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  1. Kudos to the Abau family for loving their son enough to educate themselves about what it means to be LGBT and what a healthy response to these kids looks like. The fact that son John felt comfortable enough in his own skin to come out at age 13 says something about the environment he was raised in.

    Ms. Abau got it exactly right when she realized the church simply doesn’t have this one right. What saddens me is that for every John Abau out there, there are no doubt, 5 or 6 others who don’t have the right family environment to deal with their sexuality in a healthy manner. It stupefies me that a church which makes grandiose claims about the value of families with promises of eternal relationships has adopted so many ill-conceived and destructive policies pertaining to their very own gay community. It is appalling really.

  2. The only question that I have is how were these parents treating and acting around gay people in general and gay teens specifically before their son came out.

    I may be totally wrong but it appears that their change of heart towards gays came because they had a gay son. If that’s the case, then better late than never as they say. But if their son was straight and their attitudes towards gays remained negative, then perhaps the lesson to all of us is to make our minds before being compelled into acceptance because it has manifested itself in a son or daughter or anyone else. It’s only a matter of time before the church accepts gays the same as straight people. Then all members will act like they were for it all along but waiting until God’s prophet said the timing was right. Just like blacks and the priesthood. I’m happy John Dehlin has not yet been excommunicated, but that appears to me to be a political decision on the part of the church. When right and wrong decisions become political decisions, then God becomes a political decision. Then faith in God and his prophets is greatly diminished. Dehlin has become too big of a hot Potatoe for the church to “mash..” It appears that the church has shown that it backs down when it has too much to lose. But unfortunately we are all losers now because faith has been seriously eroded. Unfortunately the biggest losers are the Chappel members who only know how to graze with the herd rather than be true individuals more interested in worshiping God than leaders in the church. If you doubt me count how many time the phrase “beloved prophet” is used at conference instead of “beloved Savior.” Let’s leave excommunication to God and try loving each other. I’m pretty sure that what God had in mind with the two great commandments.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. As the mother of a gay daughter I could relate to so much of what you have been through and so much of what you have felt finding out your child is gay and what that means being a church member. When we finally realized why our child had become reluctant to attend church and had become withdrawn and depressed, we were at least relieved on some level to find out what was going on. A faith crisis followed for me. I am finally seeing things in another light. It has been a very painful few years, but things are getting better. We have so many experiences in common. You will be glad to know that we accepted our daughter fully. She is a beautiful person inside and out, and like your son was a model for families at church because of her kindness and empathy for others. If you have an e-mail address, Meg, I would love to be able to talk online. Thanks.

    1. I don’t know if Meg is following these comments Rita, but I think she would be happy to communicate with you. You can send here a FB friend request here https://www.facebook.com/meg.abhau . Also, you didn’t mention if you were still active. I am involved with lds parents of LGBT who are both active and inactive. There are a few different FB groups with different focuses. Meg is involved in a group of moms called the Mama Dragon Council. It includes both current and former members of the church.

      Another group is specifically for active LDS parent, and is called I’ll Walk With You Parent Support Group. That group has a specific approach of being a forum that is not a space to criticize the church, which is helpful for some parents who are trying to remain active, while loving their LGBT child. If you are active in the church you might find that group helpful.

      If you (or anybody) want more information about any of these groups (or other groups) feel free to contact me via Facebook as well at https://www.facebook.com/danielparkinson

  4. Glenn allen. Did you listen to all 3 parts? I think Jake made the point and that they had the “luxury” of coming to a new understanding and openness because of their son–and appreciates those who came to that understanding from the beginning–without it personally affecting a loved one.

    I also feel, as you pointed out, that sometimes it seems we pay homage to and emphasize more frequently prophets (and the church)than we do the Savior.

    The Church has a good PR dept.–I would love to see them use it to bring the stories of personal journeys of our LGBT brothers and sisters to the rank and file. Clearly there is much to be done in this area. But, alas, they can’t change what they don’t see. Judging from even recent articles in the Deseret News, “their hearts are far from Me.”

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of love!

  5. What a beautiful and helpful podcast!

    We LDS people have no way to make our concerns known by the decision-makers in the church. Jake talked about his request for a disciplinary session, suggesting that others do this too, partly as a way to try to make their voices heard. Why is there no straightforward and simple way to be able to let our leaders (GAs) see what we worry about in our hearts and souls? I once wrote a letter to the church GAs, but didn’t know to whom to send it; I guessed, but sort of doubt it got through. I deliberately didn’t give my identification because I didn’t want them just sending it back down to my bishop. If I had known that my letter was being read by the people I addressed it to, I’d have felt much better about things.

    So much of our recent conference was devoted to sticking to our values, not letting the culture change us. I think many interpreted this as a plea to keep our old ideas about gay marriage strong and withstand any pressures to move beyond them. To me, however, sticking to my values, not letting the culture change me, means keeping to my even older Christ-centered values about how we think about and treat other people.

  6. Great podcast. Brave. Necessary.
    My one suggestion: Learn from the church and get some strong slogans. [Sacred not secret; Joseph is ‘imperfect’ rather than heinously immoral] You will never win while you consent to being labeled as a sinner. Do not give any credibility to stuff like: hate the sin not the “sinner” or oh well everyone at church is a sinner, or love them even if they’re sinful. No. Strongly insist that your natural persuasion is not a sin. Let them know you reject that idea- it is from man, not God. Love them AND do not call them sinners.
    Use this: “Being different is not a sin.”

  7. Just finished watching finally. I’m in my thirties, but watching this makes me want to adopt you as my parents. You are beautiful people, and you deserve all the success in your loving endeavors that you get.

  8. It is such an honor to be a small part of this movement for good in the world, and that it is giving us great satisfaction, and that is actually helping us move forward after losing our religion. Thank you. Jake and Meg

  9. Powerful! What a wonderful couple. May they increase a thousand fold, As a church member with two gay brothers and a gay son, I can certainly relate to this podcast.

  10. You can love and feel compassion for gay people without agreeing that homosexuality is a “normal” lifestyle. I would love to see the time when gay people can come to church and feel accepted and loved without requiring that everyone agree that being gay is “normal”. People are born with all kinds of abnormalities both physical and psychological and we should definitely feel love and compassion for all people.

    1. Anita, it’s difficult to feel accepted and loved by people who think that I have some sort of abnormality, or physical or psychological condition. I’m perfect the way I am. I don’t need pity from those who don’t accept and fully embrace who and what I am. Gay is normal to me. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s my reality. And my reality is full of people who either hate me for. They believe that I’m abnormal or defective and need pity or believe I do something evil or even that I am evil. All these people are in the LDS church. I get enough of that outside the church in my daily life, why would I go to a place that piles it on even more?

      1. I agree with your approach to see/position homosexuality in the society but, when you are trying to use the word “normal” and “perfect”, your argument with heterosexual folks can unwittingly & easily go awry that way. I believe what you actually meant to tell us is that we should in fact look at the homosexual as “WE”…the SAMENESS, being just like anyone else (flaws and all). It is healthier and much more effective to emphasize the “commonality” when we want to inspire an “inclusiveness” in society (we are all imperfect but still have goodness in all of us so why should we focus on each other’s flaws, instead of finding commonality to BE happy together?). “Normal” seems like an inclusive word but frequently ends up being an dividing one (just like the term “morality”… i.e. whose morality?). People divide because we spent too much time and energy on picking on each other’s differences through the concept of “being normal”, i.e what we don’t have in common.

        About PERFECTION, it has been made aware nowadays that “perfection” is probably one of the most unhealthy words on earth, used by both Evangelical Christians and the Mormons in the opposite ways. The Mormons struggle relentlessly for a perfection in order to reach the Celestial Kingdom, the only way they can “freely” rejoin their sealed family thereafter (unless the family members agree to settle for the lesser Kingdoms in order to struggle less and still have a chance to all reunite after all). Many LDS members take the striving for perfection so far, as great pride, that (underneath the kindness) sometimes they look at non-members with an air of superiority of the chosen people.

        Many members who are sincerely doing their best for the perfection, get depressed (end up with an alleviation from medication for depression) because they have to keep repenting which constantly reminds themselves of being unworthy, never good enough, fearful of being separated eternally from their beloved family in either the higher or lower Kingdoms.

        On the other hand, the Evangelical Christians use that Mormon agony of perfection as a tool to bring the struggling LDS members “back to the Lord” (to deprogram them) by pointing out that “The Gift to be simple is the gift to be free”. They emphasize the idea that God’s Kingdom is only ONE and, in order to enter that Kingdom, a complete & utter HUMILITY is the only requirement, i.e. a complete surrender and trust in Christ, by giving up one’s own self-PERFECTION. Christ has already paid for their sins, on the Cross, so no more is needed to be done to enter the Kingdom.

        In that Evangelical Christian approach, the only way to reap the benefit of Christ’s payment on the Cross is to admit/surrender yourself entirely first that you will NEVER be good enough to be perfect on your own (whatever you do, you’ll eventually miss and fail, again and again). Therefore, you have to always be dependent on Christ to go to heaven (to reunite with your family). Mormons who have already been exhausted, depressed, and agonized over the unending self-perfection, will find this co-dependent simplicity from Christ very refreshing and more comforting (not to mention, much more reassuring about their afterlife & the eternal family reunion).

        So here we have the LDS members striving/agonizing over the perfection as a constant reminder that they are not good enough. And the Evangelical Christians gives up the perfection to admit up front that they are never good enough and have to depend on the Christ for the rest of their lives.

        Arguments are still made for both sides that the Mormon perfection keeps the members striving for doing good, through the idea of trying to be perfect — nothing comes to you for free (hard work for a self-achievement is a virtue). The Evangelical Christians counter-argue that a promise of the Heaven does not come to them for free. They have to work hard to follow Christ (the only perfect one) and his way — being Christ-like (minus the self-perfection). However, if “God hates fags” according to their denominations, then that’s considered to be Christ-like for them as well, unfortunately.

        Well, ultimately…different ways to look at “perfection”…I guess.

  11. I think we forget that we are all “abnormal” by virtue of the fall. When man chose to disobey God and humanity fell; we all suffer the consequences although not specifically for Adam’s sin. When sin entered the world; the physical world fell, genetics fell, everything about us became a struggle. I do not condemn any person for being LGBT; but I see these struggles as the same as mine in struggling with pride, greed, being unloving, etc. Anything other than living up to the example Christ established is “sin” in that it keeps us from what God would want for us. My issue with society’s path of inclusion is that we all set for ourselves the standard of “normal” rather than God’s standard. We all fall short. Do not lower the bar to make it easier to meet. God did not create us evil, abusive, greedy, gay, promiscuous, etc. God created us in his image; and that image was tarnished by the fall. I always thought it was interesting that in Genesis man was made in God’s image; but when Seth was born he was said to be in Adam’s (fallen) image. We should love all but we must not see righteousness or normalcy as we are, but as we should be.

    1. You state this as tho it were an absolute, incontrovertible truth. It is not. It is merely the religious dogma you have accepted based on the cultural context of your life. There is nothing absolute about it. It is simply your opinion.

      As a 20 year old missionary in Argentina, I was stunned to hear the passionate testimony of a man who got down on his knees and bore solemn witness that he KNEW that Jesus had returned to earth in the guise of a Saint named Santo Voloro who was residing in Buenos Aires as we spoke. This experience led me to discover that Mormons aren’t the only ones who have “testimonies” of their truth. In fact, witnesses of “truth” are everywhere if we have ears to hear.

      The witness offered by the Abhau family is one based on inclusion, acceptance and unconditional love. They don’t offer up dogmatic platitudes of a prefabricated cosmology, but the heart-felt example of their love. From my perspective, what they said and how they act is a remarkable example of what unconditional love is all about.

    2. No, sorry john, I won’t let you get away with such a fatuous statement. Being gay isn’t about being imperfect before God any more than being straight would be. It is within our genetic makeup and a not yet well understood path of nurturing that determines our sexuality. To label homosexuality as comparable to your daily struggles does the same thing as comparing homosexuality to bestiality or pedophilia. I know you’re trying to soften the message by comparing homosexuality to your struggle with pride, greed and such, but what you’re saying is the same, it is a failure before God that needs to be remedied (Evergreen anyone?) due to the lowliness of sin that it is. You don’t get to do that, I’m sorry, unless of course you find your heterosexuality as a failing before the Lord, which is nonsense of course. Homosexuality is as part of nature as heterosexuality. Yes it occurs at lower frequency in the population, as does left handedness, blue eyes, and red hair.

      I will say to you that you are making certain assumptions about the nature of man due to an event known to abrahamic religion as “the fall”. Please keep in mind that many do not sense this as a literal event, along with Adam and Eve, that explain the nature of the world, in fact the evidence points strongly against it. The entirety of your post is still the negative message towards our GLBT brothers and sisters that keep them out of church, and sometimes on the edge of contemplating horrible paths leading to suicide. The only bar that is lowered right now is your attitude towards this subject. We who have repented from our bad attitudes towards homosexuality feel we have raised our bars closer to God, and if friendly hands and warm hearts are any indication, we’ve been successful.

  12. The only cultural context or dogma that matters is a first century Jew; who as the incarnate Eternal God came in the flesh as the new Adam and example for all humanity. For us to argue our personal preference or morality is to worship the created rather than the creator. I firmly believe in and admire the Abhau family’s love and inclusion. I simply said we all fall short of what God hopes for us by virtue of the fall and an imperfect world. Because the gentleman dropped to his knees and testified about Jesus’ return to Buenos Aires was sincere does not make it true. If we cannot at least believe in the Christian Christ as a common point of belief then you can argue anything. I am not an active Mormon and I have experienced by own trial of faith; but I do not reject the Christ and what the New Testament Gospel teaches in trade for the wisdom of the age.

  13. I am thrilled to hear how this family embraced their son for who he is without trying to change him.

    Ironically, the acceptance of homosexuality by orthodox people like this family has the tendency to domesticate it. I couldn’t help but think how their vision of their son remaining chaste, waiting till 16 to date, and having a monogamous relationship within the bounds of marriage kind of upends the joie de vivre that has been so much a part of the gay culture.

    While it is great to see more and more conservatives accept homosexuality it is a little sad to think how we may lose something as gay culture just becomes incorporated as a part of conservative traditions.

    We should be careful what we wish for. Having the church accept LGBT could wind up snuffing out the energy and creativity these people currently experience as outsiders.

    1. Micheal, I totally disagree with this concern. Jon, or any gay teen raised by affirming parents) still has every chance in the world to rebel against his parents and become openly promiscuous, or he can rebel by becoming a celibate Monk. The point it, this is his choice. The free-love element of the gay community will always exist, and will always be an option for those who want it (just like in the straight community). But more importantly, Jon has a choice. His choice is less influenced by homophobia, or by family rejection. He will be more independent of the gay community and prevailing ideologies, because he won’t need it. And most importantly, he won’t have an 8 fold increase in risk of suicide, drug dependence or HIV infection because he doesn’t have parental rejection.

      Part of growing up is assessing our parents values and deciding which to reject or accept. Jon will get to do that, and if wants a husband and a dog and 2 kids and a white picket fence, then I applaud that. Or if wants to be a bohemian that roams the world then I applaud that too. The healthiest thing for Mormon parents to do is teach the same values to their gay kids that they teach to their straight ones. Then those gay and straight kids can grow up and rebel or conform as they choose…but hopefully in ways that are healthy and not destructive.

      Oppression and suffering may create great art, but I would like to offer our gay teens boring acceptance. Oppression was the experience of our generation…..let’s not regret our victory in bringing about change.

      1. @Daniel – You are definitely right on this issue. The fact that some people find their characters, and abilities, tempered as a result of hardship and persecution is no justification for hardship and persecution.

        I wouldn’t wish pain and suffering on gay teens just in the hope that a few of the hard-done kids become stronger as a result at the expense of the vast majority that just breaks.

  14. Interesting comment, Michael. As a gay man who has been “out” almost three decades, I am amazed by how much society and the gay subculture have changed. Gay bars are closing all over the country because young gay people just don’t see the point. Ditto the notorious gay bath houses. I for one say “good riddance.” Gay people are just as creative as they ever were. We are still disproportionately represented in the arts and helping professions. If anything, young gay people are more energized than ever.

    The thing that makes me happy for the young man in this podcast is that because of the actions of his parents, he is much less likely to fall into unhealthy behaviors. He’s more likely maintain the core values of his family, and just lead a normal, productive life.

  15. I have only watched the first video in this podcast, but I was completely moved and touched by the Abhau’s story. Thank you Meg, Jake and John, for being willing to share how your journey is unfolding. Sharing what you have on this podcast and all the other endeavors you are taking on, on behalf of LGBT people, is meritorious and desperately needed. Isn’t it funny, that sometimes the most difficult things we go through in life, turn out to be a gift–a gift to help shape us, give our lives even more purpose and meaning? Thank you for your great example and for steeping up to help our gay brothers and sisters and their families. May God bless you and your beautiful family.

  16. Once someone leaves the church they lose credibility to advocate for the church in my mind. You have become an enemy to the church and biased. The old saying that “If your not for us, your against us” really does apply here. All the kind words about the church amount to a pile of dribble when you speak out of both sides of your face.

    I did appreciate Dr. Parkinson’s remarks that there are people with same sex attraction that live quite normal lives in the church and hence reap the blessings associated with it.. These LDS look with not just this life in mind, but have an eternal perspective where gay, straight, single married might not have the same blessings in this life, but will be provided for and reap all the blessings with an eternal vision rather than parking things here in this mortal life. They have the vision to realize that all who make covenants and keep them can have all of the blessings and be joint heirs with Jesus Christ not just in this life, but in the life to come. With this vision they can overcome all earthly trials.

    I guess someone forgot to tell these LDS gay people or gay sympathizers that the church was a terrible place to be if your gay: http://www.mormon.org/searchresults#?query=gay%20mormon&filter=site

    Coming from S. Utah/N. Arizona, I served as a Senior missionary in Oakland/San Francisco and met some wonderful people. Gays, tranagender the full gambit of the LGBT community. My home teaching companion was openly gay and HIV positive.

    I also met Ted Fairchild the happiest gay Mormon who just recently passed away: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.304054249645486.84922.188694301181482&type=3

    Here is Ted’s story. http://gaymormonstories.org/ted/

    Ted’s family would feed anyone that didn’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving at the church up by the temple in Oakland. No one was turned away.

    Both Ted and my Home Teaching companion were wonderful missionaries for the church. I feel really awful that you all feel a need to leave the church, but please tell it a little more like it is. There are a lot more folks that are gay staying in the church and coming back to the church because they find the church TO BE A SAFE HAVEN. As wonderful parents Jake and Meg, I don’t believe for a minute that John would have had a problem growing up as a believing LDS. But activism reaps its worldly rewards. I understand that It is a personal choice to leave the church one that most LDS that have been to the temple can hardly contemplate after making covenants with their God/our Heavenly Father. Unfathomable for those of us that still believe.

    I wish you all the best in your life journey and will pray for your safe return to your God and the safety for all gay Mormons in the church. Some day I hope you figure out that LDS as a whole are some of the most loving people on the face of the planet. We cannot be otherwise, but the fisherman’s net brings in all kinds of fish and all are not as Christlike yet as they might be after a little more life experience.

    1. I think this is deflecting and in a big way. I have been raised in this church, served this church through mission and many service and leadership callings. I have given countless dollars to this church, so has John, I think we get to comment without being called on it, especially when you consider you’re a guest on John’s forum, set up in love and service to help sheppard some through a failure of faith to either find ways of staying in the church, or how to find peace outside the indoctrination.

      The fact is that we were raised in a schizophrenic organization of both good and evil. There were many things wonderful and fulfilling found in our church as I was growing up. I remember the Saturday evening roast beef dinners raising money for the building fund. I remember the road shows, talent shows, when we really came together as a ward. I remember countless wonderful Sunday School teachers who taught both about Joseph and Jesus. I remember the warm feelings, trust me I do. What I didn’t realize that attending to this system was an assiduous message towards women, blacks, gays and transgendered. I remember the fight against the ERA, which I didn’t understand as a child, the insistence that there was indeed a curse put on our black brothers and sisters preventing not only black men from holding the priesthood, but black women and children and families from participating in the temple ordinances and blessings. There was a time when women couldn’t pray even in sacrament meeting, and I remember the first woman to pray in my sacrament meeting. It was in my time Joel that Spencer W Kimball compared Homosexuality to bestiality; “Thus it is through the ages, perhaps as an extension of homosexual practices, men and women have sunk to even seeking sexual satisfactions with animals”.

      Now Joel, I believe, passioned as you are, that you come to this discussion with more sensible attitudes and more enlightened rationality concerning these topics, and the church has come a long way as well, however I do not believe for a minute that you nor the church come with these sensibilities because of anything to do with the restored Gospel, in fact quite the opposite, you and most people come to these sensibilities of human rights, along with the broader enlightenments of science, medicine, education because of the secular disciplines of science and free thinking. In other words you’re defending the very thing that left all of us stultified in attitudes and limited in thinking towards loving each other thoroughly, not providing a safe space for some of our sons and daughters, and turn around criticizing the very thing that has led you to this message board with somewhat of an rational understanding of how the world really is. My opinion is that your passion is misplaced. It is free thinking rationalists that has dragged the church kicking and screaming into the pastures of acceptance and enlightenment. We are still on our way as well. The church recognizes the phenomena of homosexuality, although still tripping on the minutia that is the sex act. The church is just getting started. So what will you say when our GLBT brothers and sisters have full rights in our church, including being recognized as couples legally wedded, participating in all the blessings the Gospel has to offer, cause that day is coming. There are many of us who want to do the right thing now, not later when the damage is already done and the church lamely explains it was acting on “limited understanding” ala McConkie and his “forget what I said” refrain. You know the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. I will not be fooled again.

      Leaving the church was the best thing I have ever done, and has brought me enormous happiness and peace, if you were wondering.

      1. Rude dog – Me thinks you give “free thinking rationalists” way too much credit. Let us review:
        1- Women still do not have the Priesthood in the traditional sense of the word although I would argue that they have had it from the inception of the restoration. From the sound of the last general conference and previous conferences the answer to when or if female ordination will happen any time soon is a resounding NO. Yet women of the church realize that all blessings will come their way regardless of whether they are ordained or not. This seems to fly in the face of rationalists, but not to women with an eternal view. Different roles in this life. Same blessings in the next if they stay true and faithful.
        2- Black members have never been discriminated against in the eternal realm. The members of African descent prior to Declaration 2 had an eternal vision that, “All Are Alike Unto God” and that their Heavenly Father loved them as much as any of His children. They could not deny the light they received with testimonies often brighter than other LDS of their time. (Different blessings and rolls to play in this life but the same blessings for baptized covenant makers in eternity). The long awaited day came after 3-years of peace on the issue of race in the church. A Rationalist would have cowed down in the heat of the battle. Instead. a prophet taking the issue to the Lord and then to the quorums of the church for confirmation made the pronouncement. It was Revelation for our time not rationalism. Not to mention the Black Continent being prepared for the restored gospel. See “All Are Alike Unto God”; E. Dale LeBaron. Along with racial blur in S. America and elsewhere.
        3- Long overdue however is how we treat our LDS brothers and sisters who are gay and often times have not been treated with dignity and respect. But those believing LGBT folks that cannot deny the light and truth they have received and honor their covenants with an eternal view know that all things will be made right for those in the church even persecuted the Savior in His time. These believing members look ahead not backwards. The church has not changed its stance on gay marriage and does not appear to be pointed in that direction either.

        A rationalists mind just cannot wrap around in their head the concept that we all have differing gifts and blessings in this life. A rationalist believes that people should be homogenous even though they know this to be impossible. God has made differing degrees of glory for all of His children so they can abide some degree of glory and find joy there in. What we choose in this life will determine our happiness in the next.

        I do know however what the role of a LDS is however. That is to help bring the ordinances of the gospel to all of God’s children both living and dead. To prepare a place for Christ to come and finish the work he started in the beginning. Those of us who have accepted these ordinances through revelation and testimony and fall short will receive their glory in the next life. I wonder what the glory will be for an activist who openly fights against Zion or those who have their own closed definitions of what is right or wrong? In the mean time, those of us that are trying to hold to the revelation that has been given to us by the grace of God and have not had it doused with overly free thinking rationalists will go on to invite all to come unto Christ and join with us in this great cause. We welcome and invite all Gays. Straights, Races of all Kinds, Single people, families, all religions, nations, creeds and tongues of the world to receive all of the blessings that our God and Jesus Christ have for us in this life and the next.

        I love you Rude Dog, but your overly open approach has little to be desired in my mind especially when I know that you have had the truth and light given to you by the grace of God and witnessed to that effect in the past. I am glad however that you have found enourmous peace and happiness and don’t dought it for a minute. There is lots of peace and happiness to be found in or out of the church.

        1. You know the argument most convincing to me that you’re probably wrong Joel? It’s the simple argument of the failure of religion/belief to improve or clarify over time.

          Over the years our understanding of the universe and physical world has grown by leaps and bounds, almost to the point of absurdity. We understand things about our world and cosmos that 5 hundred years ago we wouldn’t have even known the questions to ask. This is because we developed an incredibly efficient and effective method for sorting out good ideas from bad ones. A method that has built in, self correcting mechanisms, and most of all, a method that will, despite its imperfections, usually withholds judgment until most of the evidence we can gather, is in. Not only is our understanding of the natural world improving, dramatically and sometimes stunningly, but so are our methods for coming to these understandings.

          What’s our understanding of God coming to? It’s in the same place it’s always been for thousands of years. Thousands of religions/sects squabbling over which sacred texts and spiritual intuitions are the correct ones. We’ve still not come any closer to spiritual consensus about our understanding of the supernatural world. If religion, especially our church Joel were a perception of a real being or substance, our understanding of it would be sharpening, clarifying, being refined. Instead we get obfuscated essays that more often than not articulate the fact at how much we don’t know or understand. I’m amazed just in my lifetime at how so much of our “restored principles” are being rolled back or abandoned as we come to more enlightened understandings about our reality. How much we’ve changed just by our understanding of evolution, the age of the earth, about Native American DNA, Book of Abraham facsimiles, and the like. It seems that our church doesn’t understand why blacks were denied priesthood, as it seems you don’t either as your opinion seems to be in disagreement to the church’s own essay. Our stances on once bulwark theology are seemingly dissolving into watered down protestantism as Hinckley, after his disavowal of such basics as God’s nature (as man is, God once was…) started a non-committal stance that his successor’s have had a hard time breaking away from. Line upon line? Hell, we’re going backwards in understanding. As much as I dislike McConkie, at least he stood for something.

          I respect your opinion, however I have no desire to participate in the dark side of blind obedience and the terrifying human condition of acquiescing the only thing that separates us from all other primates, our faculty of reason, and that willingness to take any risk that reason demands of us, and replace it with faith as virtue. I consider that terrifying. Just consider the topic of this thread, the fact that some parents might just reject their own children due to faith and turn them away. Say what you will, but I’m glad the Abhau family rationally chose their son (all of him, not just the homosexual repressing his very core) over the church. It’s delusional thinking to think they didn’t have to.

          1. Rude Dog – I don’t believe any true LDS believes in blind obedience, at least they shouldn’t. Any new convert to the church has been charged with finding out for themselves if what we profess is true or not. They may embrace that faith and light or abandon that faith and light, but they cannot reasonably deny the other-world influence that it came from. I would be interested to hear some of the Abhau’s spiritual experiences. I would be shocked if they had none, just as shocked as if you have not had some too. I don’t recall one podcast that John D. has done where these LDS or former LDS have not told about their spiritual experiences as a believing LDS.

            When I look into the cosmos I see an anthropomorphic, family God. Not just in our universe, but multitudes of universes. Not just one universe that is just 13.8 billion years old. I see worlds without number like ours coming and going in and out of existence. I see the evolution of intelligence and beings that have mastered the art of organizing universes. I see one of these perfected beings as the God of this universe and His Son that organized it and gave humanity a part in it. I see a divine plan that allows lowly creatures of this creation to be able to become like our Father and His Son.

            I see science and religion coming together where all truth will be circumscribed into one great whole. Why would LDS not embrace all of the good that science and reason have to offer? Why would we not acknowledge wrong beliefs as Elder McKonkie did after receiving further truth and light? After all, we are human. Some of us are being guided by an anthropomorphic, celestial being, a creator or organizer. Elder McKonkie was one of them that did the best he could with the light and truth of his time. LDS are constantly looking for more truth and light wherever it comes from.

            Rude Dog you sell your brothers and sisters in the gospel short with what would appear to be a lack of reason. Everything in the universe points to higher intelligence than ourselves now that we can see the art of creation clearer than ever, up close and personal. This Creator has charged LDS with the task of becoming and representing Him hereon earth. The miracle is that sometimes we even do! That is when Heaven and Earth come together for LDS.

            Is it delusional to think that with this light and truth that the Abhau’s could not navigate an LDS life for themselves and their son? No,the thought that they could not makes reason stare.

          2. Rude Dog,
            I really admire your lengthy effort engaging this very conversation, trying to use (real) reasons and personal discovery of truth based on reality. In the end, as I see from reading all Joel’s responses, all you got back (and will ever get) is a lot of conviction, reasoning, and analyses drawn from his so-called “truth & light from spiritual experience”.

            Such experience usually comes from fasting, listening to choir/preaching, reading uplifting words from a holy book, praying so hard to God for answers until one feels a burning in the bosoms, chills running down the spine, goose-bumps, VERTIGO, etc (the list is endless). Such uplifting feeling was mistaken throughout the history by the Baptists, Pentecostal, Muslims, Hindus, LDS believers, etc as a spiritual experience — a divine answer to one’s prayer from God. Oftentimes, a believer’s imagination can run so wild that he even picks something simple (e.g. a random coincidence, a realization of natural grandeur & beauty, etc) as a divine experience and gets all excited about it, and starts claiming that God talks/manifests (not literally) to them. For example, seeing a beautiful tree, ocean, mountains, all the sudden he proclaims those to be works of God, with one of the most common fallacies that those in nature can’t happen by accident.

            Calvin argued for this sort of spiritual experience extensively through his idea of “sensus divinitatis”. Unbeknownst to holy-spiritual believers, the kind of uplifting & mind-blowing “physical/emotional” experience (from prayers, music, readings) mistaken as spiritual/divine, usually happens when the brain enters a deep meditative state long enough at the right balance. The Hindus, the Buddhists, the Taoists, etc already discovered the exact techniques (meditation) centuries ago, to enter such physical/mental state at will, and also to sustain, reenter, and exit such state at will. The Buddhists and the Taoists look at such techniques as “technology”, and such physical/mental experience as nothing more than a natural phenomenon, in order to merely observe its impermanence because it constantly comes and goes.

            Because this mental/physical state (mistaken as a divine experience) occurs only at the right meditative balance, some people have less difficult time to arrive at it and some can find it pretty hard to achieve. That’s why some LDS (Baptist, Pentecostal, etc) believers “pray with a sincere heart” (deeply focus and enter a deep meditative state) and experience it soon enough, but for other members, such experience has never come to them simply because they lack a natural meditative skill or are not very good at it. The sad thing is many believers sincerely pray and pray, never get the burning in the bosom, and feel bad about themselves, not being good enough, for not getting the “testimony”, when in fact it is all about lacking meditative skill. And other members accidentally experience the spirit by a sheer dumb luck because they are just already better at naturally reaching the right meditative state.

            A very ironic thing about this mistaken spiritual experience is that many believers have lost or switched their faith because of this very culture of producing/demanding a personal divine testimony. Some Mormons living in the faith all their lives, never had any spiritual experience (a testimony). After leaving the church and joining a different Christian denomination, they read the Bible, liked it, and all the sudden got the burning in the bosoms – now they believes that their denomination is the true church. On the other hand, some baptists never got a spiritual experience, later converted to join the LDS church, lived a new lifestyle (a more strict/devoting Mormon lifestyle), and perhaps listened more to the great Mormon Tabernacle Choir. One day, feeling more peaceful, content, and more focus, they prayed and got the spiritual experience for the very first time – therefore, the LDS is the true church. Today, we have this sort of a new-found spiritual testimony & faith-switching posted all over YouTube & blogs by former Mormons (turned Evangelical Christians), former Baptists (turned LDS), etc. Some ex-Christians (now fresh atheists) confessed that they felt confused and unsure because they still felt the so-called spiritual experience once in a while.

            Experience is not a small thing for you to underestimate, esp when you try to “rationalize” with people claiming to have a spiritual experience. To us all, humans, experience (not logic and not even a hard fact) IS reality. Experience (seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, sensing) IS believing, even though it’s not necessarily a representation of a “truth”. I once heard a young LDS lady argued with an ex-LDS that her Church was true because she KNEW it was true. Once asked further how she KNEW so, she said because she had the testimony – she had the spiritual experience. From right then and there, I finally understood why she confidently claimed her mere “feeling (physical and emotional)” as fact. That’s because her feeling was real, it did happen, and human considers an experience a reality (the truth). That’s how human has been operating/interacting with the world. Unfortunately, she (like many believers, and…well, all of us) forgets the truth of reality that feeling is just a feeling, no matter how real it “feels”. The fact remains that the smell of jasmine from a perfume bottle does not make that bottle a jasmine, no matter how real that bottle smells of a jasmine.

            When you are trying to argue using facts and reality with a person whose foundation of reasons comes from spiritual experience (i.e. “truth and light from grace of God”), you know that he is mostly in the “emotional” paradigm – that is his reality, his truth.

            In John Dehlin’s previous interviews with Sandra Tanner, she said that she frequently “sensed” her late husband’s presence in her house, which made her happy and the loneliness a bit more tolerable. She said it was real, and she KNEW it was real because she FELT it – therefore, a spirit is real, and so is heaven and ultimately God. It makes me realize that, in arguing and trying to make a stand for rationalism, there is a point that you can no longer push your rational point against believers (unless you want to personally advocate for and follow through with them) because that feeling/experience is all they have to hold on to, in the meantime, until they can find a better replacement.

            Rude Dog, I wonder if you yourself ever had (or still have) the “spiritual” experience. If so, did it make you a believer? (And if not any more, then how did you come to see the reality or gain a sober understanding about this sort of “feeling”?)

            For your further investigation on the physical and mental phenomenon in a deep meditative state, you may look up on Google the term like Jhana (deep absorption meditation) discovered and developed hundreds of years ago by the Hindus, the Buddhist, etc. In that topic, technical terms “Piti” (rapture) can also be found – at the right meditative state, a powerful sensation of rapture are bound to erupt. For meditation practitioners, this can be recreated, control, and experience at will…after diligent practices. Many people can naturally easily reach that state, but still many others need much more practice. All who reach that state, agree it is an exquisite experience (spiritual?) but, for the Buddhists and Taoists, Piti is merely “observed” objectively (not to be emotionally involved) and always used as a teaching tool to analyze an illusion of feeling, which is an impermanence. This will also be an important tool for you to help your friends and family who agonize from having no testimony or are about to get persuaded to join a religious group which uses the advertisement and promotion of looking for God through a divine experience (a mere feeling). The investigation on the very well-developed Eastern meditation techniques, Jhana (Jhanic state), and Piti, (rapture) will tremendously help you point out to your loved ones that burning-in-the-bosoms, vertigo, divine experience etc can be recreated and controlled, at will, any time through practicing the effective meditation techniques. Such experience is therefore only natural, and there is nothing so divine about it (even though it feels truly exquisite). As you know, once people mistake such experience as divine/spiritual and you have no explanation for it, it’s not easy for you to use any amount of rationalism to get them THINK differently, unfortunately.

      2. Totally agree with you, especially the part that a church naturally has to yield and bend backward to the “truth” governed by REALITY…in order to survive. People who argue purely from logic derived from a doctrine and personal faith, has no solid ground whatsoever to stand on because it is based entirely on religious fantasy. Merely keeping referencing on old books and their own imagination, is what they are doing and all they can do.

    2. Joel, if leaving the church doesn’t give you credibility to speak to it, then staying in it doesn’t lend you to speak for the people who have left (like you have done in your post). Im certainly not criticizing your comments, just clarifying that you can’t have it both ways.

      But I do understand where you are coming from and sadly, you’re right about credibility. But please keep in mind that these videos were shot many months apart. The first while still believing and the second while not. So place the credibility where you see fit while watching/listening because your comment is the exact reason that we made a second video nearly a year later.

      These videos offer a unique perspective to see our views while transitioning to a different opinion of faith. It is apparent that Meg and are aren’t even on the same page with things at the same time as we’ve journeyed this together, but at different rates.

      Thank you kindly for your post. I remember feeling something very similar some time ago and can appreciate your sentiments.

  17. I just wanted to let you guys know how much I love what you are doing. Thank you for sharing an example of how we should all treat each other. You all are examples of the purest and highest love. I couldn’t agree with you more Meg about how we need to take gay love out of the darkness and bring examples of it into the light. Anyone who really deeply believed in the standards we (active and former Mormons) were brought up with would encourage gay marriage and standards for same sex dating. Jon, you are light to the world. Thank you for being your authentic self and shining so bright for all of us.
    I am a Mom with little ones who are still interested in being read to. It is important to me to expose my children to positive role models in every gender, race, ability, and orientation. I wanted to ask if anyone was aware of any children’s books that have same sex couples in them or stories where gay characters are some of the main characters. Carol Lynn Pearson, would you please write one?

  18. this podcast couldn’t have come at a better time. i have a friend who is a tbm and who baptized me into the LDS church. we regularly interact via facebook. i gave him a link to the first episode. the things we have discussed about being gay and Mormon over the last year or so are the very things that this video interview brings up. hopefully he watches it conscientiously and comes to a new understanding and appreciation of lgbt issues and its affects/effects on the hearts and minds of gay mormons within LDS Mormonism.

  19. I would like to thank Dr. Parkinson and the Abhau Family for the excellent set of interviews. I love to have my beliefs challenged and this interview certainly provided a lot of food for thought. I see the benefits of persuasion, love, awareness, acceptance, faith, and positivity. The words and actions by everyone in these interviews seem to apply these ideals in their lives. You don’t need my respect and appreciation but you have it anyway.

    Seeking the well-being of LGBT people is obviously the right thing to do.

    Let me suggest you start a new church. I suspect the LDS church will not change.

    I wish you well.

  20. I want you to know how much I appreciated hearing your story on Mormon Stories. I was raised Mormon and am gay. I came out to my parents at 19, and it went okay, but at the time I promised I’d stay in The Church and marry a man anyway. Someone I’d confided in at 17 years old told our bishop on me, and he then had me meet with him after church every week for a while, which of course indicated to my parents that I must have committed some major sin, which I felt he did on purpose because he really wanted me to tell my parents. He used information I gave him confidentially to figure out about another girl who was gay and then told her bishop, even though I’d explained I wouldn’t tell him who she was because that was her business and she wished it to remain unknown.

    A lot of people at church made life uncomfortable for me. I left when I was 20 for theological and historical reasons, many of which are no longer that important to me, now that I see life and the universe and everything differently than I did then. I miss so much of The Church but still feel there’s not a real place for me there yet. I now have friends who are protestants who are welcoming me into their church, and I like it, which seems crazy to me because I haven’t thought I could be any kind of Christian for 8 years now. But, their music doesn’t work for me like Mormon music does :]

    So hearing the way you talk about all this, and particularly with the story about marching in the pride parade and hugging the gay Mormon boy, I started crying and felt like you were hugging me and accepting me too.

    I want you to know I think you’re right that John is who he is for a reason. Your story and your love touched me at a really difficult time I my life, a hard time that has also left me spiritually open and raw, much like the day you learned John was gay. If there is a God, he really does work out his purposes in unexpected ways, doesn’t he? I’m so grateful that you could see God at work in your life, recognizing what a spiritual experience really is, that where love is God is, and that a tree bearing good fruit is a good tree, when human understanding might have led you to think all of that wasn’t God at all.

  21. This is a very delicate subject and I applaud those involved who are working to tackle the issues that surround this subject. It’s a very difficult one to have to address. I don’t know exactly how to describe what I am about to say, but it has to be said. This has to do with the cause of homosexuality at the very core, and how it can be changed or reversed and stopped. This is not an easy thing for people to accept because of how amazingly strong the cause really is. The cause also does not want to be found out.

    So, here I go. The cause is not genetic in nature by any means. It is demonic. I am firmly experienced in the truth that gayness is demonic. I know this for a fact. There are many “deliverance” ministries that have had an abundance of experience in seeing homosexual people change nearly overnight after having been cleared of the demonic influence. Its as if they never were. And, you will never hear of this in the major media outlets. I have also read autobiographies of former homosexuals who actually SAW the unclean spirit leave them after years of having it attached to them and they didn’t even know it.

    There is a person who is an active LDS church member who resides in Cedar City who has helped many many people with this very problem. Some of those he has helped were LDS missionaries in the Provo mission. It all has to do with removing the demonic influence. Once that is removed, the person is free.

    What gets me is that so few understand this. Either they have never heard of it, or they don’t want to change, or they are so afraid of evil spirits, or even talking about them, that they can’t even begin to address the issue. Instead, we resort to lesser uninformed descriptions, from so called professionals, of the problem trying like anything just to justify ourselves and our children. And, anyone who says it is not a problem is messed up in their head.

    Every family who has had to go through this or will go through this should know what to do about it, but that is not the desire of the cause or root of the problem. The cause does not want to be found out. Maybe we should go re-read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

    What’s also interesting to me is how the LDS church squashes this subject of evil spirits. Is it cuz we really do not have the authority to get rid of them? Or, is it cuz we are so afraid of the dark side that we can’t stand to even talk about it? Why not do what Jesus and the Apostles of old used to do? Everywhere they went the first thing they did was to cast out the evil spirits. Even Mary Magdalene had 7 cast out of her. It wasn’t cuz she was evil! It’s just cuz its what the evil does. That’s what they do. They get in us and cause us all kinds of problems. Jesus knew what to do with them. How come we can’t??? The Apostle Paul told us who our fight really is with. So, why in heaven’s name do we hide from this.

    Do the research, and then go get your boy fixed. That’s the bottom line.

    This issue can be solved, but not without much difficulty. The belief that homosexuality is genetic or normal or natural has become so prevalent now that it is going to be near impossible to eradicate it, and it can only be done with God’s help, not man’s. If people do not turn to God for his help, there is no hope of solving this issue, and many many more parents and children are going to have to face this very same thing with sickness and heartache just like the Abhau family did.

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