(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) In our ward on Sunday, there were specific, assigned meetings with priesthood groups and the Relief Society. Our bishop led the meeting with the Melchizedek Priesthood. The meeting, which had been preceded by an earlier meeting of local ecclesiastical leaders with an LDS regional representative, (which is one step below the rank of LDS leaders who speak at LDS conferences) dealt with gay and lesbian issues. The most significant news that our bishop related to us was that the church acknowledges that there are “some” people who are born with same-gender attraction.
This is a significant admission. Also, previous stances of the church were re-stated, which is that openly gay persons who are chaste and living their covenants are qualified to enter LDS temples. The church’s position, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, was also re-affirmed, as well as its opposition to same-sex sexual relations. There was an earnest plea for compassion and more understanding toward the challenges and struggles that lesbian and gay members deal with.
That’s a message that needs to be repeated. The requirement of an individual with same-sex attraction to deprive one’s self of same-sex marriage and the bonding, support and intimacy that comes with it is a heavy sacrifice that should be noted.
I know that our ward meetings were not the only meeting in a ward that has occurred. In our ward, we were told that a self-identified gay man who has chosen to marry a woman spoke at the original leadership meeting and outlined some of the challenges he faces. These developments are not surprising. Remember that one LDS apostle, just two years ago, revised remarks he had made in a conference talk that claimed that Heavenly Father would not create a child who was gay. (read)
I mentioned my ward meeting on Facebook and many of the responses were interesting. There does seem to be strong resistance among some of my LDS peers to the idea that some people are “born gay.” I can understand this resistance, given that there are still widely read LDS books, such as “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” that are very strict on the gay issue. (It bears noting that at our Sunday meeting, the message was not that all people who self-identify as gay were born that way.) It may even be that the official church stance, if these meetings are explained in greater detail, may contradict what my bishop meant to say.
But I hope that what I heard on Sunday is accurate church policy. Acknowledging the feelings, suffering and turmoil that some LDS brothers and sisters, who are gay, experience can go a long way toward making their lives more peaceful and members more tolerant.