Lies Don’t Feel Loving: A Response to LoveLoud

This is a guest post by Jacob Hess, PhD, author of A Third Space: Proposing Another Way Forward in the LGBT/Religious Conservative Impasse. Jacob is also on the board of the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation.  He blogs at Unthinkable.cc

Standing in the middle of 30,000 people, it’s hard – even impossible – to imagine that something could be wrong with what’s happening.  It’s even more difficult to imagine that such passionate work may, in lasting ways, make things worse for the very teens we’re all worried about.   

But, for reasons outlined below, that’s exactly what I believe is happening with Dan Reynolds’s Love Loud festival  – an initiative so the rage that Utah businesses and political leaders, Mormon celebrities, and increasing numbers of millennials have come to rally behind it, with messages like this:

“Love is love. Stop hate. Spread kindness and acceptance. Prevent suicide. Start saving lives” 

How could anyone possibly be concerned with such a cause?  What kind of a heart of darkness is required to question a call to love more loudly?

Our non-conversation.  The terms of our prevailing “conversation” about love, sexuality, faith, suicide and identity these days don’t leave much space for disagreement:

  • “Are you going to be a loving person?”  
  • “Are you compassionate, inclusive, and accepting?”
  • “Do you care about civil rights and equal justice?”
  • “Are you willing to discriminate and hold onto bigotry?”
  • “Do you really care about gay kids taking their lives?”

Yes…or no?  

I’ve begun calling this conversational frame what it most fundamentally is:  dishonest.

The central problem is this:  in people’s zeal and frustration, actual disagreements are no longer being described fairly and accurately – setting up a conversation not actually designed to openly hear out and explore.  Instead, the “talking” becomes simply a vehicle for endless education and awareness raising.

This shows up pretty clearly in Dan’s film  celebrating the history of his own festival. At one point in the early conceptualizing of Love Loud, he admits at hoping to find “a place where they can be a little more educated” [they = the Mormons].  

But he’s candid about his worry – that “you can’t come in and say you’re wrong” or “you’re stupid, let me educate you.”  

So what do they settle on?  “Maybe say, let’s talk.”

Despite his wariness to portray Love Loud as educational, Dan can’t seem to help himself in disclosing his ultimate intentions: “Maybe we can’t force the church to change, but maybe by raising more awareness and making more and more Mormons in their heart feel like, this isn’t right, maybe that’s what will make the change.”

And this:  “My goal is to change this in the church. And not to say that I can change the church, but at least to bring together a ton of people who are Mormon who have said, you know, we’ve had enough with this!”

One activist quoted in the film said it more crassly: “If I can get Mormon moms off their temple shift to fall in love with someone [popular], then it’s game over.”

Despite that carefully parsed marketing aimed at “starting a conversation,” that’s not what this is really about, is it?  

At one point, Dan pauses to reflect on whether, in fact – his band’s influence could exceed that of the church:  “I’ve never thought about how big the church is vs. the band, and how influential the church is vs. the band. I guess if I really stand back and look at it, the band’s reach is millions and millions.”

Rather than a dialogue among different perspectives, clearly this “conversation” is more of a monological vehicle to promote a particular message.  And what is that message?

In what follows, I highlight three key themes of Love Loud’s message – pointing out multiple ways in which truth is stretched and deformed.  This is done to such a remarkable, troubling degree that it ought to be plainly evident, rather than widely overlooked.

#1. If you’re one of those loving people, then what does that make me?  In both 2017 and 2018 festivals, there have been some truthful, positive messages shared, such as this from Tim Cooke: “I come to deliver a simple message…You are a gift to the world. A unique and special gift…Your life matters.” 1

Or this from the Lieutenant Governor of Utah: “We need you to stay. You are loved….We meet you wherever you are…and you are of infinite worth.”

These are messages everyone agrees upon – and could potentially rally around…so why don’t we?  Because after all, love already exists across ideological differences, right?  

Right?!

While that seems pretty obvious to most, it’s not at all clear to Reynolds and his team. From their vantage point (and this is no exaggeration), the world could be divided into two groups of people:  You’ve got “those people who love”…and then you’ve got those other people.

Which are you?

Thus, we heard things in the festival like:  

  • “Look at all these persons who accept you!” (compared to those other people)
  • “There are people who love you and support you here” (unlike those who don’t)
  • “I love the LGBT community!” (unlike some other people)

And Dan’s wife remarks in the documentary that, “People love to hate” (unlike me!!)

Now in fairness, sometimes orthodox believers have been guilty of drawing similarly stark lines 2 – but nothing quite so deformed and aggressive as this.  Even Kendall Wilcox (co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges) pushed back on some of the prevailing rhetoric recently, cautioning against “simplistic assertions that [Mormon] doctrine and its custodians are ‘just wrong, mean, hateful, etc.’” and “well-intended but ultimately trite slogans like ‘no sides, only love’ or ‘I chose love’ – as if religious adherents do not love.” He described these as “an impoverished way of seeing the overall situation” and argued, “it is more complex than that. It just is.”

By comparison, Dan says in his film, “You start to feel upset that it’s so blatantly obvious. Look how obvious this is! Of course, we have to love and accept everybody. C’mon guys!” 3

It’s that “no duh” attitude that propels a flood of remarkably simplistic rhetoric willing to paint those who see things differently, not simply as holding another view – but, instead, as either ignorant or hateful (or both).

The response to any pushback becomes a kind of “oh well” shrug.  For instance, after his family shows concern with his comments in a national interview, Dan admits, “my family saw it and it’s been a little difficult and it’s making them look like bigots.”

“Making them look like bigots”…yes, Dan – that’s a problem.

It’s called lying.    

The truth is that orthodox Mormons love gay people as much as you.  But they disagree on what that looks like and means. 4

Why not simply acknowledge that…and then talk about it?  

#2 The great accusation.  At a high point of the most recent concert, Dan made a poignant speech where he declared, “I wear a ring on my hand every day given to me by a mother of a child who took his life…because of religious guilt.” 5

Those four words get tacked onto statements about suicide by Reynolds on multiple occasions, passed along as a kind of self-evident truth about what’s happening:

Because – Of – Religious – Guilt.   

On the film’s homepage, a discussion of suicide likewise insists that “there is an obvious connection between that and the Mormon faith.”

If you’re looking for a source, Reynolds provides one: John Dehlin, the most public dissident of Mormonism in the world today.  

According to Dehlin (and his imbalanced research), the increase in teen suicide is not the result of complex factors (as virtually all mental health professionals would acknowledge) – but instead, a reflection of a “war on LGBT people” instigated by the Latter-day Saints.  

If beneath the kind veneer of the Church of Jesus Christ, we are, in fact, hating on kids, Dan turns to some soul-searching about what naturally would follow:  “I think people wonder, why even associate with Mormonism if it is causing this much harm. Why not just walk away and be done?” 6

At this point, Reynolds portrays himself as a kind of hero, “I’m not going to just walk away and let the house on fire burn. I’d rather do all that I can with this lucky spot that I’ve been put in to hopefully put out a fire.”

Speaker after speaker accordingly praise Dan for his bravery, with Dana Goldberg declaring, “This community has a warrior fighting for them – each and every day” –  calling him a “voice to be heard over all the hate” who is standing up to “lots of horrible messages and lies about LGBT coming from people in power.” 7

From this vantage point, Utah is redefined as a mission field in urgent need of correction 8 – a “community that desperately needs [the Love Loud message]” – simply by virtue of being “heavily Mormon.”

To join forces with this brave, new movement is, speakers insist, all about “bravery.”  Love becomes something you do in opposition to religious mandates otherwise: “Loving your child is an act of bravery” once speaker declared, “when your church is telling you not to…”

[Never mind that there’s not a shred of evidence that the Church of Jesus Christ has told any parent ever to not love their child…it’s a great sound-bite, isn’t it? Anything for the cause!]

To punctuate and underscore the urgency of these efforts, painful accounts of suicide are presented in distinctive ways.  For instance, the story of Stockton Powers is told in the film – a Utah teen who took his life in 2016.  Those close to the situation know that Stockton’s experience, like all of our experience, was complex. 9

That’s not the story portrayed in the film, however. What we hear is something much more digestible, and on-message:  “The rest of society around him, from church to school to government kept sending messages to Stockton that he was less than. I could sense his frustrations and his anger and his fears….in the culture there…he was a sinner.”

As another person noted at the festival, “Being gay in an orthodox family is a very difficult path…[and] can be very dangerous.” 

Is there anything else to talk about when it comes to teen suicide?  

Apparently not. 10 

#3. We know the (real) truth about who you are!  What’s the core, personal message of Love Loud to the many teens who are struggling?   

Forget about what all those other people have told you, we know who you really are!

As one speaker said, “It’s very important to listen to your own heart – and don’t listen to what anyone else has to say.”

Sounds like great advice for kids trying to make their way in a darkening world:  ignore what others (you used to trust) are telling you, and just trust you!  

At the first Love Loud festival, Dan brought up a young girl on stage who had tried to “come out” in sacrament meeting: “I was invited here to share my truth. I believe I was made the way I am all parts of me by my Heavenly Parents. They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes or made me to be gay. I want to love myself and not feel shame!”

Savannah has been vaunted as an innocent martyr to the cause ever since – held up as a model of courage and authenticity. 11 Reflecting on his experience at the concert, one gay-identifying man in the audience said:

“15 yrs ago I was a student at BYU and I was coming out and I was suicidal and I’m here and I got a hug from a 13 yr old who said that God loves her because He made her gay. It took me until I was 30. I don’t have to try to be better! God made me exactly as I am! I am the best that I can be! ..It’s been the most amazing thing. I feel like I’m in a dream right now!”

“I am the best that I can be”“I don’t have to try to be better.”

Underscoring this message, Reynolds, Vagabond and others sang at the concert, “I will never change my ways” and “I’m never changing who I am” – with Dan later adding in a speech, “Who they are is unchangeable!”

Other speakers and singers frequently insisted, “you are enough!” – with one adding, “All the love you will ever need is inside you.” Another person who declared, “You are fabulous. You are great.  And you are worthy” plead for people to work till they can find enough “self love” that they “can look and go, I am an awesome person!12

Other songs openly encouraged people to “play with fire” and “cross the line,” without “think[ing] twice” – “cause hesitation just might change your mind.” 13

It would be hard to imagine an aggregation of messages more at odds with what Jesus Christ himself actually taught.  

As Christians the world over know, the Lord Himself taught:

  • “My grace is sufficient” (e.g., we are not enough…not without Him).   
  • “Watch and pray always” (in other words, think twice…be careful with your choices).

Rather than seeking to “Find your truth, speak your truth, live your truth,” Jesus says, “I am the truth.”

And especially, Jesus taught of the unavoidable need for all human beings everywhere to repent and be “born again.” As Jesus tells Alma the younger: “All mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.” 14

Honest question:  Is that a hateful message – or the most loving message in all of eternity?  

It sounds like we disagree about that.  If so, why not talk about it?

A new mission.  As we’ve established, this is about more than conversation.  It’s about conversion.

As Dan declares in his film, “A determined Mormon is a scary thing, I can tell you that, because they don’t stop.” He continued, “I knocked on a hundred doors to get to one door. I knocked thousands of doors on a mission. If there is one thing I can guarantee, it’s that I will continue to knock this door until somebody answers.”

In one interview with ABC, Dan jokes about how he figured that even conservative religious folks would come to a rock concert – “and then they come in, and we’re like, ‘lock the gates up!’”

Troy Williams was quoted as saying that the true effect of the Love Loud event was driven home, “when he was approached by a former LDS mission companion, a devout Mormon, who brought his entire family, including his 15-year-old gay son, to Rice-Eccles Stadium.” 15

Throughout the festival runs a hope that this can reach more and more Mormons (especially the teens).  “You being brave gives other people permission to be brave” one speaker declared. Others encouraged youth to “find your tribe” and to say, “if I stand alone, I will speak my truth. If I lose my friends or family, I have to speak my truth.”

Another speaker encouraged people to be “vocal and explain who they [the teens] are” – declaring, “be a voice to that younger generation who’s going through it…” Clearly inspired, one participant responded, “I’m going to be powerful, that light – and I’m going to get there.”

As one speaker exulted, “Let us scream it to the skies until they hear us.  Let’s show it in the way we act, walk, treat people…It’s everything.”

The Love Loud commentator chimed in, “That’s why we’ve got to continue spreading this positivity and love.  Being that lonely, I don’t want any kid to have to deal with.”

Neither do we, Dan.

But despite your stated hope to start a “conversation that is the beginning to mending hearts and building bridges” – listen carefully:  You are doing the opposite of that.  

You are causing conflict, exacerbating tensions, and widening divisions. And you are drawing people away from families – and their faith….singing about it all along the way.  

In early middle age Germany, legend speaks of a piper dressed in multicolored (“pied”) clothing who came to the town of Hamelin with a promise of catching rats. Instead, he turned his musical instrument’s magical power on their children, luring them away from the safety of home.  

Legend has now become real-life.  

A better approach. The good news is this:  A solution to these problems does not require accusation, deception and endless conflict. There’s something far more effective at preserving lives, promoting well-being and increasing happiness.  

It starts with more basic honesty – and sensible space to disagree. Without that space, there will never be peace. Imagine for a moment, a conversation where we:

  1. Acknowledged our disagreements about love
  2. Carefully explored different perspectives on suicide
  3. Gently turned towards our different views of human identity (in relation to sexuality, faith, etc.)

Consider how productive, and interesting, and fun that conversation could be (for all of us!) So why not go there?  

The only reason I can find is this:  that level of honesty would not achieve activist goals of persuasion and growth to their movement. And perhaps secondarily, a more honest conversation wouldn’t rationalize the deep resentments underlying many of these efforts nearly so well.   

Lying loudly. At one point, Dan paused to pointedly respond to the perception that he’s driven by hostility towards Mormonism  – launching into a speech about his passion being exclusively to save lives. In the course of that speech, Dan repeatedly denied being motivated by animosity:  

  • “Please don’t mistake my passion for this for anger…”
  • “I don’t have anger in my heart towards religion..”
  • “I don’t have anger in my heart toward anyone. What I have is passion.” 
  • “This is my passion, I will fight for this with my heart…not with anger.”
  • “I don’t have anger..”
  • “There’s no anger – I promise.  It’s just love.”
  • “And I promise all these people involved today, it’s not anger. It’s love. It’s just love. It’s just passion – a desire to not lose our youth.”

It’s well-known that those living a deception must continually parade more and more evidence before their eyes – speaking about it almost obsessively, louder and louder….over and over.  And here in the space of a few minutes, Dan insisted seven different times that he was filled with nothing other than passion and love.  

Should we believe him?  

No way. The central byproduct of anger is lies – and Love Loudly is full of them.  We’ve touched on five above:    

  1. That Love Loud is really about having a conversation.    
  2. That only one side of this conversation truly cares about these kids.
  3. That the cause of an increase in teen suicide is clear.
  4. That these gay teens are perfect and don’t have any need of change.  
  5. That anger is not motivating this initiative in any way.

Dear Dan, et al….stop lying (loudly) about your former brothers and sisters.  

The 30,000 people who joined you in rocking out a few weeks back may not realize these things…but in your heart, you know everything I’ve just said is true. 

And one day, you will have to admit it to find peace again.

In the meanwhile, for all those who want to have a productive conversation, it’s available (and it’s tons of fun!)  

It really is. 16 And get this: it will save lives too!

Notes:

  1. Another inspiring part: “I know that life can be dark and heavy, and sometimes might seem unreasonable and unbearable, but just as night turns to day, know that darkness is always followed by light….Life will get better.”
  2. Aka, you can only feel the Holy Ghost if you’re like us, or the only people who feel peace and happiness are people who live like us.  While those ought to be called into question, I’ve never yet heard anyone ever argue that Christians are the only people who are loving.  Do we believe Dan Reynolds & Tyler Glenn love gay teens? Of course. They just disagree with us about what love actually means. (Once again, however, that’s not something Love Loud folks seem able to reciprocate with).
  3. Continuing this theme, another scene in the documentary captures a moment with Dan’s former wife and daughter:

    “Do you know what daddy’s doing? He’s putting on a festival because he wants people to understand. Do you know what being gay is? Remember when we talked about that? Remember how boys can love boys and girls can love girls?

    Little daughter (4 or 5): “Yeah, And sometimes girls want to be boys and boys want to be girls.”

    Aja: “Yeah, and remember that I told you sometimes people can be mean to that person and so we have to protect that person, huh? So the festival is called Love Loud because it means love everybody, no matter what.” [Take away? This is so simple that even a child can understand, right?]

  4. See, for instance: What exactly is meant in saying we ‘accept’ or ‘support’ or ‘affirm’ or ‘love’ or are ‘compassionate’?  Is the LGBT-religious conservative conversation primarily about whether to love people (or not)?  Does God Love Us Just as We Are?  “Two ways for parents to support a child identifying as lgbt/ssa
  5. He goes on to say, “I wear this every day. This is my passion, I will fight for this with my heart…not with anger.”
  6. “I still feel guilt that I was just, like, a silent person, you know. … If I’m passive, if I just stand back and say I don’t want to talk about Mormonism, then I’m standing for bigotry.” Dan continues, “I hold regret about that to this day. I wish I could go back and knock on all those doors. I wish that I could re-knock them and tell them that I was wrong. I can’t do that. All I can do is come forward today and say that I’m sincerely sorry. Love is love. Love is love. Love is love!”
  7. John Dehlin frames a narrative of Mormons who really secretly do want to love…but who are being asked to betray that by prophet leaders: “A lot of Mormons are really good hearted loving kind charitable people who want what’s right and they want to be kind and loving and tolerant, but they have leaders that are telling them what to think and how to behave.” Troy Williams has echoed the same, “In their heart of hearts, Mormons are a kind people who want to do good in the world.”
  8. If by that, you mean improving the level of empathy, compassion and tenderness in our conversations and interactions, that’s something we can all get behind! (<em>a la</em> many talks about the same from General Conference).  But clearly that’s not what Dan means.  The change inferred here is an ideological and institutional one – dissolving any doctrinal opposition to embracing an identity and life path revolving almost entirely around one’s sexual orientation.
  9. One individual close to the situation acknowledged to us that there were a number of other factors leading up to his death (including some kind of drug and difficulties in a romantic connection) – none of which were acknowledged in the film.
  10. Of course, this is ridiculous – with many other factors deserving consideration, including several with compelling explanations for playing a role in the suicide increase in Utah. I’ve written extensively about one of these factors here – and separately detailed why simplistic rhetoric around these suicides might be making the problem worse.
  11. As one speaker referred to her, “Savannah who at 12 came out at church” – before adding, “We need to make sure that when our children are speaking their truth, we do not silence them ever.”
  12. As Carmen Carrera put it, “You have to first develop self-love and learn what self-love is….becoming comfortable in who you are, understanding who you are- then letting it flow. Letting people in to who you are.”
  13. AW’s Runaway: “All your life you stayed tame – Safe and sound is how you played the game – The time has come to rearrange – It’s time to take a chance and make a change – Don’t hold back – Don’t think twice – ‘Cause hesitation just might change your mind – Play with fire – Cross the line – And rest your racing head right next to mine – Close your eyes, hold me tight – Trust in what it feels likeRunnin’ every red light – And we can’t slow down.”
  14. Also, “And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (aka, without this you will be prevented from receiving the absolute greatest of love and joy in the future).
  15. Desiring to persuade others of something you believe to be good, of course, is not only not a problem – it’s an important and valuable part of a pluralistic society.  The issue here is that Latter-day Saint teens are being persuaded that the light they are to be and share with the world requires them to adopt a message antagonistic to the faith community that has provided meaning in their lives to this point.
  16. There’s a reason I’ve had hundreds of thousands of views on my series about the LGBT-religious conservative conversation.  People are hungry for a better conversation – and just plain confused at how to get there!

46 thoughts on “Lies Don’t Feel Loving: A Response to LoveLoud

  1. Great post it is important to love those who are LGBT or whatever acronym they want to go by these days. Like the Savior willing to interact with the spiritually unclean such as dining, talking, preaching, exhorting and touching them. God can to help the unholy to become holy with compassion. The Lord has passed this message to servants who sometimes fumble to often but they are delivering a divine message. What Dr Hess has said is complimentary to what the Lord said to the woman taken in adultery saying, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” If we are carefully leaving condemnation to the Lord and inviting to sin no more on a daily basis we doing more work than some annual rock concert trying cast blame.

  2. I completely disagree with this article, at least as much as I could stomach to read. The LGBTQ Community has been ostracized, marginalized, and condemned far too long not just by the Mormon church but by many churches and communities in general. Bless Dan and his band for stepping up to say NO MORE by presenting an event where the LGBTQ people and the community in general can come together to Celebrate diversity, unity, equality and LOVE! That is what our Savior would want that is what He has asked of us! Dan has no ulterior motive to say that because he and those at the concert accept, support and Love LGBTQ that others do not. He was simply wanting to show their community who are people who have been judged, forgotten, kicked out and made to feel unloved that there are thousands that DO support them and that their lives Do matter. My guess is that his efforts and the efforts of others like him saves countless lives and if a concert can save even just ONE life isn’t that worth it? I am a 57 year old heterosexual Mormon who is active in the church, Loves the Gospel, Supports the Apostles, holds a calling, attends the Temple and FULLY Embraces, Loves, and Supports Everyone , Gay, Straight, Black, Trans, Active, Non Member, In-Active, Catholic, Buddhist, Jew or whatever…isn’t that what we are asked to do??? The church has neglected to take responsibility for far to long in the cause of the depression and suicide of kids who feel unwanted because for YEARS they have been told they are an Abomination. Now the Church is even saying that their children are not worthy of being members Really!!??!! The brethren teaching at the pulpit needs to address these “Christian” parents who are disowning their kids, kicking them out of the house, taking away their cars, education, cell phones because of the way they were born??!! OH THE STORIES I HAVE HEARD! Its time for the church and ALL of us to support Dan and others like him in their efforts to bring together a community that needs us to LOVE LOUD!!!

  3. This is a fantastic post that addresses my core complaint about the rhetoric on this, which is simply the lie that if you don’t agree with everything I say and concede all ground we demand, or your professed love is not actually love at all.

  4. Pingback: The Problem with Love Loud | UNTHINKABLE

  5. I disagree with much of what you have said. I do not have time to write a rebuttal, nor do I think you would want to read it. You just don’t get it. You cannot claim to love people and not love them for who they are, which is being gay. Dan is doing the work of the Lord in opening this conversation about how to show love to others.

  6. Jacob, I feel the LoveLoud festival this year came off more about declaring and claiming the right to be gay without judgment and raising money for suicide prevention and was very little about building bridges as seemed to be more a theme last year. For this I was disappointed. But, isn’t that Dan Reynold’s right to change the emphasis if he wants to? Jacob, I found from a quick perusing of your A Third Space: Proposing Another Way Forward in the LGBT/Religious Conservative Impasse that your ideas about dialogue are wonderful and so very needed by all sides. However, it’s hard to believe that the same person wrote both that and this post. Your harsh judgments in this post, including calling Dan a liar three times so contradicts your book its shocking.

  7. You cannot claim to love people and not love them for who they are, which is being-

    -gay.
    -adulterous.
    -evangelical.
    -pedophilic.
    -conservative.
    -liberal.
    -New England Patriots fans.
    -crackheads.
    -Insert group here.

    C’mon, Judy…

  8. All people who are going to comment on this post must first read this counsel from modern-day prophets. And, no, not all comments will make it. Please read our comment policy and remember this is a blog that supports the Church. And please consider that we understand and are completely aware of all of the anti-Mormon/questioning Mormon/pretending to be Mormon tactics. We have seen them all.

    Read this carefully:

    https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/interview-oaks-wickman-same-gender-attraction

  9. The whole idea of a gay identity is a mistake from a gospel point of view.

    While it’s certainly a reflection of an idea that many people hold about themselves, it’s not accurate from God’s perspective. Sexuality is very complicated, but it’s far far far far more accurate for 99.99% of any gay-identifying people to acknowledge that either God or nature made their bodies for heterosexual reproduction.

    That is to say their bodies are designed and fully organized around sexual reproduction. The females have sexual organs designed to reproduce with the males, resulting in offspring – the combination of both parents resulting in the creation of a new life. It’s absolutely wonderful and a both an everyday commonplace experience and an absolute miracle that is antithetical to any scientific observation of everything we’ve seen by observing other worlds in the barren environment outside this planet.

    That is a physically inescapable reality for the vast majority of people – their bodies are designed to reproduce. The feelings, physical senses, and emotions surrounding reproductive activity are, quite frankly, so strong and complex that and anaylsis of it is almost always insufficient. But suffice to say, it’s an important aspect and driver of reproduction.

    Some people are unable to reproduce for a variety of reasons, many biological, some social. Some people experience different emotions and physical responses to both sexual reproduction and the senses leading up to and surrounding sexual reproduction. Many of those reactions are also the result of biological and social drivers.

    It’s entirely cultural, that we’ve created a thing called sex and as a replacement for sexual reproduction. Yes, not all sexual behavior leads to reproduction, but all sexual feeling/desire is in some way a consequence of or related to the primary reality of our existence – that our bodies are made to reproduce.

    It’s an oddity of science and culture the way we’ve divorced so many concepts and ideas about sexuality, but just the very thought that a woman’s body is prerty much constantly making itself prepared to reproduce, while a man is simultaneously filled with strong desires to do the same (to say nothing of the millions of eggs and billions of sperm in women and men respectively).

    Sexual reproduction is the primary driver of our existence. Sexuality is the social construct we’ve applied with various meanings over the years with how our culture frames sexual reproduction.

    Sexual reproduction has taken a back seat, rhetorically, to the idea of sexual experience as personal fulfillment rather than sexual reproduction as the reality of our existence. Naturally, if we confuse reality with our desires for fulfilment, and that’s supported by strong multigenerational ideas and cultural behaviors surrounding sexual reproduction, we’re going to have some issues.

    My comment is just too long, but I tire of arguments from people who claim to support science when it suits them for taxation policy of human behavior but completely reject the biological relatity of who they are and how they came to be created on a miraculous planet in a universe that’s not just hostile to life, but pretty much everywhere we look outside our planet antithetical to it.

    This entire planet is filled with plants and animals all designed to reproduce in one way or another. We don’t need to point out an interesting objection or two that we occasionally observe to ignore the reality of who we are and what we are designed to do.

    Hint; it’s not become a sexually or socially fulfilled person according to the popular moral sentiment of the day.

    The issue of life is just so complex that glossying over it with an abstraction like gay to describe another abstraction like a person’s indentity is very misguided. Wrapping up the idea of love in the mix doesn’t help either.

    It’s no wonder we have people in despair and turning to suicide or blame or anger. We as a society seem to be moving farther and farther from reality, chasing every enticing idea about who we “are” except the one that is plainly reflected by our naked bodies in front of a mirror.

  10. Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught: “Yes, a friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am but who is willing and able to leave me better than he found me” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 32, 35; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 41, 43).

    So in our efforts to help and love our LGBT family and friends (and yes, I have a gay sibling and gay friends) are we helping them be better than they are? Or are we helping them shortchange themselves by believing a lot of the lies and misdirection that people like Dan Reynolds preach. And make no mistake, what Dan Reynolds and other are doing is lying to the world about their efforts to change the church and to persuade people to follow them, instead of the brethren and the commandments.

    The best thing any of us can do, to help a gay member of the church is to help him or her keep their covenants and keep the commandments.

  11. I live far from Utah, but I get whiffs of the polarized climate in the regions of the west where so many people have deep roots in “Mormon” culture.

    There are families and communities where culture did not reflect the Christian love that is taught from the pulpit and lived in so many lives. When individuals from such culturally misaligned pockets become polarized, for whatever reasons, it becomes hard to separate the culture they now revile from the gospel they associate with the reviled culture.

    I appreciate the intent behind this post, but I suspect its value will be to support those who have been unable to articulate their concerns regarding LoveLoud and similar campaigns. I don’t think this post is effective at persuading those who sympathize with LoveLoud to reconsider their posture.

  12. @Meg:

    I understand what you are saying, but what would be effective to persuade those who sympathize with LoveLoud to reconsider their posture?

    When people see it as hate when you leave the 99 and go to the one if you attempt to rescue that one rather than affirming them in their sin, it doesn’t leave a great deal of options. Ideally we would follow Christ’s example and love them back into the fold, but too often it seems that there is a refusal to see anything less than absolute refutation of doctrine and acceptance of lifestyle as love. Honestly, I don’t know how to help them. I wonder what the Savior would do, and I come down pretty close to this post — He would love them but would try to direct them away from the misery they were walking to and towards the happiness He offers.

    But, like you, I don’t think it will be effective. I fear we have reached a point that Mormon described:

    “Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.”

    Maybe I am just feeling pessimistic at the moment, but I worry about so many people right now — led so far astray and I don’t know how to help them find their way back.

  13. I suspect that anyone who sympathizes with LoveLoud wouldn’t be persuaded by what we say, or how we say it, because it doesn’t agree with the lies they want everyone to believe; not because it’s an ineffective way of broaching the subject.

    The wicked take the truth to be hard.

    If they want something that skates around the issues just to make them feel better about the sins they have chosen to worship, they can turn to their own echo chamber.

  14. What a well thought out and clear description of Satan’s deception in the Latter days.

    The concert was a religious ceremony for those that believe exaultation can be granted without repentance.

    …that one soul might not be lost…

  15. Best post on MS EVER. Thank you.

    Years ago I had a student who was brilliant, articulate and kind. He was a joy to be around. His peers and teachers loved him. He went off to college and came out as gay. He came back to my classroom two years later and we talked about his situation in life. He was an adult at that point so we could talk frankly. I asked him not to build a life which would lead me to one day visit him in a hospital AIDS unit. I asked him not to break our hearts.

    I understood his situation and fully believe he did not choose his orientation. He knew that. he knew that I had protected gay students at the high school. But there were a variety of choices left to him and other LGBT students in which they could construct a lives of character, integrity and truth. Their lives did not have to include negative elements of promiscuity and rebellion.

    Love is a relationship. We can offer love, but it must be reciprocated. God offers gifts, but we must accept those covenant gifts to really possess them. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We can offer love to the gay community. God does. The question is will they love God by keeping His commandments… or not.

    Additional thought: Why is it that we are spending money on suicide prevention programs with little known efficacy? My (admittedly anecdotal) experience suggests continually talking about suicide to a population ends up being more of a suggestion than a prevention. I would suggest building resilience and grit in teens is a better option. Challenge them, don’t pamper them!

  16. Old Man, you wrote:

    “Additional thought: Why is it that we are spending money on suicide prevention programs with little known efficacy? My (admittedly anecdotal) experience suggests continually talking about suicide to a population ends up being more of a suggestion than a prevention. I would suggest building resilience and grit in teens is a better option. Challenge them, don’t pamper them!”

    This is a very good point. I wrote an entire post on the issue of teen suicide. It turns out that the science very clear points out that suicide never, ever has one cause. The canard that “the Church causes LDS suicide” is completely false in most cases because it is very difficult to get inside the heads of teens with same-sex attraction. There are hundreds of things going on in those heads, and they may signal that they don’t feel “accepted” at Church, but the reality is, according to the social science literature, that this is almost never the real reason. And all of the left-wing groups coddling these teens and reminding them that “conservative Mormons” hate them does much more harm than good. The reality is that the vast majority of Church members treat people around them with love and understanding (although we are an imperfect people and there are exceptions). Progressives spend all of their time reminding these youth that they are in a culture that rejects them (and they do these things for their own political reasons), which does nothing more than make these LDS youth feel more and more disconnected. The end result is that progressives end up telling these youth that they cannot feel happy in such a culture. How is that helping?

    I wrote more about this here:

    https://www.millennialstar.org/about-that-claim-of-suicides-by-lds-teens-with-same-sex-attraction/

  17. @Meg — Might I suggest that that post wasn’t directed at LDS folks who support Love Loud but at LDS folks who need some ammo in fighting the influence that Love Loud has on their children, friends, neighbors, and ward members. Our side doesn’t do a good job providing resources and thoughts outside of church-approved materials. This post is vitally needed for those who need to arm themselves as this fight escalates.

    Personally I’m glad the MS posted this. We need more, not fewer, posts along this line. THANK YOU for doing it.

  18. There is no doubt that the Savior loves us all – he died and suffered for our sins. But please find me one scripture where he chased after people and offered to change doctrine because they were offended by what he said.

  19. I’ve stayed out of this conversation because I don’t relate to the op’s position and I don’t want to be confrontational, but the comments have taken and interesting turn regarding what it would take to convince someone like me to support the traditional LDS view of LGBTQ people. Again, I am not trying to be combative in anyway or trying to convince anyone they have to see it my way, but here is my response. (err… sorry, this is going to be long.)

    For me, it comes down to lived experiences and ‘by their fruit shall ye know them.’

    I have a very close gay family member who did his best to stick to the LDS teachings. Served a mission, dated (found he couldn’t), stayed entirely chaste, participated in LDS SSA support groups, etc. He was miserable. From my perspective, I couldn’t see it when we were all younger. He seemed active in his ward, had friends, and our family is super close and gets together often where he always seemed fine. (He later said he wasn’t, but I really couldn’t see it from the outside.)

    As everyone got older though and his friends and family married / had kids, he started having problems with depression and suicidal thoughts. Church is all about families, so he sat alone all three hours. Our family is spread-out all over the country and as the grandchildren got older, family gatherings just got harder to do. He ended up with almost no social interactions in his life outside of work (he has a cubicle job) and a couple of greetings in the hallway at church. He would talk about extreme loneliness and isolation and having nobody at all to even hold a conversation with if none of us were available by phone. He was still 100% active in the church, held a calling, TR, etc. He started having suicidal thoughts because he couldn’t see the point of spending the rest of his life this way.

    He ended up in therapy with a nonLDS therapist (no longer living in the Jello belt), who pretty much said (my words via him) that he was living in an environment that was miserable and lonely, and so it wasn’t much of a surprise that he was miserable and lonely.

    After much, much prayer (his, ours, everyone we could think of looking for ways to help him), he a very strong spiritual impression that his life too was to have joy and it was okay to find someone to love. So he decided to put out feelers about dating (he was in his 40s at this point and not an extrovert). He met someone. And holy cow, what a change. He’s almost a different person. He’s so happy. He still attends church. Still believes, and he and his partner have decided not to get married so that he won’t be excommunicated (apparently his Bishop wants him at church more than he wants him obeying the LoC, so it isn’t an issue as long as he doesn’t get married (or something like that. I’ve never met the Bishop)). And none of this is ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ or ‘rebellion’ or ‘ego.’ It’s a sense of joy and peace and love of God that my brother hadn’t had in a very long time.

    So if you want to convince me to go back to seeing LGBTQ in the traditional Mormon way (again, not trying to be combative), then you have to convince me that my brother was genuinely better off lonely and isolated and really, really trying to live life the LDS way. You have to convince me that all our prayers led to Satan rather than God telling him it was okay to date a man. You have to convince me that the joy and peace and happiness that were the result of him following that prompting are all fraudulent.

  20. I’m so thankful for those who can articulate what I feel in my heart but can’t put into words. Thank you for this post! And specifically to the commenters Hq and Old Man, thank you for your great analysis and insights. I really appreciate the cogent reasoning in your comments. It all gives me comfort to read the words of wise and prudent saints.

  21. I liked the post. As others said, it won’t likely help any of those that have embraced the loud campaign. It may help those who are tempted to hear love in the message and haven’t thought all the way through the ramifications.

    Some thoughts:

    “To be carnally minded is death.”
    “To be spiritually minded is life eternal.”

    Love is a spiritual concept not a carnal one. The only way to love another person is to see another person as a spiritual being–what they truly are–and then act toward them in such a way as to help them advance their own spirituality. But the word “love” is used for so many things, and polluted by untruth, that I must use it in quotation from time to time.

    It is impossible to love without truth because any attempt to love outside of what is true will miss the mark, i.e., the target as God has defined it, “the immortality and eternal life of man”. “Love” without truth will erode and undermine spirituality instead of bolster it.

    Truth is revealed by God and no other way. Truth has been revealed by God.

    One revealed truth is that I am male. Meg, if she will permit my use of her as an example, is female. My spirit is male. Her spirit is female. Truth informs me, in my attempts to love myself as a man, and love Meg as a spirit woman, that in order to love and be helpful I must act in accordance with those spiritual principles which would bolster my spiritual manhood and her spiritual womanhood.

    Hg has talked about the flesh being designed for procreation and given us a percentage of compliance in the world at large to the dictates of the flesh. Close enough, but the flesh is full of error, from the DNA to all the corruptions sociality can heap on it. But still, generally, if the proposed percentages are taken as reasonably acceptable, most people can easily identify their spiritual gender. God will judge the rest, and judge well.

    My spiritual manhood can only be developed by living true to the requirements of the spirit placed upon me. That does mean for me, and every other man, making diligent effort to espouse a wife, beget children through sanctioned sex, and provide for their spiritual and physical needs. The condition of the body may make that a challenge but my spiritual growth depends on it. Any other action no matter how seemingly “loving” because of the realities of the flesh, will still retard spiritual growth, and severely confuse and retard spiritual growth if done with a knowledge of the truth.

    I do not serve anyone or love anyone well if I try to help them deceive themselves into thinking there is another path for a spiritual man or spiritual woman to grow that does not comport with “eternal life”, or life as God our Heavenly Father lives it, for me; or as God, our Heavenly Mother, lives it for Meg.

    I perceive another issue with “loving loudly”. Praying and fasting to be seen of men. The spirit speaks with a still small voice. Carnal voices are loud voices. Spiritual voices are quiet. It is something for all of us to remember, and avoid on the one hand and adopt on the other.

    Perhaps a little less loud and modicum more quiet could have been used by the author of the OP, though I found the perspective and insights agreeable and compelling.

    Thanks again M*

  22. @ReTx

    The scriptures teach that you can know the truth of all things by the Holy Ghost. If you’re looking for people on a blog post to convince you (or your brother) otherwise, you’re doing it wrong. Get on your knees and get your answer straight from God. Not by others examples or by their fruits. That’s ultimately the only way to know truth from lies and light from darkeness

    If you think God has told you (or your brother) that it’s fine to live in a way that’s against the law of chastity, then that’s your (and his) business. In the meantime, read the accounts of Hyrum Page, Korihor, and others in the scriptures who claimed to get revelation from God that contradicted the living prophets in their times. Some stories have happy endings. Others don’t. Choose wisely.

    Best,

    James

  23. ReTx

    Two things about your request: First is measurement. Measuring happiness in this life. Second is causation in two parts. Causation of misery and causation of happiness. Is it the message of the church that caused the misery or the message of the world? Or perhaps the human, and therefore polluted, delivery (and/or receipt) of the message of the Church? Is it the embracing of the world view, the world’s “truth”, that caused happiness or is it just the euphoria that comes of dropping a heavy load. And remember, God allows people to take happiness in sin for a while. (He does, he said so).

    As to the causation of misery, this is what I perceive the OP is trying to say. It is the message of the world, louder all the time, and scattered throughout many talks from the pulpit, comments in class and social media, and blogged about, that is drowning out truth and causing confusion misery.

    As to the causation of happiness, we who hold that the way is clear, straight (no pun intended), and narrow, can never accept another way. It is anathema. It is apostasy. Happiness is the result of living the commandments.

    As to measurement. Well, this one is truly relative to your position, i.e., how miserable you were to begin with. Love loud seems to be saying you are good and can be happy just as you are. No changes needed. The gospel message is you’re okay or even great, but you can be better still, and you must make the attempt, because that is what a child of God does, and is needed to grow spiritually.

    Now if you want to say that your close family member moved from abject misery to happiness, fine and well, and if you are saying that God inspired him to take this course as a step, a way through, then perhaps you are right. But if you are saying that God inspired him to accept himself as he is, and that he can remain there, then; we know, perforce, by doctrine, that cannot be. Either the doctrine is wrong and the Church of Jesus Christ is wrong or he is.

    I can accept a pathway in your story, but not an end. The end of that other path, if the doctrine is true, and I believe it is, is misery again.

  24. Geoff,
    Exactly, with little or no evidence, activists are telling youth that they will never be accepted in their faith community… which is an outright lie and when we have studies which strongly suggests that religiosity helps create productive, successful young adults with a much lower suicide rate.

    Even some of my students who struggle with sexual orientation grow angry when activists claim or convey that LGBT youth need extra help or assistance… the activists do not realize they are telling these kids that they really can’t cope and are less capable than heterosexual teens. By their own definitions, these activists are guilty of a subtle (and I would argue, malicious) form of bigotry. They are telling these kids that they are already vulnerable and weak. Hogwash! They will be weak if they don’t draw close to good parents and their faith.

    I have several wonderful students right now struggling with sexual orientation. If the pattern holds they will not even think of suicide. A significant percentage will end up in the “heterosexual camp.” Yes, there is a “flux” in sexual orientation for some. All children of God face many challenges in life and I will always be proud of their efforts for good.

    Meg,
    I would argue that the culture war you are discerning on the Utah front is anti-LDS sentiment often operating under the pretext of another issue, like SSM or gay rights.

  25. ReTx: I believe that people with SSA can be just as happy living the law of chastity as unmarried heterosexuals can be living the law of chastity. Lots of singles are celibate, hold callings, etc.

    Yeah, it’s sucks being single in a two-by-two church/society. The church (at various levels) doesn’t do a great job of socializing single adults over age 30, but it tries. But, Your single SSA relative is asked to do no more than every other single heterosexual, millions of them.

    In fact, a lot of, maybe even most, single heterosexuals in the church also battle depression and loneliness for various reasons. Depression, dysfunction, PTSD, psychoses/neuroses are generally the reason so many of us are single in the first place!

    Looong before the normalization of homsexuality started to take place in society, I learned that the often spoken lament of singles “If ONLY I were married, I’d be SOoooo happy!” was a freaking lie! If a miserable person gets married, they usually make their spouse miserable too.

    In general, people who said (and continue to say) that (mostly women) got it backwards. — They weren’t miserable because they were single, they were single because they miserable. — They scared people away with their misery, and with whatever other dysfunction/psychosis that was making them miserable.

    There’s no rule in the church that SSA-individuals can’t have same-sex friends, or opposite sex friends….. Just like single heterosexual people have both same-sex and opposite-sex friends. -Everyone- who lives the LoC and all the other Temple Rec stuff is hunky-dory.

    THere *is* a general “sociality” problem in the church. I’ve written four posts about it on jrganymede. com. But it’s not about marrieds vis a vis singles, or straights vis a vis gays. People tend to be insular and clannish and not make new friends easily, even among the most devout and active. Even married folk don’t socialize well with other married folk. They see each other in HT/VT/ministering, callings, and that’s about it, unless you have other connections.

    Over half the people in my last two wards intentionally arrive at the chapel AT THE LAST SECOND every Sunday (regardless of starting time), and bug out at the first opportunity, as if to say to eveyone else “Don’t talk to me.”

    So there you have it:
    a) No one gets to claim “if only I had a ‘life-partner’, I’d be SOoooo happy.” It doesn’t work that way for straights, it doesn’t work that way for SSAs.

    b) Depression is not something unique to unpartnered gays, it’s common in single straights too. If straights don’t get to violate LoC just to cure depression, then SSAs don’t either.

    c) Loneliness? Lack of socialization? Oh fer cryin’ out loud! This is a HUGE thing among EVERYONE in the church, single straights, married straights, married with children. Don’t blame it on SSA or homophobia. Most households, single or married, are turning into some kind of island due to lack of socialization. People mostly text now, and almost no one under age 30 knows how to talk face to face. We had an AA70 (from some other region) preach (and I don’t mean “talk”, he PREACHED) at our stake conference against the “standoffishness” that is rampant in the church.

    bottom line: Millions of heterosexual people have the same problems that you’ve described your SSA friend as having. Violating the LoC doesn’t fix anything for heteros, it will never fix anything for gays.

  26. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about providing short-term happiness to people on Earth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about helping people find joy through eternal principles. Short-term happiness is very difficult to define. As a teenager growing up in California in the 1970s outside the Church, I constantly heard that the way to be “happy” was to “party.” “Party” meant, in those days, get a 12 pack of beer, get a few joints and find a good-looking woman to pursue. If you didn’t do that you weren’t being “happy.”

    In contrast, since joining the Church I have understood that the Gospel is about joy, which is very different from short-term happiness. Joy means following the commandments, paying attention to the teachings of modern-day prophets, thinking about service in the temple and for your fellow man and trying to be more like the Savior.

    If our pursuit of “happiness” puts us in conflict from pursuing “joy” we are on the wrong road. And, yes, this sometimes means that we will not be “happy” all the time or even most of the time. Life can sometimes be cruel and lonely. But if we follow the teachings of the prophets we will be on the road to eternal joy, which will bring us true long-term happiness.

  27. Well…I agree that Dan’s approach is somewhat manipulative and one-sided.

    However, I feel compelled to say that if you feel offended about being misrepresented in your “love” for LGBT folks–it’s not about YOU, anyway.

    It’s about THEM. THEY are the ones with a complex reality, struggling to live in the black and white world of conservative religious culture. When we say “You’re gay (or LBT, etc.), and we insist on putting you into this little box. One that will cause you to always question your worth and sometimes even your very existence.” Is it any wonder when they ponder suicide? There is no way out of the box the way we’ve currently constructed it.

    They are who they are. There are a lot of things that they can change in the quest to become more like God, but this complex reality is not one of them. So what kind of dialogue can even be had? They can’t change. We insist we know the truth about their reality. But we have no satisfying answers for them, and we certainly aren’t in any rush to find any, except for “YOU have to change.” Is it any wonder that they think we hate them?

    It is interesting to me that Jesus didn’t choose to say anything about this issue either in the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, or the D&C. And if we believe our current approach to be divinely inspired, we might want to examine the rotten fruit that is being borne by it. As uncomfortable as it might be, WE have some serious soul-searching to do, especially when it comes to knowing what it really is to love these souls who will always be born among us.

  28. Well that went well. Look. Again. I’m not trying to be combative or insist that I am right. Someone asked how to convince people like me to return to a traditional LDS thought process on LGBTQ. I tried to show why I think the way I do and what you are up against in trying to change my mind.

    Bombarding me with all the ways you think I am wrong is not really all that useful. If anything, using a big stick just makes me feel like I need a bigger shield to protect myself from getting beat up.

    No one heard what I was saying or tried to understand my family’s perspective.

    Why would you think attacking me and the authenticity of my family’s prayers and my brother’s answers is the best way to open my life up to changing how I view LGBTQ?

    And I suppose even more than that, what I was trying to say is that it isn’t about logic or arguments or theory or doctrine. It’s about relationships. Mine to my brother. Mine to God. His to God. His to his partner.

  29. ReTx, quick story: my younger brother decided to leave the Church. As he was leaving, he publicly challenged people in the ward to come and change his mind. Several people, including the bishop and the missionaries and his home teachers, came by and talked to him over the space of a month or so. His response was: “why are you attacking me and trying to change my mind? My mind is made up!”

    This story reminds me a bit of your comment. Re-read the answers. NOBODY is attacking you. In fact, just the opposite — people are providing counter-points for you to consider. It is mind-boggling that you think this is “attacking” you.

    It seems pretty clear to me that everybody who responded completely heard and understood your experience and your perspective. You just didn’t want to hear an alternate point of view, just like my brother. So, I am sorry to say this, but the only one here who is being closed-minded is you. And I say this while also being appreciative of the tone you tried to adopt in your original comment. I let your comment through because you tried to adopt a non-combative tone, but when people responded to you, all of a sudden you became combative. So, re-read the comments and try to see that nobody is attacking you or being combative with you — they are only providing other perspectives which you apparently don’t want to hear (or read).

  30. So this is one of those moments where it is so much easier to do this face-to-face because perhaps what we are doing is talking past each other, and we’d be able to work that out much easier in a real conversation.

    I should have refrained from posting entirely. My apologies.

  31. @Jeremiah Stone

    LGBTQ folks aren’t the only one with a complex reality. Try being single in your 40s or widowed in your 20s. Try being addicted to porn or drugs or alcohol. Trying being mentally ill. Try dealing with severe physical physical deformities. Try having a spouse cheat on you, get custody of your kids in the divorce, and then indoctrinate them with anti-Mormon propaganda.

    Get the point yet?

    EVERYONE has complex realities and challenges. EVERYONE, at one time or another, struggles to live in a black and white religious culture. EVERYONE gets put in a little box whether we want it or not. No one, LGBT or anyone else, get a pass on the commandments simply because of their complex reality. We are expected to do our best to keep the commandments. In the end it’s up to Christ to judge whether or not we were tempted beyond that which we can bear.

    And, yes, the scriptures don’t mention anything about LGBT issues. They also don’t mention anything about abortion, marijuana, arson, and a host of other contemporary problems. That’s why we have prophets and apostles who speak at conference and issue documents like the Proclamation on the Family.

    But you know this.

    The question to ask yourself is why you choose to ignore their words.

    Best,

    James

  32. It was my understanding that mental health professionals caution against individuals blaming others for their mental illness in the style of, “you are making me depressed.” Therefore, it seems odd to me that there is such a huge movement of people doing exactly that. When the “13 reason why” television show appeared on Netflix, many therapists cautioned against people watching it for that reason – the main character essentially told everyone, “I committed suicide because of YOU,” which is regarded as an unhealthy and unhelpful narrative. And yet now we have thousands of people rallying around Dan’s assertions that yes, you CAN blame your depression on other people. Furthermore, the message casts the entire LGBT community as tragic victims of a cruel world, which is infantalizing and condescending.

    Members of the LGBT community are not the only ones who experience loneliness and isolation. Having a partner or being “allowed” to have a partner does not solve all one’s problems.

    To share a personal anecdote, I once told a straight family member I didn’t agree with her choices and I pointed out she was engaging in behavior that were – objectively speaking – unhealthy. She few into a rage and informed me that I had never loved her. In following months, she cut me out of her wedding and didn’t speak to me for over two years. The next time we did speak in person, she told me that I was the cause of her depression. I NEVER stopped loving her. I cried for months that this was our situation. Yet was did the problem truly lie with ME for not fully accepting who she was?

    This is not unlike the situation believing Mormons face. Just because we don’t think a person should be doing certain things doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

  33. Anonymous Lady, all good points. Thanks.

    There is something else I would like to add. One of the things faithful Mormons always hear in person or read on social media is something like: “if you only knew my friend/brother/sister/aunt who is gay, you would no longer support the Church’s position on same-sex attraction.” I’ve got news for readers. EVERYBODY in the Church has friends or relatives these days who are gay, and we have already heard a thousand times all of the arguments against the Church’s position. And we still support the Church’s position. And we still do our best to love everybody, including people with same-sex attraction.

  34. Every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization on sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.
    See http://thefederalist.com/2014/08/21/how-to-shrink-your-church-in-one-easy-step/

    Case study: http://www.dennyburk.com/the-nashville-megachurch-that-embraced-gay-marriage-two-years-ago-has-cratered/

    Case study: https://www.virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-continues-downward-slide-sheds-additional-members-2017 (The most recent numbers).

    The Catholic Church is having its greatest crisis since the Reformation over sexual issues. See, for example: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-08-17/news/0208170232_1_jacqueline-wenger-priests-councils-subculture and http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/active-homosexuality-in-the-priesthood-is-at-the-root-of-this-crisis and daily posts by Rod Dreher, LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, etc.

  35. We are approaching a cultural dead end. So many aspects of our culture has produced a variety of pathologies over the last 100 years or so. It’s certainly escalated in the last 50.

    In so many ways we’ve broken and/or are in the process of breaking our society/culture/families; and yet we think if only we do this one more thing differently than the past everything else will fall into place.

    There’s a reason why there’s an iron rod, strange roads, mists of darkness in the vision. Rex didn’t want to be combative, and neither do I. I’m not trying to change his mind because it’s clear only he can do that.

    I will say with as much force as I can muster that he does not get to make a leap of faith for my family and that’s exactly what is being foisted upon us.

    My kids will have their own issues thanks to my imperfect parenting. I don’t need all the pathologies of the confused world about “sexuality” and happiness foisted upon them as well.

    Most well adapted (as much as possible given the choices) gay-identifying people realized long ago that they’ve reached the dead end. So they moved onto having a family to “solve” their problems. I have no doubt that genuine joy can come from looking into a child’s eyes an watching them grow up, teaching them, being taught through them, and so on. There’s no doubt that they genuinely love their families. But tragically they aren’t what’s best for their children and the path they’ve chosen servers the fruit and branch from the tree.

    The reality is clear. Pursuing homosexual relationships hit a dead end, so they invented a right to a family they can’t create to fill the void — much like they previously thought that the right to have a homosexual relationship would fill the void.

    Problem begets problem. And sadly, neither they nor the children under their care will fully understand the generational consequences of their choice.

    Children are entitled to a mother and a father. That’s somehow a controversial truth. When a child loses a parent, or both, it’s a tragedy that can have far reaching consequences, but often we are able to get through it if the close community and family can unite around those children.

    Now we treat it as a choice or as an equivalent family to not have mother and father raising the child. That family is disadvantaged and will have generational consequences. And of course, you can be sure the next generation will see marginal creep into some other pathology that will sell absolutely necessary and normal moral innovations and goods in order to “solve” their present (futute) pathology.

    I can’t give a compelling answer to the question of why you should put food into your stomach when someone else argues they can’t be happy if they aren’t able to live their lives hooked to an IV, and someone else argues that others have genetic it environmental caused issues with their stomach and others argue even more that stomachs are just organs for pleasure and they can use it however they want to and God made them that way. — yes it’s a stretched example, but there’s no substitute for sexual reproduction because it stands as the supreme act of creation.

    God is our Father. We are in his image. Latter-day Saints know a bit more about this relationship and we’ve apparently done a bad job of distilling the higher truths that come from it for a variety of reasons – pearls before swine, afraid of being mocked, lack of personal revelation, more focus on things of the world than eternity, not understanding the temple (and having the patience and faith to receive that light and knowledge from the othersside of the veil that comes from a consecrated life), and so on. It’s no wonder as the church grows, more and more people don’t “know” while seemingly fewer and fewer (proportionally) do know.

    We’re born of spiritual heavenly parents Rex. Your destiny and the destiny of your family member is to become like one of those parents and become as the Creator. If we are faithful in receiving the Lord and receiving is servants. All the Father has is promised to us.

    That is a simple truth. The further you or I or loved ones stray from it, the worse off our society and consequent generations will be. And we can be sure that future generations won’t even appreciate (for the most part) where they and their ancestors went wrong. Just as we rarely understand how we came to all the social issues we now have and instead argue over various policies and politics as if it could ever provide the answer to problems generations in the making.

    This is exactly why private morality can have public consequences. It’s never just about that one person’s choice. We’re taking about generational change that we can’t quantify.

    But for a Latter-day Saint, the pattern should be pretty plain to follow. We came from Heavenly parents and we’re trying to follow in the path of God’s only begotten son to become like him, so we can step into that eternal destiny. The pattern of families with mother and father repeat in mortality, and it will absolutely repeat into eternity. I’ve received very strong personal revelation on this matter. I can’t force it on you, in fact I wouldn’t want to. It can only come from a direct revelation from God the Father himself. And to know it is life eternal. That’s the point of this life. That’s your birthright. Don’t squander it for a bowl of pottage even if you think you’re hungry (or the family member is) and you’ll starve without a quick meal.

    Those that choose a different path than the one repeated by our own heavenly parents are misled to go down strange roads. They will not only have that much farther to go (if they haven’t closed the door on themselves entirely), but they’ll have a tremendous burden of responsibility for misleading others under the guise of seeking their own personal fulfillment.

    “Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: ”

    Are you really?

  36. I really enjoyed the OP–well articulated and outlined. I didn’t see it as a way of attempting to convince the LOVE LOUD crowd to the LDS side, but as a means to understand the flaws of their reasoning and position. Moving away from the teachings of our Church leaders and prophets always puts us on a slippery slope. Pres. Harold B. Lee’s quote, which is often cited on this blog, springs to mind:

    “There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.”

    More of President Lee’s quotes, from nearly 50 years ago, are applicable to this thread and far better than any words I could say. So, just for a moment, imagine that he is speaking directly to you:

    “If it were not for the assurance that I have that the Lord is near to us, guiding, directing, the burden would be almost beyond my strength, but because I know that He is there, and that He can be appealed to, and if we have ears to hear attuned to Him, we will never be left alone”

    “The path to [exaltation] is rugged and steep. Many stumble and fall, and through discouragement never pick themselves up to start again. The forces of evil cloud the path with many foggy deterrents, often trying to detour us in misleading trails. But through all this journey there is the calming assurance that if we choose the
    right, success will be ours, and the achievement of it will have molded and formed and created us into the kind of person qualified to be accepted into the presence of God.”

    “Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you but on what happens inside of you; it is measured by the spirit with which you meet the problems of life.”

    “The one who confidently looks forward to an eternal reward for his efforts in mortality is constantly sustained through his deepest trials. When he is disappointed in love, he does not commit suicide. When loved ones die, he doesn’t despair; when he loses a coveted contest, he doesn’t falter; when war and destruction dissipate his future, he doesn’t sink into a depression. He lives above his world and never loses sight of the goal of his salvation.”

    “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today.”

    “Our failure to be a “peculiar” people in maintaining our standards, despite the jeers and the criticisms of the crowd, will be our failure to be chosen for that calling to which we are called….Our reward for daring to live the gospel despite the oppositions from the outside world will be to have blessings added upon our heads forever and forever.”

    President Lee was amazing and truly inspired!

  37. Thank you everyone for the comments – including Jeremiah Stone, ReTX, Glenda, KarlS & Judy Workman. Collectively, you five effectively articulate The Story that (if we’re honest) is ‘winning the day’ in the broader culture – a narrative about “gay teens” that can be summarized in three parts:
    (1) This is who they *really* are (“they are who they are” – Jeremiah)
    (2) To love them is to acknowledge and embrace this fully (“You cannot claim to love people and not love them for who they are, which is being gay” – Judy)
    (3) The lack of such acknowledgement – from us and from them – is the most obvious and proximate cause of their suffering (ReTX’s account).

    For those of you embracing this narrative, I understand how sincerely and earnestly you see it not only as obviously truthful – but also divinely influenced and inspired. As Judy summarizes, “Dan is doing the work of the Lord in opening this conversation about how to show love to others.”

    I suppose that’s really our core disagreement – and I’d honestly be *delighted* if we could actually have a conversation (a real, robust, honest, searching, open-hearted conversation) about it – along with all these other questions of love, identity, sexuality, suffering, etc.

    I know it’s possible because I’ve spent years in *productive* conversations with gay, lesbian, and queer-identifying friends that have yielded affection, insight, empathy and life-long, loving friendships. That’s precisely why I look out at the LoveLoud festival and cringe…”hold on – there really *is* another, better, more productive – and yes, more honest way to go about this!”

    KarlS, what you call harsh judgments, are my own honest assessment of the situation: namely, that there are blatant lies being widely promoted here as a reality – lies about sacred matters of spirituality and sexuality that (and here’s the big point) are effectively leading people to (a) divorce themselves from their faith community and (b) embrace an entirely different trajectory of life.

    While you and others have embraced this movement and the life path it encourages as divinely inspired – from the vantage point many others hold, Dan is a Deceiver in ever sense of the word – and he will go down in sacred history as such (along with many other missionaries-turned-activists).

    I’m not afraid to say that out loud – even though it’s painful to do so. I don’t like writing these things – and have felt urged to speak far beyond what I’m comfortable.

    I’m well aware at how people on the left receive this, Meg – because I’ve heard it for years now. Initially, many are angry and uncomfortable – but most commonly, the response is: “he just doesn’t have enough empathy…he just doesn’t get it…he just hasn’t met and *really* known gay people yet.”

    Geoff spoke well to this point just now. It would be more honest to say that many of us have had many years of relationships – and have reached different conclusions than you.

    I recently watched one of my best friends ReTX – “come out” and embrace an identity centered on sexual orientation – and then become convinced, like ReTX’s brother – that his true happiness lay in stepping away from his former beliefs and embracing a same-sex partner. I’ve watched him move from being a tender-hearted, spiritually-sensitive man embedded in a faith community of hundreds of priesthood brothers, to becoming angry, dark, hard – and refusing even to see us anymore.

    So clearly, ReTX, there are stories that “convince us” on both sides. I’d say we’re both on shaky ground if we’re pinning our hopes on our own interpretations of someone else’s interpretations – or grounding our hearts simply in a “relationship.” That’s the Mama Dragon position – and it’s a dangerous one, in my view. If you’d like to hear my best explanation of why, you can see my response to the Mama Dragons here: http://unthinkable.cc/why-i-believe-the-mama-dragon-approach-is-ultimately-hurting/

    May God guide us all to stay humble, and receptive to His guidance. My central hopes are to help those newly (or increasingly) persuaded by the Mama Dragon/Imagine Dragons narrative. Two of you summarized some of my hopes well:
    -Supporting “LDS folks who need some ammo in fighting the influence that Love Loud has on their children, friends, neighbors, and ward members” (James Stone)
    -“Those who are tempted to hear love in the message and haven’t thought all the way through the ramifications” (Joel Winter)

    The greatest danger right now is not a lack of love – it’s a lack of clarity….in every direction you look (something I learned from my gay Christian friend Arthur – http://www.flirtingwithcuriosity.org/?p=298)

    Amen to so many other things that Old man, Geoff, James Stone, Lily, and others had to say. One day, many people will say, “wow – the prophets were actually right – I wish I hadn’t been so swept away in my feelings that I missed that!” My prayer is that more hearts can be reached in the days ahead – helping many more recognize that God is still speaking today through these wonderful (loving, divinely-inspired) prophet leaders.

  38. Beautiful words from you, Hq – I’ll be reading them to my wife tonight so we can reflect on them more. And wonderful counsel from Harold B. Lee, Tiger – thank you! Quick shout-outs to two earlier comments, in particular – that felt especially important:

    Geoff – I’ve rarely seen a more succinct summary: “reminding [these teens] that conservative Mormons hate them does much more harm than good. The reality is that the vast majority of Church members treat people around them with love and understanding (although we are an imperfect people and there are exceptions). Progressives spend all of their time reminding these youth that they are in a culture that rejects them (and they do these things for their own political reasons), which does nothing more than make these LDS youth feel more and more disconnected. The end result is that progressives end up telling these youth that they cannot feel happy in such a culture.”

    I’m glad to find your article. I’ve written here about how activist narratives may be inadvertently leading these kids to greater instability here: http://www.flirtingwithcuriosity.org/?p=897

    Old Man – you say it well: “By their own definitions, these activists are guilty of a subtle (and I would argue, malicious) form of bigotry. They are telling these kids that they are already vulnerable and weak. Hogwash! They will be weak if they don’t draw close to good parents and their faith.”

    Powerful, and painful truths – stated beautifully!

  39. Let’s consider an analogy outside of an emotionally charged sexual context. Suppose a member of the Church decides to embrace Catholicism because he really, really likes the Catholic Mass and truly believes in transubstantiation and has long felt this way. Alternatively, you might consider a Church member who decides he totally embraces the five Protestant solae (solas). Perhaps he always privately thought that way and is much happier when he thinks that way.

    His Church friends might try to argue him out of these beliefs and feelings, or they might say you might as well become a Catholic (or alternatively a Protestant). In any event, Church members can’t be expected to concede that his doctrine is right, and, importantly, we are not expected to hate him. Indeed, we are commanded and expected to love him. We just believe he is wrong and on the wrong path. Except in the most isolated communities, Church members have friends and relations who belong to other churches whose core beliefs are not compatible with ours. We love them and work alongside them even as we disagree and cannot be, in the traditional religious sense, in communion with them.

    Now suppose, however, that a group of Catholics (or alternatively Protestants) loudly proclaim that we hate them, are bigoted against them, aren’t inclusive, and have visited all sorts of wrongs on them. No doubt some Church members have treated their neighbors belonging to other denominations less than charitably, perhaps even badly at times, the injunctions of our Church leaders and commendable counterexamples notwithstanding. Does that mean that we, as a rule and as a church, actually hate them or need to embrace their doctrines to make up for that? Of course not. Everyone but the most extreme polemicists gets that.

  40. It was really nice to check in this morning after the long weekend and find such a wealth of solid, meaty, non-acrimonious comments on this. Thumbs, up, M*!

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