGBT marriages/relationships. His plan is for heterosexuals and heterosexual families only. The official stance is that God commands LGBT people to endure, be patient and view this as challenge that they can overcome. His promise to them is that they will be not have to endure this trial/challenge in the next life if they don’t “act” on their sexuality. This “acting” includes not only physical intimacy. It includes dating and all that this involves. I’ve been married 29 years and my relationship with my spouse includes both physical, romantic and emotional intimacy. His promise/reward to them is that they will become heterosexual in the next life and then they’ll have a chance to experience this.
This is the Mormon belief/stance/reality that LGBT members/family/friends must face.
The real concern is how this impacts people. That is what’s heart wrenching. The data shows these two options (celibacy/MOM) are not ones that will work for many many folks. We have so many stories of broken lives and families because these are the only two options. We have too many suicides. We have years and years of stories that aren’t the ones shared on this website. Stories that are truly sad and have had devastating rippling effects. Those stories aren’t included in here nor is the data on the impact on their lives.
The websites’ purpose is to show love/inclusion to those that can live within the church’s guidelines. I hope those folks sharing their stories, on the website, do find happiness/fulfillment. I hope they are surrounded by people who love/accept/support them. I also think about the many more LGBT Mormons (and their family/friends) who are out there that aren’t represented on this website. I think of the many LGBT Mormon members that tried to change themselves, attempted celibacy, suffered, agonized and entered MOM marriages (that often ended in heartbreak). I think about all the teen lives lost to suicide. Those stories and people are critically important too when people are navigating this. The reality of the risks in attempting to choose the church’s acceptable options is enormous.
I guess it boils down to what you believe/accept about God and what he wants/expects/demands. It boils down to whether you believe he actually does demands only these two options. It boils down to whether you believe the Mormon church leaders are truly speaking for God.
That’s ultimately the decision that has to be made for each person. For some, it is God’s will/word. For others it isn’t, and rather a misunderstanding based on old views/knowledge/interpretations. Many hope the church’s stance will change in time.
For right now….this is it. These are the official church views. For me, the risks are way to high regarding success longterm with the two Mormon options. If I had a child that was LGBT, and still Mormon, I would not advocate they choose either of these options. I would not choose celibacy for myself. Unless you lean toward bisexuality, a mixed orientation marriage isn’t realistically an option if you want a healthy/fulfilling relationship with your spouse.
For a church that has built its foundation on family, love, children and eternal relationships….this cuts right to the core. Intimacy, relationships, love….these are an integral part of our human experience. They are key needs.
Personally, I’m not sure there is a God, so I don’t accept this as coming from him. I don’t believe it’s necessary to choose one of these two options. If he does exist, as our father, I choose to believe he would not demand/expect this of his children. My heart goes out to the many many people navigating their way through this. I hope you have love, support and family/friends that will listen. I hope you turn to lots of sources to educate yourself and find others that understand what you are experiencing. I hope you don’t just use this website because this is only one interpretation. I hope you have access to professional counseling that can guide you through these decisions. I hope you find peace in your decisions. I hope you trust yourself to know what you need in order to be healthy, happy and fulfilled.