Sunday, November 12, 2006

Counterpoint--A Place At the Table

The most difficult and poignant session at the Counterpoint Conference dealt with the question: “Is there a place for our gay brothers and sisters in the eternal family?” Though it wasn’t mentioned at the conference, Carol Lynn Pearson’s recent book “No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones” was on my mind. I had just read the press release announcing the book with this quote by Rabbi Harold Kushner:

“Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson, for reminding us that the task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we’re entitled to hate.”

I wish all of you could have met these eminently lovable children of God who addressed us at the conference.

Tina Hatch intelligently and emotionally described her attempt to integrate Mind/Body/Spirit. She explained that truth production in Western thought is centered on white, male, middle-class, institutional point of view. Differences are misunderstood and feared. She has found through much struggle and spiritual confirmation that happiness is possible outside of the traditional hetero experience. Said Tina, “I am whole the way I am. God created me and told me I am good.”

Hugo Olaiz spoke about the position of the LDS Church on homosexuality. He claimed that the position they have taken in the Proclamation is very recent. He said that it is not based on the teachings of Joseph Smith, but rather a tactical effort to combat homosexuality. Hugo nonetheless believes that leaders are more willing to admit there are genetic factors. He says there is no need to rewrite our theology, but calls for the following actions:
1. Call them what they are.
2. Stop endorsing support groups promoting changing orientation
3. Stop condemning same-sex families.

Kathryn Steffensen, the mother of a gay man, found little support when her son came out as gay. “When he came out of the closet, we went into the closet.” Kathryn says that there need to be more positive gay role models. She founded Family Fellowship to meet a need for support. She decided in her journey never to overtly challenge the institutional Church—they have the power to keep people out of the Church. Instead she vows: “we’re going to make the world better for you.”

LeGrand Olsen bore a powerful testimony of his spiritual convictions. He discovered he was gay in spite of his strong witness of the Church. “There is no peaceful dealing with this,” he lamented.

Another Speaker gave a personal account of her experiences as a lesbian in the Church. She and her partner have been excluded from many family events. They have made a place at their table for all who desire friendship. She sees no similar inclusion for gays in the Mormon Church.

I am glad to see a few slow changes in policy toward gay members of the Church. No longer do leaders excommunicate members who come out as gay simply for their orientation. Some few gay members hold callings in their wards. I realize that change has been very slow. I wonder if Carol Lynn Pearson’s new book will be as widely read as Goodbye I Love You, and if it will stimulate the changes that she hopes it will.


Téa said...

When I read this was a topic at the conference I wondered what would be said. I see much about life here and its challenges.
Did anyone address the "eternal family" aspect?
Does anyone feel that people are/will be gay only during their mortal lives?
Celestial marriage doctrine of a man and a woman runs counter to the idea of an eternal same-sex partner, so I would disagree with Hugo Olaiz' position that theology would not need to be rewritten to have room in the eternal family, unless persons are gay only for mortality.

Bored in Vernal said...

The eternal family aspect was discussed in the context of LDS families being willing to "cut and paste" their gay family members in this life because they don't believe they will be with them in the next.

I find that the majority of heterosexual Mormons believe that a person's attraction to the same sex will be "healed" in the next life. The majority of gay people I know personally feel that in order to finally accept themselves and find happiness they had to come to the conclusion that their orientation was a part of their true and eternal nature, and the way God made them was good.

I find myself unable to take a strong position on either side.

Rather than doctrinal discussions of homosexuality, this session of the conference focused more on the individuals' struggles to reconcile their testimonies of the Church and their feelings of alienation from its teachings. But I think you're right that Hugo's position is untenable, at least the way that LDS doctrine has been defined in the Proclamation.

Téa said...

"cut & paste"
Ouch. I winced when I read that, realizing at the same time that my reaction is microscopic compared to the pain of those being cut =(

It makes sense to focus on individual experiences with doctrine, testimony, and family--I generally find such to be more compelling than impersonal discussions of theology in a conference setting.

Anonymous said...

If someone has even the slightest understanding of the true doctrine of the Plan of Salvation, you will understand that there is no place for gays in eternity. The final purpose of us being here in this earth is to become like God. Those that make it to heaven will do the things our Heavenly Father does: have spirtual children. That is only possible between a man and a woman. We were created at the image of the Gods, man an a woman.

Anonymous said...

Nice "blog" article by your husband in the Vernal Express ( Now the whole Basin will be Blogging! Why didn't he just mention your name instead of "Bored in Vernal"? Are you both ashamed of what you write here in this blog? My question to you is this... What are you trying to accomplish with this Blog? You’re not a General Authority, yet you talk like you are one. I feel sorry for those not of our faith who read your blogs. The positions you take on topics like: Gays in the Church, Excommunication, single moms, Mountain Meadows, use of Church Funds, etc are off base and inflammatory. I think you are trying to confuse your non LDS readers and stir the pot with the rest of us. I highly doubt you would be so bold in your Naples 2nd Ward Gospel Doctrine Lessons (who knows I might just swing by and listen in for myself). As for your daughters and their church callings... The daughter I talked to said she didn't belong to any religious groups.....? I'm sure you do go to the temple and I hope your sessions heal your heart... but does your Bishop and Stake President know about this blog site? I wonder what they would say? Please answer my questions...

Anonymous said...

I have given you a few days and still no answer to my post? I think your silence speaks volumes.. Please answer my questions posted above...

Bored in Vernal said...

I think you, like others, have already decided who I am. I doubt my answers will make much difference. But here they are.
1. Yes, my husband is ashamed of me and what I write in my blog.
2. No, I do not think I am a General Authority.
3. I originally started blogging because I had many things inside me that could not come out. I desired a connection to humanity and a dialogue with people who would try to see me as a person of worth. I think there are people like that out there. But I realize now that my views are incompatible with most of Mormondom whether it be on the ward level, DAMU, or Bloggernacle. I really don't belong anywhere.
4. No, I don't say these things in Gospel Doctrine
5. One daughter is on a mission (Korea), the second has just received a mission call (Italy), the third is at BYU-I, four, five and six attend the ward each Sunday with the family and hold callings in YW, seven is a boy about to be ordained to the priesthood and eight is looking forward to her baptism in a few weeks. I don't know who you talked to.
6. I don't know if my Bishop or SP read this blog.
7. I'm sure they would be just as ashamed of me as you and everyone else in my world.

Anonymous said...

Do your kids know how you think and feel? Please tell them. Nothing is worse than thinking your parents believe in certain things and then find out that they believe something else.

Anonymous said...

Your brother in Vernal ^^^^^

Anonymous said...

would you take my name off your blog. Thanks, Shelly