Guest Post: I Love You, So I Say This, parts 9-11

Guest post by Anonymous. This Mama got a gay kid for Christmas in 2019. In March 2020 BYU signaled LGBTQ acceptance in an update to the Honor Code, and hastily retracted it. Feeling protective, this Mama wrote what she wished she could say to her Mormon family members. A week later, the first major COVID lockdowns started, and the BYU incident was pushed to the background. A year later, this personal appeal to the better angels is a plea in remembrance of that horrible week. There are 19 short pieces. This post is parts 9-11 of 19. The others will be linked here when they are published.

Parts 1-4
Parts 5-8
Parts 12-13
Parts 14-16
Parts 17-19

I love you. So I say this. Part 9

“So how are you guys feeling about the Church?”

Election Day 2008 – It was thrilling and groundbreaking and I was on a high. I let the kids stay home from school and took them with me to vote – all four on a cold day in November, stroller and toddlers in tow across campus.

There were 4-5 good, amazing hours that day.

When the sun set the earth shattered. I learned of the passage of Prop 8, watched the videos that the Church leaders had sent the Saints in California to mobilize them, and uncovered the stories of leaders asking wealthy Mormons to contribute money to Prop 8 political efforts.

I chased down the rabbit hole for years. I learned all I could about LDS doctrine on sex, gender, and marriage.

There is one takeaway you may consider.

The Proclamation on the Family was not revelation. It uses the langauge of think tank talking points for use in political efforts against abortion, divorce, birth control, and gay marriage. It was written so that, if the Church wanted to weigh in on legal cases concerning these issues, it could prove that these teachings were an essential part of the gospel, and they could act against legislative protections under the guise of religious freedom. Why couldn’t the Church just point to existing revelations and scriptures to establish their position?

Because there weren’t any.

There. Weren’t. Any.

So they wrote the Proclamation.

Packer called it a revelation once, and that statement was then very publically retracted. Despite the fact it’s been publically classified as “not revelation,” it’s well on its way to being canonized. The changes in temple language In January 2019 indicate this all too clearly.

This Proclamation, a legal policy document and non-revelation, is the most-oft quoted justification for the Church’s actions against LGBTQ people. Do you have a copy of it in your scriptures? Did you ever stop to ask why?

We saw it just this week in the letter from CES sent to clarify updates to the Honor Code at BYU, a debacle that leaves yet more LGBTQ young people exposed and injured. The letter quotes a Proclamation statement as a foundational doctrine of the restored gospel, despite the fact there is no such revelation. You’d have a much stronger case proving polygamy to be the foundational principle of Mormon marriage than heterosexuality.

Policy language is being normalized as an authoritative source of doctrine. Soon, when it is canonized, this unrevealed bias will be said to be from God. And we all know that when God speaks, people can justify anything they do, as we discover in the early chapters of the Book of Mormon.

Perhaps you think I’m over-reacting…

No, I most definitely am not.

I love you. So I say this. Part 10

“So how are you guys feeling about the Church?”

The Sunday after Prop 8 was a fast Sunday. I was devastated and could not make myself go to Church…but I heard what happened.

Scores of people in our ward wore rainbow ribbons to church. Many went up to bear their testimony of their gay loved one or their own queer identity.

For days afterward, some ward members said it was the most spiritual testimony meeting they’d ever attended…and others said it was the most offensive.

One ward member called her General Authority connection in Salt Lake, who then called our Stake President.

The next Sunday, on November 16, 2008, the Stake President crashed sacrament meeting unannounced and gave a talk about following the prophet. He called us all to fall in line (and take off those rainbow ribbons).

Immediately after sacrament meeting, people indeed stood in line…to hand him their temple recommends. The stake president, shocked at our ward’s reaction to the talk, refused to take them.

The third Sunday, November 23, 2008, was the last Sunday of the month before students would be sent home from the university wards for Thanksgiving break. The Stake President announced a fireside that evening, and the room was packed. He explained he had given the talk the week before because he didn’t want us going home from our university ward and telling our families that our stake supported gay marriage. He didn’t want us wearing our rainbow ribbons to the home wards. The Church had sent a representative from Public Relations to back him up, and he sat at the front of the room.

They conducted a Q&A. Some people asked questions, some spoke to the wrongness of Prop 8, and some spoke to the wrongness of how we in the room were treating our Stake President. The schism in the ward would last for years thereafter.

That schism extended to my Mormon identity, and my split spirit has never been the same. I cried that night.

In some ways I never stopped crying.

I love you. So I say this. Part 11

“So how are you guys feeling about the Church?”

I sat in a classroom at Harvard at an event organized by the LDSSA. Prop 8 had passed and the LDS Harvard students invited the Church PR representative from the prior day’s fireside to represent the Church in a discussion of gay marriage legalization that would be presented by their Harvard Law professors. Oh sweet summer LDS law students…

The queer Harvard Law professor stood at the podium. She sighed. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to march out the arguments surrounding the legalization of gay marriage. It’s strange to me to be doing so – again – in 2008. We’ve already won this right in Massachusetts and every calamity that religious organizations promised would accompany legalization have not come to pass. But here we go.”

Thus followed 90 minutes of the law professors making their arguments, articulating the positions of those who opposed gay marriage, and responding to those articulations. The Church PR guy was able to interject after each exchange.

It quickly became clear that his only argument was his appeal to authority – follow the prophet. He would not acknowledge the pain surrounding the Church’s actions and the heartbreak of those of us in the room. He sat in the presence of these queer professors, and they knew he disapproved of who they were and how they lived.

We in the audience had attended to hear him explain what we’d been missing. What did we not understand about this issue that was so readily apparent to our leaders? How did Prop 8 make sense in the light of our callings to follow Christ, love one another, and champion families?

We weren’t missing anything.

 

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2 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    I so appreciate the heartbreaking story told in this series. And I particularly love your point about how the Church didn’t have any existing scripture to say that oh, by the way, we’re a straights-only church. So they wrote an entirely new thing. Which, given that the church ostensibly believes in continuing revelation, I guess they can do, but it seems awfully strange that this supposedly timeless doctrine was first written down in . . . 1995??

  2. Jose says:

    If the Family Proclamation is not official revelation, then the sisters should have had a say in the content. Chieko Okazaki then a counselor in the General Relief Society spoke about the absence of female input on the Proclamation, see p. 136: https://www.dialoguejournal.com/themencode-pdf-viewer/?file=https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V45N01_311a.pdf

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