Monica Bielanko
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The Battle Continues

You guys, this is a long one. A soap boxy one. But it needs to be written, if only so I know I wrote it. It's a topic I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether you agree with me or not so I can at least see a small sampling of what the world really believes.

Sometimes living in Utah gets to me. And I'm not alone. I've received a couple emails lately asking my opinion regarding a certain incident that happened here recently to which I haven't responded. Until now.

Here's what went down.

Twice a year Mormons from all over the world gather at what's called the Conference Center in Salt Lake City to hear their leaders speak. Not only do thousands travel to Utah to hear the speakers, millions of members across the world gather around televisions, computers, radios and in their local church houses to hear the talks.

The talks last most of the day Saturday and Sunday. Usually the church leaders, almost all elderly, white men, talk about faith and family and pretty harmless generally uplifting stuff. This year one of the men, Boyd K. Packer is his name, decided to talk about gay marriage and gays. Specifically how those who are "tempted" by same-sex attraction can overcome it. You know, like drug abuse and such. Here is a portion of what he said.
We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.”

Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”

Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Years ago I visited a school in Albuquerque. The teacher told me about a youngster who brought a kitten to class. As you can imagine, that disrupted everything. She had him hold the kitten up in front of the children.

It went well until one of the children asked, “Is it a boy kitty or a girl kitty?”
Not wanting to get into that lesson, the teacher said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a kitty.”
But they persisted. Finally, one boy raised his hand and said, “I know how you can tell.”
Resigned to face it, the teacher said, “How can you tell?”
And the student answered, “You can vote on it!”

You may laugh at this story, but if we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do?
Does he not even realize the hypocrisy of this last statement when the Church financially assisted getting Prop 8 passed in California?

And, for what it's worth, Boyd K. Packer once also stated that the three greatest threats to the church were homosexuals, feminists and intellectuals. "The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." (Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council, May 18, 1993).

Historically, Packer hasn't been a big fan of interracial marriage either. Time will prove him equally wrong about gay marriage as well.

But back to the point at hand. As you likely know, this unfortunate speech comes on the heels of at least five gay teens committing suicide. When I first watched the speech and then read the text I was fuming. Outraged. Because I know how intently the Mormons listen to these leaders. They believe these leaders are directly in touch with God, that God inspired Packer to say what he said. As I believe in their right to religion it also broke my heart that this man was reinforcing a sweeping condemnation of those who are born gay in front of millions of people around the globe. Millions of people just waiting to hear what God allegedly reveals to Packer and then follow this lead.

"But Heavenly Father wouldn't make anyone gay!" I've heard so many Mormon friends counter.

Really? If we're going by that theory than I might also remind you he makes mentally handicapped people, people born with no legs, people genetically predisposed to alcoholism... or is mental retardation also a choice?

What I'm saying is, shit happens and nobody knows why. I mean, look, God allegedly made Dick Cheney and Snooki... proof positive that you just can't know what God's got up his sleeve. You cannot know for absolute certain whether someone is born gay or not, particularly if you aren't gay. So wouldn't you error on the side of humanity and allow someone to be who they are, just in case?

Upon hearing Packer's straight up condemnation of gays can you possibly imagine the war inside the hearts and minds of young, gay Mormons? And then to have this "leader" tell them they need to fix it, as if being gay is a "habit" or "addiction"...

At least gay nonmembers can blow off his hateful, non-scientific theories but it just reinforces self-hatred in these poor kids who, right now, would probably rather be anything than gay. Being a teen is hard enough, remember? Add the horror of not only discovering your sexuality but being told you're going to hell for it and it's a wonder any of these kids make it out of their teen years alive.

I raged around the house yelling at Serge about human rights and the horror that Packer has unleashed and how the fuck do we still live in Utah, then I sat down to write a blog about it. But the words wouldn't come. You all already know how I feel, I thought, so what good is it to write about how much I detest the Mormon stance on this subject?

And then the emails started rolling in. Still, I couldn't write. I felt defeated. Like, what's the point? I live in Utah. Everyone I grew up with reveres this man as one who talks with God. Me? They think I'm just some batshit, crazy immoral nutter. If you yell so much about something eventually you're just making noise and nobody listens.

You may be reading this from New York City or somewhere equally progressive where gay acceptance is pretty prevalant so the battle may seem far from you. Here? Here in Utah the battle is raging. Every day I work with people who believe Packer's talk was a revelation from God. I want to stand on my desk and shout you are so wrong! But how can you condemn someone's religion without seeming like a hypocrite? I want them to be tolerant of gay rights but in that request comes the implied intolerance of their religious beliefs.

Here's the difference. I am tolerant of your religion in so far as it doesn't affect the basic human rights of others. But when you actively campaign in a state election, when you solicit donations to pass a proposition denying gay rights, well then you done shed your cloak of religious freedom. Your religious beliefs cross over into dangerous territory. Look at it this way, Mormons: Your meddling in gay civil rights is the same as if the governor decreed your Mormon bishops should perform gay marriages. Go back to your church and condemn homosexuality all you want and they'll stick to their civil marriages in courthouses and never the twain shall meet.

But I"m getting off track as I am wont to do when this topic is brought up. I got emails from folks wondering why I didn't write anything about Packer's speech.
I would really love it if you would share your thoughts on "the talk" from the other day. I am crying with frustration over it. I have family that are members, that have said they have no problem with gay people. I want to scream at them that they are members of this church and therefore believe it's doctorine. I know you would be able to put many peoples' feelings into words better than we can. I love your blog and the way you put everything out there.
And then there was this one:
I've been reading your blog for some time now. We have very similar opinions and experiences. I'm only 20 though. Still very young. I grew up in an very religious house. For some reason I feel a lot of shame for the way I was raised. I am embarrassed by how close minded I was raised and the ideas that were constantly ingrained into my head. When I turned 18 my mother died. I hate that she died. I miss her a lot. I'd give anything to have her back. Having said was liberating in a way. I finally felt like I could live my life my way and not fear what her reaction would be. I haven't attended church since I was 16. How did you deal with your family? I read your post about the gay marriage law. I felt like I could have written that. My 2 very best friends are lesbians. I love them and their girlfriends. I have so much respect for them. I posted on facebook that I was happy prop 8 was overturned. EVERY SINGLE mormon family member deleted me. That hurts. My immediate family has accepted me, it's my aunts, uncles and cousins. Anyway, how do you deal with your family and their opinions? I realize that we have differing opinions, I can respect their's. They cannot respect mine. Also, what do you do when you run into friends when you were mormon? I fee like I should tell them I don't practice anymore....I know you get a lot of e-mail. Any advice would be appreciated.
Still, I wrote nothing. Didn't even reply to the emails. What can I say that hasn't been said?

Then yesterday I read this and it just pissed me off. It was a cop out. But I understand.

Here's why.

I like this girl. She is my age. From my hometown. Lives down the street from my mom in Utah County (Mormon Country) and is devoutly Mormon but within her I sense a free spirit, the new generation of Mormons. Dare I say the free thinkers, deep thinkers, those who weren't raised to be racist or homophobic and those who understand, even above what their older, white leaders tell them, that every single human being deserves to love, be loved and united in marriage if they so choose and it will not affect the "sanctity" of straight marriage any more than Liz Taylor or Larry King already have.

Live and let live.

Courtney has a massive following, Mormon and nonmormon and when she alluded to the fact that she was going to write about the Packer controversy I thought, man, I hope she says what's in her heart despite the pressure of being read by so many Mormons. Deep down I know this girl believes everyone deserves to be married just as she writes that her mother knew black people deserved the same rights as whites before the leaders of the church declared it to be so.

So yesterday, when I saw what Courtney wrote about Packer's talk I was disappointed. She has an opportunity to reach thousands every single day, and for whatever reason, she didn't feel comfortable revealing what is truly in her heart. Oh, she implied it, but she couldn't publicly refute a church leader. I understand why. Still, I was disappointed.

And then it hit me. I can write what she didn't. Sure I have so much less sway with Mormon readers who see me as a bitter nutter who's just out to get the Mormon church. But still, I need to take every opportunity to shout the religion of L-O-V-E and A-C-C-E-P-T-A-N-C-E from the rooftops, if only for myself and for my children.

Here is what I think:

I think the Mormon church provides positive guidance for millions of people. Community and comfort are two major things that come to mind. But I also think the church is stuck in the past because its leaders tend to be very elderly, white men, from another era. A less accepting time. Packer himself is pushing ninety. The last prophet died at ninety-seven for hellsakes.

I think there is some young Mormon man going about his life somewhere right now who will eventually become the leader, the man the Mormons call a prophet, and that man will change church doctrine much as Spencer W. Kimball did in 1978 when he, in effect, declared that all black men should be able to hold the priesthood and receive the blessings of the Mormon temples even though this "revelation" contradicted the "revelations" and beliefs of so many prophets before him.

The decision made in 1978 also shows that Mormons will ultimately accept just about anything their leaders tell them. When it comes to accountability, the leadership of the LDS Church answers to no one but God. But what the hell does that really mean when they make decisions that contradict what Mormons have historically considered to be God's unchanging will? Polygamy, blacks and the priesthood...

Whatever. At least is demonstrates that another huge shift in Mormon doctrine is possible through "revelation" and if/when it occurs church members will very likely jump on board.

In short, I believe the church will eventually come around and Courtney and the millions of other younger Mormons struggling with the gay issue will follow suit, much as their parents did in 1978 in response to the decision to let black people hold positions within the church.

And so maybe Courtney and I aren't so very different although she, as a practicing Mormon, still isn't comfortable publicly disagreeing with the leaders of her church even though I suspect she knows in her heart that what they're preaching is wrong.

However, the beliefs of a bunch of Mormons aren't my particular concern unless, like I said earlier, they start interfering with elections and laws. And gay kids start jumping off bridges.

And so the battle continues.

Reader Comments (52)

I live in NYC and I'm still raging about this speech. He used the word "wicked" so many times during his talk and all I could think of was that HE is what was wicked. I felt like I was watching Darth Vader speak at conference. Your point about mental retardation, illness and such is DEAD ON! Exactly!
When you are sitting at your Utah work desk raging against the rhetoric of your office just know that if I was there I'd be on top of your desk screaming right along side you...

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSister Secret

I love Cjane's site and I had hoped she would say more but I think she said a lot without saying things that could get her in trouble( the price of speaking out is often so high in the LDS church, it must be tough to disagree in your heart and want to speak out...) I so hope you are right about that young man growing up who will one day be prophet.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

i just linked here from cjane. i agree with your take on this subject 150%. thank you for writing this. i was baptized into the church but never practiced and now as an adult, married woman with three children living in herriman, utah, i am constantly experiencing personal conflict regarding the loudness of the church and its members in my life. that sunday, i caught mr. packers speech online. i recall writing on facebook "if i say i cannot tolerate intolerance, does that make me intolerant?" people i love dearly are gay. people i love dearly are mormon. what i decided was, he wasn't talking to me and so i will continue to love and accept as i feel is "right." i so very much appreciate your desire to agree to disagree without hating on haters. very admirable.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Word. Seriously. This made me so mad. But my husband reminded me that if I'm mad at all Mormons, then I'm pretty much doing the same thing they are. I hate that speech and I hate their stance on gay people. I can only hope that the "change" comes sooner than later.

Perhaps if BYU need some gay members on some sort of team (ala allowing back men on the football team), the change will come sooner.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Gay gay gay. Gay Mormons. Gay Hindis. Gay Catholics (lots o' the priests, eh?) Gay girls. Gay boys. gay Greeks gay gay gay, gah there are gays!

I go to a 'church' in SF where one person gives their testimony so we can all hear a different perspective about this so called life. One man I remember well said when he admitted to himself that he was gay (was trying so hard to NOT be gay) he realized that one thing he had to give up was his religion... The rhetoric of his religion was that he was evil and cursed, so he decided to give up church (until he found the church in SF)

How painful for a human being- to not only be viewed as weird and wrong, but to also be damned to Hell in the opinon of their church. I can't think of a way to express how wrong, hurtful, non-human, evil, intolerant, vicious etc. it is for these church 'leaders' to rant against gay people. All I can do is turn my back on their hate and love my gay friends. Love them more than they can love themselves because even my gay friends in their 40s hate themselves because of the messages they've heard through society their entire lives. I'm surprised more gay people don't kill themselves, because I don't know if I'd have the fortitude to live through 'Being Wrong' just because of my existence.

Keep the faith, Monica, just not the Mormon faith, and let us pray this will finally pass after we show the Men of Hate that they are the ones to be vilified.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Thanks for writing this; well put! And I especially say thank you for using the word ACCEPTANCE rather than "tolerance" which are completely different. I was raised in a small town in Utah -- Catholic, brown-skinned, and bookish -- and always dreaded being "tolerated" for the week or so after Conference, until it wore off and we could all go back to normal.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRochelle

High five, woman! I have been drawn into Cjane's latest train wreck and reading almost every comment. It fascinates me for sociological reasons and because the psychology of blogging is almost unbelievable. When I saw your link, I thought, what the hell, I'll take a gander. And holy hell, you hit it right on the nail. Like you, I want to believe that Courtney truly believes homosexuals should marry. Early in her blog writing, she hinted of her progressive ways and even wrote things I thought wow, this woman is cool! But lately as her readership has expanded, I feel that she is not really being true to her heart. And that saddens me.

But enough about blogging. I completely agree with everything you said. I grew up a liberal nonreligious Vermonter and my then boyfriend now husband and I moved out to SLC for his work at the U. I worked in several offices with mainly mormons and there were times where I wanted to do the same as you, jump up and down and yell at people to open their eyes! Of course, I was seen as a freak anomaly and even before I would open my mouth, someone would say: You aren't LDS, are you? What!? Anyway, now I am going on a tangent. Bottom line: the LDS prophets are out of touch, words really do a lot of harm, and I do believe there is a large contingency of young mormons who desperately want their leaders to reconsider their stance on homosexuality. Let's hope that people like Courtney will have the confidence to take the next step and truly voice what she knows to be right.

And you have a new reader in me! (sorry from the comment/rant/tangent from hell)

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngeerah

Great post.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjen

i am happy i found your blog today. i look forward to following.

@rochelle, you're right. i don't particularly want to be "tolerated" by anyone either. thank you for pointing that out. i'll replace the word with acceptance.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily (again)

I feel so ignorant when it comes to this issue. I was raised in a very liberal family. I had three gay uncles, and we constantly had friends of all shapes, genders, orientations, etc. around the house. Needless to say, the notion that these people, my friends and family, are somehow second class citizens not afforded the same civil rights that I am baffles me. I just don't see why any church has a say in whether people have the legal right to marry. There is no law requiring the church to perform the service, or even to recognize the union.

Side note: I am married to a Catholic man. I am not Catholic. Our wedding ceremony was performed by a judge. The Catholic church would not recognize our marriage. That is fine by me. Why can't churches treat gay marriages the same?

I just struggle to see why the religious issues are tied to the legal question. That being said, your post opened my eyes to the effect that any church's systematic bigotry and ignorance can have on its members. I had never really considered that part of it before. I suppose it is probably incredibly difficult to reject a church that rejects you when its teachings were what you were raised to believe. I can't imagine how awful that must be. I need to go hug my mom for choosing not to raise me in a religion. A hippy upbringing definitely has its own issues, but I am so thankful that I was raised with the basic understanding that all people are to be accepted for who they are. Live and let live is right.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentererose

Thank you, thank you for writing this and putting into words (much better than I ever could) so many of my feelings on the subject. I've been a reader for awhile now and couldn't leave without saying how much I appreciated this!

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKellie

Thank you for speaking up. I am sad that others can't/don't/won't do the same. I grew up in a liberal, non religious family, so I am always amazed and confused when flocks of people follow the word of any man who was born just like you and me, makes mistakes like all of us, but yet somehow is allowed to spew hate and people believe him! Love... that is the only "religion" I follow.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill

i live smack dab in the center of philadelphia...the city of brotherly love (in a lot of ways literally) and i still experience this close minded shit day in and day out. found the words you didn't think you could. i feel your rage. a lot of us feel your rage. and even if screaming becomes, at some point, just noise.....well then, let's at least make our noise louder. i'm not sure that there will ever be any way to denounce the fight for human right. human right should never be conditional. it's a RIGHT, not a privilege. you're awesome.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermr

Thanks for writing this. I too, have been wondering why you hadn't addressed it just yet.

Dan Savage (the It Gets Better Project) answered a question from a Christian (not necessarily mormon) writer yesterday. I think that he summed it up very well: and said it much more eloquently than I could. The most powerful responding paragraph:

"And—sorry—but you are partly responsible for the bullying and physical violence being visited on vulnerable LGBT children. The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time."

I'm not Mormon. I've never engaged in any organized religion, but I just finished reading the c jane site, and I'm trying to figure out how God revealed to her that she needed to formula feed her baby. Just sayin'....

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Monica I love reading your blog, the way you think and blog are inspiring.
I two grew up in "Mormon county" with a very church filled family life, I now live in Park City and enjoy the open mindness and non-church life. Proud of you and agree 150% with what you said.

I give you a HUGE High Five and am glad to see there are other intellectuals out there that get the LOVE & ACCEPTANCE thing that seems hard for most in this state to get

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm

LOVE this post.

And a response to an earlier commenter:
"I love Cjane's site and I had hoped she would say more but I think she said a lot without saying things that could get her in trouble( the price of speaking out is often so high in the LDS church, it must be tough to disagree in your heart and want to speak out...)"

And it's true, and it pisses me off! I'm LDS and I'm sick to death of people not being able to say what they feel just because it might- gasp- "go against the Church." I believe everyone has a right to be married. End of story. I'm just going to lay it all out there!

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlisha

So I accidentally hit the a wrong button and deleted it ALL. oh well. Good night! :-)

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergina

Two issues are at play here.

1. "They believe these [Mormons]leaders are directly in touch with God, that God inspired Packer to say what he said."

The big problem Mormonism has is that it depends on the word of men for it's truth. God isn't speaking through prophets any more. All that ceased with the advent of the New Testament. To wit:

Hebrews 1:1  ¶God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high...

The Bible is the final authority, not a bunch of wizened men in an ivory tower in Utah.

2. God has spoken about homosexuality and just like a ton of other sins, especially those that degrade and destroy the body, it's still a sin, the Mormons being a cult notwithstanding.

MANY people have been rescued from homosexuality and it wouldn't be wrong to let those folks have a voice in this debate.

One last thing: I had a LOT of gay friends when I was in a certain business. To a man, they had all been molested as children. By men.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Fan Spins On

Not going to touch that last comment with a ten-foot pole, as it might turn it all GAY or something, except to say that the notion of gay people being "rescued" from homosexuality isn't even laughable. It's terrifying and dangerous, calling as it does for an extinction of one's essential self.

I simply wanted to thank you for this post, Monica. My brother and his family are Mormon and I struggle with it -- knowing that my three pubescent nephews are listening intently to pronouncements like Packer's scares the hell out of me, when I'm not convinced they have seen or will see enough of the world to know better.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I hope you're right about a younger generation of open-minded Mormons but from my vantage point my young friends and family seem to be unquestioning followers of Packer. Facebook alone let me know how many "liked" his page "I support Boyd K. Packer". Made me sick.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendyP.

I am the 23 year old from that email. Thank you for this post. I have to admit I was a little sad that I never heard back from you. :) I get it though. I also feel the same way about cjanes post. I felt sad for her because although i could tell what her stance was, she couldn't come right out and say it. I love love love you Monica. Thank you for saying what i'm thinking.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I've been reeling about this all week. One of my best friends lives in SLC now but she's a Chicago native. She's not a Mormon but has made mormon friends there. She Posted a petition on her FB page in protest of this bishop's hateful words. Her Mormon friends start posting in defense of the bishop & I could not hold my tongue & got into some ridiculous exchange of words with them.

This is one of the reasons we left our church and religion. I believe the religions that preach intolerance of gays are directly responsible for promoting hatred and violence against gays. It is so not what God is about.

I think one day people are going to look back at this time in history and be perplexed at why we were so ignorant.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

Julie said "to say that the notion of gay people being "rescued" from homosexuality isn't even laughable. It's terrifying and dangerous, calling as it does for an extinction of one's essential self."

That's horribly incorrect Julie and in fact, it shows a heart of hate for ANYONE who dares be different. That's the kind of intolerance that everyone should be afraid of, the kind that emanates from your post and declares in essence that someone can't stop being homosexual.

When in fact they very well can, and do.

The fact that lost of people like to dabble in sex with the same sex proves it's just a behavior, not "who" someone is.

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Fan Spins On

@The Fan Spins On: If you wanted to, could you stop being heterosexual? If you could only sleep with women for the rest of your life, would you be happy and satisfied?

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterV.

Bravo!!! Well done. Loved this (found you through CJane -- aka the wreck I just can't stop gawking at). Keep the faith, and keep writing! I'll be back :)

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchristina

"If you wanted to, could you stop being heterosexual? If you could only sleep with women for the rest of your life, would you be happy and satisfied?"

A. Is anyone who is female, and who is currently sleeping with only men completely happy and satisfied?
B. Is anyone, who is male, and who is currently sleeping with only me completely happy and satisfied?

Let me answer my own question there, question B. No, men sleeping with me are rarely completely happy and satisfied. They are among the most promiscuous group known to human history. So obviously, the same sex lust isn't one that is satisfying.

And your original question to me in quotations dies in the face of the fact that MANY PEOPLE, the owner of this blog included, find sexual satisfaction with members of both sexes.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Fan Spins On

I just don't know what to say about some mormons anymore. I am truly sorry for their closed mindedness. I have lived amongst them my whole life. I have been tolerant and accepting of their beliefs and opinions. Trouble is, most don't respect mine. They are forever trying and prying. Trying to show my husband the light. (I am just a female) Whatever. Maybe i should show up at their house once a month unannounced. Ask them if I can share my views with them. Ask them to reelect Obama. Or perhaps bring them his newest book.

Packer really went over the top. However, this is church doctorine. There was no sugar coating that's for sure! The thing that upsets me is the political involvement with prop 8. Also, the timing of this talk, in regards to the recent suicides, was compassionless.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonica B

@The Fan Spins On: I'm assuming that you're a heterosexual female, is that correct? Correct me if I'm wrong.

I feel like you completely dodged my questions, so let me rephrase:

1. Could you, The Fan Spins On, force yourself to stop being attracted to men?

2. If you, The Fan Spins On, were never able to sleep with a man again, could you be okay with that? If you, The Fan Spins On, could only sleep with women for the rest of your life, could you force yourself to form romantic emotional attachments to women in the same way that you currently do with men?

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterV.

All faiths are valid. All churches suck.

All countries are beautiful. All governments are gangsters.

All people are powerful.

All truth can be avoided. But it will never go away.

God damn it, Monica. You are really making a difference.

Keep that Love Train rollin', girl, and you'll be amazed how many people will jump on board...

You only have to go back 20, 40, 60 years – not just in Utah, but all over the world – to see overwhelming evidence that we are moving away from all kinds of cruelty, tyranny and injustice. Moving into new problems and dilemmas, for sure. Moving slowly, too... because there are always powerful, wealthy vested interests profiting from those power structures and keeping them in place.

If their God won't bless you for being so intolerant of intolerance, then there's plenty of us out here who will.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Murff

Why are some people so threatened by homosexuality?! I just don't get it.

Monica, I totally agree with you about respecting other people's religious beliefs as long as they don't try to infringe on other people's rights. I don't expect the Mormon Church (or any church) to change their stance, but they def. shouldn't get involved in state law. I guess in Utah that must be hard to separate b/c of the large Mormon population.

BTW I visited Salt Lake City once for a conference (I"m from Philly) and it did seem like a totally different world. Beautiful landscape, but what's the deal with no bars???? It must be hard to live in a place where people expect you to adhere to a certain opinion on things.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSue

yes I agree with you in 100%, I can say we've got the same problem here, I can't stand hypocrisy of catholic church too, they're saying similar things about gays, in vitro etc you know I think you're right, all religions need some reforms, changes, some fresh air, religions should help to solve social problems, teach tolerance especially these days, they're definitely forgotten about it, about their essential task, and what make me mad, badly that everything is about power, money and politics, what about single man? yeah, live and let live, I'm with you Monica.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranajo

Bravo Monica. Bravo!

Please let me give a somewhat different take on this subject. I am a Christian (not Mormon) who would classify himself as a devout follower of the teachings of Jesus. I am a leader in my church (non-denominational) and someone who has wrestled with this subject a great deal over the years. I am a married, heterosexual male but have many friends who are gay. Let me just say this – this issue, this fight will define church and religion in this country in the years to come. I don’t wish to argue if people are born homosexual or made that way, if it is right or wrong in the eyes of God or any of that. I simply don’t know. I don’t know how to align what the Bible says about homosexuality with the Jesus I follow who says “love another.” But since I don’t know, my take is that I need to error on the side of love.

But gay marriage is an entirely different bird altogether. The right to marry who you choose is not and never will be a religious matter. My marriage (in a church) is recognized by the State of Virginia as legal not because I was married by a minister but because of the papers we signed. My marriage would be equally as valid and legal if I was married by a judge in a courtroom or by anyone else the State authorizes. I chose to get married in a church because of my beliefs but that doesn’t mean that my marriage is any more legally valid.

Marriage, and the legal rights it brings (healthcare, end of life decisions, etc. and so on), is a civil rights issue. This isn’t a moral issue at all. If it were, then the Church should fight to not allow marriages between heterosexual couples who have lived together before marriage. That is equally as immoral in the eyes of the Church as homosexual relationships. This isn’t a religious issue. If it were, then the Church should fight to not allow Hindu marriages or Muslim marriages. This is about allowing basic, human rights to everyone. How does it hurt my marriage or my faith if a homosexual couple gets the same rights my wife and I enjoy?

The Jesus I know, the one I read about and try to follow, fought against the tyranny of oppression and said that everyone has value regardless of their situation in life. As such, I will fight to allow homosexual marriage in this country.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Thank you Monica!! I love your voice. I love your truth. I am struggling so much right now with the Morman church. It took me 25 years of soul searching to discover my truth, my spirituality, and my PERSONAL relationship with God. However, now that I have 3 young kids, AND live in a neighborhood that is 95% MORMAN... I am finding difficulty figuring out if I go to church (I am still considered LDS, just non-active) for the sake of my children "belonging" or if I go find a different church or no church at all. I have so much to say and have been writing an essay on the subject for the last 6 months. Haven't finished it but when I do, I will be posting it on my blog. Anyway, this subject and the "revelations" these men so high up in the church receive just blows me away. Thanks again for posting. Your Utah friend, Kimmo

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimmy

To Steve: Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. Aside from a few differences (check gender!), we are similar and you just helped me clarify my thoughts on this in a very eloquent and loving way.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

I wish all Christians thought and acted like Steve. I truly believe that is what being "Christ-like" is all about.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAimee

We will win the battle. You'll see.!

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterACCEPTANCE

@ Karen, I think the man you remember giving testimony in that church in SF is actually my dear friend Mitch! If not, their story is the same; gay teen trying so hard not to be gay because he felt he had to choose between being who he is and his religion. He now travels around, giving testimony at other LDS churches; he will make a difference in the lives of young gay LDS members. I am so, so proud of him!

Monica, I just found your blog via mamapundit. So glad I did! Your writing is brave and inspiring.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

There's one thing that's gone through my mind since this talk: I got out while the getting was good.

I'm so relieved that I quit the church before the Prop 8 stuff and all the similar goings-on. Because I have no idea how I would be dealing with it right now. I remember that I used to feel proud that my church didn't get involved in politics and intolerance. I know there are progressive young Mormons. And I have a feeling a lot of them are stuck in what appears to be c jane's position: they're unable to reconcile it all and they're just trying to not push the issue and wait to see how it resolves. It's understandable but unfortunate. And I'm glad it's not me.

Especially because I don't know if I'd be brave enough to take a stand on it. I left for totally non-political reasons and mostly non-doctrinal reasons. I never had to stand up and say, "I find this abhorrent" or "This is wrong." As a big fat coward I consider myself lucky.

I have definitely felt in the last few years a growing distance between myself and my LDS friends. There are a lot of them, but I feel like so much is off limits. There are so many things I just can't talk about with them anymore. And this kind of stuff only makes it worse.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

"If you, The Fan Spins On, could only sleep with women for the rest of your life, could you force yourself to form romantic emotional attachments to women in the same way that you currently do with men?"

I reckon I could, if there weren't any men left.

Why not? But I wouldn't have to marry one to validate what I was indulging in in the sack.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Fan Spins On

AMEN! Thank you so much for writing this post.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnalise

I would like to ask BKP how he would feel if a gay man whom "should overcome these wicked tendencies" married his daughter and lived a lie for 10, 15 or more years after having children and then decided being gay wasn't something he could overcome. Why is lying acceptable?
As a mother of a gay son, I would not want my son to lie to anyone! Yes, I struggled with his sexuality at first, coming from a Mormon family, but having nothing to do with the church anymore, I prayed for understanding and acceptance and God spoke to me that it was for me to love. Love him unconditionally. Which is what I do! I couldn't be prouder of him, but hey I'm his mom!

Thank you Monica for being straightforward and honest. I'll be replacing CJane's Blog with yours.

Steve, I thought your post was absolutely beautiful! Thank you!

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

THANK YOU. You said everything in my mind and heart so well. It has been swimming for a while and I just couldn't get all the pieces to float in any sort of order because I was clouded by frustration. Thank you. So much.

October 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

i am glad you wrote this, monica. i continue to be both completely amazed and saddened that in this day and age there still aren't equal rights for everyone. we all come into this world as equals but for some reason, some people believe they were born to tell others how to think/feel/act. think how amazing the world would be if we simply respected everyone and learned not to judge. what's right for one person may not be right for his neighbour, but life is not a contest; no one wins. play nice, everyone...

October 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchristine from canada

Love this. You explain everything so well. I just cant wrap my head around why my Mormon family members cannot understand what seems so obvious to me. Very frustrating.

October 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I love you right now. I stumbled upon your site after a tweet from Heather Armstrong directed me your way. I have a thing for both of you ladies, since I too, grew up Mormon. I relate to both of you so much. I've been wondering what your reaction would be, and I practically raised my hand in the air with a big fat "Amen!" several times over.

Thank you for taking the time and energy to write this - when I'm pretty sure all you really wanted to do was bask in the joy of knowing a little boy is on the way. Someday our children will look at us like we are from Mars when we tell them how our gay friends and family were treated.

At least this is what I am counting on!

October 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

When will the church confront the real abominations plaguing or society?

- Dallas Cowboy fans must be made to see the error of their ways. Re-educate them and bring them in to the fold.

- Canadian Bacon must realize it is really ham

- Instant Coffee must be wiped from the face of the Earth

- Dogs in purses must be set free into the wild

These are the true scourges of our society. Gays are a red herring!

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

That is why I love you. You have no fear to stand up and say what you feel. Thank you for writing this and giving me a little bit more courage to stand up to my family.

October 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKami

I always wondered how liberal constituents of Utah live in that kind of climate - I suppose that's why I'm so intrigued and love liberal, former-Mormons such as you and dooce. I was fortunate enough to have been born and raised in San Francisco to Filipino parents, in the Catholic faith (which is conservative enough, but I really stick the the part where they don't judge and let you live your own conscience). But thanks for writing about your battles. I would not know if I could live in a place that wasn't progressive. And imagine the sickness in my stomach to know that Prop 8 was passed in MY home state and was funded by a church, people who live in another state. Even more, that money, ALL that money was spent when the economy was ailing - UGH!!!!!!!

October 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Hey there Monica? I Found your "tiny url" in cjane's comments. Well done. But is is tiny.
I personally, as an entirely haphazard Australian NLDS (feminist, so-called intellectual!) fan of a few select blogs who CJane found herself in the category of. Love me some Jesus but cannot abide organised religion. That means I miss out on all the beautiful parts about church. I was genuinely quite broken-hearted by the attitudes that I encountered in the comments section of Cjane's post. Really quite concerned about the Mormon religion. I needed to read your post. I really did. I don't think I'm alone. I am really quite fond of Courtney and man was I exhilirated when I read Not without a ten foot pole. Literally enlivened. I had not heard of the vilifiction. I do, however, understand what a personal harakiri going public with anything on your blog, let alone a dissent to one's religion. That is quite a statement, and quite a bold one for someone with CJane's coverage. Which didn't happen by accident. Refer above for my personal definition! Mormons to me are unnaturally serene with an almost eerie presence and a dress sense I can't relate to in this life. Courtney is cool. Funny, sarcastic, clever, sassy .... lalala. I thought Hmmm.... A ... Cool.... Mormon? And I still think a cool Mormon. But it stops there now if the backlash in the comments section is ANY indication of Zion Mormon's attitudes towards freedom of thought and vilification (Google it :)) (Not you, Monica) VILIFICATION of people based on the their sexual preferences. Which is entirely weird by the way. I don't give a flying fancy what Mormon's do in the bedroom and certainly wouldn't take it upon myself to comment, let alone campaign to condemn it. Like you said so aptly " the beliefs of a bunch of Mormons aren't my particular concern unless, like I said earlier, they start interfering with elections and laws. And gay kids start jumping off bridges." Anyway, so clearly, the Mormon's are cool thing is over for me now. Courtney is cool. And she did give her opinion, In Response, in a poetic way fitting the moment and but for the grace of God she went. And she still got things thrown at her by her fellow brethren, just not quite as hard. Anyway, you said what I sure as hell needed to hear since it all went down.
I think you should post your link again in Courtney's comments as a link. Like this

If you don't, I will!

Oh and what I think?

That there are many things we should refrain from or moderate that are caused by baser desires or greed. Being gay is not one of them. This is about victimisation of homosexual feelings and people from an early age indoctrinated into a mass scale following. I can't even concieve of that kind of Jesus and it saddens me. Not in my name. I love everyone. Even Mormons. (frownsmile) :) Erk, see, all those shallow, pious comments have ignited an antipathy. Yuk.

Anyway, go. Post it again. You did good.

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Kate

'Love me some Jesus but cannot abide organised religion...'

Oh, if I could only have expressed it as sweetly and succinctly as that Sarah Kate did. Those ol' fuckers are in the control business, nothing to do with loving thy fellow man and turning the other cheek (no pun intended in either case, but hey, fundamentally [no pun intended, again] we ARE talking about a black guy with long hair who wore, as did the rest of his all-male posse, mostly frocks and sandals, right? I mean, come ON. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to put THOSE clues together... ).

Apologies for the compound brackets. It's been a long day/year/life.

Please go on standing up for actual values – love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, truthfulness, understanding – and sticking it to those cults. They've been getting away with spouting this hateful drivel for far, far too long.

Also – the guy who sings this reminds me a little bit of Petey. (But what I wouldn't give to see a Serge cover version... that would be an awesome and beautiful thing!)

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpaulmurff

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