On Nov. 14, the Tribune printed a commentary by a Robert Parker (“Gay Mormon calls on church to embark on road to acceptance”). I would like to add a little prospective to his opinions by relating a personal experience.
I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life and haven’t had a personal encounter with a gay member, though in high school I did have a non-LDS friend who I knew was gay. I have had several personal encounters with another alternate sexual orientation, claimed by some close LDS friends of mine, namely polygamy. I’ll relate two different situations of two of these friends who had completely opposite results due to different choices they made.
My first friend was adamant that his desires for multiple women were normal, good, and even sanctioned and commanded by God. He used powerful and convincing arguments that were even more compelling than Parker’s. He became so obsessed that every time we would talk he would vehemently seek to recruit me to his philosophy, as I felt Parker was attempting to do in his article. Eventually this friend got to the point where he claimed the church had gone astray, in it’s strict declaration that all sexual relations outside of legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman, was wrong. He succumbed to his desires, was excommunicated from the church, divorced by his wife and alienated by his children. He then formed or joined an existing polygamous break away church (I’m not sure which) and claimed to be righteous and the obedient of God; while his ex-wife, the church and anyone who disagreed with him were in the wrong. He became so obnoxious about it that my wife, children and I almost dreaded any interaction with him. He even had a member of his group try to convert my wife to their religion. Even though his life is in shambles, his beautiful family destroyed, his former happiness withered away, and his former fellowship in the church cut off; I still stay in contact with him, encourage him to denounce his new lifestyle, and return to full faith and fellowship in the church.
The second friend also talked to me about his feelings on the same issue. He also tried to convince me. In the end he realized the joy and happiness to be found in the current church doctrine and did not act on his desires as my first friend did. As a result he has a united, stable LDS family where his children have served as honorable fulltime LDS missionaries and have or will be happily married in the temple. He has a happy life, free of guilt, with full fellowship in the church. What a difference I see between my two friends!
I believe as the church does; that legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman is right and the only way to true happiness. The main differences, as I see it, between my first friend and Parker’s arguments, is that my friend’s alternate lifestyle is widely publicly rejected, as evidenced by the resent public disdain over the Warren Jeffs issue, while Parker’s alternate lifestyle is becoming more publicly accepted. Also Parker’s lifestyle in my lifetime has become decriminalized while my friend’s lifestyle is highly criminalized on both the state and federal levels.
It seems as though Parker is only taking advantage of a current social and political wind blowing in his direction, rather than having a deep desire to find the truth regardless of personal his feeling. I am sure my first friend would have wanted to send you a column on his views if the wind was not blowing so hard against him.
Tom Wilkinson of Mesa is a stock and bond broker.