So instead, I will share my thoughts here and be grateful for the situation. The entire lesson is great, but the last section is the one that gets me thinking. The subtitle is:
"We can cultivate harmony in our communities by respecting the freedom of all people to believe according to their own conscience."
It begins with the 11th Article of Faith, which says we claim the privilege of worshiping God the way we want to, and we allow others to do the same.
OK, so here is my thing. I have prayed about and personally come to believe that gay sex within a relationship of commitment (or marriage, rather, where available) is no more a sin than heterosexual sex. Maybe I am wrong and will eventually face the condemnation of God for my opinion, but that is for God's judgment and no one else.
I am not saying that I have the authority to receive revelation for the church and that they should change their stance. I'm simply saying that according to this Article of Faith, I should let them believe what they want to believe, and in return they should allow me the same privilege. Now of course, if I am to stay a member of the church in good standing, I obviously can't live what I believe (not that I would want to, of course) and I also shouldn't voice my opinion in a church setting since it is contrary to the teachings of the church. (Although I see voicing an opinion of gay sex vs. voicing an opinion that the church should not have been involved in gay rights politics as two different things, while my church leaders tend to view them as the same thing and therefore BOTH wrong to talk about. *sigh*)
So obviously, the main problem I have is the church's political involvement this past year, forcing their beliefs on people who are not members of their church, whom they have told are welcome to believe what they believe about God (and therefore about sin as well, don't you think?) But for some reason, they are so sure that this is a moral issue, that it is a condemnation of God that will bring destruction to any society that believes in it, that they will not allow me to simply believe what I believe without condemning me for it and telling me that I really don't have the freedom that they say I have.
Maybe the church needs to rewrite the 11th Article of Faith to align to what they truly believe, that others can believe what they want to believe as long as it is not in conflict with the moral teachings of the true church. Wouldn't that go over well for a church that teaches that pride is also a sin? But at least they would be honest instead of two-faced.
I can feel the heat of this issue rising within me, and I realize that it is a very good thing I am not in Relief Society today.
The text of the lesson, of course comes from Joseph Smith himself. Get a glimpse of some of his words here:
"If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do..."
"We ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangely present themselves, and are so congenial to human nature, against our friends, neighbors, and brethren of the world, who choose to differ from us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God."
"...In my feelings I am always ready to die for the protection of the weak and oppressed in their just rights."
"We will ... cultivate peace and friendship with all, mind our own business, and come off with flying colors, respected, because, in respecting others, we respect ourselves."
Um, does anyone else think we need to highlight that last statement and send it to the church leaders, PR department, or whatever?
So I can't really tell them what I want to tell them, and I am feeling anything but peace and harmony as I realize the conflict the church has with these words in their own lesson. So now that I have it off my chest here on my blog, I will turn to prayer. I pray for peace and harmony with the church and the world. I pray for people in every LDS congregation throughout the world (but especially here in the good old US of A) that as they hear and read this lesson, it will make them think a little bit about prejudice, and maybe even a little bit about gay rights. I know it has made me think, and I am honored to say that I have a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God and I am very grateful for his words in this lesson. This church was founded on love and peace, and maybe, just maybe they will someday recognize that it is possible that they have drifted a bit from the Christlike love on which they are founded.
Jesus walked away from none, he gave his love to everyone, so I will, I will. I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you. That's how I'll show my love for you. (Carol Lynn Pearson, "I'll Walk with You")
I want to publicly thank a couple in my ward for their true Christlike love toward Scott and I. They have their own strong opinions, but I continue to feel of their sincere love for us regardless of whether they agree with us or not. Thank you, Jacob and Melissa. I don't know if you realize how much your friendship means to me and is helping me to stay active in the church and in our ward.
I am also incredibly grateful for the people I work with (specifically the math department), for being open, for listening to me and learning from me (and I from them) and most of all, for continuing to love me without judgment. They are all active members of the LDS church as well, and have been true Christians in supporting me as they do. I am truly blessed with an awesome support network.