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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jordan’s Story

In January of 2012, Jordan (not his real name, changed at his request to protect his identity) was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two charges:

1: An inappropriate sexual relationship with someone of his own gender
2: An act of aggression against the church, stemming from his response to questions from investigators from his former mission about the church’s involvement in Prop 8

I would like to note from the start that the first charge—an inappropriate sexual relationship—occurred in 2010, and Jordan had previously gone through a disciplinary council and had resumed full fellowship after following the guidelines set forth at that council—and since then has been living within the confines of the policy as we understand it today.

It’s also important to understand that the allegations surrounding the acts of aggression stemming from Prop 8 occurred in 2008, when Jordan had just returned to California after faithfully serving his mission in another state.

This is Jordan’s story.


Me: How long have you been a Mormon? Tell me about your mission.
Jordan: I have been a member for 18 years—I’m 27 now. My family joined the church when I was nine, and I was baptized into the faith along with my whole family. For my mission, I was originally called to serve in the Philippines, but at the last minute was reassigned to a state here in the US, where I served a faithful, honorable mission.

When I returned from my mission to my home ward in California, I was asked to serve as a missionary there—and was set apart, which is traditional for missionaries. In my home ward, one of the current missionaries had been sent home by emergency transport, and the local mission president knew I’d just returned, so he asked me to step in and cover until a replacement could be formally assigned to my home ward. I did so happily—I loved being on a mission—and served about an additional two months as a missionary in my home ward and the adjacent ward.

Me: When did you know you were gay?
Jordan: I’ve known since I was about eight, I think. I knew that I was different than the other boys I had as friends, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to be able to define what that difference was. As a kid, I just got a long better with girls and had much more in common with them. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the ‘difference’ I felt between me and other boys was actually my sexual orientation—that I was gay.

Me: Does your family know? What has been their response?
Jordan: Yes, my family knows. At first, it was really difficult—they didn’t speak to me for two years. But since then, they’ve softened a lot and have come to understand this is how I am—that I can’t and don’t want to change—and they want to be in my life. If you looked at my family life now, you’d never even guess there had been such a big divide for so long, so things are good now. And, in fact, I think being gay has been a blessing—it’s allowed me to have some really meaningful conversations with my Dad about things that happened in my childhood, and has opened up a window of communication we didn’t have before. It’s actually strengthened my family ties in that way.

Me: What were the events that led to your excommunication?
Jordan: On my formal church record, there is a notation of my disciplinary council that was held back in 2010 for having sexual contact with my boyfriend 9 months previous to the council. My then current Stake President knew about it, and everything was fine—I thought it was a closed issue.

I think I need to talk about my past council to give this some context. I went to my previous Stake President and told him I’d had sex with my boyfriend a few months earlier. I wasn’t compelled to go, no one forced me, but I felt like it was the right thing for me to do. My Stake President then—he was really kind. His response to my admission was to say that he felt that pushing me away from the church—expelling me—would increase my spiritual danger, so he wanted to keep me closer. He told me that under the conditions of the informal probation, I was to attend the temple twice a week and meet with my bishop twice a week. His philosophy was that I was in spiritual jeopardy—and that being punitive—punishing me by pushing me from the church would increase that jeopardy. At the time, I felt like it was a slap on the wrist—but in retrospect, really appreciate his compassion and feel like that was the correct way to handle it. I felt like I grew closer to my Savior through that process.

Well, my new Stake President—he had other ideas. Something prompted him to look through my records and call me in, I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I think that some of my friends who knew about my past council approached him and said they didn’t think it had been handled correctly—that I should have been dealt with more harshly.

When he called me into his office, he told me that this had been completely mishandled, that I should have been excommunicated from the get-go, and that following that there would be a mandatory year waiting period before I could even consider being re-baptized.

(Note: According to the 2010 ‘Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops’ there is no policy in the LDS church that mandates excommunication for sexual transgression, homosexual or heterosexual. There is no place in the handbook or anywhere in LDS policy or doctrine that makes an ‘if/then’ statement when it comes to church discipline. Each case is taken on its own merits, and as such, is complicated—like life itself. The decision to excommunicate or disfellowship a member is always left to the discretion of the presiding local authorities. Excommunicating and disfellowshipping LGBT members has, however, become something we culturally do as a faith. But it is a choice local leaders make; it is not a mandated outcome.)

I do know that he never talked to my former Stake President to understand his reasoning for the decision he made. And even though my previous Stake President was okay with how I’d done, my new one viewed it as a problem.  At first, I agreed with him, because he indicated there was mandatory excommunication and then this year waiting period to return. I didn’t know until I talked to you that’s not the case—there is no policy that states that.

At first I think he genuinely wanted to understand what had happened. But once he realized that I wouldn’t apologize for being gay nor would I apologize for the manner in which I broke my covenant, the whole spirit had changed from understanding to discipline.

At the same time, we had a missionary in our ward that I fell in love with. I’d told a few of my friends about it and one of them must have communicated that to the Stake President. In one of my meetings with him he spent 30 minutes berating me—with his voice raised so loud that people outside his office could hear—about my personal conduct and making sure I have respect for other people’s boundaries, under the wrong assumption that I had acted on my feelings about this missionary. And I had not! I tried to tell my Stake President that all I said to the missionary was this: “I hope that when I find that someone special in my life that he possesses all the great qualities you have.”

Whatever the Stake President had been told—what he was accusing me of—it wasn’t the truth! He said I made an inappropriate sexual advance on a full-time missionary that was unwanted and unwarranted. I tried to tell him what had really happened—that this wasn’t the truth—and he just kept interrupting me and telling me that he did not want to hear of this behavior anymore.

In fact, at one time he actually said to me, “I do not care to understand.”

Never, in my almost 20 years of service to this church, have I had a priesthood leader raise his voice and scold me in this fashion. Finally, I’d had enough. After 30 minutes of this, I stood up and said, “This interview is over. You’re so concerned about validating the misperceptions of a missionary and other people in this ward that you have absolutely no concern for hearing the truth, or even hearing my side. There is nothing more for me to say.” And I left.

Me: So this all happened even before your disciplinary trial? What was that experience like for you?
Jordan: During the council…the questions they asked me…oh my gosh. When the council concluded immediately upon arriving home I threw up, curled into the fetal position and cried the entire day. It was the worst thing I think I’ve ever experienced.

They were hurling questions at me about the events of 2010:
  • “What was the extent of your sexual interaction?”
  • “Who was the act committed with and is he a member as well?”
  • “Do you feel that your sexual tendencies have hindered your ability to have faith in Christ?”
  • “Have you ever been sexually abused as a child by anyone, family or non-family?”
  • “When you had sexual contact with this other man, did you fully recognize the repercussions of your actions and how it would affect his salvation?”

This council was no longer about the act itself, this was way bigger than I realized. This meeting was not about how to help me, it was to gather information. There was no opportunity for me to actually talk, to tell my side of things—and the repeated questions about my childhood, it felt so…dirty. It made me feel dirty and really uncomfortable. And some of these questions were coming from the Stake representatives that had been assigned to speak in my defense—but they were all in the same boat. It was so obvious to me there wasn’t a single person in that room that had my best interest at heart—no one wanted to listen, no one wanted to hear—they had their minds made up before this even began. It didn’t feel like a trial to me, it felt like an arraignment and sentencing.

One of the things that bothers me the most is I had a former Bishop in attendance I’d asked to be there—so I could at least have some emotional support, someone in my camp. But even he wouldn’t support me. When they asked me if I knew how my actions affected me and the man I broke my covenant with, my Bishop’s response (before I could respond myself) was: “Well, Brother Jordan had a learning disability in high school, so he probably didn’t understand the full repercussions of his actions.” So not only was he not on my side, I feel like he used confidential information about me to make me sound mentally incapacitated. I am certainly not mentally nor am I spiritually incapacitated!

Then we began the questions about Prop 8. In 2008, when I was serving my mission in Pennsylvania (not the actual state where he served; changed to protect his identity), I had some investigators that I’d stayed in contact with. They were great people, and they kind of had a challenge with the church’s stand on gays and lesbians, but were moving forward anyway.

When I left my mission and returned to California, several of them called me and asked me if it was true—if the church was backing Prop 8. I really didn’t know, and I told them that. A few days later, I attended a broadcast from Salt Lake that included the church’s stand on Prop 8, so then I knew it was true. When the investigators from Pennsylvania called me the next time, I was honest with them—I told them the truth. They asked me if I supported the church’s involvement, and I was honest with them again—I did not support it. I told them that it felt wrong to me for the church to get involved in a public policy issue—that the God I knew and loved would probably be embarrassed at the way this campaign preyed on people’s fear, paranoia, and ignorance.

I guess that my honesty was viewed as an act of aggression against the church. The questions they asked me about this didn’t feel like they came from a good place, either. One of the most troubling was when they asked me, “When you were asked questions about the church’s involvement by these investigators, did you receive a prompting from the Spirit to ignore the question?” I felt like what they were asking me is if Satan was enticing me to tell the truth!

When this whole thing started, I genuinely felt like it was approached with a spirit of friendship and support. But as time progressed, and more faulty information was fed to my Stake President, the entire process changed to what really felt like an attempt to protect this missionary from a predator—and that they viewed me as that predator. It also became clear that over time, this became less about the fact that I broke my covenants by having sex, and more about the fact that I broke my covenants by having sex with another man.

All told, the council lasted about two hours. At the end of it, I was excommunicated. I went home alone.

Jordan: Can we take a break?  I want to tell you something. Something I’ve never told anyone.
Me: Of course. What is it?

Jordan: I’m afraid….I’m afraid of telling this story.
Me: Why, Jordan?

Jordan: Well, in my last meeting with the Stake President, he gave me a strong…warning, I guess. He told me that I should refrain from talking to anyone about this, even my family. He told me I should keep this to myself, and if I did talk about it—and he found out—that there would be repercussions.

Me: I think it’s important for you to be honest, Jordan, and share your perspective. Why do you fear him? You’ve already been excommunicated.
Jordan: I am fearful of this man, Mitch. I am scared of him, plain and simple. It’s like—it’s like he’s bullied me—I don’t know what he can do to me, but I’m afraid to test him. One of the things I dreaded most about this whole council and trial is that I’m terrified of this man.

Me: Do you feel safe continuing? We’ll only continue if you feel okay with it.
Jordan: Yes…yes, I think it’s the right thing to do. I’m not going to cover for this man. I’m done lying for the church and protecting things like this. Let’s move on.

Me: Okay. I’m so sorry, Jordan. How did it make you feel to be expelled from a faith that you’ve considered a home—a sanctuary—your entire life?
Jordan: (sobbing) It hurts so much. In a very real way, it makes me feel like not only have I had family issues, but the one place I’ve always counted on—that I’ve always considered my home—they didn’t even want me. I translated that into God not wanting me anymore…to some extent, I guess, I still believe that’s true.

Me: We say that these councils are designed to help bring you closer to the Savior. That wasn’t the case for you?
Jordan: No! It made me question whether or not the Savior even cared about me! These men are supposed to be representatives of God and that line of questioning—it wasn’t about trying to help me, it was about how best to apply punishment! It was as if they were saying that who I am—a gay man—was responsible for God distancing himself from me so that I’d fail. They made this all my fault! While I accept full responsibility for my actions I also recognize in criminal justice terms, “the punishment didn’t fit the crime.” Though, to them, it seemed enough to condemn me.

Me: Do you think your testimony of our Savior will ever recover? Will it ever be the same?
Jordan: (sobbing) I hope so…I hope so. I really do. I don’t see a way to do that, if anything this has made me feel so distrustful of my Savior and God. I feel abandoned. If God were really in charge of this church, there would be some justice here. The only thing that was served in this process was finding reasons to expel me from the church. That doesn’t feel like the God I once knew.

I feel so betrayed…I trusted these men. I can understand non-members wanting to rip me apart and tear down my testimony, but this—these men are supposed to be my spiritual leaders! They’re supposed to help make me better. Instead their own biases clouded their judgment. These men only served one purpose that day and I find this most troubling—I feel like these men are doing the will of the adversary.

Me: So this has negatively impacted your view of the church and your leaders?
Jordan: Yes. After going through this, seeing what an unclean and unrighteous process it is—I think the church has lost its way. I’m a returned missionary, I know my church history, and I know my scriptures. When I compare this to the way the church was set up originally, it’s just not the same. I don’t believe Joseph Smith would stand for acts of persecution like this—he himself was persecuted! And the one thing he made so clear is we stand for ourselves but we don’t enforce our will on others—it’s morally irresponsible, but that’s exactly what we did in Prop 8. The church has gotten so involved in such dirty politics in so many ways—I don’t think I would ever go back. It doesn’t feel clean. And more importantly, I don’t think I could ever put myself at spiritual risk of being persecuted by men like this again. I don’t think I could take it.

Me: What are your hopes and dreams when it comes to intimacy, love and relationships? Do you see Mormonism playing any kind of role in your future?
Jordan: I would like to have a healthy relationship with a man I love. Will the church play a part? No. I don’t know what I feel about relationships, really—after spending a lifetime of hearing that being gay is wrong and unfulfilling…I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know what to feel. But being stripped of my faith, of such an important part of my identity, in some ways it makes me want to pursue that same level of safety and sanctuary in a committed monogamous relationship with a partner.  

Me: What is your biggest fear?
Jordan: That this is going to affect me for the rest of my life. This trauma…this betrayal—it’s left a huge scar on my soul. When I started meeting with these other missionaries a few weeks ago—just so I could feel the spirit a little bit—they told me they needed to get permission from my former Bishop to even meet with me anymore. I feel completely closed out from the one thing that used to be my bedrock. Even as a non-member, this still haunts me. It’s everywhere I turn. I’m afraid it will never go away, that I will never heal.

For the rest of my life, the 18 years I dedicated to my God through this church—that will haunt me. This…it’s ruined so many of my relationships, destroyed so many of my friendships. My support network is gone. And while it is gone, I fear that I will never be free of this, even when I’ve been presented with the prospect of a healthy relationship with a man, somehow the impression in the back of my mind came to the forefront of my mind telling me that no lasting happiness could be had in a same sex relationship.  

I don’t know what I’ll do now.

Me: So what do you think is next for you?
Jordan: I really don’t know. It’s not that I don’t have a testimony of the gospel, I believe in so much that is right about the gospel. But this has put more questions into my head than I had before, and I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to answer them. God is a God of many things—logic included. Nowhere in the Book of Mormon or in our scriptures do we talk about homosexuality, nowhere do we talk about these kinds of trials and councils—if it were important enough to God, He would have included it.

My relationship with God will never be back to the way it was. I don’t foresee that changing.


I’ve known Jordan now for several months—he was always an upbeat, optimistic young man. But his once cheery countenance has vanished. The smile I am used to hearing in his voice is gone. I had to pause several times in our conversation to allow him to recover. At times, he was sobbing so intensely it was impossible to understand his words. It was clear as we spoke that this process has shattered him.

In the literally thousands of stories I’ve heard from my fellow MoHos, this one left a scar on my soul deeper than most—I can only imagine the wound it left on Jordan’s. I walked away from our conversation feeling full of heartache at the deep level of pain and betrayal my brother feels as a result of a process that we tell ourselves is designed to bring people closer to the Savior.

We failed.

I fully acknowledge how difficult it is to be in a leadership capacity in this church—the demands are relentless, and we as leaders are very human, capable of fallibility. I acknowledge that this story is complex—full of hearsay, rumor, and innuendo. Yes, there may indeed be other sides to this, but this side—Jordan’s side—deserves to be told.

And independent of all those other factors, when someone walks away from a church meeting of any kind and says, “I don’t feel like my relationship with God can ever be repaired,” then something in the system—if not the system itself—has gone very wrong, indeed.

33 comments:

  1. This story breaks my heart. I had a similar experience in my council in regards that the person who was suppose to be there to support me seemed to ask the most damning questions. Though I was not excommunicated--probably because I'm female--my heart reaches for those that were.

    I understand the system currently in place ideally would be used to root out polygamists, sadly it has turned into a hunting ground for those who need comfort the most.

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  2. This story is heartbreaking. Thanks to both of you for having the courage to share it.
    I don't understand why our wards and stakes are so correlated that we all have the same lesson every Sunday, but the disciplinary councils are so local that mistakes like this can happen. It seems to me that Jordan had already taken care of the sex issue, and as for the Prop 8 question, he was just stating his opinion. Even in California, the Church didn't excommunicate people for thinking or voting differently. If every missionary who answered an investigator question with their own opinion were excommunicated, our missionary force would be a lot smaller. Based on these two incidents, it seems like they were less concerned about Jordan's actions and more concerned about stamping out homosexuality.

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  3. "I am fearful of this man, Mitch. I am scared of him, plain and simple. It’s like—it’s like he’s bullied me—I don’t know what he can do to me, but I’m afraid to test him. One of the things I dreaded most about this whole council and trial is that I’m terrified of this man. "

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about my own stake president, and I have no idea how to move past it. I am starting to watch my children be affected because of my feelings for our stake leadership. It is breaking me apart.
    And this is just from trying to renew temple recommends in 2009-2010. From vocally speaking on my blog my support of gay marriage and disapproval with the church's participation in the election in CA. If it had been excommunication, I don't know how I would have handled it.

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  4. thanks so much for sharing this.

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  5. I think sometimes we let fear override the spirit, and there is a lot of fear out there over homosexuality. God is not afraid, and loves all of his children. I'm so sorry Jordan. I don't think God gives up on people just because they're not members of the church anymore. God sees our hearts and our relationship with Him is what is most important. I truly believe that all these things are mistakes that will be made right.

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  6. Jordan's story is heartbreaking. I wish I could be there to help things get better for him.

    Aside from that, this story illustrated a significant challenge many gay church members face. Once you go through church discipline, you get a black mark put on your membership record, and that notation will follow you around for the rest of your life. This means you will always be at risk for new restrictions, limited callings, and church discipline, especially since church leadership changes every few years.

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  7. I am horrified and saddened by this story, and want to express my deepest sympathy to Jordan. But I also wish to beg him not to lose faith in our Savior over this. The statement that "If God were really in charge of this church, there would be some justice here." is absolutely not true. Your stake president has done terrible things to you, for which he will be accountable to God in the end. But God does not, and never has, prevented such injustices, even when committed by His representatives. The ultimate example is our Savior Himself, who was also subjected to a mockery of a trial by the duly authorized leaders of His own Church, and condemned to death by those who should have loved Him. We, as gay people, have the terrible opportunity to follow this part of His example. Please never forget Him, and never forget that He loves you.

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  8. Jason, if you're reading this hopefully you are finding spiritual and emotional support outside the Church. It is available. Try Mormon Stories and the MoHo group on Facebook to start.

    You're not alone! There are plenty of gay men in your situation who establish new, happy, wonderful lives after excommunication. It will get better if you hang in there. In fact, sometimes it gets amazing even though that's hard to imagine during the dark times.

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  9. "We failed" is an understatement.

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  10. I am so happy that you, a current church leader, had the strength to share this. I can see how you might lose your position by supporting this poor man. I can just hear several LDS members saying "well the people of the church aren't perfect". I disagree, it seems to me that these members of the church leadership acted as a lynch mob. So many people organized to act in this manner can't be a coincidence. I am curious what the church leaders book says about a member who commits child abuse. If the "standard" practice for consenting men to have sex is supposedly excommunication then I'm sure that the punishment for an adult and a unconsenting minor has to be far worse, but I'll bet that it has been treated with less action in the past.

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  11. Mitch,
    I feel so badly for this young brother. It is here that it is critically important that someone, specifically a leader, reach out to him in love and mercy. The Savior told the Nephites, (I paraphrase) "Neverthelesss, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye sha minister unto him, for ye know not but what he shall repent, and turn unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal him, and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto him." I am so sorry for what this brother went through, but now is the time to reach out to him in love and take pains to make him feel welcome at church. A leader who suffers with him, carries his pain with him, and shares in his struggles will take part in his joy, be overcome with the love of the Savior, and be bonded in love as brothers. And this brother who is now down, could become the guy who always gets 100% home teaching, volunteers at nearly every service assigement, and strengthes those around him with his testimony. We all have times when we are down, and we need a Priesthood holder to represent Christ to us to restore our faith in ourselves and that we belong in this Church. My heart goes out to him and everyone in his position; the field is white ready for the harvest, and I thank God for those precious few who hear the Spirit and, being already full of charity, lift their brother up and win his soul for the Savior, and their most faithful ally in life.

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  12. What a terrible thing to endure. The scars must be very deep. I too have seen horrible things like this done by so called religious leaders. There are so many loving and accepting Christian Churches. Once Jordan feels comfortable doing so, I hope he will give them a try. I still remember when my dear sweet transgender friend sent me a picture of her Christian baptism. It was the most beautiful day of her life. She finally felt accepted by her God. I am so glad that that wonderful Church was there for her.

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  13. Wow. I can't even imagine how horrible that must feel. As a woman pursuing a doctoral degree, I have been aware that my path isn't mainstream. And occasionally there is some ideological pushback to ignore. But never have I experienced something so overtly mean-spirited as you have Jordan. I'm so sorry these men got caught up in the entirely wrong non-issues. I felt like giving you a hug and crying with you when I read this. I hope the leaders in my stake and ward would have reacted differently.

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  14. Here is a person who wants to be in the church and has served faithfully. If we can't find a way to keep a person like this, we are in real trouble. I think that the church could raise membership, attendance and all the stats by just welcoming people like Jordan back into the fold. It's not just him that is being hurt but all his friends, family and all who know him. I'm sure that Prop * is hurting the missionary effort, too. Who will be interested in hearing the missionary message when the "go away" message is out there so prominently. I heard the "come back" message issued in the last conference a few days ago. I hope someday soon to hear that message directed at people like Jordan.

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  15. This story is truly heartbreaking on many levels. It is institutionalized ecclesiastical abuse. My heart goes out to "Jordan," and hope that he can come to terms with this experience and find the way forward that works best for him.

    I hope that stake president #2 is treated with the same level of respect and human dignity that he showed toward Jordan (none). That's unlikely, since in the LDS church stake presidents can act as beneficent dictators or as warlords within their stake with impunity. SP#2 engaged in conduct unbecoming a Christian. He should be reprimanded. But having witnessed for myself on many occasions the bullying, rogue, mean-spirited conduct of church leaders (ask me sometime about the president of the Oakland mission from 1994-97) over many years result in a light slap on the hand at most, there is very little accountability for local church leaders in how they deal with members. (Although my bet is that SP#1 is going to be taken to the woodshed for letting his compassion get in the way of his duty to punish). The hierarchy is focused on the administration of the institutional church. And when they address issues like this, they merely send a letter or make a revision to a handbook, with an occasional talking point during "leadership training" sessions.

    According to the current Church Handbook of Instructions, a disciplinary council IS mandatory in cases of apostasy. Given the definition of apostasy ("repeatedly act in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders"), virtually any action outside one's own home that a stake president (who has very wide discretion) perceives to be opposition to LDS church policy, doctrine or practice can be swept into "apostasy." It's almost too easy for a church leader to view an openly gay person as an apostate. Culturally speaking, a gay person who is sexually active is going to be subject to a disciplinary council in nearly every case. Ultimately, the "discipline" system of the LDS church is not a system with due process or fairness. It is a system designed to give almost unfettered discretion to the bishop or stake president who convenes the council or counsels a member on an informal basis. The rules regarding disciplinary councils are followed about as closely as King Henry VIII adhered to his marriage vows.

    This story is one more tragic piece of evidence that the church system is broken regarding gay people and anyone who doesn't fit the PR narrative. It is so broken, and there is so little effort being made by those who are the church's stewards to fix it (i.e., Uchtdorf's talks are not enough for fundamental change) that it is causing increasing numbers of people to wonder whether the church has any credibility left except among those who will defend the church regardless of its practices or negligence. The phrase "leaders are fallible humans too" misses the point. Leaders are to be held to a higher standard, and subject to accountability to abusing the people to whom they are supposed to minister with compassion and respect.

    This should be a cautionary tale to Mitch and others who have local leaders who are currently supportive, but who do not have lifetime appointments. Everyone chooses their own path, but keeping both eyes open and having a solid understanding of how the church really works are very important in that decision making process.

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  16. This makes my soul ache. I had to read this in segments because I needed to step away from the intensity. How do we respond to this? If we keep going along with the Church's actions, are we just turning a blind eye? If we say it is wrong, are we blaspheming?

    My heart is heavy with fear that there is no answer.

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  17. This could have been my story (though it's true that different standards tend to be applied to women; there is no priesthood authority at stake) but for my choice to just walk away from active participation and avoid conflict as much as possible. I have often wondered if this was cowardly of but me but having read this story and the abuse Jordan experienced at the hands of his so-called "judges in Israel" I am filled with sorrow for him and humble gratitude that I was unwilling to let anyone else be so supremely arrogant as to impose conditions on my relationship with my God. I don't know if I could have survived what Jordan experienced and admire his strength and pray for him to find sanctuary and solace. The Church does not own an exclusive patent on sacred commitments and when authority is exercised so uncharitably, are we not taught that the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; amen (in the 'goodbye/over' sense) to the priesthood of those men. May they be healed of their blindnesss and be filled with love; may they recognize their Savior in the face of someone like Jordan and cease from persecuting Him. For their own sakes.

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  18. This is heart wrenching. I was treated with kid gloves compared to Jordan. Where is the justice in that? Thanks Mitch for being willing to share such an important story.

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  19. Jordan~

    You are so right and so cognizant of what the Gospel is and what love is. You are also right- you were very, very close to the Savior because of what a former stake president suggested in drawing you nearer to Him. That that kind model was replaced with tyrrany and (I will say it) evil interest in the minute details of your physical relationship disturbs me so deeply. You are loved, you are absolutely never alone- the Savior loves you and wants your smile back. There are plenty of people who also want the same for you. Get yourself involved in another, more-accepting Christian religion because you are vital in this time, at this moment, and clearly, you need the spiritual tie to keep you motivated. I firmly believe that that is a wonderful step for you to take at this time. "They" might not want you, but other (more Christ-like) people and churches will welcome you and they NEED you.

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  20. Jordan, I am so sorry you had to go through this in our church. This is not the work of the Savior. Bullying people to the point of making them feel completely alone is not God's way. I don't even believe it is appropriate or necessary to second guess the actions of a previous stake president. It should have been a closed matter. Thank you for telling your story and know that love is being sent your way.

    Thank you Mitch for putting Jordan's story out for others to hear. It can't be easy.

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  21. This story is horrifying. And sadly I am not surprised having been subjected to similar treatment for different reasons. I struggled with it for several years before one day calmly removing my garments, packing them away in a box, and never looking back because suddenly I was able to breathe again.

    I wish Jordan the best. I ache for how he was treated.

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  22. Jordan.... I'm so very sorry you have had such heartache. I can't find the right words to express how much sadness I feel. God has not abandoned you brother. He loves you! I feel it in my soul. I am praying that you find peace in your heart and happiness in your life. You are not alone!

    ((Hugs)), love, peace, joy, and comfort <3

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  23. Thanks for posting this. Sharing these stories is very important.

    Jordan, if you're reading this, please know that this world has a place for you. There are so many who would love you, not in spite of who you are but because of it. Find your spot. That spot may not be in the church of your youth, but it's out there. Your future is bright.

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  24. This was a heartbreaking read. I've been in Church leadership, and have participated in a couple of councils (always with a good spirit about them thankfully), but certainly felt like this one was way off the mark. I fully agree with your previous Stake President's approach. If I were you, I would write this story to the area authority, since it's obvious the current Stake Pres. isn't receptive to hearing about your perspective -- you need to go over his head. That may not go anywhere, but I think it might be therapeutic for you to make the attempt. My 2 cents. May the Lord be with you Jordan -- I'm so sorry this happened. Thank you Mitch for sharing this!

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  25. In the movie Shackleton, the stranded explorers have to make a run for survival against all odds, and though they arguably should have hauled only survival provisions for their journey, they decided to dedicate part of their burden to bringing home pictures and movies of their story so the world would see what they had been through, and not just dismiss them as failures. Sometimes, bringing a story to the world is a dangerous and heart-wrenching thing, and sometimes it ultimately heals and inspires all involved. I wish this for you. No one will ever be able to dismiss you again, for the bravery you've shown Jordan, in bringing truth to the searing light of day, where under scrutiny the spiritual abuse of your leaders can be seen for what it is. I doubt they would be as strong as you are, if plunged into a similar circumstance. I am not gay but I champion you and your right to feel safe and be fully human, and you have many friends who care more than the enemies, who ultimately don't hate you but fear you. Best wishes in your life to come, may it be bright and bountiful!!!

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  26. Jordan, I mourn and grieve with you, I am so so sorry. God continues to love you. May God's healing grace be upon you.

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  27. Mitch and Jordan, thank you both for sharing this.

    I pray that over time this adversity and these afflictions shall be but a small moment. You have endured much with great courage and bravery. You have told the truth. This will serve many thousands of others who have been subject to injustice or who may be spared from injustice as truth spreads and has the undeniable effect that light has upon darkness.

    May your foes have every opportunity to fully understand the extent of the mistakes they have made. May you soon find great triumph and validation. May you find love and acceptance, solace and peace. These are not just my wishes for you, but the wishes of a great many who will benefit from your bravery and the hard truths you have made known. And a final prayer and wish, may you find greater happiness than you have ever known.

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  28. Reminds me of church courts years ago in SLC. The Stake President was having courts every month. They were cordial and even through they took their emotional toll on me I was always impressed that a member of the high council was assigned to help assist the member back.
    One month the SP announced this was a different court for a gay man. Immediately there were gay jokes and laughter. He was invited in. He told his story then the high council attacked him mercilessly quoting scripture. The final decision was excommunication and he left. The meeting went on. I raised my hand to the Stake President and asked, "Who are you assigning to this young man?" He said and I definitely quote, "I am assigning no one, he is not worth my time."
    That was like a ton of bricks hitting me in the stomach, for I was gay, married yes, still gay. That young man represented me and now I knew, because of who I am I am not worth the time. I left the high council that night walked around the corner and vomited on the curb.
    Jordan, with all my heart please know there is life after the church. I run in a circle of former members and members who will never go back. We have discovered a level of spirituality, no religionism, true spirituality of caring for our fellow men because we choose to. We have friends because we choose them, not because of church responsibility that will fly away when assignments change. Our service is grand because we choose to.
    Bottom line, I have been stunned and amazed in myself. I have smiled more in the last three years than the prior 53 years of my life. I think I and my good friends have finally found the true joy of God. However you choose to go, know life can be and is so pure and beautiful on the other side. The very best to you, I send the very best of energy and love from my heart and mind to you this night.
    Take care.
    Loren in AZ

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  29. Jordan, look how many people love you! We all go through this with you. While we may not all agree on the course to take in life, and certainly don't know exactly what course you should take in life, just know that you are loved. I can personally say that Heavenly Father loves you. You are my brother, and I love you. And I believe Jeff's post at 9:51 am was right. The Lord will continue to be with you,for He does not condemn the one who was wronged. He leads His Church. All that is unfair will be made right. He absolutely loves you.

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  30. Jordan and Mitch,
    My heart and soul ache for you and for us all. Thank you for your courageous post. I live in California and Prop 8 was something of a tipping point away from the church for me 40+ years after my conversion. My husband is a former bishop and is loving and tolerant, not at all like the men you describe. Unfortunately I suspect our current bishop and stake president might be similar to your second batch. Jordan, I wonder if you'd consider meeting with Carol Lynn Pearson if you can? I pray that you will eventually heal from and transcend the spiritual abuse you received. Blessings on you, your family, and Mitch.

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  31. My heart is breaking for this young man. I know he has been traumatized, but it is my understanding that it is possible to appeal Church court decisions. If he has the strength and desire he may want to consider that. Please let him know that there are many of us who care and are saddened at the unjust and unChristlike treatment he received.

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  32. To start with let me just say I believe in God, but not religion, in the spirit if the restoration - but the restoration is MUCH BIGGER than the LDS corporation. And I call my self a Mormon among other things. However, I no longer consider myself a Latter-day Saint.

    I'm not at all surprised by Jordan's experience. And since I've been involved with several support groups for Mormons and Latter-day Saints, I know many, many stories direct from the individuals who have experienced them.

    I dust my felt off at the entrance of Temple Square and will let God judge - but I will never align myself with the LDS priesthood hierarchy and it's unrighteous dominion over the children of men.

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  33. Jordan.. you are loved. By God. People fail each other and people fail God and Christ. Constantly. I am sorry you have been so abused and mistreated.Your pain has caused me pain too and my compassion is nothing for how Christ suffered with you, for your wounds as caused by others (who mistakenly think they serve him as they hurt others) I can feel that you are a tender and good soul, and a Son of God is who you are-- No one can change that.
    Jesus loves you. He always has. So does your Heavenly Father.

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