I am a cultural Mormon and will be until the day I die. My early experiences in life were in Utah and shaped by the ever-present and powerful Mormon church; I saw the world through Mormon-colored glasses. My family roots are in Utah, my extended family is Mormon, when necessary I can speak in a certain Utah-Mormon vernacular, I was a Mormon missionary for two years, I’m a graduate of Mormon seminary, I attended Mormon Institute classes when I was in college, I’ve been to the Temple, I’ve been to weddings in the Temple, I was a home teacher, I went to youth service projects, I dated Mormon girls, I held callings and taught Sunday School. Mormonism is in my blood and it always will be. But the Mormon Church was also the single thing that shaped me, that limited me and frightened me and I often wonder, if I could change one thing about myself, would I change not being born into a Mormon tradition? I don’t know, because it wasn’t always bad, there was lots of good.
I am also a gay Mormon. After the Proposition 8 fiasco I did have my name officially removed from the Mormon Church because, quite frankly, the Mormon Church doesn’t deserve me or my talents. Yet even with my name off the books I am still Mormon and always will be.
The battle raging in the Mormon Church about homosexuality fascinates me. I’m appalled that an organization treats its own (gay) members so poorly; I’m appalled that an organization that claims to be pro-family spent millions of dollars to cause political harm to innocent children of gay and lesbian parents. I’m surprised that an organization whose unofficial motto used to be “mind your own business” (I’m not making that up) now wants to enforce their version of religion and make it everyones business. I was inactive in the Mormon Church for many years and left it alone, until the Mormon Church asserted itself prominently into my life and the lives of complete strangers.
But something amazing has come out of BYU, the Mormon Church’s private university. A professor from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Professor Bill Bradshaw, a former mission president and former member of the stake presidency gave a lecture called “The Evidence For A Biological Origin For Homosexuality.” You can listen to it on the Mormon Stories website. (I’ve been a reader and a podcast subscriber to Mormon Stories for many years. I highly recommend it.)
Listen to it to hear what a real scientist has to say about homosexuality then read this “apology” given by General Authority Marlin K. Jensen, a delusional, self-important man about a subject he does not understand. The hard work of scientific inquiry, of gathering facts and testing data, of being able to replicate those conclusions and being able to explain the results has resulted in more transcendence and beauty than the assertions of religious officials has ever done. Marlin K. Jensen lives in a world of feelings. Feelings are not tools of cognition. Mormons need to understand this, and they need to understand that their church has been wrong about a host of issues: Slavery (Brigham Young brought slaves to Utah in 1847 and instituted slavery in Utah in 1852), origins of Africans (black skin is not a curse), origins of Native Americans (DNA evidence proves Native Americans are of Asian decent, not Jewish). The leaders of the Church were wrong about the rights of women, the Civil Rights movement and they are wrong about homosexuality.