Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thou shalt not be gay

I attended the priesthood leadership session of our stake conference Saturday a week ago.  Our stake president began his talk by relating a discussion he had with his teenage son about the one answer that can be given for any question in seminary - no matter what the topic, you can always give this answer.  He then shared the following little ditty
Read your scriptures
Learn to pray
Go to church
And don't be gay

This is, of course, nothing new - I just never heard it put to rhyme before.  Needless to say, there were chuckles throughout the room.  I wondered if those around me noticed my stoic look - dumbfounded at what I just heard.

The main point of his talk was the need to get back to basics.  He went on to talk further about the first 3 lines in this ditty - thankfully never again mentioning the last line.

Since then, this little ditty has been going around and around in my mind - wondering just how much truth there is in it - truth in the sense that this is what is considered "basic doctrine" in the LDS faith.

Elder Boyd K. Packer once spoke of the The Unwritten Order of Things - stuff you won't read in any church handbook, but things we all just "know" - such as men wearing white shirts to church meetings.  I think "Don't be gay" is another of these unwritten principals in the LDS church.  Something that is never really said explicitly in official communications - but, nonetheless, something that everyone in the church just knows to be true.

I feel like I should be offended by the comments made by my stake president - instead I feel sadness, and I have an inkling of what I imagine the savior might have felt on the cross when he said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."  My heart especially goes out to those young men and women who may be struggling with their own sexual identity and who are subjected to this sort of ridicule in a setting that is supposed to be 'safe'.

I expect my stake president probably felt that a priesthood leadership meeting was a safe environment in which to share his little ditty - certainly there wouldn't be any of those types of people in the room.  If only I weren't such a big coward and had the courage to say something to him.

Church leaders can bloviate all they want about how being gay in and of itself is not a sin - only when we act on our gay feelings do we sin.  And everyone can nod their head in agreement - because we all 'know' of the unspoken commandment:  "thou shalt not be gay."

So, in a return to basics - I guess I fail miserably at the "don't be gay" part.  Haven't really been all that great in the scripture reading and praying either - but I go to church!  1 out of 4 isn't that bad ... is it?  Yeah me!

16 comments:

Beck said...

Wow! I can't believe he said that! I think I would have excused myself, and maybe impolitely, too.

His message wasn't even on "being gay", yet it's okay to make a joke of it because it's "safe". I, too, and saddened.

But, I'm thrilled that you actually blogged! You're alive and I'm grateful to see you writing again.

Big hugs!

Kiley said...

The problem does not lie with you being a coward. The problem is a culture and community that creates such a tight box for its members to fit into that it creates the necessity to hide or risk being voted off the island.

Sean said...

This makes me sad too. I don't know this man, but I don't have any anger towards him. He probably destroyed the chance of at least one priesthood leader being semi-understanding when some comes to discuss being gay. It's amazing what one line can do to change so many lives.

I agree completely with what Kiley said too. You are not a coward Abe! All of the years I've known you, I've thought you are a very courageous man.

Love you Abelard!

Daniel said...

Somewhere in that meeting was a young gay man--possibly the Stake President's son the story was about--who hates himself a little bit more because of what that leader said.

That breaks my heart.

El Genio said...

I lived in an apartment at BYU where the apartment motto/rule was simply "Don't be gay." Proudly displayed on the whiteboard, and often bragged about to others in the ward.

Crisco said...

It's like speaking with another member, a friend, one-on-one about being gay is fine, but it must be kept hush hush otherwise. It's tough.

I tend to only wear white shirts every other week. I also sport a goatee. I'm a rebel!

"Lucky Jake" said...

I'm all about the goatee!! :)

I don't know why anyone would think that that statement would be at all appropriate in a church leadership meeting... tisk tisk.

Anonymous said...

Abe,

I am inenbriated so forgive me for saying this...

You get much support and comfort from your faith community and that is good.

But your silence comes with a price.

I am no longer willing to stay silent so I am no longer an active member of my Church.

I am waiting for the day that I can be an openly gay member of my Church.

Until that day comes (and it will), I will think of that young man that wanted to die so much that he could have stopped his suicide at any point but didn't and I will keep telling myself that nothing, nothing could be so bad for me as what happened to that young man.

I will be silent no longer.

It's a personal decision and everyone must make their own decision.

Personally, I am no longer willing to pay the price.

But I am not as religious as some so my sacrifice is not as great.

The Mormon Church asks more of it's members than the Catholic Church does so it is a greater sacrifice.

And I understand that the costs are great.

But, personally, for me that young man's pain speaks louder to me than Church doctrine.

So I will listen to his voice first.

I apologize for my impertinence.

Regards,
Philip

MoHoHawaii said...

Ugh. I think the Church is going to regret rebranding itself as the guys-against-the-gays.

Casey said...

So how much longer are you going to pretend. How much longer are you going to sustain those leaders and support this organization? You are putting yourself in this situation you know.

I'm not saying you are doing that by being gay. That's who you are. You are however attending church. Why?

One day, I hope you realize that God doesn't live in a building. He doesn't belong to a club or organization. You can find him without going through the motions of going to sac. mtg. and listening to your 'peers' espouse their own take on life / religion / God.

I really do wish you all the best. I know leaving the church is very difficult. I also know that I don't know your whole situation.

Good luck, and hang in there, whatever path you take.

Levi said...

He was so wrong for saying that... ok so I am new to the church, I did not know you have to wear a white shirt, I never do, infact I only just got a white shirt not too long ago. However I was told to pass sacrament you have to wear one.

Abelard Enigma said...

I was told to pass sacrament you have to wear one [white shirt].

That is actually a fallacy. According to book 2 of the the general handbook of instructions:

Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate. (CHI book 2, section 20.4.1)

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? A stake president actually was this insensitive or should I say just plain stupid enough to say this?

Just when you thought it was safe...

dadsprimalscream said...

The thing that cracks me up about all of this is that "being gay" is obviously seen as this terribly strong pull for everyone, right? I don't know any straight people fighting off the gay everyday.... except Mormons, hmmmm...

If they believed that there were only certain people tempted, or even certain people born with the tendency then there wouldn't be these blanket statements. Nobody says, "don't be left-handed" anymore.

They actually believe they are all just one Broadway Musical away from turning gay!

Anonymous said...

Because Casey, he believes in the gospel....somedy since Ane chooses,to live righteously the lord wil great him with open arms and say well done my son well done. U did not give into evil temptation and noe i wil take away your painmznd for eternity u will be with your family and happy. Learn from him Casey, do as he does.

Levi said...

Are you in the DFW area? Because that same thing happened at a stake priesthood meeting I went to a while back.

I remembered he said that ditty but I do not remember why he said it.

But everyone did laugh... I do not think we went to the same one, because I think the one I went to some else said it but it was a while ago.

I do remember not liking it when the guy did say it. The guy I was sitting with at the time was one of my stake president's sons and he laughed as well. That always made me sad.