I am a seventh-generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, descended from early pioneers. For 60 years, I followed the counsel of the brethren: priesthood, mission, temple marriage and commitment to raising eight children.
One of my daughters was born with a birth defect which required four major back surgeries prior to age 12. While I love all my children dearly, a special bond was created through this adversity. Since the last surgery she suffers from near daily migraine headaches. She is also gay and is among the approximately 5% of God’s children who identify as LGBTQ. Each of us are born with our God given attributes and sexual orientation. We do not choose.
The current worldwide population is 7.7 billion. Five percent of that total is 385 million, larger than the population of the United States. Additionally, 815,000 LGBTQ members are expected within the currently reported church membership of 16,313,735. When parents, siblings, relatives and friends are added, the church’s LGBTQ teachings and policies affect several million members.
While I applaud recent changes to church practices and policies which seek to broaden understanding and inclusion, unfortunately the church seems to both affirm and condemn LGBTQ individuals. Through this marginalization, the church loses their unique talents and abilities.
Imagine if black people had never been subject to the priesthood and temple ban. How many more members of color would have blessed the church with their diversity while helping all members overcome racial bigotry? How much better would we be as a church without the false justifications promoted for more than a century and the unholy racial attitudes engendered that still afflict some members? Is the sexual orientation issue any different? Will it be a stumbling block to the progress of the church for decades in the future?
The plan of salvation as taught by the church limits and minimizes God – denying His perfection, omniscience and omnipotence – by stating that His work and His glory is reserved to exalt only His heterosexual children. Without a path of happiness for the 5%, God becomes a respecter of persons. For the LGBTQ, their choices as defined by the church – either celibacy or a mixed orientation marriage without the strong bond of physical attraction – do not promote the creation of a heaven on earth.
My daughter chose love and was married to her soul-mate last weekend. Their ceremony was as sacred as each of our other children’s marriages. Our friends, family and neighbors, most of whom are church members, rallied around us and helped make the day joyous without reservation. If only church leadership could see the LGBTQ as divine individuals in the same manner.
I believe God’s divine plan of salvation applies to all of His children, not just the 95%. Would a loving Heavenly Father not have a plan of exaltation for my daughter and 385,000,000 of His children? Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep informs us that these individuals are of infinite worth. Would the Savior not command us to leave the ninety and five and seek out the lost five percent?
God, however, will not reveal His will regarding the 5% until we are willing to accept His guidance with our whole heart. If we are not ready, we deserve the condemnation of God, just as the ancient Israelites who desired a king.
As a parent and church member, I implore the First Presidency, Twelve Apostles and all members to open their hearts and fervently seek Heavenly Father’s will regarding His plan of exaltation for all – 100% – of His children.
Dave Winslow, Centerville, is a civil engineer with 35 years of experience. He plans to attend the Utah Pride Festival this weekend and support the LGBTQ community.