(c) 2007 Danny Fowler

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

That was the motto of anti-gay-marriage Mormons (including myself) for the entirety of my time in the LDS Church. It’s the get out of jail free card for the modern religious, who have moved on from believing in a God of anger and wrath, and need to find a way to reconcile their human decency with God’s total lack of it, at least throughout scripture and history.

In 2016, there are active Mormons who are allies to LGBT people, regardless of whether there’s a doctrinal precedent for it. (To be fair, Mormon doctrine has changed so drastically over time that there’s basically a precedent for anything at this point, despite God allegedly being “unchanging”.) The drama surrounding Prop 8 and the November 2015 baptism policy change drove many away from a church they previously thought was all about love and kindness, leaving others still fighting from within their wards, forced to comply at least enough with misguided leadership so as to not put their membership and family relationships in jeopardy.

Many other Mormons appear largely unconcerned with LGBT struggles, believing that an issue they are unaffected by already has a solution: complete chastity and repression for the whole of one’s life. They cry “love!” while spewing hate that stems from ignorance, demanding that gay members of the LDS Church follow a blueprint they themselves will never have to follow, and which hasn’t ever resulted in fulfillment and joy for those who subject themselves to it (with a few exceptions. The human mind is pretty incredible.)

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t only said in relation to LGBT people—it’s used across the Mormon board, allowing members to maintain relationships with “outsiders” while still feeling that they’re doing their perceived duty to an all-knowing deity. Lesser sins, such as coffee drinking, get lumped into the “obedience” category, where Mormons feel comfortable making statements like “I love the smell of coffee!” (you’d never hear them say, “I love the sight of a gay couple in love!”) because they don’t class coffee consumption as a real sin, just a seemingly illogical request from God that they must follow in order to prove their love to Him. Mormon God’s priorities have always been oddly pharisaical for someone who apparently condemned pharisaical behavior.

Far too many Mormons have no idea what kind of repercussions arise from their “love the sinner, hate the sin” attitude toward LGBT people. That’s why they’re able to dismiss teen suicides and statistics about rampant depression in gay members of the church with justifications they believe are plausible—because they simply cannot understand that the trite platitude they’ve been repeating for years as a way to resolve their own Good Person Dissonance (I made that up) is damaging and not grounded in reality. (Just because something is your reality doesn’t make it legitimately realistic.)

I find it ironic that Mormons, who claim that being gay (and ideally celibate) is just a trial one must endure in this life, are the ones who shout the loudest about their marriages on social media, while also believing that gay marriage is wrong. I won’t go into my theory as to why (you may have read stuff on how those in unfulfilling relationships tend to overcompensate with their posts online), but I do want to call attention to it. Mormons are not only finding a majority/all of their self-worth in their marriages (and often failing, in the case of LDS women—understandably), they’re also bragging about it on social media platforms where 10% of people are likely to be gay. They talk proudly of how marriage is the most rewarding thing one can do in this life, while presumably believing that their statements have no effect on the many depressed, repressed people forced to read them. Selfish? I think so, though as I said, many of them may be doing it to try and calm their own inner turmoil. It’s just another case of Mormons not putting the various pieces of their religion’s puzzle together to figure out what actually makes sense.

There is no real life blueprint for gay members of the LDS Church, that is obvious. Add the callousness with which most members discuss LGBT issues and you’ve got a recipe for disaster—one we’ve seen come out of the oven burnt time and time again.

Gay people are not an anomaly to be ignored because they don’t fit the standard distribution curve. They are not there for God to test you—because hello, it’s not all about you, and I think even you know that, bigoted Mormons. You are not noble for “loving them regardless” and you are not brave for “standing up for righteousness” by condemning homosexuality as a sin based on superstitious nonsense written thousands of years ago. (Or fairly recently, in the case of Boyd Packer, whose conference talks have really been refined since his death.)

Condemning homosexuality because a provably false book kind of mentioned that you should makes you a follower, not a leader—that includes you, general authorities. Even being supportive of gay marriage doesn’t make one a leader in 2016—there are people fighting so, so much harder for what should be an obvious pattern for a peaceful world. We will never achieve world peace if we keep shunning logic and empathy in favor of false traditions and fear.

There is no logical reason to condemn homosexuality, beyond “God’s not into it.” Gay people have never harmed society (except with 70s fashion, but I’ll let them off for that). There are plenty of logical reasons to hate religion: stunted progress, the dangers of mass delusion and groupthink, the conditioning of children, bigoted ideas that just won’t go away no matter how much modern science proves them wrong, fundamentalism, contrasting “revelation” that causes some people to kill others, sexism—I could go on. But I think I’ll just sum it up by saying that I love Mormons (in a “let’s all work together to have a happy world because I know that the douchiest of you are only that way because of the experiences you’ve had” kind of way), but I hate Mormonism.

Love does not mean wanting to change someone, or being civil to them “regardless” of their sexuality. Mormons are always saying that love is an action word, and they’re right. Unfortunately, their doctrine often leaves many Mormons in a state of well-intentioned ignorance, incapable of empathizing fully and responding actively to the plight of LGBT members in their congregations. I recently read a book by a neuroscientist who said that most less intelligent people are genuinely incapable of comprehending what it would mean to be more intelligent. I fear that devout Mormons have the same sort of problem when it comes to LGBT issues. Maybe smiling and saying hello to the gay person at church is, quite literally, all some Mormons are capable of doing. That makes me sad. I guess I should love them anyway.



Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheSamspo.
  • Tim Barker
  • Tim Barker
  • anon

    I DO find that believing members tend to make it all about themselves… A faithful facebook friend recently posted on the policy change last year, saying, “Anger. Fear. Hurt. Misunderstanding. Those are just a few of the feelings I felt the last time I was at the temple. It was the day the policy change was announced. I was immediately filled with confusion and anger – stronger than I had ever felt before. I was terrified as I found myself unexpectedly but sincerely questioning my membership in a church I claimed to believe in. Through gut-wrenching sobs I loaded my little girls up, parked outside the Provo temple and sang primary songs with them until they fell asleep. But it didn’t stop there. After months and months of discussions with trusted family members, neighbors and leaders, researching and reading (credible sources only), prayers of agony, confusion and pure anger and preparing lessons for Gospel Principles (a calling I truly believe has saved me), I have received my revelation. Though still deeply tender and fragile I have *finally* found my peace again. Only this time I’m here full of understanding, light and truth. The journey was excruciatingly painful at times but the reward for enduring the struggle has surpassed the pain. Not only do I have greater faith I am walking away with greater empathy and Christ-like love for those the policy change directly effected. I am *so grateful* for my heavenly and earthly angels. It’s good to be back.”
    Notice how this person expounds on HER hardships and faith crisis, while talking about how she has empathy and Christ-like love. She makes it about her own struggle, and then rationalizes it by having love and empathy, as though that makes it all okay, as though that’s going to end the depression, the suicides, the tearing apart of families. As though having love and empathy absolves you of participating in bigotry. It does not. Meanwhile, many comments from other faithful Mormons telling her how wonderful SHE is.

  • Nancy

    Thank you. I have a lesbian daughter. For years I tried to love the sinner hate the sin when it came to homosexuality, but I couldn’t do that with my daughter. Instead for the first time in my life I started to see what the world is like for LGBT people through her eyes. That started a faith transition and now for the first time in my life I know what it’s like to feel real empathy. Yes and I’m no longer a Mormon because by the very nature of their teachings I was always judging someone for something.

  • Dean Lewis

    Having been BIC and served a mission in the 80’s. I came out to my parents when I was 25 (it was disastrous). I have a full history with The Church. After much research and study it occurred to me that the reason the Church has gone “all out” against the GAYS is simple. We do not fit into the 2nd, super secret church inside of the church. We break that formula. The entirety of the Temple, the entirety of their “salvation” banks on the super secret 2nd church (Church of the 1st born). This is a thing. Go look up “Tom Phillips” and you will understand why THE GAYS have no place among the Mormons (and likely never will). Yet, my big question is: What if we discover (without question) that people are born into their sexuality? What happens then?


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