The Lord is My Light: Mormonism and Equality
“When the interviewer asked me how I reconciled my belief in equality with my belief in the gospel, I knew exactly what to say”
By Alasdair Ekpenyong
One of my favorite memories is the Sunday morning that I visited Logan, Utah, for the first time. I was in town over winter break to visit two of my mentors, and since the man was a high councilman, I went with him and his wife to his family ward instead of going to the young single adult ward. I remember the beauty of the wooden pews and the beauty of the decorated bodies—the beauty of seeing a full Mormon church building for the first time after months of only experiencing small, struggling branches in California.
We sang “The Lord is My Light” as the sacrament hymn, and as the voices of the men blended with the voices of the women in harmony, I had a special experience where I was brought to marvel at all of the different forms of light that are present and vibrant in the Lord’s church. There were audible lights: the words, harmonies and melodies that brought us together as one community. There were spiritual lights: the priesthood leaders and the Relief Society leaders, the bishop and the mothers and fathers who were determined to bring Christ a little closer to the souls that had been entrusted into their care. And there were visible lights: natural and indoor lights shown and sparkled that Sunday morning, adding a beauty and freshness to our perfect communion.
I sat there that morning as a closeted Mormon —a Mormon who, as a feminist, a gay man, and an intellectual— fit all three of the criterion that have in past times been identified as anathema. But the light and the music and the harmony brought me peace—and I knew in an unconquerable way that I was at home and welcome in the community just the way that I am.
Since that time, I have carried my testimony of the Lord’s light with me. Treasuring God’s light within my heart, I have also watched with wonder as God’s light has spread in peace throughout the world, inspiring change and inquiry, teaching people to become more Christlike. I never thought that I would see the day when a cloud of equality consciousness would sweep the state of Utah, but I watched with wonder during the past two weeks as meet-up groups, coming out stories, peaceful rallies, and television interviews have brought discussions of GLBT equality and marriage equality to the forefront of Mormon consciousness.
My own small chance to bear testimony of the Lord’s light came in late March when I appeared on a Utah television network to answer interview questions about an upcoming rally that had been organized by BYU students. When the interviewer asked me how I reconciled my belief in equality with my belief in the gospel, I knew exactly what to say:
I said that the Gospel has taught me that I am a child of light and that the Lord himself is the source of that light. We are taught to share our light like a city on a hill, and these teachings have been shared and repeated since the time that the Savior walked the earth. I know that everything within me yearns to share the gifts that I have been given. I share my capacity for charity. I share my capacity for intelligence and inquiry. I also share my capacity to form romantic relationships and better other people’s lives. I am not ashamed of the light that I have been given, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
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