Friday, February 22, 2013

Romans 1

This semester in Institute we are studying the second part of the New Testament, Acts through Revelation. Most of what we are covering are the epistles of Paul, which is fascinating stuff. Paul writes a lot about his troubles and challenges and it's reassuring to hear spiritual giants have problems too.  A few months ago, I had a friend tell me she thought Paul was gay, so now that's all I can think whenever I read his words. Viewed through that crucible, this whole reconciling-faith thing seems a little more feasible.

In any case, in his epistle to the Romans, Paul does briefly touch on homosexuality.  I hoped that we'd gloss over that portion of the epistle in Institute, as I really wasn't in the mood for it, but we didn't.  Our teacher, at the end of class, said, "I'd like to end on something that is very current right now," and I knew exactly what he was talking about.

We read the verses in question from chapter 1 and he asked what we thought they were about. After a pregnant pause, during which no one wanted to speak up, a guy in the back timidly said, "Homosexuality?"  The teacher, who used to be my stake president growing up, confirmed and said that it was such a current issue because of things going on in the media, with Boy Scouts and in politics, then added "What is it we are to do about this?"

The class launched into it.  Some said that we need to speak out more about gay marriage. Some postulated that we need to support the Boy Scouts monetarily while sending the message that we won't support BSA if they change their policies. It was infuriating. I was so disappointed in my teacher, this man who I looked up to for a long time, a guy who reassured me that not serving a mission at 19 wasn't the end of the world, who always spoke with so much love from the pulpit, and here he was, instigating hurtful remarks.  I looked up at him, expecting to see a self-satisfied look on his face, and instead saw something vaguely resembling horror mixed with surprise. He had lost control of the class and seemed like he didn't know how to regain it.

After a few awkward moments for me, he called the class to attention.  He started out by saying that we as Mormons have drawn a line in the sand and have set a standard of acceptable behavior. A student began to interject something about the law of chastity, but the teacher continued, unfazed. He then talked about the gay members of the community and how the 11th Article of Faith protected their rights to speak out as they would. Another student raised his voice about how we needed to fight for truth and righteousness, and again, the teacher cut him off and continued his line of thought. He then spoke about a man he knew who suffered from same-gender attraction (that phrase makes me bristle, but I've accepted it as the LDS-approved term), and he told he story of the time he realized how difficult it is to grow up LDS but feel gay. He gave a few anecdotes, most of which we've already heard, about heterosexual behavior being as repulsive to gays as homosexual behavior is to straight people, about how they feel like square pegs trying to fit in a round hole, and how the behavior and words of well-meaning church members are hurtful to people with SGA in the church.

At that the class was silent.

He continued, saying that our only responsibility is to love and to extend open arms and to guard our words to make sure we don't hurt anyone's feelings. He talked about our agency to choose who we vote for, what we support politically, etc., but in the end, he encouraged us to make sure our public and interpersonal behavior is unimpeachably kind and compassionate, and even admitted that the LDS church and its members have a justifiably bad reputation because of our distrust of gays.

I'll admit, it got a little syrupy, and such a lecture will probably raise more pity or sympathy than genuine love in the hearts of those students, but I will take pity if it's a replacement for disgust. I am so grateful he regained control of the class and taught the lesson he wanted to teach, which was to follow the example of Jesus Christ in the way we deal with those that are different than us.


  1. That is a crazy story. I'm glad that it ended the way that it did. It is crazy how people can get so riled up about homosexuality and talk about fighting for truth and righteousness in regards to homosexuality, but they don't have the same kind of drive for other issues. I have seen members of my family get so angry and excited to fight against gay marriage, but I've never heard them get angry and fight against child molestors, drug dealers, embezzlars, or other people who hurt others. I hope more and more Mormons can shift their mindset to be more like your institute instructor.

  2. I appreciate your Institute teacher and former Stake President's perspective. I wish more members of the church (and other churches that share the same opinions of homosexuality) had his compassion.


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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