Gay man speaks out in support of Elder Holland’s BYU talk

This is a guest post by Nicholas Applegate.

I am a gay man married to a wonderful wife, and I openly support The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its doctrines, and its leaders. As a result, I support the BYU honor code and their decision to require their students to keep the law of chastity (see link at bottom). This is because I have a testimony that this church is truly Christ’s church and that its leaders are called of God and divinely inspired.

However, at the core of myself, I am not a gay man; I am a child of God, a priesthood holder, a husband, and a father. I am not denying my true self by living the tenets of the Church. I would be denying my true self by not living the Gospel and leaving the Church to life a gay lifestyle.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a man we believe to be an apostle of God, spoke to BYU faculty a couple days ago (see link at bottom) reaffirming our beliefs in the sacred nature of marriage between a man and a woman, the right of BYU as a private, church school to support and institute doctrinal policies, and the need of disciples of Christ to defend and support our church leaders and the doctrine we believe in. I have seen lots of posts and messages opposing Elder Holland’s remarks, and while I respect their right to share their thoughts and while I also have some reservations about Elder Holland’s choice of words, I believe that he is a divinely inspired apostle of Jesus Christ and that his message is true. He asked for more to defend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to be a voice in its support, so I have decided to do just that. Being a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage, I think I am in a unique position to share my thoughts on the matter.

I have known from a young age that I was attracted to men. It was an emotional roller-coaster, something I mentioned to almost no one before I became an adult, and which still was told to very few individuals after. It made me feel different, gross, and mostly embarrassed, and it was hard for me to talk about. It took years for me to process this and accept myself for who I was. However, unlike many that I have heard about in my situation, I had little doubt about my future standing in the Church.

The Church has always been clear, in my lifetime anyway, that it is not attraction to men that is sinful, but acting on those desires. I always understood that if I chose to either live a celibate or a heterosexual life, my standing within the Church would never be in question. I decided essentially as soon as I realized I was gay that I would follow the law of chastity and not engage in a relationship with a man.

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So you want to speak at a public board meeting

This is a guest post by Lattertarian, who describes himself as “a jaded Gen-X Ward Mission Leader living in Southern California. He’s a compulsive communicator who loves chili cheese fries, prefers vegetables on his pizza, and wishes we could all just get along.”

As your local town or state crawls out from under lockdown hysteria, you may feel the need to talk to your local government officials. Good for you! Too few people do this, but it’s a critical part of the local government process. You’re never going to get any uninterrupted time to speak straight to your federal representatives, and probably never your state ones, either. But your county and city boards and commissions are wide open (and let’s face it, the future is local). So good on you for wanting to get in there and speak your mind. 

You’re probably fired up about whatever your topic is, and that’s good. You’re probably also a little nervous about public speaking. Most folks are, and that’s okay. Here are some tips for making your point and keeping your cool. 

First, remember that the usual rules of first impressions apply. You don’t need to show up to a board meeting in your Sunday best, but come on: put on a clean shirt and groom yourself. Don’t let your appearance be a distraction from your point. 

Second, read the rules and know the agenda. Whatever board you’re talking to has rules about public comment, and is legally obligated to post both those rules and every meeting agenda ahead of time. Read both. There are three things you should be watching for: agenda items, public comment, and time limits. We’ll get to time in a bit. For now let’s talk about agendas and comments. 

When you speak to a government board in person (which is to say, physically in the same room), you’ll probably have to fill out a card. That card will ask if you want to comment on a specific agenda item, or if you just want to be lumped in with “public comment.” Read the agenda. If your subject is on there, be sure to note that agenda number (or letter, or whatever) on your comment card. The board will call on you to speak when that item comes up in the agenda. If you just want to vent at the board and/or your topic isn’t on the agenda, then mark your card for public comment. 

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The Problems with Progressives in the Church

This is a guest post by Hanna Seariac, who recently graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Classical Studies. She is a MA student at BYU in Comparative Studies and seeks to become a religious author and an apologist for the Church. 

Ex-Mormons often get much wrong about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but something they get right is that the progressive movement in the Church does not reflect the teachings and doctrines of the Church. Progressive Mormonism, not to be confused with members of the Church who happen to identify as liberal or progressive politically, represents a small section of the Church who often do not uphold the doctrinal sexual ethics that exist.

These Progressive Mormons often attack and denounce The Family: A Proclamation to the World, but ignore that it qualifies as doctrine. Proclamations exist to reaffirm doctrine and act as documents to regulate the Church. Not upholding these documents is in direct conflict with the temple recommend interview questions, which ask us if we sustain the leaders of the Church as well as the doctrine that the Church teaches.

Clearly, a document signed by the free will and choice of every member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency (including Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf) represents doctrine not just because the Church simply states that it does on their website, but it is the unanimous voice of the Lord’s Church.

While the Church can potentially err on policy, asserting that the Church errs on doctrine (i.e. eternal truths) is antithetical to its nature and structure.

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Guest Post: Why I still don’t wave the rainbow flag

By: Latter-Day Publius

If the LGBT movement has done one thing right, it has alerted much of America to the difficulty minority groups experience. One good example of this is Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s recent explanation of his own journey to being out as a gay man. As one of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President M. Russell Ballard, said:

We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.

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Taking seriously the law of chastity

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson

I recently exchanged some correspondence with a good man regarding the law of chastity, and felt like some of what I said may be of interest more generally.  The context of the discussion was related to whether or not same gender dating was harmless exploration and discovery or a violation of the law of chastity.  We disagreed on this. I argued that we need to be concerned with the letter and the spirit of the law, and that the spirit of the law was much stricter that who put whose hands where.

First, it is not only what we do physically that can constitute sin.  The law of chastity can be violated without ever touching another person. We are taught that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”[1]and “our thoughts will also condemn us.”[2]  The guidelines released recently regarding missionary worthiness included teachings that “to be chaste, you must be morally clean in your thoughts, words, and actions,” importantly not just your actions.  Homosexual activity is also called out as a serious sin, because, at least in part, “it distorts loving relationships and prevents people from receiving the blessings that can be found in family life and the saving ordinances of the gospel.”[3]

Second, “dating” is not a term that is equivalent to “going out socially.” Dating, as it is understood colloquially, is always a precursor to more.  This is why we teach the youth to put it off until they are older.  This is why we teach the youth to go on group dates, and to not date the same person exclusively before they are ready and prepared to make eternal commitments.[4]  The purpose for dating, in the structure of the gospel, is to prepare for the highest ordinances of the temple, and commitments made between God, one man, and one woman, and to create family units in which a man and a woman can keep the very first commandment given to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth.[5]  This commandment that is still in force,[6]and represents something that is impossible in a homosexual union.

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet takes it as a given that a date is between a young man and a young woman, and states that explicitly.[7]  Dating someone of the same sex is a counterfeit that we have been warned about by the prophets and apostles, and most directly by Elder Perry a few years back.[8]

It bears asking, within the structure of the gospel, what exactly does a young woman or a young man productively discover and explore while pursuing a dating relationship with a young man or a young woman of the same sex?  How does spending time, thought and emotional energy on something such as that prepare a young man or a young woman to be sealed in the temple? How does such an exercise prepare a young man or a young woman for a life lived in accordance with the laws and expectations set forth in the structure of the gospel?  How does such an exercise prepare one to serve a mission, where they will be expected to teach the law of chastity as defined? 

Third, this is where we need to start considering the spirit of the law of chastity.  The law of chastity, like all gospel commandments is aspirational while also being prohibitive.  The aspirational part is the most important.  It teaches us to be pure in preparation for marriage as it is defined by God.  There are things we are told will defile us in action and thought, but avoiding those things is only meant to add strength and glory to fulfilling the goal of an eternal family.  One cannot take his or her sights off of that goal and remain on the covenant path.  Merely keeping one’s hands to oneself until a proper marriage, along with fidelity therein, fulfills the letter of the law. Worthily and chastely entering into a marriage sealed under proper authority, where covenants are kept and cherished, fulfills the spirit of the law.  Anything short of that violates it.

In any dating relationship, there is an aspect of flirting with the future.  When a young man takes a young woman on a date, done properly, they are flirting with a future marriage and all that entails.  The maxim that “we marry who we date” is apropos. Ideally, they are imagining what a future would involve, and they are flirting with an outcome that could result in exaltation for them both and their children.  What is a young man dating another young man flirting with?  What does that future hold in the structure of the gospel?

Yes, there is no sin in being attracted to somebody, but there is sin in mentally flirting with sin. There is sin in imagining and pining over sin.  There is sin in pursuing a relationship, even if no touching is involved, that “prevents people from receiving the blessings that can be found in family life and the saving ordinances of the gospel.”  It is a mistake to wink at homosexual dating as being harmless so long as they keep their hands to themselves.  To come to that conclusion one must look only to (a part) of the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of the law.  Pursing a homosexual relationship is inconsistent with the aspiration of the law of chastity, it is inconsistent with the spirit of the law. To say homosexual dating is innocent, even when keeping their hands to themselves, is to deny God’s word and His purpose for us.  It is a mockery.

My good friend has not replied to this, but I hope it has given him, and now you, some food for thought.

[1]  Matthew 5:28

[2]  Alma 12:14

[3]  Standard Interview Questions for Prospective Missionaries

[4]  For the Strength of Youth

[5]  Genesis 1:28

[6]  The Family: A Proclamation to the World

[7]  For the Strength of Youth

[8]  Why Marriage and Family Matter – Everywhere in the World, by L. Tom Perry, April 2015 General Conference