By the Affirmation Executive Committee
Those in the LGBTQ Mormon community who attend or watch General Conference do so largely for the same reasons that everybody else does: out of a desire to feel closer to God and find answers to questions or challenges in their lives. The only difference may be the urgency of the challenges that we face, and the intensity with which we must wrestle with certain key questions of meaning.
The 2014 October General Conference dealt with a number of themes and questions that are directly, painfully relevant to LGBT Mormons, namely how we find happiness in family, what our families will look like both in this life and in Eternity; and where we can turn to for truth, how we can discern truth, and whether it is okay for us to wrestle with difficult, challenging questions with the rest of our church family. Many of us come to General Conference wondering if there’s a place for us in the church, and yearning for church leaders to speak to the doubt, pain, confusion and fear so many of us feel.
Social media have become vital forums for LGBT Mormons to ask and answer these kinds of urgent questions, and to share our experiences listening to conference. In social media, LGBT Mormons have expressed gratitude for the basic teaching of the Restored Gospel that God speaks to us each individually, and answers any and all questions we bring with sincerity of heart and pure intent, no matter how uncomfortable those questions may be to our fellow Mormons who are not LGBT.
We were heartened this past weekend by teachings encouraging us to seek our own spiritual confirmation in evaluating church teachings related to our sexuality, and in figuring out what is the best way forward for us.
We are grateful for affirmations that it is important for Latter-day Saints to trust themselves, to act on deeply held convictions, and not allow ourselves to be swayed by other people’s opinions or by the derision of people who disagree with us.
We are grateful for even stronger affirmations that the essence of the gospel is love, and that God is more concerned about how we treat one another, than he is about us getting everything right.
We are grateful for reminders that it is a normal part of the human condition to wrestle with doubt, to feel pain and separation, to struggle with mortality, and to experience rejection. We are also grateful that the Gospel nevertheless holds out hope for peace, help in doing what’s right, and guidance that comes directly from our Heavenly Parents. We are grateful for affirmations that redemption, forgiveness, eternal life, and family are our inheritance as children of God and followers of Christ. We are grateful for reminders that the purpose of this life is to learn to walk by faith, which means not always having clear answers to some of the most difficult questions we have to wrestle with.
Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s message about the importance of looking inward rather than projecting outward was gratefully received. We were moved by the urgent call for action on behalf of the poor by Elder Jeffery Holland and by Bishop Dean M. Davies. We were grateful for Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ explicit statement that “we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution… based on…differences in sexual orientation,” and for his call for civil, loving engagement across disagreement.
Despite the struggles and rejection many of us have experienced in our home wards and stakes, many of us have testimonies of the Gospel and want to participate in the work of building the Kingdom of God both in and beyond the Church. Many in Affirmation expressed gratitude for reminders to go back to basic gospel principles like prayer, scripture study, and service. Many of us feel the Spirit affirming our trust that God is in charge of our lives and of the Church and of the world, and we can trust in God to bring The Great Work of this mortal existence to a glorious and happy conclusion.
Like Elder Chi Hong Wong, we desire to work with other members of the LDS Church to find creative ways to bring about redemption and healing in the Church for those who are experiencing exclusion. We yearn for integrity, wholeness, and inclusion in the body of Christ. We pray for our sisters and brothers in the Church to join us in working toward that ultimate goal.