Sunday, October 10, 2010

Now I'm Done Believing You

Boyd K. Packer's words have caused me tremendous pain over the years. As a teenager, his rhetoric and false statements about homosexuality caused me to feel alone, isolated, fearful, hateful, shamed, and self-loathing. I believe his statements and the statements of other LDS authorities contributed significantly and directly to my many periods of depression and even suicidal thoughts. There were specific general conference talks that I read or heard from the pulpit that caused me extreme emotional turmoil. After hearing these talks, I would punish myself by imagining myself being violently beaten by baseball bats --all because of attractions I did not choose and could not change. These conference addresses also made it more difficult for me to accept myself and to pursue healthy relationships. Despite many Mormon's protests to the contrary, those kinds of statements (recently repeated by Packer) which indicate that homosexuality is chosen, alterable, and--more than anything--undesirable are dangerous and are not of God.

The fact that those messages are broadcast to millions of people across the globe is beyond unsettling and is what I call spiritual abuse. It is particularly disturbing knowing that young men and women--eleven, twelve, fourteen--are hearing that message and cannot properly understand it. They don't have the capacity to separate the ideas of attractions and behavior--they know only that they are attracted to the same gender and that it is bad. And if God's proclaimed spokesman asks, "Why would God do that to anyone?" imagine what that young person is thinking about himself.

Boyd K. Packer should be called out for his spiritually abusive words, but I have found that getting worked up about it doesn't help me feel better. We cannot control the Mormon Church, but we can control what messages we hear and what messages we share. I believe the best way forward is to try to promote as best we can the message that homosexuality is not wrong and that same sex relationships are healthy and fulfilling. Stop listening to the Mormon authorities. Don't give them attention. Don't spread their message. Instead, lets turn our attention to hope and spread as much of that as we can to as many people as we can.