This past Sunday Elder Quentin L. Cook came to my stake in Boise, Idaho to speak. We haven’t had an apostle come to my stake in 17 years so I really anticipated and looked forward to hearing and learning from him. I showed up to the stake center early so that I could get one of the soft seats. Unfortunately, the rest of my stake had the same idea so I ended up sitting on one of the metal fold out chairs after all. Still, I was eager to soak up any words of wisdom or advice from an apostle of the Lord, even if my behind had to get a little numb to do so. Elder Cook’s message did not disappoint. What captured my interest the most was his counsel regarding families and especially marriage. I just got married last month so I’m interested in learning everything I can about how to be a better wife and how to strengthen my marriage. Of course, Elder Cook was not referring to gay marriages, like mine, when he spoke of the importance of each spouse being an equal partner. And although I know his intention is not to support or strengthen gay marriages when he taught the importance of spouses using kind words with each other, I clung to that advice and recognized the truth in it. I silently vowed to be kinder with how I speak to my wife.
I have been an active member of the LDS church my whole life, even during the most painful months and years of dealing honestly with my sexual orientation and how that fits with my testimony of the gospel. So naturally I seek wisdom and learning from apostles and other general authorities in the church, especially regarding the most valuable and cherished part of my life, which is my marriage. But I have to admit, it feels a bit odd and a little unsettling to find myself looking for answers and guidance on my relationship with my wife from church leaders who have called my marriage “counterfeit” and who have written a policy declaring that I should be subject to possible loss of church membership because I married the person I am in love with.
The vast majority of gay Mormons stop attending church and I understand and support them. Many people wonder why I continue to attend. Sometimes I wonder that myself. For me, it comes down to two things:
- I love the gospel and I want to gather with my fellow saints to study it and
- For now, I believe Heavenly Father wants me to. It is as simple as that. Like most active Mormons I know, I want to do what I believe God wants me to do. I am very blessed to have supportive and affirming friends in my ward who are so welcoming and who love me.
One of my greatest desires is to also have supportive and affirming general church leaders. What a blessing it would be for everyone involved if the men and women in leadership could be like my personal friends who attended my wedding and who are eager to support me as I strive for a strong and happy a marriage. Wouldn’t that benefit and bless all of us at a personal, ward, and societal level? It is my hope and prayer that someday soon people at all levels of the church will work together in a spirit of love and humanity to create stronger marriages and families for everyone.