Sunday, October 3, 2010

Conference Blues

To all of my gay friends that might be watching conference and struggling with feelings of being gay, please do not kill yourself over President Packer's words.

(Quotes are approximate from my memory.) "These unnatural feelings are not inborn. Why would God do that to anyone? He wouldn't. God will not give us temptations more that what we can handle."

He continued to speak, but my mind was running his words over and over in my head instead of listening any more. By the end of his talk, I was sobbing and pleading with God that all of the young men and young women listening to his words will not take his words as the words of God and kill themselves because they simply cannot change or cannot keep trying to change.

God loves you the way you are!

President Packer quoted the scripture, "Men are that they might have joy." I believe that. God wants us to be happy.

I've mentioned this before, but my 14-year-old daughter has sometimes said the exact same thing: "Why would God do that to anyone? Why would he make them gay and then not let them have the happiness of love and marriage?"  And of course, my children understand the pain of it all too well as they watch the unhappiness of both of their parents right now lacking love in their lives.  I love Scott with all of my heart and soul, but the fact that he cannot return that love makes our marriage broken.  Is that fair to him, me, or the kids that Scott followed the counsel of apostles years ago, that marriage to a woman is central to God's plan for happiness and must be done, just to find out now that he just can't do it anymore?

Don't get me wrong--I love the gospel. I loved the Primary program last week.  I love the spirit I feel when I am there and the values that my children are learning by attending. I don't feel uncomfortable at church any more like I did a few months ago.

A few words in conference so far have touched my heart. I LOVED President Monson's talk on not judging others in the Women's conference last week. But I had to turn conference off for my own sake yesterday after Elder Cook's talk about the right of religions to voice their opinion in public and to the government on moral issues. And then right after Elder Cook was another talk on following the Prophet. Those talks have been prevalent through every session. The attitude of essentially blind obedience seems rampant in the membership of the church, and is getting worse.

A few weeks ago in Relief Society, the teacher said "Some people are critical of me for being so unwavering when it comes to following leaders. They ask, 'If your leader asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?' 'Yes, I would because I know God would be there to catch me, or there would be some important reason for me to follow that instruction."

Someone in the meeting commented and said, "But we are not supposed to blindly follow our leaders. We should pray to know if what they say is true."

"Yes," the teacher responded, "but the spirit will always tell us that what that leader says is true and inspired."

I rolled my eyes, and went back to doing something on my phone instead of listening to the rest of the lesson.

When I came home and told Scott about the meeting, he said, "If I had been there, I would have asked if she would be willing to tie a bomb to herself and go blow up a bus if a leader told her to do it. That kind of mentality is dangerous."

Wow.  What a perspective! Do terrorists that act in the name of God have any less faith in their church leaders than we do in ours? Obviously not. They must believe that they are doing the right thing, or why in the world would they commit suicide and kill others like they do.

I turned the TV off again after Elder Packer's talk. I later heard about Elder Oaks' talk on personal revelation, that our own inspiration will never be contrary to revelations leaders receive. So, what about the revelation to Nephi to kill Laban? That revelation directly conflicts with one of the ten commandments.

I don't know. It is all so confusing and frustrating. Last year after much praying and pondering about the church's involvement in Proposition 8, I determined that God wanted me to be against it, and that either I needed to feel that way because He did not agree with it either, or because I needed to be able to feel true empathy for my gay friends and their families that were also struggling at the time. I know that it was personal revelation to me from God, and I cannot deny it any more than Joseph Smith could deny having seen God and Christ in the Sacred Grove. Yet, the peace and inspiration that I felt on the matter were in direct conflict with what the leaders of the church were doing and saying.

Needless to say, conference is frustrating, and perhaps my local leaders are right, perhaps I am not worthy of a temple recommend if I cannot support many words spoken in conference. Perhaps that does mean that I do not truly sustain them. But I cannot support President Packer's words, and that is that.

I just found this marvelous quote in an old blog post:

"We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves." (Joseph Smith - Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595).


Brandon said...

Ummm Sarah,

I don't know what really to say. Thank you for this post. I hope it is able to promote much good between the church and those members who are gay. I hope your bishop sees that you are so faithful and worthy of a recommend. You have done nothing but defend the church. It is because of people like you that I don't resent the church. I hope he reads that. Love you,


Jeff in Colorado said...

You can have my recommend. Right now, I just don't feel like I even want it anymore.

I had very similar thoughts to yours while listening to President Packer.

I worked with a young man who had asked himself that very question: Why would God do this to me if it isn't part of his plan?

He concluded that God must hate him. That's honestly how he feels because he can't see any other reason.

This past year I was starting to think that maybe the church was making progress. They supported that gay rights initiative in SLC. Other apostles were starting to recognize that being gay isn't a choice and can't be changed. Elder Marvin Jensen's actions in Oakland.

Then this. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post Sarah.

Right before conference started I read Carol's account of Elder Jensen's visit. I was happy. My heart relaxed as he spoke about the need for more compassion and understanding.

And then, during the aforementioned conference talk, I was shocked. I almost slammed the lid down on my computer. Why did he have to say those things? Why? It hurt me. It hurt me to think of my ex likely hearing those words and feeling the pain I often saw in his eyes. I listened to the rest of conference.

I needed this conference to help reassure that yes I still accept most that the church teaches and want it in my life. In the end, I think I got it. Or at least enough for now.

But I'm sad to think of when in Relief Society someone will bring this up. They undoubtedly will in my ward. But I know that I need to continue working on sorting my own thoughts out. It is the only thing I can do to have peace, and just hope that those who heard his words and struggling to find a balance between the church and the realities of life can know that there are people out there who love them, support them, and understand.

I've heard so many times at church that the gospel is black and white. It's not. It's a million different shades of grey, defined by our experiences, circumstances and surroundings. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand what it means to be a living, breathing human being.

Thanks again for this post Sarah, for every post.

Your strength, resilience and darned determination to find peace buoy me up continuously.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I think gay members/members with gay family should know that there are a lot of moderate LDS people that arent against them. Im not going to march for gay rights anytime soon, but I would never discriminate against them either. Just remember that there are people in your ward, that whether you know it or not, are willing to support you if you just ask!

Emily Pearson said...

Hi! Your blog was recommended to me as a great one for a project I am working on for a digital publishing company - gathering the best of blogs written on the topic Homosexuality and the Mormon Church. I would LOVE to include posts from both you and Scott. If you are at all interested in being included, and for more information, please email me at

We are moving forward with this ASAP.


Rich said...

Sarah you are a great example of what a Daughter of God ought to be! Damn those who can't see it and would use your Temple Recommend as a negotiating tool! You do so much good in the moho community. No matter what happens between You and Scott I hope you never give that up!

Sarah said...

Thanks Rich, and no worries. I can't ever see myself giving up on my involvement with lgbt issues and people. And I don't think our kids would ever forgive us if we stopped having the parties. :)