On Tuesday, gay rights activists will, according to news reports, hold a rally on or near the BYU campus. How might you respond to this?
Consider this statement from President Hinckley:
People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are. We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families. (Gordon B. Hinckley, â€œWhat Are People Asking about Us?â€? Ensign, Nov. 1998, 70f.)
You’ll notice that he begins by expressing love. Now, I don’t think we need to emulate our evangelical brothers and sisters with their cheesy, over-the-top expressions of love. But I think that if any of these vistors leave Provo having sensed hatred, derision, scorn, revulsion, or contempt from you, you will have failed to follow the prophet’s example. Further, if you do these things, you will confirm the (erronous) assumption that opposition to homosexual behavior is simply homophobia. By showing love and respect, you will help make clear that these two concepts are not, in fact, related.
If you encounter rally participants, please remember that their primary identity is not Gay Rights Activist; it is “beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Please treat them as such. For a model for how a faithful Latter-day Saint might interact with–even establish an edifying friendship with–an advocate for gay rights, you need look no further than this Ensign article.
The experience that these activists have with BYU students this week may constitute one of the few contacts that they will have with the Restored Gospel during their lifetimes. Please remember who and what you represent.