LONSBERRY: Are Mormons Bigoted Against Gays?

Since getting its nose bloodied in the anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8 fight, the Mormon church has been in a dead sprint to earn its rainbow-flag bona fides.

Finding that outright opposition to the gay agenda earned it a lot more hassle than it wanted, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked hard to become gay friendly without abandoning its doctrinal view that gay sex is a sin.

The latest example of that is a story in the church-owned “Deseret News” which described, in heroic terms, the announcement by a valedictorian at a church-owned Brigham Young University convocation that he was gay.

That was a surprise to his family, if not his friends.

And while the paper described the act as brave, it was actually narcissistic. The event was about hundreds of students and their parents gathering to celebrate hard-earned college diplomas -- it was not about the sexual desire of one particular guy.

This story followed a similar “Deseret News” piece in February in which a former BYU mascot – a guy who took his turn as Cosmo the Cougar – announced, likewise in heroic terms, that he was gay.

It was the paper doing its best to establish itself as the progressive voice of Utah, and the church doing its best to show that it is open and welcoming and inclusive and any other adjective mandated by liberal orthodoxy.

All of which is fine.

I don’t care how the church positions itself or what the paper does to make itself just like all the rest of America’s dying progressive newspapers.

I am not bothered by the current fad of being gay and Mormon, nor am I surprised by the fact that an a cappella singer and a male cheerleader turned out to be gay.

But I do resent that aspect of the church’s gay swing which insinuates that the church’s members and institutions – like BYU – are hidebound bigots in need of a diversity scolding. In both of the “Deseret News” stories – like virtually all pieces on gay Mormons – there is the assertion that mainstream Mormon culture is a cold, judgmental, place populated by those who scorn others because of their sexual orientation or other deviation from doctrine.

There is the assertion that day-to-day Mormons are Neanderthals and that they need gay people to open their eyes to appreciating the worth of those who are different.

That’s the part that rubs me the wrong way.

Because while I don’t care if you’re gay, it bothers me a great deal that you run down a people who, in my 50 years of association with them, have been loving and kind and working diligently to live Jesus’s command to love their neighbor as themselves.

It’s fine if you speak truth about yourself, but don’t assert a falsehood about others.

And the assertion that Mormons as a group are bigoted or rude toward gay people or anyone else is a falsehood.

And the progressive sword of conformity, that ever scolds and demands further sensitization to the claimed bigotry of the individual and the society, has no place hanging over the Mormon head.

The unfolding Mormon cultural embrace of the gay agenda can occur without a repudiation of the Mormon past. The promotion of gay acceptance is not the lone indicator of love, tolerance or any other brotherly virtue.

BYU was a good place even before it became a forum for gays seeking attention. The Mormons were a good people even when they believed that gay marriage should not be legal.

And the assumption that some new revelation of tolerance has fallen upon these people, their church and their culture is arrogant, and is disrespectful of the people and history upon whose shoulders today’s progressive Mormons stand.

From the pulpits of Mormon chapels and in the classrooms of Mormon universities, there is an almost 200-year commitment to the proclamation of the Apostle John that, “God is love,” and “he that loveth not, knoweth not God.” Missionaries for the church have traveled to every nation that will accept them to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, who proclaimed that the second great commandment is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

There are no exceptions to that.

It doesn’t matter who the neighbor is, or who he sleeps with.

Jesus also taught that we will be judged eternally the same way that we judge others here. He condemned those who wag their finger in condemnation of others.

That truth is likewise taught in the church.

And though Mormon doctrine teaches that homosexual sex is a sin, it also teaches the biblical doctrine that, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The pews of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are filled with sinners whose faith teaches them that the atonement of Jesus Christ opens the door to repentance and forgiveness. If I’m sitting next to a gay guy in church – or we pass walking down the street – his relationship with God is not my business, my relationship with God is. His sin isn’t my concern, my sin is. My duty to him is to love him, no matter what. My hope is that he will love me back.

That’s not a new teaching, and it’s not a teaching which relates just to being gay.

It is and has been the Mormon worldview all the years I’ve been around the church, and through all the eras of church history I have studied.

Absolute truth exists, and it does not change. It is not subject to political pressures or cultural shifts.

And an absolute truth of the Mormon church, Christianity, and the eternities is that we are to love one another, and to not judge one another.

For all the years I have been around Mormons, I have seen them and their church striving to live up to those teachings of the Savior.

So, go ahead and have your gay day.

But spare me the criticisms of a people and a church who are embracing you.

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