By Rob McMaster, with forward by Laura Howells Leavitt – The LGBT Christian church experience can be lonely and isolating. In our places of worship that should feel the MOST inviting and welcoming, our LGBT loved ones may be left feeling judged and shunned instead. For members of the LDS Church, November 5, 2015 was a painful and confusing day. This was the day The Policy (or POX, Policy of Exclusion, as many have since termed it) came to light. My own gay son, 13 at the time, had not come out yet but my Mama heart knew. And my Mama heart worried. I love this child with all my heart! Always have. He is keenly intelligent, superbly creative and kind, with a wit that leaves me laughing daily. Heart of my heart. But where was his place in this Plan of Salvation, this Plan of Happiness?
My heart was already grieving and heavy by past and current church teachings regarding our precious LGBTQ friends and family. Yet, I’d felt glimmers of hope and encouragement learning of LDS church support for certain anti-discrimination laws and new church sanctioned websites geared towards these issues. Our leaders were even recently teaching that being gay wasn’t a choice! Hallelujah! Never mind that we mothers have known that forever. Still, it was progress, wasn’t it?
Then my friend called on the 5th of November, 2015 to share this new policy with me. She was quite upset but I thought it was a joke, a misunderstanding, at the very least an embellishment. But no, this policy is real. Our LDS church leaders are teaching that God endorses that church members in same-sex marriages are labeled apostates, and children living primarily with their same-sex parents are not allowed a baby blessing, baptism, or the gift of the Holy Ghost. IF they choose baptism they must wait until age 18 and then disavow their same-sex parents’ lifestyle. It hurts each time I think of it. I am left wondering where Christ is in any of this.
But we carry on. We listen to others’ stories and learn from their pain and grief. We hurt when they hurt. We grow a bit more compassionate. We understand a little more deeply. We judge less and embrace a lot tighter. We continue to learn to make room for gorgeous differences and our hearts soar as we get to know our beautiful rainbow-hued brothers and sisters who bring dazzling gifts and goodness to this world.
Below are the thoughts and feelings that my friend Rob McMaster wrote and posted in a Facebook group earlier this month. I was so touched and inspired by his words and asked him if we could share them here, for all of us Mama Dragons. He has graciously agreed to do so.
–Laura Howells Leavitt (Mama Dragon Blog Specialist)
What I Believe – Rob McMaster
Three years ago… I was confused by a policy my church implemented to excommunicate those who are part of gay marriages. It has been tough to see the effects of this policy. I’ve spent many nights worrying about being complicit with ideas that can cause harm to our LGBT friends and family.
For today, here are my early morning thoughts of what I DO believe.
I believe in the power of listening to each other’s stories.
I believe that we can experience this life differently yet still love and learn from each other.
I believe cognitive biases and cultural influences are like rain…. they affect everyone’s thoughts (including mine).
I believe in the power of ALL healthy relationships… as they can contain the trust, commitment and compassion that is essential to human transformation; to me, gay and straight marriages are evidence that people are willing to sacrifice and compromise and care for one another. Those commitments deserve our respect and support.
I believe that we can only understand each other better when we stop judging. Let’s stop bringing Satan into the discussion about someone’s natural instincts to love and care for someone. It’s really not helpful.
I believe my neighbor (who is in our bishopric) when he tells me how his gay son’s husband saved his son’s life (quite literally) and how my neighbor will always have a place for his son and husband at their dinner table and in their home.
I believe him when he tells me how much he loves his family just as it is.
I believe we can treat our LGBT friends and family better. We’ll know we’re doing better when we hear “Congratulations on your son’s/daughter’s wedding” at church after a gay wedding.
I believe our LGBT friends and family need to hear our acceptance of their fully lived lives.
And I believe our world is better when our LGBT friends and family are part of it.