Tuesday, October 12, 2010

just wanted to share....

i feel like the mormon religion has been getting a lot of negative attention because of this most recent general conference and the issue of homosexuality. i refuse to go into detail about this but i did want to share the following letter my sister-in-law sent me...

Hi again everyone!! This was sent to me from someone in the ward,
might be of some interest! I am so grateful for this "wind-whipped
wildfire" also because it is allowing us to put some of these issues
into the mainstream issues of the church-- to love and support people
just like Erin Eldridge (who wrote this). And I love that we can
still love and support while still voting Yes on 8 if we choose.

This was written by Erin Eldridge, a faithful Mormon whose struggle
with same-sex attraction is described in her book Born That Way? A
True Story of Overcoming Same-Sex Attraction, published by Deseret
Book. From her unique viewpoint she shares her conviction about the
importance of taking a stand on Proposition 8 in Tuesday's election.

I am going to attempt the impossible: I want to try to discuss
Proposition 8 in an honest, equitable manner.
To demonstrate the divisiveness of the issue, let me first point out
that I could only call it "Proposition 8." If I'd called it by its
original name, "Proposition 8: California Marriage Protection Act,"
you would think that I want you to vote "Yes on 8." After all, who
wouldn't want to protect marriage? If I'd called it by its new name,
as determined by California 's attorney general and legislative
analyst in July, "Proposition 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples
to Marry," you would think that I want you to vote "No on 8." After
all, who would want to eliminate someone's rights?
And, to demonstrate how far-reaching its effects, I didn't even need
to call it " California 's Proposition 8." No matter where this email
goes, to any of the 50 states that may have propositions up for vote,
I'm confident people will know which state's "Proposition 8" I'm
talking about.

Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times describes the Proposition with
poetic imagery: "it is raging like a wind-whipped wildfire in
California ." More poetic still...from an article in Monday's San
Francisco Chronicle:
"Michelle Sundstrom and her husband gave $30,000 to the Yes on 8
campaign and put a sign on their home. But in response, two women
parked an SUV in front of their home, with the words 'Bigots live
here' painted on the windshield. Sundstrom believes such responses
must come from deep places of pain-and that gays and lesbians are
entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, just not the word
marriage. Any animosity toward gays or lesbians is wrong, she said.
"There must be such deep, deep, deep hurt; otherwise there couldn't be
so much opposition," she said. "They've lived with this. I guess we're
getting a taste of where they live."

Wow. Perhaps all this craziness and hate-slinging is actually getting
us somewhere. A heterosexual Mormon couple has a "Bigots live here"
sign parked in front of their house, and what's their response?
"They've lived with this. I guess we're getting a taste of where they
And she didn't just say "deep hurt." She said "deep, deep, deep hurt."
I know the depth of that pain. I grew up Mormon and gay back in the
1970s. That was when we were shunned, ridiculed, bruised, battered,
and discriminated against by nearly everyone, religious or otherwise.
We hid in the closets because it hurt too much to come out. People who
did come out were called perverts, child molesters, predators, queer,
sick, you name it. For those of us who were Mormon, it was even worse.
We were attracted to the same sex, yet Mormon doctrine stated we were
supposed to get married only to a member of the opposite sex. It is a
direct conflict between the two strongest, most significant desires in

When I was in college, I met a woman with whom I thought I'd spend the
rest of my life. But after a couple of years, we broke up. That was
when I had this feeling, an impression, to talk to my bishop. I had no
idea who he was because I hadn't gone to church in years.
That bishop used the power of the priesthood in my behalf, just as the
divine plan had been laid out. He met with me for almost three years
as I struggled and faltered. Suicide was a very real threat. I feel
blessed, or lucky, or both, not to be among the many who have already
pulled the trigger.

I wasn't suicidal because of the Church's unwavering stance on
marriage. I hadn't been forced to believe, or guilted into it. I had
not been brainwashed. My testimony came from the heart.
In time, my spiritual identity began to gain strength over my sexual
identity. I was finally able to choose the right. But it was a
troubling choice. I had no desire, whatsoever, to spend a lifetime
with a man - much less an eternity. So that left me with celibacy. To
this day, sacrificing same-sex relationships is the greatest sacrifice
I have made.
Years ago a friend said: "The sacrifice of a loved one for an attempt
to live righteously cannot go unnoticed. The loss is real, the sadness
is real, in a world where so few things are real." Now, the sacrifice
is being publicly recognized by Church leaders. In a fireside for
Latter-day Saints in California , Elder Quentin L. Cook said, "There
are faithful temple-worthy members of the Church who struggle with
this great challenge, often in silence, fear, and great pain."

Back when I was battling same-sex attractions, I couldn't find any LDS
resources dealing with the issue. I'd insist, "The Church doesn't
understand. They don't even care enough to help." Finally I realized
that the Church I was criticizing was not just "they". It was also
"I", and perhaps "I" should quit complaining and start writing. So I
did. The title of the book sums it up: Born That Way? A True Story of
Overcoming Same-Sex Attraction. Few people were offering hope back
then for those who wanted to overcome same-sex attraction. I felt
compelled by the spirit to try and provide hope for others with
struggles similar to mine.

The secular resources did more harm than good. Back then, the only
claims you heard from the "experts" were: "Sexual attractions are a
permanent part of who you are. They're indelible, unchangeable, and
unavoidable." Fortunately, the "experts" are now realizing that, just
like other aspects of who we are, sexual attractions are influenced by
genetics, environment, upbringing, experiences - all of it. Nature and
nurture are no longer pitted against each other.

For almost 20 years, I've had the unique opportunity to witness the
journey of many people who face this trial. I started in 1990, when
Evergreen asked me to help as a volunteer phone counselor. Evergreen
is an organization established to help Mormons struggling with same-
sex attractions. Over the span of nearly two decades, I've seen some
of those Latter-day Saints get married in the temple. I've seen others
work to remain celibate - either because they have not found a spouse
or because they have not developed attractions toward the opposite
sex. I have also seen those who once had very strong testimonies, who
tried desperately to bring their lives into accordance with gospel
principles, but finally gave up. At least for now.

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT: Some people, no matter what they do or how hard
they try, will never find themselves attracted to the opposite sex, in
this life. They deserve our utmost respect. So do those who identify
as gay or straight or bisexual or none of the above. They all deserve
our respect.

No doubt because I have lived both sides of this issue, I am not
surprised that the wildfires are raging in California . Also, it's not
difficult for me to understand how the body of the Church has become
divided. I've felt divided, too. Our family lived in California in
2000, when the Defense of Marriage Act came up for vote the first
time. My husband and I had been sealed together for time and all
eternity, and our children had been born under the new and everlasting
covenant. We, as an eternal family, were and are the direct
beneficiaries of the Church's unwavering stance on marriage. What once
created angst so severe I considered suicide led me to a life I never
thought possible. One in which I have been happily married - to a man
- for 15 years.

However, I know all too well what it's like to be discriminated
against. And the thought of "eliminating" someone else's rights seems
wrong. Up until this week, it seemed to go against my sense of
fairness, democracy and justice as a citizen of the United States . It
also seemed to run contrary to the core of my faith - the second
greatest commandment - to love one another.

Despite my apprehensions in 2000, my husband and I acted in faith and
supported Proposition 22 because the prophet asked us to. I hate to
admit this, but it wasn't until this week that I was able to reconcile
the opposing viewpoints I have continued to debate in my own head. I
now understand why the leaders of the Mormon Church have been taking
such an active role in all of this. It happened while I was reading a
National Public Radio report entitled "When Gay Rights and Religious
Liberties Clash". It says, "In recent years, some states have passed
laws giving residents the right to same-sex unions in various forms.
Gay couples may marry in Massachusetts and California . There are
civil unions and domestic partnerships in Vermont , New Jersey ,
Connecticut , New Hampshire and Oregon ."
I was astonished when I read: "So far, the religious groups are
losing." They listed examples such as Catholic Charities in
Massachusetts who had to pull out of the adoption business because
they refused to adopt to same-sex couples. Individual rights are being
revoked, too. A woman declined to photograph a same-sex couple's
commitment ceremony, saying her Christian beliefs prevented her from
sanctioning same-sex unions. She was found guilty of discrimination.
When I read that article, it was like a light bulb went on over my
head. More importantly, I felt a spiritual confirmation in my heart
that the prophet truly is prophetic. And that was when this impression
came to me:
It's not that the Mormon Church is trying to get into politics. It's
that politics is trying to get into the Church. And not just our
church. Any church or congregation or individual who believes that
only a marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
I'm sorry I couldn't see what the prophet could see. I'm sorry I'm not
sending this letter until now. I'm sorry for my apathy, for being
"lukewarm". (I thought it was only a matter of time before same-sex
marriages became legal everywhere.)
Yes, we're behind in the polls. Yes, it's the Friday before Election
Day. So PLEASE, email this letter to anyone and everyone you think
could benefit from it - as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, someone has to lose with Proposition 8. Somebody's
right to something will be limited after the polls close on Tuesday.
I, for one, do not want it to be my right to worship as I please.
Erin Eldridge

P.S. For those who would like to respond to this letter - whether in
anger or frustration or support - I will do my best to respond to
every email I receive. But please, be patient. All our kids are still
at home and I work part time. Email riverwalk8@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Way to stand up for yourself and your religion.