Comments 44

    1. Amen! I am so happy to see that someone in the LDS faith has guts to speak up for the truth! I grew up LDS and have a gay brother. I wish he would have had this kind of support and love while he was growing up. He was ostracized, mad fun of and beaten up throughout his life, but couldn’t ask for help. He suffered alone and felt helpless in a community of bigotry and hate.

      The way the LDS community has treated lgbt people and many other issues about the church have caused me to consider leaving the LDS faith, but John, through his example and integrity has been my lifeline. Now that his membership status is on the line, I am not sure I can hang onto my faith in the LDS church any longer. Is this really how the LDS Brethren practice the love of Christ? Really? They keep dissapointing me.

    2. “Brilliant. Absolutely btilliant. John, you’re a great example to all of us of” LOVE. (no need for christlike). Thank you so much John for being such an open, honest, intelligent, thoughtful human being.

  1. Good thoughts, but you never really got into the issues for me.
    I grew up having gay male friends as well as friends of other races. I personally have never had any curiosity or desire to experiment in that direction. By nature or nurture those kinds of things are revolting for me to participate in. By nature, on an individual basis I feel I have always been cordial, friendly, and accepting of individuals I knew that had a different sexual orientation. I am not defending or extolling my behavior, but just reflecting in my past thinking and behavior.
    In your story of a gay couple you listed their activities as waking up together, eating breakfast together, going to work together, watching TV together and going to bed. The crux for me is that which you did not mention; the sex part. I am trying to come to an understanding in my mind so that I can accept things I have not hither too accepted. I am dealing with tough issues in my mind and find it difficult. In my mind the difficulty really has to be with what “the church” has taught me. I don’t see the church’s position changing anytime soon in that sex out of marriage is wrong no matter who is doing it. And 2, same sex marriages don’t fit the Mormon mold for the hereafter, so to encourage same sex marriage is, in my mind, not something I feel comfortable doing.
    So how do I become a true ally when I have such a difficult time thinking my way through this conundrum??
    It is plainly evident to me that the teachings of the church show that God wants us all to be happy. Your data shows that same sex marriages foster a high degree of happiness for many. So are you suggesting that I allow the church to teach one thing and that I hold to a different belief? I am all for “love the sinner but not the sin.” But are you saying that sex out of marriage is not really a sin and that the church will change its view at some point after some revelation is sought, as has historically happened?
    How do you suggest we solve these problems in our minds and feel reconciled with the church? I feel I will continue to treat LGBT like I treat anybody, but I can’t see me going to the polls and fostering such a life style with my current way of thinking.

    1. Jim – As I mentioned in the talk, I recommend that you spend some real time listening to, learning from, and loving real life LGBT people. If you do this, I believe that your questions will be answered. Until then, I’m not sure I will be able to help much. And to answer your question — I’m still a believer in the law of chastity. I just believe that 1) it is not our place to judge others, and 2) that it is not a sin for two LGBT individuals who are legally married to be intimate with each other. I know that this is different than what the church currently teaches, but I believe that (like with polygamy, contraception, interracial marriage, blacks/priesthood, etc.) the church will eventually change on this issue, once same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. It’s just my opinion. I don’t expect you to agree.

    2. Hi Jim,
      I appreciate your response as I’m sure many members are in your shoes. I think the big hang up for a lot of members is the sex part. But remember, just because you have been taught it is a sin does not mean they think it is a sin. Nor is supporting their decision to have same sex relations in any way asking you to sin. This is about providing a society that allows people in love to share in the same happiness you enjoy as a straight man. By supporting that right that every human being has to be happy, you are not being asked to sin. Nor is it asking you to do anything contrary to what the church teaches you. Maybe the church never changes it’s position with regards to temple marriage and that’s their right, but by supporting civil unions, you are not necessarily saying you support gay temple marriage. The church will do what it will, but supporting the civil rights of another human being is in no way a sin on you or your belief system.

  2. This moved me deeply, John. I’m grateful to my own friends and family members who are gay who helped me engage with this message at least a decade ago. Jesus Christ loves every last one of us and wants us to somehow learn to do the same.

  3. John, I love that you did a TED talk on all your work with LGBT. It will provide a great way to share the message in this very popular format.

  4. This was really wonderful, John. Thank you. I have come to the same conclusion as you through my interactions with LGBT friends and family. Ironically, the principle you espouse works equally well for societal acceptable of mormons. Once people actually know a mormon (or LGBT) the barriers begin to fall. Good trees do not bear evil fruit. When someone knows a gay family and sees that that family organization is good – not just acceptable, but actually good – that person inevitably embraces the gay family as they would any other.

    Another very important principle for me is to show compassion and understanding for those who (like Jim above) are struggling to reconcile life experiences with conflicting teachings they received from trusted family and leaders. To illustrate this point, let me give the example of my grandparents and racism; an example that likely applies to many others. On an objective scale, I would wager that my grandparents have expressed many more racist sentiments over their lives than I have. But that is not because I am a better person. Rather, it is because I was never taught the hatred they received and so I never had to wrestle with those false teachings and find a way to reject the teachings while still maintaining a bond with family and leaders who taught them. In regards to racism, my grandparents performed a truly expiatory sacrifice for which I am the beneficiary. I mean that in the fullest sense. By drinking from the bitter cup of racism and rejecting it, they performed Christ-like service and became saviors on Mount Zion. So they get the credit, not me, for our society’s improved racial relations. They took the world they were given and handed me a better one.

    Applying this analogy to our current wrestle with gay marriage, let us remember to show compassion to older family members and church leaders who, quite honestly, must sacrifice more than younger people in order to open their hearts to LGBT families. Yes, the wagon train must move forward. But as it does, we must maintain hold of those who move more slowly; even those of the last wagon. It is no easy task to embrace families who you have been taught to condemn, and at the same time maintain eternal bonds with those who taught you to condemn – particularly when those who taught you have passed away and so, from our mortal perspective, cannot tell you that their views are also changing. Because of the veil of death, we think the dead are static in their progression, when in reality I believe they are moving forward just as much as we are.

  5. Tom, your talk was inspirational. You are not only an ally to those who so badly need it, but you are doing something very valuable for the church. There are those who say they can’t reconcile the church and gay marriage. And this is exactly one of the conflicts you are talking about, a conflict that has destroyed the lives of so many good people. You know the stats better than I do. But the church like all other populations, have at least ten percent who through no fault of their own, do not fit the Mormon pattern, the one pattern for all, as it is now presented by the church. When I attended school at BYU, there was a psych professor there who spent much of his time going out to rescue members who felt worthless, anguished, depressed, suicidal. It had gradually dawned on them that they did not fit the pattern they had been repeatedly taught all their lives. This was a life shattering conflict. And they had to face and suffer this conflict totally alone, with no guidance or support from anyone, not their friends, not their family, not the church. They do need an ally. They do need love. And members of the church need to realize this fact. The church needs to get beyond the silent conspiracy of censorship and oppression, open up and talk about this. And they also need to realize that just like being straight, being gay is also biologically predetermined. I know Mormons are very loving and caring people and no one means to do this. But they should not just give love, as most of them are very willing to do, but education and open dialogue are also needed, in fact, I think, essential.

  6. Excellent presentation.

    I have no issues with the love of lgtb people or n helping and sharing. Even gay marriage is fine with me if that still allows my church to refuse to marry a gay couple. Where I’m currently living they passed gay marriage and it doesn’t affect anything or in any way our church and practices so its more of a ‘who cares’ situation here.

    My only questions are the doctrinal ones. Not trying to be critical but asking questions here to understand. You quoted Kimball’s opinion that God see’s it as wrong, so then
    a) do you think God changed that view? or
    b) is it man who changed the view that God is against homosexuality
    (the act of course)
    4) what happens in Eternity? what kingdom with a gay couple go to?
    will they be able to reach exaltation? will they be Gods and not
    Angles as per sec 132/76

    What happens is those cases? I know a possible answer here is that prophets, seers and revelators should exercise that title and its up to them to reveal where a gay couple ends up but it seems to me that they are currently doing that and they’re saying that the gay couple wont even get into the terrestrial kingdom (Thats going on all the talks and the general handbook especially, which only allows excommunication and disfellowshipment for a homosexual act, irrespective of marriage condition)

    1. Hi Charlie,

      I think that’s the point. No one knows for certain what happens in the next life. Will a gay person be allowed exaltation or not? But we do know that we are on this earth to find joy. Men are that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:27)

      Why fight against the joy of another human being? The church does not have to marry anyone they do not want to. No one is taking that right away even if we allow gays to marry. If allowing gays to marry brings them joy, I’m certain God can figure out the other stuff when they die.

      1. “I’m certain God can figure out the other stuff when they die”

        Well that’s one way of looking at this. We call that a cop out (not sure if it’s used in the US)

        However I’d rather find out what the answer is in case my daughters end up being gay. And also the idea behind D&C and PoGP is precisely to answer these questions…and they don’t seem to support a view that a gay couple will ever enter the CK, although it doesn’t specifically address the issue since homosexuality was mostly a hush hush issue in the 19th century.

        Also if it is a sin as the church seems to imply, then by definition that ‘joy’ a gay couple reaches is not the same as that God influenced ‘joy’ they talk about. But personally I don’t really care all that much if a gay couple marries or not but the doctrinal questions are there in the back of my mind. But it seems that no one knows what the answer is, John included, i.e where will that honest, decent, christlike married (civil) gay couple end up in the next life?

    1. Jay,

      Really, after so many post thoughtful and sincere, both in support of the podcast and thoughtful disagreement you have to post that.

  7. John. Very informative talk. Some interesting stats you share.

    What got me first thinking of this topic and having me see it in a different light than what is usually believed in Mormon circles is when I first learned about Alan Turing. He was a brilliant mind. Invented one of the first computers and helped crack the German Code in WW2. When it was found out he was gay he was treated very poorly. Look his story up on Wiki some time. Its also the story of how apple computers gets its name. Hemingway sais its a blow to all humanity when even one life is lost -For whom the bell tolls.

    I to have had a hard time getting around the gay sex part. To me it is very grows. But every one has something different that floats their boat.

    Again. Good job on the talk.

  8. As an older woman and ally of gay people I can’t help but shake my head every time I hear another adult say they can’t get around the gay sex part. Don’t you remember when you first learned about sex as a child and thought it was gross and didn’t want to believe that your parents would do something like that? Don’t assume you know how anyone has sex, homosexual or heterosexual. There are all kinds of “gross” ways people of both orientations can have sex. Adverse reactions to the thought of gay sex appears to be an issue of perspective and maturity on the topic of human sexuality.

    1. Kathleen. I was about 12 when I learned about heterosexual Sex. I was fascinated. It was great. I didn’t think it was grows. It’s ok if some think it is. Like I said, to each there own.

    2. Kathleen,

      I never grossed out after learning about sex….if anything it seemed funny. I did gross out at the thought, and still do, of my own mother having done that stuff….No way..she never did…I must have had a surrogate mom, or the stalk bird brought me here..yeah it was the bird!

  9. Brilliant! Couragious! Well done!

    Kathleen makes a very good point about how we as children must grow through the grossness of sex. When I first encountered (by accident) two men romantically embracing I instantly felt revulsion but as I later came to know them I began to understand as John explained in his talk that their lifestyle was more like that of most couples that it was different and I was then able to fully accept them and other gays and gay couples.

  10. John thank you for your efforts and heartfelt passion you have for the LGBT community. I have a relative that is gay and whom I care for deeply and would be devistated if he had chosen to leave this world instead of being who he truly is. I am so glad you are helping others come to see how we should be treating those wrestling with there choices to make in life. You are showing us how we should treat other like Christ would have expected us to treat them and not judge them.

  11. John
    Thanks so much for your exceptional talk. Very powerful, meaningful, insightful, heartfelt, and personal. Wonderful for the format. Thanks for taking this brave stance as a Mormon, you encourage me and I’m sure many others to take a similar stand of integrity, compassion, justice, hope, and love.

  12. I too feel revulsion whenever I think about most gay men I know having sex… and I’m gay. Come to think of it, I feel disgusted thinking about 99% of the population going at it, gay or straight. Sex is messy and PRIVATE.

    But the truth is I don’t think about it because I’m a mature adult. Do you walk in to Sacrament meeting, imagine all the couples in their intimate moments and then feel all warm and fuzzy because all the parts fit like you believe they should? If not, why do you then imagine gay men having sex?

    John didn’t mention the sex part of a gay person’s daily life for the same reason he probably wouldn’t mention sex if asked about his own daily routine. It’s between two people. Period. If you believe sex is sacred, you should allow that it is for others just as well.

  13. I am Stuart Matis’ sister (the young man who took his life at the Church in 2000). Since his passing, my parents have co-written a book (In Quiet Desperation) and have opened their home to hundreds of LGTB people and their families. It is not unique to have their phone ring in the middle of the night by someone strugglinng with the decision to end their life. They have visited too many in the hospital after failed suicide attempts. They are strong advocates for those with same gender feelings who are choosing to stay active in the Church. However, they never close their doors to anyone who has chosen to live the lifestyle. It is important for the LGTB members of our church to know they are loved “as is”. And we have noticed this adressed much more by the Brethren. This is a gospel of love. I am not saying we should advocate same sex marriage. I still believe that marriage is sacred. Fighting to make civil unions legally equal to marriage is something else. My focus, and that of my parents, is to let them know they are loved, valued and of worth. If we are truly tring to be like our Savior we need to look past what we don’t understand to the heart of a person and remember that we are all His children and He loves us ALL equally.

  14. John Dehlin,

    (not to get banned here, please, they are just questions)

    You still haven’t answered the questions on doctrine. What will happen to gay couples, in your opinion, in eternity? Those questions listed above, were:

    “My only questions are the doctrinal ones. Not trying to be critical but asking questions here to understand. You quoted Kimball’s opinion that God see’s it as wrong, so then
    a) do you think God changed that view? or
    b) is it man who changed the view that God is against homosexuality
    (the act of course)
    4) what happens in Eternity? what kingdom with a gay couple go to?
    will they be able to reach exaltation? will they be Gods and not
    Angles as per sec 132/76”

    1. Charlie,

      I can understand your desire to have him answer your questions. I can also see why he hasn’t. To do so would just stir up a debate on doctrinal issues, which is not the agenda here. It would all be mere speculation anyway and wouldn’t serve any purpose. It seems the point of all of this is to encourage others to look past the label of LGTB to see the actual person and to support them as a child of God. Stirring up such speculative debate might be counter productive.

      1. Hmmmm…..

        “To do so would just stir up a debate on doctrinal issues”

        All that has mostly happened here in mormon stories are debates on doctrinal issues, from gay marriage to blacks and the priesthood to revelation in church to ordain women….all small parts of mormon doctrine. And if your aim is to explore, celebrate and challenge mormon culture well how can that be done without referring to doctrine at some point? Most of what we do is due to mormon doctrine and beliefs (most since basketball courts in churches is still debatable)

        Plus if your point of view does conflict with mormon doctrine shouldn’t you explain why? or explain why you don’t agree with excommunicating gay couples? (which happens today due to mormon doctrine)

        I can see your point of supporting someone as a child of God, which is fine and I agree with, but we should also support people who commit sin too, as children of God and help them back into the fold. But if the church says “Gay couples end up in the telestial kingdom” and because of that, because we want all to reach the celestial, then your beliefs that we should accept a gay couple in church as married would be hypocritical at best; Unless you accept an active gay person(ie having gay sex) accept him only to help him repent of his sin. Or unless John knows a way around all this and can show that a gay couple could entre the CK and could be exalted as a couple.

        Then we would all change to accept them as we did back when blacks were conferred the priesthood and started entering the Temple.

        1. Charlie, Here is a perspective from a gay Mormon. Debating doctrinal issues is a waste of time because being gay is not a spiritual problem, it’s an orientation issue. If you want to understand us better, read about sexual orientation development and social bias. Let me be clear, being gay is not a ‘temptation’, nor is it a psychological disorder, it is an orientation. Thus, religious debating is barking up the wrong tree. So is reorientation therapy.
          Now since you did mention sex, let me ask you what is the difference between a female and male anus? Absolutely nothing. Most straight men consider anal sex with women a particular pleasure. Yet those same straight men think gay male sex is gross. Go figure.

  15. John,
    Thank you for the work you are trying to do. Sometimes there are those of us that don’t know how to do that, including me. I am not a great writer but I do have some opinions I can share. Being an LDS wife and mother of 3 adopted children, I have dealt with a lot of trying to help and heartache that comes along with that. And, I do have a brother-in-law that is gay. I am not telling this to you for any sympathy but to let you know I do have questions and concerns just as anyone else may have when things are so close to home. My struggle and maybe other LDS members is the whole marriage thing. I do believe at the time that marriage was defined, it was for a man and a woman. Anyone in the LGTB community should not want the same title and to be treated the same as those that are married. They would want to be treated for the people that they are, but as for the slaves, women’s right activists, ect., they would not want to be equal but have the same rights or opportunities as other people. In this day and age, why can we not come up with another term, besides marriage or wedding, that can give them the freedoms they want yet show others that they are united as a couple. There are so many new words and terms added to the dictionary daily and someone could come up with something that everyone could be happy with. I think the reason so much opposition is met with LDS and other Christians, is because they feel their marriage is threatened by that word getting changed to mean so many other things than the way they signed up for (1 man and 1 woman). I know in my heart that I cannot judge others around me but I can show love and try to help those in need. Also, hate will never get things changed, it will just get passed on to future generations. Let me know what you think, thanks.

    1. Kathy, Separate but equal has already been shown to be an unsound philosophy for human rights. Instead of focusing on how LGBT people are different from straights, try focusing on how much we are the same.

      1. Maybe this can be thought of differently. I don’t see myself as wanting to be treated as anyone else, other than myself. I want to be treated as a married mother of three. Why would I deny my background and why would I want to be treated like a gay couple, black couple, or anyone that doesn’t live the way I was taught? If you don’t fit into the slot of an LDS member, you should be able to find another slot you can fit into. I can’t imagine that they would want to be treated like me when they have their own differences and uniqueness that they should be able to celebrate and not to be compared to me or my lifestyle. That is what I was trying to say before. Sorry, if you did not understand.

  16. I’ve had many friends over the years that are gay or lesbian. I always treated them like everyone else. I enjoyed there friendship and have many fond memories of our times together. We can and should love everyone and reach out to those who are suffering for any reason.

    As far as our church or any church goes I think it will be difficult for them to be all things to all people.

  17. Great! Wonderful presentation! My wife sent it to her TBM mom. 🙂

    To me, a Swedish citizen, it seems insane if anyone would be viewed as an “apostate” for supporting the rights of LGBT [in Swedish: HBTQ] people. In Sweden these issues are already resolved and LGBT people already have the same legal rights as non-LGBT people, as a LDS member I support the laws of my nation. That citizens in many U.S. states not yet have attained such legal rights is a regional political matter and it should be of no relevance to the multinational (supposedly politically neutral) LDS Church.

  18. That was beautifully stated. I agree completely. I hope more have the courage to listen, learn, and love as you did. As a devote Mormon I do believe that the commandment to “love one another” will prevail. My hope it is sooner than later. Thank you for your message!

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