…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Day of Peace

My Pledge

By Rex Goode



Two values have been high in my priorities all of my life. I strive daily for both: Freedom and Peace. These values not only inform my choices about myself but also my choices about my relationships. For me, they are at the heart of Mormonism, freedom being the basis of the plan of salvation as we understand it and peace being the reward of faithfulness and obedience.


In the Primary and Junior Sunday School programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I grew up memorizing the Articles of Faith. The 11th says:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I also grew up in an era of great patriotism. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning in school. We did not have prayer in school where I lived and freedom of religion was taught. As a boy, I understood what that meant.

I lived in southern California. In a region where the Church was not the dominant faith, it was important to Latter-day Saints there to have the freedom to worship. We have a history of being persecuted for our faith, many in the past wishing to deprive us of this basic right as guaranteed by First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Brigham Young said:

…You have a right to belong to what Church you please. Another may say he believes in and worships a white dog, for he has lived with the nations who have a tradition teaching them to do so. It is all right; you are as welcome to worship a white dog as the God I do, if it is your wish. I am perfectly willing you should serve the kind of a god you choose, or no god at all; and that you should enjoy all that is for you to enjoy (Journal of Discourses, Volume 1, p. 363).

Our scriptures also state:

We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul (Doctrine and Covenants 134:4).


The apostle Peter wrote, “Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1 Peter 3:11).”

There was very little of peace in my childhood. As a survivor of abuse, I was deprived of peace daily. Yet, I still craved it.

My adolescent years spanned the era of the peace movement during the Vietnam war. Peace symbols and peace signs were everywhere. Yet the symbolism was not overridden by the substance. The country was at war, both externally and internally.

It was always a strange paradox for me as a youth. Those a little older than me, peers of the one who was abusing me, were calling for peace at every opportunity, even making the opportunities in often bloody demonstrations. My abuser participated.

Joseph Smith declared, “Some may have cried peace, but the Saints and the world will have little peace from henceforth (Journal of Discources, Volumen 6, p. 239).

Despite this dire prediction, I’ve always felt that though war seems inevitable in the world until the Second Coming of Christ, peace is possible between individuals who are willing to work for it. It requires sacrifice and deliberate effort.

A Modern War

I grew up gay, though I never chose to attach the word to myself as a description. I had the feelings and the behavior of a gay youth, but had a lot of things I told myself about it that didn’t include adopting it as an identity.

Today, I still have not adopted it, nor have I eschewed it. My way of thinking tends to be more about substance than symbolism. In other words, as all words are symbols for thoughts, objects, or actions, but I think more in terms of the thoughts, objects, and actions themselves rather than the words that describe them. I am more prone to talk about homosexual thoughts, feelings, or actions themselves than labeling things as gay.

For most of my adult life, I avoided talking or thinking about homosexuality at all. I did not read about it or speak about it. It was intentional. It was as if I could make it untrue about myself by not paying any attention to it.

One day, without my invitation, an announcement came to my email inbox about a resource for Latter-day Saints who deal with same-sex attraction but have a desire to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church. Until the advent of email, I rarely had to look at anything I didn’t actively go looking for.

Up until then, I might wander into the gay section of a library or bookstore and cautiously pick up a book or magazine and see what was happening in the world. I knew gay people but avoided discussing it with them. On that day, it came unbidden into the private space of my email client and something clicked. In fact, not only did something click in my brain, but my finger clicked on the link.

One of the first things I realized when I started reading and anonymously participating in the discussion online was that there was a kind of war going on. At the extremes were people who held beliefs along several dimensions that were opposed to each other. By dimensions, I mean things like nature vs. nurture, cure versus acceptance, marriage to the opposite sex versus abstinence or gay sexual relationships and even faithfulness to the teachings of the Church versus leaving the Church over the issue of homosexuality. These are only examples of the dimensions. There were a lot of debates going on.

As I navigated those discussions, I realized that I was not particularly drawn to most positions. I cared very little about the nature versus nurture debate. I thought that extremists in both camps stridently defended their ends of the disputes without any consideration that the truth may lie somewhere near the middle.

I also felt somewhat neutral about the debate over a cure, finding a lot about the various modalities of therapy that just didn’t match my beliefs about things like needs, faith, and acceptance of whatever the Lord “seeth fit to inflict upon [me] Mosiah 3:19).” At the same time, I found nothing of interest in gay affirmative therapies.

At both ends of that question, I viewed my life in terms of the old saying, “If it works, don’t fix it!”

Despite trials that are intrinsic to the human condition, my life has always worked for me fairly well. I didn’t view myself as needing to have something fixed about me, even my homosexuality. I was and still am happy in my choices.

Some people have said to me that this lack of interest in these debates betrays a certain lukewarm-edness, an attempt to be liked by everyone and not do my duty in what many view as a holy war of sorts. They think of me as a fence-sitter.

I can only defend myself on that front by saying that it all goes back to those two highly prized values of freedom and peace. To me, these two are the only things worth fighting for. I know, it is a strange dichotomy to talk of fighting for peace. It might be more palatable to speak of striving for peace, but “strive” is just the verb that describes the action of “strife”.

Whether I sit on the fence between nature and nurture, cure and acceptance, or even gay marriage, I am not the least lukewarm when it comes to freedom and peace. When people say that they have been cured of their homosexual attractions, I am not able to honestly verify it when it comes to myself, but I believe deeply that they have the freedom to represent their own feelings. I equally believe those who say they gave it an honest effort and found it impossible for them.  For both points of view, I defend their right to freely subscribe to and believe what they say. I also desire to be at peace with them.

Sometimes that peace is hard to maintain. Some people who say they’ve changed their orientation have charged me with lack of faith and commitment because I haven’t changed mine. On the other end, some people who say that orientation can’t be changed have said that I cannot possibly be happy until I indulge mine.

On all dimensions of the modern debate about homosexuality, I only seem to sit on the fence on some of them. For me, only two dimensions matter and my position remains firm for both. I stand for the freedom for people to choose their own beliefs and values and for peace between people of even widely divergent points of view.

The other morning, as I thought about some of the strife I have seen intensify lately in these debates, I thought about what I could do to show my devotion to freedom and peace. When it comes to freedom, my main strategy has always bee to make my choices and allow others to make theirs.

When it comes to peace, the words of a pledge came into my heart. I thought of it as a pledge I should make as a permanent policy for myself. After some thought, knowing my inherent frailty about some things, I decided it best to start with just one day and see how well I do.

I thought about making that day Christmas day. It’s a natural. It commemorates when the angels sang, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” I decided, however, that since I don’t usually write or speak about homosexuality on Christmas day, that it would be too easy to keep. I wanted a challenge.

It being now December 2nd, I figure that I wanted to give it a longer lead time in case someone else wants to join me in the pledge. So, being Mormon, I have chosen a date of some significance to Mormons. I’ve chosen April 6th, 2013.

Will you join me in that day by making the following commitment? Whether you are a person who experiences homosexual feelings, are friend of someone who does, are family of someone who does, are an institution with members who do, or just want to join in, please post the following pledge on your websites, social media accounts, or wherever else you can. Modify it if you want.

WITHOUT COMPROMISING MY VALUES AND BELIEFS, I pledge that on April 6th, 2013, I will practice peace and devotion to the freedom of others to deal with the subject of homosexuality in the way that their conscience and values dictate.

In all of my communications, I will strive to practice  love for others and their beliefs and values. Though I will hold my own opinions, I will communicate those opinions in an attitude of tolerance and respect. I will recognize the rights of freedom of those who have chosen paths different from my own.

I will refrain from blame, unkindness, and threats against others who do not believe as I do. I will reach out to find common ground and express appreciation and understanding for the difficulty of all who find themselves pondering the dichotomies between their faith and sexuality.

At the end of that day, I will ponder the feelings that arise as a result of making this effort and consider making the freedom of others and peace with others my highest ideals. I will consider making my day of peace the model for the rest of my life.

Stephen Rex Goode

I am posting this on several websites where I am an author. If you decide to join me, please let me know by responding here with the location of your pledge.

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