Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baby Steps

Many people are not aware that the LDS church's official policy and opinions on homosexuality (or same-sex attraction, as they like to call it) really have changed significantly over the years. See Scott's timeline for a detailed documentation of those changes.

I also realize that for many people, it feels like the church's participation in Prop. 8 and also Elder Oak's recent talk at BYU Idaho have taken the LDS church backwards by a few large steps.

But I still believe they really are making progress, even if it seems only like baby steps forward.

I was going to blog about a significant article in the Ensign back in September, but life was crazy (especially with shutting down my blog for a while) and I never got around to it. The title of the article was "The Best Thing I can do for Leigh", and even though the author's attitudes and opinions are not quite like my own, I still thought it was actually a pretty big step in the right direction. The article is from the viewpoint of a lady with a gay sister, and how she still accepts her sister and partner into her home and her heart, allowing her children to associate with them as well. She does specifically mention not agreeing with the sister's lifestyle choice, but one cannot expect anything other than that from a message in an LDS church magazine. I thought it was just great that the article indicated that having same-sex attractions is not a choice, and that we can still accept and love family members who might choose to live in a way that is not in harmony with the teachings of the church.

Now we have seen another step forward this past week. I have seen many rejoice over the news that the church would make a statement in support of anti-discrimination laws in SLC that specifically pertain to gay rights. But there are still many others that are annoyed by or suspicious of the action. An editorial (*or rather, a letter to the editor :) in the Deseret News today expresses disappointment in the church with the following opinion: (as usual, the comments are infuriating and entertaining, if you have some spare reading time)
"The agenda of the gay community is to gradually force the rest of us to accept its lifestyle as normal, which it never will be. So I am disappointed that the LDS Church and Salt Lake City have taken a step in that direction. Do we also have to accept kissing in public and private areas? Do they deserve the same benefits as the rest of us in the workplace and housing? That should be up to the employers and the landlords. No one should force an employer to hire someone indiscriminately. The applicant must have those skills and qualifications that fit into a particular job opening.
I am opposed to gays taking our rights away from us."

Another organization (that is comprised of church members) claims that the church only made such a statement because they were forced to. They apparently sent out 80,000 faxes last week to voice that opinion.

And then some in the gay community are outraged with the wording of the statement, or that it is too little too late, or that it seems more like a political move than a sincere statement of compassion and reason. They have become so bitter that they are suspicious and cynical, unwilling to see anything good in the statement.

But I choose to believe it is a step in the right direction, and not only that, but as big a step as the church can make right now. For example, full and equal rights for Blacks in the church came when the time was right, when the world and specifically the membership of the church was ready for it. Others may disagree, but I believe it is similar in this situation. As evidenced by the editorial mentioned earlier, there are many members of the church who are not ready for a major new policy or endorsement of gay rights, and making any kind of drastic statement, I believe, would be harmful to a significant percentage of the membership of the church.

It is sad that so many lives have been lost and that individuals and families have been hurt so badly by the church's words, actions, policies, etc., over the years. But I have faith that God has a plan, and that little by little, He will put that plan into place as we are more ready for it. After all, we do believe that God "will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Of course I have no idea what those revelations will be, but I know they will come, that hearts and homes will be healed, that members of the church will find themselves on a path to become more like Christ, and that someday we (or our posterity) will look back at this battle and marvel at how things used to be, and how things have changed for the better.

Unfortunately, trying to be patient and have this kind of faith is not easy. That is why I have to cling to the "baby steps" to remind me that there is in fact progress, and that there is always hope.

I think I have said this before, but I believe that the war Satan is waging on us with this issue is less about the immorality of homosexual behavior and much more about contention, cynacism, and bigotry on both sides. May we all rise above it, and may both sides make a greater effort to build bridges, understand each other, and be more like Jesus Christ in thought, word, and action.


Ned said...

Agree wholeheartely with your comments. Just one minor terminology issue: the piece in the Deseret News you referenced was a letter to the editor, not an editorial. Both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune's editorials have praised the city and church's recent agreement on SLC's gay rights ordinances.

Glad you are seeing the baby steps. I agree they are a reason for hope.

Beck said...

I enjoy your final paragraph. Great thoughts summed up in those few words. Thanks!