Seattle Mormon leaders to gays: Come back to church

gay prideThis Sunday, Mormon leaders in the Seattle North Stake will roll out the red carpet for their LGBT brothers and sisters, many of whom have shied away from the Church because of its official stance against homosexuality.

Taking as its theme Ezekiel 34:16, stake leaders set out this year to “seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and bind up that which was broken” within its boundaries.

That includes gay members who have been damaged by past experiences of prejudice at church.

“Believing that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have been alienated from Mormonism, from the congregations they once called home, we wanted to reach out to them and invite them to return and join our religious community,” says Aaron Brown, a stake high councilor who oversees Public Affairs.

“We want to make our congregations safe, more welcoming, more loving spaces where all our members -- gay or straight -- can fellowship and worship together, regardless where they are in life.  So we pursued this LGBT initiative as a means of extending that invitation and showing that we are serious about it.”

This weekend’s events in Seattle follow what has already occurred in San Francisco, where Mitch Mayne, an openly gay man, served as executive secretary in the bishopric. Part of the work Mayne and his bishop Don Fletcher did there was extensive outreach to the LGBT community and all inactive Mormons .

“Seattle is mirroring what we've done in [the] San Francisco Bay Area: throwing the doors open for anyone who wants to join with us on Sunday,” says Mayne.

“That means LGBT individuals are welcome to come to church regardless of where they are in their personal lives -- single and living under the confines of the policy as we understand it today, married to a partner of their same gender, or dating someone new every night. There is no Bishop's interview to sit in the pews on Sunday. There is no test to take to come to Sacrament or any of our meetings or events. Everyone is welcome, just as they are.”

And people are coming. Mayne reports that one family is driving three hours to Seattle to help welcome LGBT members at the special sacrament meeting and “linger later” social event.

Last Friday, Aaron Brown’s Facebook announcement about this Sunday’s welcome resulted in more than 250 comments. Granted, a few of those commenters sounded appalled, including one homophobic and grammatically unencumbered remark: “separate the clean from the filthy.... love them allow them to be present in our meetings but as Paul said, What fellowship does light have with darkness” [sic].

Clearly, many Mormons’ attitudes have a long way to go when it comes to welcoming everyone as Christ. But Sunday’s initiative is a great start, and its reach extends far beyond the LGBT community.

“Let's be clear here,” says Mayne. “While this has great impact to the LGBT community, it also extends that same hand of welcome to straight members who feel ‘on the outside looking in’ for whatever reason. I suspect what they'll see is exactly what we've seen in San Francisco -- the return not only of LGBT members, but also many who have left because of the way we've responded to the LGBT community.”

To prepare for this weekend, Mayne and his former bishop, Don Fletcher, offered a training session in July for local leaders in Seattle, expecting 40 to 50 people. Over 90 showed up from three stakes.

Now they have training materials available to accommodate official requests from other stake leaders who wish to follow the example set in the Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle North stakes.

What would success look like in Seattle? “We're realists, and a massive influx of reactivated LGBT Saints probably won't happen overnight, if ever,” says Brown.

“If we convince a few to return to the fold and become part of the life of our wards, this will be success.  If we convince other LGBT Saints that we really do welcome and love them, even if they aren't ready to return themselves, that's also success.  If we convince some straight Mormons to soften and modify their attitudes about their LGBT brothers and sisters, this will also be success."


  1. At the end of the day, it still pretty much comes down to the doctrine itself. Both the Roman Catholic and LDS churches have strived in recent years to reach out in love to those with same-gender attraction, however there is no real movement in doctrine itself. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. We all stand in need of the reparative grace of Christ. We all need to repent. So however loving the tone might be, if the doctrine on sexual behavior remains firm, how many of those who reject the labeling of homosexual acts as sin will desire to return weekly over the long haul? I see that as quite a challenge, even if 15 million Latter-day Saints achieve perfection in speaking nicely.

  2. Tom, you are correct that: “We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God. We all stand in need of the reparative grace of Christ. We all need to repent.” Truly understanding those needs should add motivation to the commandments to develop and express the pure love of Jesus Christ (See Matthew 5: 43-48). I see these publicized efforts, and many not publicized ones, as encouraging indicators that the core values of the gospel are nurtured and practiced widely in the Church. See also “The Merciful Shall Obtain Mercy” at (including powerful reteaching for youth and children at ) and “After 20 years, this excommunicated Mormon still attends her LDS ward” at .

  3. Author

    I certainly reject the labeling of homosexuality as sin, yet I’m in church week after week. Not going anywhere.

  4. Come back to church and do what?

    I don’t get it. The pinnacle worship in LDS doctrine is temple marraige between a man and a woman. The LDS church HAS no place for gay people. Their plan of salvation is flawed.

  5. Lds_confused understands the whole point. There is no place for gay members. When I see married gay members (or frankly, single members) officiating, sealing their marriages, and holding leadership callings, then I’ll know it’s not just Brown’s and Fairbanks’ side hobby to help themselves feel better about the deplorable state of the LDS church on social issues. When gay members come, and it should be stated, that they are largely coming to my ward (Elliott Bay) they are welcome but not respected as leadership. Eventually, these members just quit coming because they realize they are there to help rich, urban, educated socially liberal Mormons feel better about themselves.

    And by the way, what are married lesbian members supposed to do about the priesthood?

  6. The restored gospel is certainly about doctrines, but it is also about attitudes and behaviors. Some critics claim that unless doctrines about homosexually totally change, nothing has changed. However, I think attitudes and behaviors have (and are) changing to be more compassionate, which is important in spite of doctrinal stability.

    I see a significant amount of “all or nothing thinking” on a variety of social and religious issues in general, among critics, and church members. My experience with life is that it is rarely “all or nothing.” There are usually balances to be found. Sometimes members seem more concerned with their Status in the Celestial Kingdom (See Mark 35-46; Luke 24-27; Matthew 23) than with following the Savior, keeping His basic teachings and commandments and developing and expressing charity (the pure love of Jesus Christ) through service, which are prerequisites for entering the Celestial Kingdom.

    We can disagree about a variety of things and use those disagreements to marginalize and demonize each other. We can also focus on commonalities and tolerate differences of opinion, agreeing to disagree with compassion. I think tolerance and compassion are generally more Christlike and more constructive. True understanding and internalization of the gospel in our lives does Not come all at once. Jana and I probably disagree about some important issues like the sinfulness of homosexual behavior (she rejects labeling of homosexuality as sin). However, we agree that all of us are sons and daughter of Heavenly Father who loves us, and that we should treat each other as beloved brothers and sisters. As members of the Church we both believe in “good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation” ( . See also ).

  7. The Seattle Stake has good intentions, but indirectly, they are discriminating against the fornicator and the adulterer. Why not just welcome back everyone.

  8. ““We want to make our congregations safe, more welcoming, more loving spaces where all our members — gay or straight — can fellowship and worship together…”

    That’s right, gay ex-Mormons! Listen to Good Cop! Good Cop knows Bad Cop was a real meanie who alienated you from your congregation, but Good Cop is on YOUR side! He wants to help you! Now, he’s just going to need to attach these electrodes to your naughty bits (*)….


  9. There is a true place in the LDS church for people with same gender attraction if they accept the Proclamation on the Family as truth. Particularly the statement: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”And: “Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents”. If this is true, there are not third and fourth genders in eternity and same gender attraction is a mortal, temporal or temporary condition resulting from imperfect mortal bodies. It will not be present in resurrected perfect immortal bodies. Though a gay couple who are faithful to each other may for the time of mortality find sexual expression of love as fulfilling, it will not be a desire in the resurrected state. The capacity to love eternally will take the form of that which is felt for eternal brothers or sisters. We do not sexually express our love for all those that we love the most.

  10. The Proclamation must be revised before any gay person (or any self-respecting feminist, IM-not-so-HO, sorry Jana, all due respect for your courageous writings) will feel genuinely welcome let alone loved in the LDS church. The Proclamation to the Family is deeply flawed and is the source of a problem that must be solved for the LDS faith to survive long-term in the United States.

  11. Geez Mormons… Whats next? COFFEE? TEA? BOOZE?? What a joke. Once your principles break down, your “FAITH” is just a facade for your worldly social club. End of story. God has standards, and for the sake of your numbers, you are willing to violate them. Just remember. God is interested in the QUALITY of those who worship him, not the quantity. Only 8 survived the flood. That should give you a clue to God’s view on numbers.

  12. Seattle LDS church to gays,

    “We are still not going to apologize for our efforts in attacking your civil liberties in California, nor treat you as human beings with dignity and respect, but we want you to come back and hang out with us.”

  13. “The pinnacle worship in LDS doctrine is temple marraige between a man and a woman. The LDS church HAS no place for gay people. Their plan of salvation is flawed.”
    This is taking a very short-sighted and mortal life view only. This seems to be based on the assumption that gay people will continue to be gay into the eternities, which I think is a flawed assumption to make. I don’t know how this all will be straightened out (no pun intended) in the life to come, but I trust that it will be. Even if an individual is not able to partake of the blessings of eternal marriage in this life, that does not mean they are eternally inaccessible. Many straight people never have an opportunity to marry while on earth, but they will still be offered that blessing. I honestly do not believe that is any different for people who are gay in mortality. Not having the opportunity to enter into an eternal marriage is not having the opportunity to enter into an eternal marriage. Period. In the meantime, why not progress as much as possible while on the earth? If the person is living a chaste life, there is no reason why they cannot receive other temple ordinances or serve in most capacities. (Not bishop, obviously, because you have to be married for that.) Even for those who are not living chaste lives, there is still room for them to learn and grow. We even welcome – and expect as part of their repentance process- people who have been excommunicated to come to church every Sunday! We can accept everyone into the congregation (which my friend calls the ward building the “hospital”) because we all have flaws and we all fall short. We go to church to learn to be better, to learn about the gospel, and to fellowship with each other. We let sinful people in our doors every Sunday. EVERY Sunday. (and that would everyone) By letting people who sin into our community, we are not condoning any sin. Sin is sin, and we will teach truth with “loving kindness”. BUT – everyone should be welcome. Everyone is welcome to come to the hospital. (Unless if you are incarcerated and can’t. In which case, you can still read the scriptures and listen to and learn from the words of the prophets.) Again, this is not to say that we should ignore the life-style qualifications of the *temple*, but anyone is welcome to come to the hospital. Some LGBT members may not want to come to church, and may not want that in their life. I think that’s really sad, but that’s still their choice. But – there are plenty of other people who are straight who make that same decision as well for other reasons. Our job is not to judge, but to reach out with open arms to anyone who wants to join with us.

  14. Please note exhibit 1: There’s a place for me. There’s a place for me and my partner. I serve as the Secretary in YW, I’ve been the Nurse at YW camp for three years, I’m involved in a very real way as a leader of youth in the church. Everybody knows I have a partner. We’ve been together for 15 years. She joined the church 11 months ago with full disclosure. I am at total peace about the whole issue. I trust that whatever challenges, delays, or frustrations my partner and I face will result in useful experiences and broadened perspective. If I have to wait a minute for a temple marriage then that’s fine. If I have to wave my little irritating “Hug a Mormon Homo” flag, then fine. If I get asked about my worthiness, then I’ll happily answer their questions. If a church leader treats me badly, then I’ll pray about it and respond as inspired. If Sunday school is all about how marriage is between a man and woman, then I can offer my story and testimony to liven up the discussion. My eternal progression is not limited by these challenges. I’m done being afraid. I don’t have to be afraid anymore because I now trust that God is holding me gently. Jackie and I are happy. We are active, gay, Mormons. Life is love school, LGBT issues are just another means to challenge us to figure out how to love a bit more… from both sides of the coin. Injustice is marvelously effective at teaching compassion, humility, patience, endurance, and faith. I am grateful for the 14 years of pain my partner and I endured. It has made us very, very soft. It hurts a lot less to hit a wall if you are soft.

    You, Brad, are a big reason why I am at peace. You have no idea what your hug meant to me when I found you marching with other Mormons in the Seattle Pride parade in 2012. Do not underestimate your contribution to the lives of those around you. As for the priesthood, Jackie and I have wonderful, righteous, men in our lives. When we get married…which we will… we will continue to be blessed by the priesthood through them. I used to hate men for all the pain they collectively cause women. Now their influence in my life is precious to me…especially yours.

    much love,

  15. After many years, I concluded there was no place for me as a man married to a widow who had already been sealed to another man. Of course I was accepted lovingly and included in leadership rolls, a much different situation than gay Mormons face. But deep inside, I knew that if I could not enjoy the rite of temple marriage, for time and all eternity, with my spouse–I was a second class Mormon. Although gay mormons in relationships may come back to visit, probably because they miss the trappings of Mormonism in which they grew up, most will conclude that they will never be first-class Mormons until the doctrine changes–and that will probably not occur in their lifetime.

  16. I don’t think that is very comforting to a gay couple. I look at how my love for my spouse had deepened throughout the years. I can not imagine finishing this live with her and then finding on the other side that i am no longer attracted to her, that she is no longer my spouse but just a special person that i knew on earth. Somehow i can’t see telling my son that after he has spent his life with a partner that it will all be nullified. We like to think that we know how things will be after resurrection but we really don’t. We only have faith about what we think it will be like. The proclamation to the family is not revelation, it is not doctrine. It is a “proclamation” that lists ideas and statements that already existed in the church at the time it was written. It was not written by the Prophet and/or the apostles. It was written by attorneys at the request of the brethren to be used in the amicus brief during the first equal rights marriage fight in Hawaii and then published to the church. As such it was specifically intended to say that marriage was between an man and a woman. It is a wonderful document, but we can’t look at it and know for certain what the status of those with same gender attraction will be in the next life.

  17. Those are good questions, Bethany. I stand for full marriage equality in the church. I also stand for Women’s Ordination. I loved giving you and many others hugs during and after Pride 2012. I wanted to say “yes, the church is doing everything it can to take away your rights, but there are people who don’t feel that way” Then the church started excommunicating people again for taking those stands. The church in Seattle is the best possible version of the Mormon church that can possibly exist and that is both a compliment and an insult. For me, it’s just too painful and stultifying to go, and let’s face it, the church is designed for married cis gendered white males like me.

    Hat tip to you for continuing the fight.

  18. Thanks Wayne. I echo your sentiments. While there is a lot of disagreement among the Saints on this particular topic, that does not negate all we share in common.

    If the Saints sitting in the pews and our forsaken gay brothers and sisters can take this principle to heart, we should be able to worship and serve together again while we wait for further light and knowledge.

  19. Aversion and reparative therapy were disasters that the LDS Church participated in. Thankfully, today they have been disavowed by leadership with these particular past wrongs acknowledged.

  20. I respectfully disagree. Any and all persons should be fully welcome among our wards. Gay and sexually active? Come. Smoking? Come. Sailor’s mouth? Come. Obnoxious political opinions? Come. I’m not perfect and yet I still come and seek to be edified.

    “There is no sign on the door of the chapel that says your testimony must be this tall to enter.” -President Uchtdorf

    If you reject the Proclamation, don’t believe in eternal gender, believe homosexuality is no sin, and believe the Church needs to change. Please come. We are all waiting for further light and knowledge.

  21. I don’t think this is fair to the Seattle leaders who initiated the outreach. We don’t know their feelings regarding the matter or what they would do if entirely left to their own devices. They have taken their local authority to the limit and have said, “come as you are with whoever you love” and we will worship with you, love you, and not judge you.” This is an act of peace, not war.

  22. Missing from this conversation is the affect acts like these have on rank and file Mormons. Unfortunately, homophobia exists in the Mormon community though it has no place in Christ’s gospel. For Seattle leadership to ask the Saints to save a seat for their gay brothers and sisters and welcome them without judgment, is to ask them to purge whatever homophobia they harbor in their heart. No part of this action can be a bad thing or waste of time.

  23. It makes no difference if they meant well.

    As stated by others above (LDS_confused, Brad Hawkins, Bethany Roth), gays will never be treated as full fledged members by the LDS church with dignity and respect as its present policies currently stand.

    Until there is a change at the upper levels of church doctrine, any attempt at outreach by the LDS is going to be pathetically backhanded, smack of expedience and ultimately be insulting to the gays they are extending a hand to.

    There is no middle ground with prejudices. Either you reject them or embrace them. This ultimately is not rejecting them. It smacks of PR and putting up pretensions of tolerance without the actuality of it.

  24. We will let you into the country club but you can’t use the pool or tennis courts.

  25. You state that reparative therapy has “been disavowed by leadership with these particular past wrongs acknowledged.” Really? Can you cite a source for that? Particularly the part about acknowledging the church was wrong.

  26. I agree that if this is PR or empty tolerance it will smack of expedience and be insulting to gays. I think it is sincere, but I could be wrong.

    I disagree with your assertion that we can only be hot or cold, all or nothing, or binary in our choices regarding prejudice. I reject gay prejudice, still go to the Mormon Church, and wait for change. There is no perfect organization in the world. If I can’t associate with any organization I disagree with, I’d better prepare for a lonely life. More importantly, if I hope for change I can do more from the inside to influence hearts and minds.

    The policies can change. There’s plenty of precedent. People are waiting and agitating for it now. And we could use more LGBT in our congregations to help. Their presence alone does wonders. Few can see the end you describe from where we are today, but steps like this one do matter… so long as they are sincere.

  27. Looks like this bishopric is serious. They are all relatively young, under 40, small kids at home. I’ve known this bishop for 13 years and I think his heart is in the right place on this one. The bishop’s name is Mike Hatch and though I tease him mercilessly about his extreme privilege (Aaron’s too), I think they are both doing something real. You can tell from their advertising copy about “coming and looking around and seeing the other gays in the congregation” (paraphrasing here) that they are a little tone deaf, but I think it might work. Members of this ward are also the movers and shakers behind Sunstone Seattle and a couple of interesting study groups. These guys are legit.

    Still, the doctrine needs to change before LGBTQA people are going to feel anything approaching a place in the Mormon church. Ordaining Women is of paramount importance to providing any functional place for non-men and their spouses to commune in this faith.

  28. I believe the Mormon church HAS no room for judgmental people. Like you.

  29. Good news! A ward here and there in the most liberal parts of the church are reaching out to the LGBT community….now lets see how welcoming the LGBT community is in Idaho and Utah.

  30. I’m an active member, and definitely wouldn’t call myself an social activist, but have close friends on both sides of this discussion (moderates and extreme, both sides, of every shade of opinion and practice). I go to the temple every week, fulfill callings, watch (and love) General Conference, read the Book of Mormon every day, married in the temple, teach my kids the life and example of Jesus, accept the Proclamation as it stands, fel the Spirit when I hear Elder Boyd Packet speak, never been to a LGBT pride march, etc. So, to gays, I probably look like your stereotypical closed-minded, backward, uneducated bigot. I’m even mildly homophobic. How’s that? But, in my defense, I’m also mildly HETEROphobic. I don’t really believe anyone has it straight with this one.

    I want to put in a word for how (probably) ignorant we ALL are about what “is really going on” here in time and eternity with sex, attraction, unity, God’s liberality or absolutism. I simply don’t know that ANYONE in this world has the answer to the sex/gender/preference question. Both those saying the Church should “change the doctrine” because the Gays know better and Church members saying that they have the final word on God’s view of sexuality and how it fits into/will look in eternity, are claiming an awful lot.

    Both same- and opposite-sex attraction seems to exist. Why does God allow it? No idea. What does God feel about it ultimately? No idea. What will homo- OR heterosexual attraction/drive look like in eternity? No idea. BUT, what does the LDS Church teach about God’s view in this life about sexual behavior? That’s clear enough. At some point you have to decide whether it is worth it to live the teaching.

    I’ve never spoken to any gay person about sex/attraction/fidelity and felt, “You know what? You really get this. You actually see into the mind of God on this one.” AND I’ve never spoken with a straight person and thought, “You know what? YOU really get this. You actually see into the mind of God on this one.”


    I think people from both sides are inwardly waiting for the day when Christ shows up and picks THEM and they can say, “Hah! I was right all along!” Each side assumes God will someday appear and validate their feelings and choices. I think (and here I am, claiming to understand the mind of God, I know…) what will surprise us is how far off ALL of us have been. How clueless we ALL (homo- and heterosexual alike) are about sex and the sexes. How much mental and emotional change we ALL must endure before we start seeing things as they really are.

    Everyone wants divine and societal approbation for their choices and feelings. And we want to preach pur correctness. To comvince others that we are right. I think that’s the real issue here. The problem is, with THIS issue, preachiness and approval for one group feels like absolute death to the other — each side has such a high emotional stake in how others view our choices.

    The counsel I give (and try to live by) is, “Do what feels right to you. Demand honesty from yourself about your intentions. Remember that ALL of us are mostly clueless about the God (atheists claim there is none, believers claim we are largely and intentionally cut off from Him/Her/Them by a veil — for testing and other purposes). Be prepared to change — we all are going to need it (probably). Don’t be surprised if reality turns out to be very different than we believe or teach or experience it here. Don’t hate others too much — most people really are doing their best.”

    Good luck.

  31. Why don’t you guys understand? The doctrine is not going to change. The doctrine is not what needs changing – the PEOPLE need to change and repent. YES, homosexuality is a sin, just as it was thousands of years ago.

    Brad Hawkins: What are we going to do about lesbians and the priesthood? Absolutely nothing! The ignorance of what I’m reading is appalling. You are all missing the mark entirely. Gays will not ever be married in the temple unless the Prophet decided to go against God and let the whole church crumble. Being that the Prophet will never lead the members astray, this will never happen.

    David Conley Nelson: If you feel like a second class citizen for not being able to be sealed, then marry someone you can be sealed to. This is not the church’s fault you feel this way. And you said yourself that you feel loved by the members and hold leadership callings. If you want the full blessings of the church then the power is all yours to marry in the temple.

    Jana Riess: Yes, homosexuality is a sin. Just because you are a “progressive Mormon” doesn’t mean that God’s doctrine has changed. You have changed.

    LDS_Confused: No, the Plan of Salvation is not flawed. Your thought process is flawed.

    Tammy: The Proclamation to the Family is not flawed. It was not created to be altered. It was created to set the church’s unchanging stance on the family. And no, the church does not need to change for certain people with certain sins to feel “welcome” in church. If I drink a beer before church, I would expect to feel unwelcomed there because I am SINNING. I would not expect the Word of Wisdom to change to make me feel better about myself. No one would feel welcome or comfortable in the presence of Christ with sins that went unrepented. The same is true at church.

    We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling before God. The true church is not a place where we can pick which commandments to follow and which ones to ignore so that we can feel warm and fuzzy about our sins.

  32. Shall we assume that Chris works for the P.R. Department for the church? Or does he merely head C.E.S.?

  33. Thanks for the compliment Brad. I’d love to work for either organization one day.

  34. Author

    Bethany, your story brought me to tears. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing it, and for your courage. I’m glad that you and your partner continue to bless your Mormon community by being active in the Church.

  35. That doctorin will never change its is rooted to the core of our beleave and the grate example is Adam and Eve

  36. Chris: I had a better idea. I let my first wife (this was her third marriage) go on to marriages number four and five. She finally found, the fifth time around, a widower who had been sealed to his wife. They agreed they’d be each other’s gap fillers on earth and then go to eternity with their first spouses. I wasn’t willing to be her gap filler for the rest of my life, even though I did a fairly good job of it for a dozen years. We sent four of her first husband’s born-in-the-covenant children on missions and three of them to The Lord’s University, where they each found their eternal companions.

    Me? I left this B.S. religion the same day I left her. That first cup of coffee after a dozen years tasted so good! So did my first beer in 12 years that evening. I found a wonderful woman who was just as disgusted with her cradle Catholocism as I was with my 12-year Mormon experiment. We found a liberal Christian denomination, the United Church of Christ, which emphasizes making heaven on earth, rather than worrying about where you go after you die. Her two children by a previous marriage accepted me as a man who loved their mother enough to marry her–and guess what: They didn’t feel they were destined to be in somebody else’s heavenly family. Then, she gave me a beautiful daughter of our own, who is unquestionably ours–even if we don’t accept the idea of heavenly families. I’m not sure I accept the idea of an afterlife a all.

    You see, it wasn’t about who I would be sealed to in anybody’s heavenly kingdom. It was about my Mormon wife taking so seriously the doctrine of eternal families that she felt obligated to never love a subsequent husband as much as she loved her first. To this date, if you visit her Facebook page, you’ll see her banner is a wedding picture with her first of five husbands.

    As for my dozen years in Mormonism? I got two things out of them. First, after I left the LDS Church, I found Mormon history to be a great topic for graduate school research. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on an aspect of LDS history, and it’s being published as a book early next year. Second, I learned that religion isn’t all about what we can do for Heavenly Father. It’s about what religion can do for us.

    Juan: I didn’t know Adam and Eve had subsequent spouses. How do they have anything to do with the sealing ordinance?

  37. Y’all need to chill. The thing I like about the church is that I’m allowed to sort out stuff on my own. Its nobody’s business what I’m repenting of or what I’m trying to achieve. To other people it just appears that I attend. And that’s what they are asking people to do. ATTEND. There are specific blessings reserved for those who keep commandments but for those of us that refuse to keep those commandments then it has nothing to do with those who decide to get in line and conform. Also, If you think the church is a giant sham built upon the lies of its founders why do you care so much? It shouldn’t matter anyways. Just be nice.

  38. Genius, Marcus. Pure genius. Best I’ve heard, really. Keep moving forward.

  39. Reading a lot of these comments people keep attributing LDS doctrine as the “church policy” but they are all wrong. LDS doctrines are the teachings and doctrine of Jesus Christmas and no one else. Even so, we are admonished as Saints to love ALL of God’s children. Even Jesus said, “Those without sin… cast the first stone.” Saving a known harlot from being killed by an angry mob. He also said to judge not lest ye be jugded…

  40. “LDS doctrines are the teachings of Jesus Christmas and no one else.”

    I presume your response fell victim to the auto-correct feature of your phone or other wireless device. If not, please let me know where I can study the teachings of this interesting philosopher.” 🙂

  41. Thank you Jana! I’m Mormon and my brother is not. It was Proposition 8 in California that brought us together. I wanted to hear his side of the story and he wanted to hear my side. Neither of us live in California. He now defends the Mormons among his Gay friends. We talk on the phone every Sunday morning before I go to church. He tells me if he doesn’t call me Sunday morning he feels like he’s missed church. He has been living with AIDES since 1995. He has survived cancer and a staff infection that doctors tell him should have killed him. He has become a medical miracle. It was fear that kept us apart and love that brought us together.

  42. A church is about community and comfort. If people find those things, no matter their “identity,” then wonderful. But the paradigm of God being in charge is fundamentally flawed. Conflating doctrine and community is what causes religious and political problems – it does nothing to solve the complex questions of life.

  43. Chris, perhaps we can agree to disagree. It was not fear that brought me to join the LDS religion. It was love for one another and free agency that led me to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The members are not perfect, but the organization of this Church is amazing to me and even my non member friends. The history of the Mormons is proof that change happens. It is not our place to judge others. We will know when the time is right for change. Until that happens all we are expected to do is have compassion for others regardless of their beliefs.

  44. You may be in church week after week, but with that false belief, you are not able to go to the temple.

  45. Nothing changed about the LDS stance on LGBT issue. Everyone can go to the Mormon church and participate but key parts of the religion are still out of reach. It seems this is an attempt to be socially acceptable on the issue but not really change their stance. Until LGBT can enter the temple and perform all the ordinances nothing is different.

  46. They have no place for us single people over 30 either. The church leadership in Seattle area (especially the Bellevue YSA Ward) is down right awful to single adults over 30.

  47. Thank you, Bethany, for your words of inspiration ! I cannot express how much peace your personal experience touched my life.

  48. Bethany is pretty wonderful. I’m not going to belabor anyone with my expectations for how the church should change at this point because I’ve checked out but respect those who are still thrusting in their sickle.

    We have a pretty high turnover at Elliott Bay which is the mid singles magnet for Seattle. I’ve noticed people who used to be trying to grapple with the dissonance of church and sex no longer showing up while new, fresh and vibrant people are trying to make a place. Eventually, it might work and the levee will crumble.

  49. Jackie, Your story is beautiful, and eye opening to me. However, the comment you said about life being love school simply blew my mind. I feel like that was a life changing thing for me to read. Thank you for your story, your faith and your beautiful outlook on life. Thank you for forgiving us who are fearful. Much love.

  50. David, I support your desire to change the church from within but you state, “There is no perfect organization in the world.” Really? Mormon leadership and scripture claim otherwise, D&C 1:30. It’s always been black or white in the church when it comes to its perfection and truthfulness. Why should I as a gay mormon have to wait for the Church to become more Christ like in it’s teachings and practice. There are too many other organizations, religious and not, who follow Christ’s example of love and inclusion far better than “The only true Church of Jesus Christ.”

  51. I agree, Julie! It saddens me that people fight the doctrine. The doctrine stands and will always stand. If a church conforms to the demands of the people then how is it possible for it to be a true church?? A church and it’s doctrine comes from God. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The way people are treated in the church can change, but the doctrine will never change. And that isn’t a bad thing. We all come to earth and are given challenges to overcome. Some have more difficult challenges than others. Some people might have the challenge of anger. That doesn’t mean we change the church to view anger as something good and accepted. It means those people need to work harder at being more patient and loving, the way we are taught to be. God loves us all, no matter our sin. It may hurt to be told that the way you live is a sin, but that doesn’t mean change the church doctrine so that your feelings won’t be hurt any more.

  52. Their plan is no more flawed for gay people than it is for people with addiction problems, people with down syndrome, people born without working limbs, or people who have died single or who have never known Christ. Clearly the plan doesn’t work when one can’t think past temporal problems. But everything gets sorted out eventually. Justly and mercifully.

  53. To so those making rude comments about how homosexuals can’t go to the temple and are excluded…. guess what? It isn’t just those who are actively gay that can’t go do genome ordinances. ANYONE who is not chaste cannot go in. Just like anyone who isn’t a full tithe payer cannot go in. Members who get a temple recommend have to follow certain commandments to receive the recommend. The same questions are asked of everyone. They don’t change the questions based on your sexual preference.
    Should the church allow drinking alcohol and smoking weed because so many people OF this world think there is nothing wrong with it?
    Isaiah 55:7-9
    “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”

  54. Autocorrect failed me! Lots of corrections but just so you know “genome” is temple 🙂

  55. as much as I appreciate the effort of these Mormons to be more loving. I find this statement to be inaccurate; “Clearly, many Mormons’ attitudes have a long way to go when it comes to welcoming everyone as Christ.” Since when did Christ ever welcome anyone IN their sins? The answer is never. He has never, nor will He ever condone sin. He ate with sinners, sure. But He came to save sinners from their sins, always teaching they must forsake them. According to Mormon doctrine- being homosexual is not a sin. Living a homosexual life is a sin.

  56. Chris, would you seriously “expect to feel unwelcomed” at church if you drank a beer because you would be sinning? Do you have any conception of how that flies in the face of everything that Christ and all of our modern prophets have taught? Church is for sinners! We are all sinners, and we welcome everyone, and don’t ever want anyone to feel unwelcome. No one should feel unwelcome at church, no matter what their sins. Please study the commandments–you seem to be just as guilty of picking and choosing the ones you want to follow as those you’re accusing.

  57. So is stealing and telling lies but we all do this to some extent. Sin is sin and it is our job NOT to judge but to love one another as we have been asked to.

  58. So what are they supposed to do? Cancel the sealing to the deceased man? That wouldn’t be right or just for that man.

  59. Kate, I agree that doctrine comes from God and it doesn’t change. But what exactly is the doctrine of the church? Is it the commandments? It can’t be, because the commandments change. For instance, the Word of Wisdom. It’s a commandment from God to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea. Joseph Smith received the revelation, and it was generally accepted as a commandment (to varying degrees) by 1900. But prior to that, for thousands of years, members of the church were not commanded to abstain from these things. And then, due to modern revelation, the commandment changed.

    And the Word of Wisdom isn’t the only example. Throughout history commandments have come and gone, although the doctrine and gospel have remained the same. The ban on homosexual actions is a commandment. It absolutely could change some day. The Word of Wisdom revelation came as a result of people complaining–perhaps someday there will be a revelation on homosexuality that comes from people complaining too.

  60. Why should they have to cancel her sealing to her first husband? Widowers in the Church can marry a second (and subsequent) woman “for time and all eternity” after the death of a sealed first (or subsequent) spouse. The prior sealing isn’t cancelled. In the eternity, the first and subsequent wives have to share the husband.

    Why shouldn’t husbands have to share? Why should a widowed woman have to settle for a “time only” marriage to a subsequent spouse when a man can be sealed, in theory, to an unlimited number of wives–provided he marries them consecutively after the death of the preceding wife?

  61. Gmomo – The Church has never taught that its leaders are infallible and Joseph Smith was rather candid in confessing that some of his revelations were not inspired. D&C 1:30 does not say the Church is perfect. Rather it refers to the Church as the “only true and living”…. To me “only” refers to a certain exclusivity, “true” refers to God being involved, and “living” refers to the church’s ability to change and improve itself through revelation (AoF 9). A similar concept is used when referring to the US Constitution as an “inspired and living” document.

    I conclude from my own experience and observation that if God is anywhere, he is active among the Latter-day Saints. But I do not think every action of the Church represents God’s will. A brief study of Church history reveals as much over and over again.

    Regarding why you should stay…. I can’t say you should, only that people who wish for change are looking for help from other gay Mormons (celibate, sexually active, married, trans, whatever). Black Mormons (converts no less) in the 1960s and 1970s made a huge impact on the thoughts of President Kimball (see Genesis Group). Some gay pioneers will choose to do the same.

  62. There was a TV show called “Any Given Sunday” about football or something. Well, to be a Mormon in the 1830s and 1840s was to believe that God could change doctrine on any given Sunday. Many waves of apostasy were Mormons who couldn’t handle the latest doctrinal changes Joseph Smith revealed.

    Either we believe the heavens are open or we believe they are closed. Doctrine can change. If God says gay people can marry, fine. If God says women can hold the priesthood, ok. If God says black people can hold the priesthoo – oh yeah that one did happen. Certainly revelation for the Church is received at the top, but our job is to be ready for any new revelation. And saying doctrine will never change is just as perilous as saying we should change it ourselves.

  63. I need to apologize. I was under the impression that the LDS Church had disavowed all ex gay conversion therapies and admitted they were harmful and wrong.

    I reread the source carefully and am not satisfied that it represents a repudiation of conversion therapy or offers an apology. I’m troubled to think that ecclesiastical leaders may still counsel gay Mormons to change their sexual orientation. Here is the source and the quote:

    Elder Oaks:

    “There are abusive practices that have been used in connection with various mental attitudes or feelings…. The aversive therapies that have been used in connection with same-sex attraction have contained some serious abuses that have been recognized over time within the professions. While we have no position about what the medical doctors do,… we are conscious that there are abuses and we don’t accept responsibility for those abuses.”

  64. I need to apologize. I was under the impression that the LDS Church had disavowed all ex gay conversion therapies and admitted they were harmful and wrong.

    I reread the source carefully and am not satisfied that it represents a repudiation of conversion therapy or offers an apology. I’m troubled to think that ecclesiastical leaders may still counsel gay Mormons to change their sexual orientation. Here is the source and the quote:

    Elder Oaks:

    “There are abusive practices that have been used in connection with various mental attitudes or feelings…. The aversive therapies that have been used in connection with same-sex attraction have contained some serious abuses that have been recognized over time within the professions. While we have no position about what the medical doctors do,… we are conscious that there are abuses and we don’t accept responsibility for those abuses.”

  65. I agree that the doctrine of the church can and does change. The infallibility doctrine of the current church is a 20th century thing and largely pushed by Bruce R McConkie. The only problem is that this change is “led” by 90 year olds who have long left the world that has questions. They are limited by their own very closed world in the bubble of leadership in a church that worships them (they do create this themselves, see above) and live in an area, Utah, which brooks little social change. They will be on the back end of any social movement merely because of their geography, their age, and their privilege. It’s not god, it’s social construct, that creates the doctrine.

  66. Author

    David, thanks very much for the clarification. Even if it’s not a full-scale or official repudiation of the damaging practices of the past, it’s a step forward. It just takes a lot of time. That’s especially true because, as Brad pointed out, the structure of the Church’s leadership is almost entirely in the hands of those who are limited, as we all are, by their own experience and situation — in their case, being male, heterosexual, white, and elderly.

  67. Not a sin? Then you reject the words of the prophets from the beginning of time. The tendency towards homosexuality may be a weakness and not a sin, but acting it out, as acting on any sexual act outside of a straight marriage, is definitely a sin. As I see it, sexuality is not a “right”, it is a gift to be used unselfishly to unite two people of the opposite sex as God ordained it. Before I married, I had no sexual relations, and was prepared not to have any ever if I never married. Sacrifice is part of love, and learning to submit our will to God’s is learning to sacrifice the flesh to the will of God. He has not said it would be easy, but he has given us guidance for our growth and happiness. God has been pretty clear on this, and I don’t think being accepting of this sin (like any other sin) makes it hurt the persons involved any less.

  68. Author

    “Before I married, I had no sexual relations, and was prepared not to have any ever if I never married.”

    Linda, your comment reminded me very much of a scripture in the New Testament.

    “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”


  69. Jana…you reveal a lot about yourself with this reply. I think you have it wrong…your the female Pharisee in this example. You become a law unto yourself advocating wrong as right.

  70. I’m trying to imagine a situation in which HarryStamper’s response is in any way appropriate. I know that Jana can take care of herself but I feel that his response needs to be labeled.

  71. Author

    Thanks for the kind note, Brad.

    Harry, I’ll think about my comment pointing out the pharasaic nature of Lindy’s remark. You may be right that there is a log in my own eye. It was certainly a judgmental thing for her to say, but I also responded in judgment.

  72. Lindy, this conviction is correct. “Sex is not a right” is a pearl of wisdom if we’ll receive it. Jana’s response to you means very little here. Don’t let it bother you.

    As to what sex IS, I’m not making any claims, but it definitely is NOT an experience that God somehow owes any of us. “We are not our own — we are bought with a price.” Petitioning to earthly powers that we must somehow have all our desires (and often enough our weakness) served to us by another is poor rhetoric enough, but when we seek to whine out our justifications to God? And demand that He see us as treat us as we think we deserve? Good grief. To paraphrase a non-scriptural source, “Many there are that deserve death. And others die that deserve life. Can you give it to them?” We so easily think so much of ourselves and our “rights”. Thank God we DON’T get what we deserve here. Keep faith, Lindy. Keep moving forward. Stay honest about your intentions and don’t let others’ allegations that you are judgmental, condemning, or a pharisee keep you from trying to make what sense of the world that you can. And to honor what God is making of you.

    Good luck.

  73. I was at the meeting on Sunday. I felt invited because I was one of those members feeling squeezed out of the church. I love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and ANYONE else who has felt marginalized, judged or unwelcome because they didn’t fit the Mormon standard mold. I think sometimes God needs His people to be prepared for further light and knowledge. He needs to know there are people who can love unconditionally as the Savior taught. It may not be happening in other wards but I felt the pure Love of Christ in Sacrament meeting yesterday in the Washington Park ward. Those members are prepared for further light and knowledge. They are loving as the Savior did. It made a difference to me personally. I felt like I was in a holy place.
    Those who condemn need to look inward and ask yourself why. Why are you afraid to love? Why are you afraid to reach out? Are you preparing yourself for further light and knowledge or are you content with the way things are?
    I will always identify as Mormon regardless of my attendance level or how much I disagree with certain doctrines or historicity. These are my people, this is my church too. God loves me just the way I am. I felt welcomed and loved in the pew that day.

  74. If one of them was your brother or sister or son, and you someone said that, how would you feel? There is mercy in the gospel, not just justice. If they can live the gospel standards and be valiant saints, they can receive salvation. I don’t know how it will work in the end but I am sure that God looks at each of us with compassion. All will be right in the end, just as with any other who never gets the opportunity to be married in the temple.

  75. Well, you have to realize that when you have a 34 year old man trying to hit on all the 18 and 19 year old girls, who then complain to the bishopric how they feel uncomcortable around you, the bishopric is going to explain how YSA wards are for ages 18-31 and it’s time to move on. There are plenty of groups and activities for singles 30+

  76. The pinnacle worship in LDS doctrine is the atonement of Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation is fully and completely dependent upon that. Everything else–including temple marriage–is just an appendage to that. They can come back to church and learn of Christ, and rejoice in Christ, while learning that the judgement of other flawed people doesn’t matter.

  77. The pinnacle worship would be understanding and accepting the atonement and becoming like Christ. Yes, the temple marriage is important, but there are also many members, like myself, that do not have a temple marriage that can grow and mature in Christ through the gospel as is restored in the LDS church. I am married to an agnostic, but I am grateful for my knowledge of truth and pursuit of all things that can strengthen me and my family, whether it be in this world or out of it. The plan of salvation makes perfect sense and is not flawed in any way. The gospel of Christ can provide all members, gay or straight, happiness, strength, direction and an opportunity for growth in the Savior. I will leave judgment to the Savior.

  78. Brad Hawkins, I completely disagree with you that we are led by “90 year olds who have long left the world that has questions. They are limited by their own very closed world in the bubble of leadership” These men are world travelers, they know more about what is going on in the world than most of us. I loved how Elder Ballard said “When you have thoughtfully considered our lives and ministry, you’ll most likely agree that we see and we experience the world in ways few others do. We live less in a bubble than most people. Others say we’re too old. Well, it’s true that nine of us are over 80 years of age. I’m 85. However, … the combined wisdom of the Brethren, that should provide you some comfort. We have experienced it all. … We’re not out of touch with your lives.”

  79. I understand what you are trying to say but we must all remove the beam from our own eye before we remove the mote from someone else’s. We are not the ones who are to do the judging, that’s Jesus’s job. Ours is to love one another as he did. Remember, He came to redeem all men, not just those who are without sin. If that were the case, none of us would ever be able to enter with the Father. Work out your own salvation with Heavenly Father and let the LGBT brothers and sisters work out their’s without us condemning them before others.

  80. Jay, It seems that this effort is very much in line with what 3 Nephi 18:28-32 says. Sin is sin, but sinners should not be cast out from participating in the Church. Even those who have been excommunicated are encouraged to continue attuning, even though they can’t take the sacrament or have callings etc. If someone shows up reaching of tobacco, we should still welcome them, right? Same with those who struggle with the temptation of same sex attraction. The temple recommend standards are not being changed, so relax.

  81. I love to hear of wards who are reaching out to people to share the Gospel. Heavenly Father wants us to love each other no matter what.
    The millennium is coming quickly….the knowledge has to be shared with everyone. Rather than arguing about the rules of the Church, stop and think about WHY these things are happening. There is going to be an increased push to get the Gospel to everyone. We should be praying thanks to Heavenly Father for these opportunities and stop casting judgment….it is not our place.

  82. The whole point here is getting away from “purity tests” like accepting the Proclamation.
    One of the biggest issues with people reacting to same-sex relationships is the tendency to reduce those relationships to sex, and sex alone. Isn’t your own marriage more than sex? Is it defined by your sexual attraction, or by the loving relationship you have built together? It’s demeaning to constantly define one group by their sexuality alone, as though they were not fully human, reducing their relationships to physical attraction, in ways that we would reject in describing our own relationships. It’s demeaning to say, as you say here, that they are broken and will be “fixed” in the next life, and being fixed, will simply turn away from relationships built over a lifetime. We have been promised that our relationships can continue beyond this life: nothing anywhere says that’s predicated on any physical aspect, including ability, gender, or sexuality. How do you get from “each is a beloved son or daughter” to “this is a temporary affliction of the body that will be ‘cured’ in heaven” by somehow turning them into a “real” gendered person? I don’t think we can dare to presume that the characteristics a person has in this life will not go with them to the next. And if accepting the Proclamation on the Family as revealed truth is the litmus test for being accepted in the Church, I think our ranks would start thinning out. Personally, it still makes me feel gut-punched.

  83. “Rather than arguing about the rules of the Church, think about WHY these things are happening.”

    Thank you for this, Sandra. This is the piece that is so often missing from the conversation, but which gives the only real hope of finding understanding. It is so easy to get caught up in “Is this guy right? Or is that guy right?” that we can deny or simply miss what IS actually happening. We never ask, “What does it MEAN that I see what I see? What is God doing?”

    Keep your voice of sanity. Keep watching. Christ’s return is soon.

    In faith,


  84. gotta get those tithes!

    i jest partly, but the cynic in me had to say it.

    bottom line? i support lgbtq rights completely but feel that ‘morality’ should not be legislated in any way. it is sad that it *has* to be in order for everyone to share the same rights to be married and live life the way they see fit.

  85. I feel like calling someone a Pharisee is more along the lines of “part of the problem” versus “part of the solution.” Just sayin’…

  86. President McKay said, “The purpose of the Church is to make bad men good, and good men better.” We bring all people who are willing into the waters of baptism. But some people who have not sufficiently repented prior to baptism tend to fudge on the baptismal interview and soon after slip away into inactivity.

    Today we live in a democratic society; we are told to obey the laws of our nation; however, our laws are becoming corrupted, not because of politicians, but rather by an American society that has quickly lost its moral compass. Our politicians simply use the moral corruption of society as a way to gain popularity, money and power. If we lived in a theocracy, we would be ruled by God’s laws and government. But we don’t, so corrupt mankind makes the laws of the land and by those laws they drag the citizens downward into more moral corruption and decay.

    The LDS Church will soon be required to stand up and take a side in the debate on gays, lesbians and other forms of moral perversion. And because the philosophies of Zion and Babylon are 180 degrees in opposition to each other, we know where the Church will stand, and “for whom the bells toll.”

    By the way, this whole mess with gays is not being pushed and organized by them. The power source goes much deeper then the gay community

  87. Need a liberal mormonism alliance with a gnostic trinitarian denomination. Not catholic but believ in the power and cross ritual of fire revivalism.
    I am bisexaul and need a polygamy Policy because I want to have a husband & a wife cerimony. I ma bisexaul & a psychic medium/prophetic gifts.Esoteric Christain denomination hope to see here in Qubec, canada, using the gnostic bible Of Mary Mag. as an Apostle & Thoams, Barth, Phillip.Which promotes sexaulity & psychic mediumship abilities.

  88. Most churches are not esoteric and are anti-trinitarian. I would like to see female apostles usig gnostic gospel Of Mary Magdalene the 13 apostle, & THomas who taught past lives. Hope within Qc, Canada to see an alliance within a gnostic theoloy doctrine to suuport psychic mediumship service non interfaith, and trinitarian denomination that support power of the cross ritual revival service.
    Prophetic voices for those who wnat polygamy Relationship support & homosexaul marriage vows.

  89. There have been cases where a widow keeps her sealing to her deceased husband AND gets sealed to a second husband. I lived in Provo very close to a lot of BYU people when I heard about this, it’s a recent practice. So yes polygamy is current doctrine for men in heaven, and is now accepted for women as well! In the LDS Church there is hardly any real doctrine, just utilitarian responses, so the gay marriage ban will eventually change as well 🙂

  90. That’s an interesting take for a church that doesn’t worship Jesus. This is clearly stated as doctrine by a post-1978 apostle McConkie who clearly states he is laying out LDS doctrine:

    “Doctrines of Eternal Life

    Let us set forth those doctrines and concepts that a gracious God has given to us in this day and which must be understood in order to gain eternal life. They are:

    1. We worship the Father and him only and no one else.

    We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. “

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