Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hand holding and other sins at BYU

I have spent part of the last few days arguing whether the holding of hands is an intimate form of expression -- meaning sexual – meaning that a Mormon man shouldn’t hold another man’s hand.
After a day of deliberation in which I have watched the presidential debates (!), read about human on human abuse, seen video of buildings being blown up and children covered in blood, I have decided that I am sick of arguing whether a human should hold another humans hand or whether a meaningful look between those of the same sex could be construed as a breach of the BYU honor code.

Now I support the honor code and BYU's right to establish one. If one signs the admission form, he abides by the code. The end. However, I reserve my God given right to state an opinion as a TBM, a gay man, a temple recommend holder, and one who went to BYU -- one of the most positive experiences of my puny little life.

The only moment of joy that has come in the last 24 hours I have spent deliberating this question was watching online as people came together over a common foe -- a boa constrictor that crawled out from the hood of a driver’s car while he was parked at a stop light.

Suddenly, everyone at that traffic stop banded together to combat a snake who posed a threat. It didn’t matter who the driver was, or his race, sexuality or political stance. That snake was just way to close and the group stood together and took care of business -- albeit behind a broom. (Not so great for animal rights folks, but a great day for people coming together.)

So where did I come-out on the holding hands issue?

As the witch said to the baker and his wife Into The Woods, "Who Cares!"

I have seen prophets of the living God hold hands. I have heard tell of apostles kissing each other and hugging tenderly. Hand holding in and of itself is not sexual. On my mission I witnessed many men putting their arms around each other to share an umbrella in the rain, or huddling under a small blanket. I would have loved to have given my missionary companion a hug and to have held his hand to tell him how much I loved him and admired and appreciated his hard work that day.

Culturally we LDS are a mess. In the grand scheme of messes, ours could be a relatively quick fix. But while we are messed up, we are banning simple gestures like hand holding because we don’t understand the intent.

I can't imagine Christ denying the lady -- with her own pure intent -- the experience and the blessings of washing the His feet and drying them with her hair.

And, parenthetically, who are we that we have to understand someone else's intent? May I express tenderness or feeling of any sort by holding someone’s hand? Please? May I have your permission?

Denying anyone the right -- dare I say -- to be affectionate, to express a normal and everyday (hopefully everyday) feeling is silly and a waste of our collective time. Let the kids hold each other’s hand -- for God’s sake. Maybe we should worry about the bloody child, the homeless in our neighborhood, or supporting and defending those assaulted at BYU.

Or, at the very least, minding our own business.

And, in light of the recent information on BYU law enforcement, I am compelled to state that I am the biggest BYU-phile there is. I alternately bleed either royal or navy blue – often at the same time.

And I am asking publicly for my school to change how we treat victims at Brigham Young University whether we agree or approve of their behaviors or not.

No is still no – even if it’s in an outfit that shows “more skin than the honor code allows.” We are the Church of Jesus Christ. Please, let us act like it in all things.

Do you agree or disagree? Please feel free to leave a comment. I will respond.


  1. Frankly I don't know how anyone would disagree here. I understand that lines need to be drawn, but draw a different line BYU. And fix the abuse of those abused before it becomes an embarrassment to us all and hurts more people.

  2. I feel compelled to comment, and I am going to have to do this anonymously. People at BYU need to follow the rules. Rules can be changed, but there are appropriate ways to accomplish that. We believe in "obeying, honoring and sustaining the law" not just when we like it. Make changes through appropriate measures. If that doesn't work, then you can start throwing the tea into the sea. Good work Brother Thompson.

  3. I think the challenge within the Church, and definitely BYU in this case, is that the collective Church needs to step away from addressing the "symptoms" and focus on the heart of the issue: us same-sex attracted folk need more appropriate contact with other guys (or girls, as the case may be). No, acting out sexually is not going to solve all of our problems, or instantly make the world a better place for us. However, the need we have is real, and it's healthy. But I think if BYU could have rewritten Alma's admonition, it would read, "squash all your passions." Not something useful like a horse, but rather a scary-looking spider.