On Monday, October 5, a Facebook friend wrote an open letter to Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in regards to Elder Oaks's talk during the Saturday evening session of the 179th Semiannual General Conference. Some excerpts from the letter:
... I was deeply offended by your speech during the LDS church’s General Conference this past weekend. In this speech you told parents of LGBT children that it is alright to withhold love from a child who wants to embrace their true selves as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered person. ... What type of message is it when a man who people are taught is a prophet tells them they are undeserving of their parents love and acceptance just because of the way they were born? ...
I am a proud member of the LGBT community in Utah. ... Mr. Oaks we can only hope to undo the damage that you do to others by so casually saying things that have no bearing on you but effect the entire future of others’ lives.
Apparently not one to lose momentum with the LGBT community, Elder Oaks gave a talk at BYU-Idaho not twenty-four hours ago that has released another wave of vitriol. Some samples from Facebook friends:
- I assume that the nature of the talk was not so much to tackle the issue of the impingment [sic] of religious freedom, but more to justify and explain why the Church is being seen in a negative light. He had the audacity to compare the backlash against the members of the Church to the oppression of blacks in the Civil Rights Era. That's right, he's comparing the members to the oppressees, not the oppressors. The wolf is in the sheeps [sic] clothing and is bleating in alarm because it now has a bad image.
- You'd think the LDS Church would stop shooting itself in the foot. Go back to gospels teaching (sic), instead of whining at the pulpit. Good one Oaks!
- what a lying piece of shit. He is the playground bully and he has lied, hidden expenditures, hidden his agenda, financed it all ... and now claims the church is the victim??? I call BULLSHIT!!!
As I said, I am conflicted. As a gay man I want to fight for civil rights, protections, and responsibilities for LGBT people. I want to scream BULLSHIT!!! at Elder Oaks and any others who have the audacity to say they are completely in the right on the issues. I want to see everyone who joined and/or supported the religious coalition the LDS church joined to pass Prop 8 held accountable for the lies, misdirections, fear mongering, and all the other ways they ignored facts, reason, and logic to push their beliefs. I am so disgusted by the hypocrisy of those claiming the moral high ground and "authority" I am physically ill. (For the sake of some brevity I will not re-catalog the LDS church's sins of hypocrisy on these issues at this time.) If I believed it would help I would shout from the rooftops, violently beat people's faces into concrete, and even, as Mahatma Gandhi writes, "I would destroy that system today, if I had the power. I would use the most deadly weapons, if I believed that they would destroy it" ("Man and Machine"). But violence and destruction do not improve the situation; such actions would only make mine the greater sin.
And here I come to the issues I have with LGBT society and culture, or what I call the "media popular" versions there of. I am weary of the anger and vitriol that flows so freely. As a man of faith, and especially coming from an LDS faith tradition, I often feel at great odds with the LGBT community. I have constantly faced and endured criticism and hatred for just identifying as LDS, wearing a CTR ring, or finding any bit of an idea from LDS scripture or literature that I agree with.
Case in point, Elder Oaks's talk from the Saturday evening session of the 179th Semiannual General Conference. Taken by itself, I found the talk to be very appropriate and not containing what I have seen many accusing Elder Oaks of saying. (At the same time, given what he has said and done in other places Elder Oaks has come close to saying or somehow endorsing what people have accused him of.) At the basic root of the talk I found much to agree with Elder Oaks, particularly in regards to my issues with LGBT society and culture. It saddens me when I look around and see so many people going down a self-destructive path. It disturbs me even more when so many justify it to themselves and others by saying "God loves me." Every time I have gone to a church where LGBT people are welcome it feels hollow and more of an ego stroking session than sincere spirituality as the minister harps on and on about God loving gays. Yes, God loves us, but that doesn't mean He is handing out free rides to eternity. In my personal spiritual quest to reconcile my spirituality and sexuality one of the great messages I received from the Spirit was that while God accepts my sexuality and it is best for me to seek a male partner I don't have carte blanche on sexual behavior: I do not believe casual sexual hook ups are healthy, mentally or physically; I do not believe the way to find a boyfriend is to sleep around until I find a guy who wants to have sex with me more than once; I do not believe constant sexual innuendo is a healthy form of speaking about sex and sexuality--I believe it is the opposite extreme of treating sexual discussions as an absolute taboo. I am tired of trying to date, only to be required to wade through seas of men only looking for their next sexual escapade. I am tired of being expected to condone self-destructive behavior. I am tired of the bitchiness, the riotous lifestyles, and anger I am expected to immerse myself in.
I am tired.
So, I am left in a limbo, the space between worlds. I am both and neither, a complex entity. Occasionally, I hear a voice or a hand is extended for a moment. At the end of the day, however, it is only me and God in this place.