Since my Ordain Women profile went up, recently, I’m now a Mormon activist for gender equality in the LDS church. The following is a very bald summary of a long personal essay. If all you care about is the main ideas, you can read and judge this. If you want to understand how I arrived where I am, I’ve linked to the essay at the end. I decided it was too long so I’m also publishing this summary. I offer it with love.
- I’ve been mildly depressed for what seems like a very long time. It doesn’t go away. In seeking to relieve my depression, I’ve gone on a journey that has changed my views of and relationship with the LDS church.
- I’m a Mormon to my core. It is literally in all my family connections and stories, and there is nothing more beautiful to me than the Gospel. If anything I feel more Mormon now than I did as a less critical youth.
- Starting in High School and regarding the topic of Evolution, I eventually accepted that church leaders could be wrong about really beautiful and scientifically significant things, despite evidences that still satisfy me of these leaders’ inspiration on other matters. (I credit Elder Packer with an important contribution to my recognizing the Spirit.)
- Because of my poor life experiences with oft-repeated teachings of the church regarding sexuality, I discovered that not only could church leaders be wrong about some factual topics, they could actively and repeatedly teach things that were harmful to me and others. (Yet Elder Oaks dictated a brief, but personal response to a letter I sent regarding my struggles and how I felt hurt by his and others’ messages, and within a short time he spoke in a way that addressed some of my concerns that had never been publicly addressed before.)
- I worked really hard over many years to help people feel wanted at church. I made myself fit less well, in superficial ways, so that they would feel they fit better. And I told and showed them in every way I could that they were wanted and needed. (President Hinckley was key in inspiring me to reach out and value everyone, with his message that everyone needs a friend at church.)
- Because of the experiences of people very close to me, I learned that there are people who don’t fit in the LDS church because the very structures and policies of the LDS church hurt them–not just a flawed Bishop or Stake President, but some loudly or repeatedly proclaimed and defended structures and practices were causing real harm. They weren’t leaving because of their own sin or laziness, but because they were being attacked with no sign of remedy or they were protecting someone they loved.
- So I speak for change in the LDS church because I believe it is right. Not because I believe church leaders are uninspired. Not because I think God needs me to fix the church. Not because I think I’m an expert and see all the issues at stake. Not because I think my voice should be heard by anybody, really. I’ve given up on “shoulds”. I speak simply because I want people who don’t dress right, people who don’t smell right, people who don’t act right, people who don’t believe right, people who were born with the wrong sexual orientation, or even the wrong gender, to know that I love them more than I love any institution–even the one that has defined my entire life. God can worry about fixing His church. I’ll worry about atonement. I want you to be part of me, even if you don’t fit in my church. Wherever we end up, we’ll make a Heaven.
Love, Your Brother,
Here’s my story if you want more of it.