A copy of a letter I sent to my Bishop & Stake President in advance of the letter regarding the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality that was directed to be read out in Branches and Wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on either 07/05/15 or 07/12/15.
I am led to understand that a letter from the First Presidency regarding marriage is to be read and discussed at Church on either this or next Sunday.
We have a friend visiting with us at the moment who identify as LGBT. He is not yet a member but he always attends Church with us when he visits. Do you think the discussion will take place in a way that will make him feel loved?
I am concerned that the letter perpetuates a sense of the LDS Church and those who are LGBT. There are members of our Ward and Stake who identify as LGBT, including myself. There are many members of our Church who are active and in good standing and striving sincerely and earnestly to be the best they can be in living all gospel standards. Other members may have loved ones who identify as LGBT and are struggling with how to handle that relationship.
What can be done in the meeting to mitigate this sense of 'us and them', and to ensure that it us understood that we are an inclusive Church where all are welcome?
The website mormonsandgays.com emphasizes that being gay is not a choice and is not of itself a sin (acting on it in breaking the law of chastity is the sin, not homosexuality itself). I find many members are both unaware of the Church's website on this subject and do not believe that the Church teaches that being gay is not a sin until I literally show them the website. How can this important point be reinforced in the meeting? Will members be directed to Mormonsandgays.com for more information?
Given that homosexuality is not a choice (and therefore, I propose, unable to be 'undone' by reparative therapies) and that our Church no longer recommends people with homosexual desires marry someone of the opposite sex anyway, we effectively expect those who are LGBT to live a single life in this world with no hope of finding romantic love and marriage in this life.
That's a lonely scenario that many who are LGBT fine depressing. It's a higher standard than will be asked of straight people. Can we acknowledge that please and discuss the ways that we can show empathy and love to those who are LGBT? How can we best help those who are LGBT and active members stay active and maintain gospel standards whilst not alienating them by talking about 'the gays', 'the gay agenda' etc?
I am a board member of the Sit With Me Sunday foundation. It provides scholarships to students who are active members identify as LGBT. Requirements for consideration include a current Temple Recommend and a letter of recommendation from their Bishop or Stake President. These young men and women face profound struggles in trying to reconcile their feelings about both their Church and their sexuality. When our meetings and members include negative comments about 'the gays' it makes it that much harder for them to feel welcome and valued at Church --- which is one of the few places in the world that will encourage them to be chaste.
How can we encourage their participation and activity and ensure they feel welcomed and valued?
Many thanks for your thoughts on this challenging issue.