Howdy, My names Mike and I’m a Latter-day Saint a.k.a. the folks that used to be referred to as Mormons. I grew up in Burley, Idaho and my mom came out to me as a lesbian when I was 10. I was scared. She was scared. By the time I was 12 we were living with her partner and I had 2 moms and a lot of questions. I have a whole book coming out this fall about that experience and the things I learned, so I will save all the nitty gritty details for that.
I want to talk about something different, though it is a related matter. One that is extremely timely and important.
The church’s policy on children of same-gender relationships.
Needless to say, I was very shocked when in Nov 2015, a leaked update to the church handbook stated:
“A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing. A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may be
baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service only as follows:
A mission president or a stake president may request approval from the Office of the First Presidency to baptize and confirm, ordain, or recommend missionary service for a child of a parent who has lived or is living in a same-gender relationship when he is satisfied by personal interviews that both of the following requirements are met:
- The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.
- The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.
This policy affected me. Personally. I was a child of a gay parent co-habitating, but most of my youth was in the 90s when there was way less understanding and support for anything homosexual. Especially in Burley, Idaho. Would I have chosen to join the church or go on a mission had this policy been out when I was growing up?
The outrage over the new church policy from media, some Latter-day Saints, and the world in general was quick and sharp.
Headlines like this popped up everywhere:
“Each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation, It was our privilege as apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.”
President Nelson then explained the process they went through to receive the revelation.
“The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively, And then, we watch the Lord move upon the president of the church to proclaim the Lord’s will.”
He said this was the way the lower minimum age for full-time missionary service came, and again when the new policy regarding same-gender couples and their children.
Simply put, he said that this policy change came by way of revelation and inspiration. Which is surely the way MOST if not EVERY update to church programs and procedures come.
Fast forward to April 2019 and the breaking news announcement that children of parents in a same-gender relationship co-habitating can be baptized, and that same-gender marriage is no longer listed as apostate for church discipline purposes, and we have an absolute 100% reversal of the 2015 statement.
Many commend the change. Many say it was bad policy to start with.
But, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about revelation.
According to the brethren and our current Prophet, they received revelation and a witness that the policy needed to be put into place initially and explained the process, and then 4 years later they received revelation and a witness that it needed to be changed.
From my quick perusal online, many folks have a problem with that. They think that if the brethren were following God they wouldn’t have contradicting guidance in such a short period of time.
Well, I would have possibly came to the same conclusion years ago. Until I went through the same thing in regards to personal revelation.
Let me tell you about my family’s struggle with receiving revelation and moving.
Disclaimer: Moving my family is not as big of a deal as the entire church policy on homosexuality. But, to me they both have a dramatic effect on my life and answers come from the same source. With that, let’s dive in.
My wife and I started feeling like we should move roughly 5 years ago. The events that have transpired since that time could only be explained as a lesson in the fluidness of revelation, or really bad case of following your gut on a wild goose chase.
First, when we decided to move we started out with a list of must have things.
- The house had to be on the snake river (by far the most important thing to me)
- We wanted to stay in the same schools
- Our move needed to be in our stake
Given our demands, there was basically a small stretch of homes that would work. 27 homes to be exact. None of which were for sale. So, I went into straight stalker research mode. I looked up the county tax information on the properties and found the homeowners. I knocked doors. I made offers. I got absolutely nowhere. But, we still felt like we needed to move.
So we looked at our list and felt like maybe we needed to loosen our demands up a little to have more options. So, we decided that we could move out of our stake. After all, the church is true everywhere and every person you talk to says they live in the best Stake in the world. Who do you believe?
Then, we found the perfect property. Acreage, on an island with 400 ft of river frontage. It was a dream that looked like a scene out of the river runs through it. Our kids could go to the same school, and it was on the river. Practically in it. Downside, there were occasionally skunks. Upside, 22s were cheap. We figured 2 out of 3 of our demands were pretty good. So, we made our decision prayed and fasted and attended the temple to determine if this place was right.
Both my wife and I, separately, felt like it was the place.
We moved forward with absolute confidence and negotiated on the land until an offer was accepted. Before we could sign paperwork though we left to Europe for a month. I spent hours on the plane ride drawing and researching floor plans. The longer we were on our trip though, the more uncomfortable things became. By the end, we downright felt sick about the idea of pursuing the property. It felt right initially, but then a month later it felt so wrong.
We went back to the temple in prayer and clearly received the answer that it wasn’t the place for us.
A complete contradiction. What changed? Well, time did. Also, thoughts and feelings.
Our search started over and for the next few years we went through roughly 10 more close calls to either acquiring land or a house that met our requirements. All of which started by feeling right, but then fell through in one way or another.
After so many failed attempts we finally got to a point that we were so desperate that we took my #1 request off the list.
That the house had to be on the snake river.
As a matter of fact, instead of a demand list at all we finally got to a place where we were willing to do whatever Heavenly Father wanted us to do wherever he wanted us to go.
In that mindset, some land became available that we could build on in the country and we yet again took the decision to Heavenly Father looking for confirmation. We felt that it was right. So, we bought the land. Things actually fell into place.
But right before we committed to start building, the sick feeling and stupor of thought came again and we paused on the project. We basically became proud owners of land we weren’t sure what to do with.
That is when my absolute dream lot surfaced. Through a random series events we were given the opportunity to buy 1.5 acres of river front land where we could build our dream home in our town and school district. I loved it and wanted it so bad. At the same time there was a couple of business opportunities that would move us to Utah, and then there was the land that we felt sick about.
I felt absolutely led to the river land and it was easily my favorite option. Then Utah. Then the land we owned in the country. When we prayed about it, the answer was extremely clear to both my wife and I. We were meant to build on the land in the country. No question about it.
So, we start building the house and about half way through the process… The sick feeling of a stupor of thought came back which led us to more temple trips and some serious prayer. Separately, both my wife and I felt that we needed to move to Utah. It wasn’t even on our list. But that was the feeling.
Then I remembered a blessing that I gave my wife over a year previous to this in regards to moving.
“There is a place. It does matter where you live. Know that is not a final ground, but another spot of learning from which you will move on into another spot which will be known unto God, and made known unto you in the future. And that will be a continuing case as you accomplish the things that your Father in Heaven has set aside for your family.”
So, we went house shopping in Utah while part way through construction on our dream home plan in Burley feeling like our 5 year goose chase was finally coming to and end. After finding a couple houses that we liked enough to put an offer down, we were back to praying for guidance in making the decision. That is when I got a blessing from my Mission President who happened to live in the area we were looking for housing.
His blessing basically said, “It is not requisite to move to Utah at this time. Keep finishing your house first, then ask again and it will be revealed to you what to do next.”
Now, I have spent my life studying how to receive revelation and questioning what things are my thoughts, other influences, or things that come from Heavenly Father. I know in my soul that these experiences we had came from God. Do I know why? No. Do I know the purpose behind so much back and forth? No. But, I do know the feelings, thoughts, impressions, came from God. If not, I would have been on the river years ago following my own thoughts and desire.
Is this back and forth reversal of revelation unique? Am I, or this policy, the rarity?
Abraham received revelation to sacrifice his son Isaac. He was in the process of following through, and was stopped and told not to.
Lehi received revelation that he should leave Jerusalem because it was going to be destroyed. So, they left. Then, he was told his sons needed to return to get plates, then they were told they needed to go back again to pick up another family. Why did they have to leave first? Why couldn’t they have done those things on their way out of town. That would have made 10 times more sense if we were looking at things logically. Surely, an all knowing God would have saved the time/struggle/hardships people had to face to make the trip 2 extra times.
Or how about Zions camp? They were called to go to war. Instead they walked a long ways, then they turned around and went home.
We can theorize all day long. We can blame man. We can blame God. But, I just like knowing that I am not the only one that receives revelation and inspiration to run 100 miles in one direction to then be told to run 200 miles in the opposite. It looks like I am in good company in coming to understand the fluidness of revelation.
Homosexuality is one of the most complex subjects I’ve ever tried to tackle. The subject has been a part of my life since I was 10. My thoughts, my struggles, and my inspiration has changed as I have continually learned more and opened my heart to whatever Heavenly Father would have me know on the subject. Much like my move, I started with very strong feelings for what I was ok with and would accept. In the end, I simply had to say: “Not my will, but thine.” I hope we take the same approach to wherever the revelation our Prophet receives takes us. Some things will be met with thunderous applause. Other things will bring about boos. Does it make the revelation any less real or inspired?
As for where we will end up with our move? I have no idea. Our house is in the process of being completed. It is also listed for sale. Houses on the river in the spot we originally wanted might be available, and then there’s Utah.