Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A positive experience -- The churches clarification of policy concerning gays (you know the one)

Yes, I have a bias and I seek to confirm it.* My bias is that the LDS church teaches people to be Christ-like to others, and that the policies of the church are to protect members; to provide the ordinances and information that will allow those who choose to be members the best chance to return to the presence of Heavenly Father.

As per many confirmation bias, I look for things to support my stance. There has been much representing the other viewpoints, and I have been looking out for more information. This experience was recently posted in Facebook. Yes, I understand the sketchy nature of faith promoting rumors, but this was proactive -- and it left me with another vantage point. Separate vantages have always proved necessary to pinpoint truth.

"I am a gay man with full custody of my children. I was invited to share the afternoon with my stake president and a general authority Seventy. After hearing the comments, positions, and beliefs of the GA, I would like to offer what little reassurance I can give to those affected by the recent policy on LGBT members and their children.

"Things were said in confidence and off the record that I am not able to share publicly at this time, however I will say that if what was said is representative of what is on the horizon, there will be a much brighter future for all of us affected.

"The comments he made were the most affirming, understanding, and compassionate things I've ever heard from a church authority in relation to LGBT issues. He was unequivocal in the disagreement of certain attitudes, actions, positions and teachings formerly perpetuated by other church leaders.

"When I expressed concerns about being on an apostate list and my kids being asked to disavow and not affiliate (per temple recommend question) he was able to calm my fears and anxiety and reassure me that this would not be asked or expected--even if I am living in a same sex partnership.

"He listened. He understood. He loves. He did not judge or condemn. He assured me that he was not alone amongst other leaders in his views and approach. 

"I realize that this is vague but he sincerely wants to maintain contact with me as things progress in my life and I don't want to betray his confidence. He asked for patience and hopes for change. He was clear that homosexual behavior is and would continue to be considered "sin" for the foreseeable future, but held out hope that changes in the way that LGBT individuals and families are dealt with is very possible.

"Knowing that I want to find a partner, he hugged me and invited me to return to activity in the church community if I ever felt inclined to do so. This was stated without any hint or suggestion that it would preclude my being single or celibate.

"I am in awe of the Christlike compassion I was shown."

So, what do you think? Could there be truth to this? 

*Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or mysidebias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

More Mormon Gay Q & A

What do I do when a gay person or couple comes to church? What if they have kids?

This is a question I got last week, and I am glad for it. For many of us -- many of us who are gay and Mormon -- the question seems naive. But there are well intention-ed members who are fearful that they are going to make a mistake. So, here goes...

Long answer: Peter, the prophet of the Church after the Savior’s ascension, received revelation that the gospel is for all mankind. “...He that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34 - 35

Gay people should be treated exactly as everyone else -- as long as we currently treat others with love and respect. If we do not then this is a bigger problem than gay people sitting next to you in church. 

In order to step outside ourselves and act as the Savior would, we need to develop genuinely personal and caring relationships with those we meet. And to meet them we need to start by introducing ourselves and offering a hand. They are our family. They are our friends. Or they are the family and friends of people we know and love. We ask that they not judge us and we, in turn, do not judge them. Disciples of Christ need to have genuine charity for one another. 

Practically, we should have someone at the door to the chapel to greet and pay special attention to any newcomer or guest. If this does not come easily, then we should role play until speaking to people we do not know becomes more natural. If I may be so bold, reverence be damned: Say hello to the people around you. 

Are there children involved?  Offer to show them where the primary or young men -- young women meet. Just like we would do with anyone else.

"...We need to reach out and extend our friendship to others regardless of whether they are interested in the gospel or not. We must not be too selective in identifying those we feel are worthy or appreciative of our attention. The spirit of true Christian fellowship must include everyone. Our understanding of the gospel should help us see clearly that all people are our brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father."
 -- M. Russell Ballard

Whether or not they are interested in the gospel, we should show unconditional love through how we act and what we say. The Son of God -- the Savior of all mankind -- loves all men. He looks to each one of us to do the same.

Short answer. Gay people have been coming to church for years. Years. You tell me, how you have treated them?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mormon gay Q&A

The suggestion was made that I should spend Sunday school time -- where I am supposed to teach about words of the prophets -- to instead answer questions about SGA/Homosexuality in the Mormon church. I think I will pass on that for several hundred reasons. 

Some questions I get and I think, "seriously?"  However, here is the place to ask the questions you think are too silly to put your name on. 

I am happy to open the blog up to these FAQ's and a statement or two -- including topics I have hit on in the past:  

Are openly gay teachers, professors, professionals and other role models dangerous because they will try to recruit people to homosexuality?   

Let us be clear: Any adult speaking of his or her sex life with a minor is not appropriate. But that is not what is being asked. It is not wrong for a teacher to acknowledge their sexuality. Some argue that students may wish to be like their teachers given their position of authority and prestige. Sex life being personal and private, of course they would. Or are we saving that honor for the rather dubious sporting figures and rock stars. Who better to mentor students that positive role models regardless of sexual attraction?  Any positive role model in a position of authority (such as in education, politics, religious institutions, the medical profession, etc.) by their very presence helps to dispel myths and prejudices.

Homosexuals want to lower the age of consent laws for sexual activity so that they can have access to young children and try to convert them. 

I have not heard this -- and I keep tabs.  Age of consent laws do not deal specifically with adult-child relations. These laws were created to prevent young people from having sex with each other. There is no justification for the existence of separate age of consent laws according to one's sexual orientation. Any audit-child sexual relationship regardless of the sexual orientation is wrong and is currently a criminal act.

Should gay people teach in church?  

I need more information to answer this question. I think good teachers should teach regardless of sexuality, race, gender, age, economic status or fashion sense. Is this person a good teacher? Has this person been called by the bishop?  Then, yes -- he should teach. For your information, there have been gay people in LDS leadership for years. Years.

Gay men tend to be pedophiles and child molesters 

This isn't really a question, but no and no. It's true that perpetrators of child sexual abuse are overwhelmingly men. The abuser is usually a member of the child's family or someone known by the family. Pedophiles, men who have a sexual preference for children, constitute less than 1% of the adult male population. Pedophiles are quite distinct from adult gay men who prefer an adult sexual partner just as heterosexual prefer an adult partner. Studies have shown no correlation between a man's sexual orientation and a tendency to sexually abuse children. Statically, Heterosexual men are twice as likely to sexually abuse children as homosexual men are. There is solid evidence that over 92% of child abuse cases, including same gender sexual abuse, are perpetrated by heterosexuals.

Can people be forced or convinced to change from gay to straight or the other way around? 

Again, it’s important to understand the differences between same gender feelings desires and inclinations, and the chosen behaviors. Behaviors can be changed or controlled with the correct motivation. Most agree that sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior, orientation referring to feelings and self-concept, and that all people may or may not express their sexual orientation through their behaviors. 

*The American Psychological Association, Fact Sheet, “Psychology and You,” 

I think my family member might be gay. How will I know if they really are?   

You will know when they start dating or when they care to speak about it with others. Sexuality, like religion, is a personal issue. We as are blessed with gifts of the spirit, and revelation given to us personally. You may be in this persons line of authority and may be able to receive information that will help this relative.  

How do I “come out” and when is it appropriate?   

As a Mormon, is it appropriate to “come out”? Is that the question? Yes it is. You may not want to take out an ad in the cinema section of the Sunday paper, but you wouldn’t do that to announce your “Hetro” life either. Tell anyone who cares about you or anyone who has a need to know. As with any other personal information, where, when and with whom you tell about your sexuality is your decision solely. It’s important and healthy for you to share your feelings with appropriate others. If you feel you can’t tell your parents, talk to a friend or a bishop or someone else you trust. Sometimes, the Grandma Ruby’s of the world can surprise you. It’s possible that the people who are closest to you already know and are waiting for you to be comfortable enough to talk about it. 

May the Lord bless you. That is not a question.