Seventeen comments were posted in response to my June 3 Salt Lake Tribune commentary “It is time for the LDS Church to recognize all of God’s children.” Some respondents supported the commentary while some defended the church.

The church defenders urged the LGBTQ to repent and follow the church. May I suggest the defenders first walk a mile or two in the shoes of the faithful LGBTQ: Live from this day forward without any expression of romantic affection — no hand holding, no kissing or sexual relations. Live apart and alone — celibate — for the rest of your mortal life. Endure to the end and become an angel, a heavenly servant, eternally alone. Faithful LGBTQ members travel this daunting and lonely path alone, without any promise of exaltation.

Since the commentary was published, I hoped the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would experience a softening toward the LGBTQ. Unfortunately, leaders continue to preach love toward the LGBTQ while actively condemning the LGBTQ situation.

Let’s examine President Russell M. Nelson’s Sept. 17 Brigham Young University devotional address, “The Love and Laws of God.” He states both the November 2015 policy (which was leaked, not announced) and the April 2019 adjustments were, “motivated by love — the love of our Heavenly Father for His children and the love of the Brethren for those whom we serve. Because we feel the depth of God’s love for His children, we care deeply about every child of God, regardless of age, personal circumstances, gender, sexual orientation, or other unique challenges.”

The decades-long church opposition to LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage has harmed numerous LGBTQ and heterosexual members. The church’s policies have resulted in tens of thousands of membership resignations, both LGBTQ and heterosexual.

Nelson stresses that “in the beginning — marriage was ordained by God! And to this day it is defined by Him as being between a man and a woman.”

He teaches that only monogamous marriage has always been God’s standard. However, by this standard, the 19th century church-sanctioned polygamy and the continuing practice of celestial polygamous sealings are invalid.

Many faithful LGBTQ members desire to change their orientation, praying for Heavenly Father’s help. They follow your counsel but true orientation change does not occur. They internalize your messages and decide something is fundamentally wrong inside them. They feel forsaken by God. Some cannot live with the dichotomy and chose suicide.

If you truly want to “reduce friction,” reduce the friction leaders have created between heterosexual parents and their LGBTQ children. Sixty percent of youth subjected to conversion therapy attempt suicide. Reverse your opposition to the proposed Utah conversion therapy ban for minors to truly protect God’s children. It is not about the church or the parents. Protect the children.

The November 2015 policy has been “adjusted,” but still restricts the baptism and priesthood of children of LGBTQ parents.

Stop teaching that LGBTQ are wrong, broken or challenged. Stop teaching that LGBTQ must live life without a soulmate. Stop teaching that God’s plan of salvation does not provide the opportunity for exaltation to all his children.

As a parent and church member, I implore church leadership and all members to honestly open their hearts and fervently plead with Heavenly Father to reveal His infinite plan of exaltation for all of His children, including the LGBTQ.

LGBTQ individuals are beautiful, strong, whole and are perfectly created by Heavenly Father. They are not broken. Their major challenge is our unrighteous judgment, rejection, intolerance and bigotry. My daughter and all of God’s children who identify as LGBTQ need your love and support, not judgment and condemnation.

Dave Winslow

Dave Winslow is a civil engineer with 35 years of experience. He is inspired by the courage of all who struggle for equality.