I learned through a post at The Cultural Hall about a group of individuals who have organized a response to the June 29th letter from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to congregations in California urging members of The Church to “do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman.” The website/blog Sign for Something urges individuals to write letters addressed to the First Presidency of the LDS church expressing their opposition to the June 29th letter.
When I first visited the site, I was able to identify with the following excerpt from their “Statement of Purpose:
We are dismayed at the dilemma of choosing between the voice of our conscience and the advice of our church’s leadership on this issue. For each of us this conflict works out in a different manner. Many of us feel there is enough freedom in our church that we may speak our convictions on this matter boldly. Others among us choose a path of anonymity, carrying our convictions about this quietly and expressing them to few. Others of us, feeling that we cannot speak freely on this and maintain our status as church members, have chosen to resign. We welcome all voices, no matter which path they choose.
I thought those words accurately portrayed the difficult nature of the situation facing faithful LDS members who are uncomfortable with the First Presidency’s letter. I briefly considered writing a letter, but decided against it – partly because I don’t live in California and the letter wasn’t addressed to me anyway, but mostly because I could not identify with many of the other letters that had been written. Many of the letters were angry and filled with just as much hate as they were accusing the First Presidency of harboring and I do not wish to be counted among them. Some were angry at the institutional Church, some at the First Presidency, some at all members of the church. And I began to understand that this issue doesn’t make me angry at all – it makes me sad.
I am sad that I am not fully in agreement with my chosen faith organization; sad that there is yet another policy from LDS church leaders that I will quietly disregard; sad that there are members of my chosen faith who struggle with their sexual orientation and I do nothing to assist them; sad that I have said and done things in the past that would have been so hurtful to any homosexuals close enough to hear or see; sad that one of my friends from high school who is now open about his homosexuality doesn’t know that I still value his friendship regardless of the gender of his partner; sad that I haven’t spoken to this friend in years. But mostly, I am sad that this letter will inevitably cause so much pain for the homosexuals among us who are already struggling to find a place in the church. I am sad to realize that as hard as this dilemma between following my conscience and dedication to my chosen faith is for me – it is nowhere near as difficult as the dilemma faced by those who are homosexual and want to remain in the Church.
And I feel so powerless to ease their pain.