In 2014 Elder Henry B. Eyring gave a talk in Rome in which he spoke of his feelings before marrying his wife decades earlier. He told the story as evidence of the happiness and personal fulfillment that can come with marriage. As a single man whose work and studies were going well Elder Eyring thought he was happy and content because in addition to his work and school success he had time to serve and play tennis often. But, when an assignment took him to a meeting in New Hampshire he saw a young woman in the crowd. He had never seen her before and a powerful thought came to him that if he could only be with her he could become every good thing he ever wanted to be. Now, after decades of marriage, Elder Eyring says that he has, in fact, become a happier and better person as he has loved and lived with her. (1)
None of us has any doubt that this is true. This is a core principle in the LDS faith, that we can become better people, and become more like our Heavenly Parents, by entering into the covenant of marriage, promising to love, honor, cherish, and serve our spouse throughout time and eternity. What a beautiful blessing! Are we really to believe only straight sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parents are deserving of this ennobling and elevating gift? More and more people, including members of the church, think not and to borrow a phrase, the thought makes reason stare. Yet, current policies of the LDS church deny this gift to approximately five percent of the human race. The policies do not agree that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender should love and be loved, get married, and have physical intimacy and a family with the person they most naturally love. If gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people do pursue this path, the path that every other member of the church is encouraged to take, they will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including excommunication.
How many of you would be willing to wake up tomorrow morning and never experience love in your life? My guess is not many. This, of course, includes the prophets and apostles who often find another spouse not long after their first spouse dies. Why do they do that? Perhaps it is because they, like all of us, long for love and companionship. The Lord said, it is not good that the man should be alone. We all have a spark of divine knowing, call it our conscience or the light of Christ, that love is why we are here. Love is the reason for our existence. The more kinds of love that we can nourish and foster during our mortal probation the more we will become even as our Heavenly Parents. “Now is the time for men to prepare to meet God. Yea; behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). This scripture teaches us that we have been placed on this earth to grow and develop and to do all that we can, in this life, to become more like our Savior and Heavenly Parents. According to LDS.org “marriage is a laboratory for godhood. The responsibilities and opportunities of marriage in its mortal sphere are analogous to the work and purposes of our Heavenly Parents.” (2)
In Matthew 7:20 we learn an important principle in discerning good from evil, a crucial part of becoming more Christlike. In these verses the Savior’s enemies are trying to destroy and discredit him. They accuse him of performing miracles and healings by the power of the devil. The Savior responds to his accusers, “wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”. He instructs them wisely, to judge his actions by what those actions bring about, by what they create. All that the Savior did and said has stood the test of time and has born good fruit (brought forth many blessings) in the lives of millions of people.
We can use this same principle when considering the LGBTQ policies of the LDS church. What are the fruits of these policies? What do these policies produce? Of LGBTQ Mormons and ex Mormons, 73 percent surveyed showed signs of post traumatic stress as a result of the teachings they heard at church. (3) According to the American Psychological Association LGBTQ people who are not affirmed or allowed to express their sexuality often experience division within families, including parents turning away from children. They commonly experience shame and trauma which are linked to increase in substance abuse, and mental illness. All of this must be considered in the disproportionate rate of suicide among LGBTQ people. (4)
Conversely, what are the fruits of marriage? They are love, joy, companionship, stable families, better emotional and physical health, opportunities for service and for personal and spiritual growth. What are the fruits of same sex marriage? They are exactly the same: love, joy, companionship, stable families, better emotional and physical health, opportunities for service and for personal and spiritual growth. All valid research shows that a stable, loving relationship is the absolute cornerstone of human happiness and emotional well-being. Love is the lifeblood of our species and our world. (5) Even so, there are those today who discredit same sex partnerships and marriage and call them evil, which flies in the face of so many same sex couples.
A friend of mine, Debbra Palmer, who was raised LDS and who has been happily married to her wife for four years, says she thinks that people (and the church) will eventually change their views. But she also expresses deep sadness, knowing that the church and its membership are missing out on opportunities to elevate and celebrate genuine love between same sex couples. Until there is change, she hopes that same sex couples will look to those who can embrace them fully, because so much joy comes from romantic love. Love heals.
Fortunately, in the New Testament, the Savior already instructed us on the way to know if a thing is good or if it is evil. I invite you to follow the same admonition that our Lord and Savior gave to the people of His day when they needed instruction on how to judge between good and evil. I invite you to judge these things by their fruits. Judge them by what they produce. If you do, I believe you will find the fruits of same sex marriage to be very good.
- Renaissance of Marriage; To Become as One, Henry B. Eyring, November 18, 2014
- LDS Marriage & Family flashcards
- Brian William Simmons, Coming out Mormon: an examination of religious orientation, spiritual trauma, and ptsd among mormon and ex-mormon LGBTQQA adults, pg 78. University of Georgia
- Parents’ rejection of a child’s sexual orientation fuels mental health problems. American Psychological Association. Monitor on Psychology. March 2009, vol 40, No. 3.
- Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships, pg. 6-7