Lessons in Unconditional Love

Here is the address I gave at Circling the Wagons. For more on the story behind the conference and how I ended up speaking there, see yesterday’s post.

Lessons in
Unconditional Love
Hi there.
I’d like to thank Circling the Wagons for allowing me the
opportunity to speak to you all today.
I’ve never been more scared to give an address in my entire
So, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there were a great
many people who did not want me to be
here today, let alone be participating, let
be one of the keynote speakers at Circling the Wagons..
Yet here I am. Here I am standing here, talking to you.
There are several reasons why I have chosen to do this. I
hope this talk illustrates them fully.
The first thing I want to do today is formally and publicly
apologize. I want you to know that I am incredibly sorry for, and incredibly
troubled by, the ways in which my story has been used to hurt, pressure, and
belittle fellow gay Mormons.
Without question, my story is being shared. The other night
I saw a post on a Facebook page that opens up dialogue around sexual issues,
mainly for LDS youth. Recently they had a poster ask a question about being
same sex attracted, and I kid you not, in the 150 or so responses, the link to
my blog post last June was shared at least four times.  We’re talking four times in the same thread.
So yes. This is happening. People are sharing my story. A
lot. And sometimes people are sharing it with messages that are very well
meaning, but that belittle the decision-making process of their love ones.  This is a problem.
Even more disturbing though, I have heard of families
sharing my story as they say extremely devastating things to their children and
siblings. One of the most heartbreaking to me was when I heard of one family
who sent my blog post to their gay loved one saying “When you use your agency
to make the decision to live righteously like this man, we will welcome you
back into our family. Don’t contact us again until then.”
To people who share my story in such a dreadful, hurtful way
I say: please stop. Please consider
the love you have for your gay loved one. You read one story of one man living
one authentic life, and you are using that as a weapon to dissect your family.
You are using that story, that one anecdote,
as the condition upon which you will love
your child.
I am deeply troubled by this kind of behavior, and have been
since the day I wrote my post. It goes against the very essence of what family
is. That kind of message is the
complete opposite of unconditional love. That’s why when I was presenting at Evergreen International a month or so
ago, I said the following to that group of mostly believing LDS gay people: “If
someone is pressuring you to marry heterosexually saying that they think this
is the ‘answer’ for you or will ‘fix’ you, they are likely motivated by fear
instead of love and don’t actually
have your best interest, or the best interest of a potential spouse, in mind .
. .  please don’t weigh yourself
down with that expectation for yourself if it is something you don’t want for
your own future. Marriage to the opposite sex might not be a part of your
journey here in life, and that’s okay.” I continued, “If someone is using my
story to pressure you to get married, I want you to tell them ‘I heard Josh
Weed, from his own mouth, say he thinks you should back off!’ Draw your boundary. This decision is
between you and God. Period.”
I give all of you the same permission. If you ever hear my
story being used in a derogatory and disrespectful way, feel free to say “I
heard Josh Weed out of his own mouth say not to try to use his story to
pressure others to make the choices he has made. Doing that is the opposite of unconditional love.”
If anyone in this room has had an experience like this,
where they have felt my story used against them in some way, I want you to tell
me, if you feel comfortable, so that I can personally apologize to you. Email
me. Your emails will get highest priority. You need to know that I love you,
and God loves you, and you worthy of love no
matter what.
I happen to
know something about unconditional love. I want to share two ways in which I’ve
learned about this very complex concept.
First, I want to tell you about my father.
My dad is a typical, almost stereotypical, heterosexual man.
He loves sports. He likes cars.  To
cope with the devastation he feels as he watches his wife, my mom, slowly die
of Early Onset Alzheimer’s, he decided to fulfill one of his fondest, life-long
dreams—a dream I wasn’t expecting. He bought a huge, expensive motorcycle.
He is also atypical in some ways though. Ways that happened
to make him the perfect father for me to have as a gay kid growing up in a
Mormon family.
First, although he ended up becoming a Seminary and Institute
teacher and he’s currently the Institute director at Portland State University,
he got his Master’s degree in social work where he specialized in marriage and
family counseling. This gave him some tools.
Second, and more importantly, he really truly understands
the concept of unconditional love. 
When I came out to him at the age of 13, I pulled him
downstairs to my bedroom. I lay down on my bed, as nervous as I was, and he sat
across from me, listening. I said, “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m gay.”
His reaction was a model of what parents should do in this
situation. He did not cringe. He did not berate me or get angry. He did not
tell me things like “you feel this way now, but maybe that will change” or “I
think this is just a phase.” He did not question me or what I was saying. He believed me. And then he asked some
questions and he listened to me. And
then, as he stood in the doorway while the conversation came to a close, he
said something that lodged itself into my subconscious permanently and served
as the basis for all of my future life decisions. He said “I want you to know,
Josh, that whatever you decide to do with your life and your future, your mom
and I will love you. No matter what. Period.”

That is
unconditional love. That is a
reaction of love and concern and respect, and not of fear. As it turns out, it
was that reaction—that assurance that he would love me no matter what—that
allowed me the liberty to truly explore my options. I was given an absolute
gift at that early age. I knew that no
matter what I chose
, I would be acceptable. I would be loved. I would be
just as integral a part of the Weed family as I ever was. It was this
assurance, ironically, that allowed me to explore my options thoroughly enough
to decide what I wanted for
myself. It gave me permission to choose what I myself wanted for my life.
I said it my initial blog post, and I say it again: you will
never give your gay loved one a better gift than to assure them that they will
be loved no matter what. It will give them the freedom to choose for themselves
what path they want for their own life. It will allow them to make that choice untethered
by impossible responsibility of choosing something that will “allow” their
family to love them. Choices made for approval or love often lead to disastrous
I chose a particular path—one that was right for me—one that
I decided on after years and years of thinking and praying and questioning and
doubting and, ultimately, believing. It was my authentic, eyes-wide-open choice
to marry my wife. And my wife, whom I’d known for my entire life, had the same
luxury—the opportunity to choose to
marry me understanding all of what that meant. In the final analysis it was
this gift—the gift of knowledge and the gift of choice—that allows my marriage
to work so well. We wanted each other. We
wanted this life. We love each other. We chose it, eyes-wide-open, because we
love each other and we love god, and we felt He has blessed us with each other.

The true irony here, and the thing that I think is most interesting, is that
I’m quite positive—knowing my personality—that if I had been pressured and
pushed and prodded to do this or that, I probably would have pushed back. I
would have either never chosen this life for myself at all, or may have chosen
it under false pretenses, thinking it would change me or alter me, or thinking
it was the only way to gain approval. A marriage founded on such assumptions
would be difficult to maintain.
I was lucky and blessed enough to be able to make an
authentic choice.
The second lesson I learned about unconditional
love is much more recent. As a gay man, I haven’t had the opportunity to have a
lot of deep, lasting, meaningful friendships with guys. A lot of that had to do
with my fears about what guys would think if I outed myself to them. I held my
friends at arms length, not allowing myself to be vulnerable, out of the fear
that they wouldn’t accept me. What I didn’t realize, was that in doing this, I
was not experiencing actual friendship. I wasn’t giving anyone the opportunity
to know me for who I really am, and then choose
to accept me. I was missing out, I discovered, on a crucial part of life:
emotional connection with other men.
year-and-a-half ago, though, I stepped past that fear, one-on-one with a
straight guy. I sat in his home office and I outed myself for the first time to
a guy I really looked up to and admired. Someone I would normally have never
shared this part of myself with out of a deep fear of rejection. I took that
step off the plank, that leap of faith, completely unsure of how I would be
received, and expecting at the core of myself to be rejected.
Instead what happened was that we became best friends. For
the first time in my life, I felt completely accepted by a guy—a guy who knew
everything about me. It was liberating. It was lifechanging. It’s part of what
planted the seeds of yearning to out myself to my broader circle as well, which
last June led to my writing a blog post intended principally for my Facebook
friends, and… well we know what happened there. The post exploded all over the
Internet and now here we all sit, together.
The reason I bring this up is to tell you an important thing
I learned about unconditional love during the course of this friendship. About
a year ago, this friend of mine told me that, after years of internal struggle,
he had decided to leave the Mormon church. I was devastated. I ached for him,
for his family. From the perspective of my world-view, this felt like a
perilous decision. One that would have lasting consequences. I am not going to
lie to you guys, my initial reaction was one I am not proud of. I reacted in
fear. I wanted to control my friend. I wanted to make him see things the way I saw them because my concern for him
and his future ran so deep. I had some exchanges with him that I am not proud
He was very patient with me, and I’m extremely grateful for
that, because it allowed me the room I needed to learn one of the most
important lessons of my life. I learned that to try to choose his path for him
was incredibly disrespectful, hurtful and wrong. I learned that the only responsibility I had to my friend
was to love him and respect his decision.
I learned in a visceral way what
Christ was saying when he said “judge not” and when he said “love your brother
like unto yourself.” I learned that it was not my job to judge him or condemn
him for his choices—people make all kinds
 choices, and we simply don’t
have the capacity to comprehend all that goes into them—and I learned that it
wasn’t my job to try and control his life because it is his life. Finally, I learned, maybe for the first time in my 32
years, how to love someone independent
of the choices they make. This guy wasn’t my best friend because of his life choices. This guy was my best friend
because I love and respect who he is as a human being independent of his life choices.
Learning this was a gift. Learning this was what allowed me
to finally “get it.” Because of this experience, when I did write that blog
post that outed me to what now seems like the entire universe, I articulated
what I hope beyond all hope deadens the grenades lobbed at the gay members of
the church whose families are like “Hey, you need to do it this way” as they share my story. 
In the post I say: 

you know and love somebody who is gay and LDS (or Christian), your job is to
love and nothing more. Let go of your impulse to correct them or control them
or propel them down the path you think is right for them. Do what you need to
do to move past that impulse.  Do not condemn the choices your loved one
makes. Love. Only love. Show your love in word and deed. Embrace them, both
literally and figuratively. I promise they need it—and they need to feel like
they can figure out this part of themselves in a safe way without ridicule and
judgment. It’s what Christ would do. It’s what your loved one needs. Accept
them. Love them. Genuinely and totally.

. . . You will never,
ever give your gay loved one a better gift than to love and accept them for who
they are, right now, no matter what, period. The friends and family who did
that for me (at varying points in my journey, including very recently) are
cherished and will go down in the history of my life as the people that truly
loved me, and as true Christians who helped me on my path.

I wouldn’t have been able to articulate those thoughts with
such clarity had I not had this experience with my best friend. I’m very
thankful, in many ways, for his friendship.
In closing, I’d like to say a few things about what I hope
and believe. I believe we are here, together, for a reason. I think God is the
grand orchestrator of all good things. I think this moment—us, here in this
room, in this very instant—you breathing, listening, tapping your foot, or
reading or hearing this on the Internet—none of this is accidental. We are here
at this moment with our own yearnings. And some of our yearnings are for the
same exact things. For peace and for love. For understanding.
Let’s do this. Let’s
circle our wagons together. Let’s listen, really
, to one another. Let’s embrace each other for the commonality of our
yearnings and let’s respect each other for the differences in our individual
choices. I think, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that we all yearn for
some fundamental things.
We yearn for our gay loved ones to feel accepted
by their families.
We yearn for our gay loved ones to feel accepted
in LDS chapels if they choose to attend, and by the broader LDS culture if they
do not
We yearn, deeply, all of us, for the suicides to
This is what we can do together. With our voices united, in
finding the common ground we all share, we can build safe places for the people
we love. Viewing each other as allies, we can do exactly what this conference
is about: we can build. We can build
bridges and we can build safe havens. We can build relationships of love and
understanding, and we can build friendships that aren’t contingent upon people
making the life choices we have chosen for ourselves. We can build a dialogue
that is constructive and helpful. We can build support that is comprehensive
and catches all of God’s gay children here on earth, no matter what they think
or believe, in order to let them know that, no matter who they are, no matter
what they have chosen, no matter whom they love or what they have done, they are adored by a God who made them and
loves them and wants to commune with them every single day.
I pray with all sincerity that we dig deep, and find it
within ourselves to tear down our own biases and prejudices and simply love. In
doing so, we will get farther than we could ever get alone. I am here for you.
I love you. I want to be of help in any way I can. I want to be your friend.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ—he who showed
us the true example of how to love


  1. I know this talk you gave was about gay people, but what if we broadened that to ALL people – – to love one another unconditionally, to be nonjudgmental, to be kind and loving and forgiving to all. I think that's what we ALL want and what we need. Thank you for this – – I know I will be more aware and more conscious of my own actions and reactions.

  2. Wow, thank you so much for this post- it was really eye opening to me both on the subject it was intended for as well as a personal issue I'm having with a friend entirely unrelated to anything discussed here.

    But really thank you for opening my eyes to so many issues regarding gay mormons. I think as mormons this issue can be really hard for us because we feel this need to stand our ground commandment-wise- to explain to a misunderstanding world why it is we believe the way we do and sometimes we veer a little too far to the commandment defending side and neglect the more important love side. Thanks for reminding us all of what is our most important duty and more importantly- reminding us in a loving way 🙂 Very rare.

  3. Why apologize for people hijacking your message? It certainly hasn't been as skewed as the Gospel, yet you don't see God apologizing. What about showing unconditional love for those who persecute us? So what if people 'demand' we be straight? I saw an article in an advice column where a girl's older brother came out. Her mother was livid and disowned him. Whenever he was around she'd say mean things. His response?

    "I love you, mom." Then he'd kiss her on the cheek. Unconditional love goes both ways. Maybe instead of constantly expecting everyone else to understand us we should try to understand them, after all isn't it just as unreasonable to us to make demands of how they should live their life? We can't control them anymore than they should try to control us.

    1. Yet God feels sorrow (I'm thinking of God's conversation with Enoch) when His children fight each other and refuse to follow the very teaching which would bring them joy: love. That's Josh's message. It is to love to understand that not everyone will understand us and forgive them for it, just as it is to love to refrain from judgement, just as it is love to do our best not to injure each other, whether intentional or deliberate.

    2. Beautiful point, that this unconditional love can and should go both ways. We are constantly on varying levels of patience, tolerance and understanding at any given moment. Ultimately we are responsible for our VERY OWN ACTIONS, INCLUDING JUDGMENTS OF OTHERS.
      Josh. I am so very proud of you for sharing so many important , touching and revealing aspects of your life experience and how you shape and have been shaped by it. I have realized and learned so much by your candidness. I love you. I feel you are truly a brother.

    3. This post brings to mind the Golden Rule; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Hmm, a concept taught by Christ, Confucius and many others. If we want unconditional love, we must offer unconditional love. We don't have to love the behavior, but let us love the person, no matter what. My mother in law lived this so totally. She was a wonderful example to our family. Yes, that family included people with drug problems, mental illness, gay and transgender people. She loved them all, with always open arms.

    4. Unconditional love should not be a thing to be celebrated. It should be taken for granted. It should be the bare minimum requirement of a parent.

      That, and that they don't confuse sexual preferences, substance preferences, medical problems, and unhealthy coping behaviours, and see them all primarily as "reasons why I might be justified not loving my child".

    5. good pint, jewelfox. i honestly find that it helps if I think of the level of understanding on here to be from about 50 or so years ago. that's not meant to be condescending at all, just the reality of where the level of understanding is. not Josh as much though.

    6. Dan Savage's advice to gays who have just come out of the closet is to give theis loved ones one year to behave like whiney petulent children. One year to sulk. Cry. Manipulate. And eventually come around. After that, their toxic behavior has consequences. Because the fact of the matter is we teach people how to treat us. If people want to play nicey nice kiss butt time indefinitely, that's their choice I suppose. But what their loved one learns is that the relationship is unbalanced. The respectfulness goes one way. And there will be no consequences for abusive behavior. Sometimes it is necessary to take away one's self; one's love; one's friendship; one's presence temporarily or indefinitely. Or you can let people manipulate and walk on you but in my opinion that's really no way to live. People should treat themselves with more respect.

    7. So you're saying Dan Savage's advice is to not love unconditionally? They must meet your criteria for how someone should treat homosexuality or you cut them off? Isn't that a bit hypocritical?

    8. Dan Savage's advice is to acknowledge that people need time to adjust but to draw boundaries and not put up with their abuse indefinitely. We teach people how to treat us. Sometimes the best thing we can do is withdraw our presence until such a time as our loved ones can understand that their behavior has consequences.
      People who are gay sometimes need to let go of the idea that they have "done" something to their family members so traumatic and horrible that it takes years for them to adapt. A gay person has not "done" anything to their family in coming out and living an authentic life. We are resonsible for our own emotions.
      What's hypocritical is expecting to be able to treat somebody like crap and have them treat us sweetly in return. That's just a ridiculous unrealistic expectation.
      Tammy paints a very patient, long suffering image of a gay woman. But most people are going to get to a point where they're like: Enough of this crap. I deserve better from my loved ones.
      If you're surprised when your treatment of somebody causes them to develop this response, it's time for some self examination.

    9. "Sometimes the best thing we can do is withdraw our presence until such a time as our loved ones can understand that their behavior has consequences."

      Sounds like the same thinking of these families who kick their kids out.

    10. The kids who end up on the street were not suffering natural consequences for their choices. Suicide is not a natural consequence for their choices.

      The expressed the attraction they were born with. That is not behavior that is destructive to the other people who reject them.

      Even if you believe that homosexual activity is sinful, you cannot argue that a parent is being abused by a child who has same gender attraction.

    11. That's not what I'm arguing at all. I'm saying, that's how the PARENTS view it. And if you want to understand THEM they you have to understand what they think, regardless of whether YOU think it's right or wrong. They're viewing you the same way you're viewing them.

    12. Zehn Waters,

      What is your point exactly? It kind feels like you are all over the place, maybe I'm blind but I'm not seeing what it is your trying to say exactly.

    13. Zehn, it's not the same kind of consequence because families whose kids are gay haven't "done" anything to their families. They are not being abusive; they are being themselves.
      If a parent or a loved one is told: "I need you to stop harassing me. I need us to agree to disagree on this. I want to have a positive relationship but this needs to stop" and they persist on complaining, poking, harassing, and generally making argumentative comments, sometimes it can be necessary to cut off contact either temporarily or permanently. Otherwise they have been given carte blanche to behave cruelly without consequences. Put another way: If I were to go to my parents' house for dinner every Sunday night and bring up Solomon Spalding and the inconsistencies with the Book of Abraham and Kinderhook and Polygamy and Mountain Meadows and 1978 knowing that they didn't want to hear these things, you would probably advise them to let me know I needed to either cease and desist or there would be consequences. I doubt you would advise them to kiss me on the cheek each and every time and tell me they loved me. If I behaved in such a way I would expect that communication would be minimized.
      (I do go to dinner regularly and I don't bring up these topics, for the record.)
      That's what I'm talking about. Harassment. There comes a time you need to shut up.

  4. Absolutely beautiful Josh. I truly feel your special spirit and genuine love. You are definitely doing the right thing and I pray for you and your family as you proceed with the sharing, the caring, and the message of unconditional love.

    I speak for my husband and I both, as we want to sincerely you for being so in tune to the spirit of God, for your bravery, for your humor, and for your committment to press on.

    At this moment, it has turned cold and windy outside, I can hear the fall leaves rustling, and I have chills. (but good chills because of this post) In my head I can hear Phil Collins singing….

    I can feel it coming in the air tonight
    Hold On
    I've been waiting for this moment
    For all my life
    Hold On

    It takes time, but things are changing. People are growing. Understanding is increasing. Acceptance is coming. Hold On…

  5. 🙂 One of the best descriptions of unconditional love that I have heard. I feel blessed to have you (and your friend) as examples to me of unconditional love and friendship. I don't even have anything funny to say!

  6. Today, I just talk to my wife about how to use Joshua's ideas from the speec in our relationship with one person that doesn't have anything to do with same-sex attraction.

  7. I loved what you wrote. It touched my heart! And it made me look at myself and observe all the imperfect ways I love others. I have a long way to go until I can love others as unconditionally as I feel the Lord asks of us, but I know he's here to help me on the journey.

    Following your blog is one of the tools he has been using to teach me. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.

  8. Excellently done. You brought the focus from the negativity and criticism from those who objected to your participation around to your real message, and eloquently and clearly shared that message of love. You taught all who heard and now read of unconditional love and of our duty to do that and that only. Masterful.

  9. Excellently done. You brought the focus from the negativity and criticism from those who objected to your participation around to your real message, and eloquently and clearly shared that message of love. You taught all who heard and now read of unconditional love and of our duty to do that and that only. Masterful.

  10. Josh – I wanted to comment to you about such a tiny part of what you said. You mentioned your mom and Alzheimer's. I just lost my mom on October 20th due to that horrid disease! In so many ways it was a blessing, she was not really living at the end. I am also so sad that my mom will not be there for my son, he has no grandparents at age 7. I will also miss my mom for me, we lived 4000km away from each other but I always felt her love.

    Just wanted to let you know that there are others who read this blog that have watched a parent fade away and understand the heartache of a parent dying. At 43 I am an orphan in this life, something I never thought about. I always thought my parents would always be there.

    1. Maquel, I quickly read over your blog posts (being a speed reader comes in handy). All I can say is that your experience was very similar to what happened with my mom. My mom was older, she was diagnosed 7 years ago at 67 years old. The final diagnosis came just after my son was born. I try my hardest to remember how my mom was when she came out to help me with my little preemie. She was forgetful but she was still mom. The last time I saw her alive was 10 months before her passing. She was in a vegetative state and opened her eyes twice the entire 3 hours I was with her. I had planned on visiting her more but I just could not do it.

      I actually spoke at her funeral – I figured as the youngest that I had the right. I told the funny stories of my mom, she was pretty funny at times. In my talk I reminded my family that she will live on in all of us and to remember the way she was, not as the disease took her life.

      My sisters are worried about being diagnosed with it. It is at times like this I am grateful for being adopted, my biological family has all died from old age. Alzheimer's is prevalent in my mom's side, cancer (which my dad died of) is the disease of my dad's side.


    2. and if you mom died of early onset alzeimers it means your family is at risk (everyone) to getting it early because it is HIGHLY and mean extremely highly familiar in nature. There is a genetic link with early onset. FYI. I would start screening early… just a thought.

    3. Anon,

      If so why would it be so necessary for me to screen myself? I am still just trying to survive my mother dying before my eyes. There currently is no cure, or way to stop it. Medications only mask the symptoms, while your completely deteriorate below the surface. It slowly kills your brain, and results in death. I am currently 25 and take really good care of myself as is.

      Basically what I am asking is what would the benefit of me finding out except fill me wiith dread and horror that I too will die a slow and horrific death?

      I apologize if I am coming off abrasive. It is just so raw right now since I am smack dab in the middle of it.

    4. Margaret,

      I'm sorry for your loss. I hope my blog helped you in some way. Wow you are a speedy reader:D That's nice you don't have to worry about getting it, one benefit of being adopted in your situation. I really like what you decided to talk about at the funeral, all very true things. It is so important to remember the person they were before the disease started killing them and changing them. I really do not look forward to what the future has in store for my my mom and family regarding her future deterioration and eventual death. It is so hard explaining to someone how the mother you knew is gone even when they are right in front of you talking. People can't seem to grasp that, and I don't blame them, I hope for their sake they don't ever have too. We should talk more if you are open to it. You can look me up on Josh's personal profile, I am listed as one of his siblings if you would like to continue this conversation.

    5. Sounds great. I will do that. As for the speed reading, it amazes people I can speed read (last time I was tested I was 16 and was reading over 2000 wpm) and be dyslexic.

    6. Maquel,

      Have you read "Still Alice"? The exact question of whether to be tested as the child comes up. Some want to know and others know it won't make a difference, so why spend one's life fretting over that knowledge? Beautiful, heart-wrenching book that opened my eyes to the experience of Alzheimer's in general and the absolutely heartbreaking nature of early-onset. I pray for a cure and for understanding and peace in the mean time.

    7. Margaret,

      Will do, if I can remember. I really suck at emailing.


      I have heard of it but have not read it yet. Yeah some it would help them to know but others like me it would be really bad. I think the test isn't wven for sure either way. Yeah when people are all like " get tested ASAP!" I am like why? There is nothing you can do to prevent, cure, or slow it as of yet. So I am just going to live my life and be happy.

      It is a horrific disease and I think that is great you read up on it to understand it more. Are you affected by it? As in do you have any family with it?

    8. Maquel, Im the original anony that posted about getting tested. My reason is that there are medications now that will EXTREMELY SLOW the plaque in the brain that cause alzeimer's in general. There are ways to catch it so a person lives longer. That's all I was saying. Diet, exercise, and the medication helps.

    9. I personally have not heard of such medications, what medications are you referring to? From my understanding they think there are things that help but there has not been enough time to do enough studies to really know if they do. Also from what I understand the medications only mask symptoms they do not slow, stop, or prevent. So I am curious to know what medications you are speaking of.

  11. my reply button isn't working – to Zehn Waters – I think it was very important that Josh be completely clear that he did not approve of his story being used by others to pressure anyone.
    Think about a young teenager who has come out to his parents and they have completely rejected him, maybe kicked him out of the house. How easy is it for that young boy to kiss his mom on the cheek and say 'I forgive you.'' And then his church ex-communicates him or threatens to and he has literally nowhere to go – his family, his church have all rejected him. And he's a kid. To be an LGBTQ teenager and completely isolated – it's not so easy to just forgive when you have been completely rejected by everyone.
    I am so happy that Josh saw fit to apologize – it shows me that he really gets it and that he does not want his message hijacked. Good for him and brave of him.

    1. "The Son of Man hath descended below them all; art thou greater than He?" I never said it was going to be easy, but if you want understanding, you've got to give it. And unless s/he lives in some 3rd world country, he's never completely isolated. There's a community regardless of the direction he takes. The gay community if he chooses to act on those attractions, the Church community if he chooses to not act on those attractions (though the Church community SHOULD embrace him regardless). We live in such a diverse world where we are never alone; there is always a community for each of us. That's what the man in my story had found.

    2. There are many gay homeless youth on the streets. There are much higher rates of suicide among gay individuals than straight individuals. Both of those things tell me that there is a lot less community available to our gay brothers and sisters than we realize.

    3. Good. It often feels like gay rights activists petition constantly for others to do things but wish to do nothing but march and petition themselves. Others should love US unconditionally. Others should donate and volunteer to help homeless gay youths.

    4. Zehn is young, I think really young. Not an excuse for him in any way but I think his exposure to real life might be quite low. And if he is a Mormon, then there's that to add into it too.
      Oddly, he doesn't rile me up because – having checked briefly his profile/blog, I see he is young, trying to be hip and etc. No excuse for ignorance in any way whatsoever but his comments and his blog put together reveal that the lack of knowledge/lack of willingness to learn is not there. Weird, normally this riles me up. Not this time.

    5. oops I meant the willingness to learn is not there nor is the knowledge. In such a case, there is no capacity to hear what others are saying.

    6. Everyone should care about homeless youth. Some might be dedicating their time and resources to other places, but to indicate that they need to "find their people" to get help is MESSED UP.

      If you are raised in the Mormon culture, you already know who your people are. You know how to access them. You know where to go for support.

      If they reject you and kick you out…. where on earth do you go to find "your own"!!

      You "own" just kicked you out of the community 🙁

    7. "What about showing unconditional love for those who persecute us? So what if people 'demand' we be straight? " Seriously???

      Yes, seriously:
      Luke 6:27 ¶But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
      28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
      29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
      30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
      31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
      32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
      33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
      34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
      35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

      I'm not saying that religious people SHOULDN'T help them, they should. However, among the Gay Rights community, I've not seen a benefit dinner to raise money for homeless youth, etc., but I seen plenty of Pride parades, etc.

      I also find it humourous that someone who is Anonymous is critiquing me based on the limited information given on my very outdated blog.

      As far as finding one's "own" (not phrasing I liked either, but there was not many other ways to phrase it); if I can find a gay youth group here in Boise, Idaho it shouldn't be hard elsewhere. It's called the Yellow Pages. Or, the Internet (both accessible at the public library if you no longer have access to home).

    8. So, Zehn… honest question for you.

      If a woman is being abused by her spouse, should she stay with him?
      What if he is also abusing their children?
      What if he is addicted to serious drugs and refuses recovery attempts?

      What if the abuse was "only" verbal?

      Would it not be better for her to get to safety and protect herself and her children? Then, from a place of safety she can still pray for him or love him.

      YOU can find a gay youth group in the Boise Yellow Pages. That does not mean that a scared and homeless child will even think of that. Isn't it possible to believe that if your own parents don't want you that nobody else would either?

      We are not talking about 50 year old men here. We are talking about CHILDREN who have been completely rejected by the people who are supposed to love them most.

      Regardless of any views at all about homosexuality. We should all care about these kids. We should all try to help parents understand what these kids REALLY need from them.

    9. "Would it not be better for her to get to safety and protect herself and her children? Then, from a place of safety she can still pray for him or love him."

      Yes. I didn't say you had to stay around for the abuse. You can still do good things from afar. The boy in my initial post waited until he was in college and out of the house to tell his family he was gay. He waited (quite intelligently) until he didn't have to endure the abuse at home. Now he can handle it the way he chooses to. I think he does it well. He endures her presence for his sister's (the one who wrote the letter to the advice column) sake and for his mother. How is she supposed to change if all she's confronted with in return is hatred. Wouldn't that only confirm (in her mind) that her views on gays are right?

      "YOU can find a gay youth group in the Boise Yellow Pages. That does not mean that a scared and homeless child will even think of that…We are not talking about 50 year old men here. We are talking about CHILDREN who have been completely rejected by the people who are supposed to love them most."

      I was fifteen when I looked it up and found it.

      "Isn't it possible to believe that if your own parents don't want you that nobody else would either?"

      No, what a stupid idea. Have you no exposure to media? Your parents may hate you because you're gay, but clearly (as portrayed quite frequently on TV, movies, etc.) others have no problem with it.

      "Regardless of any views at all about homosexuality. We should all care about these kids. We should all try to help parents understand what these kids REALLY need from them."

      Obviously we should care for them, but if you're the kind of parent that's going to kick your child out of the house for being gay I don't think anything is going to convince them of how much their children need them.

    10. young. arrogant. indoctrinated. Limited ability for empathy. Calls the ideas of others stupid. Don't becomme a counselor, dude. maybe look up megalomania. maybe read material beyond LDS church material. Travel out of the U.S. – heck, travel the world. Get an education (or a better one). Develop a little emotional intelligence and knowledge of what goes on in the world beyond Boise. Till then, you are just blowing lots of hot air. If you are going to be angry and patronizing, at least have a little intellect to back it up.

    11. To Zehn,

      Finding a "group" in the Yellow Pages is in no way equivalent to finding ones "own." Being a member of the LDS church myself, if I was rejected by other members, I (having never been clinically depressed and being very independent, clear headed, etc…) could imagine myself feeling alone to the point of contemplating things I never would have before. My religious community is my family, friends, support, etc… Which is why what Josh writes is SO IMPORTANT. Whether someone is gay, has a biological tendency of alcohol addiction, has innate weaknesses with sexual control… no matter how they choose to live their life, we must choose to love them. Whether or not the person experiencing the trial comes back and kisses their mom on the cheek is THEIR CHOICE. You're thinking too much about what THEY should be doing better instead of what YOU YOURSELF should be doing. Do you want scriptures quoted back at you? Matthew 7:5 "Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

      Josh is telling us as Christians that when it comes to judging, we must only judge OURSELVES, and are required (by our Savior, Jesus Christ), to ONLY LOVE others (never judge whether they love those who hate them or not). Let's focus on ourselves.

      To others who feel that Zehn's attitude is considered by the LDS church as correct or following what we've been taught in anyway, I'd like to assure you that it's not. I've been in the church my whole life (born and raised mormon in Utah, now living in another state, and still an active member). Served an LDS mission and married (sealed) in an LDS temple. This type of intolerance is not taught within the church – but usually learned by imperfect examples of imperfect people who are members of the church. We all have our weaknesses – whether it's a tendency to judge others way too much, not keeping commitments/promises, or spending way too much money. We're not perfect – which is WHY we're in the church – striving to better ourselves. If we were perfect, we wouldn't be there.

  12. Excellent, excellent, excellent! Absolutely love what you said. It makes so much sense, Josh.

    I, too, understand the heartache of watching your mother taken away by the thief that is Alzheimer's. My mom is 89 and our family has made a decision that it's time for her to go to assisted living. Sounds heartless, doesn't it? But it isn't. My father is 92 and he's the one who has been taking care of her, but it's just not good for either of them at this point. I watched my mother-in-law take care of her mother and the toll it took on her physically and mentally. She was diagnosed not too long her mother's passing as having frontal temporal dementia (Pick's disease) which is rarer than Alzheimer's, which robbed her of her ability to move, to speak and eventually to be able to eat. I watched what it did to my father-in-law, who was her primary caregiver until he finally got state to help with aides who would come and do the bulk of her care, until she passed away.

    Hang in there.

    1. I'm Josh's sister and assisted living is sometimes the best thing you can do in theses situations. So no I do not think it is heartless at all, you are doing the best you can for your mother. Being a caretaker is not something everyone can do, which is just fine. I have thought about going and taking care of my mother while my dad works many times but unfortunately I would not be able to handle it. Plus my husband works and goes to school here so we would be uprooting ourselves. Despite my desires to care for her and help it is not the right thing.

    2. You are not heartless for your mom needing to go into assisted living. My mom spent the last 4 years in a nursing home. My oldest sister hated signing the papers but she could no longer take care of my mom. Several times my mom almost set my sister's house on fire, she shoved my brother-in-law down the stairs when he was on crutches with a shattered leg. It was not safe for my mom to be in that situation.

      We moved to be closer to my mom when my dad passed away, I wanted to spend time with my mom before she got too bad. We were too late. My husband created the term "nana-sitting" when we would take my mom for the day to give my oldest sister a break. Feeding your parent, taking them to the bathroom is so hard.

      Also, just a bit of warning. Although assisted living is for the best it seems that Alzheimer's patients rapidly decline once they are in care. I don't think it is the care that is at the issue but the fact by the time they are in care the disease has progressed so far.


  13. Thank you so much for that. I did get sent your article several times, and I shook my head at how ironic that was. This is absolutely beautiful, and I am incredibly grateful to have an advocate like you in the LDS community.

    Much love from Seattle,


  14. Thank you Josh, that is an incredible speech… and you wrote it on the plane ride from Washington to Utah? Outstanding! I can see why the reporter said you had his vote. Thank you for sharing your life.

  15. Josh, thanks for your participation in the CTW conference. Your voice added an important perspective. All of us experience the love of Jesus Christ through the loving actions of others. Thanks for spreading the word.

  16. You speak my soul, Josh Weed.
    Everything in this speech was perfect.

    I have a gay friend. She and I used to be extremely close. I don't remember the entire conversation we had when she came out to me, but one part of it still haunts me. She was telling me that she'd decided to leave the church because it would be impossible for her to be a part of a church that teaches that homosexuality is hated by God. I told her that Heavenly Father loves her no matter what. She said, "Yeah, sure. As long as I don't act on my homosexuality." And I kind of stopped for a second and said, "Um. No. He loves you unconditionally. He will love you no matter how you live or what you choose to do with your life. He loves you right now and He'll keep loving you. No matter what." And she said, "That's not what the church teaches."

    To this day that absolutely breaks my heart. That she really believes that. She really believes that the church teaches that she isn't loved by Heavenly Father because she chose to live the gay lifestyle. It kills me. I think about it all the time even though she and I only catch up about twice a year now.

    My whole heart wants to share this post with her because it absolutely embodies everything that my young 19-year-old mind couldn't express at the time. Maybe I'll get the courage to do it, but I'm so worried that she'll think I'm preaching to her or trying to steer her in a certain direction. I just want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know that I'm not a part of a church that believes in a God who withdraws love from His children under any circumstance, but one that teaches that we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us more deeply and profoundly than we can understand. And I want her to know that I'm sorry that I responded with anything but love when she came out to me. I wish I'd done it differently and I wish I could fix it now.

    Good grief. I love everything about this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (And congratulations. I'm glad the speech went so well.)

    1. I think there is a lot of confusion about what it means to truly love someone in Mormonism. I get the confusion our gay brothers and sisters feel when they are taught that God loves them unconditionally, but then His one and only true church withholds so many blessings, opportunities, needs and validations from them. I wouldn't feel loved if someone said, "I love you," but then said that my most cherished and tender needs for love, companionship and fulfillment were unnatural, immoral, destructive, sinful and a selfish lifestyle choice. If God is unconditionally loving, then the only reason His church would be so hurtful and unwelcoming to the real, lived experience of gay people is that we are terribly immature in our understanding of them: http://www.mitchmayne.blogspot.com/2012/11/love-and-christian-imagination.html

    2. I was a pretty intense Christian when I was 20 years old (a loooong time ago). It was the late 80s. Anyway, I worked with a man a few years older than me. He was gay and we were friends. he was funny, interesting to hang around with, all of the great stuff of a friend. After I'd moved on to another job, we were on the phone one evening. I don't remember much at all about the conversation except that I was trying to explain to him why his life was 'wrong.' he very rightly hung up on me.
      Years later – last year actually – I tried to see if he was on FB (he had quite a unique last name). he wasn't. I googled him. his name is on the AIDS wall in my city and probably has been for years. I grieve that and I grieve what I did – even then I knew I was parroting what I didn't really believe. I work to forgive myself about this – I was so young and so immersed in a culture that seemed obsessed with teaching that which i parroted back to him.

    3. Alicia,
      The church teaches that homosexual acts are a grevious sin and that like all sexual "sins", people who commit such grevious sins can't dwell in God's presence.
      If you feel that the way you live your life causes you to be cut off from God's presence; that it causes you to be placed in a separate community from your loved ones, and that it makes it so that they can "visit down" to you but not the other way around, it really is of little relevance or comfort believing that god "loves" you under such conditions.
      Love is a word. The important part in this equation is whether or not you believe you will be allowed to be with your loved ones in the next life; whether or not you will be worthy enough to be in the "presence" of God. Many religions believe in an afterlife but the LDS religion is the only one I know of that creates such an elaborate caste system. Please.
      I very much doubt that a young person struggling with who they are who feels that they must choose between being worthy to be in God's presence or finding authentic sexual love in this life would derive comfort from knowing that God still "loves" them even though the path they authentically desire would render them so unclean as to need to be physically sequestered from most of the people they love, including their creator.
      If I were you, I would leave her alone. She's been through enough pain without people like you trying to convince her that God really does love her when everything your church preaches against homosexuality and all their political acts against the gay community point to the contrary.
      You might feel like rewriting doctrine but I was active in the church for over 25 years and I have a very acute understanding of what the doctrine actually is. This is based on conference talks, Ensign articles, etc. There are a great many people trying to implement change and I commend them. But historically, the message from the brethren has been crystal clear.
      Love is something that is felt. It is not something that is said.
      I don't know if you're a mother. I am. I tell you that if I told my kids: "I love you, but you're no longer worthy to be in my presence", I would not expect them to believe me. Not for one second.
      Your friend is not loved by the LDS God. If she is, it's not a useful love. It's still the kind that will land her in the lowliest of kingdoms separated from her loved ones. It's the kind of love that will require her to struggle her entire life at war with herself.
      She is probably smart enough to know the difference between love and disdain.

    4. I'm glad that it breaks your heart though because it means you're feeling and not a callous person. Truly. That's worth something in and of itself.
      A long time ago, practically in another lifetime, I was LDS and I made decisions that, according to the doctrine, cast me off from God's love; made me unworthy to be in his presence. For me it was not homosexuality but marrying outside the faith (and the temple). I once read a talk that said if people like me were ever lucky enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, it would be as a "servants" to people who were more righteous.
      Most of the years I spent before leaving the church were spent knowing that God hated my guts.
      Years later, I don't know if there's a higher power. As an atheist, the only thing I know is that I have received no evidence in my life that there is. But if there is a higher power, it could be close to what Mormons teach or what Jews teach or Catholics or Muslims or Hindus or something completely different. But what I do know is that if Mormons are right (or the closest to being right), God hates me. And I am better off now that I don't wake up every day believing in a God to whom I am such a grand disappointment. At least I no longer have that to weigh me down.
      So I'm sorry if my words before were harsh. The fact that you feel heartbroken about your friend's situation tells me that you are a decent person. But I believe your friend is better off without belief in a God whose love comes with so many conditions.

    5. Anon 8:26 – After reading through this conversation and trying to understand all views, I have a question for you regarding your last sentence …

      "I believe your friend is better off without belief in a God whose love comes with so many conditions"

      …I'm wondering if you believe that "she" (the friend), and you (an atheist), as individuals are better off without belief in God.?.. – or, do you believe that everyone who believes in God would be better off with out such a belief?

      I am always interested in understanding the "depth" of what people are saying cause it's so hard to really communicate through "typing" lol 🙂

      BTW – I have a friend who is an atheist, and we enjoy friendly conversations regarding God (or the lack thereof), and we both laughed pretty hard when one day he said to me, "if there is a God, why doesn't He just eliminate the questions and arguments and show himself to the world?" and I said, "because He loves you enough to allow you the free agency to be an atheist if you choose". Just a thought (wink)

    6. Different anon here butting in! I believe in God, but not the made up God that condemns someone to a lower level – (tier?) of heaven because they are living a gay life. We anthropomorphize God and give him human traits – such as a God who would have three levels of heaven in a sort of caste system as someone commented above.
      I know the line of reasoning goes – you believe in God – would you want a God who didn't have rules, etc. etc.
      you are so right – depth can be very hard to express through the internet.
      Also, Mrs. IDM – are you still going to do your blog? i'm patiently waiting!

    7. Alicia – she is believing what the Mormon Church teaches. It teaches that God loves her, yes, but not unconditionally. The LDS church teases what Anon at 7:26 pm says – the Mormon God would find her living her gay life to be abominable and that she is not worthy of the highest level of heaven. I see on here that Josh and others are trying to water down this message – or ignore it completely. But it doesn't change the message. Some LDS leaders are indeed now saying let us all have compassion on GLBTQ individuals but that is a far cry from saying that God will not find practicing gay people unclean and unworthy.
      Some Mormons in their compassion are trying to soften what is official church stuff but it doesn't change it.
      There will, I believe, one day be a time when Circling the Wagon conferences and conferences like it won't be needed, when LGBTQ Mormons won't have to choose between their church and living their lives as gay people and when compassionate Morons won't have to try and soften official church doctrine. And finally, when gay Mormons won't be heralded as heroes for 'sacrificing' to marrying straight or where straight people won't have to be married to gay people and twist themselves into pretzels in order to believe it is of God. to Gay Mormons and straight Mormons will be free, at last.

    8. Mrs. I Define Me:
      I think that most of us would be better without belief in God. I believe we would be more advanced as a society and we would know more in terms of science.
      And sorry, but I think that "because He loves you enough to allow you the free agency to be an atheist if you choose" is just ridiculous. People fight wars and kill eachother over "sky cake". People are atheists because they recognize that they don't have evidence. It's not that atheism in and of itself is some grand thing that we would hate to lose. God hides himself so that people can be atheists if they want? How absurd. I'm sorry that people like you understand so little about atheism that you feel you have to make such ridiculous statements. I would much rather know truth- whatever that is. I am simply not willing to fill in the blanks with descriptive details I've pulled out of my ars.

    9. I mean, what if I as a mother abandoned my children and refused to see them or communicate with them openly and in a way that would leave no doubt in their minds (see, right now you're reving up to tell me that God DOES communicate with us through prayer and revelation and that's why I said 'in a way that would leave no doubt in their minds') and I answered that person saying: Well, I think it's important that my kids have the right to believe that I don't exist if that's what they want to believe. I love them enough to let them choose.

      I'm thinking that if I said that as a mother, people would probably tell me that I was a sh***y mother. And frankly, if they didn't tell me I was a sh***y mother, I would think them sh***y people.

      My kids believe I don't exist because I don't communicate with them and I claim not to communicate with them because I think they should have the right to believe I don't exist?

      Yeah. That makes sense.

      The things people tell themselves to defend their belief in Deity.

    10. Seems impossible to be a little light hearted here, (which is what I thought I was expressing with my smiles 🙂 – lols (laugh out loud), and (wink).

      Although these conversations are absolutely serious, I was attempting a more "friendly" conversation in an effort to communicate and understand others, with a little relief from the tension.

      The reason I told the story about my "friend" & I, having an easy going friendly conversations about God vs NOT, is to make a statement that we (all individuals) can, if we choose, have serious conversations in healthy, kind, & loving ways. And, we can even laugh a little about our differences, agree to disagree, and respect each other's beliefs.

      I know, it's hard to "type" a conversation, and clearly my "light hearted" attempt to understand you a little better has failed. Sorry 🙁 (frowning face)

      PS – I would, however, like to say that I personally don't feel the need at all to "defend" my belief in God. I am confident and firm in my belief in Him and have had amazing spiritual experiences that confirm my belief in God. I am just sincerely interested in understanding those who do not. Not to attempt to convince them of what I know, just because I really, genuinely want to learn about others' beliefs.

    11. Well sorry for taking it the wrong way. I'm sure it was a light hearted statement, but I'd prefer to ponder the question a bit longer. Why doesn't God set the record straight instead of letting us freak out over sky cake? Why are believers asked to take so much on faith? Why are they given practically nothing?
      I have children. I tell them what I expect. They know what I expect. If I leave others temporarily in charge, my children know that I have handed over the authority for the time being. They don't have to guess. There is no doubt in their minds. MUCH of the time- much to much it seems like- they choose to do whatever the hell they want. Having clarity on my expectations does not negatively affect my kids' agency. All that it means is that I can tell them they knew the terms instead of telling them: "Well I zapped your memory after you agreed to the terms just to make things more interesting but I totally expect you to honor our agreement. Things will be bad for you if you don't." That's the doctrine I was fed all my life and I'm calling BS on it. Sad it took me 25 years to feel comfortable and empowered enough to do that.
      Anyway, that's my answer to your question about who would be better off without believing in the kind of God who not only has a very explicit set of terms for his supposed "love", but refuses even to come down and clarify for the record once a decade or so.
      It makes me sad to think that I was willing to give up so much of my power and happiness for an imaginary being such as this. But carry on. I've said pretty much everything I have to say on the subject.

    12. Anon having convo with MIDM,

      Please label yourself so I can skip over your comments. You have a complete disregard for relious people and their beliefs, which I would rather not read. Tact is key in discussions, otherwise it's just an attack on the other person and shoving YOUR beliefs down another person's throat. I am willing to bet a million dollars that you are BQ due to howl your comments made me feel, and how you talked down to MIDM. It's not that we have differing ideas that is the problem but that all your comments are loaded with bias, resentment, poor portrayal of Doctrine of the LDS faith, and complete disgust for it and anyone who believes in it or religion as a whole. I would rather not have that be a part of my life. So please go back to naming yourself so i can avoid it, because people can see it is you anyways.

    13. When someone is feeling the wind on their face, it doesn't matter if the person next to her says there is no wind.

      This idea came from a different blog, but it seemed applicable here.

      Neurotic Onr (because my phone won't let me post under my name)

    14. Tammy&Joanne – I love your quote that sums up how you feel about religion. I so agree, and I want so desperately to develop respectfull relationships and have peaceful conversations with people from all beliefs.

      Anon – I am always very interested in learning more about atheism because I admit, I do have a hard time comprehending NOT believing in God when I have such a strong belief in God. But, maybe unlike a lot of people, I desire only to learn and try to understand to whatever degree I can, not to push my beliefs on anyone and not to try to convince anyone of anything. I do have limited knowledge and understanding on the subject of atheism, but am somewhat intriqued by atheists and, while I have no interest in giving up my belief in and love of God, I do wish to open my mind to a better understanding and respect for all.

      My smile and laugh that accompanied my comment was just an effort to express the cheerful, easy going attitude of communication that my friend & I enjoyed as we managed to remain friends, even with such differing beliefs. That's all. Absolutely did not mean it as a form of "kicking "you" while you're "down" (with a smile or a frown – as Tammy mentioned), actually, I didn't even know you were "down". You sounded very "up" and confident to me, with a firm conviction that you (and others) were better off without God.

      Please know that although "our" (Mr. IDM & Me) message is all about God, for us, and in our lives. Our main goal is to emphasize each individuals right to what they believe and how they live without judgements and ridicule from others. That's what we want for ourselves and the "uniqueness" of our marriage and relationship – and what we wish for others as well. Hence our mantra, "I Define Me".

      Anyway, I've talked (typed) myself into a circle again – so I'll stop. Just know I am sorry

    15. Thx Tammy – I too take great comfort in my spiritual faith.

      I am a very sensitive person, I'm sensitive to medications (so I have to rely on "natural" avenues for physical problems), I'm sensitive to wheat, corn, most dairy (you don't wanna know how I know that- lol), I'm sensitive to cleaning chemicals & smells, etc. etc. etc….. it can all be very embarrassing and exhausting, but the positive flip side of that is that I am sensitive to people, I'm sensitive to music, nature, fresh air, sunrises/sunsets, etc. Heck, a few days ago, at the Veterans' Day Parade, I cryed my eyes out, not only at the sight of the Vets, but also when the marching bands played by (I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE marching bands). And, most important to me of all is my sensitivity to the spirit of God, which I believe in completely and feel near me in amazing ways.

      It is 100% my belief in God, and my relationship with God (through prayer) that I was able to remain married to my husband when he was unfaithful to me, etc. etc. through all that we've been through.

      It is also through God that I gained understanding and acceptance of his attraction to men, and from Him that I received undescribable comfort in my darkest, loneliest hours.

      Tammy, I will share a personal, special experience with you (because I believe you are understanding of spiritual things).

      One day when I was feeling so broken hearted over my relationship with my gay husband (who, you know from my past comments had begged me to stay with him and try to work it all out), I was overwhelmed with loneliness, I was confused and worried and had been struggling for days, it seemed that I was slipping deeper and deeper into something I might not recover from, I thought I had tried everything,….. and then I decided to turn to God and I poured my heart out in prayer to Him.

      Although I had been crying off and on for days, and my stomach was literally in knots from worry, immediately, as I began to pray, such an amazing peace came over me and my almost hysterical crying just stopped – just like a faucet – it was instant, it was completely unexpected, and it was overwhelmingly beautiful, peaceful, and good. I truly felt as though God's arms were around me, I knew then that when I lacked phyical attention and comfort from my husband, I could, literally, turn to God for a desperately needed hug.

      Others may skauff at this story, but I truly don't care because I have literally managed to live through a taste of hell in my life, and I know, that for me, the ONLY reason I made it from there to here (an amazing, fulfilling, full of love & respect life)is because of my belief and faith in God.

      "Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He allows the storm to rage… and calms His child."

    16. I’ve been pondering this since Melanie answered and have been sitting on it everything. Life has been super nuts lately (I just change my life plans and the deadline for getting everything done so that I can pursue those plans is Dec 1st. Needless to say, I’m a little nuts right now) But I’m hoping answering this will help me calm down and get back to work. Still, this will probably come out a little spazzy. They’re just my random thoughts about love and God. But some of them are also based on some of my most precious experiences as well. Oh, and sorry for the mormon jargon thrown in here for those not LDS, I’ll try to give enough background to explain it.
      The first thing that popped into my mind about this was two talks given by Uchtdorf and Oaks a few general conferences ago (oct 1009). Uchtdorf’s was called Love of God, Oak’s was called Love and Law. I remember that they came back to back and that that seemed highly appropriate. Uchtdorfs was beautifully comforting and loving. Some quotes…I had a hard time picking a favorite:
      “Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you. “
      “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.”
      “He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.”
      Followed by quotes like this one:
      If a person understands the teachings of Jesus, he or she cannot reasonably conclude that our loving Heavenly Father or His divine Son believes that Their love supersedes Their commandments.

      I don’t think it can be laid squarely on the shoulders of the church for love or seeming contradiction. The doctrine, IMHO is fairly plainly written. What is hard is our understanding. There is a balance with God. All things are in order with Him and it is understanding God individually that I think we often fall short. So these are pieces of my learning about God’s love. I will try to explain as I go. Again, this will probably come off as jumping all over. It’s not chronological and it’s strongly off the cuff.

    17. I remember feeling that same sense of wishing for others when I’ve heard people talk about God and Love. Both gay or not, all, I’ve found, have struggle to understand this concept. When I was first reading the stories of LGBT LDS this was a recurring theme. Many assumed that they had to do something in order for God to love them. It’s a common misconception. It’s a heartbreaking one because each and every person who believes this will come to a very strong truth: what they do will never be enough. So if God’s love is graded and we set up a false pass/fail ideal toward it. We will consistently fail. We will never make it. And God can’t fully truly love us. Or we can’t be loved wholly. Again this isn’t something refrained to a certain subset. I think it was my own thoughts in some ways as well.
      For a long time I walked around feeling inherently scarred. I had dealt with a lot …growing up…more than a teen ever should. I held a lot of the weight for my dysfunctional family as a peacekeeper. And I purposely moved far away to be myself. I assumed I was healed. Before this I knew that I’d felt God’s love, I knew He’d helped me a lot already. I made it through a lot of crap thanks to strong promises given to me, many prayers, and good people in my church. I had been blessed and I assumed I was healed. But Scarred….scar tissue is inevitable. No one saw it, but I knew it was there. No matter what I did, I could never be completely whole. I struggled with a deep sense of inadequacy.
      I remember this came to a head. It wasn’t one significant event. It was a series of very important events that taught me that I was wrong. I will share a few. There was a time my inadequacy was overpowering. I couldn’t control it. And I’m a control type of person. I didn’t cry much. I was “strong.” But in this moment I felt unbelievably weak. I felt forgotten. And I remember the feeling of Love that came on a certain day. It isn’t a love easily described in words. The events, to anyone else, were nice, but without much inherent meaning. But the sense of it for me was like a very personal gift. A way where all the universe came together just right to let me know that I, Tasha, myself as me, was known. Not only known, but that I was precious. Not only precious, but that I was always loved. I teared up. and then I sobbed, so strong was the feeling
      That pattern continued. Much was expected of me. I found myself unable to do much of it. I found myself stuck in a rutt….meeting some unbelievable odds…facing demons within myself that I wasn’t even fully aware of because I’d buried them for so long. And every time I was painfully shown what was wrong, I was taught how much the Lord loved me, that gave me hope and faith, and after I was healed. Not in a manner that I previously thought possible. Wholeness is a gift only the broken can fully understand. I was free. Not as the world would describe freedom. I had responsibilities. At the time I was a missionary. I had more “restrictions” that even some members didn’t fully get. But my spirit was freed from my scars. And it started and ended and became by God’s love.

    18. Obedience was necessary. I couldn’t have done it without that. I believe that God does care what we do, because some gifts only come as we come to better understand who He is. You can only understand that through experience: both painful, and joyous, and bleak, and bright….everything. Pain and struggle doesn’t have to be a punishment, it is a key to unlocking further growth. That’s another common misconception that I’ve seen. It comes in a number of lovely caveats but it really comes down to pain = punishment in some way.
      Disobedience does have its consequences as well. It is unavoidable. And Christian scripture, in and of itself, is full of some pretty nasty consequences. Harsh would be a good word. But what I love about being LDS is that there can be very important insights through other scriptures. One of them being the story of the flood. People are bad, so bad, that they’re just wiped out. That’s the gist of the story. But what I found while reading this story told in moses 7 was a story of insurmountable pain. God cannot remove his love, but we can remove ourselves from it. I was a story of good trying to reach each and every last soul through all that God had until what was described the “residue of man” was left. I pictured it as the soap scum of humanity. There’s nothing left, all of nature (which for LDS is connected to all that God is) is weighed down by it. And it must be cleansed. But it isn’t vindictive. In the depiction god weeps for his very loved children and eternity/the heavens weep with him. It is pure mourning. But it is not just for the fact that these souls are lost. No it is because He knows that in His infinite love, in all that He is, there must be given a way that even these, the worst of the worst of the worst. Even these must find a way to return. They would not listen to His prophets. They would not listen to his angels. They would not listen to the threat of destruction. So in the end Christ must suffer so that they may have the chance to be saved. To be freed. Even in destruction can be found God’s love.
      So this is what the church teaches. Charity never fails. It’s at the center of all that God is. It is Christ’s love. It is not as the world often defines love. There is a difference. It is a love that is enabling, healing, precious, and perfecting. It is all encompassing and infinite. I am whole because of it, I am cleansed through it, and I become better by it. This is what is taught, but this is also what can be lost by either end. His love isn’t defined by our decisions but decisions do matter. Some things that we desire can’t be. We are not left alone. And the gift that is given supersedes all else. That is what I’ve learned.
      I’m sorry it’s so long.

    19. Excellent and wonderful Tasha – Thank you for sharing. AND – I'm so glad there's someone else on here that's "b"long winded. 😉 lol – Somtimes it just takes 3 posts to get it all out, right.

      Anyway, I was very touched by your insight into God's love.

    20. Tasha" what you describe, the knowing you are known, is something i have also known and know. It really is beyond description. I suspect it is a universal knowing, crossing most religions and spiritualities. I for example have never been a mormon and know many who have experienced this god knowing. It seems that it is a universal experience and that people have attached it to different religions. Makes sense. Where. It be,comes a problem it seems is when the religion the experience has been attached to has rules that hurt and discriminate against others. I have. Known in a desperate and deep way god and i weep and have wept. Now some might say. Well tha t is the mormon god and you just do not know it. No. It is quite simply, god. He gets reduced by humans and squished into religions that say things like being gay is wrong. And then there have to be endless conferenced about how not to live a gay life. Sad.

    21. MIDM: you are certainly not the only person with a lot of wind behind her posts 😉

      Anon: Lds Faith is not that exclusive in experiencing. Nor would I ever describe Heavenly Father as the "mormon." He is the God of all, every last individual ever to come to this earth He loves and will speak to and help…even those that reject him. I have no doubt in that.

      I do disagree with your take on rules and whatnot. That is one I doubt will be bridged. I could write more, but I will probably not be able to answer as much as I'd like. Busy will be my middle name for the next couple of weeks.

    22. Word up Tammy!! It doesn't matter if you are smiling or frowning while kicking somebody does it? You're so smart sometimes when you're not creating too hospitable an environment for haters. But I know you can't help being so nice.
      Now I guess the people who wonder about BQ's identity will just have to wonder just as she did when certain people chose to cyber stalk her "anonymously" while dropping coy little hints about their identity. I'm sure BQ is gaining a better understanding of the allure of anonymity. Not that I would know, of course.

    23. I hear you on being busy, Tasha. Well, sadly not really as I'm currently going to school only part time and working only very part time – tought economic times. anyway, regarding rules, etc – I'll clarify. What I'm trying to say is that God is not the God of the Book of Mormon or the Bible, etc, etc. Those are stories of groups of people who were trying to understand God which make them fascinating and well worth studying and understanding in their context.
      God is bigger than any of that – again, it's the making God like a human – we like rules, so God must too. So rules are made up by a certain group of men at a certain time i a certain context (or man, in the case of the Book of Mormon) and attributed to God. Does God weep over the misuse of his name by the Mormon church and other churches/religions to be racist, homophobic, etc? I believe he does. Does God work in the lives of gay people who believe in him and are leading gay lives as much as he works in the lives of Mormons? Yes, he does. Did he consider black people equal pre-1978? Yes. God doesn't weep for those who aren''t following his 'rules.' He weeps for those who make up rules in his name and use those rules to harm others.

    24. And I also realize that what I am writing won't in general be heard on here. When you belong to a religion that is in essence your whole life – mainly socializing with others who believe the same thing, going to church several times a week, reading mainly literature/apologetics from that religion – when your needs are being met,why would you want to really hear anything that would challenge that? add to that most folks being raised in the religion . . .wowza, very hard to hear anything else. That is unless you are on the margins of that religion- one of the folks who can't play by the rules -then and only then, an awakening.
      I read somewhere recently the idea that it is better to leave people to their religion if the cost to others of that religion is less harmful than what would happen if the religion were challenged. I'm not explaining it very well – but what I got out of that was I had to think – does the LDS church do more harm to those in their religion or not as the case may be who don't follow their rules – than good? Does the good the LDS church does in other areas outweigh the bad it does to the LGBTQ community? I don't know, I really don't.

    25. Anon,

      I'm aware of what you meant. I was trying to write shorthand. My main concern with your writings is not whether you agree with me about the LDS faith, but the flat characterization of what it is to be LDS. It's an understanding that I find minimal and not accurate to what is actually experienced in being LDS, what we believe, and who we are. I shared, wanting to give a different perspective of what it is to be LDS. Each time I read your posts as to what I believe or my faith or how I go about coming to understand things falls flat.

      A small and quick example is the assumption that i've (or lds in general….which I am, so still) never read things that challenge my faith. I have. plenty. I've read things that challenge even what most people (no matter who they are/religion they subscribe to) would find challenging. Because I love to understand from various perspectives. One of my needs to be met is to learn….I have an insatiable curiosity. I enjoy stories that are not easy to fully understand. I like prying them apart. I prefer first hand information. The way you've portrayed it makes it sound like those of our faith just can't handle things that challenge them. I'm not on the margins of my faith at all. I very much believe it. I'm aware that I'm biased and always will be. I have values that I will constantly adhere to. But I didn't grow up in an LDS vacuum either.

      You're right, I don't pay the closest attention to the specific details of what you say. Many of the ideas are so far estranged from what I actually do experience and have found within my faith that it just doesn't hold much weight. I could pry them apart and try to explain my point. I have in the past. I've just learned over time that it's often not worth the energy. It becomes a broken record where the words change a little but the tune stays the same.

    26. By on the margins i mean those who have been told that their actions are considered hated by God – practicing gay people for example.
      There seems this huge disconnect between what some tell me on here they believe and what the Mormon Church actually says.
      And I actually do read carefully what you write and your perspective on being LDS. Again, I find a gap between your perspective and what the LDS church leaders have said/do say.
      It's great that you read non-church literature and possibly even material that brings into question some LDS beliefs. I would be interested to know for my own reading what kinds of things you read that most people would find challenging – because I enjoy a challenge to.
      I believe that part of the reason the ideas are so far estranged from the experience for you is precisely because you aren't on the margins like, to belabour a point, LGBTQ Mormons or Mormons who are drawing different conclusions about the Book of Mormon, etc. it's the nail that sticks out that is pounded down. And Mormons who love their church, participate, believe all that the church leaders say – their experience will be fundamentally different from that of an LGBTQ Mormon who doesn't want or quite frankly can't live a celibate life or a straight life as per Josh Weed, who is now literally a poster boy for that (he is on the poster for this Salt Lake Conference).

    27. I'm aware of what you meant by margins. I still disagree strongly with the assertion for what it assumes about those who are active LDS. I don't find any gap between what I've said and what LDS leaders have said. Heck, part of what I said was quoted from LDS leaders and is widely accepted. It's your understanding of what those equate to. I disagree with them. And I also very much disagree with what you've stated that I can't see it because I'm not LGBTQ or draw different conclusions about the BoM.

      I wouldn't be able to easily point you to sources. It generally entails various search engines and curiosity kicks all over the place. When someone would bring up something I didn't know, I'd look it up. I'd try to find primary sources and then I'd read a number of perspectives on it as well. I wasn't always balanced as to what I looked into. Some things hold my attention far more than others. If it entailed people, sexuality, or how society/groups developed that would catch me far more than others. If they brought a fresh perspective on a topic that had been rehashed, I'd find that interesting. The topic I've probably read the most about that is LDS history oriented was probably about race. Following that would be sexuality. But plenty of topics had little to do with the church. General sexuality, both normal and deviant ((And I put homosexuality within the normal category (unless it's coupled with something else, like sex addiction). When I mean deviant I mean bordering criminal or breaking heavy taboos)), modern-day racism from the perspective of racists, various readings about the lives of others in differing faiths/philosophies, genetics, religious movements, etc. The last non-lds book that I read that I thought was very interesting was Aping Mankind. In general, I like things that challenge our assumptions of what it is to be human, how people get to their current beliefs/practices, and things that go against social norms/expectations. It's the rationale behind decisions/choices/beliefs that intrigue me.

    28. Tammy,

      To someone who has grown up in the LDS faith and knows it to be true with every fiber of their being comments like that are more than just "snarky" and have a perceived "tone". I'm not saying that anyone with a opinion on the church that is in not in line with mine should not say anything. That is absolutely not my intent. We are free to have our opinions and ideas and beliefs. My problem is when their is a complete disregard for those who DO believe in those things. I don't think a person being "shoot from the hip" kind of gal should exempt them from having some conversational decency.

      Also to those wondering why I had such a strong reactions from a couple of comments I would like to explain. I recognize who this is from previous posts they made. Not because their comments disagree with the church but because of the complete disregard and disrespect for those who actually believe it. I find it silly that people find no reason to be courteous of other people's ideas and belief's even if you strongly disagree. It's a part of life, learning how to have a discussion about something when you believe complete opposite things and still being civil and courteous to one another. It is saddening that some people cannot do that.

      So basically I learned to avoid this persons comments by just not reading anything they said. That worked until they left for a while and then came back anonymous. My comments above was a result of at least 50 comments or so that lacked respect and common decency for others and their beliefs and a very contentious tone and dialogue.

      Also just because she is not out petitioning and the likes doesn't mean she isn't doing harm. Words are powerful and you can do a lot of damage with them. I do appreciate your point though:D

    29. Maquel, I would appreciate if you could try to refrain from using terms that are inflamatory. I would appreciate it if you could try to avoid piling on me a buttload of criticisms.

      For example, your brother, a shrink, might tell you that using the word "all" in conversations, as in "all your comments are loaded with bias, resentment, poor portrayal of Doctrine of the LDS faith, and complete disgust for it and anyone who believes in it or religion as a whole" can shut things down. I pretty much stopped listening after you said "all" because it's just ridiculous.

      Words like "howl" and "disgust" are also inflamatory. And btw, I don't have disgust for "anyone who believes in [The LDS faith] or religion as a whole". I do see problems that the world has faced for centuries that have been brought on by organized religion, certainly not excluding the LDS faith, but that's not the same thing as hating all religious people. I acknowledge the good and the bad. Overall, I could do without it but that doesn't mean as much as you might think.

      I see the need for improvement within myself (and perhaps I'm not the only one who could learn to phrase things better) but I tend to do better when people provide me with actual examples of specific things that I can look at instead of simply attacking who I am as a person and bunching together everything I've ever said (sometimes on completely different forums other than this blog, actually).

      I don't think that being Josh's speshul sister entitles you to attack people. Not even me. Please hold yourself to the rules of civilty.

      Pardon me if I got tired of not being able to enjoy the protections of anonymity that leave so many other people here unscathed. I needed a few days off from it. I'm back and holding myself accountable and you need to do the same.

    30. So let me get this straight: You have made it a policy to skip over all my posts (under BQ) but upon admitting that, you still feel comfortable telling me what type of language "all" my posts contain? That takes some brass balls, lady.
      I actually made some pretty salient points based on the perspective I've gained from becoming a parent, parental love, being there for children, the need for clarity in one's life, the ability to make decisions to go against a parent's wishes, etc. Had you not been blinded by your intense anger toward me (an anger that causes you to skip over everything I write and still characterize the type of language that "all" my posts contain), we might have been able to have an insightful conversation. Perhaps you would have walked away with your beliefs in tact and me with mine, but we could have learned something. It might have been more insightful. Just some food for thought. Maybe you need to let go of the anger you feel toward me and start reacting to what I say on a case by case basis. Or not. Your choice.

    31. I'm sorry if you felt attacked and going back and reading what I wrote I can see why you might have felt that way. I guess it's human nature to get defensive when we feel that something so personal to us is being mocked and I have felt like that from your posts on more than one occasion.
      I will refrain from posting comments that make blanket statements or make you feel attacked and I would ask that you do the same. My faith is important to me and all I "hear" from a lot of your posts is my internal battle to defend my faith thereby not allowing me to hear any other points you might make. I will try to not lump all of your actions into one group if you will also not lump all Mormons into your experience. Our faith is our faith but we are all individuals on our own journey. I do not feel I can get away with things because this blog belongs to a family member of mine. Of course I am going to get defensive in this area. I'm just as protective of giving him a safe place to express himself (and others like him) as you are in fighting for equality for others. I think we can understand each other there. I know my comments were like a train crash, and know now they were a result of things slowly eating away at me.

    32. You don't have to defend anything. If you have an internal battle to defend your faith that is your business. I personally don't believe that truth should need much defending. That's my opinion that shapes my personal beliefs. But if there are beliefs you have difficulty defending- either internally or externally- it might be wise for you to contemplate why that is instead of getting defensive with me. Personally, I try to be respectful and kind but I don't give solace to beliefs that I feel cause pain in the world.

      I have never lumped all Mormons into my experience and the fact that you think I have shows me how very little you really know about me because that is something I try very hard not to do. In fact, I think that if you were to go back and read through months of my comments, you would find very few (if any) posts where I make characterizations about Mormons. People infer a lot into what I say and I can't stop them from doing that. For example: Recently I said to another poster: I don't do that anymore. Remember? (take things on blind faith). She then, in turn, accused me of stereotyping Mormons as having blind faith. I did no such thing. I said something about myself (me me me) and she turned it into a supposed stereotype. The other day on facebook I explained to somebody that I don't shop at City Creek because of two experiences I have had with security there. I was then accused of stereotyping the people at City Creek. Again, I did no such thing. I referenced two experiences that I (I I I ) had and said what I had decided as a result of the experiences. But too often, people who are way too sensitive and who don't want to hear anything negative about anybody in their community EVER accuse me of stereotyping or being hateful. I guess I can't speak openly about my experiences to them. But to prove that I am not stereotyping, I will say that your statement "Of course I am going to get defensive in this area" is not "of course" in my opinion. I know many people who are LDS who can handle hearing a criticism here or there without getting defensive. And your brother happens to be one of them which is most of the reason why I respect him so much.

      Things have been eating at me too. It eats at me that people so often dismiss what I say and read things into my comments that I said weeks or months ago or not at all. Despite all this, I have tried to be accountable (except for my break where I made a few comments here and there). It also frustrates me that I get accused of commenting too frequently when "others" (cough cough) have completely monopoizedthe conversation and nobody criticizes them. So yeah. I get bugged. But I try not to lash out because I know I will get called on it more than anyone else here.

    33. Maybe you should google sky cake then instead of jumping to conclusions. It's from a Patton Oswalt bit.
      Thanks once again, Tammy, for the reminder of what you think of my approach. I'm sure Maquel appreciatesseeing your willingness to criticize somebody so invested in people like you having equality. I'm sure it puts you in a much better light with the haters.
      YES I feel negativity to the LDS church. SO WHAT??? Sometimes it's relevant to a point I want to make. I'm not asking her to feel negatively but I DO. Those are MY experiences. They are about ME. Not YOU. Not MAQUEL. Not JOSH. The experiences that led me out are MINE to speak of and they are about ME and if I choose to share them (instead of burrying them under a rock) that is my choice and I do not deserve to have somebody lash out at my just because I have thoughts and beliefs that seem controversial.
      Believe it or not, my primary goal is not to be well received because that might make friends but it doesn't force people to address the really uncomfortable questions. So you do things your way Tammy and I'll do things mine.
      But I don't like the LDS church and many of my experiences have been painful and many of my stories are appalling and my opinions WILL reflect that. I'm not changing things around for the sake of Miquel's comfort!

    34. I understand what you're saying. I DO try to choose my words carefully. I will continue to do so and I will probably continue to fail at times. But what bothers me is the idea that even if I do choose my words carefully, people like Miquel will continue to infer all sorts of things into what I say because of things I have said in the PAST. I can't do anything about that!
      All I can do is try to be better from here on.
      I tried for years before leaving the church to resign my faith with what I needed in my life. At one point, I nearly suffered a mental breakdown but I continued to push on until I simply couldn't anymore. And I left the LDS church a very broken person. And people assume all sorts of things about those who leave. They attribute it to laziness. Or weakness. Or sin. Or apathy. It's just what we're taught to think. But it sucks. It just compounds the pain when when you receive no validation for your feelings. I have struggled in the following years to deal with how I respond to things knowing that I can only control how I behave and not how others behave. I've tried to cut people slack because I know it can't really all be helped. After I last responded to you, I had to leave to take my daughter to church (with my mom) which I do now and then. It used to be that I couldn't walk into an LDS church without having a panick attack. But I let her go. She asked me "Do people go to church every Sunday?" I told her most people have an opportunity to go (lol) and told her that I used to go with my parents every Sunday. She asked my why I no longer do and I tried my best to give an answer that wouldn't reflect negatively on my parents' beliefs as I walked her into the curch to meet my mom. I have tried in the past to be supportive. I've attended baby blessings and attended church to see my dad confirmed as a bishop and I did it willingly and lovingly and with a smile on my face and a desire to show my family I love them (even though their church teaches that we will be placed in separate kingdoms in the next life, which hurts, frankly.)
      I think I've come a long way and it has been for the love of my family that I have tried. If I hated all Mormons I would pack up and leave this state and I wouldn't look back. I'd freaking move to Oregon or Washington. If I hated all Mormons things would be a lot easier for me. But I separate the disdain I feel for specific doctrines with how I feel about my friends and neighbors and family.
      I have shared my feelings about things such as atheism and I don't preface or follow these statements with "but you can believe whatever you want" because 1) That should go without saying and 2) Nobody says that to me. Nobody shares their beliefs of God with me and then tells me that my atheism is a perfectly valid and moral choice.
      I happen to feel that I am entitled to respect on this comment section even though my opinions are the minority and even if I don't always express that well. I will continue to try to phrase things better but my experiences are real and they have shaped who I am. I will not sugar coat them.
      I need people to understand that my experiences are not about THEM. The struggles I have had are not about THEM. They are about ME. They are MY struggles. I'm sorry that sharing these things causes people to feel immediately defensive but I think it's telling that they wish so badly not to have to hear anything negative. Trust me I'm used to that sentiment. But I don't acquiesce to it. I just do not. My experiences are not subjective to other people's experiences.

    35. BQ,
      I hope you see this. From one who really understands that feeling Maquel feels (like each time I read, I need to defend the church since it seems like it's on the attack to summarize). But to be honest your last post did not ring that way at all. And I appreciated it. I could empathize with you. It isn't often the message that's the problem but the presentation of it. I wish you the best and that you can continue to grow past your hurt.

      This is my general understanding about pain: it, in and of itself, is definitely real. But the pain/hurt skews our perspective. We don't see things as well as we could. Being LDS was painful for you. You had painful experiences within the context. It is difficult to see that faith clearly when this is the case.

      Take care

    36. Tasha, our pain can skew our perspective but so can our love and our loyalty. Don't undermine the truthfulness of that.

      There was a time that being LDS worked for me. I got some good things out of it. Kids raised in the LDS church get a sense of community, a chance to develop good leadership skills, public speaking skills, chances to attend clean cut activities, etc. They also can get some negative things out of the deal, imo. But it works for some people. The problem is that the "one size fits all" approach can prove very troublesome for people who want to leave. As Josh shared, he had a hard time reacting to the "apostasy" of his very good friend. Now multiply that by 100 and try to imagine people who aren't quite as open minded as Josh and who aren't going to eventually "come around". Try to imagine having to choose to live an authentic life knowing that might mean the loss of your spouse. Custody of your children. Loss of friends. Family relationships that will never be the same. What is the driving factor behind this loss? Loyalty to a truth believed with every "fiber" of one's being. So it goes both ways, Tasha.

      What sets me apart is I have looked at it from both sides now. (Queue the Joanie Mitchell). I remember what it was like to feel incredibly devoted to the church. Some people might not believe me when I say that, but I remember. I remember one day a gay young adult came to our singles ward (as a visitor) and spoke in F&T (or what I like to sometimes refer to as 'open mic session') about his struggles as a gay LDS member. He shared some painful experiences and made a call for love and tolerance. I remember being irritated that he would come and ruin the spirit and "make trouble". I remember being 18 and telling a friend of mine who was a lapsed LDS member that my persepctive was different from his because I "knew" whereas he thought he knew but really he only "believed". His belief was different from my knowledge. We really went the rounds over that one! How disgusted I am with how I used to be. How many people here have experienced what it feels like to undergo such a drastic change of beliefs?

      Maquel said: To someone who has grown up in the LDS faith and knows it to be true with every fiber of their being comments like that are more than just "snarky" and have a perceived "tone".

      Every fiber of their being. There's a buzz word. Let me assure you that there was I time that I considered my testimony to be more than just a belief. I called it "knowledge". It was not knowledge. It was a belief. It was a belief that was frankly no more sacrosanct than all the other beliefs that people in the world have. I also grew up in the LDS faith. Why is a conclusion of truthfulness more powerful than a conclusion that it's a farce?
      Just saying…

    37. BQ,
      You have not seen both sides. You have seen two sides. Both infers that there is just one way of looking at things. Both from in or leaving the church. I've talked and heard enough people both in and leaving and left the church to know that just isn't so. I take you by your word. If you say you truly believed, then that is yours to state. I didn't know you.

      What I can state with certainty is that what you did as someone LDS does not equal all/most LDS experience. That's my main problem. It's the overgeneralization that's the issue. I'm not perfect, I don't pretend that I love perfectly. I still royally screw up. But I don't ascribe my devotion by these poor actions. And that's what I see described. The actions mentioned above aren't blanket descriptors for what it means to be devout as someone who's LDS. At least, it doesn't describe me. I doubt it describes Maquel considering her reaction. And it doesn't describe plenty of LDS that I know. Heck it doesn't even fit my rural largely conservative crazy family from the hills. They've got issues up to wazoo, but they all still talk. They all find common ground. Even if that ground is arguing over their differences. Who knows, maybe it's the crap that's flown around in my fam. There's priorities about what matters for my peeps.

      And yes, I'm aware that love can skew. Being human will skew our perspective. I will be the first to admit I'm biased. "We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are," is one of my favorite quotes. But personally, I would rather be skewed by love than pain, resentment, anger, loneline, fear, or anything like it. I've experienced those in a deep and personal way and prefer never to maintain that lens again. I thought it was just fine. I thought it was reasonable and in control. It's reasonable to hold anger for a dysfunctional family and having to carry and unseen weight that most kids have to. It's justifiable to write off a grandfather who'd harmed three generations of family and was a weight around our necks for years. I was wrong. I was so very wrong. I will take love and loyalty, any day of the week.

    38. Though usually a silent observer, I had to comment. I too really appreciated your openness in the last two posts. THANK YOU for sharing your story. I am an active member in the LDS church (returned missionary and recently married in the temple) and my belief in the doctrines in the church, Jesus Christ, and His atonement are very firm. However, I have heard struggles of LDS gay members, and they do not irritate me or make me feel that the spirit leaves due to their presence. I can't speak for how other members of the church would have felt in that testimony meeting, and I know for a fact that there are many members who are uncomfortable with those who are different from what is "expected," and judge them… but I still believe that the church (Heavenly Father, through his prophets and apostles) does not intend us to be that way, nor does He teach it.

      I must say that throughout this thread, some of Maquel's comments have come off as very intolerant to me as well. I would say they came from her and were not guided by the testimony I'm sure she has in her Heavenly Father and Savior. Tasha's comments have been more understanding, and I can feel how much she wants to learn & share in a peaceful, tolerant, honest way. I'm sorry for what you've gone through, Bjorge Queen. As a missionary (and sometimes still) I always felt a twinge go through my body when members of the church said inappropriate, intolerant things, especially when with those who are investigating the church or aren't so actively attending. I usually pulled them aside and tried to help them see how their actions and words can be taken in a different way then they realize, or how their quoting of "commandments" that aren't actual commandments can be hurtful and not helpful, among other things. As Josh has said – it is not our place to judge, but to love. We are not anyone's keeper. But, no matter how I see some judge others or act/speak in intolerant and rude ways, I am reminded that HIS ways are higher than our ways, and we'll never reach them in this life, so I can't judge these people either. I will try to be an example, and share my opinion where I feel it is needed, all the while staying active in a church with imperfect people which I feel is truly lead by God.

    39. Alright here goes nothing I will do my best to articulate my thoughts and explain myself to the best of my ability. Please read this with a much different tone than the two comments previously that were full of frustration and anger. I have taken time time to really think about my reply and to make sure I am responding without any anger or frustration (which I honestly no longer feel, and have been resolved within myself). So please read it as such:D

      Tammy hit the nail on the head above when she said "It doesn't sound like Maquel feels like she has to defend her belief but that she was battling with having to fend off an attack. I know I feel the same way if someone says anything negative about me or what I believe. We all do that. It doesn't mean I need to question who I am or what I believe is my truth."

      That is exactly how I felt, now I was most certainly in the wrong to a certain extent. Let me explain. PREVIOUS comments that BQ has said lead me to feel that exact way, and what I let that do was cloud my view of all her comments thereafter. I personally felt attacked and dug at for what I believe. Now after taking those "crappy perception glasses off" I realize that above BQ was expressing her thoughts and feelings on certain topics and rightfully so. I was still in defense mode and crappy lenses mode and it resulted in some comments that I am not proud of from myself. I think I did have a valid message regarding PAST comments of her's but failed to see that she was indeed trying to be more courteous of others. Now that I have taken my "crap" glasses off I can see that. So I apologize for attacking, that was uncalled for. At the end of my most recent comment on this feed I said " I know my comments were like a train crash, and know now they were a result of things slowly eating away at me." That's exactly what they were, and I realized that after the damage was done.

      So I have taken the time to think about everything and that is why I have not responded until now.

      Looking back I am laughing at myself for my behavior on a post titled "Lessons in Conditional Love", oh man did I win the "you are ridiculous" award there.

      BQ Please know that I do appreciate and value your thoughts and opinions. I really do and hope you will accept my apology for my behavior above.

      In regards to me not reading your posts after a while that is true and it was due to the way some of your early posts made me feel. I talked about it with my counselor and he recommended me not reading them, because of how crappy and frustrated they made me feel. So that is what I did. So here I am going on about my day, reading Josh's feed and I read a few anonymous comments and immediately knew it was you. My plan was foiled and all the previous frustrations I had felt that honestly were eating away at me now and again came to the surface and exploded. I am not proud of my explosion and wish I had not reacted in that way.

      So to sum things up I am sorry, I truly am. And for me the slate is clean and I will not hold anything you have previously said above your head and hope you will do the same. I'm starting fresh and looking forward to reading your comments.

      Also thank you so much for give us a glimpse into your life and how you got to where you are now. It really helped me understand you better and were you are coming from. I really appreciated it and it takes courage to be open and vulnerable and I applaud you. I'm glad you have found peace in life for yourself and it breaks my heart that so much of your past was filled with heartache and pain. I feel for you. Anyways I look forward to our future interactions, and appreciate you helping pointing out where I was wrong above and once again giving us a glimpse of you and your life.

    40. Thank you, Maquel. I appreciate your words. I have tried to improve my approach. I know I'm not done trying.
      I have burnt bridges with people in the past that will probably never be mended so I've decided that all I can do is move on.
      Google is alive and well. There are people in my life who google me so they can find reasons to be angry with me. Or maybe sometimes they hear through other means. Some lurk in shadows and others are more open with their comments. I appreciate when people are at least open. Anyway, now I am struggling to not let my past mistakes define me.
      I want to learn how to express the things that are meaningful to me in a better way. I don't honestly know if it can be done or not. I think sometimes it can and sometimes there just is not better way.
      Again, I appreciate your comments. The slate is clean for me as well. I have been on the receiving end of forgiveness recently and it's made me more appreciative in general, especially since I feel that the forgiveness I had to ask was for a larger "transgression" if you will.

  17. Here's hoping this one goes viral as well! I think this message along with "the post" will be a great tool to allow many have their hearts and minds opened. I think we'll all never agree on some topics. Many LDS and Christian's core beliefs won't change, just like religious people won't be able to change many LGBTQ into living how they would like them too, but this peice can allow us to overcome our ignorance and learn how to love unconditionally–even when people's lives and choices conflict with what we see as the "right path." Glad we can finally start discussing this in a loving way and realize the importance of learning to love, and agree to just disagree, but with respect (and I mean that for both "sides").

    Again, Let's pass this one forward and let it go viral!


  18. As a parent, I truly hope I will be as good of a listener as your father. I know I will love my kids no matter what (they are still very young) no matter what the future brings, but I hope that I will be able to listen and silence my judgement so that they will know immediately how I love and accept them and am proud of who they are. Christy

  19. Josh. This is absolutely beautiful. I think that God gives us this chance to be on earth as a time to complete tasks. I feel that you have found, and are completing one of yours in such a way to make our Heavenly Father be filled with joy. I am thankful for you and your message. It helps not just me, but everyone that has the chance to read it look at themselves, question themselves and their choices, and in turn better out actions. I wish I could have been there to thank you personally, but this will have to suffice.

  20. Thank you for your post and for having the courage to share this part of you. I live in an area where there are many gays. Some are a part of my family and friends. I have always tried to make sure that above everything, that I love them no matter what path they have chosen. I am glad that you have been able to find your own path through life and have given others a choice, through your example, not only that there can be another way, but how we should unconditional love and understand friends and family, no matter what, as God loves us. I do believe that your message for us to love unconditional is meant to go far beyond gays, but, to encompass all of God’s children that find themselves struggling to find their way through the challenges that God has put in their path. Thanks you again for this, and I hope that through this your family may find many of God’s blessings.

  21. None of this makes any sense to the people you say you're chastising. They will continue to use your marriage as an example of "good behaviour," and to say that if you can, then their children must.

    1. I think that you underestimate Mormon parents.

      Honestly. When my son first came out, I saw only two options. Live with a man. Or celibacy. It is his life. He has to make his own decisions.

      But, it is nice to see that are not two options. There are a lot of options.

      And dating a girl to "test it" isn't bad. And dating a boy to "test it" isn't bad. And learning and growing and changing and saying, "Wow! I was wrong about that!" is all about finding our own path.

      And every story is unique.

      There are probably parents who see Josh and Lolly as the proof that their son or daughter can indeed live a heterosexual life. There are obviously those parents who kick their kids out (ouch!) or who say horrible things or who refuse to allow their children agency.

      But, I don't think that would be any of the Mormons that I know. Honestly. And if I heard of one, I would try to talk with them a little bit. About love and parenthood and agency and hope and diversity and all those things that remind people how much they love their children.

      That might not work in other circles. But my circles are generally pretty generous with each other.

    2. I thought the same thing once (that most Mormon parents wouldn't kick their kid out if they knew he was gay), but I've seen a few negative comments from LDS adults here on this blog lately that made me begin to question that. I really think the majority of LDS parents let them stay, but struggle deeply with how to be the best parent for them, thus leading to the child feeling less loved by their parent due to inaction. Still, there are (Mormon) parents who are extremely intolerant and would kick their kid out, say horrible things, and attempt to refuse their child agency to choose their path. It sucks to accept it, but they are out there.

      LDS parents need to be prepared for this… not only ready treat their gay child "the same," but to genuinely support him or her while keeping their covenants… it's a balancing act, but it can be done. Josh's story is just as helpful for LDS parents as it is for homosexual Christians.

    1. Neurotic One, I tried searching "North Star homosexual" and came up with this url: http://northstarlds.org/ I don't know whether or not they are "setting conditions for people's love and respect" or whether/how Josh might/might not be involved with their organization but there is the link if you want to check it out.

      I second Maquel's question.

    2. He is connected to North Star. North Star uses wording that very specifically never says that it helps gay people to not live the gay lifetyle. It is worded like that for a reason. But 'unwanted same sex attractions' is the buzz phrase there. We could spend hours arguing how it is not but this type of phrasing is not used in counselling organizations that don't try to help gay people either be straight or to not live a gay life.

    3. One might do well to delve into why the sexual attraction is "unwanted".
      When the very same communities who offer "treatment" are those that are convincing people that same sex attraction should be "unwanted", that is frankly suspect.
      You can offer a treatment but often first it is necessary to convince a person that their condition is diseased.

    4. yup. It's so crucial how you were raised – if you are raised to believe that living a gay life is a disease or wrong, then you will think that and think you need counselling.
      I am SO thankful I was never raised to believe that. I belonged in my 20s to a rather fundamentalist sect of Christianity that taught me that and it took awhile for that to get out my head and that was only somethng that was put into me when I was in my 20s. when you are raised with that belief it is much much harder to overcome it.

    1. So are you saying he should have stayed quiet and never said anything? Like Tammy says above "We can only control what we do, not what other people do". He is doing his part to try and stop it, but can only do so much since he cannot control the actions of others.

    2. Anon,
      I feel you are giving this boy a disservice in saying "he tried dating a girl because of what Josh said". Yes that may have influenced his decision because he saw it was possible FOR JOSH, but did Josh tell him to do it? No. Did he say "Hey this is my story, everybody who is gay do it too or God hates you." No, Josh's message is about love and finding what is best for you as an individual. So by Josh sharing his story of him being true to himself and coming to a conclusion after YEARS of thinking/pondering what was it that HE WANTED and was right FOR HIM, he is now blamed for everyone who misinterprets and misrepresents his message? That my friend is taking individual accountability out of the equation. Which is silly because we are all accountable for our own decisions and actions. Just because we perceive things one way, doesn't make them true. Josh is standing up for those who are being bullied with his individual story and saying it needs to stop now. He is reaching out to those who because of OTHERS poor choices and misinterpretation, not by Josh himself, were negatively affected by his story.

      It also sounds like it was a learning experience for that boy below, he is trying out different things and seeing what works FOR HIM as an individual. He is growing and learning and taking the time to figure out what is right for him, I applaud him.


      Totally agree.

    3. "With your last post I felt like I could possibly marry a girl" – is what the boy actually said.
      Luckily, Josh's most recent post clears this up.
      Before that, it was not completely clear.
      not it is.

  22. As everyone else has already commented on the message of your speech,Josh, I'm just going to say this: As a speech, this is movingly written. As a speech written under extreme pressure and at the last minute and while coping with ADHD, this is an accomplishment of heroic proportions. 😀 Bravo!

  23. The thing that stood out in that talk the most to me is something I'm going to apply to my strained and bitter relationship with my ex-husband. Do not react in fear. Do not try to control. Let his choices be HIS choices.

    We all have a relationship we could apply this to.

    Why does God let us go through excruciatingly difficult situations sometimes? This talk. That's why. Compassion comes from entering that painful space yourself and then later being able to reach a hand back to those who are still in it and give them hope and peace.

  24. I was hesitant to read this post because I read the last one and enjoyed it, but I have felt the pressure from the message in it. I currently attend BYU and recently came out to my family and every day i feel the constant tug of war between what I am told and how I feel. I do not feel like I can make the decision until after I leave BYU because there is too much pressure here that I can not decide who is making the decision me or the social pressure. With your last post I felt like I could possibly marry a girl and I even began dating a girl, but in the end I had to end it to keep our friendship and I have felt horrible ever since. Thank you for this last post. It eases my mind to know that I should make the decision when I know what I want.

    1. Don't feel horrible. For one, this is the time of your life that you should be meeting different people and making friends and learning what you want out of life. Even if you were straight you are not going to click with everyone. I dated many guys that I was friends with and had to stop dating to keep the friendship in place.

      The one thing that frustrates me is how young so many LDS kids marry. For some it will work out, not easily but it will work. I have 6 sisters, all of them married and had there first baby before their 23rd birthday. I finally married at 32 and had my son just before I turned 36. Not really how I planned things in my mind but that is how it worked out.

      Use this time to learn about yourself. Make friends and as hard as it is don't give in to the social pressure.


  25. @saxonthebeach – great name first of all! and I agree that you should definitely wait until you leave BYU. I promise you that there is a whole world out there that is free of the kind of pressure you are feeling – I say travel if you can afford it or move to a different state – see the world, as it were. There is so much more out there and it does get better. Even if people jump all over my comment, which some will, there is so so so much more out there, really.

  26. A lot of people are talking about legalization of SSM.

    Can I speak only for myself? Until about 2 months ago, I hadn't really thought much about it at all. I'm sure that sounds horrible to people who have been fighting and living and breathing this their whole lives. It just didn't enter into my world.

    I'm sure that they are gay people in my life. But I have no idea who they are.

    I wish I did know. I wish I could hug them and tell them that I am a soft place. Since they are already in my life, I'm sure that they will be kind and loving as I ask them the 4 million questions that I haven't even thought of yet. Those are the types of people I tend to surround myself with.

    I've never lived in a state that has voted on SSM (and I have lived in 5 states). If I had been actually voting, I would have studied long and hard. I take voting very seriously. I would have formed a position based on my version of reality. Or I would have abstained until I could confidently defend my choice in either direction.

    I would always have opposed a federal definition of marriage because I believe it is a state issue and it would be unconstitutional to have a federal law about it.

    I have tried other boards where some homosexual individuals are talking. I have questions and I am trying to shape and form my opinions in an area that I have largely ignored. I feel safe here because most of the people are gentle with me. I don't just want my opinions to be formed by my religious community. I want to hear and try to "feel" both sides.

    Are their other locations where there isn't a lot of hostility and anger and swearing where I could go better understand?

    So, I am one of the people who sees a purpose in Josh and Lolly's blog. Maybe not for established members fighting for marriage rights. But there are other people who are just entering that world or just looking into all the things that might mean. This is a gentle place to explore those thoughts.

    1. I thought marriage was a bible issue. Now it's a state issue? Bet lot of people would run crying to the feds pretty fast if states outlawed Mormon marriage. If marriage is a state issue should states be able to take marriage away completely? Dissolve marriage licenses?
      There's nothing to study yere. Equality or Inequality.

    2. You would have to read all my other posts to understand what I mean 🙂

      I have stated for years and years that there should be NO GOVERNMENT at any level involved with marriage at any level. All things marriage related should belong under contract law. The end.

      Years ago, the government took control, and now we all have to get "permission" to get married. Gay couples are not granted permission. But, I am actually annoyed that my husband and I had to get permission and were "gifted by government" the rights to marry.

      That is messed up!!

      *If* people insist on government involvement in marriage (on either side of the SSM battle), *then* I think the battle should be fought at the state level.

      I think the battle shouldn't exist in the first place. It isn't any of government's business. But, every time the people give something to the government they have to be willing to FIGHT to take it back.

      I think that SSM advocates would actually get much further (politically) if they joined the Libertarians in getting government out of the details of our individual choices… instead of joining democrats (who want government involved in everything) and asking permission to get married.

      It is ALL BACKWARD!

    3. A few folks on here have been quite the fans of, in effect, dissolving or greatly reducing the power of government. That if somehow government were not involved, religion would take over and care for people and all would be well. Actually, Social Darwinism would most likely take over – with groups with more power squishing those on the margins. Everything – from the post office to maintenance of highways would be privatized. Regulation of any sort would go out the window. We benefit daily from some of what the government does but may not realize it.
      As for keeping decisions on equal rights at the state level – is that at all because in states like Utah an equal rights law for all to marry would never pass and that is a relief of sorts? I ask that sincerely. There may also be hope that if the government didn't regulate marriage, that a particular religion's 'moral law' would prevail and same sex marriage would never be allowed. That would not necessarily be the case unless of course you are talking only about Utah. In any event, even if marriage were privatized, the government would still have to decide which of these private unions would get benefits.
      Also, by taking the government out of it – straight married couples would lose the benefits – all of thos tax benefits, estate planning benefits, employment benefits and on and on would be gone. In other words, you won't know what you've got till its gone.
      It is so dramatic for people to want government entirely out of marriage in order to keep their real goal of keeping gay people from being able to marry.I think if you take away all of the many arguments on here about why government should be out of the marriage business -it ultimately boils down to wanting to keep equal marriage rights from gay people.

    4. You are making assumptions and putting words into my mouth, Karen.

      I have wanted government out of everybody's business for much longer than gay marriage in on my radar. I don't want government out of married in order to keep marriage rights away from gay people. It is much bigger than 1 issue, to me.

      The reason, IMO that it would have to be fought at a state level (if at all) is that it is completely unconstitutional for the federal government to have anything to do with it.

      It also helps everything by testing in the states. We have a few states that have legalized recreational marijuana and SSM this month. Now we have until the next election to see how it goes.

      Will the states go under? Will more people die or less? Will there be a social collapse? Hmmmm….. seems like adults are okay. Maybe it would be good for my state too.

      I actually think it would help the gay rights movement to fight at the state level. And I think the religious right would agree with me. Hence the failed attempts are writing a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. Then the states can't do anything….. except they should anyway and ignore..

      What WOULD happen if Utah was the only state that didn't allow SSM? Do you think businesses would stay based there? Businesses that are gay friendly (don't know how to word that, sorry) would HAVE to leave because they would be boycotted nationally. When business leaves, economies don't do well. People suffer.

      Maybe Utah would attract all the fundamentalists who have finally found a place where morality is legalized in the way they wish. Great. At least we all know where they live. If it becomes a utopia, people might reconsider. If it becomes instantly ridiculous, different people might reconsider.

      There should be no tax benefits, estate planning benefits, employment benefits for married couples. That is the government "rewarding" you for adhering to the rules that they have set up.

      Just like the federal government needs to end the federal war on drugs. Not only does it not work…. but it is not a federal government issue.

      I am one that thinks seat belt laws for adults are insane. I think that adults should be able to select their own favorite light bulb or boycott it for their own reasons. I feel the same about marriage.

      It has nothing to do with secretly hoping to keep equal marriage rights from gay people.

    5. Keep forgetting stuff (even though my posts are way too long)

      The post office SHOULD be privatized. We have private mail services. We all use email. The private agencies are faster, more efficient, and are making a profit. AND they pay their employees better.

      The post offices is losing money every year. Why on earth would we using individual people's money to keep a dying government agency alive when it is not needed or appreciated.

    6. Tammy,

      As always I appreciate your perspective.

      It would be difficult to travel across the country if the rules were different everywhere. It would be annoying and irritating and feel very discriminatory. But, in SOME states, instead of all states.

      It is similar in Europe as you travel through the different countries that have many different laws from each other.

      They used to have different money too. It was "hard" so they joined together to have the same currency. Look how well that worked out for them so far.

      Regardless of the difficulty or not, I think it would yield faster results than fighting on a federal level. You could drive through 40 states and still be married. You could avoid 10 states and keep your business and revenue away.

      We all know that same sex marriage will be legalized within the next few years. Does anyone doubt this?

      We just simply disagree about the most effective or the most rational way to do it 🙂

    7. Is Neurotic Jen & Neurotic One the same person?

      Anyway, excellent expression of your feelings and beliefs. I mostly agree with you, so much of what you wrote, IMO, seems like common sense.

    8. Well, Utah is about as close to a theocracy that you can get in the U.S.
      Arguing whether or not the government should be involved in marriage is interesting but at this point and time, moot. The government is involved. So, going on that basis, with what is now the reality, there is no need to continue to deprive gay people of equal rights. You could argue forever that government should be out of marriage, etc. but for now it i involved in marriage. And many gay people want equal rights, so why deprive them of that? As for the religious right agreeng with you, probably. But the religious right is an extremely right wing organization that I would prefer didn't agree with me about anything. There a national embarrassment frankly and thankfully losing some of their sway as revealed in the latest election. So, fortunately or unfortunately, the fantasy that government is just going to go away is just that, a fantasy. So we work within the laws to provide equal rights to people.
      And I think if all of the rights you have being married – some you know about and some you may not even think about – were taken away – you'd miss some of them.
      The government does indeed create laws that we are to follow. I honestly don't get why some religious folks take issue with that since in this case Mormonism is made up of men who wrote rules that if you follow you are rewarded for. And if you do not, you are punished.
      I really think there is a very basic misunderstanding that says that if the government would just go away, all would be well. Where does that idea originate from? I really don't get it.

    9. I am not FG Mormon, but I did enjoy his posts.

      At this point, it seems that you are arguing just for the sake of fighting. I'm not interested in that.

      Neurotic One 🙂

  27. thank you for continuing to teach me and help me in this journey of life! i think its so amazing that when we are about to do something important and good, the entire fountains of hell drown us! what a horrible build up to a beautiful ending. glad you pursued it. it touched my life at least 🙂

  28. I love this, you are an amazing man and a talented writer! I feel I have an ability to love people but I also have the tendency to fear for them and I may sometimes say things that come out wrong. Your writing inspires me to be better. Thanks for that!

  29. Marvelous, Josh. Unconditional love has been on my mind a lot lately, and as I think about what it looks like in my life, and how I can gain that ability to love independent of personal choices, you and Lolly always come to mind as examples. I wish we lived closer so I could learn more from you two.

  30. This was amazing. It applies not only to having unconditional love for homosexual family/friends but to everyone in our lives that may make choices we don't agree with or that go against our beliefs. Thank you.

  31. Love your blog Josh. I have a comment about the phrase 'unconditional love'. I had an amazing mum with an amazing mind who saved this quote on a little scrap of paper I found after she passed away:

    "There is no such thing as unconditional love. ALL love is unconditional. Anything else is just approval" (Rachel Naomi Remen)

    Love is love. If it comes with conditions it cannot be called love. Interesting to think about…

    Look forward to your weekly blogs, thoughts & humorous stories — such a talented writer! Thanks for sharing …

  32. But….a practical question, and I did love the tone of this entire post about unconditional love….I moved in with my boyfriend after college. We were not even engaged. This is rampant and normal here in the Northeast. My parents were trying to love me unconditionally, as I had a terrible eating disorder that almost killed me several times…It was a terrible affront to my Catholic upbringing that I would move in with him, but they were afraid I would kill myself, and they thought this might help me on my journey to get better….but actually, I think it prolonged my problem and it put us off getting married for many years. And, equally bad…it gave the go-ahead signal for many of my extended family members to do the same thing. How, practically-speaking, could my very loving parents have loved me unconditionally and not judged my choices, while still upholding truth…the truth that moving in together before you are even engaged is wrong-headed and sinful?

    1. There are many things they can do (and may have done/be doing)… The "things parents can do" start from before their baby is born. They do all they can to honestly live the religion, be good examples, and set routines while their child is young, while not forcing their child to believe or act. If you choose a different path then they believe is correct, then their job is to keep loving you (and the man you've chosen to be with)… to keep in contact, express their beliefs (when appropriate, not being overbearing, and on a variety of topics – not just the topic of sex before marriage), invite you to (and your significant other) to mass, meetings, activities, etc… Involve both of you in their lives, talk to both of you, have you over for Christmas & other Holidays. Unfortunately our "sinful" choices will influence others (like it did with cousins, you mentioned), but that isn't something those who did not make the choice (your parents) can control. By following the churches teachings themselves, and consistently inviting you to be a part of it (unless you've asked them not to), they uphold their beliefs. By involving you, loving you, and being a constant support in your life, they love you unconditionally. I hope that helps. I'm a little wordy, sorry! 🙂

  33. Mary, people in your extended family started live in relationships because of your influence? how much power do you have that you are able to have been responsible for other people's decisions?
    And sounds like you are heaping tons of guilt on yourself which is very Catholic (I grew up Catholic) and sounds like it is so so painful for you.
    You cannot change the past – I say, forgive yourself.
    As for your parents, I think they did the best that they could. Were you an adult when you did this? If so, it really wasn't their responsibility to tell you what you could and couldn't do. And honestly, it sounds like they were just happy that you were even alive.
    Please, be gentle with yourself. A hallmark of eating disorders is hat those who suffer from them aren't easy on themselves, in fact, they hyperscrutinize. Be gentle, you deserve it.

    1. I agree. People are responsible for their own choices. I don't know how I'd feel if my daughter were to move in with some guy. Mostly because I wouldn't want her to get pregnant and then for them to decide they're not cut out for marriage together. But I know bad things happen when people rush into marriage without knowing eachother as well. So I've heard arguments for both. Bottom line, though, is that we have to accept things we can't control. I had a friend who lived with her husband before marriage (after having a child together) and it was for, in my opinion, a stupid reason (wanting to wait for his brother, who was in prison, to be able to attend the wedding). Her mother would write once a week to express her disappointment with the situation. That didn't do any good. After a while my friend just stopped reading the letters. It didn't help the relationship. People are responsible for their own reactions.

    2. Mary,

      I wholeheartedly agree with Anonymous and BQ. It sounds like they (your parents) let you go and let you decide for yourself what was the right thing to do. Which as a kid I have learned is good to do as a parent (depending on age and situation of course). To teach them everything you know and then let them go. Sometimes we may fall and sometimes we fly. You seem to think you fell and that is okay. It is a part of life. We are not expected to be perfect by any means. We are here to learn and grow and in doing that mistakes will be made. Also I can't even imagine the pain heartache and torture living with a eating disorder would bring. I personally have OCD, Depression, and Anxiety and without medication my perception of reality is horribly distorted. It is alarming. So I can relate to when a brain can give you a poor perception/reality on things.

      Like Anon said, be gentle and forgiving of yourself. Let it go, instead of dwelling on the past and what you should have done differently just live, live now. Forgive yourself and let the past be the past. Remember you are responsible for you and not those around you. Yes we may have a influence on others, that is part of being a human, but that does not mean we are responsible for their choices and actions. I have had times in my life where I was doing things that were not the best and wonder how my actions affected those around me. It is hard to forgive oneself when we feel our actions negatively affected others. But we need to do it, there is nothing we can do now about the past. And if there is do it, and then let it be.

  34. I have received a lot of food for thought since joining your blog. Thank you!

    I see a lot of application (and questions) to all relationships between people, not just gays and non-gays. For example, my brother has chosen to be an atheist. I accept his decision so I don't try to change him. The challenge comes in the choice to love and care for someone, to find a balance point between not interfering with the choices they make (so they can be free to learn the life lessons they need to learn) and doing what is called an intervention when a loved ones choices are affecting their own life AND the lives of those who love them. It might be hard but even an intervention can (and should be) non-judgmental and unconditionally loving (how do I do this?)

    It gets a little harder to do when the loved one is trying to push me towards acceptance of behavior that I choose to not do. I choose to knock on the door, not to push it open. If someone is knocking on my door I am free to answer or not. If they push on my door, I am free to not open it. Easy to say (and I needed to say it) and much harder to do.

    Thanks again for the meal. I will now let it digest.

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