Although there has been a lot of excitement (or controversy - depending on your persuasion) around the new Church web site about Gays and Mormons, there are some things that decidedly did NOT get addressed there. No, there were no doctrinal changes, but I didn't really expect any at this point. Neither were there apologies for past policies or shortcomings - didn't expect that either. What I WAS hoping for was a concrete plan for dealing with the Elephant in the Room (see my blog post HERE).
If you strip out all the hyperbole surrounding homosexuality and how the Churh responds to it, you're really only left with a few fundamental questions. The Church web site attempts to answer some of these - such as: What is the official Church doctrine on same-sex relationships? Is homosexuality a choice? How should families and members treat homosexuals? These are sort of the base-line questions any discussion on this subject needs to start out with, and that's great. Its great we're talking about this now.
But what I think is just as important for us to discuss is the long-term plan for single LGBT members. How do you support and nurture LGBT members in a way that makes 'staying with us' meaningful and 'worth it'? Its really a cop-out just to say, 'Hey, let's start treating these people better' without having a plan of how to get us there. Especially since homosexual members are being asked to do something no one else in the Church is being asked to do - endure a life devoid of intimacy, companionship, courting and sex. No one else is being given this extraordinary mandate. Straight singles are encouraged to date, flirt, dance, hold hands and otherwise enjoy at least some sort of social interaction. And they can enjoy the hope of someday finding a life partner and having an intimate, loving, sexual relationship. But gays are being asked to put all that on ice - for a lifetime! If you're going to ask someone to do something extraordinary, you need to be prepared to support them in an extraordinary way. To help bear their burdens with more than just lip service.
We recently had a lively discussion on Mormons Building Bridges on reparative/orientation change programs. I honestly don't blame any young gay Mormon for wanting to find a way out of this dilema. If you really believe and want to live faithful to Church teachings, there has to be a desperation (perhaps akin to panic) to somehow get out of the situation. If I were younger (I was born in the Cretaceous, folks - my age can only be determined by carbon dating) I would probably jump on these programs too, even if there was just a sliver of a chance.
I also wonder if you were able to transport all the General Authorities back in time to when they were 21 and then turned them all gay; how many would be General Authorities today? How many could do what us gays are being asked to do? These are all wonderful and good people, but I suspect many could not endure that kind of trial. Perhaps I'm wrong, and they're such such spiritual giants they would make it no matter what, but what about us spiritual 'Joe Schmo's'? What kind of chance do we have?
So I really do hope the conversation doesn't stop at what we're seeing now. I think something extraordinary needs to be done to help us MoHos fit in and find meaningful ways to fill the giant hole the Church is asking us to make in our lives. For now, the elephant remains in the room, folks. The elephant remains...