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.

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