I teach Young Women. I love it. I love my girls and I sincerely hope that the things I say to them will help them to become happy, productive, loving and thinking women. Our lesson this past Sunday was a review of General Conference, with each of the girl’s bringing in a quote or talk that they enjoyed to share. They had each noticed different things during the sessions, and I felt like everything was constructive. Then the other leader brought in a talk from Elder Perry, which wasn’t bad in it of itself. Basically he said ‘keep the commandments, hold to your standards’. In sharing the talk that she chose, my friend started talking about the evils of homosexuality. Then she went off on a tangent about sexual morality and everyone is having multiple partners and homosexuality is evil, blah, blah.
I interrupted her and said “Actually, if you look at the Church website it says that homosexuality is not a choice.”
She interrupted me and said “No, you’re wrong. The Church doesn’t say that.”
“Actually, the Church’s official stance is that homosexuality is not a choice, but behaviors are.”
“Hmm, well maybe.” Then she continued on for about ten minutes about how homosexuality is evil, and a few other opinions that I did not agree with. I didn’t have the time or motivation to argue on every point, but I chose to focus on one thing- how we treat those with homosexuality. I told the girls that homosexuality is not a choice and if someone has this problem it does not make them an evil person and whatever they choose is between them and God, it is not for us to worry about. What is for us to worry about is that we love those around us and treat them like Christ would treat them. I talked about what Christ had said about casting stones, and about how He was not too good to spend time with sinners and if He were here He would love everyone despite their differences or problems. I could tell this bothered my friend and she reminded the girls that the every sin was between that person and the Lord. Then I shared a favorite quote from General Conference.
After class she and I went to take handouts and cookies to the girls who didn’t come, and our discussion continued without an audience. She was upset about what I had said, “You don’t know what’s going on in their heads. They’re very impressionable, and to me it sounded like you were telling them that it is OK to be homosexual.”
I said “Yeah, we don’t know what’s going on in their heads. What if one day one of our girls decides that she’s homosexual, or someone close to her is homosexual? I want them to be equipped to handle that situation in a healthy and loving manner.”
Being homosexual is not an evil thing, it is hard, but it doesn’t make a person inherently evil. After I talked to her for half an hour about suicide stats and a few real situations, she agreed that maybe we should just encourage our girls to love themselves and love others around them.
One of the things she asked me through the course of our conversation was “What is your deal? Do you have a friend that’s gay or something?”
“No… well sort of. My mother-in-law’s best friend’s son is gay.” No one that I really know, personally, but I don’t think I need to have a close friend or relative with this problem to feel empathy for them. He has a blog. I’ve read his story and I thought it was sad. My mom’s cousin, who I have met once, is gay. That’s it. I can’t say that I have a strong personal connection to anyone who is openly gay. I think it’s strange that people assume that if you are sympathetic to gays it means that 1) You are gay or 2) You have close friends or family members that are gay. Nope, I just feel empathy for people who are in a difficult situation and are hurt by the thoughtlessness of others. I just recognize that they are human beings, just like I am.
I have heard multiple LDS people say that homosexuality is like an illness.
I don’t think that I agree with that, but let’s run with it for a minute. If you had a neighbor who had a life-altering illness, like cancer, would you tell them that they are evil because they had cancer? Would you make them feel like a social outcast because they had cancer? Would you tell them that they are an abomination because they have cancer? No, no and NO! You would love them and bring them brownies. You would listen to them and give them a hug. You would tell them that sometimes we don’t understand these things and ask if you can help them with something. You would tell them that God loves all His children, even the ones with problems, because really doesn’t that label apply to all of us? Is that how we as a people in general, behave? Unfortunately, not. I am saddened by a lack of understanding that I see around me. And who is our neighbor? (Hint Luke 10:29-37)
I won’t deny that there are some very complex issues in regards to the LGBTQ community and Mormons. Issues regarding The Family Proclamation, LDS Temples, and expectations. LDS Church leaders in the past have said some things were very damaging to young people who struggled. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, and I’m glad that I’m not the one who has to solve that problem. I don’t think that my friend is a bad person, or that people who think like her are bad people. She’s a very nice person. She’s a great mom, neighbor and she loves the girls that we lead. I just think that she has been misinformed. I think all too many people, LDS and otherwise have been misinformed. Bad information breeds mistrust, fear and hate. Previously, I also had unkind feelings and thoughts towards homosexuals, because that is what I had been taught to think. This homophobic attitude needs to stop. The truth is homosexuality is real and most people don’t choose it. The truth is that these people need love just as much as anyone. The truth is we are only improved by showing kindness to others. We need to set our misconceptions aside and JUST BE NICE!
Some religious people talk about how the Bible speaks against homosexuality, but I’m pretty sure the concept of love gets a lot more press time in that book. Shouldn’t we focus on that? We need to talk more of being kind and loving and less of passing judgement. We need to worry a little less about what two consenting adults do and a little more about our own relationships. Our relationships with our family, with our friends and with our God. Those are the relationships that we are responsible for. We need to stop and think ‘Hey, how would I feel if I were in that situation?’ Some of the things I hear people say are sooo harmful. Painfully, heart-breakingly so. If we claim to be Christians, we really need to walk the walk. So I plead with you my readers, be nice. Teach your children to be nice. Be kind to those you interact with. Be nice to gay people, to straight people, to people with cancer, to foreigners, to locals, black, white, brown, yellow, or whoever. Yes, there are evils in this world. Yes, we need to stand up for truth and righteousness. But you can not fight evil by filling yourself with hate or anger. You fight evil with love.
“Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through Him who loves us.” —Desmond Tutu