The journey of a married Mormon man who is attracted to other men.
Monday, May 21, 2012
For sure, the next time...
In last week's church leadership meeting where the Bishop was discussing some recent concerns of the stake and area authorities, a discussion insued where a very sweet and kind elderly brother, the slightly short, round and balding type with a white beard not unlike Santa in Miracle on 34th Street, got off on the current state of politics in the country and the recent events surrounding the same-sex marriage debate. He then said something that was very mean-spirited...
"You know, Bishop, this gay marriage thing is so ridiculously stupid. First they want equal rights in marriage, and then what... will they want to marry a chicken?"
The Bishop responded with a nervous and a bit uneasy half-chuckle: "Yeah... kind of ridiculous, huh?" and then looked at me for support. I looked at him with a disturbed and uncomfortable demeanor. I was biting my tongue. I wanted to strike out and speak up and respond with some kind of rebuttle of how "ridiculous" the statement even was, how insensitive and mean-spirited and uninformed, and inappropriate it was... but I didn't for fear of being too contentious and fearful of inappropriately losing control in such a setting. Like always, I stirred inside and let it go, convincing myself that anything I said would come out wrong and mean-spirited in return.
However, after the meeting, the Bishop pulled me aside into his office and we had a one-on-one at his request. He asked me for advice about how to handle some issues at hand, and then said:
"Is something bothering you?"
I responded, this time without hesitation, "Yeah... I'm feeling really uneasy about the mean-spirited nature of the comments regarding same-sex marriage. I don't think that was appropriate, and I should have said something."
"I hear you," the Bishop said directly, which surprised me a bit, particularly with his tepid response in the meeting. "I was not sure what to say myself and I felt I should have said something more."
He could sense my discomfort level and pressed for my input... so I let him have it...
"If you want to take my temple recommend away, then so be it, but I need you to know that I don't support this current attitude of free-to-make-fun-of gay people who desire to live in a loving monogamous relationship and seek society's blessing and encouragement to do so. I don't support the Brethren like Elder Packer who lead members in a way to lack compassion, empathy and understanding and provide an avenue for such public open ridicule where stalwart members feel it safe to express such mean-spirited comments in a church leadership meeting."
"I agree..." he nodded supportively encouraging me onward...
"And I feel that this issue is not going to go away, nor should it. I firmly believe that a change will come with the next generation of church leadership. It may take this generation of elderly misguided brothers in the ward, as well as in the Quorum of the Twelve, to pass on... but it will come, and with it will come more compassion, informed understanding and embracing of our gay brothers and sisters... But it won't come and it won't happen as long as we allow such discussions to take place without correction, especially in a leadership meeting situation. I am sorry I didn't speak up."
"I'm sorry you didn't speak up as well. I totally believe the same as you," he said sensitively.
"Really?" I questioned.
"Really! I need your support..."
At that point, there was a knock at the door and his next appointment had arrived and so we deferred the discussion to another time... but at least, if there is any consolation to all this, the foundation has been set for another discussion on this matter, and hopefully next time I hope to have the spirit of love within me, that kind that John G-W so easily exemplifies, to counter without contention, to instruction without malice, to correct without judgment.
And in the spirit of this election environment, there most certainly will be another opportunity to do so.