Tag: mormon history

LGBTQ+ Mormons (Part 2) | Clearing the Air…What is “Okay?”

     Hey! Welcome back. This is the post that might be a bit more controversial. Before we get started, I want to remind my readers that my blog posts are not necessarily ‘church doctrine.’ Regardless, I have researched this topic thoroughly in LDS Church doctrine. I also have a decent amount of personal experience on the matter. With that said, in this post, I would like to address a few misconceptions believed by many Mormons and non-Mormons alike. These myths surround the LGBTQ+ members of the Mormon church and I–based on my experience and understanding–do not believe are right. I am, in no way whatsoever, trying to ‘preach.’ I am just sharing what I genuinely believe to be correct based on personal revelation, experience, and LDS church doctrine. I want to put it out there for those of you who want help knowing how to handle something you never imagined going through. In this post I want to clearly state, bluntly, what God commands of us and what is expected of every member of the LDS Church. Specifically, I have seen so much confusion on what is “okay” and what is considered a sin in the eyes of God.

What is “Okay” (and even encouraged):

  • being gay/lesbian/transgender/belonging in the category of LGBTQ+ at all
  • being different
  • loving those who belong in the category of LGBTQ+
  • having, raising, supporting children/teens/adults who are unique/LGBTQ+
  • treating the LGBTQ+ person/people exactly the same way you treated them before
  • inviting them to parties, events, holidays, etc. without an ulterior motive for ‘conversion’ or persuasion
  • asking genuine, non-offensive questions about their life
  • listening to them speak about their problems, without giving unsolicited church-related advice
  • hugging them when they cry
  • hugging them when they are happy
  • hugging them just because 
  • postitive, loving counsel
  • giving advice when solicited, church-related or not…and even giving lifestyle/same-sex dating advice if you both feel comfortable
  • sharing testimony with them when they desire it and are comfortable with it
  • REFUSING to treat anyone differently for their beliefs, differences, sexual orientation, etc. and following through to the letter

What is Considered “Sin” in the Eyes of Heavenly Father: 

  • acting on same-sex attraction, gender identity, etc.                                                                                                     ****This is where it gets difficult. Yes, as of right now, Heavenly Father’s commandment is that relationships are to be between a man and a woman and that gender is essential to His plan. However, that does not mean that anyone who commits these acts deserves to be told that they are going to Hell–as members of the Church, we believe that all people (unless a son of perdition) will go to some degree of a beautiful Heaven regardless, so this has never made any sense to me. It is literally false doctrine, and very painful for a person to hear. It does not mean that they deserve to be “kept at arms length.” It does not mean that they are confused by the devil and need to be “converted,” “fixed,” or “cured.” It is not confusion. It is not a lack of faith. It is not because they did not pray hard enough to make it go away. It is something that they are born with and that Heavenly Father knew they would have to experience, and never planned/plans to take it away from them. Without it, they would not be the same person/people we know and love.
  • conditional love for others
  • name calling
  • gossip
  • offensive joking, whether in the presence of the LGBTQ+ community members or not (as far as you know)
  • altering the way you treat the person who just came out
  • judging/deciding what their fate shall be in the next life. Only God knows all. Only God knows us. Only God can judge.

What is Not “Okay:”

  • blaming “the Church” for the sometimes hurtful, offensive, mean remarks or actions from its members. I could be alone in this belief but in my opinion, because we believe Heavenly Father is in charge of the church, to blame the church for its imperfect people’s actions is to blame God. I personally believe Heavenly Father wishes His children to love one another unconditionally, without offending each other. Unfortunately, nobody is perfect and this literally happens to everybody at some point in their church-attending experience.
  • insisting that the LDS Church must change its standards and policies because times are changing. Like I mentioned before, God knows all and He is in charge of His church.
  • on the flip side of that coin: insisting that the LDS Church will never/should never change its standards and policies because God is the “same yesterday, today, and forever.” While this famous phrase is scripture and is true, God’s continuing revelations to His Prophets do change and have changed before (i.e. the law of Moses, Blacks in the Priesthood). This is not to say that God has changed or will change, but that society and His children have changed and are ready to receive that new revelation. I repeat: God knows all and He is in charge of His church. My point here is: we have no true idea of God’s plan is. We do not always fully understand why God’s commandments are the way they are, but we know they are right. We also know that when His children are ready, commandments can be altered by our Heavenly Father but that does not mean it will happen for sure.

This is an extremely touchy topic. The reason I have been so upfront and honest in this post is because I think it is absolutely necessary. I really feel like, until now, the truth has not been laid out in a clear format like this. This is something so sensitive. It is one of those things that is very difficult to understand until you experience it yourself, whether you belong to the LGBTQ+ community yourself or have a close family member/friend who does.

My little brother told me he is gay before he told my parents. I spent months trying to comfort him and let him know how much he is loved by me and his earthly and heavenly parents no matter what. I kept telling him that I believed he would feel best after he at least tells our family. That way, he would never have to feel like he was hiding behind a facade in front of them. One day I was at the gym with my mom, The Ellen Show was on one of the televisions in front of us and I thought I could cast out a hypothetical line to see what I could catch from my mother’s response. I asked, “So Ellen and her wife have been married for a long time now. When they enter into the next life, do you think they will still want to be with each other for eternity when the vail is lifted? I cannot imagine changing your mind after spending most of your earthly life with somebody.” She responded, “I don’t know.”        Unsatisfied with this answer, I fished deeper, “Do you believe gay people really are gay?” I knew about my brother at this point, my mom did not. I knew he was born with it. I knew he did not make it up. I knew he had genuinely struggled with this his entire life. I know my brother very well and I know he is not just confused or lost. I waited in anticipation for her answer, I will never forget it, “I think they believe they are that way.

My heart broke. Maybe Riley was right to be afraid to come out. Maybe they really would not believe him. However, just like I know my brother, I also know my mom. I knew that she–like me–knows my brother very well too. I knew that once he told her, she would have a huge faith crisis and she would be confused because it is contrary to what she originally believed. BUT! That she would ultimately realize for herself that Riley did not choose this but it was something he was born with and that it was somehow, someway part of Heavenly Father’s plan for my sweet little brother. I was right. Only a short while after that, he come out to our parents. They were extremely tormented and confused, mostly because they knew that Riley could not have chosen this for himself and that he did not lie for attention, nor was he confused or any other possible excuse commonly used for coming out of the closet in a religious culture. I think it is so difficult to wrap our LDS brains around the possibility of an LGBTQ+ Mormon until it becomes a reality in our own life. Because of that, I think it is difficult for members of the LDS church without this experience to fully understand the origin of same-sex attraction and gender identity, the gravity and weight of the trial, and the lack of understanding you really have of God and God’s plan until then. I am so grateful for my little brother and his bravery. I do not judge him for his differences, lifestyle, or choices; nor do I care. He is still my brother. He is still my partner-in-crime and I know Heavenly Father loves him, maybe even more than I do. I know that Heavenly Father will work things out however is best. I know that Families are Forever. 

Lucy Mack Smith and God’s Timing | Author’s Notes

Image result for lucy mack smith

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another installment of “Author’s Notes,” where I share a specific fact from my book, 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith, and my thoughts on it. (Pre-Order your copy TODAY, you can do so by pressing the “Pre-Order” button either on the right side of the computer screen, or the bottom screen of your mobile device). Here is this week’s fact:

5. The Prophet’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, was born on July 8, 1777, one
year and four days after the United States Declaration of Independence
was signed. She was brought to this earth when the freedom of religion
was possible for the first time ever. Just in time for the Restoration of
the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was brought forth by her
son Joseph.

This might be one of my favorite facts–even though I have so many favorites. I noticed the connection between the dates immediately. God does not make mistakes. Lucy Mack Smith was foreordained to her calling on earth–as we all were in the life pre-mortal existence–to be the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith and an instrument in the restoration of Christ’s gospel. However, before the freedom of religion was available to anyone, this would have been impossible. I personally believe that our founding fathers were also foreordained to their callings to bring freedom and liberty to God’s children–not only in the United States, but to make the freedom of religion (and freedom in general) eventually possible all around the world. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that after Jesus Christ’s death and ascension into Heaven, the apostles worked really hard to keep the truth of Christ’s church together. But after thousands of years, there were several Christian churches who each had truth in their doctrine, but not the full truth from Jesus Christ himself since the truth had been changed so many times and/or people broke off and formed their own churches based on certain beliefs they wanted to believe. In the year 1820, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed that none of the churches at that time were correct. Joseph Smith was commanded by them to keep the commandments, wait, and prepare himself. If he would do so, he would be permitted to be an instrument in restoring the fullness of Christ’s church. Years later, an angel appeared to Joseph instructing him about an ancient record written on gold plates sharing the story of Jesus Christ visiting the ancient inhabitants of America. Years after that, Joseph Smith was permitted to translate the plates with God’s divine help and publish it as the Book of Mormon. Once it was published, Joseph was commanded by God to re-organize Christ’s true church, now known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or nicknamed the “Mormon” church.

As far as Christ’s gospel goes, this is what I think Heavenly Father had/has in mind here:

Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden after partaking of the forbidden fruit. They are then able to have children to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the beginning of mankind on earth. It is also the beginning of trial and error, and learning from our mistakes. Years pass and some people continue to follow God and prophesy of Christ’s coming.

Jesus Christ’s birth and ministry: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is born. At age 30, he began his ministry and teaching the gospel. He organizes his church with the help of his twelve apostles.

The Atonement: Just before His crucifixion, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He experiences every sin and suffers for them. Since Jesus Christ lived His life without sin, he was able to do instead atone for our sins. He also experiences what it’s like to go through trial, pain, and any sorrow anybody who ever has lived, is living, or will live upon the earth will ever go through. Because of this, we are fully understood in our sufferings by Christ himself. We are also able to repent and return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.

Christ’s Death, Resurrection, Visit to the Americas, and Ascension into Heaven: Because Christ was resurrected, we can be too. After Christ’s and the apostles’ eventual deaths, several Christian churches broke off to form their own. The fullness of Christ’s gospel was lost. This time in church history is called the great apostasy. 

Global Exploration leads to the discovery of the Americas. Several countries claim parts of the New World to rule over. Religious persecution leads Puritans and other religious people to flee to the New Land where they are mostly free to live their religions. Great Britain’s taxation without representation of its thirteen colonies in America leads to conflict…which leads to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Declaration of Independence leads to the American Revolutionary War (which…fun fact…Joseph Smith’s grandfather’s both fought in…meanwhile, Lucy Mack Smith is born in 1777). The colonies eventually win the war and form their own country called the United States of America. A few years later, in 1787, the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written…officially allowing the Freedom of Religion in the United States as an inalienable right. At this time, Lucy Mack Smith is around ten years old. Joseph Smith Sr., the Prophet’s father, was around sixteen.

Dec. 23, 1805: Joseph Smith Jr. is born in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy and Joseph Smith Sr.

Spring 1820: Joseph Smith is visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at fourteen years old. He learns that there is no correct church on the earth.

September 1823: The angel Moroni visits Joseph Smith, giving him instructions regarding the ancient record on gold plates. He is instructed to prepare himself and live worthily so he can be permitted to translate it.

1829-1830: Joseph Smith translates and publishes the Book of Mormon.

April 6, 1830: The first meeting of Christ’s true church is held at the farm of Peter Whitmer Sr. Jesus Christ’s church is restored. Gradually, line upon line, precept upon precept, Joseph Smith taught the Latter-Day Saints the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once he was finished, the Lord allowed him to be taken to Heaven in 1844 when he was killed by an angry mob. Because of the work done by the Prophet Joseph Smith, we not only have the opportunity to learn of gospel, but also perform ordinances essential for salvation. Because of the restoration of the gospel, we can perform these ordinances for those who have passed away too. Heavenly Father loves all His children and wants each of them to return to live with Him.

Okay, that was just a really long way of saying: God makes no mistakes. The church is true. He knows exactly what He is doing. He has all of history, the present, and future planned out, down to every last detail. He has done all this because of His infinite love for His children. Including you. 

How Firm A Foundation | “Anti-Mormon” Arguments

     My favorite Hymn of all time is called How Firm a Foundation. Whenever I find out we are singing it in sacrament, I look at my husband with a huge smile on my face and whisper in a giddy voice, “That is my favorite song!” This has happened so many times now that Dalyn always responds by affectionately nodding and saying with a smile, “I know.” The first line of the song goes like this: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word.” God has laid a steady, strong, and firm foundation for our faith, through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While researching for this book (1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith), I stumbled upon an internet article from a bitter, former member of the Church. The article tried to use certain elements of Joseph Smith’s life to ruin the testimonies of others. I read through their entire argument. As somebody who was in the middle of studying the Prophet’s life intensely, I knew and understood the full story from the original sources before I read this article. There was only misleading and twisted information. This person wrote about specific things in Church history, without including the full story or explanation. I could see how using this–and other articles like it–as the main source of gaining information can easily mislead those who once believed in or are trying to learn about the truth. After further research, I’ve noticed this is often the pattern of modern anti-Mormon arguments regarding Church history. They manipulate the story by only sharing certain portions or their sources come from those who were trying to destroy the early Church and/or even helped kill Joseph Smith. They do not include the details that would possibly discredit their argument. It is not the full story. Every member of the Church is likely to come across these arguments at some point in their lives. Please remember to consider the source. Know they have an agenda and are therefore not telling the truth. There is really no reason to ever entertain them. Of course the Church does not highlight the ‘controversial’ times of its history in sacrament and Sunday School lessons all the time because that is not what church is for. However, real primary source accounts (meaning: journals, letters, etc. from those who were actually there during the historical events) are available online for anyone to see. My favorite resource is josephsmithpapers.org. I strongly encourage those who have doubts or questions to use primary accounts as their main source for historical information. I believe that any decent person who seriously studies the Prophet’s life through credible primary sources–including the writings from the Prophet himself–cannot honestly say that Joseph Smith was anything but a truthful, virtuous, and incredible man even if that person does not believe he was truly a Prophet of God.

     In 1 Nephi chapter 8 of the Book of Mormon, we learn about Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, the iron rod, and the great and spacious building. In verse 26 Nephi says, “And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” The great and spacious building, which we know is run by the adversary and his followers, floats in the air. It literally has no foundation. We later learn that the great and spacious building randomly crumbles to the earth and all its inhabitants are destroyed. Like the great and spacious building, these opposing arguments literally have no foundation, except lies and fallacies…like floating clouds of hot air with no substance. Like the great and spacious building, the adversary’s arguments look and sound legitimate and can be very enticing. However, like the great and spacious building, they do not hold up; they will fall.  Do not be among those who will fall. One of the final lines of How Firm a Foundation goes, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed. For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.” If we listen to Him, follow Him, hold to the iron rod, and stay firmly planted on the strong foundation of the gospel He created for us, He will not suffer that we should fall. Stay strong, stay faithful, stay firm. Doubt not, fear not. God is with thee. He is real. Stick with Him.