In the past, I have described Mormon church leaders as clueless when it comes to sexual attraction and temptation. I stand by my remarks, but I think I was too limited in describing what the church leaders are clueless about. Today, I want to talk about how the Mormon apostles are clueless about love, especially same-sex love.
The impetus for my new thoughts on this matter is a recent speech given by Jeffrey Holland in which he had this to say, among other things:
If a student commandeers a graduation podium intended to represent everyone getting diplomas in order to announce his personal sexual orientation, what might another speaker feel free to announce the next year until eventually anything goes? What might commencement come to mean — or not mean — if we push individual license over institutional dignity for very long?Jeffrey Holland, “The Second Half of the Second Century”
The event that Holland was referring to was a graduation speech given by Matt Easton, in which Easton described himself as a “gay son of God”. To Holland, this public disclosure by Easton was primarily a declaration of sexual preference, and from that perspective, I can see why he sees it as an affront to institutional dignity; why would you want to take time out of a graduation ceremony to talk about sex? But Easton wasn’t primarily talking about sex. He was talking about love, and who he wants to love and be loved by, and who he won’t get to fully love as long as he stays in the Mormon church. To quote another gay Mormon man who wrote on this subject:
What am I not getting? I don’t get to grow old holding hands with the love of my life. I don’t get to sit next to my husband and fight about what TV show we’re going to watch on netflix or start a pillow fight because he kept watching and didn’t wait for me. I don’t get to make him dinner and surprise him with a special night at home. I don’t get to plan a secret trip for us to go to California to the beach and Disneyland. I don’t get to hold him while he cries because his day was hard or someone said something hurtful. I don’t get to have fun bickering in the grocery store about how he is actually the better half. I don’t get to say an absolutely amazing pun and laugh as he rolls his eyes for the 10th time that day. I don’t get to look back after 30+ years of marriage and sit in awe about how we got through the hard times together and realize the fights over who had to clean the bathroom were pointless. I don’t get to hear our children call him daddy and run to him with big hugs as he walks in from work. I don’t get to see him lovingly put a band-aid on their knee because they fell on the concrete and give them a kiss all better. I don’t get to see him reading bedtime stories and teaching our children to use their imagination. I don’t get to see him teach teenagers how to drive cars while freaking out he’s about to die. There will be no first dates of kids making sure they’re home on time and going out with others who will respect them. There will be no teaching as parents that they need to be kind and loving to all people when we find out our children been cruel to others. I won’t get to finally let the youngest child leave for college and be crying my eyes out while he holds me telling me I did a wonderful job raising them. I don’t get that one person to tell all my insecurities to and still have them love me anyways. There will be no slow dancing to music with him that makes me cry, sing, or laugh. I don’t get to rest my head on his shoulders and sigh knowing everything will be okay because I have him and he has me.Dallin Steele, “On a Scale of 1-10, How Much Does It Hurt?”
That’s what Easton is choosing to do without as long as he remains active in the church that Holland leaves, and because he had the nerve to publicly say so, Holland is grossed out.
Holland is not the only apostle who feels this way. The folks at Latter Gay Stories have put together a chronology of statements from church leaders about homosexuals and other queer folk. In that chronology, you will find this from Spencer Kimball:
Homosexual relationships are dead-end. What would this man do for you, or these men, should you suddenly fall victim to a dread disease, an incurable disease?‘The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,’ pg. 274.
Suppose your body shriveled; suppose you could no longer satisfy sexually; suppose you could no longer be ‘used.’
How long would the alleged friendship or friendly ties last?
To Kimball, same-sex relationships are held together by nothing but sex, and such bonds cannot hope to survive the loss of sexual vigor that happens to all of us sooner or later. But here, Kimball reveals that he’s as clueless as Holland. It took me less than a minute to find a counterexample. Let me introduce you to Paul and Greg Stych:
In 2012, at the age of 63, Paul’s health started to decline. He was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2012, and eventually Parkinson’s Disease.
“But it didn’t stop us from living or loving one another,” Greg says.
On January 10, 2015, twenty-eight years after they first met and following the legalization of gay marriage, Greg and Paul were legally wed. “It was a beautiful ceremony. We were surrounded by loved ones.”
The two were married on their front lawn, on a beautiful, sunny January day to the song Love’s Divine by Seal. “Our friends planned the entire event. We did nothing but step outside and say ‘I do’.”
But by 2016, their home became a place of hospice for Paul. A Gulfside Hospice nurse attended to Paul on a daily basis until he arrived at his place of peace on May 3rd, 2017.
During the last few months of Paul’s life, Greg played the role of nurse, chef, financial planner, primary caregiver, husband, lover, and friend.
“His final days consisted of myself administering comfort medications around the clock, wiping his mouth, washing his body, and giving him a kiss each time I gave him comfort,” says Greg. “When we had his final celebration of life, we played the song Angel by Sarah McLaughlin to send him away to peace.”
Greg is grateful for friends who supported him throughout the process. “I was never alone. I was surrounded by the most incredible friends one could ever have asked for.”
Greg continues to teach middle school, but now feels alone in the world save his friends.
“Now, as I face life alone, my new normal is beginning to come to fruition,” says Greg. “Paul taught me so much about life, loved me unconditionally, and I cherished him the same way.”
“Waking up alone, coming home from work to an empty house, and not having him to care for has been so difficult,” admit’s Greg. He says that he has experienced a roller coaster of emotions “wrought with floods of tears, bouts of crying, and small smiles at happy memories.”
Greg has advice for gay widowers. “It will be a hard, long path to recovery; one I am just beginning. Surround yourself with love and take time to care for yourself. You are not alone.”
And to his partner, Paul, “To my soul mate who is now with the heavens above, I await the day we can be together again.”Rachel Covello, “Story of Pride: Advice from a Gay Widower”
That is true love, and I am glad that Greg and Paul got to experience that together, and I hope that Dallin Steele and Matt Easton get to experience that kind of love, but I don’t have much hope for Matt and Dallin as long as they stay in a church led by people like Spencer Kimball and Jeffrey Holland. The Mormon apostles simply refuse to acknowledge that gay love is more than just the desire to have gay sex.
There’s quite a lot more I could say about how clueless the apostles are, especially given some of the gems of ignorance you’ll find in On the Record, but I’ll limit myself to saying this: gay love is actual love, and everyone deserves to feel actual love, and if Jeffrey Holland has a problem with people giving and receiving gay love, then Mr. Holland can go fuck himself.