Nov 08 2008

Linda Tirado, Point Pleasant, WV – With regrets

I went to high school in Utah. I moved out of the state a decade ago and travel a lot for work. As any Utahn knows, the immediate response from a new acquaintance when one mentions they’re from Utah is usually some misinformation about the Church.

I have spent a decade defending the Church from its detractors; endlessly explaining doctrine and culture and history. I have explained polygamy and eternal families and why temples are reserved for members in good standing. I’m inactive, and have been for years, but my parents are happily active, and the Church has been wonderful for and to them. I explain to people that while I, being gay, didn’t feel welcomed by the doctrine, that didn’t mean that it wasn’t on the right track.

I have been waiting patiently for the Church to explain to me how gays are to have a true and honest family while either being unmarried or marrying a person that would forever sense a distance from their spouse. I think, and President Hinckley said, that that is an unwise and selfish decision and usually ruins the life of the straight spouse.

After years of knowing that if I mentioned to anyone that I was gay, my parents would be inundated with concerned ward members and I’d never be entirely accepted again, I moved away from Utah to live my life honestly without disturbing my family. But I have felt truly betrayed for the first time by the actions of the Church on Prop 8 in California.

I support the Church’s right to stand in the public square and state its moral code. I support the members’ rights to believe in whatever they choose, and donate to whomever and whatever they wish. But Scripture and law are clear that the Church is to stay out of the petty affairs of men; that they are to stand as a beacon of example while allowing others to make a free choice.

Had this law imposed restrictions on whom the Church must marry, or bless the unions of, I would have no problems with its actions. However, this legislation was a civil matter, and the Church’s involvement was over and above what it should have been. Any marriage that crumbles based on the neighbors’ decisions was never eternal to begin with. The foundations of my parents’ marriage are solid, regardless of whom I am in love with, or what the government calls that relationship.

I would have hoped that the Church would have seen the parallels to polygamy and been compassionate about the issue, rather than sending yet another signal to its members that not only does it consider homosexuality immoral, it also believes that it’s okay to dictate its morality to the rest of the world and to single out a group of people for condemnation. Many of us struggle with the issue of morality, gay or straight, but the Church I was raised in taught free will rather than imposed values.

I will not stop defending the Church and the positive influences it has; but I can no longer honestly tell people that while the members are sometimes judgmental (being only human) the Church itself tries to truly be in the world, but not of it. I must now consider the Church a civil organization rather than an inspired one, if it can set aside the teachings of Christ and its own prophets so easily.

I urge the Church leadership to look back over its own history and the messages it emphasizes; those of free will and the separation of the sacred from the earthly. While it won’t erase the decision the Church made to involve itself unduly in the political sphere, perhaps it will urge caution the next time legislation that does nothing to infringe on religious freedom comes up for a vote.

Linda Tirado

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