Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Part II, Speaking up in Priesthood Meeting

The following blog post is another comment that I made on a post in a LGBTQ Gay Mormon group on Facebook.

I started attending the Kensington Ward in November. I have not publicly introduced myself or explained my situation because of the stigma many members attach to excommunication and homosexuality. After two months of being in the ward, just about everyone recognizes me as belonging there, but nobody (with few exceptions) knows me. One of those exceptions is a stake high councilor who has become a friend and knows my story.

So when I spoke up in Priesthood (the High Priests Group), only a couple of men in the group know my status, and it isn't generally known that I am excommunicated. The instructor was teaching the lesson Love Thy Neighbor. He said, "What about love the sinner; hate the sin?" I immediately spoke up (because I just couldn't let this go unchallenged) and said, "You always love the sinner. If you don't love the sinner, you break up families, you destroy friendships. You ALWAYS love the sinner." By this time, I was on the verge of getting quite emotional. Some of the brothers were nodding their heads in agreement.

The instructor moved on to the next point in his lesson, and we never got around to hating the sin, for which I am grateful. Afterwards, I thanked the instructor for the lesson, and I told him, that hating the sin destroyed my family, that all that we need to do is to love the sinner, and the rest takes care of itself. He thanked me, and I think he and I will have future discussions.

As for the other brothers, they may wonder what sparked my outburst. It is clear from what happened earlier in the lesson that several of the men are quite judgmental about behavior ("We have caffeine-addicted members. Some of our home teaching families have alcohol problems"). I felt I had to speak up because of my personal theology.

I don't believe that as members we are ever called to judge; we are only called to love. Now different people have different notions about what that love means, "tough love" for example. But at least I can move the conversation away from sin and judgment to loving behaviors, regardless of another member's situation. I also expect members to love me, and I will tell them that.

This is the first time that I've really spoken up in a meeting. It has given me some courage, and if I need to, I will be more forthcoming with my personal story. I am unconcerned about how members view me, but I feel moved to love them and to challenge their harmful attitudes and behaviors. I'm not sure how to do it. I certainly appreciate your thoughts and prayers about how to do effective ministry within my ward. I love these people, and I really want the pain, hurts, and burdens that they carry to be recognized and to be lifted.

As for sin, we are all broken and fall short of the perfection that we've been taught. I earnestly believe that grace covers that brokeness. So I want to be open to love these people. I want them to be open to love me.

Oh you guys, I'm grateful for this discussion. I really makes me think and grow. Thank you for having my back (and my heart).