“Two Degrees off Center” is a monthly blog by Rich Keys about the personal struggles, issues, and topics that speak to the LDS/LGBT experience. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes humorous, but will always approach things from a slightly different perspective.
Two Degrees off Center
By Rich Keys
This month marks the two-year anniversary of the November 2015 policy changes. It’s one of those events that are so significant in our lives, we likely remember where we were when we learned of it. For mainstream Mormons, it doesn’t ring a very loud bell unless we mention, “the one where legally wed and faithful gay Mormons are now considered apostates, face likely disciplinary councils; and blessings, baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations are being withheld from their children until they turn 18, move out their family home, renounce their parents’ relationship, and even then may only receive these things after they apply for them and are granted approval from the First Presidency.”
Oh yeah, that policy.
But for us, no clarification is needed. The “November policy” says it all.
On the Sunday following the news, I was walking out of sacrament meeting after finishing the organ postlude. I found myself next to the bishop. Not many others were around us. He asked me, “How’s it going?” I told him I’m relying a little more on the Spirit these days and not as much on policy. He understood without saying a word. Then I said, “I wish leaders would put the handbook in the bottom drawer of their desk under a bunch of papers and go to the Lord for answers, and never refer to the handbook unless the Spirit told them to, and then only as a last resort.” In all seriousness, he replied, “We couldn’t do that. Everyone would be doing something different.”
And there it was: I suddenly realize we’re not supposed to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We’re actually supposed to worship the God of Conformity. The secret of getting into heaven isn’t asking ourselves WWJD—What Would Jesus Do—it’s asking ourselves WWHD—What Would the Handbook Do. It isn’t searching for truth and seeking the Spirit. It’s marching goose-step into heaven with the precision of a North Korean military parade. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re all doing the same thing. Fortunately, the Spirit told me to cool my jets (“wrong time, wrong place, and you won’t like the outcome”), so I just let his comment hang in the air, naked, exposed, with nothing to hide all its implications.
Since then I’ve thought of others who did not worship the Golden Calf of Conformity: the Lord Himself who shook things up when He arrived, Joseph Smith who shook things up when he arrived, and many others, both historically and in my own life. Like me, each of them experienced times in their lives when they felt all alone, and they were comforted and strengthened by the Spirit and led to others who would do the same. As LGBT Mormons and allies, each of us is trying to shake things up while following the Spirit—knowing when to lengthen our stride and when to cool our jets. At those down times in our lives, it’s reassuring that we can go to the Lord for whatever answer we need—and He doesn’t have to look it up in a handbook first.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all posts in the Two Degrees off Center blog series. Rich would also love to hear from you! If you have any feedback or questions about this post or the Two Degrees off Center blog series, please leave a comment below.