Gay Mormon Celeste Carolin wants to stay active in the LDS Church — and to get married

Print More
Kathleen Majdali (L) and Celeste Carolin (R)

(courtesy of Celeste Carolin)

Kathleen Majdali (L) and Celeste Carolin (R)

Kathleen Majdali (L) and Celeste Carolin (R)

Kathleen Majdali (L) and Celeste Carolin (R)

This weekend at the Northwest Pilgrims retreat I had the privilege of hearing a panel on LGBT Mormon issues, including some beautiful and candid remarks from Celeste Carolin of Seattle.

Back in November I linked to Celeste’s moving comments from her talk at the Seattle North Stake’s landmark sacrament meeting in October to intentionally welcome inactive LGBT Mormons back to church. So I was especially pleased to have the opportunity to meet her in person (and in fact got a little teary at her optimism and moral courage).

With her permission I’ve included some of her remarks in this post about being gay, staying active as an “out” Latter-day Saint, and finding the love of her life—at church. — JKR

Gay at BYU-Idaho

The culture I was brought up in almost guarded me to some degree from having to deal with intimacy, so it was easy to kind of hide that part of myself. My first year of college, though, I fell in love with my roommate. I told the bishop, who told me just to stay away from her. Finally I fell in love with a woman who loved me back—and I was terrified.

It had to be a secret, and with secrets carry a lot of shame. I had so much shame. I felt I wasn’t really worthy of anything. There was no place to talk about it. At the time, the honor code was ambiguous whether sexual orientation or just homosexual acts were against the school’s policy. At one point I had to go to the dean. Someone had suspected something, and brought their concern to school officials.

But I was about to graduate and could not lose all the credits I had earned, so I lied about it to the dean and said I was not gay.

Staying active in church

After college I would still go to church on Sundays but hang out a lot in the halls. I didn’t want to really invest. How could I invest in something that didn’t want me?

Then two and a half years ago I moved to Seattle. I decided I was done lying and hiding. While attending my new local family ward I met with the bishop. I was honest about being gay. His first comment was, “You know this is contrary to the beliefs of the church,” and compared my “affliction” to a drug addiction. He asked me why I wanted to stay active in the church. I said: “I like to sing, and I like to help people move.” There are some beliefs and cultural things that are inherently part of who I am. I am so very, very Mormon. This is my family. And no matter how ridiculous or insensitive your family is, you don’t just walk away.

Building bridges

Before Seattle I had never met another openly gay person in church. I decided that when I went to that new ward, I would tell people that I was gay within the first three things I told them about myself. And if they rejected me, I would become their best friend. People responded really well. Some people were shocked, and other people were like, “Hey, my new gay BFF!”

Finding inactive LGBT Mormons

In doing the stake outreach we found gay Mormons everywhere. Sometimes even on dating websites, where so many people would say, “I grew up Mormon! And I grew up Mormon!” And we’re like, “You should come to church.” In Seattle a significant amount of the inactives are gay, lesbian, transgender, or queer. We believe there is strength in numbers, and people will feel more welcome if they’re not the only gay person there. So if you are gay, come back to church.

LGBT LDS outreach

There’s usually about 80 people in that Washington Park ward. And that day there were between 200 and 250. Since I was speaking, I was sitting at the front, and looking out was so beautiful, because I could see all these gay couples in church together. Molly Bennion spoke and it was beautiful. She said, “I don’t care if you wear pants to church, hate Relief Society, are LGBT. You belong here. We need you and you need us.” The energy in that room, I don’t even know how to explain how moving it was.

Working with local leaders

Some bishops are fixers. They see you as a problem that needs to be fixed, instead of just listening. The best question for them to ask is, “That sounds really hard. Can you tell me about it?” Many gay people are in a sensitive, vulnerable place. There isn’t really a way to fix it.

Meeting the love of her life

I met Kathleen at Church. I did it the right way! We’re going to have lots of Mormon babies. We’ve had an awesome experience this past year. But Kathleen and I are thinking of getting married, and policy says that if we do, we can’t be in the Church.

Recently I met with my local leader and talked about my clear desire of staying active in the church if and when I marry. I have been given two possible outcomes. Church disciplinary action or I could voluntarily remove my name from membership of the church.

I will choose neither. I choose to stay. My proposed option is to spend some significant time with my local leader on our knees and follow the will of our creator and not just ambiguous policy.

  • Love this! I wish we could have a million Celeste’s in the LDS church! I want them–married–welcomed in our churches!

    As Greg Prince recently said on a Trib Talk:

    “We feel very strong about how things are until they change, and then we feel very strong about how they’ve become.” And later: “We feel very strongly that we do things the way we do them because we do them that way until we do them differently.”

    I’ve left little doubt on my blog where I stand and my hope for change, sooner than later:

    “Dear Elder Christofferson”
    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2015/02/dear-elder-christofferson.html

  • Larry

    Given that the LDS hierarchy are nowhere close to budging on the idea of accepting LGBT members in all respects, I question the wisdom in staying with such a church.

    There are plenty of gay inactive members or active members who are suppressing themselves for the sake of the sect/family/outside pressure. It would be far less painful to either join more affirming sects or form a more affirming sect themselves using the Mormon model/philosophies. Why try to force the change in others when you can create it yourself?

    I never understood the need to ingratiate one’s self with religious groups who not only do not treat one with respect but actively campaign to marginalize and ostracize them.

  • maddy

    Celeste, my vision of church is to have the pews filled with everybody who wants to be there–gay families and couples included, and that they feel welcomed. We have a long, long way to go on that front. I’m encouraged by the things I hear up where you live. Though I am not gay nor do I have have gay family members, nothing has challenged my relationship to the church more than the church’s involvement in the Prop 8 campaign.
    All the best to you as you navigate this path.

  • I admire your persistence, Celeste! I hope you get your desire and we move toward having less hostile policies toward LGBT people!

  • listener

    yeah, because the lds church teaches the law of chastity, which says, “only have sexual relations with your legally and lawfully wedded husband or wife.” and she wants her wife. wait. maybe it’s going to be okay.

  • James54

    Being LDS, I can’t see her dream ever coming to pass. The Proclamation on the Family defines marriage, and that children deserve a father and a mother. Lots of love here, and all are welcomed, but some behaviors prohibit full church membership.

  • Members of the Church who are invaded by a homosexual feelings can not marry a person of their own sex. But they can remain active members of the Church. And they trust in God for the future. Thus they are an example for all other saints.

  • Wow that’s definitely a tough one. You love someone and want to pursue that relationship. All things will be made right in the end, for now, the counsel is to pursue heterosexual relationships and try and marry in the temple. Kind of reminds me of the “if they right hand offend thee, cast it from thee” — high sacrifices demanded, to be sure.

  • Adam Nickle

    People like Celeste paint themselves into the inconvenient corner of being between the immutable will of God clearly expressed through modern prophets and apostles time and again and resisting overpowering sexual urges that can, through repeated offense, reduce one’s own identity to be entirely based on their one-dimensional sexual leanings. It is an uncomfortable position to find one’s self in to be sure, but pretending that isn’t what has happened can and will only result in one outcome: excommunication from the church. If you disagree with this outcome, you must question either your understanding and support of the beliefs of God’s true church. Calling these beliefs ambiguous will only postpone the inevitable.

    By all means, keep attending church services, keep praying, and keep reading the scriptures. Get a real testimony through inspiration. Repentance can happen even after excommunication, and activity in the church can lead to that. But don’t expect God to change His…

  • “The immutable will of God clearly expressed through modern prophets and apostles time and again”

    You’re either not being serious or you’re ignorant to history. To quote the late great BYU historian Richard Poll:

    “James Madison cautioned: ‘When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated.’ Because I believe with Madison that everyone, including Paul and other prophets, sees eternity “through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12), prophetic infallibility, scriptural inerrancy, and unquestioning obedience are not elements of my faith.”

    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2015/02/a-prophet-is-not-always-prophet-only.html

  • DB

    It seems to me that she forgot all the biology lesson she learned in school. Perhaps, someone should tell her that if she plans to have lots of Mormon babies she’s going to have to find a man to help her make one. That’s not discrimination that’s just biology.

  • Larry

    DB, is adoption or surrogacy forbidden by the LDS?
    Are biological children given a more exalted place spiritually over adopted ones?

    If that were the case, you would have a point.

  • DB

    Larry, of course adoption is not forbidden, but even those who adopt must understand that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. That’s not discrimination just biology.

  • David

    I hope she marries the love of her life. I hope they adopt lots of babies and provide them a warm, loving, spiritual home. If her membership is revoked, I hope she continues to attend. Nothing makes people have to examine differences than when they’re faced with it, and I think most will be gracious about it.

    As her children go through the church, their instructors and leaders will be forced to deal with the situation and many will find themselves editing lessons to remove teachings which denigrate the children’s family. Nothing changes hearts like putting oneself in another’s shoes.

    For years the temple ceremony has given me hope. It says that the law of chastity is that women and men will have no sexual relations except with their husband or wife to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded. I’ve been waiting for the day that gay marriage is legal because now those relationships are included under this definition of the law.

  • Liz

    Larry, This is kind of like John 6:68. “To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Whether you believe it or not, for many (a cannot speak for Celeste), whatever the faults of the church, the authority and truth persists in the LDS church. It is not a matter of simply finding something that will work better for them. It is a conflict of 2 core identities and it not as simple as just abandoning either one. It is genuinely hard.

  • DB

    Of course God does not prefer biological children over adopted ones. God loves all children equally that were created by his powers of procreation, which allows for male and female to reproduce. I’m quite certain God prefers this method of producing children over the contrary. Oh, wait, there is no other method is there?

  • Joel

    Big tent. Even if the institutional church must deny them a temple recommend or even membership status, congregations should embrace ANYONE who desires:

    “…to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in” Alma 18:8-9.

    Period.

  • I am reminded from this article of the many times our General Authorities have reminded us that we cannot fully live the gospel with one foot in, and one foot out.

  • The gospel and the church are two separate things. As Hugh Nibley put it: “The one is a teaching; the other, an organization to foster that teaching.”

    I see room in the gospel of Jesus Christ to allow all good and faithful people of whatever orientation to one day marry and form families. But the Church institution needs to expand it’s policies to embrace that further light and knowledge when it comes.

  • Joel

    Kelly,

    There’re a lot of those talks. I’m curious about how people interpret them.

    Certainly, the main point is “For your own safety, please put your other foot in too.” But do you believe the message also includes an all-or-nothing ultimatum, “Either put both feet in or get out”?

    And, if you think they include the ultimatum, how do you harmonize those talks with President Uchtdorf inviting the one-foot-in people to “stay yet a little longer”? (See also Sister Wixom’s and Elder Neilson’s talks from last conference.)

  • TomT

    Can’t have everything. Strong feelings of affection and attraction (love) really have nothing to do with whether acting on those feelings are right or wrong, approved by God or not approved. Most people have feelings and desires which if acted upon would go against the laws of God and go counter to the teachings of the prophets and apostles. So, we covenant and work to keep our passions within the bounds the Lord has set. I choose to trust that the apostles and prophets in their conference talks, publications, and proclamations are correctly lighting those boundaries. Those who ignore those boundaries in favor of satisfying their strong affections or to be politically correct or because they think they are smarter are taking a big risk. Odds are strongly against 15 apostles being collectively wrong in God’s eyes in staking out the moral boundaries we are to live within.

  • Larry

    I would argue that one would be hard pressed to find authority and truth in a church which is encouraging one to deceive the public as to your identity, and to deny one’s actual self for its sake.

    But again, this is personal opinion and confusion. I am sure people can harmonize such things. I just don’t see the point for people who are LGBT and of mormon background. Its almost like stockholm syndrome.

    There is a general (near clannish) lack of boundaries between church and personal life common to the LDS which makes things especially difficult. The church ingratiates itself into so many aspects of its members lives that it becomes difficult to remove such an entanglement without severe consequences.

  • Larry

    You are missing the point. A child who is adopted is not the biological child of a couple. Yet they are still their child. Both in a legal and you have confirmed, in a spiritual sense as well.

    Whether a couple produces children biologically would not be of importance if adoption is considered a spiritually acceptable way to have a Mormon child.

    Biology produces many babies. Gay marriage doesn’t preclude that people will continue to procreate. Its not as if everyone will suddenly change their orientation to homosexual after such things are legal or allowed in the church.

    But only Mormon families produce Mormon children. [converts notwithstanding]. So where a child is from, appears to be of less importance than whether they are being raised in your faith.

  • Following the will of the Creator first starts with the truth.

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2015/03/progressive-revelation-or-making-god-of.html

  • Seth R.

    So Jana, your crowd was lying when they said they had no desire to compel the LDS Church to accept gay marriage?

    Not surprising. The gay marriage movement has lied about all of their other reassurances to religion in the past. Why should this one be any different?

  • Liz

    I would argue that if your church does not get involved in your personal life, what is the point of said church? Of course, you personally may not be religious. But the goal and purpose of a church is to give guidance and tell people the best way to live. Of course, a church /can/ potentially be too controlling, but personal life is a church’s job. A person does not have to heed such advice as is given. You can argue that a church is wrong about how to live, but it is hard to say that a church has no business in personal life.

  • SanAntonioRob

    “…reduce one’s own identity to be entirely based on their one-dimensional sexual leanings…”

    Was this a serious post? Is that what you think she is doing? If so, please re-read the post. She denied being gay so she could finish her studies. She has and will continue to be Mormon. She wants to be a mother. Not exactly the acts of one who has reduced herself to sexual identity only. You, on the other hand, are most definitely trying to reduce her.

    By the way, what does “one-dimensional sexual leanings” even mean? Monogamous? Not bisexual?

  • SanAntonioRob

    Looks like my original comment didn’t go through, so I’ll repost.

    I also like that the Church gets personal.

    Some people never exercise. Others exercise at home in private. Others get a personal trainer who only gives a few pointers about technique. But a good personal trainer for the very health conscious will want to know weight, exercise habits, exercise techniques, eating habits, sleeping habits, wasteful habits (sitting on the couch watching TV), etc. The Church doesn’t get that personal on a member-by-member basis. But I like that it repeatedly points out personal choices that affect our moral character and integrity. Much good would be lost if they only gave us a few pointers on reading scripture.

  • maddy

    Seth, What does “accept” gay marriage mean to you? Are you talking about forcing/requiring the LDS church to perform gay temple/church marriages? What? What “reassurances” to religion are you referring to? Churches/religious institutions have wide latitude to discriminate on the basis of religion, sex, race, (the priesthood ban persisted for 10+ yrs beyond the Civil Rights Act) and now sexual orientation. So far, no outside entity has forced the LDS church to ordain women or appoint women to priesthood leadership positions. Are you opposed to LGBT couples or families attending church services?

  • Seth R.

    Well, that’s pretty much what Jana is advocating for. The LDS Church must change it’s backward ways and accept gay marriage. No longer is simply getting the LDS Church out of the way of government-recognized marriage enough. Now, the LDS Church has to change as well.

    It’s simply ideological creep. At first the stance is – oh, don’t worry – the gay movement doesn’t want marriage, they just want to be left alone to do as they please without government interference. Then it switches to – well, of course marriage should be redefined to include homosexuality. At first, the stance is – oh we’d never try to indoctrinate elementary school kids to accept gay sex. Then it switches to – well, of course you need to teach children that gay sex is OK. At first it’s – oh religious businesses have nothing to worry about, there won’t be any lawsuits. Then it switches to – well of course bigoted businesses need to be punished for discrimination.

  • Kelly Knight

    The gospel is the doctrine of Christ, the Church is the oracle Christ uses to spread that doctrine. It the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ, and it is lead by those He has called, and the gospel is the doctrine they have been called to spread, and the doctrine is that marriage is between one man and one woman, then it is likely that the gospel and the Church both do not have room for same-sex marriage. I do not ever see a time, now or in the future, when this basic and most fundamental doctrine of the gospel and the Church will change.

  • Kelly Knight

    No ultimatum. All are welcome to worship with the Church. However, full participation in all of the ordinances of the Church will come only to those who are fully in, both feet. One who is not baptized cannot go to the temple, for example. So until one is baptized, and has made the covenant to take upon himself or herself the name of Christ, and live by His laws, including the law of chastity, one cannot attend the temple. But this applies to any and all, not just same-sex couples. Opposite-sex, unmarried couples not living the law of chastity may not attend the temple as well. And neither of these principles will ever change.

    So, we invite all to come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and part of that perfecting process is to embrace His doctrines, His will, and His commandments. Please, come to Church, and as Pres. Uchtdorf has said, stay a little longer, until you have embraced the Lord and all He has to offer, in His way.

  • Fred M

    I know! The same thing happened with interracial marriage! Now it’s totally legal everywhere, and the church no longer opposes it. What a nightmare.

  • Fred M

    The principle of the law of chastity won’t change, but the definition and practice of it may.

    For instance, the Lord has always taught us to treat our bodies as temples. But He allowed members of His church to drink alcohol for thousands of years, and only recently changed the definition and practice of that law. So things change. In a church built on the rock of revelation, we should never say never.

  • David

    She didn’t say she would procreate with her partner or that she’s against heterosexualism, just that she hoped she & her partner would have lots of Mormon babies. Being conceived by active Mormons isn’t the point, it’s being raised with the Church in their lives.

  • Seth R.

    In the case of interracial marriage, all we had to do was get rid of the CRIMINAL laws against interracial marriage or sex, and suddenly interracial marriage was legal – by definition.

    By contrast, when we decriminalized homosexual sex – lo and behold – marriage was still heterosexual.

    It’s really not half as clever a comparison as the sexual reformers think it is.

    Gay is not the new black.

  • Again, “It is quite inconceivable that the gospel should ever be under condemnation, though the Church has been from time to time. They are not the same thing. The one is a teaching; the other, an organization to foster that teaching.” (Hugh Nibley).

    Kelly, we must only look to history to see that even the top leadership of the church can be really, really wrong about “doctrine”. Sometimes they’ve taught as “doctrine” things that turned out not to be true:

    See: “An Inconvenient Truth: Lowry Nelson was right; The First Presidency was wrong”

    http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2015/03/useful-or-not-i-value-truth-over.html

    I can likewise foresee the day that our we receive further light and knowledge in relation to our understanding of “chastity”. Loving committed relationships between legally married adults is much different than sinful promiscuity. The Church’s current policies don’t make a distinction, and one day I believe it will.

  • Seth R.

    Homosexuality and blacks and the Priesthood are not really comparable at all.

    The racial policies were based on a very isolated and quirky reading of existing scripture – a reading that was not logically supported by the entire canon – as Darius Gray and the Genesis Group argued convincingly to the Brethren.

    The ban on homosexual sex however is deeply rooted in the LDS Church’s consistent teachings on gender, adultery, and the purpose of sex. Also, the prohibition on gay sex has been far more consistently and logically promoted by ALL the brethren than the racial policies ever were.

    As I said already – gay is not the new black.

  • Seth R.

    Those of you who are basing your membership solely on the forlorn hope that eventually the LDS Church will come around on gay sex had better do some serious rethinking.

    Because it ain’t going to happen. The complimentarity of the OPPOSITE genders is pretty much at the heart of LDS theology. The refusal to compromise on sex has always been consistent in LDS scripture, at the LDS pulpit, and everywhere else in LDS culture. And Mormons are used to being hated and fighting losing battles. You might even say we get a bit of an existential kick out of it. We’re here to stay – and no amount of shaming from you is going to change that. A lot of us are perfectly willing and ready to die in obscurity standing for the truth – no matter how unpopular it is and how many sneering op eds it generates.

    If you’re only staying in the LDS Church because you hope it will eventually change it’s mind on gay sex, you’re going to be disappointed, and cause yourself a lot of frustration in the…

  • Seth R.

    Posting this again – since the commenting software ate the first attempt:

    At first the stance is – oh we just want a secular governmental right to marriage, we have no intention of strongarming gay marriage on churches. Then the stance switches to – well, of course churches should be shamed, coerced, bullied, and taxed into performing and accepting gay marriage (just like Denmark).

    Next stance to shift – oh, of course gays will have more stable and monogamous relationships once they have marriage. Which will inevitably shift to – well, of course we shouldn’t limit our social approval to monogamy!

  • Fred M

    Well, even when it was legal the church still taught it was wrong. For years! And then that ideological creep worked its magic and now it’s okay. In that sense the comparison is perfect. Not saying that “gay is the new black.” Just that the church used to oppose interracial marriage…until the culture changed. I’m sure most members thought the opposition to interracial marriage would never go away too. But they ended up on the wrong side of history. It could happen again. Only time will tell.

  • Joel

    Perhaps. But if that hope is necessary to keep many in the fold, even if on the periphery, why not let them have it?

  • Joel

    I agree. I think that’s what they mean too.

  • Seth, I’m not stupid. I know there are differences. I’m simply saying there are also similarities. The Church has constantly been wrong on LGBT issues and it has adapted much of its teaching with the times.

    All I’m saying that in the future, I hope to see the Church move in the direction of promoting the quality of the relationships (which can be HEALTHY) rather than become preoccupied with the kind of sex occurring within the relationship.

    Church’s should be interested in promoting happy, healthy relationships rather than condemning activities in the bedroom. The Church has intruded into that realm too far in the past (ex: oral sex) and honestly I don’t care what a church or others say when that’s up to me and my spouse to decide.

  • Larry

    “I would argue that if your church does not get involved in your personal life, what is the point of said church? ”

    Respect for personal privacy among its members.
    Respect for differences of opinion among the faithful.
    Respect for the political views among the faithful.
    Respect for the professional and economic lives of the faithful.

    Ostracism and coercion are well known tools for exacting adherence to dogma and doctrines of those faiths and sects which don’t recognize the items I listed. In many ways such actions undermine the moral integrity and authority of such groups.

    Given such behaviors, I can understand why gay people would be willing to put up with the lack of respect, ostracism and scorn heaped by the church upon them. But I question the sanity of doing so.

  • Seth R.

    That wasn’t ideological creep. It was a flat refutation based on scripture – and clear evidence that the ban was unenforceable in places like Brazil.

    The ban on gay sex – by contrast is quite scriptural, doctrinal, and working just fine as intended.

  • Seth R.

    Joel – because increasing membership is not the number one priority for the LDS Church.

    The number one priority is integrity to the truth.

    If that causes us to lose members – then so be it.

  • Seth R.

    Actually the LDS Church has not been “constantly wrong” on LGBT issues. A lot of the historical assessment still holds today.

    And I am utterly unconvinced that marriage is going to magically reform gay culture from its current rampantly promiscuous ethic into a monogamous ethic.

    This is another one of those BS assurances the gay marriage crowd has been trying to sell without a shred of evidence to back it up.

    “Oh, if you let us have marriage, we all promise to be good little monogamists! We’re only having sex with half a dozen partners a year right now because we’ve been persecuted, and if we get a marriage license – we promise to stop!”

    Ba-lo-ney

  • Joel

    Since when are we unable to pursue multiple priorities at once, to the fullest extent possible? As you effectively demonstrate, the Church is succeeding in making its position clear.

    And I doubt the brethren agree that the size of the kingdom is as low a priority as you think it is. It would be illiminating to hear real membership numbers during conference: 15.5 million, but about 4 million active, and around 1 million current recommend holders–i.e. orthodox and orthoprax adults. But I think it speaks to their priorities that those stats are guarded.

    To be blunt, Brother Seth, I think your rebuke of those expressing hope puts you at odds with Church’s efforts to create as big and welcoming a tent as it can. Ironic.

  • Seth R.

    Joel, when has the LDS Church – even once – given the remotest indication that they would ever accept gay sex or gay marriage as within the Gospel ethic?

  • Joel

    Never, that I know of.

    Nonetheless, what’s the harm in some well-intentioned members hoping it will one day be otherwise? Maybe that costs them a recommend. But if they’re willing to pay that price to hold with integrity to their view on homosexuality, and STILL are willing to be counted among us, I think that should be lauded, not scorned.

  • Fred M

    Well, of course, we know that now. But one hundred years ago the vast majority of church members (including the leadership) would have said the ban on interracial marriage was scriptural and doctrinal (you can find justification for a lot of stuff in the scriptures if you try hard enough). And “working just fine as intended.”

  • Seth R.

    I don’t consider the popularity of gay marriage to be as well intentioned as people make out.

    I consider a good deal of it to be merely a pretext for getting people to “stop judging my sexual choices and making me feel discontented with them.” As such – much of it is highly self-serving.

  • David

    I hope she can stay, openly gay, married, and raise her children in the church. I want so badly to see greater societal representation in our pews. I understand that she holds some unorthodox beliefs that are not in harmony with the Church’s doctrine, but I also believe that she is a good 80-90% Mormon, thru and thru. She belongs.

  • Emmanuel Segui

    Your proposed solution seems a lot of hard-ache, headache, heartache; a lot of pain, guilt and submission. But if that’s what you feel is your path, go for it.

  • Emmanuel

    says probably a heterosexual who can enjoy life with a partner and best friend in the most beautiful intimate level and have a family forever. You’re saying it is an example for all of us that she won’t be able to enjoy that.

  • AngelCristy

    History has proven that God changes his mind quite often, like with Polygamy and blacks and the priesthood, or murder. I’ve heard people say that since they’re in the one true church, they will kill their kid if god asked them to. That would be murder, which is super bad, but God can change his mind. Didn’t he ask Abraham to kill his kid? After all, he’s God, he can do what the hell he wants. Look: “…it was the imperative duty of the Church to obey the word of Joseph Smith, or the presidency, without question or inquiry, and that if there were any that would not, they should have their throats cut from ear [to] ear.” – Sidney Rigdon letter to Apostle Orson Hyde, October 21, 1844, in Nauvoo Neighbor, December 4, 1844; It’s cool man. Murder is cool if God’s anointed prophets ask you to do it. Fear God and don’t fear man. You’re going to serve a life sentence but at least, you’re going to the celestial kingdom because you obeyed God.

  • Frame of Reference

    Celeste,
    The mystery of godliness involves male + female intimacy. Without seeking after this kind of intimacy and doing what you can to unlock it’s powers and responsibilities, you will be missing out on the larger picture of what this life is about.
    All human beings are chemically bisexual, meaning: enjoyment can be experienced from sexual contact between any two humans. Nonetheless, in every case desire is ultimately a choice, because desire can be nourished or starved, regardless of the initial attraction or lack thereof.
    We live in a chemically polluted world — artificial estrogens flood our food and plastics. This has a gender-corrupting effect in some cases, it can shift the starting point of desire, but it does not alter the axioms noted above. Just because something is now more difficult doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for.
    There is a potential husband out there for you – you will find him if you are willing. Desires can be altered.

  • maddy

    Seth,
    ” course churches should be shamed, coerced, bullied, and taxed into performing and accepting gay marriage (just like Denmark)”

    Is the LDS church in Denmark being required to perform gay marriages?

    ” gays will have more stable and monogamous relationships once they have marriage”

    Who said that? Nobody.
    As with heterosexual marriage, some will form stable marriages, some will form unstable marriages (and divorce or not), and some will choose not to marry at all.

    Just wondering Seth how this has impacted you directly? What experiences have you had? How have you had to change? I’ve not noticed a difference since same-sex marriage became legal in our state.

  • Seth R.

    The sexual reforms are never felt first in the college educated upper classes. They are always felt first in the ghettos and the low income neighborhoods. It’s always the poor who are most devastatingly impacted by sexual reforms because they don’t have the money, stability or education to resist them. The influence creeps out from there.

    So I wouldn’t be expecting YOU to be seeing much of a change at all Maddy.

  • Jimmy

    I don’t understand people who say the LDS church will never change just because the current leaders have strong opinions. My 14-year-old daughter is fanatical about being obedient to every church guideline and living every standard but if anyone says anything negative about a gay person or a same sex relationship she shuts them right down because she will not tolerate it. She doesn’t get that from her parents. That’s just her generation. When her generation is running the church there is no way we will still be holding on to the traditions of the past. People in my generation will say the young people are blinded by the world and abandoning God’s will, but people in her generation will say those who came before were blinded by the traditions of our fathers and couldn’t hear God calling us to repent.

  • LDSMan

    There are no room for LBGT people in the Church, period. They should be immediately ex-communicated from the Church

  • Seth R.

    That is not what the leadership of the LDS Church have said. They have said that there is plenty of room for LBGT people in the Church. They are welcome. I’m fine with sharing the pew with them, taking the Sacrament together, and having them teach my daughters’ Sunday School classes. Our General Authorities have also said as much.

    It is gay sex that is not permitted or tolerated in the LDS Church. Gays themselves are welcome.

    Don’t put words in the mouths of the Brethren that they themselves have not spoken.

  • Seth R.

    Jimmy, I still don’t allow anti-gay epithets and slander in my house or tolerate it among my acquaintances. But I don’t support gay marriage either.

    In fact, as recently as 2008, I pretty much didn’t have much of an objection to societal gay marriage either. I changed my views.

    That tends to happen when people get older, a lot of the intolerant and inflexible idealism of youth gives way to more conservative pragmatism in older age. It’s the reason a lot of twenty-somethings who abandon religion during college slowly find their way back it in later years.

    I wouldn’t count on the sort of ideological shift you are hoping for. People tend to change as they get older. I did.

  • maddy

    Seth,
    ” Gays themselves are welcome.”
    Are we talking strictly single/celibate gays? What about an LDS married gay couple attending your ward?

    You ignored my prior question:
    “Just wondering Seth how this has impacted you directly? What experiences have you had?

    I’m just curious as to how/what has led your thinking on this topic? I like to try and understand where people are coming from. In contrast,, the older I get I realize there are more questions, fewer knowable answers so I come back to the commandments to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. I trust that God can/will sort out all the rest. It is not my job description to stand in judgement of others.

  • LDSMan

    The Church’s doctrinal position is clear: Sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married. No If’s, And’s, or But’s. They should be rooted out of the Church

  • Seth R.

    Well, I clearly stated that gay sex is not allowed – if you want to hold a temple recommend. I would imagine a sexually active gay person would be welcome as anyone else without a temple recommend is in our meetings – as long as they aren’t disruptive.

  • Jimmy

    It’s true there are factors that could sway the younger generation’s opinions back to opposing same sex relationships. They may start looking at their LGBT friends and decide that their lives have less of the spirit in them after they get married and start raising children. But I have a feeling the reality of the experience will be the exact opposite.

  • Seth R.

    There’s no way to say for certain Jimmy, but I will point out that not all the data coming back from children raised in gay relationships is positive. There seems to be something fundamentally important in child rearing to having a parent of EACH gender stable and present in the child’s life.

  • Seth R.

    The only reason I can think for “rooting them out” is if they are being disruptive and predatory on the faith of others in the congregation such that excommunication becomes appropriate.

    Aside from that, why should I care if there are gay people in the ward?

    There are already people with substance abuse or pornography addiction problems in my ward, and they get a handshake in the foyer and a warm hello just like everyone else. Why should someone with a gay sex problem be different (as long as they weren’t advertising for the lifestyle to everyone else)?

  • Danny S

    This whole conversation goes nowhere. It is nothing but a series of question-begging and unprovable constructs. The church is the oracle of god’s work. God’s servants have been consistent… The church is based on revelation. It goes on and on. I get that some people believe the church has helped them. Mazel tov. But in my opinion the people who hope for change of policy are as misguided as their opponents. And that misguided notion is that somehow this church speaks for God. The inconsistency of church doctrines, it’s troubling history, it’s blatant lies (I don’t know that that’s doctrine. I don’t know that we teach that. Etc.), and its foundational story being that a young man used the same peepstone for which he was convicted of defrauding others to “translate” a sacred record, to me make it extremely implausible that anything coming out of this church is “revelation”.

  • LDSMan

    Any way you look at it, homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the LDS and the Lord. Are you going to argue that?

  • LDSMan

    In 1991, the church issued a statement that read:

    Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior is sinful …. We plead with those involved in such behavior to forsake

  • Danny S

    LDSMan,

    So, should somebody pick up a spear and kill the abominable sodomites who enter the camp of Israel, ala Numbers 25:8, and thus rid the church of a plague?

  • LDSMan

    Forbid them a Temple Recommendation and use the Ward and Stake disciplinary committee for ex-communication

  • The only people that should be rooted out of the church are prejudiced men like you who stubbornly hold onto 1970s “abomination” rhetoric rather than repent and get with the “further light and knowledge” more Christlike rhetoric the current Brethren have endorsed on the Church website about “Mormons and Gays.”

  • LDSMan

    In the Bible, homosexuality is an abomination. Are you arguing with the word of God?

  • “The word of God” has always been communicated and mediates through human filters. Many of the words in scripture are not God’s words at all, but the words of men speaking in their weakness and cultural contexts. The Bible says all kinds of horrible things and men projected it onto God. The Bible also says divorce is an abomination, and eating Shellfish is an abomination. Are you as equally vocal about those?

    You can’t accept all scripture as equally inspired–not even Joseph Smith did. One must use the spirit to discern truth from error, even in the scriptures.

    Honestly I could do without most of the Bible except for the two greatest commandments to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That, and Jesus is parable of the good Samaritan. Except if he were retelling the parable to us in modern language he’d likely use a gay apostate, not a Samaritan.

  • LDSMan

    Yes, I am very vocal about divorce.When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage, according to the LDS church.

  • Danny S

    Seth R.,

    “gay sex problem”. That phrase get to the heart of the divide in this conversation. BTW, I’m not criticizing you, just observing.

    One side typically (not all) sees homosexuality as a choice, or alternatively, an idiosyncrasy akin to kleptomania. In other words, contrary to Boyd Packer’s assertion otherwise, something went wrong at birth.

    The other side (again, not all) sees homosexuality as something not chosen, but innate at birth. Often the question is asked, who would consciously choose a lifestyle nearly guaranteed to bring significant hardships into the person’s life? I think of my high school and a couple of kids I believed to be gay. They were hassled so badly. Mercilessly. They weren’t the bad people. The “straight” tormentors were.

    Personally, I don’t think homosexuality is something to be “fixed”, as your phrasing suggests. BYU tried electroshock therapy coupled with pornography to “fix” gay young men. It was a complete failure.

  • Seth R.

    Danny, inserting your genitals into someone is ALWAYS a voluntary action. An action you can choose to do, or not to do. No matter what condition you were born with.

    Full stop.

    As it so happens, I’m completely open to the idea of homosexuality being genetic.

    And it doesn’t make a lick of difference to my objection to gay sex, and gay marriage.

    Lots of people are born with problems they need to cope with. Being born a certain way doesn’t automatically make your sexual actions OK.

  • Seth, you’re treating current church policy as immutable doctrine. To me, the church policy of saying “being gay is not a sin but acting on it is” is akin to saying “being left-handed is not a sin but using the left hand is.”

    I’m optimistic that our understanding of the law of chastity be expanded one day.

  • Conservative law professor and LDS blogger Nathan Oman:

    “Recognizing gay marriage has the potential to create stronger gay families and a better environment to grow up in for the children of homosexuals. It also carries within itself the possibility for an ethic of gay chastity, which ultimately strikes me as superior to either gay celibacy or gay promiscuity. I understand that in its fullest religious sense, gay chastity for Latter-day Saints (as opposed to gay celibacy) requires revelation to those with greater religious authority than I, and I am comfortable sustaining that authority. Nevertheless, in my all-things-considered independent judgment, gay chastity is a good idea.”

    I too think it would be good for the church to draw a distinction between two good and committed Saints who, according to their sexual orientation–which they cannot change–desire to be legally and lawfully married, as compared to those who live promiscuously.

  • Seth R.

    Having sex and eating with your left hand are obviously not the same thing.

    I think if I was an amputee I’d be frankly insulted if you were to imply that some 20 something not being able to copulate is equivalent to the loss of my hand.

    It’s like – are you for real?

  • Seth R.

    That’s a nice idea from Nate Oman, but there isn’t a shred of evidence to back it up.

    On the contrary, in countries like the Netherlands, where gay relationships have been celebrated and accommodated for decades, the gay population shows no signs whatsoever of settling down and embracing monogamy at all.

    It’s not really surprising, because there is something inherently less binding about gay sex than heterosexual sex. So it makes sense that the results would reflect the core nature of the sex act.

  • Joel

    Seth,

    “I think if I was an amputee I’d be frankly insulted if you were to imply that some 20 something not being able to copulate is equivalent to the loss of my hand.”

    This is a telling comment. I think you don’t get it. For you, this is all about penises and orifaces, isn’t it?

    Intimacy. If forced to choose between having relations with your wife and losing a hand, you’d choose to keep your hand? If forced to choose between having a spouse at all, a life partner, someone there when you wake up and fall asleep, or losing a hand, youd choose the hand?

    Really?

  • Marni

    Celeste, You really come across as someone I would love to have in my ward!

  • Seth R.

    If asked to pick between an orgasm and my left hand?

    I’d give up the orgasm – no question.

    Seriously, either you’re still under the age of 23 and not thinking clearly, or you’ve been watching waaay to much MTV.

  • Joel

    Seth,

    I ask, “If forced to choose between having a spouse at all, a life partner, someone there when you wake up and fall asleep, or losing a hand, you’d choose the hand?”

    You respond, “If asked to pick between an orgasm and my left hand? I’d give up the orgasm – no question.”

    That’s what marriage means to you, orgasms. That’s sad.

  • Seth R.

    No, that what gay “marriage” means to me.

  • Joel

    “No, that what gay ‘marriage’ means to me.”

    Impasse. We can’t agree even on the scope and depth of the issue.

    Enjoy your week.

  • Seth R.

    I guess not. And thank you, enjoy yours as well.

  • LDSMan

    I really do not think that she will be welcomed in our ward. It is a very conservative ward and stake.

  • LDSMan

    All of our members did vote in support of Proposition 8. In fact, upon being a new member of the ward I was asked about my stance on Proposition 8. I said I voted for it.

  • Chris

    LDSMan, you’re really doing a good job of dehumanizing celibate LGBT Mormons. “There are no room for LBGT people in the Church, period.” Really? Doesn’t God love all of His children?

    I’ll let Seth R — yes, the resident conservative Mormon who appears to have spent several hours posting here about how the Mormon church will never approve of same-sex relationships — knock some sense into you.

  • I definitely welcome her “welcome LGBT people back to the church” out reach, nice! I have friends in the church who are gay, and taught some on my mission as well…There shouldn’t be any hate or back biting of course, we’re all children of our heavenly father. We should all love each other. Now that being said, the law of chastity as we live it today doesn’t allow for homosexual relationships (in fact, it doesn’t allow for sexual relationships much at all, only heterosexual within the bounds of marriage). There’s hopefully no hate there. Like the woman brought before Christ “taken in adultery.” Christ didn’t hate her. We shouldn’t either. He also didn’t say “you are forgiven, do what you want” to her either though…FWIW. At least that’s my take anyway.
    Cheers, peace out.

  • LDSMan

    He is far from being conservative

  • LDSMan

    This is Church policy.Members who face a disciplinary council and refuse to repent—or insist that their feelings are integral to who they are—almost always are excommunicated. They lose their membership and cannot participate in any way other than attend meetings. They also lose the eternal ties that bind them to their families and their church.

  • LDSMan

    Did you know that our current Prophet Monson supported Proposition 8 in California?

  • Joel

    “This is Church policy. Members who face a disciplinary council and refuse to repent—or insist that their feelings are integral to who they are—almost always are excommunicated. They lose their membership and cannot participate in any way other than attend meetings. They also lose the eternal ties that bind them to their families and their church.”

    Certainly not how the Church PR department would have phrased it. But you can’t disagree with the accuracy, albeit it creepy and chilling.

  • LDSMan

    You cannot argue church regulations. If LBGT LDS members does not like the rules, let them form their own church

  • Joel

    With friends like LDSMan, who needs enemies?

  • ben in oakland

    it doesn’t take a man and a woman. it takes a sperm and an egg.

  • LDSMan

    This is the LDS Church position on Artificial insemination taken from BYU website:

    The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. “However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the husband and wife, with the responsibility for the decision resting solely upon them” (General Handbook of Instructions, 11-4).

  • Danny S

    Roger, FWIW, the adulterous women story appears to be a later addition to the manuscripts used in the King James Bible. Since the time of the translation other older manuscripts have been found that don’t have that story. In other words, it never happened. It’s just a story.

  • LDSMan

    This is From Milton Hunter:

    Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14.) For over three thousand years this commandment has reverberated throughout the Hebrew and Christian world. It has been the guideline by which millions of people have patterned their lives.

  • LDSMan

    Verses Related to Exodus 20:14

    2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

    Matthew 5:28 – But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    Psalms 101:3 – I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

  • Tiffany

    I would have to say only this. Today my cousins are very faithful and strong members of the LDS church. They are married happily with kids and more on the way. They in fact are welcomed every Sunday kindly by those around them. They are amazing and I love them! In many ways, I am jealous of their happiness. What you didn’t know is that 2 years ago they were, druggies, alcoholics and easy (as in they slept around with anyone). They were disrespectful to their parents and openly spoke out against the church. But one day they decided to change and its like it never happened. They started living the rules and all is forgotten. This makes me sad sometimes, only because I have been a faithful member of the church for years, graduated BYU-I and served a mission. I love the church. But I am marrying a woman this year and because of that I am unworthy. Because I am willing to sacrifice and love another person more than myself I cannot call myself a member of the church, sad I think.

  • LDSMan

    .Its better to ex-communicate yourself than have it done officially and save the embarrassment.

  • LDSMan

    AMEN!!!!!

  • Tom

    I just discovered this blogger half an hour ago, and I’ve only read a couple posts so far, but I’ve got to say that the tone of the comments on this post are remarkably different from the tone of Jana’s writing. There are some hateful, bigoted things being said by other commentators, whereas the thrust of Jana’s article is that it’s cool for Celeste to try to reconcile two conflicting identities. Ironically, most of the hateful commentators are blissfully unaware of how harmful their words are, thinking that because they hear it from the pulpit, it must be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, etc. I’m a gay Mormon (soon-to-be ex-Mormon?), and the insistent condemnation of my worldview from Mormons like these makes me wish I’d been born an atheist. Please think before you type.

  • Seth R.

    And what am I supposed to make of the fact that you only chide one side of the debate Tom?

    Are you just playing favorites here?

  • Yes, please do accept my apologies for some people who are a bit “brusque” with their comments. I guess it’s a sensitive topic, and we should be careful, as you suggest. And I hope you stay, BTW 🙂
    Much love,
    -roger-

  • LDSMan

    The rules of the LDS church on homosexuality are clear as glass.

  • Pingback: Returning to the Flock, But Not As a Sheep » Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control()

  • Pingback: Mormon Marriage Equality Is Next » Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control()

  • winifred

    Alcohol is legal but if you are a practicing alcoholic you may not have full fellowship in the LDS Church. Even if gay marriage is legal if you are a practicing homosexual you may not have full fellowship in the LDS Church

  • Pingback: Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Sex Relationship | MormonPath.com()

  • guero

    You should still feel welcomed to attend church and enjoy the same relationships you have had with your fellow ward members. You can always continue to learn and grow in the gospel.