mormonism q&a, part 1: gender and marriage


disclaimer:
-i speak only for myself - nothing that i've shared here is speaking for the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints as a whole or for any individual member of that church. detailed and accurate information about official doctrine and policy of the church can be found at mormon.org. -i certainly don't have all the answers!! but i am happy to share my perspective and learn from others'.
-i hope that readers will not make assumptions beyond what i have written here. i welcome reactions, questions, and further discussion in the comments, but please do not claim i have said something that i actually haven't. i think it can be really easy/natural to "read between the lines" on topics like these (i've certainly done that with thoughts others have shared), so it might be wise to double check that you aren't putting any words into my mouth before formulating a response, wether in your head or in the comments.
-i could spend a really long time trying to make sure i've explained myself perfectly or have taken into account every bit of perspective/information i can find, or have written things in such a way that they are not misunderstood. nap time just isn't that long, and frankly, there are other valuable things i think i should be doing with my time. so i've resigned that i just need to do my best to somewhat quickly answer these questions. i hope all readers will be generous and give me the benefit of the doubt in responses.


i've genuinely really enjoyed reading through readers' questions about my faith, and i am happy to respond to the best of my ability and according to my own personal opinion/understanding/experience. i've decided to break questions up into several posts and to dedicate this post to the topics of gender and marriage. i haven't answered all posed gender and marriage questions here, but intend to get to all of them eventually. i just wanted to post this before it got too long or took dozens of nap times to finish :) 

i shared some general thoughts, which are the crux of my beliefs, on these topics in my faith-based "ten thoughts" post. i will expand on these thoughts a bit in this post, through answering questions of blog readers. questions have been copied and pasted from the comments section of a few of my most recent posts and are shown here in italics. 

through earnest personal inquiry, i have come to believe that the human race is divinely designed to consist of two genders that are intended to fit together. essentially, i believe that we cannot reach our full potential - throughout the eons of eternity - as (male or female) individuals, but only as (male and female) partnerships. to be frank, this belief is challenging for me to have at times, but i cannot deny that i have it. when i pray and ask god about it, i feel and experience undeniable confirmation that gender is divinely appointed and meant to be combined. 

on gender:

Are men really more capable than women of certain non-genitalia related tasks? You are an excellent ambassador for your faith. Don't sell yourself short in thinking you couldn't be a bishop, or bless your own baby. You would be amazing. I heard the BBC news podcast this morning about the fight for women's right to drive in Saudi Arabia, and I wondered how that is any different to certain LDS restrictions placed on women. Men in Saudi Arabia said in interviews that women have different roles, not better or worse, just different, and shouldn't be able to drive. Does that sound familiar? 

i believe that men and women were divinely designed to be fundamentally different and complementary. that doesn't mean that one is necessarily "more capable" of a task than another. i agree that i would be an amazing bishop, or do an amazing job blessing my baby :) but i genuinely feel that god has designated those tasks for men (just as he has designated other tasks for women, which men could be equally capable of). i believe that driving is a task that should be undertaken by both men and women, but i suppose that if i felt strongly - from god - that it was a task that should be undertaken by only one gender, i would support that. 

Can you give examples on the differences between women and men? I've thought and discussed this a lot and I don't know whether there are general differences at all and if so whether they are given by God/nature or by society (I'm well interested into the opinion of other readers, too!).

i certainly can't provide an exhaustive list of the divinely appointed differences between men and women. i can say that i believe that there are actually few differences that are clear and universal, and beyond those, any disparity between men and women is the result of society twisting eternal truths over centuries of time and human mistakes. i believe that an all-knowing and perfectly loving god, who begot us spiritually as well as designed our physical bodies, has indicated that men are to hold offices in the priesthood of his church, and that women are to bear and give birth to children. 
while i think there are are, very generally speaking, attributes that tend to be stronger or more natural to one of the sexes, i do not believe that there are mandated qualities, interests, temperaments or vocations that god wants completely limited to one sex or the other. i believe there is a spectrum of masculinity and femininity that all humans have a unique spot on. 

Does the gender binary nature of Mormonism bother you, and if so how do you deal with that - both within yourself and how you plan to bring Moses up?

as i've made it pretty clear, i believe in the binary nature of gender - because i view it from the perspective of reaching full potential through the essential coupling of two different (but equal) parts. i am, however, bothered by the existences of sexism within the church (just as i am bothered by the existence of sexism in society at large). i believe that women should be better represented in church leadership, and i think the church absolutely has room for improvement when it comes to gender equality (which i believe is actually enhanced, rather than hindered, by gender distinction). 
i deal with this by acknowledging the shortcomings of humans and hoping for continued progress in the future. i plan to teach moses (and, hopefully, his siblings) that gender is important - both in its binary nature and in making sure that its binary nature does not lead to inequality. 

Would love to hear your thoughts on male and female roles that the LDS faith has established and your views on them. Women are primarily encouraged to be mothers and the heart of the family, correct? As an outsider it seems like education is valued for women through university and then the shift focuses to family. From my own life I have seen that families tend to function extremely well when one parent is a "specialist" in the family itself and not as focused on work. Do you find this to be true? ... just curious to hear your thoughts on how the church sees women's roles and men's roles, and how both of those contribute to overall family harmony. 

because marriage and parenthood is considered to be essential to reaching our full potential and eventually receiving all that god has, yes, women are encouraged to be mothers ... and men are encouraged to be fathers! both mother and father make up the heart of the family. 
i agree that, generally, families tend to function extremely well when one parent "specializes" in childcare and one in work outside the home. but i also believe that every family is different and needs different things in order to thrive, depending on circumstances, and also on personalities! both men and women are encouraged to focus on family, and married couples are instructed to counsel with each other and with god to decide what is best for their family when it comes to work inside and outside of the home.

If Eliza came to Jared and said her dream in life would be to serve as Bishop like her father, can you think of a good reason to give her why any one of her brothers is more qualified or capable? Or why she should be excluded?
(context: eliza is my niece and jared is my brother-in-law, who happens to be a bishop in their local church congregation.)

no, i can't think of a good reason to give her why any one of her brothers is more capable. but the reason i would give her that her brothers are qualified and she is not is because the role of bishop is one that an all-knowing and perfectly loving god has designated for men - and there are other (equally important) roles that are designated only for women! (so, just like eliza cannot be a bishop, her brother isaac cannot be a relief society president.) it doesn't mean that we are more or less capable, it just means that we are different. 
as a side note, i believe that in an ideal marriage, unity in all aspects of life is very important, and all is shared. ian and i work on our roles in the church together. 

on marriage:

I wonder if you would be willing to say that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman to a room full of children of happily-married gay parents. Actually looking the children and parents In the eye? Do you think your words would be hurtful or harmful to them? I get the caveat you put about "in this life," but do you remember your heart ache post and the pain you described feeling while sobbing in the shower? That is the pain a gay person can feel in being denied the love and stability of a legal marriage. I never forgot that post because it was so relatable and poignant. I pray that your perspective on this evolves to a more loving point. I know you have empathy for that pain and rejection since you articulated it better than I ever could have. 

woof, that would be a tough thing to do -- but yes, i would be willing to say that god's plan for his children centers around heterosexual marriage to a room full of children of happily-married gay parents. i have asked god if this is true, and he has confirmed to me that it is - i can't deny that, no matter who i stand in front of. the bottom line is that i believe that, by divine design, in order to truly have all that god has, to reach our full potential, we have to be married to someone of the opposite sex. yes, i think me saying that to such a group would feel hurtful, and so if i were in that situation i certainly would engage in a lot of prayer to understand how i could also powerfully express love, acceptance and total acknowledgement that personal beliefs contrary to mine are absolutely valid. 
i do indeed have empathy for the pain of being denied love and marriage. i feel so grateful that my heartache of this type was very temporary, and i truly can't imagine the torment of feeling that pain for a much longer period of time (and in a much more complicated situation within society). but (as i explained in my "ten thoughts" post), i believe in eternity and that this life is a tiny sliver of our existence. i guess i see the pain of being denied the love and stability of a legal marriage over the course of several decades as small in comparison to the joy of achieving full potential over the course of several millennia. i know that is easy for me to say, and completely understand how it could come across as ridiculously simplistic and totally tone-deaf. and honestly, it's hard for me to believe all this sometimes - but it is the answer i've gotten from heaven. i will continue to ask god about this, and of course if i come to realize that i've misunderstood the answer, i will change my view. 

I also wonder, Charity, how you might respond if Moses or another of your potential future children is gay or transgender - obviously with love, that emanates from everything you do - but how you might wrestle with your beliefs on heterosexual marriage as divinely designed, essential to realizing human potential, etc. I can only imagine what it would feel like for someone to know their faith tradition exempts their LGBTQ child from something so core to their beliefs. 
You’re sure the best is yet to come, but what if there’s a May in the future when a tearful Mo tells you he’s homo? Seriously, what will you do? Continue to subscribe to a worldview that consigns him to a life sentence of second-class pity and scorn? That’s when all the platitudes that you’re surely brooding over at this very moment for next week’s post would start unraveling. It’s one thing to say, “oh, I have no problem with gay people and they are welcome to sit next to me at church”...quite another when your own son – who’s been fed a childhood of “joy is the purpose of life” – is forced to decide between a joyless, pointless life within the construct you have brought him up in, or a life of estrangement outside of it. Make no mistake, Mormon doctrine and culture drives LGBT youth to depression and suicide.

the answer to "what would i do if my child was LGBTQ" is: first, LOVE, and second, PRAY. and i believe that god would guide me as i earnestly sought answers that had suddenly become much more personal and direction on how to best support and help my child. i absolutely acknowledge (although wouldn't dare claim to perfectly understand) that mormon doctrine and culture is hugely distressing for LGBT individuals (especially youth) within the church, and we as a community absolutely need to do better in providing love and support. "pity and scorn" should have no place in how we treat anyone. i do believe that anyone can find joy and purpose regardless of circumstance.

I wonder: do you have any LGBT friends or family members? If so, how do you reconcile your beliefs and your friendship? 

yes, i do have some LGBT friends, and a few (distant) family members that identify as LGBT. i don't worry about reconciling my beliefs and my friendship - i just love them, just as i do with any friend that shares or does not share different aspects of my faith.

Why do you believe someone turns out to be homosexual?

i don't know the answer to this, and i'm really looking forward to learning about it one day (and i think that day will be after this life).

I am curious if you feel that there is a difference between a religious/blessed marriage and a legal/civil marriage? Would you support family or friends who entered into a same-sex marriage outside the church? What do you and Ian plan to tell Moses about same-sex couples?

i believe that homosexual couples that choose to be in a committed relationship with each other for life should have every legal right that married heterosexual couples do. i am uncomfortable with calling the union of homosexual couples "marriage," just because that term is so significant to me spiritually (and i believe god's definition of the term is between a man and a woman). 
yes, i would support family or friends who entered into a same-sex marriage outside the church. i would hope my loved ones would know that my love and support of them and their chosen partner as individuals is separate from my belief that heterosexual marriage is essential to god's plan. 
nap time just ended, so i'll save the last part of this question for a future post :)

image by caitlin connolly

83 comments:

  1. "I wonder: do you have any LGBT friends or family members? If so, how do you reconcile your beliefs and your friendship?"
    "A: yes, i do have some LGBT friends, and a few (distant) family members that identify as LGBT. i don't worry about reconciling my beliefs and my friendship - i just love them, just as i do with any friend that shares or does not share different aspects of my faith."

    I saw this question/comment the other day, and my response would have been similar to yours, Charity! I think whether we are of a particular faith or not, we will ALWAYS have differences with those close to us (friends/family)... that doesn't mean we don't love them or appreciate them differently... we just know we have differences that we don't have to agree on in order to have a meaningful relationship. Heck, I have some differences with my husband on some of the very topics you, Charity, were asked about. Do I wish we saw eye to eye? Of course I do - but I also accept that we do see some things differently, and we simply do not let it be a thorn in the side of our marriage.

    Also - I do not have an eternal perspective of marriage (but can I just say I do love the idea of eternity), and while I am in a heterosexual marriage, I do 100% marriage of same-gender couples. But now that we are expecting our son in October, I've thought about what I would do if my son (eventually) came out as being LGBTQ. Even though my societal thoughts trend towards the more liberal view, I think I too would 1) love and 2) pray/think. I have some LGBTQ friends/family, and while I know 100% I am heterosexual and wouldn't be comfortable being otherwise (I do believe people are "born" the sexuality they end up living...), I also love them for who they are.

    Anyways, that was a big tangent. I just wanted to say - I love your thoughtful responses, especially because your faith is a fundamental part of who you are - including having to reconcile your (sometimes) struggles with it. I wish more people could be so open and honest like you - it's hard to be vulnerable, but I greatly appreciate it!

    -Sabrina

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    1. That was my question - thank you for answering it Charity. I think it's brilliant that you have LGBT friends and (distant!) family who you love. When I asked the question about reconciliation with your beliefs, I think the problem I was trying to get at is: if you think pursuing a homosexual relationships is sinful and contrary to God's plan, how can that not change how you feel about individuals who make that choice? If I found out that a friend had done something that I considered really morally wrong - say they had cheated someone or seriously injured or even killed them - I think it might affect how I felt about them.

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    2. hi beca. i think i see what you mean. i guess the difference is that i know that my friends/family members who are in homosexual relationships don't share my beliefs about god's plan. i think everyone should live according to the dictates of their own conscience, being the best they can, and i'm in no position to judge someone else's decisions because i don't completely understand what they feel - wether from god or just within themselves - to be morally right. i think my feelings towards a friend who did something that we both agree is fundamentally wrong (i.e. cheating on someone, killing someone) might change. but i believe in and try to show unconditional love in all my relationships - the kind of love that god and jesus christ have.

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    3. Thanks again for responding - this post and all the comments are very thought provoking. I do still see a problem here, in that, if you had a friend who murdered someone, it really wouldn't be enough for them to say, "oh well, you know, I don't share your conviction that unlawful killing is wrong." You may try to have compassion and not to judge, but I doubt you could form a close friendship with someone like that. The fact that you feel able to have friendships with those who actively pursue LGBT relationships suggests to me that, maybe, you just don't really think pursuing those relationships is wrong in the first place. And if that is the case, maybe the LDS church has it wrong on this issue.

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    4. i guess i just think of killing as more universally accepted as wrong -- so i see a difference there.

      it's a complicated issue, that's for sure - for me, especially because it is connected to so many true and good principles like love, commitment and family. i do believe that homosexual relationship are contrary to god's will. i also believe that sex outside of marriage is contrary to god's will. and that consuming alcohol is contrary to god's will. but i totally understand that that is not everyone's belief, so of course i can have friendships with those that are sexually active outside of marriage and that consume alcohol.

      i'm not sure if that helps my perspective make more sense?

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    5. Haha, yes, of course killing someone is absolutely a more universally accepted moral wrong.

      What I was trying to say (perhaps not very well!) is that you might be happy to be friends with someone who does something that the LDS church says is contrary to God's will. However, it would be very difficult to be friends with someone if you thought their behaviour was really fundamentally morally wrong. It wouldn't matter if the friend thought that the behaviour in question was totally fine.

      Since you are able to be friends with people in LGBT relationships (and people who drink alcohol and/or have sex outside marriage), maybe these things are just not really morally wrong to you? And if that is the case, it begs the question why the LDS church teaches that they are...

      I'm not sure if I'm making any sense.

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    6. Hi Charity, Beca, and Sabrina,
      Thank you for this lively and respectful discussion. This is the first time I have *ever* commented on ANY blog (I read many), and have read yours for many years, Charity. Again, thank you for holding space for people who share different views to come together and gain a bit more understanding about one another, the human experience, and ultimately life's mysteries. I believe that faith and religion ultimately exist to provide insight into the mysteries of life -- birth, death, and all experiences in between.

      I do not have the answers to any of the big questions that are raised on this thread, but I am fascinated by (and was compelled to comment on) the assertion that there is such thing as "universal" right and wrong. For example, both Beca and Charity seemed to suggest that killing someone is more "universally" wrong than same-sex attraction and marriage. It made me genuinely wonder, specifically about your experience, Charity... has there ever been a time when you realized that something you believed to be "universal" was actually not? For instance, some people believe that certain killings are "less wrong" (or not wrong at all) - such as in war (killing enemy forces), or with the death penalty (obtaining justice for victims). Examples like this have led me to consider the fact that many things that I take to be "universal" might not actually be, even with killing.

      I am not sure, for example, that if I gathered 50 people, let alone the entire human race (the "universe"), in a room that we could come up with a set of principles or actions that are "right" and "wrong" and therefore "universal." I think we may be in agreement on this, and that both of you may have been hitting on a similar point.

      All of this leads me to wonder, Charity, if in your time at Wellesley or in other settings, you took courses on ethics or gender studies, in particular? I am curious because when I took courses on those topics, I walked away with the insight that there is no single interpretation or definition of gender, sexuality, or morality (these are just two examples, but I believe that universal definitions of all things are nearly impossible). Furthermore, I came to realize that what I believed to be "universally true" was really just a function of the place and time that I was living. For instance, people raised in different times and cultures may genuinely believe that same-sex relationships were fundamentally, morally, wrong. I can certainly think of cultures where relationships with someone of the same sex is punishable by death. Interestingly, cultures with that viewpoint believe that same-sex relationships are MORE wrong than killing. That is totally different from our belief of "universal" truth.

      Ultimately, this is a very long way of saying that I believe that what we take to be "right" or "wrong" and "universal" is heavily dependent our culture, time, and place. I worry that we can conflate answers from God (i.e. what we hear in prayer) with the messages and so-called "universal truths" of our culture, time, and place. A quick glance through the history of the LDS church, or ANY religion or group, tends to indicate that this could be the case. Consider the LDS church, Catholic or Protestant churches, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.'s evolution on topics of gender, sex, diet, vocational recommendations...

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    7. [continued from above]
      It also begs the question, for me: why do certain views and practices held by groups (whether religious or otherwise) tend to change only AFTER the dominant cultural view changes on the topic - and not BEFORE. For example, why did we only see acceptance of people of color in leadership, or interracial marriage, in the church AFTER the dominant cultural view had changed (i.e. after the civil rights movement in this country)?

      It seems to me that prayer is, ultimately, our *interpretation* of God's message. And I worry, therefore, that what we take away from prayer (and espouse as truth for our lives and the lives of others) is influenced by culture/time/place. So, therefore it is possible that we might be (incorrectly) interpreting the message of God on gender differences, heterosexual and homosexual relationships. I believe that it is possible that, ultimately, these are incorrect interpretations that are influenced by our cultural norms.

      I think that what I'm understanding from you, Charity, is that the Church's guidelines on family, sexuality and gender (men and women are different, same-sex relationships are not ordained by God), work for you. These views bring you peace and joy. But they may not bring peace and joy to others (and perhaps that is OK). In some cases, they may bring pain.

      I believe, and would like to raise for consideration, that some of the Church's views around family, sex, and gender could cause deep pain for women and the LGBT community due to the fact that some members of the Church (and to be clear, other religious institutions as well), give divine authority (i.e. "I heard in prayer," "God said") to viewpoints that are entirely dependent on cultural context/time/place. It was hurtful for people of color (historically), and LGBT people (presently), to hear that their lesser position in society and church is due to a message sent directly from God -- in other words, attributed to a "universal" truth, rather than what it actually is -- a particular viewpoint influenced by culture, time and place. It can also be a particularly painful experience to be part of a culture that does not fully accept you because of your skin color, gender, or sexual orientation and then to seek refuge in the one place of supposed love and understanding (in this case, Christ's church), only to be told that some rites and responsibilities are not available to you. You have been clear, Charity, that you believe that none of the church assignments or access to rites are *intended* to make one group "less than" another, but I am considering the possibility that, in practice, it may be the case. Especially when we consider the possibility that answers to prayer (our interpretation of God’s message), and therefore church policy, could be reflective of time/place/culture.

      I hope that I have been effective in communicating my message clearly and respectfully. Please feel free to ask questions or respond in whatever way feels right. I am grateful for the time that everyone has taken to listen to one another’s views on this thread and hope that we can continue to learn more about one another.

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    8. Cara, just wanted to let you know I liked your post and think it was really thoughtful. You should comment more often:).

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    9. allyson, i agree that cara's comment was really thoughtful. cara, thanks for taking the time to so articulately share your thoughts. your comments definitely made me think and stretched my perspective in positive ways.

      i agree that "universal" right and wrong doesn't really exist, i.e. different people in different parts of the world and with different backgrounds/cultures/experiences have varying perceptions on what is right and wrong. but i, personally, do believe in "absolute" right and wrong, i.e. there is set and unchangeable truth governed by god. while i agree that among humanity there is no set interpretation or definition of things like gender and morality (and certainly our perceptions of truth are hugely impacted by our the place and time in which we live), i do believe that god has a set interpretation/definition that is absolute truth. (i've considered this in gender studies/philosophy courses in college as well as through earnest personal study and inquiry throughout my own human experience.)

      because i can absolutely see how "answers to prayers" could be conflated into "universal truths," i have tried to be really, super, very earnest in finding my own answers from god. i try to examine how my feelings are being impacted by my culture, to consider history and context into the conclusions that i make, to carefully parce out what impressions are a product of my circumstance and what impressions are truly from god, etc. i'm positive that i my efforts haven't been perfect, and i'm sure i have gotten some things mixed up along the way, but i believe that as i continue to earnestly search for and confirm absolute answers from a divine source, i will continue to be inspired.

      i guess i think the reason that certain views and practices change after dominant cultural views change is because people are human, and make mistakes, and need each other to realize what they've gotten wrong.

      i understand why a parallel is often drawn between race issues and gender issues, but to me they are entirely different issues. i do not believe that the colour of one's skin has anything to do with their eternal identity, and i believe that one's gender has a lot to do with their eternal identity. i also believe that it is an absolute truth that neither race nor sexuality connotes a "lesser position in society and church," and that all rights and responsibilities in god's church are available to anyone - as long as they meet certain requirements. i know that sounds incredibly simplistic and it is actually very complicated when those requirements seem to include something so fundamental to one's mortal identity, and i know there is much pain in this issue (that i cannot fully understand because i do not experience it personally).

      i wonder if this response helps you to see a bit more of my point of view? thanks again for engaging so respectfully and thoughtfully in this discussion.

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  2. Some of those questions were mine. Thank you for taking the time to answer. I give you credit; you certainly don't falter!
    You haven't changed my opinion on sexism and discrimination against gays in the church, and your opinions seem pretty steadfast as well. But (but!) you have given me food for thought and more tolerance for your views. I hope some of my questions stretched you to a place of deeper understanding, likewise.

    Lastly, that Mo is in the very best stage right now and really is a cutie. I can't deny you are blessed in life. Have a great weekend :)

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    1. yes, all these questions are stretching me to a place of deeper understanding, and i see a ton of value in that.

      thank you!

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  3. I wish more LDS members showed the love and open mindedness that you do while not compromising their dedication to what they believe is true. You are an excellent example.

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    1. You said that so wonderfully - I completely agree!

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    2. Sadly I think some of it has to do with education level and opportunity to travel. I feel that maybe some LDS people are not as sensitive to others as they feel to be so may betray our own beliefs but as you can see from Charity they do not have to be exclusive. Also, I think some of t.his comes from sways having to defend ourselves . We are attacked daily for how we believe in ways those of others are not. Most found the Book of Mormon play to be funny but and maybe it is, but would we attend a play about muslims like this most likely not. We would say it is inappropriate . I guess we all have areas to improve on .

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    3. Kelleyn, responding to a small portion of your comment: I don't know of a play about Muslims, but there are caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. Some are quite funny (not being Muslim myself).

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  4. I have been LDS my entire life. I love that you are taking time to answer these questions. I enjoy reading your blog & the comments because I feel like it helps me to grow my perspective. I have really enjoyed these faith posts and look forward to more.

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    1. i'm so glad! expanding our perspectives is so valuable.

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  5. This is by far the silliest post I have ever read . Praying and getting undenaibly true answers specifically for you Charity ? Wake up !

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    1. Why is it silly? - Charity has these beliefs because of her faith, and because of how prayer plays a significant role in her life. I think the example is that when someone prays earnestly with intent, and will fully accept the answer to their prayer, it is true for them. Why wouldn't they be? You ask a specific question, you get a specific answer. Just my two cents.

      (Also, I know she doesn't need or ask for defense, I just thought your response was inconsiderate. Her faith is her faith, you don't have to agree with it - but you also don't have to insult her perspective/think it's silly just because you don't agree with it).

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    2. Have you tried praying! I can testify that it has worked for me, but I cannot get answers for anyone else but for me and my family.

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    3. i understand how you could find this silly. but this has been my experience. i have tried to be really earnest in finding answers for myself.

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  6. Hi Charity, thank you so much for spending the time to answer so many questions regarding your religion. I can only speak for myself, but it’s always fascinating to learn about other people’s lives, faiths, and customs. Our world is beautiful because of our differences – if we were all the same and believed the same things – how boring would that be?

    There are so many parts of the LDS religion that I find inspiring and beautiful. The importance of family, taking time each week to be together, and the help/support that is given to those in need is something we can all learn from and appreciate. I want you to keep that in mind when you read some of my questions – because it’s not coming from a bad place, but one of genuine curiosity.

    My main issue that I will not be able to overcome is this idea of “different but equal” in man and woman. Yes! We are different! I don’t think anyone could ever argue that we are the same. However, I really feel that a truly loving God would feel that women could not/should not serve as a Bishop. Why should my leadership skills/religious values be excluded? Saying that they are different but equal does not make sense when you are excluding (over) half of the population because of the anatomy they were born with. How is that equal? Why would God care if a truly devoted and qualified man wanted to lead Relief Society? These gender roles have been put into place by generations of men. What would the roles look like if women represented equally in these leadership roles?

    As a mother of two boys, I 100% agree that motherhood is an important role in my life. My children will always come first over many other priorities in my life. However, I did pursue higher education and have many skills that can contribute to my community/company/state/country. I can be a mother AND a worker. There are so many smart, talented, driven women/girls in the LDS faith (and every faith for that matter) who rather than being “pushed” as a child into making decisions to further education and truly make an impact in the world – they are staying home with their children. To each their own! BUT! What I’m trying to say (in, albeit, a round-about way) that these girls can still be brain surgeons, oncologists, researchers, professors, governors, etc etc. You can still be a wonderful and impactful mother AND change the world. I totally understand that raising children also can change the world, but these women who are surgeons, researchers, etc – their children can change the world too. Does that make sense? And I don’t necessarily think the answer in this situation would be – well, for this family, the father could/would stay home or in the rare situation both can work. Education is what furthers humanity. How can anyone say that they are really reaching their full potential if throughout their life they “know” they will likely stay home and raise kids, rather than pursuing these other awesome roles. You can do both! Everyone can!

    Saying that a woman’s greatest impact is bring a mother is simply bringing women down all over the world. Women can do everything a man can AND still be an awesome mother.

    I know this is already way too long, but placing all the importance on motherhood is also really hard on couples who experience infertility (unfortunately we had lots of issues in conceiving). I know how heartbreaking this journey is already and I can only imagine the immense pain that would be caused to live in a society that feels motherhood is the MOST important role in a woman’s life. I would love to continue this conversation, if you are interested. Again -- I want you to know this is coming from a place of curiosity and love!

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    1. Michelle, I am not speaking for Charity as this is her blog or for the church, but in my opinion God also works in the constraints of time periods. For example if the priesthood was given to woman in the 1800's no one would have ever joined the church because that concept would have so foreign. I would probably say that 99% of the women in the church don't want the priesthood. Sure I could do all those task just as good as any man and maybe even better, but would I want the extra responsibility on top motherhood. I have enough to do. There are times when my husband has been called at 3;00 am to go give someone a blessing. It isn't something you can say no to. I feel when the majority of the woman want the priesthood it may be given to them and if not I am Ok with that. I also feel that woman natural go out and serve all those around them. Men not so much but this would also be not fair because there are many wonderful men who have a desire to serve. I believe that the priesthood is given to men to bring them closer to god in a way they would likely not be without it. I think woman are naturally Godly. Hope this makes some sense.i have never been made made to feel less than in the church and in fact just the opposite. Every man I encounter has treated me with the most respect. Now that isn't to say that other woman haven't experienced chauvinism within the church, but I would say it isn't any greater than that of society norms. I have experienced more chauvinism outside the church than within. If you have followed Charity and her family the woman are all very strong woman and can hold their own. All are college graduates. Some still work outside the home and not because they'd have to but because they want too. They serve in their schools and communities and even work hard to help facilitate support and information sharing on helping families be better families .

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    2. Michelle, I think you have some good points! (I am LDS and am currently in grad school at the same time as my husband). It sounds like you are an amazing mother! I've thought a lot about how to be the best mother I can and also make a positive impact on the world in other ways (whether in a full-time job or in some other function). The older I get, the more I find examples of LDS women who both pursue opportunities outside the home and mother well. In fact (and I can't speak for Charity but this is how I perceive it) I think my perspective on my responsibility to be a mother is very similar to one of your sentences. "My children will always come first over many other priorities in my life". I think that's beautiful and I think many LDS members would agree that women can do so much good outside the home while making children and their care "first". I also think your point about the importance of motherhood being difficult for those who struggle with infertility, or are unable to bear children, is an important one. My husband and I haven't started our family yet, so I don't feel I can speak for women in the Church who have struggled with this, but I have heard a powerful perspective from one of our current female leaders (She is in the "Relief Society" leadership for the whole Church and is the Director of LDS Charities). Her name is Sharon Eubank and she has never married and has no children. I've heard her talk about this and how she still views herself as a mother because she feels motherhood encompasses the responsibility to nurture, love, gather, and care for her family members and all the children in her life. She talks about this and other important issues concerning women in the LDS Church in a wonderful 2014 presentation called "This is A Woman's Church". She is addressing a Mormon audience but I still think it offers many of the answers you are looking for. I found it very enlightening and hope it is helpful to you. Thanks for raising this point, I think its very important!
      https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2014/womans-church

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    3. Kelleyn, I hope you don't feel called out, because I just respond to your comment. I am just curious, because our believes differ.

      You say that you don't want the priesthood on top motherhood. Being a new mother I totally understand what you mean. I figure your and your husband have chosen (like we so far have) the traditional road of you staying at home and your husband working outside the home. Would you say the same if your husband stayed home to do the most of childcare and you worked for eight hours outside?

      Why do you feel women natural go out and serve those around them? Have you experienced this so very often? You're not alone in that believe; it's often an example that has been brought up when I inquired for differences. I'd even go so far and say it might fit my husband and me. But then I don't know that's because it is generally so or whether it's because of my husband's and my personalities.

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    4. hi michelle. thanks so much for sharing your perspective. you have come across very kind and respectfully curious - thanks for that.

      on your point about different but equal and leadership positions, i believe that half the population is excluded from several things due to anatomy. men will never experience pregnancy, childbirth and lactation; women will never experience elements of male sexuality. i understand that it's a little trickier when it comes to things that don't seem tied to physical anatomy, but i guess i see it as all connected and part of the same principle. i absolutely believe that both sexes need to be represented in the leadership of any organization, but who's to say that leading is better than following? that doing administrative tasks is more valuable than supporting someone doing administrative tasks? additionally, i believe that in heterosexual marriage, the ideal is perfect unity that allows for sharing of responsibilities - although one person may be a "specialist" or the actual task-doer, the two people are united in working through things together. surely we don't demand that men should breastfeed as much as women, or that if someone wants to sell cakes they also must harvest the sugar and raise the chickens for eggs, etc. it's okay for people to do different tasks and then everyone work together.

      i 100% agree that you can be both a mother and a worker. they are certainly not mutually exclusive, and i have never held that belief. i agree full-heartedly that "you can still be a wonderful and impactful mother AND change the world." i wish that girls in my faith were encouraged more to develop their interests and skills and find ways to contribute to society outside the home - i wish i was! i just believe that good parenthood is the greatest way we can make an impact in the world, and each family needs to decide how to balance that with impacting the world outside of parenthood. maybe it's that both parents work and employ someone else to take on childcare, and maybe it's that one parent works and the other takes on the majority of the childcare.

      yes, such a strong emphasis on motherhood in our culture can be really painful for those who are not mothers. i felt a tiny bit of this pain when i was wondering if i would ever have the chance to become a mother. we need to be extremely sensitive to the reality of this pain, but that doesn't mean we should shy away from principles that we believe are true. we can do both - be sensitive and be firm in convictions.

      i hope this helps you understand my perspective a little more? again, i really appreciated hearing more about your perspective.

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    5. kelleyn, thanks for sharing your perspective. i don't agree with everything you've said, but i appreciate you sharing what you think and believe.

      lauren, thanks for sharing that presentation - i'll have to check it out and i hope others here will as well.

      kerstin, thanks for sharing your continued thoughts. i'd be interested in kelleyn's responses.

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    6. I agree that is absolutely OK for us to do different tasks and work together. Nobody is saying that the priesthood is more or less valuable than, say, the relief society, just as nobody should say that being a doctor is more or less valuable than being a teacher. They are both valuable, in different ways. But the thing we choose to pursue should be based on our talents and inclinations, not on our gender. I can think of many women who would be better as bishops than relief society presidents, and the same goes for men then other way around. Ultimately, I think reserving certain callings for men is a very slippery slope... What if the church starts saying that working outside the home is somehow for men only?

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    7. actually, after i wrote that response, i thought about it and realized quickly the point you've made - that you were saying it's not about what's more valuable and what's not but about having all the options regardless of gender. that totally makes sense.

      i just believe that god has directed us on some tasks that are intended for men and some that are intended for women. he's done that through creating our physical anatomy in such a way that only women can give birth. likewise, but in a different manifestation (spiritual rather than physical), he's done that by revealing that only men can hold the priesthood. fundamentally, i believe that a loving god gives us information that will allow us to grow here on earth and continue to progress throughout the eternities - and some of that information is about division of labor and working together. some callings are reserved for men, some for women, and heterosexual marriage brings those callings together to form a complete unit.

      does that make sense?

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    8. Thanks for the clarification. I can see what you are saying, but I still think that closing off options for women or for men, even if it is done for religious reasons, is a form of gender discrimination that should not be accepted. I feel it is an easy step from saying "men and women are equal but only men can hold the priesthood" to saying "men and women are equal but only men can [work outside the home/ drive/ vote]." To me both statements are on the same continuum. I also worry that the emphasis on gender differences within the Mormon church discourages Mormon women from being as career focused as their male counterparts (and, perhaps, also puts a lot of pressure on Mormon men to be their family's "provider"). That culture might work well for some, but I don't think it fits well for everyone.

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  7. In my opinion a lot of the answers in your q&a are at odds with the notion that "mormonism does not have a monopoly on truth," and instead seem like cop-out answers that justify your beliefs and position your faith as superior.

    The notion that gay people are equal and loved in the eyes of God is at odds with the statement that people are divinely designed to partner with someone of the opposite gender. There is no such thing as respecting someones closely held belief but also being right(eous). You (the royal you) can't have it both ways. The Mormon Church, by elevating some families above others, punishing women who through prayer and testimony feel called to leadership in the church, converting people from other faith traditions, and in many other ways, tell those who do not fit the typical LDS mold they are not equal in the eyes of God.

    I know you are just speaking for yourself and not the church here, but as a long time reader and fan of your blog, I'm genuinely disappointed with some of these kool-aid-drinking responses. Separate but not equal, even in religion, is not equal, respectful, ethical, or moral.

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    1. i am disappointed that my answers seem like cop-outs and position my faith as superior. i am honestly just sharing my own experience with asking god for answers. i would genuinely welcome advice on how to do that without sounding cop-outish or superior.

      it seems we will have to agree to disagree on the possibility of loving/respecting someone despite their actions or beliefs. i absolutely believe that is possible, mostly because i've lived it and seen other people live it (much better than i have).

      i'm actually not saying "separate but equal." i'm saying "together and equal." i'll try to delve into that a bit more in an upcoming faith q&a post.

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    2. I think the point I'm trying to make is that you (again royal you) can't definitely honor someone else's deeply held belief, and be right. I think we all have to admit that we might not be right. Therefore Buddhism and Mormonism might both be true. Therefore my faith is not more true than another faith. Therefore my understanding of God and his desires for us might not be true... and so it goes on. I think ultimately we all choose faith traditions that work for us, and I think it's great that yours works for you. Attractive, white Utahans with large LDS lineages are perfect fits.

      I think it would be less of a copout to say, "yeah i'm in a prejudicial, sometimes bigoted religion and I'm willing to accept what that means about me."

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    3. i think i understand a little more what you are saying - thanks.

      i might not be right. i feel very, very strongly that the answers i have received from god are real - i feel them as deeply as i feel that i love my son, or as deeply as i feel that cheating someone is immoral. but surely there is a chance that i am wrong.

      the pure doctrine of my religion, when considered in the perspective of its entirety and in eternity, is not prejudiced or bigoted - i really truly believe that and so cannot make the statement you suggest. i can absolutely say that there are (fundamentally wrong) manifestations of my religion that are prejudicial and bigoted, and i'm willing to accept what that means about me.

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    4. ps. Sorry to have misspelled Utahn ;). I'm going to go back to enjoying your photos and not reading or commenting on posts about religion. Best to keep the fourth wall in tact! Cheers.

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  8. I think one of the hardest parts of Christianity is understanding that we are humans and God is not. As humans there is no way to understand every commandment and every decision God has made. I don't think we will understand it until we are in our next life. But I do know that the God who made the commandments, that sometimes contradict society, come from the same God who sent his son down to earth to die for our sins. And since we cannot fully understand everything, the best thing we can do is love like Jesus loved. And Jesus didn't just love his followers, he loved everyone. Because everyone was made by God. And charity, your answers truly reflect that.

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    1. Mathew chapter 19 starts out suggesting some Commandments are not of God but Moses. The one on divorce in particular. The catholic bible says unless the marriage is unlawful, the Protestant ones gives exception for sexual immorality. But it does give a thought that society did alter what God intended. If only they didn't try to build that tower the world would have one language throughout time.

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    2. i agree anon. thanks for sharing.

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  9. I will not understand the partner and progress part of your religion. Jesus in the New Testament talks about not being with spouses in the next life. The New Testament also encourages people to be single. Humans were supposed to live on earth with a direct relationship with God and did until the fall changed things. Christ open the doors of heaven for those who passed and would pass. There will be a new heaven and new earth in the end. The goal is to return to God. LDS is very different than catholicism. In all sincerity continue to believe what you like about God. I'm with you on loving Jesus.

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  10. Love and prayer. I think that's my new approach to the world at large!

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  11. http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/07/22/if-youre-lgbtq-heres-what-one-pastor-really-hopes-you-know/

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  12. Thanks for all of these answers charity! If you could include in another post why young people get married to quickly after meeting each other ( if it's a sex thing, or time/money thing)?

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    1. Yes, if Mormons believe marriage is sacred, why do young Mormons often get married so quickly?

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  13. Charity, wake up!

    “Pity and scorn” towards LGBTQ individuals is exactly what has come ACROSS THE PULPIT from men you as a believing church member sustain as “PROPHETS, SEERS AND REVELATORS” that communicate DIRECTLY WITH GOD. HOW can you possibly square that belief with your sentiment that it “should have no place in how we treat anyone?” HOW? HOW? HOW?

    So you agree WITHOUT HESITATION that “mormon doctrine and culture is hugely distressing for LGBT individuals”. Other communities do not have issues with providing them with love and support – so why does “God’s one true church”, which is “blessed with more light and knowledge” than any other, have such intractable difficulty with this? WHY? WHY? WHY?

    My fellow anon is spot on – you can’t have it both ways Charity, and if you think you do, you are deluding yourself. It’s only a matter of time before your house-of-cards construct crumbles.

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    1. hi anon. thanks for sharing your perspective.

      i might suggest that you review what has been said across the pulpit from men i believe are prophets, seers, and revelators (and also humans, who make mistakes :) ). while i completely believe that there have been some things said that you could understandably interpret as containing "pity and scorn," there's been a lot said that would be pretty difficult to interpret as anything but loving and totally condemning towards treating others with pity and scorn.

      i don't like the label "god's one true church." i believe god's authority exists in, and only in, the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, but i do not believe that it is the only church/religion with truth.

      i'm sorry this seems to be distressing for you. it's distressing for me too at times. when i turn to god in prayer, i find peace - not perfect understanding, but light and peace.

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    2. Hi Charity – when humans make mistakes that are so hurtful that it causes hopelessness, depression, and suicide, those humans simply have no more claim on the titles “prophets, seers, and revelators”. They just don’t, no matter what “they work within the context” mental gymnastics might attempt to explain otherwise.

      D&C 1:30, Charity. Only thirty verses into a book of SCRIPTURE that you accept as REVELATION FROM GOD: “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth”. Again, you can’t have it both ways. Either you accept this “label” or you are rejecting god’s word and his messengers. Take a moment to review this heartbreaking incident:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mornon-girl-comes-out_us_5942cefbe4b0f15cd5b9e561
      How can you seriously accept that these men are manifesting “god’s authority” – which they have even have exclusive exercise of – as they silence a child and offer nothing other than hollow, robotic platitudes about “heavenly father has made us all unique in different ways”?

      Of course you are distressed at times, Charity – it’s called COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. The house of cards is already losing hold.

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  14. You're either typing very fast or Moses' nap time (I bet you didn't say "Moses, wake up" :-) )is that long that I am quite jealous.

    Thank you for answering my questions and for opening an interesting discussion as already seen above! My baby's nap time isn't that long, so I just wanted to comment quickly. I need a bit more time to read every comment, think and answer, so I come back.

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  15. Interesting post and completely counter to what I believe in and the values I live in my life. I don't agree with your worldview at all, but I am facinated that by how people figured out answers to such questions. Thanks for sharing, it certainly affirmed my own (very different from yours) beliefs on love, gender, and feminism.



    -e

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  16. Thank you, Charity. I have respect for people who feel deeply and try to do all things with love and compassion, which is the feeling I got from this post. <3

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  17. I believe that Charity has experienced "real" answers to prayers. I also personally believe that these answers are psychologically based (and stem from brainwashing). There are so many intersex people in the world -- 1 out of every 3,000 -- how could a God so intensely caught up in gender roles create them? It makes no sense at all. And no, the "birth defect" explanation does not work in this case. Mormons believe that gender is an essential identity of premortal, mortal, and postmortal life. It is truly scary what earnest and good people like Charity can make themselves believe.

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    1. So, you have the right to your belief, but if Charity's belief differs from you, it must be brainwashing? No freedom of speech or thought in your world, eh?

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    2. hi elias. i consider my efforts to find truth pretty vigilant and on guard against being brainwashed. i earnestly and consistently study and pray with the hope that i am tuning in only to truth and not to psychological bending. is there anything specific you think i could do to further guard myself from that? i'd genuinely like to know - it's always worth a double and triple check :)

      thanks for reading, and for sharing your perspective in the comments.

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    3. Elias, have you ever considered that Charity's viewpoint could be correct and God created 1/3,000 intersex people as a form of natural selection, as a means of decreasing our ever growing population (because two people of the same gender cannot naturally procreate). If there is a means of decreasing the rate of procreation, it in turn slows us from depleting our planet of the natural resources God has given us. I do view this as a genetic modification or as you call it, a birth defect. The reality is that we all have questions about how/why, etc and it is not brainwashing to teach your children what you believe. Parents of all faiths or even atheist parents pass THEIR beliefs on to their children, that's parenting, not brainwashing!! To have specific answers evokes far less anxiety than not having answers! Charity is simply expressing what she believes and is in no way disrespectful to those who believe otherwise. I always find it funny when someone leaves a fairly venomous comment on a blog, because you can choose what you read and if you disagree, choose to read something else! My beliefs are quite different from Charity's, but I love learning what others believe and have found this post wonderful! This earth needs each and every one of us, how boring would life be if we were all the same?

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  18. What a brave a thoughtful post. It's hard to share such personal beliefs on such divisive topics.
    Thank you for sharing, standing true to what you believe while being respectful of what others believe.

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    1. Except... For me, it is views like Charity's that are divisive, not the topics themselves...

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  19. Charity- I wonder if you could delve into the differences between the gospel of the church and the policies of the church. I feel like many people get confused and think some policies are the gospel when they are not.
    We are a world wide church. And although in America and Britain these policies may seem behind the times, in other countries they are ahead. The church leaders are thinking of the policy impacts in every nation. Policies can evolve and change, but our gospel- the good news- never changes.

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  20. I think it's important to remember that as a Mormon, you (yes YOU) along with every other member, are causing the hurt and pain felt by the LGBT community, who are denied the thing you hold so dear (a legal, respected marriage with the opportunity to love and raise children). I don't actually know how you sleep at night. I hope this makes you feel bad because you should feel bad. Wake up.

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    1. From what I understand marriage has become legal in most states for LGBT. So how have the Mormons hurt their community? Your statement sounds more harsh than anything Charity has said.

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    2. Is this a serious question? A basic search will tell you that marriage equality has happened in spite of significant opposition from the Mormon church. Just Google "Mormon and proposition 8". We also shouldn't forget the challenges beliefs like Charity's cause for those who are both LDS and LGBT. I think this article provides a good insight: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/03/lgbt-mormons/475035/

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    3. I don't think anyone can legally remove a child from a parent because they are gay? You don't have to be married to adopt. Florida has been hard when it comes to homosexuals and adoption, but I don't think the LDS are the people in charge there.

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    4. I would be interested to hear if Charity votes the way the church advises. I am sure she will pray about it, but are her prayers always aligned with the church and the prophet? If so, I have to agree with the anonymous commenters who point out that she is part of the big problem here.
      Here is one example of Utah legislature making it more difficult for same sex couples to adopt:
      http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865648503/Utah-House-panel-rejects-gay-couples-adoption-foster-care-bill.html

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    5. Since someone brought up proposition 8, can someone explain to me why some Mormons then said that same sex marriage hurts their family?

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    6. Kerstin, I believe there was/is a fear that the LDS church, along with other religious groups, will be forced to perform marriages they don't believe in. I think this is a terrible excuse, seeing as I am straight and am not able to get married in the LDS temple and would not expect to be married in any church I didn't belong to.
      Some might say that because churches are tax exempt, they should have to serve everyone. Perhaps they just shouldn't be tax exempt anymore?

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    7. thanks all for sharing your perspectives. i don't have the time to read every article that has been linked here, but i plan to come back to them over time as i continue my personal faith inquiry around these topics.

      it is very rare that the church advises its members to vote a certain way. one example is proposition 8. i was actually on my mission when that was happening, and totally missed all the hubbub about it. i haven't delved in much on learning what happened and how the church handled it all, but my initial reaction is that there were some mistakes made by church leadership at that time. i personally would always pray and make a personal decision about my vote in a scenario like this.

      initial anonymous: i've been thinking about your comment a lot over the past few days. thanks - genuinely - for stretching my thoughtfulness on this topic.

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    8. I'm late to the party but I have to agree with the first anonymous here. The Mormon church and its followers - Charity included - are responsible for causing real hurt and pain to LGBT people. That is not okay, and it is something all Mormons should be ashamed of. I read this blog post about the experiences of a gay RM at BYUI recently and my heart just broke:
      http://zelphontheshelf.com/my-life-at-byu-i-as-a-gay-mormon/
      Charity, you post so much about the joy you find in your marriage and parenthood. Do you really think it is right that your church seems to expect all LGBT people to live without those things?

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  21. Hi Charity,
    I think you did an amazing job with very difficult questions and subject matter. I struggle to answer similar questions when asked. Though I have received answers to my own prayers, it's difficult for me to explain my beliefs to others. Thank you for putting into words what I and others struggle to do. You've probably read this before, but I've found it very helpful to share with others when they have questions on gender roles. She does an excellent job of explaining it.
    https://www.fairmormon.org/testimonies/scholars/valerie-hudson-cassler

    I have a brother who is gay, and LOVE is absolutely the answer. For some time I think he tested me, expecting me to either reject him and cling to my faith or embrace him and reject my faith. But I embrace him and still cling to my faith- which he initially struggled with but not anymore. I too look forward to those answers that will eventually come.

    Looking forward to the rest of the Q&A. You're doing great!

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  22. I thought you might be interested to see this article on a Trans individual's experiences within the LDS church: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/28/transgender-mormon-lgbt-rights-emmett-claren
    I found it very thought provoking - could it be that gender is something innate that goes beyond or is distinct from the sexual organs we happen to have at birth?

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    1. thanks for sharing - i will check that article out sometime.

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  23. I think you are so spectacular and I have really enjoyed reading these posts. You are doing a wonderful job of explaining things and are an incredible ambassador for our faith! :)

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  24. Thank you for sharing! I tried to comment when you asked for questions, but not sure it was saved. I am curious how divorce is treated in the Mormon church. Can you have a temple marriage after a failed temple marriage? What happens to the eternal family after a divorce?

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    1. hi margaret. i'll add this to my list :)

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  25. I hope it's okay I commented several times. I thought it better to add where it belonged.

    As for my questions:
    - Why does someone turn out to be homosexual? I'm not sure whether I worded my question correctly. What I meant was, do you believe that it is a choice and that someone can choose not to be? Did you answer that? Or did you answer "Why does God create homosexual people?"?

    - examples on differences of the sexes: I can't argue with you on the given examples. Giving birth is obvious and I don't have much of an opinion on Priesthood, since I don't have the same religious background. On a cursory thought I disagree (as I do with the Catholic Church).

    - Are you contradicting yourself? On the one hand you believe that callings are gender specific and on the other hand all is shared and that's why Ian and you work together on Church callings. Imagine Ian being called as a bishop. You say that it is a role God has designated for men. But if you share the tasks of a bishop don't you act against God's design?

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    1. of course that's okay, kerstin :)

      i'm going to add your questions to my list for next time. i want to delve in a bit more on my belief that men and women are different but intended to come together and then be unified and work together/share. there are some few roles defined for different genders, but i believe god intends us to work together on those roles.

      and quickly - fundamentally i do not believe that it is a choice to be homosexual or that someone can chose not to be.

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    2. I'm glad to read the latter.

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  26. I guess this is so simple... Only the good ones here on earth are exclusively chosen by God himself to be the true members of the Mormon church. Therefore, those "things" like being gay do not befall to these good ones and their families. So, why should they care... It is the decision of God to determine who belongs to this "club" and who is not worthy enough... No personal responsibility needed or desired... Surely brainwashed in order to always feel superior to "the others"...but, hey, Charity will get her own planet in the end and somehow even God-like... Or is that again only true for the male members of the so called church?
    I do not wonder at all anymore why the Mormones are not considered as Christians after I learn so much about their doctrines here on this blog. Thank you, Charity, for this.

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    1. you seem to have really misunderstood my beliefs - nothing you are saying here is what i believe. if you have specific questions about any of this, i'm happy to answer them. thanks for reading and sharing your perspective.

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  27. Few will change their views regarding homosexuality via an online forum. The issue is complex and strikes at some of the deepest, most sensitive issues of the soul, namely intimacy, companionship, and the nature of family. That said, Mormons must make more efforts to understand homosexuality and how we can more fully love and peacefully live with our LGBTQ neighbors without compromising doctrine that Mormons genuinely believe is God-ordained, carries eternal weight, and cannot be changed. Mormons have made at least some progress in this area. We recognize many views of yesteryear espoused in the Church were draconian, misinformed, and uninspired. Efforts to improve are being made. A Church leader recently said "those at Church headquarters are making every effort to distinguish between what is truly doctrine--and which cannot be changed--and what is Church policy or practice, and can be changed." It is doctrine that marriage is strictly a male-female union. This will not change, in part because Mormons do not believe it is within the human family's power to change. We believe marriage, defined as a male-female union, is a unit of eternity and the primary means for the regeneration and progress of the human family on earth and in eternity. In this sense, the male-female nature of marriage is not even within God’s purview to change. The pain this causes the LGBTQ community is undoubtedly tremendous, and Mormons must do much better at empathizing with LGBTQ people, finding common ground wherever it exists, and trying to live in harmony to whatever extent possible. There must be an area in the public sphere that permits groups to disagree on moral issues without immediately reducing one party's view as simply a product of hate. We can and must distinguish between a person--who should always be valued and loved--and the behavior in which a person engages, the morality of which may invoke a wide variety of views, all of which should be permitted a place in public discussion and considered respectfully. History repeatedly teaches that functional societies operate in this way and those who fail to do so are ultimately unsustainable. In that light, Mormons respectfully ask that as we strive to better understand LGBTQ view, that there might also be efforts to understand our views, and not swiftly dismiss as hateful all Mormon views which are not wholly aligned with those of the LGBTQ community. From Mormon perspective, the discussion starts with what Charity articulated in a previous post: We believe in eternity. Much of the pain and confusion on earth derives from a failure to grasp fully this concept, as well as a related concept: that the earth is currently in a fallen state, that fallen nature being the source of many of the parts of life that are deeply painful and confusing. When we view the world in that light, and appreciate fully that our time on earth is akin to a speck in the vastness of eternity, it at least starts to help make sense of some of the incongruities we encounter here. This includes desires all of us have which may not be aligned with eternal principles, and which need to be restrained for what, in the context of eternity, amounts to a very short period of time, those who do so being wholly compensated in the eternities--an infinitely longer time period. In this sense, Mormons believe that all desires we have on earth are in a state of change and maturation (think of the desires we have when we're five, compared to when we're 15, to those at 35, at 65, etc.). Everyone's path on earth is unique, with desires ranging across a vast spectrum, and which will throughout our entire lives ebb and flow in their alignment with eternal truths. But Mormon belief teaches that all who strive diligently and patiently to align their conduct with eternal principles, even if it means depriving themselves of some deeply held desires in this life, will eventually, accounting for eternity, attain desires that fully align with eternal truth, and the blessings that accompany it.

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  28. Mormons also recognize that notwithstanding our belief that eternal perspectives and principles should act as the primary guide for decisions, policies, and lifestyles on earth, that many do not share our view and that we must nevertheless share the earth on which we cohabitate. We seek whenever possible to live peacefully with those of differing views, while reserving the right we also possess to make our views known, even to the extent of advocacy in the public square--the same right all people and groups, including religious ones, share. We recognize that there will nevertheless be collisions of moral disagreement--some of them very jarring--and that discord and an absence of complete harmony is often unavoidable. We still believe these disagreements can always be respectful and civil. It should be noted that as part of its efforts to live harmoniously, the Mormon faith wholly supported trailblazing legislation drafted by the Utah Legislature which ensured LGBTQ people cannot be unlawfully discriminated against in housing and employment. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623399/Utah-lawmakers-unveil-anti-discrimination-religious-rights-legislation.html
    That legislation served as a template in passing similar legislation in other areas of the United States and the Church hopes, eventually, throughout the world. Mormon leadership also publicly denounced the actions of county clerks in the United States which sought to deny marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples after the United States Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage. While the Church disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, it accepts the decision as the current law of the land in the United States. We believe and hope that notwithstanding our belief that marriage is strictly a male-female union, there will be further opportunities and progress for Mormons and LGBTQ people to better understand differing viewpoints, and to share the earth with a mutual respect, civility, and appreciation for one another.

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  29. I'm actually surprised to see how many thoughtful and respectful comments there are on here. There are a few harsh bashing ones but overall I'm impressed. I agree with you, charity, on nearly everything and though you did a great job conveying your love but upholding your beliefs.

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