Christy wanted me to post a couple pictures of the family since some out there may not be interested in my ramblings...so here are a couple from a recent trip to the natural bridges beach in Santa Cruz and a couple from Disney World. Please take notice of Adam's goatee. He's quite the big man now. These kids grow so fast it's amazing. I sure love them and hope I haven't damaged them too much while in my care. I know despite my failings as a parent they're destined to do some pretty great things in this world.
A few weeks ago was our LDS ward conference. For anyone reading not familiar with LDS congregations, this is where our local leader (bishop) speaks as well as the regional leader (stake president) and they conduct meetings/business related to our local congregation. Sometimes in the main meeting they call on others to speak as well, and sometimes it's extemporaneously. As was my luck, I was called upon to 'bear my testimony'. I don't think anyone was more shocked than me, except for maybe my wife and kids. Christy mouthed to me, 'you ok?' I nodded yes, a little bewildered about why I'd be called upon as I'm far from Peter Priesthood. I had a full on beard and a blue shirt. Not the clean shaven, white shirt wearing priesthood holder that is expected. As I contemplated what I would say in a testimony, it boiled down to Christ and what Bob Goff tells us, Love Does (read the book if you haven't). Since I have a bit of a problem with controlling my emotions when at the pulpit, I don't think I fully conveyed this message how I intended. I'm a bit of a bawl baby as much as I hate to admit it, my composure was somewhat lacking, but what I intended to say was how Christ modeled a loving, caring, giving, charitable, humble, unselfish life. He didn't exclude the poor, afflicted, or sinners. I didn't say it at the pulpit, but I thought my testimony at one time had to be of the one true church, priesthood, a prophet, the book of Mormon, and divinity of Christ. It felt like I recited that without any true heart felt meaning because I had read a book about testimonies written by an apostle that explained these were the elements of a testimony. Today my testimony is of Jesus Christ and his life of love and atoning sacrifice. I feel that and believe it. I know I fall short of living it, but I'm working on it. And that's ok because I know he loves me no matter what and I don't feel the guilt or shame I once did for not living up to the ideal standard.
So today in our LDS congregation there was a talk fully devoted to the topic of 'traditional marriage'. Christy fortunately had to leave to get an ingrown toenail removed that she didn't have to hear it. I know it was hurting pretty bad because she has high tolerance for pain. She did get it taken care of though, and it's on the mend. So back to the talk. It was difficult for me to hear as this came from a member of the bishopric that I respect and was once our home teacher. I'm not fully convinced these were his beliefs or just marching orders. I appreciated he used some material from mormonsandgays.org and apparently has a good friend that is lesbian. It's still difficult for me to understand the inability of leadership to connect the dots of this message being one that is hurtful, damaging, and gives no hope to the LGBT community. How many times do we have to go over the church's proclamation to the world that is a reminder to all LGBT that they don't fit this mold and their plan for happiness is to remain celibate or enter a mixed orientation marriage if they want exaltation? The speaker reminded us what's important to God is that we remain temple worthy and that all things will be fixed in the after life. Really? I subscribe to the most important thing is God wants these youth to be loved, understood, accepted, cared for, and not hear from the pulpit how we don't fit in. How it would be easier to just not go on with a life when the community my family is a part of wants me to be alone my whole life like there's something wrong with me. I believe this life is for them to experience joy and happiness, not to endure it miserably only to be 'fixed' in the next life.
I'm reading Rough Stone Rolling right now about Joseph Smith and a couple excerpts have struck me. The first two quotes made me think about the proclamation and how this peculiar creed is limiting the church and its membership inside a box to believe anything outside of what has become known as 'traditional marriage.'
"The most prominent point of difference in sentiment between the Latter Day Saints & sectarians," a clerk later recorded him saying, "was, that the latter were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived its members the privilege of believing any thing not contained therein; whereas the L.D. Saints had no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time." Creeds fixed limits. They seemed to say "thus far and no further," while for Joseph the way was always open to additional truth: "The creeds set up stakes, & say hitherto shalt thou come, & no further. - which I cannot subscribe to." He wanted the door left ajar for truth from every source.
Joseph once said that Methodists "have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty to believe as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled."
This next quote made me think how the LGBT community is the minority today looking for some acceptance and rights, whereas the Mormons endured it in their infancy.
'The Mormon presence in Jackson County, as in every other county they occupied during the next fifteen years, tested democracy. The Mormon case illustrated an underlying democratic dilemma: can a majority, in defense of the public good as they see it, strip a minority of its rights? The Jackson County citizens believed their procedures were democracy in action. The citizens came together to prevent a social and political disaster of alarming proportions; in their view, they acted purely in self-defense. But for Mormons, Jackson County democracy meant repression and expulsion. Under the terms of the agreement, Mormons could not vote, could not own property, could not print a newspaper, and could not work in the county.'
Today, the majority of Mormons believe the leadership is right in their procedures in defense of their creed that declares the family has to conform to this 'traditional marriage' model. Never mind that this hasn't been the model even in the Mormon history with polygamy, and even today I could be a polygamist if my wife dies and I marry another woman in the temple. Is that 'traditional marriage'? Isn't it ironic that in the short history of our own faith that practiced(s) something so non-traditional as polygamy is now preaching and participating politically to advocate that 'traditional marriage' is the only way?
I believe church should be a place welcome for all to come and worship God and our Savior. It's not a place where I want to hear about how my gay son can only be exalted if he lives according to this creed. I would like to hear more about Christ and his teachings. Fortunately for the second two hours of church I'm in nursery with Christy playing with little kids so I don't hear any further lessons on how our family and my son doesn't fit the plan. I have always loved little kids. They are sweet and innocent. They are meek and mild (some not so mild, but so fun all the same). They laugh and smile and giggle. They love without judging. And that's all the lesson I need on a Sunday.