To the Parents of Gay Children—I’m Sorry

mother-childA few months ago I wrote my sincere apology to my LGBT brothers and sisters. Both who are in the church and those who have left.

Today, I offer my apology to the Mormon and ex-Mormon parents of gay children.

Back in Time

Five years ago, I was the high priest group leader.  In one of our quorum meetings, the lesson topic was teaching the gospel to our children.  This scripture was highlighted:

Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.  D&C 68:25

One brother asked with concern, “How can I know if I taught my children as I should?”  He then shared some of the bad decisions a couple of his children had made.

The balance of the meeting was filled with a fascinating back and forth discussion.  Finally, somewhat of a consensus was reached.  If your kids follow the commandments, then you can know that you taught them well during their childhood.  However, I don’t think this sat well with a few quorum members, including me.

I was about to close the meeting, when a brother interrupted me.  He had been totally silent during the entire discussion.  This good man happens to have 3 gay children.  As he began to speak, I realized how insensitive the discussion and conclusions had been to his situation.  His voice betrayed a sense of discomfort, maybe even pain.  He said something like this, “I think I did a pretty good job raising my kids.  They have their free agency to make their own choices.  All my kids are very good people.”  In the following years, my friend has seldom ventured back into our priesthood meetings.

I’m Sorry

To my friend and to all parents of gay children….I apologize.   You see, we were taught by our church that ‘blame’ for children being gay rests on the shoulders of the parents, on bad choices made by the kids, and on other, now discredited, speculations.

There is no ‘blame.’  Blame doesn’t even belong in an LGBT discussion.  Maybe…credit, but not blame.  And I give the credit to God.  Your children came into the world perfect.  Just as God created them.  Beautiful babies with beautiful spirits.  Blame and shame rests only on the shoulders of parents who do not embrace, love and champion their gay child.

I Apologize for What my Church has Taught

hartman-rector

These words were pronounced in General conference by Elder Hartman Rector;  April 1981-Sunday afternoon session.  I’m sorry that these and many other misguided statements were ever part of our church teachings.

I’m Sorry that We Accepted These Teachings as Truth

That’s right.  I did.  We did.  We absorbed this erroneous instruction from our leaders.  As a result, an unfounded prejudice towards gays permeated our LDS culture.  And…towards their parents…who hadn’t provided “a happy family experience.”

Unfortunately, these hurtful beliefs still abound within the church membership.  Our leaders have done little to counter the unsound teachings of just a few years ago.  A few months ago, I told my home teachers that during their next visit I wanted to discuss the November 2015 policy regarding gay couples.  I commend them for their dutiful and well meaning response.  They brought a paper discussing how homosexuals become homosexual.  Guess what was at the top of the list.  It’s the parents fault!  Several other reasons followed.  All totally discredited by modern science and experience.

I don’t hold any of those views today.  But, I did.  I’m sorry, my dear friends who have gay children.

I’m Sorry That We Are Now Hiding Our Past Teachings

You can find the audio and print versions of Elder Rector’s talk HERE.  But, there’s a big problem.  The written words don’t match the spoken words.  The quote above, along with the entire section dealing with homosexuality, have been scrubbed from the written version.  You can listen to the deleted section starting at the 6:45 minute mark.

We should not silently whitewash our past teachings about families with gay children. Rather, we should condemn and disavow them.  Otherwise, this false and damaging ‘knowledge’ will live on in our culture until it dies of old age.

Well, I’m disavowing it right now.  I disavow the false theories that were presented as truth in our recent past.  My dear friends with gay children, the state of happiness in your home had no effect on the orientation of your children.  I’m sorry that we are now hiding what was once openly taught.

I Love You

Finally, if you have gay kids, I love you and your beautiful children.  If you are gay, you had better know that I love you.  Our society is marching forward in a wonderfully positive direction.  I love it that the younger generation has no compunction regarding LGBT.  Thank heavens.

I also love my church.  It has beauties.  It has blemishes.  Ignoring our imperfection only leads to greater imperfection.  So, no way am I going to ignore.

 

A Transgender Human Being Makes Her Appearance

Good Samaritan2

Sometimes I struggle with the current path I’ve chosen.  I’ve taken shots from both inside and outside of the church.  Sometimes I feel like quitting.  Giving up my hopeless crappy quest.

Then a strike of lightning!  Thundering directly into my heart.  Raining tears from my eyes.

I have many gay friends and family.  But, that I know of, I have never met a transgender person.  After reading the Church’s apology “You’re not Broken–I’m Sorry,” she sought me out and sent this touching message.

“Thank you so much for the heartfelt apology. I’m very moved. You’ve hit on a heavy part of my heart. I was so confused for so long. I believed in the gospel so deeply, and it caused my self hate and shame to go even deeper. I pushed so hard against the bloom within me. I’m so thankful there are members like you, sharing and standing up for right. I hope your words will mend hearts and save lives.
Thank you.”

A transgender woman.  Lifting my heart.  Encouraging my path.  Giving me hope.

All I feel right now is this:  I love Jesus Christ. I love His teachings. I love His example.

Did Jesus really say that I can only go to HIS heaven if I love the least-of-these?  I want to go to HIS heaven.

You’re Not Broken—I’m Sorry

Budapest Shoes

Children’s Apology

Last year, my wife and I traveled to the congenial country of Hungary.  We toured The Great Synagogue of Budapest, the largest in Europe.  Hungary is still struggling to come to terms with its treatment of their Jewish population during WWII.  By war’s end, at least 70% had been murdered.

Our tour guide told us of a recent concert she had attended.  It was a singing & dancing group of German high schoolers.  At the beginning of the program, a couple of the children stepped forward.  They apologized for crimes their country had perpetrated during that long-ago war.

The story touched me.  Born years after this horror, these children had had no part in it.  They were not official spokespersons for their country.  Yet, they were willing to apologize to a people who had been wronged.

Here’s my attempt to follow their poignant example.  An official spokesperson for the LDS Church, I’m not.  But, I am the church.  At least part of the church.  At least a single part of the church.  And this little part of the church, along with any who will join in my cry say,  I am Sorry!  We are sorry!

Rainbow Ribbon

To My Gay Friends, Both Known and Un

For all the ways we’ve been wrong—I’m Sorry.

  • When I was young, church & culture tutored that gay was foul and perverted. I wish the prophet had spoken.  You weren’t broken.  We were wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • You chose to be gay.  So the leaders say.  I wish the prophet had spoken.  You’re not broken.  We were wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • chairTo some, they tried to shock your gay away.  At the Lord’s college, you were strapped in a chair, electrodes placed down there.  Movies of naked men were turned on.  If you were turned on, an electric shock in turn was turned on.  You wanted the strongest current to be cured.  But, gay doesn’t work in those ways.  You were simply tortured in those days.  An elder from my mission endured this, in submission.  Today, he’s still gay.  From the church, he’s parted ways.  Oh, how I wish the prophet had spoken.  You were not broken.  I went along, although I didn’t know.  Now, I’m so, so, sorry.  Tears blur my eyes.  I just want to cry….I’m sorry. I’m sorry
  • You were told to pray and pray and soon the gay would just go away.  Of course it didn’t.  You became depressed.  Maybe next time pray and pray ALL of the day.  Still gay and more depression came your way.  With no cure, some couldn’t endure.  By their own hand they sent themselves to the heavenly land.  I wish the prophet had spoken.  These precious people were not broken. We were dead wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • “Get married,” your respected leaders said!  You faithfully followed, while full of dread.  Your gay didn’t magically go away.  Now, with children and spouse, heartache and shame, you finally came out, and all suffered pain.  I wish the prophet had spoken.  Now a family’s broken. We were wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • Finally, something sure, that would result in a cure. You agree to participate in reparative therapy.  Humiliated, disgraced, and degraded again.  You cry because no matter what you can’t win. Now, this procedure is discredited & thrown in the trash bin.  Why couldn’t the prophet have spoken?  You were not broken.  We were wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • With Prop 8, we tried to legislate away, the rights to marry if you were gay.  I don’t know if the prophet had spoken.  What I know is, you are not broken.  This was wrong.  I went along.  I’m sorry.
  • Last November the edict came.  Out of love was the claim.  If the gay marry, throw them away.  Really?  It just sounds wrong.  These are my friends.  I don’t want to follow along.  I’m sorry.
  • November’s policy also contains what I consider to be a stain. Children of parents who are gay, will have God’s choicest blessings taken away.  No baptism at 8, no holy spirit to guide, no priesthood at any rate.  With shame, the policy will make  kids want to run & hide.  Has a prophet really spoken?  The rules are broken.  We are wrong.  This time I will not go along.  I’m sorry.

I wish the prophet had spoken.  You are not broken.  We were wrong.  Next time, I will not just go along.  I love who you are, just as you are.  Of that, I feel very strong.

I’m Sorry.