Sep 27 2008

Amy Cox, Payson, Utah – The Church’s Stance Mocks Our Belief In Free Agency

Several years ago, I became certified in an alternative Christ-centered emotional release therapy, and have since that time been given the opportunity to spent hundreds of hours inside the minds and hearts of many LDS members. Some time ago, I had a woman seek out my help, as she had actually been turned away by her LDS counselor because she was gay, and they had been unsuccessful in making any lasting progress to help her overcome her “same sex attraction”. I agreed to help, and as is usual in my work, I went into it with an open mind and no judgment. I will forever be grateful for what this good woman taught me as she shared her pain and struggles. This faithful member of the Church has served a mission and tried to do all that she can to follow the counsel of her priesthood leaders. As I listened to her relate her experiences with these leaders, for which she was faithfully looking to for spiritual guidance, I became absolutely appalled at the abusive treatment that she was receiving in the name of God’s love. Their repeated promises given by the power of the priesthood, that if she would just prove faithful enough and abstain from acting on any of her natural inclinations, she would be blessed to overcome this “trial of her faith” and be able to marry a man and raise a family, have not been fulfilled. As a result of this priesthood counsel which follows the teachings of the Church, her psyche has been severely damaged, and she has become more and more depressed with each failed effort. She was led to believe that what she was doing was not accepted as enough, that God’s love was conditional and He was withholding blessing her with her righteous desires because of her unworthiness. She trusted and believed, but even when she transgressed with something not related to her sexual orientation, and common to many members which I know for a fact still maintain a recommend, hers was denied and threats were given of further discipline. She has been threatened with excommunication if she so much as even speaks to a woman she once was in love with and was literally ripped away from without having any opportunity to end the relationship in a way that would give her closure—even being forced by her LDS friends and family to get rid of or burn any possessions or gifts related to that “sinful” relationship. This woman to my knowledge is still clinging to the Church and trying to remain faithful to its teachings, even though it assures her a life of despair.

Needing to gain more wisdom and understanding, and realizing that there was no enlightenment found within the Church on this matter to my view, I began to research. I read the findings of reputable, well educated and experienced psychologists, and began to immerse myself in listening to the personal stories and experiences of those who were gay and mistreated because of the ignorance and bigotry of those around them. Unfortunately, this sort of judgment is perpetuated by the Church in many ways including the leadership’s decision to take an active political stand in supporting Proposition 8. Our gay brothers and sisters should have the freedom to find happiness in their lives, and I do not believe in a God who would condemn them to a life of misery and expect them to live with no hope of having the kind of fulfilling intimate love they may desire and are unable to have in any way other than accepting who they are. Nor do I believe in a God who would dole out punishment by taking away their basic rights and privileges, including marriage if they so choose. At one time this Church actually taught that our brothers and sisters with darker skin were cursed and had been less valiant in the pre-existence. The teachings even went so far as the prophet Brigham Young stating that those who would mix seed with these people should be killed. It was also taught in the scriptures that their skins would become “white and delightsome” when they turned from their sinful ways, but I’ve yet to see that happen. Now thankfully, we distance ourselves from this bigotry and receive people of all races in full membership. These persecutions and teachings were false—the persecution and teachings regarding homosexuality are equally false, and the Church’s attempts to claim that homosexuality can be cured is as ridiculous as the possibility of a black man’s skin turning white.

With my feelings being expressed on the mistreatment of homosexuals in this Church, I now wish to relate the events that led me to take a stand in this matter by writing this letter, when it has not been in my nature to publicly speak out as I am now.

My husband, a wonderful man who cherishes his family and honors his priesthood, is currently serving as 1st counselor to our bishop. As a member of the bishopric he attends Stake Bishopric Council each month. Last week as my husband arrived, our Stake President (whose own brother is gay) referred to a letter signed by the First Presidency which stated the church’s position on Proposition 8. It was passed out to each bishop with instruction that if they hear of any member of their wards opposing the Church’s stance, they are to be reported to him. Our Stake President went on to state how there were people in our area who were collecting money to oppose the Proposition, and this was unacceptable. So apparently it’s okay for bishops to put collection boxes outside their offices and Stake Presidents to start web sites to collect donations to support Proposition 8, but those who oppose have no right to do the same? I do not understand how the Brethren can justify taking such an active stance in government when it violates our own doctrine to not “mingle religious influence with civil government” (D&C 134:9). What sickens me the most is that the Church would use its power to not only influence members to vote for something that would take away the basic rights of those who most of which are not even affiliated with the Church nor believe as we do, but that in doing so they are now also infringing upon the rights of their own members by enforcing their stance on us with threats to those who in good conscience, do not approve. I am one of these latter members who is willing to take the risk of speaking out on something that mocks the Church’s claim of belief in free agency, and in doing so, may very well put my own membership in jeopardy.

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