» See also: Strengthening and Preserving the Family
Since the recent political developments in relation to marriage in Utah, there have been reports of editorializing on homosexuality and same-sex marriage in LDS Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society lessons. Much of this editorializing and the class discussions that have ensued has been of a negative nature and very painful to LGBT Mormons and their families and friends.
There are a variety of ways that folks are responding to these situations. Some are skipping lessons that have a potential to open up hurtful class discussions. Some are attending Church and finding positive ways to participate in such discussions.
One mom of a gay son has responded by writing a letter to her Sunday School teacher, urging him to take into account the effect that negative comments about homosexuality would have on her son and her family. Here’s the text of her letter:
I understand that the lesson in RS/Priesthood in a few weeks has to do with the Strengthening and Preserving the Family (JFS Lesson #4). I have read through the lesson and it is has some beautiful personal stories from Joseph F. Smith’s life. His personal stories are sweet and apply to everyone who is a member of a family. I do know that sometimes topics such as this lesson’s topic can be diverted and lead to discussion about the gay issue. This is a personal soft spot for me. I can’t tell you how to teach the lesson, but I would hope that you would error on the side of being Christ like and kind when giving this lesson!
Did you know that in a ward of 400 individuals, 16 people are gay? Those are low numbers. The rhetoric we use at church affects the parents who will one day have a gay child. It affects the families who now have gay loved ones. It affects gay individuals. I would love a lesson that speaks about strengthening all families, including those who have gay individuals in them. I feel that all the negative rhetoric we often hear concerning gay individuals is actually an attack on families that have gay loved ones. The usual rhetoric we hear at church about gay individuals can make families with gay loved ones feel distant and hurt. It can make gay individuals feel unwanted in their congregation.
You might be interested in a new website the church has put out: www.mormonsandgays.org. I highly recommend listening to the video by “Judy” the beautiful, white haired lady at the bottom. Also Elder Cook’s video is moving. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the website:
“There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”
“Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbors. Whether sinner or saint, rich or poor, stranger or friend, everyone in God’s small world is our neighbor, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Latter-day Saints believe that our true commitment to Christian teachings is revealed by how we respond to this commandment. This love is tested every day of our lives. We may know individuals with same-sex attraction in our workplaces, congregations and town halls. As people with hopes, fears and aspirations like everyone else, these neighbors deserve our love. But we can’t truly love the neighbors next door if we don’t love the neighbors under our own roof. Family members with same-sex attraction need our love and understanding. God loves all his children alike, much more than any of us can comprehend, and expects us to follow.”
“As a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle. Do we teach the Proclamation on the Family, do we teach Heavenly Father’s plan, do we teach the first chapter in the second handbook, yes we do. We have a plan of salvation. And having children come into our lives is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. But let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it’s a very important principle.”
The Family Acceptance Project is helping people and families understand more about gay individuals. It is saving lives. It was created by Dr. Caitlin Ryan who did an 11 year study regarding this project. This information has helped broaden my perspective and educate me. You may find it helpful in understanding more about the effects of accepting and rejecting behaviors on gay individuals. See the booklet at this link:http://goo.gl/NOoocx.
Thank you for letting me take your time with this letter. I appreciate the service you do in our ward.