Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wolves in Sheeps Clothing

Sometimes I wonder what is worse, just stepping away from the church and acting out and being open and honest about it or trying to find ways to stay attached to the church, act out and justify it by aligning yourself with the ideas and philosophies found in some of these so called "gay Mormon" Affirming groups.

I think at least with the first that while yes, you are sinning at least you are not lying about it. If you honestly no longer believe in or can't act what the Church says about it, you are acting with some integrity and not trying to cover it up. The latter I think operates more under the guise of "Wolves in sheep's clothing" promising the option of "being Mormon" and "being true to yourself" at the same time.

First I do want to say that some of why these groups exist can be blamed on us. If we continue in the church to treat those who struggle as less then saints. If we continue to raise children who think that they are flawed for even having same gender attraction feeling so much so that they are afraid to ask for help, these groups will have a constant supply of some of Heavenly Fathers most beloved sprints.

I won't mention them by name but there are social groups established at places like BYU that offer an escape for those who join them. The question is, what are BYU students who are supposed to be living the Honor Code of which they signed needing to escape from? The organizers would say: This provides a positive social setting for those who are dealing with the issue of being gay and Mormon, a place to meet others like themselves and make friends and find support.

Ok,so on the surface this sounds like a grand idea. BUT, the whole concept of having "to escape" from something should clue you in on the real motives here. Escape from what? The gospel? The Honor Code? The morals of the LDS Church? I received an invite to one of their recent camping trips a few weeks ago. It sounded like your typical YSA activity until you get to the part were it warns that "if you plan on having sex with your partner or anyone you may meet here we ask that you do so in your own tent away from the other campers so as not to disturb those who are camping."

Not really advice that I've read on previous LDS or even quasi LDS organized events. Not warning that I would expect to find on an flier advertsing something for guys attending BYU or who have an LDS background.

Basically what this and other groups provide is a way to safely break the Honor Code in a group that will turn a blind eye also and very likely encourage you and affirm you while you do it to "be true to yourself."

There are other groups that have have been established nationally that promise to Affirm your orientation and celebrate your LDS background. One particular groups website is very positive looking. There are no shirtless guys, no overtly sexual content. In fact I have heard of some parents seeking to understand their child's plight who stumble upon it by accident and think that by its appearance its LDS friendly.

This same group offers a publication called "For the Strength of Gay Youth" which goes so far as to openly say that the prophet and apostles are behind on the issue, tells struggles that using agency is more important then obedience and any one who would tell you to be obedient is restricting your freedom to "be yourself." It provided safe sex tips "should your decide to explore physically," and it says that you may have to lie if you want to attend BYU or serve a mission and says its okay because such things are between you and the Lord and only he knows your heart.

Not exactly the guidance you would expect from an LDS friendly site but it really isn't. This group hosts mission reunions during conference that are merely parodies and venues for those who are disenfranchised and bitter against the church and they fight for causes that faithful latter-day saints have been urged to stand against.

Some groups are formed using names that sound like church sponsored study groups like FHE and other LDS cultural specific things. These groups encourage those attending to search out the intellectuals reasons for "being true to themselves" often mocking church leaders and the inspiration they receive and replacing it with the teachings of man in regards to why people struggle. They study orientation and gender and have guest speakers who have been excommunicated or who have openly and publicly spoke against the church. I have had several friends fall victim of these groups, all but one of them is now inactive. They in short help you justify and intellectualize yourself out of a testimony.

The last two groups are the most dangerous as they mimic and appear like church sponsored groups. When someone is struggling and desperately seeking love and support, they offer comfort and acceptance and after that they are eager victims.

And yes there are groups who think that the church is some kind of government that you can lobby or affect change through majority rule. That if you picket enough, use words like dialog which translates into "listen and see it our way," threaten to sure or take other actions against to punish if the church or church institution refuses to "see it our way." They claim to be fighting this cause for me. I don't remember asking them to. The participants say they are LDS, and yes they may all be endowed and RM's. But are they now living up to what they convented to or taught in working to bring the world into the church. The church is supposed to take the world out of the people, not the other way around. They march, give speeches and work on our emotions and play the sympathy and martyr card. They employ the names of LDS men and women who committed suicide over this. Many of which they do without first seeking the families permission. They make those who are faithful sound like bigots if they oppose them.

I think one clue here is that any group that would encourage you to have "pride" in something that if acted on would separate you from God should be avoided.

In the recent interview on the topic of same gender attraction Elder Oaks said its best: "Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic.” In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach."

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