Unique Outreach by the Rochester Stake

June 25, 2010 | 40 comments
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This week, the Rochester Stake in New York is sponsoring a special performance of Carol Lynn Pearson’s Facing East, to be followed by a fireside featuring a discussion led by the Rochester Stake President. Notably, the performance is being directed by Jerry Argetsinger, who was the long-time director of the Hill Cumorah Pageant throughout the 90s, and costume design is being handled by Gail Argetsinger, a Tony award-winning costume designer who designed and supervised the construction of thousands of pageant costumes during the 90s.

For those unfamiliar with Facing East, it is the story of a Mormon couple who is grappling with the suicide of their gay son. It was written by Carol Lynn Pearson, a Mormon playwright and whose husband (and the father of her four children) left her to confront and explore his own homosexuality.  He returned to live with her 6 years later after being diagnosed with AIDS, with Sister Pearson caring for him in the months preceding his death.  She authored a book about the experience, Goodbye, I Love You, and has sought through her works to encourage understanding among gay members and their families (including the recent No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones). Of her effort, she’s said “I love the Mormon community … and I have a unique opportunity to build bridges.”

This sponsored performance follows other notable developments within the Church this past year, including the Church endorsing a gay rights initiative in Salt Lake City and prominent efforts by the Oakland Stake in California to reach out to gay members and heal the rifts that developed in the wake of Prop 8.  I personally find these attempts at bridge-building very gratifying and am certain that they will help to soften hard edges and result in greater understanding. I’m curious, however, what others make of these efforts, and whether they believe these occurrences are simply anomalies or are the sort of thing we are likely to see more of in the coming years.

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40 Responses to Unique Outreach by the Rochester Stake

  1. Aaron Brown on June 25, 2010 at 1:17 am

    I’d like to believe they aren’t anomalies, and that we’ll see many similar events in stakes around the country in the near future. But I’m not holding my breath.

  2. will on June 25, 2010 at 4:26 am

    From the description it sounds like people can really learn from her Christ like example. At the same time I think we shouldn’t equivocate on what is a right and wrong example to follow. Unequivocally loving those who go astray from the teachings we know true and hold dear? Good example to follow. Leaving your wife and family to explore an aspect of your own sexual nature and desires? Terrible. Having a wife brave and loving enough to accept you back and care for you. Great example again.

    I think most members tend to go overboard out of a strong reaction of seeing a terrible example not to follow and are quick to without love and true charity to our brothers and sisters. But at the same time, no one has the right to ask or accept the church and its members to endorse a lifestyle or accept it as an appropriate alternative. And it no doubt angers and outrages many people to have someone absolutely refuse to accept that as a legitimate lifestyle.

    I read of a woman like this, and I think, how much she was willing to sacrifice for love and how much she was willing to give, and I would do the same. But that doesn’t mean embracing or accepting the actions of those we love.

    “Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more”
    The unequivocal love was giving with an admonition to inspire us to to better, not justify us to do what we have a desire to do. The Lord still loves you if you sin, she still loves her husband and those who sin. I truly wish the other side of the equation would love up to the inspired teachings and strive to sin no more, fully acknowledging that no one is perfect and we can’t do it on our own without His help.

  3. Phouchg on June 25, 2010 at 8:25 am

    When an event like this takes place in Provo or Mesa, then I will be impressed.

    Not holding my breath, either.

  4. SLO Sapo on June 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

    will, I really recommend that you read Carol Lynn Pearson’s books. If you can only choose one, I’d say go for “No More Goodbyes”. Then I think you’ll have a better context for commenting on her experiences.

  5. ESO on June 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    The play is being done this week https://events.rit.edu/event_detail.cfm?event_key=416687&show_small_window=F
    but I am going to a “special” performance next week that is a “fireside.” The play will be done and then the Stake President and his wife are going to conduct a discussion about the play and issues discussed therein. I am very interested to see how it goes. The same SP (in my ward) held a fireside last year to discuss gay marriage and related issues, but I missed it. I am a big fan of the SP, but I don’t know exactly what he is presenting in these forums, so I am interested to see his spin. My impression is that he has held these forums for members of the stake who don’t know quite what to think or how to think about these issues. Again, I could be wrong.

    Anyway, I plan to blog about it after the fireside next week.

  6. Marc Bohn on June 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Aaron and Phouchg – No breath holding here either for anything broad, though I do suspect we’ll see these sorts of events continue to pop up in areas where stakes are grappling with more of these issues.

    ESO – Thanks for the update. I’m very interested in hearing how it goes.

  7. ESO on June 25, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Oh–also I believe these two firesides and even the presentation of this play is a local initiative and not something that has been directed. My SP is like that. He had a choir singing Latin at Stake Conference. But he and his wife DID see Facing East in Buffalo last year–I have no idea under what circumstances, or who produced it–and thought it would be a good thing for people to see. The production is being done at RIT and is a student production. I would love to know what those actors have thought of the material. I hope they stick around for the fireside/discussion.

  8. Chino Blanco on June 25, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Anomaly or not, this sounds like a worthy effort.

  9. Lupita on June 25, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Just wondering what kind of approval process something like this would have to go through or is it entirely up to the stake president?

    It just makes me a little uneasy about how local leadership can either cultivate or decimate these kinds of bridges, depending on individual beliefs/biases.

    As an aside, I had a friend who recently wanted to use a CP song for Youth Conference and was nervous someone would call her out on using something written by a former member. I told her not to worry about it and to my knowledge, no one blinked an eye.

  10. ESO on June 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Lupita–this is a student production at a local university. They are doing an extra performance for us (not advertised to general public) and we are having a discussion afterwards, led by the SP. How is it different from a book club or film discussion? Only interested parties will attend, no one needs to stay for the discussion or take part in it. I don’t see how this could be problematic, unless the SP got really radical in the discussion. Believe me, I’ll report it to you if he does.

  11. Craig H. on June 25, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Lupita, why do you think she’s a former member? Read this:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-08-18/entertainment/17257901_1_mormon-church-carol-lynn-pearson-theatre-rhinoceros

    Has there been some later development?

  12. Torrey Canyon on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    ESO; Here in Zion such an ‘cultural’ activity, as innocuous as it might seem, could easily be interpreted as bordering on the apostate. The drama might, after all, engender empathy for those who deserve no sympathy or pity. Your stake president is a bold and an obviously rational man, but as edifying as this experience will be, those who will attend are those who are already well aware that this is not a simple black/white issue. Amazingly enough, most of the Rocky Mountain Saints still tenaciously retain the idea that sexual orientation is a “choice”. Sister Pearson’s moving drama played here for a short while and most Saints happily ignored it. Seeing the world and all of it’s complex challenges as just a black/white choice makes life infinitely easier and relieves one of many hours of tortuous reflection and thinking. I have known, (Yes, even here in Utah!), gay Saints who have lived the majority of their adult years together as faithful partners, and another who lost his partner in their youth and patiently awaits his death so that they can finally be reunited. These men are typical westerners, masculine in looks, voice and action. Most are inactive by choice, preferring to keep their membership in the Lord’s Church and the love of their life. Others, closer to Salt Lake City, faithfully attend the Tabernacle Choir broadcasts as their ‘Church’. Occasionally, if they are lucky enough to live in a ward that has a tolerant Bishop they will attend their meetings during that Bishop’s tenure. Of those who have passed on, some are buried side by side with identical monuments the only hint as to their relationship in mortality. A few have arranged that the first who passes is cremated and their ashes are placed in the casket of the other partner. Yet to most of these men’s relatives, their relationship is ‘sick’, ‘repulsive’ and ‘depraved’. Next time any of you travel through the “Mormon corridor” here in the Rocky Mountain west, I encourage you to stop awhile and walk through the cemeteries of these little towns and count how many grave stones mark the resting place of the mortal remains of a single Saint. Do you honestly think that all of these folks were just ‘too shy’ or ‘unlucky in love’? Long before Annie Proulx’s* father was even born, Zion had it’s share of gay cowboys, farmers, farriers, carpenters, masons, etc. “Choosing” to be a homosexual in Zion, (and in many parts of the U.S.), is tantmount to being an American Jew desiring to emigrate to Germany in 1939; no matter how you look at it, the idea borders on utter insanity.

    *Annie Proulx: Author of the short story, “Brokeback Mountain”.

  13. Marc Bohn on June 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Carol Lynn Pearson has NOT been excommunicated OR disfellowshipped. Any insinuation that she has is simply slander.

  14. Lupita on June 26, 2010 at 12:55 am

    ESO, I misread the link. I didn’t realize it was a student production at a local university. I was thinking how unfortunate that only certain areas would have access to a production like this depending on whether it received the green light from local leaders. It sounds like something that would be valuable for all of us interested in building these bridges.

    Craig H. Thanks for the link. I recently (six months ago or so) was told she was a former Mormon by a now quite obviously unreliable source. This surprised me at the time and I stupidly did not investigate further. My intent was not to insinuate anything and I will be more careful in the future.

    Marc, it was a malentendu. I meant no disrespect and certainly nothing slanderous (I’m a big CP fan so that would be even more ridiculous). I’ve learnt my lesson and apologize for my irrelevant aside.

  15. SLK in SF on June 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Glad to read this. I’m passing it on to my sister, who was involved in the Oakland Stake’s firesides (and is one of those quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s piece on the Oakland events linked to in the post).

    I certainly hope this trend — if trend it is — continues; I suspect, however, that the places most in need of this kind of thing will almost certainly be the last to see it happen.

  16. Alison Moore Smith on June 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Torrey Canyon, your nastiness toward Utah Mormons aside, I find it interesting that you use terms like “the Lord’s church” while apparently vehemently disagreeing with the church’s official position that any sex outside of heterosexual marital sex is sinful.

    So, is it that the church leaders are just ancient, backward, homohobic kooks and the truth of the normality of homosexuality will eventually work it’s way up to the cranky old hierarchy or is it that sin doesn’t matter and should merely be embraced by LDS folks in order to be seen as enlightened and progressive? Or do you believe that no behavior can accurately be described as “sick,” “repulsive,” and “depraved”? Or even God can’t put such labels on any behavior? Or something else?

    I’ve been asking about women’s issues in the church for years. I don’t have a problem with asking questions about policy vs doctrine and how culture plays into all that. But the position you seem to take appears untenable.

    As for the production, I haven’t seen it (I loved Goodbye, I Love You (read it when it first came out) but find some of Pearson’s stuff to be a little too…shall I say stream-of-consciousness for me), but of course it could be problematic.

    She promotes “circling the wagons around our gay loved ones.” What does that mean? In other words, what action is being promoted? Of course we love our gay loved ones, just like we love all our loved ones. Of course we love everyone, we are commanded to do so. Of course we are decent and civil.

    But “circling the wagons” in my mind connotes protecting, harboring, etc. So what does that mean with regards to homosexuality? Protect practicing homosexual from, for example, being subjected to church discipline? Accepting homosexual sex? Bringing homosexual couples into our homes to live together? As I said, I don’t know what she means by the term, but of course the same sin/sinner issues exist in the case of homosexuality as they do with ANYTHING that the church claims as sin.

    If you just reject the idea that homosexual sex is a sin, then it’s really a different discussion. But since that IS the church’s current position, then there are obviously ramifications in promoting tolerance, respect, or acceptance of such behavior.

  17. DavidH on June 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    “then there are obviously ramifications in promoting tolerance, respect, or acceptance of such behavior.”

    Doesn’t banning discrimination in employment or housing on the basis of sexual orientation (including homosexual behavior) promote tolerance, respect or acceptance of such behavior? What are the ramifications of the Church’s official support of bans on such discrimination by private actors?

  18. Torrey Canyon on June 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Sorry, Sister Smith! Evidently, I have touched a nerve with you. The fact is that I am a member of the Church in good standing and if there was facetiousness in my comment allow me to assure you that in was in your perception and not in my intent. It is obvious to me that you do seem to have more than a touch of homophobia, which is sad to see in such a sincere Latter-day Saint. My points were as follows; 1.) The Stake President of the Rochester Stake is a man of courage and intellect to try to engage a thoughtful dialogue with interested members of his stake, 2.)It is simplistic in the extreme to think that sexual orientation is simply a choice, 3.) There are gay LDS even here in Utah who still believe in the Church, have committed monogamous relationships, and have, due to hostility such as that you have demonstrated, gone ‘underground’ in order to live out their lives in the state of their heritage and home of their Church, 4.) the likelihood is very great that there were gay pioneers, children, grandchildren of pioneers, even up to the present day. They sacrificed just as much, if not much more, to come west with the Church, and 5.)[See #2] You would have to be insane to think that any human being will be willing to submit themselves to a lifetime of hatred, hostility, and calumny for the sake of a “choice”.
    Now as to some of your questions;
    Yes, there does appear to be some correlation between level of education,degree of domestic and world travel, living outside of the Rocky Mountain West and perceiving the world and it’s challenges as all simple black/white issues. As to the labelling of behaviors by mere mortals, that is usually subjective isn’t it? You will, like just about everyone else, inherit and uphold your parents prejudices and pass them on to your children. It might surprise you to know that the Church is losing a significant number of it’s youth here in the U.S. because of, among other things, the hatred and intolerance which they see in the Church membership towards gays. I would even go so far as to say that the Church is dying in the west. As to the pejorative words used in the OT, if you remember the Savior said unequivocably in the BoM that the old law was fulfilled in and done away with in Him. It is now antiquated, irrelevant and not to be considered by Saints which accept Jesus as the Christ.
    I don’t see that my position is that untenable as you seem to think. Don’t we still believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God? We also know God will give no revelation to a mind which would resist it due to their own inherent prejudices or preconceived views. Or as Joseph as said about Martin VanBuren, “There was no place to put the truth in him.” Speaking of the Prophet Joseph, he said on at least three occasions that if he were to tell the Saints all he knew about the Kingdom of God they would string him up. In Nauvoo he chastened them by saying that everytime he tried to introduce a new, (or restore an old), doctrine they shattered like glass. So it could just as likely be that no further light will be given on this issue until the Saints are better prepared to accept it. Looks like we have a while to go.
    “Circling the wagons…” means protecting your gay children from the insults, detrimental comments, and what some might call psychological abuse that comes most often from a hostile membership and occasionally a lower eschelon Church leader. It could also mean doing all that you can to see that your son/daughter don’t reach the point of such utter depression that they take their own lives, believing that the Gospel and Church they have grown to love and cherish sees them as evil and of no worth.
    As to ‘accepting homosexual sex’ who asked you to? A person’s intimate relations with their life’s partner aren’t really any of our business. There are plenty of heterosexual activities that many gays find equally repulsive and nauseating as you seem to feel about homosexual practices. Even the Church has wisely abstained from that line of questioning now for Temple Recommends. Please don’t be silly, homosexuals would no more want to live in your home than you would want to live in theirs.
    What they do want, and I think you would find this very difficult, is for their fellow Saints to honor and respect their life’s partner and understand that they might feel the same depth of love and commitment to them as you do to your husband. You aren’t alone in your innate heterosexual superior attitude, the Catholics, Evangelicals, and some Protestants share it. But that is a time honored way to perpetuate oppression; diminish, belittle and devalue the other person and their feelings, relationships, beliefs, etc.
    No, it really isn’t a different discussion at all. It is, and always has been, at least for believing gay Mormons, solely and totally about love. Do you practice ‘righteous’ love and they practice ‘evil’ love? Should we amend Scripture to read, “God is only righteous, heterosexual love, and all other loves are from Satan” rather than the unequivocal, “God IS love”.
    Finally, many of these believing Saints will tell you that they have come to the conclusion that being gay is not only an integral part of their being, but that it is meant to be a further test of their faith in this mortal life. They are to live by faith alone, without the mutual support that usually comes with being active in the many aspects of Church life. They will also tell you that they continue you receive inspiration and revelation in their daily lives which is a witness to them that they are not an anathema to their Father in Heaven. They accept the activities of the Holy Spirit in their lives as an indicator that they are loved and accepted by their Heavenly Father. Or as one put it, “Why would God call me out of the ‘world’, introduce me to the Gospel, have me study and pray about the truthfulness of the Restoration, and then give me one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life as a testimony that I was doing the right thing, all the while knowing full well that I was gay? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just have me hit by a truck if I was as disgusting to Him as I am to some of my brothers and sisters in the Church?”

  19. Carl Youngblood on June 27, 2010 at 1:56 am

    I think that one significant meaning of “circling the wagons” focuses on how many church members struggling with homosexuality don’t feel the love and acceptance they need from their fellow church members and often end up seeking acceptance from the secular gay community, which exposes them to all sorts of dangerous influences, such as rampant drug use and promiscuity, HIV, etc. If we really love those who are struggling with this then we would go out of our way to show them help and understanding and do everything possible to prevent them from abandoning their LDS community. We would “circle the wagons” around them and show them how much we care.

  20. Alison Moore Smith on June 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    DavidH #17:

    Doesn’t banning discrimination in employment or housing on the basis of sexual orientation (including homosexual behavior) promote tolerance, respect or acceptance of such behavior?

    Yes, it does! You’ll note that I didn’t take some position with regard to those ramifications, just noting that they obviously exist. To denigrate a group (as Torrey did) who is struggling to manage and evaluate changing situations seems counter-productive.

    The same has happened over the years with issues such as fornication, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, etc. How do you “love the sinner” without making the problematic BEHAVIOR also become acceptable? I don’t think there are easy answers.

  21. Alison Moore Smith on June 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Torrey, grow up and move on from name calling already. First, because you don’t know what you’re talking about and, second, because It proves nothing, except that you don’t have a real point. And to be clear, I didn’t ask you any questions about Utahns or Utah Mormons. As I said, I set that “aside” because, again, ad hominem only reflects on the person using it.

    As to the labelling of behaviors by mere mortals, that is usually subjective isn’t it?

    My actual question was: “…do you believe that no behavior can accurately be described as “sick,” “repulsive,” and “depraved”?”

    It might surprise you to know that the Church is losing a significant number of it’s youth here in the U.S. because of, among other things, the hatred and intolerance which they see in the Church membership towards gays.

    Let’s assume temporarily — just for the sake of discussion — that our church leaders are correct and homosexual behavior is a sin. We have also been told that sexual sin very serious sin. Does the church change this standard because youth are growing up in a society that contradicts the church position?

    As I said above, I have been asking gender issues for years. Because, frankly, I hope that a lot (most? all?) of the gender inequality is a matter of culture or practicality or even error, not of some eternal doctrine. But given the fact that I believe God is the ultimate decider, I have to leave open the POSSIBILITY that what he says won’t follow what I want. I think we must do the same for any moral issue.

    As I’ve written before, I’d be fine with a change in church policy over homosexuality. Mostly because I know how it would change things for my homosexual friends. (Shocking, I know, that Utah Mormons would have homosexual friends! Egad!) I know how they have struggled — some since junior high — and it would change the world for them. I would love to have their sexuality be a non-issue.

    But in spite of those desires, I can see some very significant reasons why it would be very problematic doctrinally. And I have to leave open the possibility that God really does think homosexual behavior is “an abomination.” Because maybe he really does.

    I have another friend — someone I have known since I was in elementary school and just recently reconnected with. He was actually my Sunday School teacher when I was about 8 or 9 and made a huge difference at church by making our class a safe place for me. I also had a huge crush on him. He is LDS and served a mission. He is also a registered sex offender for soliciting sex with a minor. He had seemingly incontrollable urges and desires.

    In his case — mostly because of the lack of consenting adults involved — I do NOT hope for a change in policy. In fact, a change would be appalling to me. Even though the sexual barriers in our culture are ALL becoming less rigid — and we are sexualizing children more and more — I desperately hope that we will never find his behavior tolerable in any sense. And, yes, I think God thinks his behavior is also “an abomination.”

    No, I don’t think Christ’s new law said homosexuality was cool with him.

    So it could just as likely be that no further light will be given on this issue until the Saints are better prepared to accept it. Looks like we have a while to go.

    I agree with your first sentence, but the second (if I read it correctly) is an illogical leap. You seem to PRESUME that the “further light” will simply be that homosexuality is OK. But that’s quite a presumption.

    I appreciate your take on circling the wagons, although I’m not sure that’s the universal interpretation.

    As to ‘accepting homosexual sex’ who asked you to?

    When we normalize any behavior, we ask for it to be accepted by everyone in society. We don’t live in vacuums. Private behavior is often regulated and it certainly affects society.

    ..as you seem to feel about homosexual practices.

    I’ll actually address this stupid piece of ad hominem just for chuckles, since you seem unable to converse without resorting to it repeatedly. Torrey, please tell me how I “feel about homosexual practices”? I can’t recall ever writing about this or discussing it with anyone except my husband. So, while I’m sure YOU would be blown away at how liberal my thoughts are on the matter if I were to write them down, since I haven’t done so, it will be fun to see you divine what’s in my head. I’m listening. Please tell me how I feel.

    What they do want… is for their fellow Saints to honor and respect their life’s partner and understand that they might feel the same depth of love and commitment to them as you do to your husband.

    No, it really isn’t a different discussion at all. It is, and always has been, at least for believing gay Mormons, solely and totally about love.

    Torrey, declared sin and declared love ARE two different issues. You may have heard about the seminary teacher who declared his love for his student last year? No matter how he feels, his behavior (sex with an underage girl, sex while married to someone else) was sinful.

    Does “God is love” cover that? And the acts of my sex offender friend as well? Or do we allow God to declare some behaviors sinful?

    Finally, many of these believing Saints will tell you that they have come to the conclusion that being gay is not only an integral part of their being, but that it is meant to be a further test of their faith in this mortal life. They are to live by faith alone, without the mutual support that usually comes with being active in the many aspects of Church life. They will also tell you that they continue you receive inspiration and revelation in their daily lives which is a witness to them that they are not an anathema to their Father in Heaven. They accept the activities of the Holy Spirit in their lives as an indicator that they are loved and accepted by their Heavenly Father.

    There’s this funny problem with personal revelation. It’s often used as a trump card. Who am I to tell Joe that his claimed inspiration is wrong? Joseph Smith claimed revelation that I believe. Dan Lafferty claimed revelation that I disregard.

    If some claim that God is pleased with their homosexuality, then I’m glad they are at peace with it. But the claim would be meaningless to EVERYONE ELSE, because it’s not general revelation.

    Or as one put it, “Why would God call me out of the ‘world’, introduce me to the Gospel, have me study and pray about the truthfulness of the Restoration, and then give me one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life as a testimony that I was doing the right thing, all the while knowing full well that I was gay? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just have me hit by a truck if I was as disgusting to Him as I am to some of my brothers and sisters in the Church?”

    This is utterly nonsensical. Let’s just replace “knowing full well that I was gay” with ANY other claimed sinful behavior in the world. “…knowing full well that I was unfaithful,” “…knowing full well that I was a liar,” “…knowing full well that I didn’t pay my tithing,” “…knowing full well that I am lazy,” “…knowing full well that I am greedy,” “…knowing full well that I am a drug addict,” “…knowing full well that I lose my temper.”

    How does the fact that God brings someone the gospel somehow excuse sinful behavior they are participating in? Well, if I’m an adulterer and the missionaries show up and I pray and realize the gospel is the real thing –well then adultery must be OK or God would have had me hit by a truck.

  22. Alison Moore Smith on June 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Carl Youngblood #19:

    I think that one significant meaning of “circling the wagons” focuses on how many church members struggling with homosexuality don’t feel the love and acceptance they need from their fellow church members…If we really love those who are struggling with this then we would go out of our way to show them help and understanding and do everything possible to prevent them from abandoning their LDS community.

    IMO part of the problem is the same problem with ANY behavioral issue. How do you do the things you suggest without encouraging the BEHAVIOR itself?

    How do you rally around the pregnant teen (as opposed to when I was a kid and they disappeared to an aunt’s house for a year), show her love, throw baby showers, and swoon at her darling baby (things I supported a couple of decades ago) without making teen pregnancy seem very attractive and rewarding and cool (something I didn’t see until later)? I don’t have an answer, but I see both sides.

    Assuming that the church’s position is correct that homosexual behavior is a sin, we want to discourage homosexual behavior while still showing love to those who are homosexual. And to discuss how to do that, you have to acknowledge that social consequences have real impact on people.

    Last week my girls were at YW camp. There were specific rules about modesty. When a girl broke one of the rules, she was asked to correct the BEHAVIOR. (Go put on longer shorts, put a shirt on over the bikini top, etc.) Of course no one spit on those who broke the rules or called them names, but they were expected to comply with the set standard.

    Similarly, when we look at other inappropriate (by church standards) behavior, is it acceptable to ask or expect people to (1) correct inappropriate behavior or (2) comply with set standards? I suggest that generally this is NOT perceived as being “tolerant” enough with regard to homosexual behavior. And this disparity creates a dilemma for many members.

  23. Torrey Canyon on June 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Ah, such rancor, rage and venom from such an august, vastly superior intellect! As you accuse me of not possibly knowing your thoughts on homosexuality, I am in utter awe at how you feel so amply qualified to accurately gauge my intellect. (Ad hominem, I beg your pardon. I thought that this was a blog, not Harvard Law School. Evidently, blogs aren’t meant for the expression of personal opinion.) I submit that you are no more competent to understand what it is like to be a gay Latter-day Saint man than I am to understand what it is like to be a faithful, feminist Latter-day Saint woman. My thoughts were evidently wasted on you, but I hope that other readers of this blog felt them to be of worth. Happy Sabbath!

  24. Chris H. on June 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I wish T&S would stop doing these type threads. They are making me like Alison. This is very weird for me. Maybe we need a Glenn Beck post to set things right again. :)

  25. Chino Blanco on June 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Go on and circle those wagons, Chris H. I still can’t figure out why you’re so enthusiastic to protect and harbor folks, like Alison in #21, who continually equate being gay with doing wrong.

  26. Diane on June 28, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Jun 25, 2010 (3 days ago)The Worth of Soulsfrom Daily Gems 7 people liked this
    I opened my reader to find your interesting discussion followed by this quote in my next feed. “We sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. We know from modern revelation that ‘the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.’ We cannot gauge the worth of another soul any more than we can measure the span of the universe.”
    Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign, May 2010, 69

    We all have much to learn about compassion.

  27. Alison Moore Smith on June 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Torrey, it’s cute that you re-prove my point in #23. If you think ad hominem is only fallacious in law school, you are mistaken. You’ll note I didn’t address your intellect. I addressed your lack of using facts — which doesn’t take mind reading, just reading.

    Chris H., that is, indeed, tragic. :)

    Chino, I repeatedly qualified homosexual *behavior* as being the problem — just as the church does — not some abstract idea or labeling. In fact, in four posts I used the word “behavior” 23 times. If that was lost on you, I think it was selective reading.

    If, on the other hand, you’re just arguing that homosexual behavior isn’t wrong, then you can argue with church leaders about that. The church’s position isn’t fuzzy.

  28. Chris H. on June 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Chino, I guess I just do not take blogging all that seriously. I do not agree with Alison on anything that I am aware of. However, I appreciate her style…in some sort of twisted form of appreciation.

    I guess I am one of those political science-types who misses the days when conservative and liberal Senators shared drinks together. I wish we could blog more that way. I have plenty of enemies and friends, but there is not a ideological or philosophical logic to this dichotomy.

  29. Kristine on June 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Allison, the church’s position may not be fuzzy, but it is evolving. 15-20 years ago, the distinction you’re making between orientation and behavior was not operative in the church’s policy or discourse on the subject. Given that history, and the particularly ugly homophobia that sometimes characterized the Church’s rhetoric (Miracle of Forgiveness, anyone?) it’s not terribly surprising that the neat love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin distinction you’re relying on fails to convince.

  30. Ardis E. Parshall on June 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    (Totally irrelevant, but I’d be interested in hearing from Torrey Canyon how s/he can determine from a gravestone that someone was single. Too many of my own married ancestors were buried at great distances from each other for me to be able to guess anyone’s single status, much less sexual orientation, from a lone gravestone.)

    It certainly is true that the church’s distinction between orientation and behavior has evolved in the past generation. I don’t know, though, how you can fault someone like Alison who has adopted the current position and is speaking of things as they are — or should be — now, rather than as they once were, and may be still among some backward members. To do that is no different from insisting that the church is institutionally racist because even though our position on blacks holding the priesthood has changed, we all really know (wink, wink) that nobody really accepts the church’s current position. It’s time to allow that those of us who make a distinction between orientation and behavior really do not harbor “sick, repulsive, depraved” impressions of gay members, or refuse to fellowship with them so far as they’re willing to fellowship with the rest of us. Neither the church as a whole nor Utah in particular take our cue from the Chris Buttarses of this world.

  31. Ardis E. Parshall on June 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Sorry, I don’t know what the plural of “Chris Buttars” should be. That is perhaps due to abhorrence of the idea that there might be more than one.

  32. Bart on June 29, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Hate the sin but love the sinner is just bunk. It’s so characteristic of the trite sound-bit era we live in.

    And to Allison Moore Smith—Why don’t you let the Good Lord do the judging. It’s obvious that you can in no way be objective on this subject. Stop and desist.

    “Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive”…Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section 5 p. 257. So, we really don’t know everything, and those who purport to do so are deceiving themselves. And to shock you further; Lorenzo D. Barnes was the first missionary to die in a foreign country while serving a mission. It was universally known that he had a “partner” by the name of Marcellus Bates. The Prophet Joseph spoke at length at a memorial servicee of the love they had for each other. In one of his speeches, as found in the “History of the Church,” Vol 5, Ch. 19, p. 363. the Prophet is quoted as saying, “To Marcellus Bates let me administer comfort. You shall soon have the company of your companion in a world of glory, and friends of Brother Barnes and all the saints who are mourning. The prophet is said to have spoken for about 2 hours and these same words were found in “Times and Seasons”, vol 6 No. 9 as well as the diaries of Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Smith Diary, and the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. No, brothers and sisters, we certainly do not know everything. Pride and arrogance beware.

  33. Chris H. on June 29, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    “That is perhaps due to abhorrence of the idea that there might be more than one.

    Ardis, there are millions of people just like them. Many in our own state.

    I have discussed the love the sinner saying here:

    http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2010/05/on-the-saying-%e2%80%9clove-the-sinner-hate-the-sin%e2%80%9d/

    But, as is discussed in the comments of my post, I largely reject the idea of sin.

  34. Chino Blanco on June 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    @27 As far as I can tell, you failed to maintain the orientation/behavior distinction in your #21 when you wrote:

    Let’s just replace “knowing full well that I was gay” with ANY other claimed sinful behavior in the world. “…knowing full well that I was unfaithful,” “…knowing full well that I was a liar,” “…knowing full well that I didn’t pay my tithing,” “…knowing full well that I am lazy,” “…knowing full well that I am greedy,” “…knowing full well that I am a drug addict,” “…knowing full well that I lose my temper.”

    Oops.

  35. SilverRain on June 30, 2010 at 7:45 am

    #34Chino—I miss your point, since all of the substitutions Alison made are behavioral.

    #31—Ardis, you make me laugh. Thank you!

  36. Mark Brown on June 30, 2010 at 9:31 am

    While most LDS people I know are not overtly racist, the fact remains that in my ward, where we baptize 30-40 black people per year, we retain only about 5% of them. For whatever reason, we still have a lot of work to do to overcome our past.

    With regard to gay LDS people, the message from the church president and other general authorities is to welcome them, extend a hand of fellowship to them and be a friend. A generation ago that was not the case, and the best measure of whether we are succeeding with the current advice is to simply ask gay people if they feel welcome among us. We are losing 98% of them, do we really have much doubt about what the response would be? In view of that, it seems a bit overwrought to stand around here wringing our hands and wondering whether we are being too nice to gay people. God doesn’t measure out his love with a teaspoon, what makes us think we should?

  37. Chino Blanco on June 30, 2010 at 11:43 am

    #35–That all of the substitutions Alison made are behavioral is exactly my point. I don’t think I’m guilty of selective reading or willful misreading of her #21. In that comment, she clearly suggests that being gay is somehow the same as doing wrong. Alison can insist that she’s made a distinction between orientation and behavior, but I don’t see it.

  38. GSA on July 3, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Facing East at RIT was not a student production. It was a professional showcase production complete with an Equity/SAG cast with Broadway and major motion picture credits. The Rochester Stake Fireside was attended by several local church leaders and a member of the Area Presidency. It is amusing to note that some members seem to think that merely discussing homosexuality is subversive. The play is not critical of LDS church doctrine. It does explore the idea of what it means to behave in a Christlike manner within the context of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One anomaly is that the exemplary “Mormon behavior” of the gay son who commits suicide went unnoticed by his devout parents merely because he was gay, while the non-member partner of the boy was attracted by his Christlike ideals. Evidence is strong, in the LDS culture, that our behavior is destructive and not in line with the Proclamation on the Family. It is imperative that LDS families learn how to embrace and support their gay children within the context of church doctrine.

  39. Marc Bohn on July 3, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for that update GSA. Were you able to attend the fireside? How was the discussion?

  40. GSA on July 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Marc ~ Since you asked so nicely. I am the director of the show and was one of the respondants for the fireside. I was hoping that some of the interested parties who posted Before the production would write their perspectives After the production. I guess we just didn’t do anything to make tongues wag. First a correction: my wife Gail is a Dora Award nominee. That is the Canadian equivalence of the Tony Award, but as many factoids grow on the internet, it is time to bring that one back to reality.

    The member of the Area Presidency led the SRO crowd in a standing ovation after the production. He pointed out that the situation in the play is absolutely prototypical of what he and other church leaders see again and again: a young man who has struggled to not be gay since puberty, has lived an exemplary life, has served a mission, but a few years later can just not continue. He also pointed out how balanced the discussion of real issues that families face was in the script. Our stake president commended the members to read “God Loveth His Children” and the Oaks/Wickham interview on the church website. He also recommended the other interview, but I personally take exception with that one (which also contradicts Oaks in at least nine key areas).

    The general sense of those attending seemed to be that they were sympathetic to the dilemma, but they were also tied to a notion that “doctrine” may not allow them to be compassionate. That is why this, as well as the Oakland and Idaho Falls firesides, are so important. They are catalysts for awareness, but also serve as a call for action by the highest levels of church leadership to provide examples of appropriate Christ like behavior. Members are afraid to act without “permission.”

    The most significant comment for me came from a young mother. She stated that her father was gay and that she had closed him out of her life and had never let him see his grandchildren. Because of this experience she was going to contact him and begin to build bridges, starting with bringing him into her home to meet his family. “No greater love . . . ”

    My own objective was to explore what it means to be a latter-day saint, which is to say, to examine how we can “bear one another’s burdens and comfort those who mourn.” How can we claim to follow the principles outlined in the Proclamation on the Family if we engage in behavior that physically or emotionally damages or destroys our own children? No one has the right to use the name of the church or their own interpretations of “doctrine” to support their own personal bigotry. God states that he is no respecter of persons, we should follow His example. We need to learn how to be compassionate within the parameters of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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