Elder Nelson spoke from BYU Hawaii for the school year’s first CES devotional. I sat in the middle side of my stake center, plugged into the wall so my phone wouldn’t die, trying to get Twitter to work so I could update my feed and live-tweet (or something like that… since I’m not really sure when it was live) the event.
His remarks made me think a lot. But one thing he said made me stop and wonder.
He said that one of the great issues that we face today is understanding the issue of same-gender marriage. It’s a major issue because it touches at the core of who we are and what we believe in. And then he said that those who want a better understanding of same-gender marriage should pray and attend the upcoming General Conference… and they’ll have a clearer understanding. Elder Holland said in a talk a few years back that only rarely are topics assigned for General Conference. I remember hearing from someone when I was little that only the hard topics are assigned. Like speaking at the Priesthood session on pornography.
Elder Nelson would know if the topic of same-gender attraction had been assigned for this Conference. His comment makes me think it has.
The thought gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, I’d be absolutely thrilled to hear, expounded in Conference and as clearly as possible, all the misconceptions and questions answered… or at least some of the major ones – for people with SSA and those without. It would open the door for thousands of people to understand the reality that God loves them and that the gospel really can help them find happiness… and help those on the outside know how to help and communicate best. That would be an answer to prayers… and with mormonsandgays.org along with the focus on reaching out, I feel like it would be a great thing.
On the other hand, every time the Church is clearer about doctrine, we lose people who feel they no longer have room to disagree. It happened with something as mundane as earrings; when the prophet encouraged women to have only one set of piercings, on far sides some women took their additional sets out on the spot while others took affront and never came back. There are still people who hold to the belief that the Church will eventually cave to social pressure and integrate gay marriage into first acceptability, then into temple worship… and shortening their ability to stand on that belief means some will jump. Some will choose to follow the prophet again; others will choose not to. It’s the latter group that rips me apart.
If I were speaking in Conference on same-sex attraction, these are the things I would cover:
Where it comes from (and not)
How it is not easily changed
How many members live with it
The pain it can cause
The reality & depth of temptation
Attraction vs Action
Full worthiness possibility
No SSA in afterlife
When it’s ok to marry opposite gender
Address the anti-ssa culture head-on
Culture vs Doctrine
…and something I would include, but we as a culture probably aren’t ready for:
Invite people to turn to their ward family, quorums, and others for help and support – for life’s most challenging problems, we want to have the most support we can. Traditionally, people have faced SSA alone. So alone they think they are the only ones in the world trying to live a faithful life. That needs to change.
I don’t know what will happen at Conference. What will be said. But I’m excited to hear and be a part of it… and see how God shows His love today.