Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon lesbian told to divorce her wife or face excommunication hearing

Lesbian couple marriage

Back in November, it became LDS Church policy that any person in a same-sex marriage would be considered “apostate” and required to come before a disciplinary council.

The fallout of that misguided policy is beginning to be seen. Yesterday, for example Fox News reported that a lesbian couple in Mount Pleasant, Utah, is being “harassed” by local LDS leaders, and I am hearing other stories about gay members in same-sex marriages being tracked down by their bishops, basically to serve them notice of their pending hearings.

Today we hear from one such individual firsthand. Elizabeth has been inactive in the LDS Church for some time, but as you can see from her guest post below, her membership is still quite important to her and she has no wish to be excommunicated. She contacted me to tell me what was happening with her bishop, who basically gave her two choices: either stay married and resign from (or be kicked out of) the LDS Church, or divorce her wife of eight years and stay a Mormon in good standing. — JKR


A guest post by Elizabeth

I got home from work on Tuesday, February 8, at around 6:45, in the dark. As I was walking up the steps to my front door, a car pulled up and a man got out of it. He introduced himself as the bishop of the LDS ward in my neighborhood.

While I have lived in my home for about eleven years, I had never been to this ward and I had never met him. My wife and I have had visiting teachers over — plus the missionaries, the Relief Society President, and other people giving us invitations to ward functions. We have been very polite but we have not gone to any church activities.

So the bishop said he wanted to have a talk with me about my church membership. I told him I was a lesbian and have been legally married for eight years.

The bishop already knew that. I assume that the visiting teachers or the Relief Society President told him. He said with the new policy from the church about LGBT members and apostasy, he needs me to make a decision on my membership: I have to either divorce my wife or he will set up a church disciplinary council.

I told him I was not going to divorce my wife and that I would not participate in a disciplinary hearing because I had done nothing that I consider to be a sin requiring church discipline.

I am who I am. I was born this way. I did not choose to be gay any more than my bishop chose to be straight. I am legally married and in love with my wife. I am committed to our family and am not promiscuous.

He said he wanted me to pray about it until the end of the month, when he will come back to talk with me. I said, “I have thought and prayed long and hard about the issue for years. And struggled and cried.”

He said I could do it the gentle way and write a letter of resignation and give it him. I told him I didn’t want to resign from the church.

I wish now, looking back on the encounter, that I had said, “If I felt that the church welcomed me with open and accepting arms knowing I am gay and married to a woman, I would be at church every Sunday.” I did tell him that the leaders of the church are now taking this decision about my own membership away from me.

Then he said something interesting. “We don’t want you to be cut off from your neighbors,” he told me. But isn’t that what excommunication does…cut you off from your neighbors? Isn’t that the intent of excommunication? While I would like to give the bishop the benefit of the doubt, this comment felt almost like a threat that he would tell all the neighbors and heaven knows what they would do. Throw things? Hurt, tease, or humiliate my child?

Through all of this, I know that I want to remain a member of the church even though I have not attended for a while, because I believe in the fundamentals of the Gospel. I told him that I believe in the church and I believe in God. I believe that God led my wife and me to each other. The church’s ideals and the values have shaped who I am as a person, how I view my fellow man, how I serve others, how I love, how I value others, what truly matters in this life. It is a deep part of my identity.

It is also a family legacy. My parents went through a lot to become members and were encouraged by church leaders in the mission field in England to “come to Zion” here in Salt Lake City. Leaving the Mormon church would be an insult to their memory.

After this encounter with the bishop, I walked into my house feeling like I had been kicked in the stomach. I was out of breath and sobbing. It was frightening to be approached at my own front door at night. Not knowing who he was, I felt intimidated, threatened, and unsafe.

I didn’t sleep much that night, but I did honor the bishop’s request to pray. I received my answer, which I will not go into here, but I was comforted and knew I was loved and that everything was going to be okay.

I realize that this is “their” church and they can decide who is worthy to be a member. But it is also my church. I have chosen it. I have served in it. I have paid tithing to it. I have received promptings of the truthfulness of many of its doctrines. But I believe with all my heart that leaders are mortal and can be mistaken at times and influenced by other things than the spirit of love and God.

If the church’s official policy is now to seek out married same-sex couples in their own homes to issue an ultimatum to divorce their spouses (and possibly leave their children) to avoid facing a disciplinary court, then I am concerned for all the individuals that this may happen to that are not as strong as I am. They may not have the family support and friends that I do, and may be living in the shadows or in the closet. What could this scare tactic do to them? Instead of handling it the way I did by talking to my wife, my friends, and my family, they may end up harming themselves. The fact that lives could be lost by this action makes me scared and angry.

In an ideal world I would like the church’s policy on gays and lesbians and on same-sex marriage changed. I have hope that the leaders will open their hearts to any words that that God may reveal to them about the acceptance of this community, though I realize that may not happen.

For my part, I have hope that my membership will remain in the church, but I am bracing myself to receive the letter calling me to the disciplinary council. My thoughts on attending it waver from minute to minute. On the one hand I want to be on record with my story and have them hear from a “real live lesbian” instead of an idea of one. I want them to see and hear a real person with feelings.

But on the other hand I don’t think I should have to answer to them for who I am, or defend how I live my life. I will answer to God, and I know God is okay with me.




About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.


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  • These witch hunts were inevitable under the “Policy” I suppose, but they seem so mean and un-Christlike to me. How do these bishops not see that?

  • I don’t think all bishops are like this. However, church members in same sex relationships need to realize that they are living in opposition to church doctrine, which is grounds for excommunication.

  • Great post, Jana! My heart goes out to this sister. She is a child of God. I am not sure why the church feels the need to go on a witch hunt for someone like this, who has not attended church in years?

    I have a sister who has similar feelings about the church on this same issue. She has identified as lesbian for many years. But she is not ex’d, because she has never been open about it with church leaders of any kind, and she isn’t even open with her parents or siblings, except me. And she is in her 50’s.

    I do not know why there is an increased emphasis on “being watchmen” and passing judgment on all the wicked in the world? Does it help us view our wonderful selves as “the righteous” if we condemn others? How is this Bishop protecting the church?

    The brethren must have had quite a revelation to conclude that judging people is more important than loving them. is “Protecting the Saints” really “Policing the Saints, Elder WC? Make the issue personal, and…

  • “Then he said something interesting. “We don’t want you to be cut off from your neighbors,” he told me.

    I hear all the time that Mormons never shun people. Or it’s just that one Bishop! He’s an exception. The Church loves and accepts everyone.

    Here’s the official stance:

    “With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
    -LDS mormonsandgays website

    Here’s the reality:

    BBC: Does the Mormon Church shun people?
    J.R. Holland: No! No. Of course we don’t.
    -BBC interview on YouTube @6:35

    Temple Recommend question 7: Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

  • True. This is NOTHING new, guys. This has always been the church’s position, and it is not a policy, it is doctrine. Do people take things a bit far or get mean about stuff? Of course! But that is the case about every single solitary aspect of life I can think of.

  • As Mr. Rogers repeated often over the decades, “I like you just the way you are.” Perhaps your ancestors would understand that you didn’t leave the church; it left you when it required you to be single and celibate for life. And worse, it said you are defective and need fixing. In my law practice I try to affirm and empower clients with knowledge. If I could convey to you this simple concept–the bishop is just a person. He has no special power, no discernment other than what any person has by being perceptive. He only has the authority you grant him. I fear your excommunication is already sealed. If so, and if you desire to leave with dignity intact, simply show at your disciplinary hearing (only the bishop and counselors will be there; women don’t merit a full council) and hand him your resignation. Then walk out. That should end the meeting. If he still excommunicates you, seek legal counsel. It can be a no-no to excommunicate somebody who has resigned.

  • Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
    17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    (New Testament | 1 Corinthians 3:16 – 17)

  • Not all Bishops are “like” what?

    Starting disciplinary councils for same sex couples? They are now MANDATORY.

    Offering the person time to “repent” before calling them in for discipline? For many people who believe same sex relationships are a sin, that would seem the merciful thing to do.

    Visiting members unannounced on a workday evening? With Elizabeth being inactive for 10 years it’s likely he didn’t have her number to call ahead. Visiting unannounced on a workday evening happens all the time. Everywhere. Nearly every seasoned leaders has done it at least once.

    So what exactly is this Bishop “like”? Obedient to the rules?

    This is an example of what I think will be a VERY common story for members in same sex relationships. Yes, Bishops are implementing the new policy (yes Laura, it is new, and it is a policy). But if there is something wrong with this story (hint: there is!), it’s the new policy.

  • @DannyS
    “He only has the authority you grant him.”

    Truer words were never spoken… and applies to all aspects of life. Great post.

  • This ranks right up there with other LDS witchhunts ostensibly conducted in the name of love. I’m old enough to remember when LDS missionaries had to search the genealogical records of prospective Brazilian converts to determine if they had African lineage that would prevent them from receiving the priesthood. Someday we’ll look back with embarrassment on the current homophobic exclusionary policy and its implementation as we now do with the Negro Practice. (Oh, for those who claim “The Policy” is a God-sanctioned doctrine rather than an uninspired practice, that’s just what the discredited defenders of the Negro Practice said: that it was a doctrine enunciated by a prophet. As Paul and McConkie put it, “we (they) look through a glass, darkly.”
    I’ve written an allegory entitled “An Allegory of Hope” on my blog — — which depicts the inevitable day the Lord intervenes to end this travesty, just as he did with Paul to end another dumb practice: circumcision.

  • How very sad — I am not gay, so I obviously can’t fully understand. HOWEVER — I am a child of God — and he loves me and he loves and cherishes YOU — dearly. I truly feel this is a sad day in Church history when we now have witch hunts instead of love and acceptance for ALL — because – well — Jesus loves and accepts ME, and I can be a real mess at times!! If you have received comfort from the only One who can really extend it — that ends it, in my opinion.

  • “If the church’s official policy is now to seek out married same-sex couples in their own homes to issue an ultimatum to divorce their spouses (and possibly leave their children) to avoid facing a disciplinary court, then I am concerned for all the individuals that this may happen to that are not as strong as I am.”

    Mormonia spent years telling everyone that gay marriages and gay families are counterfeit, and would destroy all of those normal marriages and nor,al families. That’s what an attack does. It destroys.

    So who exactly is attacking families and marriages? Projection, projection, projection.

    You didn’t ask my advice, but here goes anyway. Find a better class of Christian and a better class of church to hang out with. Subjecting yourself and your family to abusive religion isn’t going to make anyone happy.

  • I wouldn’t bother even showing up. And why make the pain worse by seeking legal council.

    We’re it me…

    “I will not lend this proceeding any divinity by even bothering to show up. Do your worst, and pretend it’s your best and you’re doing It with love. You need your pretenses far more than I do.”

  • So they can live together without benefit of marriage, whore around to their hearts content, be reprobates, and on and on and on.

    That will be just fine with the church.

    But affirm the value and importance of marriage by being married? And civilly, not religiously married, at that, which the church spenr many years attacking as not being a real marriage?Why, that is just going too, too far to bear.

    Those gay people! Always being uppity by insisting that their lives, children, families, love, faith, freedom, and assets are every bit as valuable as Donald Trumps.

    Uppity queers. tHat is way too much to bear.

  • The truly frustrating part is that it sends such a mixed message to families. My bishop hasn’t found me yet. What do I say to my family? It causes an amazing conflict as I don’t want them to be put in a situation where they have to choose. It’s like I want to choose for them, I want to run and hide from all of this, from them. It actually feels so vindictive and wrong. It really causes you to step back and question everything. I know I was born gay, I was molested at an early age by a neighbor and a family member. Part of what got me through that was the very thin thread that I had the Church to hold on to. I have never confronted this family member, but had interaction with him when my father passed away. He was vicious, anti Gay and extremely judgmental. I was treated like somehow it was all my fault because I was gay and somehow as a child (under 8) caused all of this. I want to scream from the Mountain Top. What is wrong with the world? What happened to the Church?

  • This truly breaks my heart. I am a Mormon in good standing and I generally support my leaders. I don’t support them in this. Nor do I agree with the way they handle LGBT issues. Our leaders act out of fear and are unwilling to learn when it concerns gays or any gender issue. They show no love and for that there is no excuse.

  • Seek legal counsel? That’s bizarre advice! And a waste of money. There is no court in the US that will insert itself into the doctrinal deliberations of a religious organization. Rel Orgs have complete control of who is or isn’t a member. And Rel Orgs can legally discriminate in the US.

  • “We don’t want you to be cut off from your neighbors,” he told me.

    This bishop seems unaware that to the LDS Church, excommunication isn’t meant to cut folks off from their neighbors. Doctrinally these are supposed to be “courts of love,” not a punishment. The purpose of excommunication is to relive a member of the obligation of covenants which they can no longer uphold.

  • David, what you say is generally true. But there can be damages available where a church (or any organization) excommunicates/disciplines/throws out a member who has ALREADY resigned. (not yelling, just emphasizing) Submitting the resignation letter at the disciplinary hearing is the equivalent of dropping the microphone. I doubt this woman would actually choose to do so. But ending her membership on her terms in her own way could be empowering to her. And it is a way for her to see they really have no authority over her. It also makes the same point to them in a very real way.

  • “The purpose of excommunication is to relive [sic] a member of the obligation of covenants which they can no longer uphold.”


    Also, you might want to look up the word in a dictionary, for example:

    Excommunication is really a kind of banishment, a punishment that’s handed out by a church when one of its members breaks some important church rule. The Latin root is excommunicare, meaning “put out of the community,” which is just what happens when a person is excommunicated.

  • Unless serious changes have been made in the concept in the LDS Church since I completed my master’s degree in the mid 80s, this is an understanding of excommunication from “the Brethren.”

    Where serious transgression requires a court hearing, may I promise you…that the procedure is kind, and it is gentle. The Church court system is just. As has been stated on many occasions, these are courts of love, with the singular objective of helping Church members get back on a proper course. There is no plan in Heavenly Father’s realm to degrade his children. Everything is designed to aid our progress, not to impede it.
    Robert L. Simpson
    “Cast Your Burden upon the Lord,” Tambuli, Jul 1977, 27–28

    Referring to a Roman Catholic concept of excommunication found in a dictionary doesn’t apply. The Catholic concept was concerned with damning someone to hell!

  • a. What does your reference have to do with your “obligation of covenants” statement? Show me a reference with the same terminology you used. Not interested in your personal interpretation.

    b. It’s not a “Roman Catholic concept”. It’s the dictionary definition of the word. Are you saying there’s an LDS dictionary that defines the word differently? If so, show me the LDS dictionary definition.

  • That doesn’t make much sense at all. How about pointing us to an actual court case that supports that claim.

    I’m more inclined to believe that damages were awarded because of how the church may have gone about actually making the fact of the excommunication public, than because the church excommunicated someone who had resigned.

  • You are “more inclined to believe”?

    The original poster is an attorney. I expect he knows a lot more than you about it.

    Google 1985 Norman Hancock

  • I wonder why you are so hateful in your participation here.

    Why do you assume that I’m not an attorney?

    The financial settlements for the Norman Hancock case and the case regarding the woman Mr Hancock used as an example, were about defamation, as I stated above, not the mere fact that they were excommunicated after resigning. However, his case and others are likely what led to the LDS Church changing resignation to an administrative procedure that no longer requires a disciplinary council.

  • Sorry, Elder Marvin J Ashton expressed that concept to me in an interview in 1986 when I was living in SLC during the research phase of my master’s project for my seminary degree. It’s a quote in my thesis. But I’m not familiar with an actual public reference that states the concept in exactly his same words.

  • It’s sad to see that Elizabeth is in an abusive relationship. Not with her wife, but with her church. I hope that one day she can see that and leave the church behind.

  • a. “Why are you so mean?” You say mean, I say direct and honest.

    b. “What makes you think I’m not an attorney?” See “c.”.

    c. “The Norman case was about defamation.” No, it had nothing to do with defamation.

  • Guinn v Church of Christ. 775 P.2d 766. “Parishioner voluntarily joined the Church of Christ and by so doing consented to submit to its tenets. When she later removed herself from membership, Parishioner withdrew her consent, depriving the Church of the power actively to monitor her spiritual life through overt disciplinary acts. No real freedom to choose religion would exist in this land if under the shield of the First Amendment religious institutions could impose their will on the unwilling and claim immunity from secular judicature for their tortious acts.” In other words, pre-resignation activities of the church are protected, but post-resignation activities might not be. Ok, let’s get back to Elizabeth. I just wanted her to know the authority imposed on her is illusory. She is in control if she wants to be. And if not , that’s ok too. She already is strong by refusing to divorce her wife. In the LDS world, families can be together but terms and conditions apply.

  • Elizabeth,
    This is between you and the Lord. I would listen to the guidance He is giving you. The church has been wrong on this issue for such a long time–from conversion therapy and claiming sexual orientation is a “choice,” to the lies/misrepresentations/demonization/fearmongering of the Prop 8 campaign to the implementation of these new policies.

    I don’t get it.
    Why should she resign rather than let them excommunicate her, especially when she herself wants to maintain her membership?

    Good questions!

  • @Maddy

    I suppose resignation is a good option for her to leave on her own terms. See Danny S’s “mic drop” comment.

    Personally, I hope she makes the Church excommunicate her and makes a big stink about it with vigils, press releases, and CNN coverage.

    Back in the day, excommunication was a “big stick” that people feared. Now it’s become a badge of honor, and every time it happens the LDS Church gets egg on its face.

    Plus, she can still attend services, attend functions, and participate as a cultural Mormon. Not a dang thing the LDS church can do.

    “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

  • I’m sorry but the notion that the church court system is ‘just’ is ludicrous. As a woman who expects to be called in for one soon, I can say most assuredly it is not. It will take only 3 men to ex me, not 15.

  • It is a dangerous situation, where members of an organisation are forced to enact policies that adversely impact on an individual’s basic and legal human rights.
    Where an individual enjoys the privileges of citizenship, he/she deserves equal respect and protection, free from discrimination.
    Members of the Mormon church are the willing pawns of a brutal and despotic regime intent to inflict physical and psychological harm on a targeted section of our communities.
    They, along with their Mormon leaders are directly responsible for these human rights abuses, and should be held fully accountable before the law of the land.
    The Mormon witch hunt of all its honest and lawful lgbt members and their children, is symptomatic of the aggressive fascism of nazi Germany, which also stigmatised targeted groups.
    Members of the Mormon church who dutifully obey their cruel leaders in this assault on innocent fellow humans, should be utterly ashamed for their evil actions.

  • The Guide to the Scriptures on has great definitions: Excommunication: The process of excluding a person from the Church and taking away all rights and privileges of membership. Church authorities excommunicate a person from the Church only when he has chosen to live in opposition to the Lord’s commandments and thus has disqualified himself for further membership in the Church.

  • I tried to post this earlier today and the comment disappeared into the ether!

    In 1986 I had an interview with Elder Marvin J Ashton in the course of living in SLC while doing research for my seminary master’s thesis on the LDS Church. In the interview, he told me that disciplinary councils (church courts then) excommunicated members when the member could no longer live up to the covenants they had made; baptismal, ordination, endowment, etc. He explained that condemnation was much greater on someone who was under their covenants and in a state of transgression. Excommunication then relieved them of the obligations of those covenants with the hope they would repent and one day again be in a position to make those covenants again. That sounded like classic LDS theology then and still does to me today.


  • I see. In opposition to the Lord’s commandments. Not in opposition to the Church Handbook that was changed *after* the member made the covenant.

  • Interesting how some LDS members try to justify their bigotry by claiming LGBT members are “living in opposition to the Lord’s commandments” and “can no longer live up to their covenants”.

    What nonsense! These hateful actions by the LDS church are based on nothing but a policy addition to the LDS Church Handbook made *after* the member joined. Nobody agreed not to marry a same-sex partner upon joining the LDS church. If this were implicitly or explicitly the “Lord’s commandment”, why add it after the fact?

    Even worse, when members complained, the LDS Church tried to claim this policy is a “revelation” to give it more authority. Really? If it’s a revelation, then publish the exact words that the Lord revealed exactly as they were spoken to Apostle Monson.

    Yep. Nothing but crickets.

  • It boils down to four simple things:
    1. Some bishops are extremists.
    2. Church discipline is for those who want to change, unless they pose some danger.
    3. Most members are not accepting of those who are different in some way.
    4. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true and will bless anyone’s life who desires such.

  • No matter what, she will either resign or get excommunicated. As simple as that. I don’t ever see the church changing what you guys call “policy”. It has been made clear long ago in old testament that a man and a woman should Cleave unto each other as man and wife. The church has always held strong to that doctrine. They have also brought out wayy before LGBT happened, what’s called the Proclamation to the family. If you don’t know what it is, go read it. It’s quite informative as to what the Mormon church believes. Now, whether or not she took the bishop’s visit offensively or to just inform her, that’s her choice and feelings. People aren’t perfect. Bishops, counselors, Presidents of the church aren’t perfect beings. That’s why we go to church! Because we’re imperfect. I do believe and I know strongly that God loves this lady and her wife and the children that they have because they are His children. But I do believe also that they are in sin. This is my opinion though.

  • In California after prop 8 vote the church put a invisible sign in front of every church meeting house. It says Gays not welcome. With this new policy in place that invisible sign is now lit up for everyone to see.
    Members do a wonderful job of putting a spin on this subject.

  • “They have also brought out wayy before LGBT happened, what’s called the Proclamation to the family.”

    I’ve heard the same claim in my ward.

    But the truth is, in 1993 (2 yrs before PoF) Hawaii’s state Supreme Court ruled on a case brought by LGBT litigants. The majority opinion stated:

    “marriage is a basic civil right” and that “on its face and as applied,” the Hawaii law “denies same-sex couples access to the marital status and its concomitant rights and benefits.”

    The issue of same-sex marriage was alive and well before the Proclamation–and church leaders became alarmed about the court ruling in Hawaii.

    The scriputures say more about divorce. Do we discipline divorced people?

  • Maria, I’m curious. Do you believe the Proclamation to be a revelation? In 2011 Boyd Packer referred to it as revelation. But the church later redacted those words from the official version of his talk on If not revelation, then why is it authoritative?

    What is the sin you refer to at the end of your comment? Is it Elizabeth’s homosexuality? What if her sexual orientation were as unchangeable as her skin color? Would it be just and fair for God to declare as a sin a trait that a person could not change?

    Is not a lawfully recognized union of two committed partners more praiseworthy than a promiscuous lifestyle? You say that “the church as always held strong to that doctrine.” But hasn’t it changed its own doctrines about marriage? Brigham Young was sure that polygamy (actually polygyny) was essential to obtaining the celestial kingdom. Buth the church ended the practice, and Gordon Hinkley stated in an interview that he wasn’t even sure that polygamy was doctrinal.

  • “While I have lived in my home for about eleven years, I had never been to this ward and I had never met him.”

    I really don’t even understand the thinking.

    1. You don’t support your church.
    2. You don’t follow the rules.
    3. You don’t live the standards others are required to live.

    Your not a member, only on the rolls of the church. Homosexuality has always been a excommunication offense. The policy only reiterates that and encourages leaders to do what should have been done a decade ago.

    Why is it bad to enforce standards?

  • Because the standards have their basis in bigotry, given a nice, thin, veneer of respectability by calling it sincere religious belief. It is certainly not, and never has been.

    Black and brown, people, you know, the people who were not whitesome and delightsome, has certain issues with the church, didn’t they?

    We have the lord’s position on divorce. Nope, no excommunication there. I probably photographed 30 Mormon weddings when I had my business. Easily, half the parents were divorced.

    We have Paul’s admonition so about reviling and slandering. “Counterfeit families” was just one of the slanders. “Threat to the family. Was just one of the revilings.

  • “I really don’t even understand the thinking.”

    If you are going to mourn with those who mourn, you need to try harder.

  • I am not trying to mourn. There is nothing to mourn over other than she was finally confronted with her choices and the consequences.

    I can not understand why anyone would think they belong to any faith or organization when they are not trying to follow its standards. That is weird thinking.

  • Jeanine, Does this mean you would rather deal with a Disciplinary Council made up of 15 men rather than only 3? I believe you could request that the 15 be involved and that you call appeal the decisions of either to the First Presidency. I presume you continue to Not want to follow the teaching of the Church about homosexual relationships which has remained consistent at least throughout your life-time. Asking to have your name removed from the records of the Church removes the Church’s responsibility to even contest the matter. Even if you do so, the Church teaches that your LDS family members should continue to associate with you in love and compassion and you should be welcome at all public meetings of the Church. I wish you well in this time of tender feelings and difficulties.

  • Noah Vail: “…which depicts the inevitable day the Lord intervenes to end this travesty, just as he did with Paul to end another dumb practice: circumcision.”

    Here’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about circumcision:

    “…preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure. Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.”

    Dumb old American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Your priesthood argument I agree because the policy was man made. That was bigotry.

    The others are standard set by God and between the person, faith leaders, and God.

    The story is the same a personal matter that has be made public. For the sake of appealing to your emotions.

    Like I said I can not understand why she felt she was a member when she rejected the church. Her emotional plea had no reality to it other than how dare someone disagree with her choice of life style. “Feel bad for me.”

    I am not willing to give her that. So I guess I am evil in your eyes but that is ok because your and others opinions don’t count. Just as mine don’t count on your life.

    Just as her son story doesn’t count no one took anything from her that she had not willing given up already. But how dare someone force her to see that.

  • This is an important topic to try to understand and should be discussed. However, approaching this topic without providing moderation and balance certainly encourages distress, fear and anger more than understanding. I suggest 3 moderating considerations that should be examined.
    1. A purely legalistic approach is inadequate in any discussion of excommunication and/or disciplinary councils. “A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings” by Elder Ballard deserves careful reading and study (see ).
    2. The Church teaches: “No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle. . . . let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, . . . and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful . . .”
    (see part II for…

  • Doug, so u r claiming that it is more important to go after and ex someone who hasn’t been in the church for 11 years rather than put the limited time and resources you have into serving someone in your ward? And these r the Christian priorities: police, judge and condemn first, and then go care for the flock?

    What harm is the woman, who doesn’t want to be ex’d, doing to anyone? Why is witch hunting a harmless person a priority for anyone? I just don’t get it.

    Leave this poor woman alone and mind your own business! How is this Christian service?

  • In my opinion, mixed messages arise b/c the LDS Church isn’t being forthright about the *real* reasons for the policy change. The LDS Church always claimed homosexual sex (not being gay in and of itself) is a sin. It’s only recently they’ve claimed gay marriage partners were *apostates* whose children couldn’t join. Why?
    a. If they permitted gay marriages and members saw those families were as happy, successful, and wholesome as hetero marriages, the Church could no longer frame gay marriage as a threat to the family.
    b. Before, children of polygamous parents freely participated in the LDS Church. But the Church feared FLDS kids would raise uncomfortable truths and even recruit LDS kids. FLDS kids were banned. After the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage, FLDS groups said “Hey! How come you allow kids with gay parents but not us?” So the LDS Church had to react.
    c. Unless the Church declares all gay marriages apostasy it might be forced to allow gay temple marriages.

  • Unless the Church declares all gay marriages apostasy it might be forced to allow gay temple marriages.

    Who would force the LDS Church to allow same gender Temple Marriages? Would the general membership rise up and demand this? Would it be voted on in The Annual General Conference? “All those in favor?” “Those opposed?”

  • In short, the LDS Church has to walk a tightrope between practicing religion and not pissing off the civil authorities. There’s an urban myth that government can’t force change on a religious body, but in reality it can and does. (Trivia: the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution.)

    The question is whether a gay couple might ever sue to force the LDS Church to perform gay temple marriages. This *might* never happen, and the government *might* be unsuccessful in forcing the LDS church to comply if it ever did.

    Be that as it may, after the SCOTUS ruling, LDS leadership, recognizing the forementioned tightrope, found it prudent to declare gay marriage partners apostate. If you’re apostate (or better, booted out/resign) you can’t very well force a Church you don’t belong to into accommodating you. I have to hand it to the LDS legal team. This is pretty slick.

    So it’s not revelation. It’s legal footwork.

  • “I am not trying to mourn.”

    But isn’t that part of our baptismal covenants? Should we not try to understand when someone else is in pain? Even if we can’t fully comprehend their situation, should we not support them in their hour of suffering?

  • Not at all. This is one of the biggest bugaboos put forth by antigay Christians– and I’m not saying you are one. There is not any interpretation of the first amendment that would permit this. In fact, positively all interpretations say just the opposite.

    Jews cannot go to a catholic priest, demand to be married, whether in the church or not, and expect the government to support them. Yet religion is a protected class. And as much as I despise antigay churches, I am a firm believer in the first amendment, so much so that if the government tried to force this issue on a faith, I would be standing right next to my antigay religious brethren to defend their rights to conduct their religious beliefs as they wish.

    But not to force their purely theological concerns on people that don’t share them.

    And this has never happened in any case, in any place at allows gay people to marry. Not even in countries with established churches.

  • @Ben

    To support my claim, I can point you two a couple of attorneys, one of whom is gay. See what they say, make up your own mind. Google:

    a. A Thoughtful Faith blog podcast. “Church Policy Changes and Their Legal Contexts” Attorney James Ord.

    b. Paper “Cutting Down the Tree of Life” Attorney Denver Snuffer.

  • A married man whom my family does not know very well, separately invited my 13 year old daughter and my 15 year old son into his private office,in a public place.
    He began asking them questions. He asked each of them if they masturbate or not because it does matter to God. Does this seem odd? Incite anger?
    Neither child knew him. How would anyone feel if this happened to their children?

    Oh to be a church leader and get to ask children about their behavior regarding their private parts……

    Teach your children to ask their church leaders about their sex lives!!! Perhaps then the church can get out of the sex business….. Just thinking aloud. LOL

  • Stop this now. Make clear to this person that NO interviews are to occur without you or your spouse being present. Better yet, no interviews at all. If your children must attend church, you have to counter the church’s anti-masturbation and virginity-cult teachings, else one or both of your children will, if not already, be on the guilt-shame cycle this church is so good at fostering. They should not have to deal with the church’s harmful teachings about masturbation. You do NOT want your daughter hearing the “licked cupcake” and other metaphors that so mess with a child’s mind.

  • No the Catholic concept was not concerned with damning someone to hell. Mormons always whining about others misrepresenting their beliefs but constantly doing that exact same thing to others, particularly Catholicism.

  • You seem to be missing a good deal of the conversation. If the situation were as you describe and the Bishop has no authority over her then she is already not a Mormon and her excommunication would be a simple formality.

    She holds that her membership does have some value to her and that she does have a testimony of many tenets of the Mormon gospel. Part of that Mormon gospel is that the Bishop holds real and actual authority from God.

    This new policy (while it reflects doctrine held for years, the policy itself is new) is bound to negatively affect gay and lesbian couples who have, till this point, straddled the line and kept a foot in each camp. The Church, through this policy, has declared that a committed homosexual lifestyle is anathema to a committed Mormon lifestyle and it will no longer be possible to pretend to both at once.

    We (Mormons) consider homosexuality a sin. Elizabeth does not.

  • Churches have wide latitude to discriminate in their practices and there is a slim to zero chance this will ever change. For example, discrimination against women persists–many denominations deny leadership and priesthood ordination of women. The U.S. government didn’t require the LDS church to change the priesthood ban. The ban persisted many years beyond the Civil Rights Act.

  • @maddy

    As I mentioned, there may never be a gay temple marriage suit, and it might be a non-starter anyway. I claim the policy change around gay marriage arose, in part, from a *perceived* threat after the SCOTUS ruling.

    As to the priesthood ban, please read the Denver Snuffer reference I gave starting around page 20. While the U.S. government didn’t require the change, it seems the LDS Church saw the writing on the wall in 1978, particularly after the mid 60’s Bob Jones University ruling.

    In my opinion, the policy change was created to give local leaders the power to expel members in gay marriages and selectively exclude their children. I think it’s a legal ploy, but that’s my opinion.

  • The great sorting prophesied is underway. Many will fall away and follow the LGBT movement and Ordain Women into the great and spacious building.

  • And when the’ve all fallen away except for the self righteous, you’ll be all alone in the tiny outhouse.

  • Are we really supposed to be shocked or surprised by this? There are a number of Mormon churches out there. The LDS church is the one for straight, white people. Sure, there are exceptions, but really this is really who that church is for. This is why the Lord called me to start the Fellowship. The Fellowship accepts everyone that comes unto Christ with a broken heart and contrite spirit. That’s it. We are accepting of homosexuals, polygamists, women, non-whites, everyone. The Lord told me that he needed a place for those the LDS church rejects to call home. And, I was excommunicated. My stake president literally told me I had to chose Jesus or the Church. I chose Jesus. The Lord called me to this work nearly six years ago now, and I fought it. I fought him. I thought the LDS church would repent, do better. But it didn’t. So, when the Spirit whispered that call telling me it was time, I got the ball rolling. Not for me, as I am a straight white man, but for Christ and his followers.

  • I wanted to make one more comment, to Elizabeth. Elizabeth, please do not leave the LDS church. I have received revelation that all that leave must be re-baptized into the Fellowship, but those that are excommunicated or are still members do not require re-baptism. This is because excommunication is the LDS church walking away from YOU and the Lord. They need the opportunity to choose the right, and to reject it. That’s what this life’s test is all about. This does not mean that you need to attend your hearing, and – as a man – I can tell you that it is not set up to make a woman feel loved, safe, or appreciated. Feel free to stay home, with your wife and family. But, please do not give in to their pressure and resign. The Lord will still hold your covenants as pure if you are excommunicated. You will still have the gift of the Holy Ghost and all the covenanted and promised blessings of being a member of the Kingdom, as being LDS isn’t what makes you Mormon/Christian.

  • In the Fellowship, the Lord gave us the questions to be asked, rather than just making them up. We use the same questions for every ordination. “Baptized” would be replaced with a calling, office, etc…

    And this shalt thou ask them:
    “Doest thou takest upon thyself the name of Christ?”
    “And, have ye been born again unto your redeemer, even Jesus Christ?”
    “And, desire thou to be baptized in his holy name?” (Yea, for those desirous of baptism).
    “And will thou strive to move forward in Christ that the Holy Spirit may be in thee and with thee even unto the end of thy life?”
    “Art thou obedient to the laws of thy land, yea even the kingdom of men?”
    And if they say unto thee, “yea” to all these, and they do not cause that harm come to another; behold, these are my people and are worthy of me; they may partake of mine ordinances as my Spirit so leadeth them.

  • Yikes! The Lord really should brush up on his pseudo-archaic English grammar before giving official revelations. He can’t decide whether to go with thou or you, and his verb agreement is all over the place.


    And this shalt thou ask them:
    “Dost thou take upon thyself the name of Christ?”
    “And, hast thou been born again unto thy redeemer, even Jesus Christ?”
    “And, desirest thou to be baptized in his holy name?” (Yea, for those desirous of baptism).
    “And wilt thou strive to move forward in Christ that the Holy Spirit may be in thee and with thee even unto the end of thy life?”

    Better yet, just speak in the modern English the people you’re addressing use, instead of trying to project the implicit authority of King James English.

  • @Greg

    Thou tookest the words right outest mine mouth. 🙂

    Also saves a lot of head scratching for non-native English speakers.

  • The law of chastity states that sexual relations are to occur only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully married to each other. Violating that law is second only to murder.

    If this woman said “I am a thief and liar, and I want to continue to steal and lie and retain my Church membership. I didn’t ask to be born dishonest, just like the Bishop didn’t ask to be born honest. This is the way I am,” I wonder how many people would champion her cause.

    Those who think it is all right to violate the law of chastity, but wrong to be dishonest, have their priorities crossed …

  • This is huge progress. The LDS have not merely recognised but have validated same-sex divorce.

    That aorta solves the whole question, doesn’t it. You can’t have legitimate divorces without legitimate marriages.


  • “I didn’t ask to be born dishonest, just like the Bishop didn’t ask to be born honest. This is the way I am,” I wonder how many people would champion her cause.”

    How many would champion her cause? About as many LDS who vote to keep corrupt LDS Utah politicians in power.

  • “Violating that law is second only to murder.”

    The law of chastity also forbids sex before marriage, sex outside marriage, and masturbation. By that standard, every Mormon ever born has commited a sin second only to murder. Most likely more than once. You guys need to either shape up or write more realistic laws.

  • Second only to murder, eh? wOw!! One of the reasons I would never ask a thoroughly religious person about morals. They don’t seem to have any.

    Consenting adults doing what comes naturally…

    Worse than rape.

    Worse than sexual abuse of children.

    Worse that dismemberment.

    Worse than taking god’s name in name.

    Worse than not believing in Jesus.

    Worse than robbing millions of people of their homes, retirement, and future.

    Worse than abortion.

    Worse than passing up a hungry, homeless person on the street, one who needs food.

    Worse than building ever bigger edifices rather than feeding starving children.

    You moral people sure have a funny sense of what is moral.

  • Clifton, thank you for giving us such a stark display of the triumph of dogma over reason and rational thought. There is no debating a mindset such as this. For insight into the thinking of those who vote to keep the hardliners in power in Iran, for example, look no further.

  • That’s not true. Members who have been inactive longer than a decade, living together “in sin” do not get called to a disciplinary council. This is overt discrimination, and it must stop.