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

Equal Before the Lord

Changes of Heart

By Rex Goode


goodshepherdIn Taking the Plunge: A Leap of Faith, I wrote that I wasn’t as concerned about changing policies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Boy Scouts of America, as I was seeing the hearts of people change to be tolerant and loving towards those with same-sex attraction.

I realize that I left it fairly vague as to what changes I felt needed to be made in the attitudes and cultural practices of my fellow Latter-day Saints. The piece was long enough as it was and I had enough to say on the subject that I saved it for today.

I still know that some Latter-day Saints will view my posts on this subject as being critical of the Church, but I can only assure you they are not. I believe that what I have been saying and what I will say here is completely in the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the direction our appointed shepherds are leading us. In fact, as much as it seems like I’ve been writing lately as a reaction to the news of the Boys Scouts of America considering changing its policies about gays as members, these things have weighed heavily on my mind all of my life.

I grew up in an era where unkind jokes about homosexuals abounded in school, on television, in the neighborhood, and, yes, even at church. Imagine the conflicts within me as I laughed along with everyone else but down inside knew I was laughing at and growing to hate myself. As I grew older, the remarks and attitudes continued in the workplace. I once endured a half-hour diatribe by a coworker who described how disgusted he was at anyone with even slight homosexual tendencies and how he could never work with anyone like that.

Over the years, things have change in school, on television, in the neighborhood, and somewhat in church. I haven’t heard a remark about it in priesthood meeting in years, but I remember when I heard it in priesthood meeting, in Sunday School class, in the halls, and over the pulpit.

“But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same gender attraction. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, MormonsAndGays.org).”

So, while I am hopeful that with the publishing of MormonsAndGays.org and with the change in the policy of the Boy Scouts of America, that we are moving into a time when compassion, tolerance, fairness, and kindness will prevail in our discussions about homosexuality. Most of all, I am hopeful that a change of heart is coming that will let people like me feel welcome and appreciated in church.

I have made a partial list of things that I think will be evidence that the changes Elder Oaks talked about are actually happening. In none of these things am I suggesting that the Church leaders are wrong or that the doctrines of the Church regarding sexuality, morality, and marriage need to change. I am talking about the way people treat people.

  • A gay person who is interested in the Church and wants to explore the idea of becoming a member will feel as welcome as a straight person.
  • A gay couple who are interested in the Church and wants to explore the idea of becoming a member will feel as welcome as a non-married, co-habitatingĀ  straight couple, recognizing that both couples will need to make some necessary changes prior to baptism.
  • No person will hear the thing he or she struggles with internally made fun of in a church meeting.
  • A man or woman who deals with same-sex attraction but is faithfully adhering to the Law of Chastity will have the same opportunities to serve in the Church as a man or woman who deals with opposite-sex attraction, and that those opportunities will happen without malicious and unkind things being said about them.
  • Doctrine will be taught with kindness and tolerance, avoiding sarcasm and jabs at people who are not perfect, knowing that we all strive for perfection but are all falling short.
  • People who have strayed will feel they can come back to church any time and can feel confident that people will welcome them with open, loving, and understanding hearts.

I could go on a lot longer. As I laid awake this morning and tried to get going, I though of dozens, but I think these capture the spirit of it.

The day I came back from several years of inactivity and homosexual behavior when I was a youth, I bore my testimony in Sunday School opening exercises about being the returning prodigal son. A man followed me to Sunday School class, asked the teacher to speak to the class, and asserted that the prodigal son was indeed welcome back to his father’s tent, but would never again be heir to his father.

I resisted the urge to get up, leave, and never return. I had promised the bishop and the Lord that I would stay active in the Church. I’m glad I stayed. Many don’t when greeted like that.

I had a change of heart about the direction of my life when I was sixteen. Changes of heart go on throughout life, for individuals and for communities. We all need to constantly be working to change.

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