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November 07, 2015

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Merinda

Thank you, Neylan. I can always count on you for a thoughtful, inspired and faithful perspective. You unpacked perfectly what is going on for all of us, why it matters, but why ultimately (yet again), we can choose the path of faith, not yet having a perfect knowledge.

Rebecca

I appreciate your words. Thank you for sharing this.

This comment struck a chord, though, "It is an enormous sacrifice to give our hearts to the Lord; do we not deserve the right to be fully and transparently informed if we are to offer broken hearts upon His altar? With a change of this size, do we not deserve to know that our Prophet himself is asking us to stretch into new, unknown and scary territory, rather than have to speculate about who's involved with Handbook changes and wonder if it is in fact prophetic? And what if this change wasn’t considered new or challenging enough to warrant such handholding?"

My thoughts turned immediately to Adam when he was cast out of the garden. The scripture is in Moses 5:5-9 and I have included it here for ease of reference. Adam's understanding of the WHY of the commandment to offer animal sacrifice was not obtained until AFTER he had faithfully obeyed the commandment.

The explanation does not come BEFORE the faithful obedience. I know the world would have us believe that we should do it the other way around. As a critical thinker, my mind is constantly in motion, asking "Why?" not petulantly, but faithfully looking for answers. However, I have never hesitated to follow obediently while searching for those answers (and I think that is what you are saying here). While that search is sometimes painful, and while I still don't have nearly enough answers to completely quiet my soul, I keep having faith that if I keep searching, and keep following, someday it will all make sense to me. My feeble mortal mind is just no match for the knowledge and wisdom of God, and my poor broken heart is struggling to keep beating sometimes. But I say, with Adam, "I know not, save the Lord commanded me."

Fortunately, the Lord has not commanded me to be hateful or judgmental, so I will keep loving. And those who struggle I will keep trying to find a way to be compassionate. And I will keep faithfully obeying until the day the Lord sends and angel to explain it to me.

Moses 5:5-9

5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.

6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

eponymous

Thank you Neylan. Such a beautiful statement on a day when I really needed to hear it. Your sentiments echo my own. My eyes have watered my pillow early in the morning as I lay contemplating this new normal. I want to sustain our prophets, seers and revelators even though some days they make it more difficult than it need be. I've balanced back and forth trying to put words in the fog that this change has created. The intellectual part of me wants to explore the decisions and direction and understand why, while the my heart is grieved for the pain this is causing so many and the walls this throws up between us as Mormons and our brothers and sisters (of all creeds, beliefs and experiences).

Tatiana

Thank you. Needed to hear this.

watermelongirl

Thank you, Neylan.

Kimberly Warburton

beautiful, stunning article thanks for sharing :)

Elana Jan Bodine

Beautifully written--thoughtful, caring, humane, all the things we should seek to be if we are finding ourselves wrestling with a reality that is uncomfortable and, for some, confusing. Praying and pondering, exercising faith in those two elements of a spiritual life can bring us answers and confidence, and soothe the troubled mind and spirit.

Lindsay McPhie Hickok

Oh thank you, thank you for this response to the recent policy change. I have wrestled all weekend, and your thoughts are like balm on my seared soul. This is a difficult policy to accept (And I am not fond of their delivery mode!), but I stand with you - that the broken heartedness we feel isn't always from our personal lives.
Just - thanks.

James Olsen

Thank you.

Caroline

This is what that I've wanted to say but haven't know how and then even more that has rang true to my heart. Thank you for this post!

Kathy alexander

Can you honestly believe the church doesn't want the children of gay couple's? We know they want the gay people themselves....follow the principles of the gospel and join us. Just because someways is asked to wait till adulthood to be placed on the records of the church is not a rejection, only a postponement. The church is not willing to divide a child's loyalties, to insist they denounce the validity of their parent's relationship. They deem this a decision better left to adults. Seems compassionate to me.

Luisa Perkins

Thank you, Neylan. My heart is in perfect sync with yours.

Brandon Osmond

Neylan,
Thank you for your open and honest seeking for understanding. It has been so hard for me to see friends and others quickly dismiss the church as an unnecessary practice and life style. I too have had to think hard over the shock of this policy. It was a big slap in the face to me with where I thought we were going—love and understanding. Your words about your searching have brought me peace and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. We miss you here at boncom. Hope all is well.

Emily Flinders

I don't know how to express how much I needed your words, Neylan. I feel significantly less lonely today because of them. Dozens of my dearest friends and mentors have had such strong reactions to this, and so much hurt is flying around. My heart is just broken as I watch some of the kindest and best people I know decide that this is too much for them and that they are done trying to reconcile the church with their own consciences. That pain combined with the flagrant sense of justification expressed by so many who left before now, it has left me in a very sad place with very little solace. (The rather unthoughtful and unfeeling rebuttals coming from members aggravate this for me, and so far none of them have helped me.) The one benefit that has come of all of this, perhaps, is that I have been in a state of near-constant prayer as this has unfolded, because really I have nowhere else to turn. Being driven to desperate prayer like that is very humbling in the most constructive of ways, and I think has had a refining effect on me over the last days of conflict. I do long for and miss the peace that I felt before this occurred, and I wonder when I will find my emotional bearings and be able to function without a fog of grief over the way this has affected so many people I care deeply about. I struggle to know how to express love for them in a way that leaves room for my own imperfect faith and understanding and my determination to continue to nurture these things.

Josh

This is a very thoughtful piece, and I commend you for writing it. However, I kept thinking that what makes this policy so troubling for many Mormons like me is that it seems to contradict our basic sense of right and wrong. And yet, after careful thought and prayer, most of us will eventually follow the leaders anyway. Why? Why would we go against our inner moral compass, or the Holy Ghost? A quote by Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg kept coming to my mind while reading: "With or without it (religion), you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion."

Angie Mohsenian

Rebecca! Loved your comment! So insightful and, I feel, inspired. thanks you for articulating what I have been feeling!

Ronnie

Very beautiful Neylan. Thank you all for those comments and I feel your pain and see the inner light within you. I love the good members of the church. This policy does not seem like divine love. It seems like human love, reasoned through by men. When the savior forgave the woman taken in adultery, he showed us that there is a love that admits of no opposite - divine and free from all taint. It sheds its light on all alike. Only that love that seeks no personal reward, that does not make distinctions, and that leaves behind no heartaches, can be called divine. The church does not realize this love at present because it is grasping at the fleeting shadow and ignoring, in its blindness, the substance. And so suffering and sorrow continues, and must continue, until the church, taught by its self-inflicted pains, discovers the love that is selfless, the wisdom that is calm and full of peace. The church admitted that this is partially in response to the supreme court ruling. They are fearful, and the opposite of love is fear. The harvest from this sowing will be more suffering. The church does not understand the love that is selfless because it is engrossed in the pursuit of its own goals, protecting itself, and cramped within the narrow limits of its perishable interests - mistaking in its ignorance those goals and interests for real and abiding things. Feeding on error and self-delusion, it is shut out from the mansion of all-seeing love. Not having this love, not understanding it, the church institutes policies such as this which involves no inward sacrifice, and they imagine that their reform is going to right the kingdom for ever. They propagate evil by engaging in it themselves. Not until the church ceases from selfishness and party strive, can they learn the lesson of divine love and be a source of blessedness. Let Latter Day Saints cease to despise their LGBT brethren, and the LGBT to condemn the Latter Day Saints, let the church learn how to be inclusive, and the LGBT community how to tolerate religious belief; let the partisan cease from strife, and the uncharitable begin to forgive; let us all endeavor to rejoice with others, and the slanderers grow ashamed of their conduct. Where hatred, dislike, and condemnation are, selfless love does not abide. It resides only in the heart that has ceased from all condemnation. Some may say that they are compelled to dislike and condemn their LGBT brethren. They show that they are not acquainted with the great over-ruling love. Because it is possible for you to attain to such a state of enlightenment that will enable you to perceive the train of causes by which they have become as they are, to enter into their intense sufferings, and to see them in an eternal light as loved children of our Heavenly Father. Possessed of such knowledge it will be utterly impossible for you any longer to dislike or condemn them, and you will always think of them with perfect calmness and deep compassion.

The Church condemns the homosexual, the homosexual satirizes the Church; members on facebook and comment boards are ceaselessly engaged in wordy warfare, and the spirit of strife and hatred rules where peace and love should be.

Until the church can regard people of all sexual orientations with the same impartial spirit, with all freedom from dislike, and perfect equanimity, they have yet to strive for that love which bestows upon its possessor freedom and salvation.

The realization of divine knowledge, selfless love, utterly destroys the spirit of condemnation exemplified by the church - it disperses all evil, and lifts the consciousness to that height of pure vision where love, goodness, justice are seen to be universal, supreme, all-conquering, indestructible.

The church should exemplify strong, impartial, and gentle thought; they should focus their policies on purity, compassion, and inclusiveness; we should train our tongue to silence and to true and stainless speech; so shall we enter the way of holiness and peace, and shall ultimately realize the love of the Savior. So living, without seeking to convert, we will convince; without arguing, we will teach; not cherishing ambition, the wise will find us out; and without striving to gain men’s opinions, we will subdue their hearts. For love is all-conquering, all-powerful; and the thoughts, and deeds, and words of love can never perish. The way we are going now teaches only contempt and alienation.

To know that love is universal, supreme, all-sufficing; to be freed from the trammels of evil and dogma; to be quit of the inward unrest; to know that all people are striving to realize the truth each in their own way; to be satisfied, sorrow-less, serene; this is peace; this is gladness; this is immortality; this is what Christ would have you be; this is the realization of selfless love. The unrest you feel is a sure sign of the light within you. With everything you have, don't let that light die. When I first heard the news I couldn’t believe it. Before I knew it, I started to justify why I should accept it.

Joanna Legerski McCormick

Thank you for sharing the quote by Emmeline Harris. I had forgotten about that particular time in history where heartache, pain, and confusion were felt by many families that struggled and sacrificed much. For some reason that quote was comforting to me and feels applicable to this day, week, month....Thank you.

Susan Kate

Impressive and articulate post. For me the issue begs the question: whose conscience do you honor, your own or that of the institutional church? Are loyalty and obedience always valued over and above other values of love and compassion, diversity and inclusion? It's easy when there is no conflict between the two, but increasingly in my life I have found them to be in tension. In trying to be thoughtful about the tension, I have found myself looking to the history of our church and culture; leading to a second question: have there been issues in the past when the institutional church has been and done wrong, and when individual members could have, perhaps should have, acted in opposition to the Church in order to prevent that wrong? Clearly, yes.

It is easy to make assumptions about those whose actions or conclusions differ from your own. There are people who chose to remain active and whose hearts are broken or breaking by these policies. It is harder, especially for Mormons, to accept that many who have left also do so with a broken and breaking heart. Perhaps, we are the sword?

We give a lot of lip service to the idea that prophets can and do make mistakes, but we are reticent to speak up about those mistakes when they happen in real time. What does a society look like when people do not act on the feelings of their heart? And what do we think about an institution that denies many individuals (women especially) a voice in the creation of policy and an avenue of voicing dissent and concern?

There is clearly room for growth both personally and institutionally in the circumstances in which we presently find ourselves. Can we open our hearts to the idea that perhaps God is working on us as a people, asking us to grow into a place where we learn from the past, where we do not give our obedience blindly, where do not let an institution take responsibility for our salvation? Specifically, I wonder about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, perhaps it could have been totally avoided and innocent lives spared. I wonder about suicidal teens who are in our congregations already, in the closet or out.

Institutionally, I wonder if God is not perhaps demanding some humility. Since the Reid Smoot Trial I have not seen much of this heralded virtue from our leaders. Repentance can and should occur institutionally. It's hard to forgive and move forward without an apology. There is much to apologize for: polygamy, priesthood bans, Native Americans being taken from their homes and labeled Lamanites, the premise of the Book of Abraham, the very existence of a vault where things are hidden. That list might sound angry but it's not. There are so many wonderful things too. Strong institutions are capable of admitting wrong. We have the example of the Catholic Church apologizing for it's role in the holocaust, and of South Africa holding Truth and Reconciliation hearings. It will break our hearts, but after all, that is what is required of us.

Charlotte

This is so helpful. Thank you.

Mike Parker

With all due respect to Neylan (and she deserves a lot of respect) and the others here, there seems to be a misunderstanding the scriptural term "broken heart."

A broken heart doesn't refer a sad heart or a pained heart; it refers to a tamed heart, in the way we refer to a horse being "broken": It obeys the will of its master.

If my heart is "broken," it means that I have given up my own will and succumbed to the Lord's will. The Lord can take anything from me he chooses; my heart is the only thing I can give freely. And I must give it to him if I have any hope of salvation.

This means I must accept his will even (or perhaps especially) when it is difficult for me to carry out.

Grethe Peterson

Neylan,
Thank you for your great heart and clarity of mind. In my many years of assisting in building the Kingdom, nothing as been more conflicting and difficult as the recent action toward the LGBT community.

Up to now we have made great steps forward encouraging our gay brother and sisters to join us at church. Many of our leaders have led the way. Now that invitation is hollow

I pray for a reconciliation before my time comes for me to leave this planet. Your strong testimony and that of my daughter move me to tears of hope.

Grethe

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