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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “43 – Epilogue”

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43 – Epilogue


“Question: How can homosexual members of the church live and remain steadfast in the gospel?

Answer [Bednar]: First I want to change the question.  There are no homosexual members of the church.  We are not defined by sexual attraction.  We are not defined by sexual behavior  We are sons and daughters of God, and all of us have different challenges in the flesh.…” (Transcript of David Bednar remarks of February 23, 2016)


“I had a conversation with John Cannon about Elder Bednar’s recent remarks. I shared with him the following thoughts/reactions I’ve been observing within the LGBT/SSA Mormon community: 

1) The statement ‘There are no homosexual Mormons’ came across as dismissive of people’s real, lived experience. I contrasted his statement with the statement on mormonsandgays.org, that ‘The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people.’ 

2) The ‘plan stopping’ language is leaving people feeling trapped, with no good options. 

3) Putting his heterosexual marriage with his wife forward as an example of ‘the plan’ (and the concomitant theology about ‘gendered spirits’), leaves people with same-sex attraction feeling like if they can’t marry heterosexually, there’s no place for them in the plan. (This theology seems to congratulate heterosexuals for being heterosexual, and leaves everyone else feeling hopeless.) 

4) I’ve noticed intense discouragement even among individuals who are complying with the Church’s teachings. 

John asked why they are feeling discouraged, and I told him that: 

5) The overall impression of the remarks left people with a sense of a distinct lack of empathy. 

I pointed out that, at a meta level, our community seems to be taking body-blow after body-blow… First the policy, then Nelson’s comments, now this… There’s an overdose of Law happening right now, with no believable expressions of Love. Could we please get some messages that are primarily loving and inclusive in their emphasis?…” (John Gustav-Wrathall, Email to Affirmation Board, March 3, 2016)


“In an explanatory statement on the policy, Elder D. Todd Christofferson claimed that the policy was based upon love. However, neither he nor supporters of this policy are able to illustrate any positive outcome from it. So far the major outcomes of this policy have been bafflement, broken hearts and homes in deep turmoil. It is hard to believe that the leaders of the Mormon Church sat together with the goal of increasing love and fellowship for children of gay parents, then came up with this policy as a result. The lack of transparency and dishonesty of the leaders is extremely hurtful.…

Prophets and apostles advocated in favor of polygamy, against racial desegregation, against the ERA, against the civil rights movement all in the name of divine inspiration. As political pressure mounted, they flipped on the more humane and commonly accepted side. The outside pressure became too strong and sudden ‘revelations’ appeared to change the position of the church. One would think that because the leaders claim such proximity to Christ, they would be in the forefront of social justice issues. But it hasn’t been the case. It is usually after significant outside pressure that the church suddenly changes its stances.…” (Julienna Viegas-Haws, “Op-ed: Love did not create this LDS policy, and it won’t survive,” Salt Lake Tribune, December 18, 2015)


Knox: One hopes, although I have cautioned people for the last fifteen years to remember that the same people who dodged the draft in the 1960s in the Vietnam War, prosecuted the Iraq War.  Things do change when you get a little age and some responsibilities and have families of your own and children of your own.  I pray that we won’t stop being in conversation with Millennials about this, and empowering them to understand what great leaders they were on this, right from the start.  Shifts can happen.  There was no more gay-friendly place in the world than Berlin in 1939; and in 1941 people were wearing pink triangles in concentration camps.  I don’t mean to sound horrible about that, or grandiose, but that’s also the nature of politics, that things wax and wane.…

Prince: And to be able to see it from a very good vantage point.  That’s why I think that this book has the potential of being very compelling.  Not only is it the civil rights movement of our time, but there is the delicious irony of the Law of Unintended Consequences having kicked in for the Mormon Church.

Knox: Yes.

Prince: As they tried to push one direction, all the dominos fell the opposite direction, and because they were pushing in the one direction.  I think there was a cause-and-effect that can be told here.

Knox: Yes.  I apologize for being so cliché, but the preacher in me says they went to the River Jabbok, and an angel showed up that they were not expecting to see.  They wrestled that angel for a blessing.  Their hip is a little out-of-joint and they’ve got a little limp right now, a hitch in their get-along, but they have gotten a blessing.  And I am so glad.  Looking back on this now from the vantage point of even just a few years, I can’t imagine a person I would rather be friends with more than Bill Evans.  What a lovely and delightful person.

(Harry Knox, October 27, 2015)

Prince: But it is going to take at least one funeral for us to turn that next corner.

Thurston: I think more.  I think three or four.  And it will happen incrementally, and when it does, it will be as though this other stuff never happened.

Prince: How many under-30s in this church know there was a time when we did not ordain blacks?

Thurston: Yes—or if they know it, it’s a very vague idea, like, “What were they thinking back then?”  Or over-30s.  One of the things that probably got me in trouble was that I taught a lesson in priesthood meeting.  The whole Randy Bott thing came out and there was stuff on the Church Newsroom about our feeling about blacks and how we rejected the old folklore.  Well yes, it’s on LDS Newsroom, but how many high priests in my ward are even familiar with the LDS Newsroom?  If you don’t live in Utah, if you don’t get the Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News, you don’t know this stuff.  None of them do.  When I said, “How many have heard of this?” nobody had.  I said, “Well, let’s talk about it.”  We talked about it and I read some of the things that had been written.  But it was news to all of them, and certainly they were not aware of a First Presidency statement way back when that said, “This is doctrinal,” which the Church conveniently gets about.  “This was never doctrine.  There were a few church leaders who said things, but they weren’t inspired.”  That’s the way that our collective memories are.

Fifty years from now, when gays are accepted in the Church, our collective memories of Prop 8 will be, “Oh, there were a few church leaders who said this, but it was never doctrine.  The Proclamation on the Family was never canonized.  We’ll just forget about it.”  And people will forget about it.

(Morris Thurston, January 17, 2014)

Solomon: There is a line that I always loved from Lucretius.  He said, “The sublime is the art of exchanging easier for more difficult pleasures.”  The presumption of that formulation is that the more difficult pleasures are actually better than the easier pleasures.  That is why one does that.  Being in a marriage and having children is the greatest pleasure, but it is certainly not the easiest pleasure.  It is not like eating ice cream.  It takes a lot of effort and work, and I feel like that is where, to me, the Mormon Church is missing its point.  Though I don’t expect that that epigram from Lucretius would be the basis of church policy, I think what the Church should ideally do, and does appear to do in the context of straight relationships, is to support people in crossing from the easier pleasure of momentary carnal satisfaction, into the more difficult pleasure of love and family and relationship.

(Andrew Solomon, March 28, 2011)

“[p. 712] Religious doctrine on matters relating to race and sexuality has been relentlessly dynamic: the Word of God has changed constantly.  Religious leaders and thinkers have a natural tendency to emphasize the continuity between foundational text drafted in the past and proscriptions followed in the present—but there is no way to pretend that doctrine is the same today as it was fifty years ago.”  William N. Eskridge, Jr., “Noah’s Curse: How Religion Often Conflates Status, Belief, and Conduct to Resist

Antidiscrimination Norms,” Georgia Law Review 45:657-720, Spring 2011)

Williams: People keep asking, “What’s next for Equality Utah?  You have achieved these two major, landmark victories, so what’s next for the movement?”  The Civil Rights Act came in 1965, and has racism left our country?  Hell no!  You had the Equal Pay Act in 1963, I think, and Utah still has the largest gender wage gap in the country.  Because you have legal equality, that does not mean that hearts and minds change.  So the work that we must continue to do is to open hearts and change hearts.  Inasmuch as that is our goal, we are very much like the Mormon Church.

(Troy Williams, March 30, 2015)