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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our Not-so-Mormon Moment


I’m a pretty easy going guy. Very little gets under my skin these days. I am, after all, a gay Mormon. If I were easily offended I’d have left the playing field a long time ago. And, I’ve often remarked that the only opinion of me that matters more than my own is that of my Savior—and quite honestly, that’s a place I am quite content to remain.

Something happens, though, when I see my Mormon fellows joining hands, and engaging in a spiritual round of, “Tick, tock, the game is locked, and nobody else can play.” I jokingly told my friend Joanna Brooks that maybe this was evidence that I have a paternalistic instinct after all, despite a house full of dead plants that seem to provide evidence to the contrary. But humor aside, not only is this a hurtful, unkind signal to anyone who doesn’t fit our own personal definition of “Mormon,” it completely misses the primary message of our Savior: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12.)

Last week’s Rock Center special on “Mormon in America” provided us as a faith with a potentially amazing opportunity to give our fellows across the country a look at Mormons at their best—honest, kind, compassionate, diverse, and a people who genuinely aspire to be emissaries of our Savior’s unconditional love. And by and large, while it wasn’t perfect, I tip my hat to my new friends at NBC for doing a pretty darn good job with what they had to work with.

But then it went wrong.

The post-interview on KSL (a local Salt Lake City station) featured the Mormon family that had been interviewed in the same segment as Joanna Brooks, Abby Hunstman, and me. And as I listened to what was said, I felt a familiar hot feeling crawling up my gut and into my face—shame. Rest assured, I was not shamed by the messages they delivered—I believe what we say about others tells the rest of the world a lot more about us, than it does them. I was ashamed, as a Mormon, for them.

In the KSL commentary from the Mormon family, there was no gratitude. Humility was shockingly absent. There was no wish that more of our church had been presented, or that more time had been dedicated to what the sacrament or other cherished parts of our faith represent to us. It wasn’t about our religion at all. It was about being better than others.


Said the wife, smiling: “I always am concerned when they focus on circumstances or exceptions that are the fringe element of the faith. I think 98% of the members of the church are indicative of how our family is, but they seemed to focus on more of the 2% that are disenfranchised at some level, so I always go, ‘Oh…’ (rolls eyes). Because they spent three days with us! And so we know what they saw, and what they could have highlighted, and it seemed like it was a little superficial in some of the clips they did on us, and more in depth on those that were...” (groans, winces)

Said the husband, smiling: “I wish they had shared more in depth things, as my wife just said, about, like kind of the way they did with the 2%, and the folks that are disenfranchised…I wish they had shown more of our kids because that’s really who we are.” 

Said the wife, again, while the husband smiles in the background: “I wish they would have highlighted a little more of mainstream Mormonism, instead of highlighting some of these, unusual, (winces, looks pained) circumstances, situations or feelings (of) a small minority of members, they always seem to focus on those who have issues with the faith, and I think, ‘Well..’ (winces again). I’m not sure that’s the best, you know, indicator of a faith.”

Said the husband: “But I want to add to that, most of America, when they’ve been exposed to people of our religion and our faith, are impressed and they know who we are.  And I think for the most part, we’re becoming more and more accepted into the mainstream, and you know, a tree is known by its fruit. And members of this faith who live their faith religiously, faithfully, their fruit is good. And that’s really who we are and what we’re about, and we go about letting our light shine, and I wish NBC had shown more of that tonight, but, (deep breath) it’s NBC, and they’re a little different in terms of, uh, what they wanted to portray tonight, and I understand. But we know who we are, and we put our best foot forward for those three days.”

We are the better Mormons, their message implied. We deserve more. And the element we consider “fringe diversity” didn’t merit representation to such an extent—or maybe even at all. They don’t really count. After all, the fringe, in our estimation, only accounts for 2% of our faith—so clearly they deserve less.

They deserve less.

At its best, this message tells the rest of the world that Mormons are elitists—that while we may smile when you’re with us, underneath simmers an ugly disdain and scorn for anyone we determine to be different in any regard; that while our smiles may be warm, our hearts are not.

At its worst, it’s a way of legitimizing persecuting and humiliating those we think, in our imperfect mortal state, are less than us. It tells the world that we believe that anyone different from us not only deserves less air time—but less church, less inclusion, less love, and perhaps even less God.

I suspect there’s not a Mormon out there who hasn’t heard (or been the recipient of) one of these messages—so sadly, this isn’t just a horribly unfortunate and isolated mistake. Instead, it exemplifies one of the most significant challenges within our faith today. Facebook chatrooms and individual blogs share thousands of stories where Mormons have dishonored their own covenants to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ and instead, castigated their fellows and heaped upon them scorn and rejection.

After the NBC special and following interview aired, the emails and messages started pouring in from the ‘fringe:’

I went to the Mormon Church while I visited Utah. I’ve seen these kind of people. Never before have I met such intolerant people who smile so much.

I was raised in the Mormon Church, and there are parts of it I love and miss. But I got tired of the Relief Society sisters bringing over plates of cookies and looking at me with pity and saying (about my non-member husband), ‘Don’t you hope one day he’ll convert?’ My response was, ‘No, I married him because I love him for who he is.’

I heard these same messages over and over again in my ward. I’m not gay, I’m not a feminist, but I couldn’t watch these people claim to be Christlike and hurt others in His name. When I resigned, I put my Sunday School teaching manual down on my Bishop’s desk and said politely, ‘I’m sorry…I’m just too compassionate to be a Mormon.’

I don’t know how you and Joanna [Brooks] do it. Good thing Jesus didn’t have the attitude many Mormons seem to have. There sure would have been a lot of disappointed lepers.

What troubles me the most is we know better—and we can certainly do better. This isn’t Mormonism at its best. And it certainly doesn’t exemplify what each of us strives to be—examples of our Savior’s unconditional love.

In fact, if we think about it, our Savior was chiefly concerned with the fringe—one of his mottos, after all, was “leave the ninety-nine to get the one.” And as always, His example is the penultimate when it came to expressing unconditional love.

When Christ was on an urgent rescue mission for the daughter of one of the Jewish synagogue leaders, he was followed by a large crowd of people. Among the throngs of individuals, there was a "certain woman," who pressed through the crowd to touch His robe in an act of faith--that by doing so, she might be healed. We are told that for twelve years she suffered a vaginal flow of blood, an almost constant hemorrhage. But worse than her physical illness was the suffering she had to endure at the hands of her brothers and sisters--because of mental and emotional shame inflicted upon her by her fellows.

Like so many, her desire was to be near the Savior, to look into His eyes, to feel His love for her. But this she could not do, because according to Jewish law, she was unclean. She, like so many ‘fringe’ Mormons, was judged unfit to mingle with the community, unfit to worship in the temple. She was an outcast--scorned, and unclean.

Yet, like so many times in His mortal ministry, Christ stopped and healed this woman. True, the physical healing must have lifted a tremendous burden. But the most important aspect of His kindness was healing her aching and broken spirit. For the rest of her life she would know that Christ knew her, that he noticed her, and that he accepted her. What a profound demonstration of our Savior's love, mercy, and kindness. What a tremendous example of reaching out to someone on the fringe, regardless of consequence.


Being numbered among the fringe is not a plague; but what many of us suffer at the hands of others, is. What an amazing invitation this story is for us within the Mormon Church to reach out to others and emulate our Savior—for as Mormons, there can be no more worthwhile pursuit than becoming like our Savior. And what an equally moving cry for those of other faiths, or none at all—for there is little more virtuous a pursuit than striving for what is right. 

Over time, I’ve come to view my church much the same way I view my mortal fellows—imperfect, and presented with constant opportunities to improve. As such, there are things we will get amazingly and stunningly right. And there are things we will get horribly, painfully wrong. But like the humans who inhabit it, our Church will learn, grow, and continue to improve as long as we’re mindful of where we’re off course, and gently guide ourselves back to where we should be.


I believe that I cannot be an ambassador of my LGBT brothers and sisters and ask for compassion, understanding, inclusion and patience from my Mormon fellows—if I am not among the very first to offer those same qualities to them. It is the responsibility of every Mormon to help our church and our membership continue to become better children to our Father, and better disciples to our Savior.

Often, for me, I’ve found one of the most effective ways I improve is when someone has the courtesy—and the courage—to hold a mirror up to me, to allow me to see myself as others view me. Sometimes I don’t like the image that’s reflected back. But invariably—and especially when I don’t like what I see—I’m always grateful for the chance to make a course correction, and come a little bit closer to the kind of person both I and my Savior want me to be.

And it is in that same spirit in which I write this post—with love for my fellows both inside our church and out, and the confidence that we, too, can improve and grow. 

As for me personally, I believe every single one of us is equal in the eyes of our Savior, regardless of orientation, ethnicity, gender–or any other marker we use as humans to define differences between ourselves and others. As such, I don't believe it is ever my job to condemn, criticize, or mock another. My job, as my Father’s son, is to walk beside you as you learn the lessons life is intended to teach you; to celebrate your joys with you, and to lend a hand when you stumble. The true spirit of love we have for one another is kind, patient, and doesn’t demand its own way. It doesn’t scold, condemn, or criticize. I am most certainly an imperfect human–but this is the spirit I think our Savior wants us to strive to achieve throughout the human family, and it is the spirit that I endeavor to bring to my entire life–and most certainly my faith in this Mormon Moment. 

So to my new friends at NBC, thank you. I know how many nights, weekends, and labor-intensive hours went into this production. I know your hearts were in the right place. I know it was your desire to produce something that would represent us honestly and that would make us happy—yet not be a manufactured PR infomercial. And I, for one, think you did a pretty good job. Any time we can get an hour of Mormon time on national TV, it’s a win for us—and one that many, like me, appreciate.

And to those who have heard a scornful Mormon remark that makes you feel like ‘fringe diversity,’ I am sorry. We’re not perfect, and our words and our actions may not always show the love we strive to hold in our hearts for you. But we’ll get better—it’s part of who we are.

While no one speaks for 98% of our faith, I do speak for myself. And you’re welcome in my ward any Sunday—regardless of your color, stripe, spot, pattern, or any other marker we use to create distance between ourselves and others. I’d love to see you there.

Heck, I might even take you out for a Diet Coke afterward.

37 comments:

  1. Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate what you do.

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  2. Thanks, Mitch. I'm usually on the fringe somewhere, but I'm starting to find my own group, so to speak, online, where I don't feel that people are speaking in prewritten phrases. I do have one suggestion...either buy a book on plants for beginners, or buy plastic ones...:-D

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  3. I'm a bit "fringy" myself, being the kind of woman who calls herself a feminist, has gay friends and votes for the more liberal types. I've felt that the church culture can become a bit zealous in looking or seeming perfect, and so anyone who doesn't fit into what these zealots consider perfect is cast out. I've also determined to never let this drive me away from being who and what I think God wants me to be, a Mormon. I'm glad you're active and outspoken. I'm thankful that you haven't left. How can we expect the church culture to change if everyone who is "different" leaves? I stay because I think that this is the best way to follow Christ. I want to be an example to kids who feel different, so that they also won't leave, and eventually the change we need will come from within,

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  4. Dearest Mitch, You are so right. There are many people within the Church who act the same way as this couple. They are elitist and raise themselves up at pulpit, not unlike the rameamptum (spelling) proclaiming to others how great it is to be like them and not like the others.

    I am glad that I was/am finally able to accept the person that God created in his image and sent His Son here to save. I choose to not attend Church meetings because I am gay and the intolerance of our leaders both local and general, have continued to make me feel like unto a second class citizen, even when I was adhering to all the tenets of our faith. I am thankful that I can talk about the teachings of the Church and my upbringing and how it shaped me into the man I am today.

    I too speak only for myself, for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. I'm thankful for a family that loves me unconditionally for me, not for my actions in or out of the parameters of the Restored Gospel.

    God Bless you my friend. Thank you for who you are and who and what you represent.

    All my Love and Respect,

    Jim

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  5. I am speaking in church next Sunday, may I just read this instead?! It was lovely.

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  6. Mitch, I love you and your heart.

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post. Until someone is on the outside looking in, they really don't know what it feels like to be one of the "fringe". After all, aren't we all beggars? (Mosiah 4:19)

    The underlying message in every scripture,every lesson, every General Conference talk, and every minute of the Savior's earthly life was LOVE. Charity, the pure love of Christ. That is what we profess and how we should venture to live.

    Love, unconditional and fully accepting, is the answer. Save the judging for the Savior. That's His job after all. And who better to do that?

    Thank you for your words, the reminder and the mirror!

    And next time I see you, I'm taking you up on your Diet Coke offer. You can continue to get your Medium, but I want the LARGE.

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  7. Could you please be cloned? Thank you.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this, Mitch.

    I sometimes feel I discouraged that I am a minority (bisexual, not entirely gay, not entirely straight) within a minority (LGBT), within a minority (Mormonism). But your post reminded me that I don't have to conform to find peace and belonging. Indeed I can be more compassionate to others and myself because I know the sting of rejection and ache internalized phobias. Just as I know the comfort of unconditional love and acceptance.

    Your post is sobering (I'm so glad I didn't watch local piece on Utah TV after than national special), and uplifting (with it's reminder that the Savior cared for and ministered to and talked about the importance of the 1%, of the fringe, of the minority).

    Thank you for this timely reminder, my friend and brother.

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  9. I completely agree with you. And their reasoning is factually incorrect beyond being Uncompassionate. The temple worthy, active Mormon is NOT the typical Mormon. Since they like to quote the 14 million member number, at best only 20% of those are the type they are boasting about being. Therefore, I'd say the NBC piece was more than fair and representative.

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  10. Thank you for this post, and the reminder that we need to be compassionate and charitable to ALL of our brothers and sisters--sincerely, from our heart. That is what Jesus would do. Our job is to love, not judge.

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  11. The only thing I don't like about this article is that it wasn't around a week ago when my newsfeed was blowing up with people saying similar things about how rock center wasn't a good portrayal of the majority of the church.

    This would have been the greatest thing to shut them all up. Thanks for accurately portraying my feelings about it.

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  12. This is my first visit to your blog, but it won't be the last! I can so relate to what you are talking about here. To look at me and my family, you wouldn't realize this, but I have felt like I was on the fringe in the Mormon church since the day I joined it in my early 20s. I have had so many people imply that the fact that I am a convert somehow makes my faith less. People have judged my parents and siblings because they are Catholic and *horrors* drink coffee and alcohol and smoke, etc.

    And now I feel like people judge me because I am liberal and support gay marriage.

    I know my experiences can nowhere measure up to what I'm sure you have experienced, but in a small way I understand. And you're right: it is a total shame and goes against everything the gospel actually stands for. Thanks for writing this very eloquent post.

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  13. I love everything I've ever read by you. You and Joanna are my heroes. Makes me happy to be in the world and in the church at the same time as you are. Thanks for all you do.

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  14. Hey, my understanding is that when people want to make plain, boring things look more interesting, they add FRINGE. I am not eloquent like you Mitch but I have noticed the same trend. Some of us feel we don't fit so we leave. Instead of going to pick up my brother from a mission, I picked him ( and another kid who needed a ride to a greyhound bus) up from Prison. Instead of attending the Temple with my family, I attended drug rehab for my sister. So there are moments I feel I don't fit. But you explained what I am learning, I am the overwhelmed woman, lost in the crowd, reaching out knowing I need help. Sorry your feelings were hurt. Let's hang in there together bro. We belong, ain't no one gonna tell us wrong!

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    1. Oh, Nettie! How true your comments. You are really the typical Mormon family....we all have struggles and my family is just like yours. And I see that if we don't have the behavior problems, we may have huge health problems. You are doing the Savior's work....though not always in the Temple.
      It is how we react to these struggles that counts...and some days we want to just quit. Please don't be overwhelmed and lost. You are so much needed. And we are all here the same as you.

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  15. Mitch...

    I live in Happy Valley Utah and go to church with many of these mainstream Mormons and I tell you its them and the "culture" of the church that has me itching to move away. This blog is amazing and I thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts.

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  16. Mitch, I appreciate your point, and suspect you might be right, but at the same time, I recognize that this growth is a process for everyone. Sooner or later, we'll all realize that there's a part of us that in the "fringe"--so I would offer that yes, I see where you're coming from regarding the family's response, but don't be so quick to judge them either. They want the church to be seen in what they perceive is the best possible light. They just might be wrong about what the best possible light is.

    Most of all, I appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there, and try to be the best you that you feel the Lord wants you to be. I hope I can see that in everyone around me.

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    1. Thanks, Darkbull--and I agree. My point was not to judge, but to hold up a mirror. I don't believe many Mormons ever have intent to deliberately harm another--yet until we've looked at ourselves through another's eyes, it's difficult to see what needs to change. Thanks for your kind words, my friend!

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    2. What an interesting point of view, thanks for sharing. Things strike a different chord with all of us, don't they? After watching the interview, I understood this couple's desire for the Church to be represented accurately and fully. I don't want to be too hard on them; I think they were simply hoping for equal representation: as much time dedicated to their family's life as was dedicated to other members'.

      Yet after reading your piece, I can also see how their point of view could be hurtful, exclusive, a bit closed-minded. I see how easy it is to unintentionally hurt or shun others. I do think the couple had only a positive desire for the Church to be understood, but again, I see how it could be offensive.

      Thanks for sharing a different voice that speaks of remembering sensitivity and, most of all, love and acceptance of all God's children. Always good to hear different points of view, keeps us on our toes.

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  17. Insert an Oprah "AHHHHHHHHHHH". Good stuff. Good stuff, indeed.

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  18. What an inspiring message! Thank you. Instead of starting another negative conversation about those kind of Utah Mormons I feel more determined and excited to embrace and befriend the "2%". However she came up with that ridiculous number, I'm hoping it can be raised to the point that there is no mainstream Mormon anymore to spread that kind of message.

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  19. Mitch,
    I appreciate your perspective in this post. I think that hearing things from the perspective of gay members of the church is unfortunately too rare an occasion. That being said, I think your post, in criticizing the people you termed as calling themselves the "better mormons", unfortunately also sends the message that in reality you are the better mormon. It does no good to point out an opposition's failing by making the same failing yourself. The family you quoted I'm sure can't see where they are wrong. I'm sure they try to live their religion as well as you do and they try to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ the same way that you do, they just have their own struggles and need a little guidance to help them see how their attitudes are a bit off-kilter rather than humiliation to illustrate to the world how these people are way too self-righteous. As for myself, I am interested only in the true doctrine of Christ and the actual doctrines of the church. I stay away from church book stores as I believe many "good" members of the church are led away in one way or another and become confused by the volumes upon volumes of books available written by well-intentioned people who are either sharing insights that were only meant for them personally or are sharing their own growing understanding as if it were fact. I don't care if you're gay, I care if you're keeping the law of chastity. We all have our own struggles and so do I but we never lift ourselves up by bringing anyone else down regardless of whether we're the fringe, mainstream, or anyone else. There are always two sides to an offended member of the church and the offended are not always guiltless themselves. We all need to be more loving but we also need to be more patient and understanding of other people's struggles to be more loving themselves. So I'm sorry I am not heaping praise upon you as so many other commenters here are doing, but I'd have to give you both one thumb up and one down.

    Thanks for being willing to share your feelings and thoughts though, that's not always an easy thing. The one thing I would wish the media would do when reporting on mormons is to stay away from Utah and Idaho. I was born in Utah (moved away when I was 9), served a mission in Idaho and I have lived all over the world and been in many many wards, branches, and service groups (in the military). Utah and Idaho by no means represent the church or its members and I wouldn't live there if you paid me to.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, my friend. But I think the point has gotten lost. This isn't a gay issue. It is not a feminist issue. It's not even a Mormon issue. It's a human family issue.

      Whenever any group closes out another, excludes them from feeling welcome and part of the human family, we have failed. The post would be just as relevant (and I would have responded just the same) if the it had been a gay couple excluding straight people, a liberal couple excluding conservatives, or any one else locking hands and sending the message that others don't belong. But because our church (and society) is structured the way it is, we don't see much of that.

      We don't have the right to tell others they don't belong--regardless of our individual differences. There's room for everyone at our Savior's table. This family is just as welcome as any of us at that table--they just don't have the right to close it off to others.

      PS- As an Idahoan, I did have to chuckle at your last paragraph. I also understand. :-)

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  20. I had the same reaction after watching that couple's interview on my local news. I was so disgusting I actually ended up turning it off. On the outside, my family is just like the 98% (which is a very inaccurate statistic) they mentioned - temple marriage, active members with church callings, obeys the Wow, etc. It's not seen by others most of the time, the feminist struggle I have every day or that I struggle with how members treat LGBT people. It's not seen that I grew up in a part-member home and every Sunday when I hear about how much better us Mormons are than others that I think of my father and how I don't agree that I have more of a monopoly on truth or a better relationship with Christ than he does. So when I heard the Jacksons say what they said I felt disgusted that a lot of church members feel this way. Then I turned on facebook and saw a lot of my friends who are members complaining about the same thing and my disappointment returned. Thank you for articulating this so beautifully and reminding us we all need to more inclusive.

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  21. I too watched the NBC Rock Center profile on the church, and I too am a gay mormon, who is disfellowshipped, but still attends. Let me maybe shed some light on why I was disappointed with the tv special.

    The only reason NBC aired this special on the LDS church was because of one Mitt Romney and the vast lack of knowledge of the public on his faith. We happen to share his faith, that of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but this was a special to open a window into an aspect of Mitt Romney. That being said there was a certain expectation of church members as to what this special would focus on.

    Most church members, understandably, would expect a historical explanation, a focus on major points of the faith; ie Church Welfare, Missionary work, global expansion and Temple work. It would be an essay on what the church is in grand and general terms. A report as such.

    Whilst the NBC report did a recounting of historical context and showed glowing praise for the welfare program, little else was explained about the church's main tenets. Instead, sacred garments were exposed, people who left the church and those who have grievances (though fair and honest grievances) were feature.

    If we look at the air time of the "traditional family" mentioned in your blog and featured on the post-interview on KSL, compared to the ex-mormon, feminist mormon and gay mormons, there was a large focus on the "fringe". Now this "fringe" is a part of the church and should not be ignored, but let me compare it to another example.

    Say there was to be a FOX News special on gay couples and gay marriage. They spent within an hour long special 10 minutes on a traditional gay couple, who have been in love for decades and just want to be together, but then spent 50 minutes on a poly-couple, a divorced gay couple, a couple of mass infidelity, and men who say their gay was prayed away and they are happy straights, wouldn't there be some frustration within the gay community and angry e-mails written to FOX News? While these "fringe" elements in the gay community are there, they do not represent the mass of the community, and therefore do not require a substantial weight of time devoted to a piece intended to introduce a concept, gay marriage, to the country.

    I go back to Mitt Romney. This piece was ONLY done now because of his ties to the Mormon church. This special on NBC was originally intended to introduce many Americans to Mormonism. Instead of focusing on the church's tenets, it focused on a gay man who can only be in the church if he is celibate. A woman, who wants women to be treated as equals and feels they are less than in the church. A woman who married outside the church and left it years ago because of ill feelings from a Bishop. A gay man who isn't a member of the church because he is gay. Oh and that family who is in the church and happy and love it.

    The 10 Minutes vs. 50 minutes ratio is not fair in such a tv special advertised as this one was. Now had NBC wanted to show the nuances of the church and explain about the movements within and struggles for "equality" in the church, that would be fine, but touting a piece as a look into Mitt Romney's faith and helping people to understand what the church is are not the same.

    Two different approaches for two different purposes.

    I think the things NBC talked about in the program were great and need to be discussed, but in a different time, a different manner, and put forth and advertised in a more honest and candid manner.

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    1. Thanks Inside. I agree. I am always suspicious of anything NBC does, for political reasons. And of course they can be very nice and whatever, but what was their real reason for this airing?
      FYI I am the mother of a gay son and have been working tirelessly for 10 years to educate Church members. They are not really biased, just uninformed. And this ignorance has caused much damage to many young people..thus I go forward.
      I agree, also....was this really balanced as to our whole Church...how about how we are coping and coming to an understanding and helping on this issue?

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  22. Thank you!
    This blog post helped me discover things about myself and how I react to those who differ from me within the church and especially without. I'll try my best to continue to grow and show greater love for those around me.

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  23. Thank you for this post!

    I've often think that I fall into a 'fringe Mormon' category, being both single and attracted to the same gender. I currently go to a family ward, and I've struggled with developing friendships there (nothing new). It's like the ward members weren't interested in reaching out to a new member so I have to do most of the effort myself.

    Anyways, each church member lives their faith their own way, some more than others. It's hard to distill down the essence of what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. That's loads different than being a 'Mormon' which is more of a social thing.

    This post makes me feel like I can be more open minded and accepting of other people, and that I need to reach out more in love and compassion.

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  24. Mitch,

    I always appreciate your willingness to invite kindness by giving kindness, to invite humility and introspection, by being humble and introspective. I note one demonstration of how you do this below:

    "And to those who have heard a scornful Mormon remark that makes you feel like ‘fringe diversity,’ I am sorry. We’re not perfect, and our words and our actions may not always show the love we strive to hold in our hearts for you. But we’ll get better—it’s part of who we are.

    While no one speaks for 98% of our faith, I do speak for myself. And you’re welcome in my ward any Sunday—regardless of your color, stripe, spot, pattern, or any other marker we use to create distance between ourselves and others. I’d love to see you there."

    I admire your ability to stand on both shores and recognize the biases that may exist, and then to sincerely extend a genuine hand of love and acceptance to those on both sides of this chasm. It helps me to increase my faith that this is not an unbridgeable issue. I don't anticipate that doctrines need changing, but rather how we implement those doctrines in the treatment of one another.

    Your blogging efforts have improved me as a person, a member of the LDS church, and as a therapist. Thank you my brother and friend.

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  25. You are an amazing voice and force for good. I have shared your story with many of my friends and family. (I've even used part of one of your blog posts in a Relief Society lesson!) Thank you for having the courage to speak up and out, and for the hope you offer to others.

    You've hit the nail on the head once again with this post, as with so many others. Well done!

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  26. Mitch, I'm so glad I found your blog. I really struggle with the whole issue of gay marriage. I have gay/lesbian friends. They're just people, and they're GOOD people. I want them to be happy because I love and care about them. I feel they should have equal rights, because they're just as much a person as I am.

    But I have a really hard time reconciling that with our religious beliefs. I have a strong testimony. I believe in the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and they are very clear about homosexuality.

    Logically, I know people have agency, etc. But I guess my difficulty is in feeling like I'm condoning or approving of actions that I believe are morally wrong. (As in sexual relations, not 'being gay'.)

    So, how do you do it? I want to be supportive of my friends without compromising my beliefs or seeming condescending.

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    1. Hi Laura! Thanks for writing. Email me directly, I'd love to chat!

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  27. Mitch, I feel I have to confess I stole and used much of this post for a talk I gave in church last week. I spoke on honesty. :-) I just apologized to Joanna Brooks, too, because I feel like I stole some of her ideas. Thank you for being a thoughtful resource focusing on Christ and current issues. If you care to read it here's the link to my blog where I posted it:
    http://kevharpblogbandwagon.blogspot.com/2012/09/we-believe-in-being-honest.html

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