How can you call yourself a member of our Church when you stand by the evils of homosexuality spoken of in scripture?
I received this question after posting the following link on my Facebook page:
Tyler Glenn, a recently active and devoted LDS member, return missionary and famous musician who used his influence to speak positively of the church (even as a gay man), just came out with a new solo song. Trash depicts his relationship with the Church since the exclusionary policy came out last November. It’s a performance full of despair, anger and pain in regards to the symbolism of being treated like trash and being put out by the curbside in our community. I can understand why it would make many members uncomfortable. At the same time, he speaks of something much deeper than discomfort with the red X he paints on his face towards the end of the video and the church-wide excommunications so many of our LGBT members are experiencing. At the end of the day, people need to self-protect to survive. And Tyler needs to be considered “treasure” by those he associates with, not “trash.” What a travesty that our church has put an entire population in the position where self-protection means having to wrestle with their faith tradition at this level of anguish.
My answer to the above question goes as follows:
I “stand by” the two greatest commandments spoken of by Christ. Everything else is a much, much distant second. So many things in the scriptures are mentioned many more times than homosexuality, and yet we feel perfectly comfortable paying them no mind: eating certain foods, wearing costly apparel or jewelry, taking care of the poor at the level the scriptures command, not judging/criticizing others, being left-handed, etc. And there is good historical precedence that the few scriptures (I believe there are two) that mention homosexual behavior were about men taking advantage of underage boys. The current focus on homosexuality by the entire religious right is a bit ridiculous in light of the scripture cherry-picking we all tend to engage in. After all, we regularly eat our shellfish, drive our fancy cars, wear our diamond wedding bands, walk by the homeless, support cutting welfare programs, and the list goes on… (and I include myself in this critique).
I “stand by” as witness of the evils of judging and condemning those who are in pain, and dealing with things that we with straight privilege will never understand. I think that’s why dialogue gets stuck. It’s not that one side adheres to scripture while the other doesn’t. It’s more about which scriptures each of us decides to highlight and prioritize. Kind of like the “Garden of Eden” choice of obedience vs principle. We can’t always have it both ways. Ethical dilemmas are inherently defined by something being amiss in an arena we are not used to questioning. And I know that when it comes to choosing between obedience vs. an ethical principle, I lean towards Eve’s approach – every time. Therein lies the beauty of the Mormon understanding to the Genesis story, so unique and profound compared to many other Christian interpretations where Eve is only seen as a mistaken fool. And why it is so disheartening to see our current Mormon culture be so obedience-focused. It continually breaks my heart that there isn’t room for more of us to feel, not only welcomed, but truly at home.
I have watched LGBT friends, clients and loved ones fall in love, date, commit to relationships, marry, raise children and just live. There is nothing evil about homosexuality (that’s not even a position our church currently takes). There is nothing evil about homosexual relationships. There is nothing evil about homosexual love or sexual expression. I do not “stand by the evils of homosexuality,” because they don’t exist.
If you’re interested in hearing more of Tyler Glenn’s story and understanding where he is coming from, he did a phenomenal interview over at Mormon Stories.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org. She authors the Mormon Therapist Blog, 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 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.