Marriage, Homosexuality, and Excommunication: Thoughts on the Case of Buckley Jeppson
A few days ago, the Associated Press ran a story about Buckley Jeppson, an active Mormon who is threatened with excommunication because of his legal Canadian marriage to his male partner.
Buckley and Mike
According to the press release, Jeppson’s stake president has been encouraging him to resign his membership, but ‘Mr. Jeppson says that he finds it unthinkable to simply walk away from his faith and heritage. He explains, “Being a member of the Church is not like belonging to a club. It is my history, my family heritage, my testimony, and the faith to which I have devoted the last 57 years of my life. I just want to worship quietly and peacefully in a place that is safe. I don’t ask the Church to change its doctrines or practices. I just want us to be left alone.”‘
The Safe Space Coalition (www.ldssafespace.org) is organizing to send thousands of flowers to Jeppson’s stake president to support Jeppson and to support the the creation of a safe space for homosexual members within the Church.
My heart goes out to Brother Jeppson and others in the Church who are in a similar situation. It must be inordinately painful to have to choose between your life partner (in this case actual spouse) and a faith tradition you love and believe in.
The fact that Jeppson was legally married in Canada to his partner does make the case even more poignant for me. Clearly this is a couple that is devoted to each other and the idea of monogamy. Not only does their marriage make it more poignant, but it also might complicate potential Church disciplinary action. After all, technically, their sexual activity is taking place within the bounds of a legal marriage. I pity the bishop and stake president who have to make this decision. I realize it will not be easy to balance charity, compassion, personal perspectives, the handbook, media ramifications, and the pressure of setting of a precedent for future cases like this.
I personally don’t expect that the Church will change its doctrine towards homosexuality any time soon – if ever. I don’t expect that they will eventually condone it. But I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that the Church will slowly, softly, ward by ward, bishop by bishop, change its attitude towards our homosexual members who are living in monogomous partnerships. Rather than excommunicating the people who are the most marginalized and the most in need of Christ’s love and fellowship in his Church, perhaps local leaders one day will open their arms and say, “We’re all sinners. We all need Christ’s atonement. Please, please come and worship with us. You are welcome here.”
I would like to hear your opinion about this case. What do you hope the disciplinary court will do?Do you think LDS should open their arms to homosexual members and investigators, and if so, what are good ways to do this? Would you be bothered by an active homosexual serving in your ward?