Elder Oaks… Stop It!

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Elder Oaks,
With the respect, concern and sustaining responsibility of a fellow Latter-day Saint, not to mention my expertise as a mental health professional who has worked with hundreds of LBGT+ members and their families, I respectfully ask you to follow the simple and wise guidance we received from your counterpart, Elder Uchtdorf not that long ago: STOP IT!
You cannot continue to pretend to protect families, while profoundly damaging so many others. These purported values (not to mention the policy adopted in November of 2015) are not aligned with the primary principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I cannot support that they have been revealed. And additionally, the claims you made today are not supported by recent research (which actually show that lesbian and gay parents are currently doing a better job than their heterosexual peers). 
We have a suicide youth crisis occurring in Utah… and to continue this cultural bias and unfortunate “tradition of our fathers” promoted as revealed doctrine from God is at best irresponsible… and in my eyes, has taken the following step towards knowing abuse. I am sure you have been alerted to the statistics we are currently dealing with as a people. I hold you responsible for this knowledge and yet choosing to continue in this direction. You have been focused on this issue in this negative fashion for far too long… using your knowledge in law to discriminate and hurt many of our own.
Please use your role as a seer and revelator to focus instead on how we can proactively address the current suicide crisis among LGBT+ youth… how we can address violence that is inflicted on LGBT+ people… how we can proactively address the alarming rates of the LGBT+ youth homeless… how we can help LGBT+ members enjoy emotional and sexual intimacy with a partner that fits their romantic and sexual orientation (necessary for mental and emotional health) in ways that compliment their religious values and testimonies… how we can teach LDS members to not shun members of their own families because they have “come out”… how we can better focus on the keeping of the two great commandments wherein hang all the laws and prophets (instead of policies that divide us)… and how we can start to repent and make amends for the great harm we have done.
Children have been loved and abused in ALL kinds of family systems. Stop putting on a pedestal an ideal very few families find themselves in (regardless of sexual orientation)… and instead, help us focus on supporting parents and guardians on the important and challenging work they have to face on a daily basis.
You may have the power to discipline many of those who have stood up to these harmful practices. But you do not have the power to take away my Mormonism and the beautiful teachings I learned in our great church that allows me to know that we are currently being incorrectly taught and influenced. I will sustain you as one of our leaders. And that includes not allowing you to continue to emotionally and spiritually abuse so many of our people without speaking out about it.
Stop it!
Sincerely,
Sister Natasha Helfer Parker
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Credit for meme goes to Jerilyn Hassell Poole.
*If you are parents of any LGBTQIA+ youth, I give the following recommendation: do not allow your youth to watch conference addresses until you have appropriately vetted the messages. And if you allow them to watch such harmful, abusive rhetoric… please be prepared to have supportive resources, as well as mindful and intentional dialogue around how we can be members of this great church without always agreeing with current leaders and/or policies. Help them understand issues surrounding social justice. And how many churches and communities (ours included) have been slow to challenge their own biases before making changes that align with true gospel teachings.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine and is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mormontherapist/2017/09/ill-follow-dark.html#69PqQVajSrgZELZL.99
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