Like many of you, my heart has been heavy lately. Tragedy, war, natural disasters, anger, contention, confusion, and growing divisiveness, both in and out of the church, have led me to my knees, pleading for understanding and light. And, while I am not sure if adding my voice to an already saturated conversation will benefit anyone, my heart will not let me out of this one.
My brother is gay. Other people whom I love are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. Most are, or have been, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have seen their struggle firsthand and have spent the better part of the last two years listening and trying to understand the challenges of church members who identify as LGBTQ.
I also have an unwavering testimony of the gospel. I believe those who lead this church are called of God, which means I support and sustain them. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has been my favorite apostle for as long as I can remember. His eloquent words have penetrated the depths of my soul more times than I can count. So, if you are struggling to reconcile your love for Elder Holland, your testimony of the gospel, and your support for friends in the LGBTQ+ community, I see you.
For the past week and a half, rainbows have been the theme on social media. I love seeing the support and charity offered to those hurting because of Elder Holland’s words to the BYU faculty, staff, and administration. In the days since that talk, I have spent a great deal of time listening to and learning from those who are struggling. I understand where they are coming from and have empathy for them in their pain.
One thing is bothering me, though. For all the rainbows of support, there is a noticeable hole in the conversation. Other than sparse words of love for Elder Holland, few people are saying anything to support him or the church leaders in general.
Why is that?
I would be willing to bet on the idea that a large population of church members feels like I do. They love their LGBTQ+ friends and family members, AND they love and sustain the Brethren. There is no either/or, us against them in their minds. There is only “how can we be better together?” They may not understand how everything will work out in the end, but they cling to their faith that God is guiding those who lead the church and, therefore, everything will somehow work out. But they do not feel safe saying that anywhere outside the confines of their homes, lest they be wrongfully labeled as bigoted, homophobic, or hateful.
So, the public conversation remains largely one-sided.
One-sided conversations are dangerous. They make it feel as if there is a singular acceptable way to view the world or, in this case, the church. And if you see things differently, you may feel like you are on an island, alone in your seemingly shameful views.
But wasn’t it okay and even celebrated to support the Brethren a few weeks ago? And now, based on the public discourse surrounding recent events, it feels like shaky, ignominious ground.
If a house divided against itself cannot stand, we have some work to do in the church – work of understanding and charity on both sides of this and every issue.
I freely admit that I do not understand all things, especially those of this complexity. I wish I could see the big picture and how all the pieces fit together. But, for now, my vision is limited, which means I have a choice. I can choose to believe that our leaders have been misguided or have made mistakes when I do not understand or agree with what they say. Or, I can choose to walk by faith, accepting that I do not know all things and clinging to what I do know until further light comes.
I choose faith. And, with that, I believe the Brethren are in constant communication with heaven. Yes, they are human, which means they will make mistakes. But who am I to decide if they have made a mistake when I do not have all the information? I have not sat in their councils, heard their prayers, or wrestled with the weight of the world that is constantly on their shoulders. I do not know what it is like to walk in their shoes, trying to balance love for all with a God-given responsibility to speak out on issues that will undoubtedly cause controversy and, in some instances, pain.
So, I will give them grace. And, when I grapple with things they say that are difficult to hear, I will take my concerns to the Lord. I have faith that He can see the big picture, and the things that are uncertain to me are sure to Him. He knows what will happen, and I can trust in His vision and His timing.
It is my firm testimony that Christ, through His Atonement, will eventually make everything right. He will fix our brokenness, heal our hearts, and bless us with more light and joy than we can imagine. He will advocate our cause to the Father, and we will be made whole through Him. Perfect. Complete.
But, until then, we must live in a fallen world, wrestling with issues that will test our faith, our patience, and our resolve. How will we stand together if there is no room for compassion and charity for all: those who struggle, those who remain steadfast in their faith, and those whom the Lord has called to lead in this time when confusion, controversy, and contention reign?
Again, I love the LGBTQ+ community. I have witnessed their pain and can testify of its heart-wrenching difficulty. My heart goes out to each person who feels hurt, neglected, misunderstood, or marginalized. As a culture, we need to do better in opening our arms and our hearts.
But, to those who feel torn because you love your LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters AND you support and sustain the Brethren, you are not alone. You are not on shaky, shameful ground, and your voice belongs in the conversation.
If you do not want to speak up, you may consider my words your own. There is room at the table for all who wish to be there. And, to keep our house from crumbling, together, we must stand.