I know it is important to try to protect our hearts -to explain the suffering of others to keep our own hearts from hurting or being confronted with dissonance. I do this sometimes too I think. But please if you can, try not to explain away our suffering in order to feel emotionally or spiritually comforted and comfortable.
I know this is counter cultural. We are taught to have a ready answer in all things. If you can, mourn with us, for we are mourning. I know that to many we are the unwashed, the Samaritan, we are other. But we are not. We are yours.
Please remember us in your Sunday worship. Remember the leper who would worship beside you in the pews who is now consigned to a distant colony.
Know that there are many who are now being proactively ousted from our families and beloved faith tradition.
Know that many of us have tried faithfully to contort into the mold of celibacy willing to forego anything -even the life giving gift of partnership- to be given the permission to worship in the pews and be considered worthy. Many of us have even been willing to give our sexual personhood to someone of the opposite sex in marriage even when our bodies and spirits have recoiled, only to find decades laster that our offering has spent us and left us with a piece meal dissipation of the feast we once hoped for. Most of us have worn out knees in prayer, have served missions and faithfully fulfilled callings looking to the promise of rebirth only to be made other. And still we love the gospel of Christ. And still we love and would willingly serve you and anyone in need.
Please don’t try to explain away why policies of tribal ousting are ok and desirable. Please do not cross the street or avert your eyes from we who are wounded by the side of the road.
If you can, walk with us, talk with us, hear our stories. The supernal gift of listening is a balm of Gilead.
If you can’t hold space for and mourn with us please at least do not explain to Job the why of his suffering. This is not what we need in the midst of so much sorrow. Please do not sleep in Gethsemane.
On Thursday November 5th, 2015 it came to light that a significant change was made to Handbook 1 -the handbook of instructions used to explain the policy and procedures by which ecclesiastical leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints must abide.
In it a new policy instructs that all same sex couples that are cohabiting or married must summarily be summoned for a disciplinary council and excommunicated as apostates, or enemies of the church. The policy changed the need for a disciplinary council from “may” to “must” and added the new label of apostate to all LGBT couples that are married or cohabiting. This means that the matter is no longer left to the discretion of local leaders based on their discernment. It also means that LGBT souls who are married to or cohabiting with someone of the same sex can no longer offer prayers in church, participate/speak in class discussions or hold callings. Previous to this many partnered LGBT people served in a variety of functions from ward (the LDS name for congregation) choristers to service coordinators etc. This can no longer happen.
Further, the new policy instructs that children of LGBT families cannot receive a name and a blessing in the church and cannot be baptized into it. The latter can only happen when a child turns 18 incumbent upon her/him moving out of their family home and denouncing the practice of same sex marriage. Young adults who come from LGBT families and desire to serve a mission must fulfill the previous steps and receive personal authorization from the first presidency, which is the highest ecclesiastical body of governance in the LDS church.
I was disheartened to see how quickly people took to social media to engage in disputes and to justify why this new form of exclusion and ousting is not only ok but desirable. There was very little to no empathy for how members of the LDS LGBT might be suffering. Responses ranged from dismissive at best to outright antagonistic at worst. The brief post above was my plea and response to the before-mentioned phenomena. It was originally posted on my Facebook feed on November 6th.