by Laurie Illions Rodriguez
A lot of mainstream Mormons are asking this question on social media, “Why are those students protesting? Why did they go to BYU in the first place? Why don’t they just leave us and our religion alone?”
The answer is that it is THEIR religion too. And they wouldn’t be protesting if they didn’t feel any connection to it. They were born into OUR Mormon families. They grew up singing the same Primary songs, learning the value of family relationships and wanting that for themselves, being taught they are each a child of God, learning to love one another, learning to get their own answers through prayer, and learning to stand up for what is right, even if they must stand alone.
Now they are put into a situation where they are being told to choose between either the Church or their own emotional health and safety. (If you don’t understand why this is the case and would like to learn more about it, listen to Richard Ostler’s Listen, Learn, & Love podcasts to hear some personal experiences and you can begin to gain a greater understanding.) They are being asked to internalize unhealthy messages that detract from the Spirit in their lives and to live a life that is unsustainable and emotionally unhealthy for most (and only they know whether that is true for themselves) OR to distance themselves from the Church they love and feel is theirs.
They are not asking the BYU Honor Code to allow anything it does not allow everyone else: normal non-sexual dating and companionship experiences.
They are not saying “give up the plan of salvation.” They are saying “listen with your hearts. We have prayed and God is telling us that we belong, that there is an emotionally healthy, joy-filled, connection-filled place for us. Listen with your hearts. Hear Him. Make space for us. We want to be here too.”
To hear them is NOT to give up the gospel and the plan of salvation. It is to more fully embrace it. It is to live it. And it is to make a place for them to live it too.
Because there ISN’T a them. There never was. There is just one big US.
“Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:27)