Observations on Intersectionality

I've seen criticism from people that members of the Church who stay don't do enough to confront the harmful treatment of LGBTQ+ folks, both inside and outside of the Church.

Some food for thought who find themselves asking why church members don't do more to improve the situation for LGBTQ+ people.

Most of the people I know, myself included, who care enough to be outraged by the Church's treatment of LGBTQ+ people are women. 

What institutional influence do they imagine women have in the Church that they're not already using on behalf of LGBTQ+ people?

I used to think I could stay and change things. Then I realized the Church is a very big place, with most of the power concentrated in the hands of a very few men. The only thing I could do, the only power afforded to most women, is to reason with people who choose to ignore me.

I don't say this to belittle the struggle with LGBTQ+ members. I say this bluntly because it's true. Women in the Church can't give something they don't have. All we can do is talk to our husbands privately and hope they listen. Just because you don't see these conversations taking place doesn't mean they don't happen. But I cannot stress to you enough how little what we say matters at all. There's no position of strength for us to lift from.

Every woman I've ever seen try has been ostracized, has ultimately left the Church, has been excommunicated, or lives with the ongoing anxiety that they will be.

If you know how to convince the average man in a leadership position to listen and do the right thing, please tell me your secret. I'll go back to church this Sunday and duke it out with my bishop, without hesitation. I've yet to find anything he's listened to me about, but maybe this will be different.

The trouble I'm finding with withdrawing my support completely from the Church (because that is essentially what I've done for now) is it doesn't make anything better for anyone else except for me. 

I was never the one in any danger, so I'm questioning who benefits from my absence.

You want to know where the heart of the average church member is, who has enough of a conscience to mourn and lament over the horrible treatment of LGBTQ+ people? That's pretty much it.

Interestingly, I've never seen anyone ask queer men why they're not doing anything to change the institutional church for disenfranchised women.

But the answer to that is probably because if intersectional institutional change was easy, we'd be doing it together already.

Exploring the New Temple Recommend Interview Questions

Temple recommend interviews are among my least favorite experiences in the Church. I would rather show up early on a Saturday morning and clean toilets than do a temple recommend interview. They make me nervous, I hate the feeling of being judge and scrutinized on elements of my personal life, and I can never wait for them to just be over with. For the overly anxious people who were averse to getting in trouble at school, the experience can feel a lot like getting pulled into the principle's office and interrogated about personal conduct.

I know I'm not alone in that. And there were many ways that these struggles came to the forefront when the new temple recommend questions were released.

When Sustaining Church Leadership is HARD

I recently had a conversation with someone who was having hard time sustaining an individual church leader. It was leaving them in a place where they were unsure of how to proceed, knowing that they have these feelings.

To sustain someone does not mean to agree with or uphold everything a person says or does. It's a commitment to help someone be successful in their service to God and keeping the commandments. Vehemently disagreeing with them when they're out of line is sometimes the only way to actually do that.

If you genuinely believe a church leader can do better in their calling, I don't think that feeling is a problem in and of itself.

If you find yourself genuinely hating that person, wishing harm on them, or no longer believing they've been divinely called, I'd say that's where the line is.

If it were me speaking for myself, I'd probably explain I have no problem with the idea that apostles exist and they're called through the Church by Jesus Christ, since that what the question asks. No where in the question does that mean I have to agree with everything they say and do.  

Even if I found myself in a place where I believe a particular leader is so bad at their calling, much of what they say and do is a reflection of themselves, rather than the office they hold, there's nothing in the temple recommend question that prevents me from holding that view. At that point, sustaining that person can simply mean committing to minimize the harm they might do, while praying for them so they can do better.

If that's the only kind of sustaining someone can provide, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Sometimes, that's all the faith a person has to offer, and no one can ever ask more than that.

Dissent and Disagreement

The questions regarding the teachings, practices, and doctrines of the Church is one that always makes me nervous because I instantly start overthinking it.

Something that has helped me is realizing that this question doesn't ask if I agree with all the leadership the Church has ever had, past or present. 

Rather, it asks if I agree with the Church, and I am the Church. (See 1 Cor. 12) My definition of the Church when answering this question has to include what I think, not just what various individual church leaders think. Which is convenient, because there are plenty of times when church leaders throughout the history of the Church have disagreed and contradicted each other.

If there is room for church leaders to disagree with each other, there certainly has to be room for me when I respectfully disagree with them on various issues.

Familial Conduct

The great thing about openly discussing these questions in a family setting is getting to hear the perspectives of our loved ones in how they approach these questions. It can help us to see them in ways we couldn't on our own.

My husband pointed out that there's absolutely no way to say "yes" to the question about having Christ-like conduct in your family relationships if you've ever kicked an LGBTQ+ kid out of your house.

Because, you know, how can you consider yourself worthy to enter the temple when you hate your own kids? I've never thought of it that way and I'm genuinely obsessed with that now. 

He also reminded me tonight of the time Jesus taught how it would be better for those who harm children to have millstones hung around their necks and to be cast into the sea. I never stopped to think before about that applying to LGBTQ+ kids either, and I'm equally obsessed with that too.

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