The Blood on our Hands

Rainbow hands

A couple years ago, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about my newly emboldened beliefs about the Church’s policies and political advocacy against LGBTQ rights. She implored that the Bible, and therefore God, preached against homosexuality “all over the place!” Despite there being only six references to homosexuality in the entire Bible (as opposed to the thousands of references to social justice and protecting the marginalized), this is what she wholeheartedly believed.

She isn’t alone. Members of our church and many others have used those six verses to spread hatred and bigotry in the name of our God. Those six verses fueled Prop 8 in California. They fueled Obergefell vs. Hodges. They fueled the 100+ anti-LGBTQ bills that have been passed or are currently in the process of being considered in 22 states.

And then events like The Pulse happen and we act surprised. How could all of this hatred and scare-mongering actually lead to the unthinkable inevitable?

We are quick to blame someone else because it’s easier that way. It’s easier to believe it’s terrorism or ISIS or something that we aren’t connected to. It’s easier to believe the dozens of anti-LGBTQ laws that have been proposed in the last six months have nothing to do with it. It’s easier to believe that our conversations about “religious freedom” and “safe bathrooms” have nothing to do with it. It’s easier to believe that we wouldn’t ever do something so heinous.

And yet we point to Leviticus to prove that God disproves of homosexuality. That God certainly wouldn’t want LGBTQ persons to enjoy the same rights as the rest of us, that God doesn’t want us to “accept their lifestyle,” that God wants us to “stand firm” against “immorality.”

Perhaps we were not holding the gun but we certainly would keep them from their families for eternity.

Perhaps we were not holding the gun but we turn a blind eye as our LGBTQ Mormon youth hold guns to their own heads after their silent desperation can be borne no longer.

Perhaps we were not holding the gun but we fail to recognize that we are advocating for our “religious freedom” based on verses that advocate the killing of LGBTQ persons.

Today we send out our thoughts and prayers to those affected. We mourn. My hope and prayer is that tomorrow we won’t be back out there trying to keep them second-class citizens. Maybe, just maybe, the blood of the fallen innocent will speak to our hearts and change our social consciousness as we take notice of the blood on our own hands.

Amy

Mother, writer, dreamer, hopeless romantic, opera singer, reader, researcher, lover of Jesus, Mormon and a feminist. I spend my days taming toddler tantrums and kissing boo boos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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78 Responses

  1. Alice's t says:

    Amen!

  2. Diane says:

    Amen Sister. And I am not LDS. I am a general nondenominational Christian who musically serves all people, currently serving the Episcopal church. I am a 60 year old bisexual female. My husband, a straight male, and I have been married for 43 years.
    I have a granddaughter who is a lesbian, just 17 years old. I have a half-brother who is gay and has lived with his partner for 20 years. I had a gay cousin who passed away at age 70.
    LGBTQ people are just people.
    There is such a thing as irresponsible, inflammatory public discourse, which only gives nuts out there an excuse to grab a gun and start shooting.

  3. Risa says:

    Thank you for this, Amy.

  4. Catherine says:

    Amen Sister.

  5. Sherri says:

    Great job, Amy! I was thinking of writing something similar but you covered it.

  6. Andi says:

    Disagreeing with this sister’s interpretation of those Bible verses, is healthy and a great conversation to have. However, implying that she and people who think like her are responsible for gay violence in this country is disgustingly dishonest.

    This slaughter happened because of radical Islamic ideas, and homosexuality’s are murdered all over the Middle East where there are no Mormons somehow causing the murders by disapproving the lifestyle. In fact Christians are being slaughtered in greater numbers than gays in the places where this radical Islamic ideology thrives. If you don’t agree with someone, fine, state that. But this kind of unsupported blame of people that are trying to do the right thing, and have never been violent is stereotyping at its very worst.

    • Amy says:

      Andi, I didn’t place the blame squarely on conservative Christianity, I said that we have blood on our hands. Rhetoric matters. How we talk about people matters. It’s irresponsible to suggest that rhetoric of violence and bigotry don’t fuel extremists. And, quite frankly, there’s as much theological backing for “radical Islamic ideas” that lead to violence against LGBTQ persons as there is theological backing for Christian violence against LGBTQ persons.

      • Andi says:

        I have never heard anyone advocate violence in my religion. In Islam, that is advocated and carried out. Saying that the lifestyle is not condoned (usually coupled with expressions of love and wishing there was a way to help) is FAR different. I don’t have any blood on my hands on this issue.

        You and others are critical of Christians. Christians are murdered around the globe frequently. Do you have blood on your hands for those murders?

      • Amy says:

        I am critical of violence wherever I see it. I am a Christian but yes, I *am* critical of Christians using scripture as a reason for hatred and to limit freedoms of LGBTQ persons (or anyone for that fact). It is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. We need to change our rhetoric. We cannot say “the Bible condemns homosexuality and that’s why I fight against ‘the gay lifestyle'” in one breath and then act shocked in the next when someone does the very thing their rhetoric supports.

      • Diane says:

        Amen again.

      • spunky says:

        Andi: “In Islam, that is advocated and carried out.”

        I do not think you are well-enough acquainted with the Muslim faith to claim this authoritatively; the same can be said for Christians, and your comment smacks of uninformed judgment.

    • Rob Osborn says:

      I agree with Andi,
      As LDS we may disagree with a myriad of sinful practices but that belief isnt leading to us killing them. For instance- we disagree with the pornography industry but I dont see Christians in this country opening up fully automatic machine guns on Hefner and his minions. I dont see Christians in this country go and blow up movie sets filled with porn stars.

      Way off base with this post.

  7. Andi says:

    I am critical of violence wherever I see it, as well. I *am* critical of LGBTQ allies who use scripture as a reason for hatred and to limit freedoms of Christians (or anyone for that fact). You cannot say “the Bible condemns not supporting the LGBTQ lifestyle and that’s why I fight Christian intolerance” in one breath and then act shocked in the next when someone does the very thing their rhetoric supports. I would hope that you would extend Christians the same tolerance for their deeply held, non-violent beliefs.

    • Amy says:

      I am confused by your comments Andi. I was speaking purely to anti-LGBTQ rhetoric within my faith tradition (I was raised LDS). Of course there are many, many lovely and non-violent teachings. I’m not taking on the entire canon of Christian theology, I’m asking us to examine our own backyards and root out hatred where we find it.

    • Andi says:

      Oh, as a supporting detail; Christians are shot in church frequently in this country. There have been hundreds of murders of Christians in church since 2000. I would need to look up the numbers, but it may be that they are targeted more than gay people. There is a lot of hostility toward Christians, go look at the comment section of ANY liberal website on a marginally religious topic and you will see the evidence of that. I don’t think that your honest critiques of Christians have to stop, but don’t hypocritically insist that your criticisms don’t fuel anger, and yet mine, also non-violent, do.

    • Amy says:

      Andi, I agree with you that hatred and violence against Christians is wrong. Whether that is throughout the world or within our communities, it is wrong. I do not condone it and I do not support it. I would like to point out, however, that per capita, LGBTQ individuals are far more likely to be harassed, bullied or experience acts of violence than Christians are by a very wide margin. Our LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide because of the bullying they experience. I can only speak to my experience growing up as a Mormon girl in a liberal state, but I never once feared for my life or even worried that I would experience social ostracization for my beliefs. As a Christian woman, no one has ever limited my rights to free practice of my religion. No one has ever attempted to bar my presence in public spaces. I have literally never once been the victim of a violent attack because of my faith. Have people tried to persuade me that I’m wrong? Of course. Have people even spoke angry words against my beliefs? Sure. But I have never been threatened for them or experienced anything more than some rhetorical sparring in equally-weighted forums. I’m not going to claim that is the experience of every Christian person in North America, but it is the experience of most. That is not the experience of most LGBTQ persons.

      At this point we all get to decide–do we carry on with the way things are? Do we continue to use our religious beliefs to tear others down and to deny them full rights as citizens? Or do we pull back and assess how we can change to make things better? As a mother and a Christian, I’m suggesting that we need to stop. We need to evaluate how our beliefs are hurting others. We need to exercise the Gospel of Jesus and turn the other cheek and love who we perceive to be our enemies. Anything less than that is unChristian.

      • Marivene says:

        Amy, you said “I can only speak to my experience growing up as a Mormon girl in a liberal state, but I never once feared for my life or even worried that I would experience social ostracization for my beliefs. As a Christian woman, no one has ever limited my rights to free practice of my religion. No one has ever attempted to bar my presence in public spaces. I have literally never once been the victim of a violent attack because of my faith.”

        I grew up in Ohio, converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at age 15 ( nearly 5 decades ago),& had to wait until 18 to be baptized because my father would not give permission, & I experienced every single one of those things that you did not not, as a result of my change of faith. I was certainly not the only one in my ward who experienced this. Two of my high school friends, one a Southern Baptist & the other a Jehovah’s Witness, were similarly targeted. I don’t think you can accurately claim that non-harassment & lack of violence is the “experience of most Christians in North America.” In the early Church, many of the saints were killed for their faith, as well as threatened & assaulted. It may politically incorrect to say, but right now the LGBT community is the one in the persecution cross hairs, but over the history of the LDS church, many of us have experienced the same, being literally driven from place to place. My “beliefs” do not beat up & assault other individuals, & I kind of resent the implication that they do & that I need to “evaluate how our beliefs are hurting others.” I feel that my obligation as a Christian is to follow Christ. Period. Full Stop. He is my Savior, & he gets to decide what is, & is not “unChristian”. To assume there is no cost to following the Savior is naive. In the Scriptures, it is pretty clear that Christians suffer persecution for the faith, so I really do not expect that to change, but having had multiple interactions where I have been told I was “not a Christian” because I was a Mormon, extending back over more than 4 decades, I no longer allow ANYONE to tell me I am not a Christian, or that I am being “unChristian” without reminding them that they are not the One who gets to make that determination – the Savior is.

      • Ames says:

        I’m honestly very disturbed that there are so many people trying to co-opt this tragedy to make it about them.

        This shooter did not go into a club to kill Christians. He went in to kill LGBTQ people. If you’re going to make this tragedy about you, then you’re part of the problem. End of story.

      • Andi says:

        @Ames, the OP coopted the tragedy to score points against conservative Christians and Mormons, who had nothing to do with what happened.

  8. Amy says:

    But really, I’m not at all interested in making this about one religion versus another. We can only look inside our own hearts and our own religious communities. In the US, Christianity is the majority religion and in 22 states there are anti-LGBTQ laws being enacted or in the process of being passed. We can blame this on other people, on a religion and a people we don’t fully understand, or we can look in our own backyard and figure out how we can change things. Perhaps even if there had been no anti-LGBTQ rhetoric being spouted from pulpits and legislative buildings then we could point to other people to carry the blame. But we can’t.

    • Andi says:

      You can blame the people who are violent, and I won’t blame you when an angry person shoots up a Christian church in the US.

  9. Amy says:

    Are you suggesting that it is completely okay for people to use the Bible as backing for rhetorical violence against LGBTQ people so long as they are not the ones holding the trigger when the guns come out?

    • Andi says:

      When have you heard an LDS person use the Bible to advocate violence against LGBTQ people?

      • Amy says:

        Andi, plenty of people have used Leviticus 20:18 as reasoning to show that God disproves of homosexual relations. They state it without missing a beat or apology or disagreement or even trying to theologically work around it. They accept it at face value. This verse states that homosexuals should be put to death. I’m not really sure how much more clear people can stand on linking hatred and violence to their theology.

      • Andi says:

        If you were raised LDS you would know that the harsh laws of Moses are not applicable today or any time after Christ. When have you heard an LDS person use that verse to advocate violence? Because I have never heard that, and you are implying that it happens all the time currently.

      • Amy says:

        Perhaps you should remind people then that Jesus spoke precisely zero words regarding homosexuality and that, since the Law of Moses has been fulfilled, we have absolutely zero canonical legs to stand on when it comes to denying equal rights to LGBTQ persons.

        I’m not suggesting that LDS people or Christians promote violence against LGBTQ folks. I don’t even believe that most members would consider what they say or do as “hate.” But it is. To fail to see the humanity in our fellow beings is hateful. To fight to block equal protections under the law is hateful. To state that it is God’s fault on top of all of that–that even the all-loving, supreme Being of the universe is against them, will punish them eternally for their actions–that is hatred. To use the name of Jesus as the crutch on which to lean as this rhetoric is spouted and perpetuated is an abomination. So no, most LDS and even most conservative Christians would never outright condone the violence, but it’s irresponsible to suggest that our words and our actions do not play into the violence against marginalized people. Unless we are reaching our arms out in love and support, we are part of the problem.

      • Andi says:

        You have talked in a complete circle now. No LDS person I have ever known has talked about LGBTQ people with anything but kindness. Not approving of their actions does not equal hate.

        In a civil trial the reasonable person standard exists. Is there anything you can point to that a reasonable person would think means LDS people have blood on their hands for violence. Because if disapproval makes you responsible, I have pointed out that you and your friends have the blood of Christians on your hands. But I don’t think that passes the reasonable person test. Do you?

      • Amy says:

        “No LDS person I have ever known has talked about LGBTQ people with anything but kindness.”

        Perhaps this is where our experiences greatly differ.

      • Louise says:

        Look up Boyd K. Packer’s “To Young Men Only”, in which he talks about a missionary who beat up his companion for being gay, and thanked the young man saying “Somebody had to do it”. Spencer W. Kimball’s “Love Versus Lust” talk, in which he suggests Jesus considered the death penalty for homosexuality “in numerous places” in the Bible. There’s more, but I want to keep this short instead of getting mean.

      • Andi says:

        So a pamphlet from 40 years ago and a talk from 50 years ago which you say are offensive. Nothing since Hillary Clinton has changed from being a Republican? Ok, I’ll take your word for what you say they say, sounds mean. I’ve never heard anyone refer to them except you, now. In the mean time there has been no violence from church members against gays and no calls for violence. Amy is implying that we are fueling a hatred of LGBT that leads to current violence and yet you can’t give me one current thing.

        And the big thing no one has an answer for is that if by stating disapproval of the lifestyle we’re condoning violence against LGBTQ people, when you are stating disapproval of Christians aren’t you condoning the violence against Christians all over the world? If simply stating an opinion causes violence, you guys are inciting violence in your disapproving words. If this is truly what you believe you need to stop ever criticizing the beliefs of Christians.

      • Ziff says:

        Andi, I love how you wave away stuff from “40 years ago” as irrelevant. I wonder how that works out for you at church. When we read the Howard W. Hunter manual and there are quotes from 1950whatever, do you raise your hand and say it doesn’t matter anymore? I think you’re forgetting that we’re in a church that tries to carefully correlate its history so that all past sayings of all GAs are seen as relevant to everything today. It’s great that you want to wave away such awful stuff. I wish I could make it go away too. But you can’t pretend that just because it’s old doesn’t mean that it still holds sway for most members.

  10. Rob Osborn says:

    BTW,
    Im all for passing laws that protect the traditional family. Does that make my hands stained with blood?

    • Diane says:

      Traditional families are already protected. Accepting other types of families (single mothers with children, divorced mothers with children, widows with children, siblings that live together, parents and children that live with grandparents, single mothers with adopted children, couples with no children, couples with adopted children, people who live with unrelated roommates to be able to pay the rent, polygamous families, polyandrous families, lesbian or gay couples with or without children, be these biological of one spouse or adopted, couples who have pets instead of children, aunts and uncles who take in orphaned children of their own relatives, etc.) does in no way hurt or undermine so-called traditional families. And I’ll have you remember that in traditional families mothers did not work outside the home. So either you keep your wife from working outside the home, or give up the notion “traditional family”

      • Andrew R. says:

        ” And I’ll have you remember that in traditional families mothers did not work outside the home.”

        In what tradition? Maybe in LDS, but not in a very great many traditions.

    • Emily says:

      Rob, protect it from what?

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Legalized immorality (same sex marriage)

      • EmilyHB says:

        Nope, cannot say that that has been my experience at all. I’m straight married, my brother is gay married, and I have been unable to detect a single way in which his marriage has threatened my traditional family. Not one. And should the day come when he and his husband have children (as many LEGALLY married gay couples do, at accelerating rates) I find it unconscionable that anyone would seek to pass a law making their family AND THEIR CHILDREN “less protected” than mine. Think of the children, Rob. Spend a minute thinking of the children. Do you really, in your heart, want some children to belong to a second-tier family?

    • Bryan Routon says:

      Of course it does. Y’all have talked and written without considering what someone slightly more extreme might do if persuaded by your views.

  11. Megan says:

    Amy — Thank you for being an ally today. It means the world.

    To the confused commenters — Rhetoric of hate is rhetoric of hate. You can dress it up all pretty. You can say it’s about traditional values or God’s word or anything else under the sun, but it is still rhetoric of hate. You are teaching people that it’s ok to judge, that it’s ok to place themselves above someone else, that it’s ok to fear, despise, and hate those who are different from you. Both good and evil begin with a thought, a word, a proposition.

    To quote a very wise man, “Love is love is love is love is love is love.” Fear is the opposite of love. And when you teach fear it turns to hate and hate often turns to violence. Start to take responsibility for the ripples your words cause.

    • Diane says:

      Amen and Amen and Amen and Amen

    • Andi says:

      Ok, well Amy can’t come up with any time that an LDS person has advocated violence against LGBT people, so I guess you have moved the goalpost to hate. So I will ask you when have you heard an LDS person say that they hate LGBTQ people. When? Because I’ve heard people say that they don’t support gay marriage and I’ve heard people say that they don’t approve of the gay lifestyle, but I have never once heard anyone say they hate LGBTQ people. I’d like the citation if you have heard that.

      Non approval of something does NOT = hate. Your comments indicate you are judging me as being hateful because of my traditional Christian beliefs. So by your logic, you hate Christians. And by Amy’s logic you have blood on your hands for all the Christians killed by haters around the world and in the US.

      • Kathryn says:

        Did you read the article? Amy is not accusing LDS people of specifically advocating violence against the LGBTQ community. She is saying that anti-gay rhetoric of the church feeds into the general animosity toward the LGBTQ community that still pervades our society, which fuels violence and hateful acts like the one this weekend. Mormons can try to hide it behind a veneer of love and charity, but there is no way around the fact that LDS teachings on homosexuality are hateful. Full stop. I am so sick of members plugging their ears and refusing to acknowledge this.

      • Kathryn says:

        And by the way – Boyd K. Packer pretty clearly endorsed violence against gay people in his infamous pamphlet “To the Young Men of the Church.” I have an upstanding LDS uncle who hates gay people and told my mother once that he wished the AIDS crisis of the 1980s had wiped out all the gays. He said also that they should be rounded up and put on a ship and sent out into the ocean to die. Young gay members of the church are taught such self-loath that they often incite violence against themselves.

      • Andi says:

        I’m sorry about the family you have. That was never my experience in the LDS church. I’ll take your word for the 40 yr. old pamphlet because it isn’t one that is used or has been used for decades. If Amy thinks that a 40 year old pamphlet, that no one except ex-Mormons have even thought about for decades caused a radical Islamic man’s bombing in 2016 that’s that’s ridiculous. Sounds like she’s looking for far-fetched things to blame on Mormons. I hope she doesn’t cause any violence by judging Mormons.

        The man who bombed the gay club yesterday first scoped out Disneyland to see if he should bombed there, but rejected it in favor of the packed club. Do we need to examine Mormon theology to find out how we fueled his hatred of upper middle class families, too?

      • Kathryn says:

        Just because that wasn’t your experience doesn’t mean that it isn’t a really common experience across the LDS spectrum, because it is. You are free to ignore the reality that is being presented here, but it will do the church and its members no good to hide their heads in the sand in the long run.

      • Andi says:

        Just don’t say I have blood on my hands for something I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with. It’s not polite to judge and stereotype a whole group of people especially with something demonstrably false.

      • Kathryn says:

        Suit yourself. But I’m a Mormon and I accept culpability for the awful things I used to say about gay people, that my religion continues to say about gay people, and for not doing a better job to stand up for the marginalized and persecuted.

  12. Revo says:

    As a queer person I’d much rather have a good clean death by bullets than the slow threatening blackmail of torture in this life by family and religion and hell in the next. Saying you can’t love anyone and or no one should love you is a death sentence just a walking one.

  13. Mary-Celeste says:

    From former BYU president Ernest Wilkinson:

    “We [at BYU] do not intend to admit to our campus any homosexuals. If any of you have this tendency and have not completely abandoned it, may I suggest that you leave the university immediately after this assembly; and if you will be honest enough to let us know the reason, we will voluntarily refund your tuition. We do not want others on this campus to be contaminated by your presence.”

    This attitude persisted in many forms for decades.

    Even this year an apostle tried to erase LGBT members by saying, “There are no homosexual members of the church.”

    The ultimate erasure of course is to insist that they stay alone and celibate in this life, only to have as an award in the next life *an opposite sex companion* even if it’s the last thing they would have wanted.

    I’m glad I left the church. I don’t want to be associated with a homophobic religion.

  14. Cami says:

    So is there blood on our hands because crazies have bombed abortion clinics and the Chruch speaks out against abortion? Does the number of times hat abortion is or is not mentioned in the Bible make it any more or less wrong?

    • Andrew R. says:

      LIKE

      There is zero mention of Abortion. Is the pro-life view of the Church, and its members, also a reason for having blood on our hands?

      We maybe pro-life. But I would hope that whilst laws allow abortion we would allow those choosing this abhorrent method of birth control the right to do so, whilst at the same time hoping for a change in the law.

    • Amy says:

      Do we not recall that there was a shooter who killed innocent lives at a Planned Parenthood during all of the talk of defunding Planned Parenthood? Yes, people who believed the falsified videos and called for the death of women who seek PP services DO share some of the culpability for that shooter’s actions. You can’t work people up into a tizzy and then pretend like you hold no responsibility when someone actually becomes violent off of your words.

  15. Rob Osborn says:

    Just because the church teaches against homosexual actions doesnt mean the church hates gays. Thats like saying the church hates coffee drinkers.

    The LDS members do not hate gay people. I myself may disagree with homosexuality but I dont hate gay people. I have an openly gay cousin. I love him even though we disagree on morality.

    In no way do LDS advocate the killing of gay people.

  16. Brian T says:

    Am i following your point correctly? Are you suggesting that ISIS and the Islamic terrorist that shot up The Pulse take their cues from Mormons and other Christians who are against gay marriage? If so, that is a naive and a completely different issue from the damage caused by Mormon and other Christian against the gay community. The terrorist killed the people at The Pulse because they are first American and second gay, a close second. They kill because they believe the Koran tells them to kill the infidels. For them there is no connection with the other efforts in the country against the gay community.

    The terrorist is a Koran believing, ex-wife beating, gay hater who called 911 twenty minutes into his rampage to declare his alliegence to the leader of Isis. His father has a pro taliban YouTube channel. It was only about Islamic terror. These issues should not be conflated.

    • Andrew R. says:

      There is quite a lot of knee jerk inaccuracy in this thread.

      The individual who perpetrated this crime was not a member of IS. He mentioned them.

      He had been married, but was also a regular attendee of the establishment in which he committed the crime.

      So it would appear that he was himself quite possibly LGBTQ, in some form. And possibly mentally ill. To what extent his illness was the result of confusion, guilt, etc. with respect to his sexuality we don’t know. But it would appear that it was possible a trigger in this case.

      I am not sure we can blame the Church for this, and certainly not the vast majority of it’s 15,000,000+ members. A handful maybe.

  17. Amy says:

    Here is my overall point:

    From what we know of this man, he was deeply homophobic. He also mentioned his disgust with homosexual relationships to those around him. Our responsibility whend we hear those things is to shut.them.down. There are people who would take their homophobia to violent extremes. We cannot feed that. When we tall about other people’s life decisions, make sweeping generalizations of an entire population of human beings, we are perpetuating homophobia and yes, we share some of the blame. I do not excuse myself from that.

    If you heat to Twitter, you can see some of the ugly reactions to this tragedy. Many people really do see it as, not only a lesser tragedy, but a *good* thing because of the orientation of the victims and the place where it occurred.

    I supported Prop 8. I said I was defending my religious freedom. I talked about other people’s “sin” and protected my judgemental ego. I fed the homophobia that fueled the Orlando shooting. I also have the blood of the innocent on my hands and it kills me. Of course I didn’t directly cause that shooting. No one else but the shooter did. But we all contributed to a culture where talking about another person’s life as less-worthy was okay and acceptable under the banner of religious belief. That is not only antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, it also breeds hatred. Most of us would never turn our beliefs to violence but there are those who would. Our words and actions fuel them. We cannot allow that to happen.

    • Andrew R. says:

      You are completely correct in saying that we should all be careful about how we speak of, and to, those who are sinners; of all types.

      We do not get to decide whom we love – we Love our neighbour. But loving our neighbour has at no time ever included loving, or accepting, what they do. I have spent hours comforting someone wracked first with the idea of having an abortion, and then with the result of having done so. She did it because the father of the baby said he would leave her if she didn’t. (This was 30 years ago). She knew my religious beliefs, and that I do not believe anyone should have an abortion (accepting the Church allowances). Didn’t stop me helping her, and comforting someone in need of comfort.

      I know gay members. Both those living with it, and in some cases sealed to a wife, and those who have decided they could not keep the law of chastity and have left (with full and vibrant testimony of the Gospel). I love them all. But I can not condone what they do as right.

      I can’t actually condone a group of individuals going to a place simply to drink, dance and hook up – of any sexuality. But I don’t hate them – and I don’t believe the leaders of our Church do either.

      But we can not be seen accepting sin, in any degree, because we know the Lord feels the same way. Even if SSM marriage ever became accepted in the Church (as either a life choice, or sealing) I suspect that a great many of the people in that club would not be those seeking to keep the Law of Chastity – any more than in most any other night club.

      • AuntM says:

        “But we can not be seen accepting sin, in any degree…”

        This is the key, I think, to much of what Andrew R. and others like him are focused on.

        Andrew has to be in-your-face, trumpet-loudly, never-a-moment’s-doubt that everyone knows where he stands. It’s not about the victims of this tragedy in Orlando, or the gay mormons, or the women who have abortions. It’s about Andrew making every conversation about gays, feminism, etc. about him and his objections. It’s about Andrew showing off his righteousness, being seen by one and all for the soldier of God he is.

        He loves you, but…not as much as he loves himself.

        And by Andrew, I mean Andrew and the folks like him who in this thread choose to emphasize their “righteousness” instead of mourn with those who suffer.

      • Andrew R. says:

        AuntM,

        I have not said I am righteous at all. I have said was righteousness looks like. My actual standing with the Lord is no one’s business. What righteous standing with the Lord looks like should be everyone’s business.

        I don’t believe God wants His children going out, drinking, and hooking up (often with a stranger) simply to engage in sexual activity. I don’t believe he wants individuals engaged in such activity to be shot. But I do believe He would like us to call them to repentance, hope for their conversion, and baptise them.

        I have heard, with my own ears, one of the people in that club (a regular) speaking on our radio news (BBC). He spoke of the gunman being a regular attender at the club who came there, “to get drunk and find someone to have sex with, like most people”. That is not what the Law of Chastity dictates. And it would still not be the case even if Same Sex Marriage were recognised by the Church.

        As for me, I have a great many imperfections. Some small, some great. Will I be exalted or found lacking in my testimony of Christ? I don’t know. I don’t know if your comments are against the charter/rules here. But I think constant use of my name as an example of what you see as bad is not good form. I don’t expect you to be warned because you stand for gays, feminists and those seeking to remove the 15 bigots that stand between God and a better Church for all (which pretty much sums up what I see here on a daily basis). Whilst I found your characterisation of me to be less than great, I do believe that the Church can only be either true or not true. It can’t get more true just by following the world and popular belief. If it could we would all be doing our shopping and washing our cars on the Sabbath instead of attending sacrament meeting, teaching our lessons and doing our family history.

    • Brian T says:

      The issue I have with the point you are making is that we shouldn’t tangle up Christian homophobia with the goals of Islamic extremists. They are not working together or feeding off of each other. One has nothing to do with the other.

      Today we are learning even more about the motivations of the apparently self-hating homosexual terrorist , his motivation was Islam and ISIS.

      I don’t think anyone who is not an Islamic extremist has any blood on their hands this time.

      • Amy says:

        Brian, check the news again. We’re learning that he was a frequentor at this nightclub and had a profile up on a gay dating site. The fact that ISIS accepted responsibility probably had more to do with jumping at the opportunity to incite fear in Americans than it demonstrates any sort of planning or involvement on their end. Of course, we will have to wait to learn more about that but there definitely are signs that this guy was deeply internally homophobic and this was a war on LGBTQ persons, not Americans in general.

      • Brian T says:

        The more we check the news the more we see he was motivated by Islam. ISIS didn’t need to accept responsibility because he said he did it for their leader. It’s still less about the gay community and mostly about Islam

  18. EFH says:

    I find the Orlando tragedy very politicized. Everyone is interpreting it as an attack on LGBT while it seems to me that a mentally ill and unstable person who most likely had homosexual inclinations attacked an innocent community.

    People should talk more about mobilizing resources to address mental health issues in this country and how to move forward with gun control laws and reducing the influence of NRA in Congress. LGBT community was one of the victims of this awful public shootings. What about the Sandy Hook children? What about the Denver cinema going victims, the university students? So no one is safe in our society because we keep loosing the big picture. The public discourse has been compromised by misinforming the public with irrelevant details.

    For me, violence is even happening now as the politicians and the media politicize every discussion and purposefully misinform the public in order to make headlines rather than investigate. They talk about terrorism and the discrimination against LGBT (which is true but not in this case) to avoid the elephant in the room.

    For me, violence against a group of people (in this case LGBT) starts with not making enough room to welcome them in our neighborhoods, churches and work places. As an LDS community, I think that we are enticing violence against them not by telling people to be violent by BUT by not interfering when families kick out their teens because of their sexual orientation, by not organized any resources to help families and teens to reunite and be a family despite of differences and by doing NOTHING about it. This is the injustice we are responsible for. We stay silent on such family and societal matters because they are ”private” and yet dare to tell the membership what their family should look like and what kind of habits and traditions should be adopted. Again, loosing the big picture by focusing on irrelevant details. Living and believing superficially, that is what this all is about.

  19. Michael says:

    Amy,

    Let’s just be clear that from an LDS context we are not just talking about six verses from the bible. We are talking about the words of the modern prophets and apostles, which is much more substantive than simply six bible verses. Your post completely discounts these teachings as merely hateful rhetoric, which you are certainly free to do, but it is dishonest of you to say that this is merely a question of LDS folks clinging to a handful of bible verses.

    • Emily says:

      Michael, it is remarkable to me that you paraphrase what Amy has written, and then call her “dishonest”. I think one can say that we (the LDS church) rely on Biblical injunctions against homosexuality, without implying some sort of doctrinal exclusivity. YOU say “merely,” but the post doesn’t. That’s a straw man fallacy.

      Unfortunately for us, those 6 hateful verses are *also* bolstered by decades of unfortunate anti-gay teachings by our church leaders. You call it “rhetoric” and I agree with you. And as rhetoric goes, it’s pretty bad stuff. Sure, nothing recently on par with Ernest Wilkinson’s hatespeech, to pick an example. But arguably we’re even more culpable, since we’ve softened our language but ramped up our spending to defeat gay marriage, etc.

      And culpability is what the post is about. If you say you love your gay brother, but spend millions of tithing dollars to ensure that he can’t get married civilly or have a family or enjoy many perogavtives that you take for granted, then perhaps you are EVER SO SLIGHTLY responsible when he gets gunned down because he’s gay. Just a tiny bit. A fraction. A sliver of blame that we, Latter-day Saints, should own. So that we’re not being “dishonest”.

      • Michael says:

        What you call anti-gay, most members of the Church call pro-law of chastity. I don’t consider preaching the law of chastity to be unfortunate. I don’t accept that the Church, it’s teachings, or it’s members (generally) are in any way culpable for Orlando. Frankly, it’s ridiculous and an Orwellian exercise.

      • Emily says:

        I’m actually going to address this with you, Michael. Once again, you’ve recharacterized what I said, and then disagreed with it. That’s just a logical fallacy. It’s a weak way to make your point. You may not wish to accept any culpability–very well. Obviously this is just a thought exercise; if you don’t feel any responsibility, so be it. But our church has recently decided that gay members are “apostates” when they (legally) marry someone of their own sex, and we deny ordinances to their children, and that goes far beyond being “pro-law of chastity.” We don’t refuse to baptize children of adulters, for example. So I hope you can recognize that our anti-gay teachings are in no way the functional equivalent (or, according to you, the literal equivalent) of our teachings regarding the law of chastity.

      • Andrew R. says:

        Whilst what you say is true, please try hard to make the connection between that and a Muslim gay man who, presumably because of his religion and the teaching of Islam (not the LDS) was so conflicted that mental illness caused him to go to a place he frequented and shoot and kill people like him.

        I do not consider the Church culpable for this, and certainly not me. I have never made a political statement on Gay rights or marriage. I do not care that the marry, and would extend business functions (one of my businesses is a costume/party shop with balloons for functions, hen party and stag accessories) to them. But I believe that they can not progress to exaltation because I believe that marriage in the eternities is between a man and a woman. It was Christ who said that a man and woman become one flesh.

      • Amy says:

        The LDS church was the largest contributor to Prop 8 and has been one of the largest financial supporters of anti-same sex marriage lobbyists in Washington. In a lot of ways, we did more to hurt LGBTQ persons than any of these smaller, more openly antagonistic churches (Westboro Baptist et. al) because we had the financial teeth to back it. We contributed to a culture of homophobia, of pitting “traditional families” against LGBTQ families, as if they somehow had to be at odds with one another. We turned blind eyes as our own committed suicide. Of course we contributed to a larger homophobic America! And had this man not been swimming in a larger cultural conversation of homophobia, it’s entirely possible his personal identity would not have brought him as much inner turmoil. The same is true of LGBTQ Mormons. The more accepting the outside culture has been of their identity, the more they have felt free to express and embrace that identity. Just because this man wasn’t LDS doesn’t mean there isn’t any trickle-down homophobia that our general society helped create, largely financed by our tithing dollars.

  20. Michael says:

    Emily,

    In what way are LDS people who contract same sex marriages not apostate? They are purposefully and knowingly engaging in behavior that not only is in violation of Church teachings and doctrine, but they are doing so in a public and unapologetic way. I get it that many at this blog don’t believe that the doctrine shouldn’t be what it is, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that they are openly flaunting it. They are making choices in their lives that are in direct contradiction to the doctrines of the Church. If that isn’t apostasy, then what is? Simply because something is legal doesn’t change the calculus. So is drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and in some jurisdictions, smoking pot.

    This is so much more than just what’s happening in the here and now. If you accept the doctrines of the Church, you have to understand that gay marriage, and the formation of family units around a gay marriage is a much more damning act than the rest of Christianity would accept. There is no sealing of such families. There is no continuation of such families in the life to come. Children in such families will never be sealed to mommy and mommy, or daddy and daddy. From an eternal perspective, it is a horrendously violent thing to have children in such families. Again, I get it that you will likely disagree with the doctrine, but you can’t argue that this is not what the doctrine actually says, this is what the actual teachings of the prophets and apostles means. So yeah, LDS folks who get married to a member of the same sex are apostates, and they were before the change in the Handbook made it more explicit.

    When it comes to the children, the Church denies ordinances to minors who are living in households that are openly apostate. I don’t have a problem with this for two big reasons. One being that parents are responsible for teaching their children the gospel and helping them to learn and live up to their covenants. Kids living in a household led by a homosexual couple will not be taught the law of chastity by example, nor will they be effectively taught to follow the guidance and counsel of the prophets and apostles. They may be taught other wonderful things, but these are kinda important. If you throw in a baptism, those responsibilities become more heightened.

    Secondly, kids in such households will not get the encouragement they need to actually fulfill their covenants from their parents. Living in a household led by a gay couple is, by definition, antithetical to the doctrines of the Church. Their most important role models, regardless of whatever good qualities they have, will not set an example for the kids in the home of what the goal or standard is under the gospel. Heterosexual households often struggle with this, but at least they have the possibility of being successful in modelling the ideal. It is simply an impossibility with a same sex household.

    In short, I have no compunctions about not baptizing kids living in a household that is defined by ongoing apostasy. Those kids will not have a good role model in the home.

    • Emily says:

      Michael, if Omar Mateen had survived the hell he unleashed on those people in Orlando, he would have been able to give permission for his minor child to be baptized. His victims would not, per our policy. So I guess you could say that I have a huge compunction about that. I think that you have an all-or-nothing approach to the church teachings, and I just don’t understand them that way. It is possible, given that likelihood, that we can’t really agree on the issue of culpability.

  21. Sarah says:

    I think it’s worth noting that the Mormon Church supports a recognised anti-gay hate group; the World Congress for Families. Mormon apostle Dallin H. Oaks even sits on their board. Is lobbying for the criminalization of homosexuality under the guise of promoting “traditional families”, leading to 14 year prison terms for gays in Russia and Africa a benevolent act? Or is it an act that supports the ongoing hatred of the LGBT+ community?

    You do not have to join with the small group of Christians who call for the death penalty for gays to still have blood on your hands in their death and suffering. The rhetoric fuels the fire of hate. Pathologizing homosexuality fuels the hate and leads to great suffering and even death. Conflating love with tolerance fuels the hate and leads to great suffering and even death. Encouraging an individual to live a life without the love of their choosing while surrounding them with endless doctrine on the essential nature of temple marriage and eternal families to attain exaltation fuels the hate and leads to great suffering and death.

    Every time someone contributes to the idea that LGBT+ people should not be seen as equal, right, natural, loved, and accepted for exactly who they are, they are supporting the damaging rhetoric that leads to great suffering and even death.

    Those who claim to love LGBT+ people yet continue to support organisations that hurt them need to stop and really reflect on the language that they use when talking about gender and orientation. Language is powerful. We all need to take ownership of the things we say and acknowledge our part in the global conversation.

  22. Quimby says:

    I have watched these (entirely preventable) tragedies unfold from the other side of the world, one after another, for 20 years. And with each one I have heard the same cries for action – More gun control! More guns! How dare you politicise a tragedy! With distance (both geographical and cultural) I have come to accept them as inevitable. This time it was the LGBTQI community; the time before, it was an historical Black church; before that, women; before that, people in a movie theatre; before that, 6 year olds . . . And always, the elephant in the room: Too many angry and disturbed people who are able to access powerful weapons which simply don’t belong in private hands. Yes, Americans all have blood on their hands – because you refuse to stand up and demand action in the face of almost-constant gun violence; because you cower before the NRA and let a private lobby group set gun policy on a local, state, and national level. If 20 six year olds getting shot three days before Christmas can’t change a thing, 49 people in a gay club won’t, either. It will happen again, and again, and again, until it is so common-place it becomes meaningless.

  23. Becky says:

    I very much agree that we can all do better at being sensitive and kind. Empathy not judgement is a motto I very much want to follow, and I hope others would too. Not just with homosexuality, but with how we view other people in general that do or are different than we are. Different cultures, different parenting styles, different religions . . . . I feel that we shouldn’t have to accept the other’s ideology or way of life to respect them, or at least empathize with them. I’ve never experienced the feelings of being attracted to a member of the same sex, so how can I judge someone else’s experiences? I don’t have to change my ideology to be kind and empathize that it might be difficult for someone who comes from a religious upbringing to have those feelings.
    So here’s my big question for you then, as a strong, active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), how can I best do this? This is actually a very genuine question, and I want to get the perspective of someone who feels that members of the church have been hateful. I don’t want to be defensive. I want to honestly know how we can do better despite the fact that I’m not willing to give up my deeply rooted beliefs. Beliefs that the Lord reveals His will to the prophet and apostles (even with their human frailties), and what sexual morality means. What seems to be asked of us is to abandon our beliefs of morality. Not just about homosexuality, but also any kind of sex outside of marriage– we don’t hate the world which pretty much on a whole does not hold to this ideal any more either. I believe there must be a way we can still hold to our beliefs and teach our beliefs without hating people who don’t share our beliefs. I certainly don’t FEEL any hate- – so what is the best way to show love and empathy, and make others not feel hated? In my heart of hearts, I very, very much desire to do this!! I know I’m not the only one!
    I hope that things are slowly getting better, although I recognize there is a long way to go. Here are some things I have been told OVER THE PULPIT in recent years- Love, don’t hate, be kind even to those who are different than us. It is not our place to judge a person. We can only judge that we believe certain actions are sins. Don’t discriminate against those who are different in our work places (serve all). Hold to your standards, and run from temptation. Same sex attraction is NOT a sin, only acting on it is. Bullying, violence and hateful acts are NEVER ok. As many times as someone wants to repent, the Lord forgives them. This is the perspective I am coming from.
    I know as human beings we can all be much more kind and thoughtful about what comes out of our mouths. I’m sure in past years in the history of the church and Christianity, there have been horrible misunderstanding and horrible things said- – and I feel like things are getting better. I’m sure we have a long way to go so- and since you have such strong feelings about it- how do we do this as individuals? What should we say or not say to our youth? I teach my children to be kind in their actions, not to be afraid of people who are different, but to also not put yourself in temptations way with pornography, lustful speech, going to places that promote what we view as sinful behavior (such as bars, strip clubs, graphic movies, etc)- – and MOST OF ALL, I teach that if they struggle with something like same sex attraction I will love and support them no matter what they decide. I would encourage them to stay with what they have been taught and choose belief over romantic love, have that sacrifice be like Abraham of old — but I would also tell them I would be understanding if they decided that is not what they can or want to do with his or her life. If they decide to have a homosexual relationship, I would still love and cherish them.
    My big fear is that there is no middle ground, no way to bridge the gap -meaning you and others with posts like this won’t be mollified unless we abandon our beliefs about what is considered a sin. I can accept that others believe something different than me and respect that, but I fear that because of history and the very personal experiences people have had will make it harder for that to be reciprocated. I just want to get along. I want everyone to love each other as human beings, despite our differences in ideology. I want all the fighting, name calling, and bickering to stop. I especially hate that political parties have to get involved- so then it is about which side will WIN instead of what will help everyone get along and be best for common good. I very much want people to not feel that they are worthless or feel so much pain that they don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I don’t want people to feel like second class citizens (as you put it in the article). I want people to be respected for their differing beliefs. I personally want to be respected for wanting to hold to my own beliefs, a Gospel that has brought joy, comfort, freedom and direction in my life. Is there any possible way to do this? These are very honest thoughts and feelings that keep my up at night! Sorry for the rant- I guess I needed to get it out there . . . .

  1. December 31, 2016

    […] 3. Amy’s The Blood on our Hands […]

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