Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coming out of the closet

this article in the Salt Lake Tribune has been on my mind.....

I love so many things about my church. The people in the church are wonderful. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful. There is much to love and admire about the structures and organizations that exist within the church. I love church service and the ways my callings have strengthened and fortified my spirit. The people in my wards have sustained me through the most trying times in my life and I will forever be grateful to them. But I do not understand this. I do not understand the church leadership's harsh stance towards gays in the church (and outside of the church for that matter) and I am realizing that I will never be able to reconcile it like I can with so many other things that I don't love about the church and its controversial history.

Here is a guy, Steven Fehr, who has served a mission, who loves and follows the gospel, who is a better member of the church than I will ever be. Who....for goodness sakes.....stayed celibate until his commitment ceremony even though he knew formalizing his relationship would ultimately end in his excommunication. I can't help but question what Christ would do. Would he really cast this man from the fold, force him to worship from the margins?

If you're gay in the church, you have to remain celibate unless you marry. Yet, no marriage or commitment ceremony is recognized by the church. It seems like a cruel and impossible predicament for faithful gay members.

I have a lot of respect for Steven's decision to continue to believe, even from the sidelines. I am convinced that it is people like him that will eventually change church policy. Yet it must be heartbreaking, embarrassing, to continue to worship as a second class citizen. I can't say for sure that I would make the same decision to stay if I were in his shoes.

In the context of this debate, I often think about my children. What would I do if one of them came out to me? Love them, of course. Would I leave the church if they asked me to? If they felt disrespected by the church's policies towards gays? I would strongly consider it. Yet, I have friends who have suffered as a result of Prop 8, and even gay friends with sweet testimonies who have been pushed away from their church membership. Yet I stay. Does this make me a hypocrite or a heroine? I don't know, probably neither. I DO know that I desperately don't want to leave, but I never feel completely at peace about either decision - staying or leaving.


kristie sessions said...

Steven Fehr! I used to be in plays with that guy up at Utah State. He was always so fabulous, sweet and kind.

Beth said...

Jen, your opinion on this stuff has always meant so much to me b/c I really agree with you. I feel like I could've written this word for word. I will also continue to struggle with this. I hope in my lifetime I see peace between the church and the gay/lesbian community. There is a lack of understanding that I truly cannot grasp.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you but I would like to leave my comment to try and help on the matter. The church's stand comes from the scriptures which are the word of God and from eternal truth. Men were not made, from eternity to eternity, to be with Men. Or women with women. It goes against the laws of eternity. The first commandment is to Love God and I could not, in any form of truth, even when I was tempted to participate in Lesbian activity while a teenager, say that I was loving God while committing such a sin. I knew it then, even while disrespecting other commandments, that I would be crossing a formidable boundary. I'm glad I didn't give in to temptation or I'm sure my natural affection for women and love for the beauty would have been misconstrued to make me believe that I had been "born that way". It's unfortunate that people no longer believe in the power of Satan and his ability to deceive when we are willing to give in to even the smallest of temptations. As we are taught he leads us with a flaxen cord until we are bound in chains. I suggest you pray mightily on this matter for peace on what is God's will. Pray with an open heart. Remember how in the new testament and D&C it often talks of having to excommunicate members for transgression. Is this kind of perversion of nature, transgression? Is it a temptation, can our brotherly and sisterly love be twisted, can our minds be darkened, our eyes be blinded, our hearts hardened???? The scriptures testify that they can and it is. Absolutely!!! I know that we are ripening for destruction in these last days, when good is evil and evil is good. I hope you will take this to heart and even if you only find out for yourself that you do and find yourself truly loving God and respecting his will in all things. Unfortunately even 1/3 of his beloved children were cast out of heaven for not following his will. Can one member be cast out of the fold for falling into sexual transgression?? Without repentance justice requires it. God is a god of truth, and justice as well as mercy and love. They cannot be denied. I hope you will ponder over these things and know that I too love all mankind and wish to see none of them lost and pray that people will wake up and do what is right and repent so that they can receive the blessings of the atonement. We have to do our best first. Same with losing control of our spirits to substances, losing control of our appetites and desires until they become darkened, needs to be an admitted problem before it can be fixed. If no one thinks it is wrong, that they were tempted, that they gave in to immoral thoughts, and didn't pray at ALL times to resist temptation, which it tells us over and over again to do in the scriptures..if we don't ever admit these things then they will always think it is something that they cannot change, that they should not change, and will continue with their problem until the day they meet their maker. And they will, every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, and every secret thing shall be made known, every hidden thing brought to light.

Becca said...


When I read this article last month I was really touched by Steven's story. I had a lot of the same thoughts that you did. Having faith can be so hard sometimes. There are many policies and attitudes in the church I really struggle with. Yet, for some reason, I hang on. Sometimes I really wonder why. I guess it's just because it's what feels right. To hang on. To keep hoping and praying for change. To work toward embodying the type of change I would like to see.

Thanks for writing about this. I think it's important that we talk about what we really feel and think. I don't think progress or change will come any other way.

Hope you are well,