Monday, April 30, 2012

Platitudes Are Not Enough

As a dog to its vomit, here I am---again---writing about change within Mormonism. Change in the LDS church related to gay and transgender people in society must be at the doctrinal level. There is no other way for it to be anything less than crumbs dusted off the table of fellowship. I was tired of waiting for crumbs, so I left. I realize that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to stay, but I hope people who stay have both of their eyes open.

Andrew S at the Irresistible (Dis)Grace blog recently wrote an eloquent post that should burden and torment every Mormon leader and every Mormon in general. Here is what had the most impact for me:

"When we speak of chastity, the end goal of chastity is not celibacy. It is always a faithful, chaste marriage with children.... So, the lifelong expectancy of celibacy [for gay people] cannot be taken lightly in the Mormon tradition. Celibacy may be more desirable in the Mormon tradition than sexual sin, but celibacy is not ideal. A fully lived life of celibacy is not fully lived at all. It is a design flaw.
"Think about it. You have failed at one of the major purposes of your mortal existence. The solution? Not much in this life. Look forward to what comes after this mortal existence.

"In other words, when you have failed at life, what you’re supposed to do is just bide the rest of this time and wait (in hope and faith, but wait nevertheless) for this life to end."

There can be local leaders who bend or ignore ecclesiastical mandates and allow openly gay people to serve in quasi-leadership roles and/or show gay people respect in ways that church officialdom does not. There can be a multitude of examples of compassion by active LDS people toward gay people in their families, their congregations and their social circles. There can be philosophical discussion of how LDS doctrine has within it the possibilities for change or a shift in priorities. There can be LDS people who sincerely feel they have received a spiritual witness that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered is not anathema to God's will. No one needs to doubt the sincerity of any person who fits the descriptions above. (That is, unless there is an effort to mislead, even if with pious intent.)

Unless there is a complete transformation of how the church treats gay people across the board, not just the random and fortunate exceptions---both at the ground level and at the core of LDS theology---there will be nothing that the LDS church can offer gay people that cannot be found in better form elsewhere. Platitudes are not enough. Yet platitudes have been 99% of what has happened so far.

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