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A Conversation About Identity, Sexuality & Faith (Part 2 of 3)
A Conversation About Identity, Sexuality & Faith (Part 2 of 3)



Tom Christofferson and Jacob Hess

Part II.  Does God want us to accept each other completely – just as we are ?

One of the sweetest (and scariest) evolutions in dialogue is when enough trust and friendship develop that both people feel able to press each other – directly questioning certain elements of their experience and challenging specific assumptions. That’s what we both naturally started doing as our conversation progressed, which will be evident below.

However unsettling it can be to have someone scrutinize your words more directly, the benefits for expanded understanding and uncovered new bits of insight are worth it.  We hope you’ll agree after reading the following.   

J:  Picking up where we left off, Tom – to differentiate what is in our realm of freedom or choice – and what is not – seems important to both of us.  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So, maybe it’s unsurprising this keeps coming up for us – specifically, where exactly to draw the line between choice and not-choice.  We’re both in agreement that we cannot merely choose the nature or make-up of our immediate inner worlds – especially present feelings and physical sensations – and that attempts in the past to encourage that have ended up doing harm.    

Where we go next is where interesting differences arise. You’ve argued for the value of accepting one’s inner world as reality, while making space to appreciate the essential choice of how one will live in response to that reality.

I’ve been asking for a little more – that you consider taking one more step. For this reason:  the hopeful message you’re suggesting we share with youth (and adults) won’t, I believe, be enough to achieve what I hear your heart’s earnest desire to be (that they find a happy place in the Church).

And no, that’s not just because of a lack of acceptance and love among members (which has sometimes seemed the only thing we’re talking about).  As soon as we say “young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual individuals” – as you have – as soon as we take for granted this as their (enduring, essential, fundamental) reality that ought not be questioned (and, indeed, as you’ve suggested, might be embraced as a starting point for a more honest identity and a new life)….as soon as we’ve done that, I’m arguing, Tom, that we’ve set the stage for a far more awkward and estranged relationship with both the Church of Christ and yes, even Christ Himself.   

That’s why I’m gently pressing you on this – and continuing to inquire whether you would be open to widening your view of the appropriate scope of agency to include the words we adopt (call them what you want – labels, identifiers, narratives) for what’s going on in our inner world.

Not just for you – but for me too.  This applies to all of us.  

Some other examples might help.  Our inner experience of mental health is also likewise not within our immediate control. But how we respond to and talk about it is.  Thus, once someone adopts the label “bipolar” (no, by the way, I’m not suggesting any analogy in terms of sickness)  – everything that happens afterwards is different, as they are funneled down a certain, defined path of treatment.  While yes, clearly people who embrace this label still have options to pursue different intervention options, I’m trying to underscore the invisible, almost magnetic power of how particular words embed someone in a larger conversation, connected to systems and social pressure representing a tremendous momentum.   

All of this represents just another reminder of how much power words have – especially when we speak of them as reflecting “reality” or ‘who we are” (for all of us).  Thus, as another example, if a woman tells her husband that her dislike of expressing emotion is “who she is” then any possibility raised by her husband will feel like a personal challenge to her…whereas, if she used language that acknowledged this as something she is experiencing, there may be ways to work with it differently – to learn, and grow.

Do these comparisons feel at all fair to you?  I’m suggesting something similar happening across all these circumstances:  widespread adoption of identifiers that not only set individuals on a certain path, but make them resistant – and, even hostile – to any suggestion of working with that internal world differently (and certainly not learning and growing towards something like covenant marriage).

If reality is more fluid and complex than we’ve appreciated in the past, why not acknowledge that in our identity language and self-talk? That, in a nutshell, is why the argument that says “let’s just embrace how these young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual individuals see themselves” and “then let’s move along to the real question of how to best support and love them” still feels, I will confess, destined to not achieve what you hope it will achieve.

T: I think you’re bringing up a valuable insight.  In other places, I’ve spoken of choosing to thrive in ambiguity, of remaining open to a wrestle with truths we cannot currently fully reconcile. I agree that it is mentally and emotionally healthy to be willing to move forward even when we do not have complete certainty about all of our questions, to act in faith.

As we encourage individuals to remain open and vulnerable to additional light and knowledge, can we also encourage those who are witnesses to the lives of another, even those who feel wholly invested in the best outcomes of those lives (parents and their children, members of a faith community and those with whom they worship) to be open to the possibility that God works in individual lives in unique ways, and that He, to whom all is present, has a more complete understanding of the best path of learning for that person?

Now, let me put a couple of questions to you:

First, I’m suggesting LGBTQ people can choose good things in addition to, or as their way of being gay or trans or queer.  In the examples you’ve provided as illustrations, I sense an implicit conclusion represented in your examples – suggesting that claiming “this” (trait/identity/diagnosis) is who I am means I am closing myself off to something better?  I know you’re not saying it’s better to be straight than gay, but is your conclusion that a gay identity is mutually exclusive with an identity as a disciple, for instance?   

Second, just as we hope this conversation, one that is open-minded and open-hearted, can create new understanding, can we also entertain the possibility that we will get new and different outcomes if we act differently going forward than we have in the past?  Specifically, rather than saying since many individuals who have identified as LGBTQ have left the church, so the solution is to discourage acceptance of that identity, could we not imagine that in the past we have acted as though that identity is not compatible with full inclusion in the church and if we change our behavior, if we are focused on every individual’s power to choose the direction and focus of their lives, we may find a new result where identity is not a barrier to inclusion?

J: I can definitely imagine that, Tom – and do think acting with more love can make a difference, which is why so much attention has been focused there over the last decade. I would only point out that if we were successful in doing what you describe, it wouldn’t be a reflection of changed behavior alone, but also what seems to me the adoption of a new narrative of identity that you’ve been articulating here:  a gay identity that doesn’t dictate behavior as much as we’re accustomed to seeing and, indeed, which makes abundant space for the possibility of embracing the covenant path.

That kind of a gay identity would certainly not be mutually exclusive with an identity as a disciple – as you demonstrate.  But when it comes to the far more common gay identity narrative out there, yes, I’m arguing that this more popular view ends up seeming almost repellant to and hostile towards the covenant path.

All this is to say:  Your way of talking about gay identity feels quite different to me (and maybe also to many in the LGBTQ+ community) from the more prevailing ways of describing “trans people”….queer people…gay people.” I can’t imagine, then, that you haven’t had some push-back there as you’ve been expressing these possibilities.  You’re raising an uncomfortable proposition to many, right?

And in the reverse direction, I also understand people’s push-back on me – throwing hands in the air and saying, “come on, Jacob – can’t we just love and accept people? Does this have to be so hard?”

Hopefully this conversation helps demonstrate why it’s not all so simple. To highlight that point, I want to repeat something one of my dearest friends told me recently. Arthur is a gay marxist Christian man who’s finishing a book with me and Randall Paul right now, and he raised this example the other day:    

Put yourself in the shoes of a 13-year-old young man, whose dreams of romance, and passion, and longing, and love are oriented to members of his same sex. He is not facing what a 13-year heterosexual is facing.  Yes, the heterosexual, if at all drawn towards “Christian conversion,” will have to face some tough battles to overcome lust.  But the heterosexual does not have to contemplate a life without romance, a life without even the possibility of the fulfillment of sexual affection (I’m not talking about lust), a life without curling up in front of a fireplace with that special person he wants to share his life with. The heterosexual 13 year old, if he intends to become a Christian, “merely” has to decide to not have sex until he is married. The gay child, in contrast – if he Christian, is faced with the prospect of never having sex…never even being able kiss anyone….never being able to hold hands in public with the person he falls in love with…never being able to dance with the person he wants to dance with…etc. etc. etc. etc.   Imagine that.

You’ve shared similar things with me, Tom, including (what I found to be) beautiful descriptions of the companionship that ended as you chose to move forward in the church..    

How could anyone (with a heart, at least), not find this compelling? How could any of that be experienced as threatening?

Here’s how:  Because that entire description above takes for granted not only that the identity of this 13 year old boy is established – but also so much of his future. Far more than I’m comfortable with, the narrative implicit in the statement presumes a future and identity that is known clearly, understood with little doubt, and something this child can plan on enduring throughout life.

But how?!  How could we possibly know with such certainty what this – or any –  13 year-old has the potential to become one day?

Of course, one could argue that our faith community does something similar:  painting a picture of who you can become (and who you fundamentally are) from a much earlier age than 13.  And we do this with a great deal of conviction – even certainty.

So why complain when others do the same?

It’s a fair question.  I’m wanting to draw attention here to how these visions of identity and future compete and fight with each other – and might even be incompatible. That’s why, I confess, if anyone – school teacher, Youtube influencer, or even someone I deeply respect like you or Jon G-W – were to convince my own son to see his own identity in these same terms, I would take that as a kind of aggression against someone I love more than life itself.    

Why?  Because you’ve convinced this precious soul to now see his core self (and future) in a way that – by many measures – is incompatible with the covenant path he’s grown up coming to trust and love. Once again, how could I not see that as a threat – even an aggression?

Rather than expecting Latter-day Saints to accept gay identity (as the world defines it – not you) as a simple, obvious reality, maybe this can help others understand why what they propose is  deeply threatening, and destabilizing in our view to some of the greatest possibilities of eternity.

This is also why your request to essentially drop the identity conversation is essentially a nonstarter for many of us.

T:    Thank you for taking this in a direction that is personal and real.  There are many things we can say about the theory of all of this, but it feels very different when the conversation is about you or about your child.  So, let me give you my very personal take on this.  And yes, if it hasn’t been clear thus far, I should definitely state that I’m projecting my own opinions, not speaking on behalf of the LDS LGBTQ community, let alone the whole community at large.  I’m as interested in trying to reach an audience of my peers, with the hope of expanding the vision of our options and choices, as I am in trying to reach the straight audience that feels gay identity is inevitably a threat to following Christ.

So, again, and speaking purely personally, for me, finding language at about age twelve to help understand why I had felt different since about age five, was an enormous relief in one sense.  It finally made sense.  I didn’t want to believe it was true, I fasted and prayed and pleaded and obeyed for years trying to get God to take that away.  With the benefit of another fifty years, I can can say that the language I found at twelve (“homosexual” and then “gay”) correctly described my orientation in the world.  For me, it hasn’t changed.  And I’m enormously grateful that God didn’t change it, if indeed He would have or could have.  (I don’t mean to drag us into purely speculative deep waters here, so I’ll just say that for me two possibilities exist, that being gay is one of the combinations of factors — chemistry, biology, developmental influences — that occurs in this world, or that what I perceive as being gay is related in some fashion to elements of my eternal intelligence.)

And second, without wishing to be overly dramatic, I have fought for this identity.  I stand on the shoulders of courageous men and women in the 1960’s and 1970’s who faced the threat and reality of jail for being open about their lives and the identity they claimed.  When I first came out, there wasn’t a state in this country where a person was protected from being fired from their job or kicked out of where they lived simply because they said, “I am gay.”  For the first two decades of my career, and I worked for major global financial firms, none of my employers had non-discrimination statements that included sexual or gender identity, and I never saw anyone senior to me who acknowledged being gay.  I had to blaze that path for myself, and gratefully, found that I was generally supported by my colleagues and executives.  I sometimes feel that same need for individual path-blazing in our church today, that much as I would rather just blend in, my need for a sense of personal integrity precludes me from hiding or being less than candid that I am a gay man who is striving to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

As much as I want this to be a conversation about ideas and possibilities, I honestly feel I have paid the price and earned the right to call myself a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a child of Heavenly Parents, who is gay.  I want young people to be able to stand on my shoulders, I don’t want them to have the fight the same battles that I have, I want them, including your hypothetical son, to be able to put words to what they learn and understand about themselves that are the most accurate for them and helpful to them, and not to feel that they’ve foreclosed other aspects of themselves that are equally true and valuable.

I know you to be kind, compassionate and extremely sensitive to the feelings of others.  So when you speak of preserving the possibility of the covenant path for everyone, I know those words reflect your loving heart and your generous spirit.  In your generosity, can you also imagine that I am striving along the covenant path while living with the wrestle of  yearning to do so with my former partner of nineteen years, not by changing the nature of our love for one another, and yet being willing to be submit to the direction I feel from a tender Father?  And that I don’t see that as a wrestle with evil, but rather as a struggle for greater understanding to balance and integrate two competing righteous desires?

To refuse to credit any sexual identity other than heterosexual, or any identity other than cis-gender, would encourage us to look on the pain of others as solely of their own making, to believe that what they experience as reality is simply a stubborn refusal to follow God, and we could easily tap our toes waiting for them to wake up and shape up.  And yet, do we find any example of Jesus doing likewise in His earthly ministry?

In the face of incomplete knowledge, aren’t we better to wrestle with the hard questions that arise if LGBTQ people are accurately describing their lived experiences?  Would that be a way to honor our baptismal covenant to bear one another’s burdens?  Might it give an urgency to our pleas to God to prepare our hearts for all that He may yet reveal about His kingdom?

Once again, the alternative, it seems to me, is to return to what in my view were the dark days when the prevailing idea was that sexual identity was chosen and, with sufficient faith and hard work, could be changed.  The spirit-shriveling result of that teaching was that absence of identity change was proof that an individual either lacked faith or was unwilling to work hard enough.  In its impact, I find that a deeply unchristian message.

J: I do share your resistance to those dark days, Tom – and am grateful you’re trusting me enough to press me here – as I’ve felt able to do with you as well. And of course, I appreciate the expressions of both humility and faith permeating your words – along with the earnestness, sincerity and courage of your own journey.  There’s no part of me that doubts your aspirations and desires – nor do I feel you doing that with me.

It’s worth pointing out that to be able to extend trust and love, while probing and inquiring (and even challenging) perspectives is the “sweet spot” we find ourselves in.  I believe that were this the standard approach to public conversation, we could not only handle any of the tough questions facing this society – but we could work through them!

For complicated reasons, we seem increasingly unable to do that as an American people – nor do many of us expect that capacity to grow in the days ahead.  So, once again, thank you again for the tender mercy of this experience talking together.    

Yet I confess to feeling misunderstood here a little, Tom – especially one point that often threatens whether this kind of conversation is even possible.  That is, as soon as it becomes an issue of “defining away” identity or “erasing existence” it’s pretty much game-over as far as productive conversation is concerned (and no wonder!  Why would anyone want to engage in a conversation where one’s identity or existence itself is threatened.  If that were the case, I don’t blame you – or anyone – for politely drawing some lines).

But is that really what’s happening here?

Not at all.  I’m not interested in “defining away” your reality – or mine – as much as exploring the competing ways we might interpret it. Yet this other dichotomy keeps coming up, going something like this:  “Either we embrace on face value the prevailing narrative of LGBTQ sexuality as incontrovertibly true, unchosen and good or we go back to the dark days.”

I keep wanting a third alternative – and proposing terms of a conversation where that would be possible.  In the spirit of the very agency and freedom we’re both trying to preserve and promote, Tom, I don’t see either of us wanting hypothetical (and non-hypothetical) boys and girls in the faith to have only one choice:  Either accept this as who you are and grapple with the fundamental challenges that imposes on your life in the gospel – or wrestle and try to fight this the rest of your life.

Your third alternative seems to be something like this:  “Accept this as a beautiful part of how God made you – and stay confident and hopeful at your ability to follow Christ and His covenant path.”

I would only add:  “And you can welcome this aspect of your experience without labeling it either as fundamentally ‘who you are’ and indicative of your eternal future.  What you’re experiencing is here – and you don’t need to be scared of it.  Neither do you need to pretend the feelings or sensations are chosen (they’re not).  But yes, the way you make sense of it all will be your choice.” 

Can you see how what I’m proposing differs from the “sexual identity was chosen” ideology you speak of from the dark days?

Not only am I joining you in critiquing the impatience and coercion of the dark days and the judgmental impatience (“tap our toes waiting for them to wake up and shape up”), I want people to have space to adopt a story that differs what they’ve heard from others around them (so I’m not arguing “to refuse to credit any sexual identity other than heterosexual”).

All of this seems a relevant backdrop to your question, “do we find any example of Jesus doing likewise in His earthly ministry?”

No, I don’t see him impatiently pressuring people to shape up; but yes, I do see him earnestly entreating them towards spiritual rebirth. Although I would agree Jesus met people where they were (and are) – you would agree, he didn’t leave them there. In his incredible love, he drew their heart and mind to seeing new possibilities in their own inner world.  So, in my reading of the scriptural text, brother, at the core of Jesus’ message was an invitation to deep and profound change internally…for all of us.

In summary: I’m not calling for a return to darker times – nor suggesting pain is all “of someone’s own making.”  Nor am I saying sexual identity is chosen. I’m saying one’s narrative of our internal world (for all of us) is chosen. That’s the conversation I’m proposing – not whether something exists or not.

Of course it exists! But how do we talk about it (among the many options available). That’s the question that gets overlooked – and passively (or actively) resisted…

Does that make sense? Understanding better what I’m not suggesting, I’d love to know:  does that still feel unsettling or something to fight?

T:  Thank you for continuing to press this.  I agree it is valuable to open up a range of individual ways to become all the Lord would have us be, indeed, I feel like that’s the point I’ve been trying to make by saying that we need to preach “the power is in them”, that we are agents to act, not to be acted upon.  Saying you’re gay doesn’t determine your life, you determine, by your choices, those things to which you will give highest priority and those you will assign lesser importance.  Is that a chosen narrative, in the way you’re proposing?

I resonate with Joseph Smith’s teaching that it will be a great while after we have passed through the veil before we will have learned all the principles of exaltation (History of the Church 6:306-307).  Not only is Christ not leaving us where He found us, He will be continuing to tutor us long, long after this earthly experience is in our rear-view mirror.  I look forward with the spiritual gift of hope in Christ that there will come a time when I will fully understand the set of experiences for which I use the shorthand term “gay” within the context of the Plan of Happiness.

Since I currently lack that clarity, I want to believe, I choose to hope, that embracing an identity opens a wide vista of choice rather than circumscribing it.  That is congruent with the experience of my life thus far.  But, it is also true to say that while I have found and am finding great peace by trying to follow the divine guidance I perceive, I am also lonely and I yearn for that unique human comfort that comes from building a life together with a soul of my own kind.  There are times when my internal dialogue accuses me of being a double-minded man, or being unwilling to fully commit and submit my life to Christ.  I’m imagining that some who read this conversation will believe that voice in my mind is speaking truth.  And yet, I hope others who read it will understand that struggle as part of the one-day-at-a-time nature of this life, who will feel they don’t have complete answers to critical questions either, and who will feel a kinship, a desire to simply accompany and sustain.

So with all the love in my heart, Jacob, I suggest that you don’t know where that 13 year old kid’s journey will take him, whether he embraces or rejects a gay identity.  The greatest gift you give him is a forum, like this conversation, where anything can be discussed, where insights, life experiences, and revealed truth can be shared, discussed, dissected, examined, and where, in the end, faith requires us to admit we do not have perfect knowledge.  And where we acknowledge that loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, doesn’t produce homogenous lives.  Our experiences will be unique because we learn in individual ways, and His Spirit tutors each in personalized fashion.

If nothing else, that’s where you and I are in full agreement, that fighting over identity is a pointless effort, we need to explore the meaning we ascribe to our attributes, talents, desires, inclinations and fears.  I believe the value we offer to one another as siblings in the Divine Family is a willingness to see that each can choose to know the Redeemer within the construct of her or his own life, within and not in spite of, the way she or he interprets their reality.

J:  I definitely agree fighting over identity (or anything else) is mostly a pointless matter.  But talking intensely – even about disagreements – is not.  That’s my feeling.

You’ve mentioned several times in your conversation “queer people” or “trans people” or “gay people.” As I mentioned on our walk, I’m not personally persuaded when we stand before God one day (you and I) that God is going to say “welcome, my straight son Jacob…and my gay son Tom!”

I think he’s going to just call us His sons.

T:  I love your comment about how we will be greeted!  I don’t think He will need to identify us that way either, not because these aren’t critical elements of who we are, but because He knows every aspect of our lives, our circumstances, our challenges, how and what we’ve become.  Being gay isn’t a destination for me, though it is an important part of the vehicle that delivers me there.

Interestingly, though, you anticipate being greeted as a son.  Why not simply as “my child,” if we expect him to eschew all other identities?

The reality is that I was born into a family with parents deeply converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where love was abundant, where education was valued, and individuality encouraged, a family that was within the cultural mainstream of the United States of America, with both the freedom and the connections which fostered the ability to choose and to achieve.  All of those things play into how I see and understand the opportunity to follow Christ, and being gay is one of the factors that I believe influences the spiritual gifts and talents that bring meaning to my journey and allow me to act in the Savior’s name in lifting others.

J: Beautiful, Tom.  This helps me understand why you said earlier that  God “does not treat us as members of groups or classes of people.”

Rather than presuming (as has become popular to hear) that it’s “better to not use any labels or categories or groupings that divide us” – I wonder if these classifications fall on a kind of spectrum of importance.  If so, maybe that might help us wrap our head around these differences a little more?

To illustrate, if you spent a week trying to figure out who I really am, Tom, you might come away with notes like this:  “writer,” “mindfulness teacher,” “morning person,” “frisbee player,” “Karen Carpenter lover,” “afficionado for black licorice,” “wannabee farmer,” “father,” “husband,” “aspiring disciple.” You might even add “heterosexual” or “cisgender” to your list.

Obviously, a similar list could be worked up for you or any of the beautiful people around us. The interesting part comes in attempting to classify these groupings in order of importance.  Although we might agree on some things on the top of the list (father, husband, Karen Carpenter lover) – and other things at the bottom (black licorice, frisbee) – I suspect we’d classify “heterosexual” very differently.

I’m well aware of the argument that men or white people or heterosexual people don’t have to see these aspects of identity as prominent – because they don’t chafe against societal mores the same as women or black or gay people experience on a regular basis.

I do think there’s some real truth to that, Tom.  But it doesn’t feel like the whole truth to me.  If what we’re after is unvarnished, complete reality, it seems to me we’d have to acknowledge that our different belief and philosophical systems also significantly influence how we prioritize these categories or groupings of identity.

On one hand, from a more orthodox Latter-day Saint view, of course, all human beings have the potential to progress along the covenant path as children of God. No identity distinctions – not male/female or black/white or married/single stand in the way of that – including those who identify as gay, in sharp contrast to larger rhetoric that exists.

That rhetoric doesn’t arise from nowhere.  Within more of a leftist, progressive framing, categories of “black” or “female” or “gay” represent far more than just a distinctive element of one’s person or experience.  They represent core demographics at odds with the reigning structures of white privilege, patriarchy, sexism, and heterosexist/heteronormative around us everywhere.

Although Christians have well-developed understandings of a fallen (and yes, often brutally oppressive and unjust world) around us – and while many Christians have interpreted their theology as mapping onto a liberation Marxist narrative – I resonate with Jordan Peterson and others who caution how the progressive narrative has taken this all a few steps too far:  especially in the degree to which these narratives invite fundamental suspicion between individuals from various identity categories.

Thus, a female friend of mine sitting in General Conference can’t get past the fact that she’s hearing from so many “white, old, men.”  Or a black woman I helped support in her baptism into the Church shows up in the temple and feels deeply unsettled by the fact that so many white people are around her.

Why? Is it because “well, that’s just how a woman feels in a patriarchal structure…” or “that’s just how a black person will feel in a white society”?

OR have both of these women embraced a particularly accusing narrative that primes them for suspicion, discomfort and ultimately, perhaps, estrangement from the Church of Jesus Christ itself?

You know what my answer would be.  I’m curious whether, in this case, you might actually agree.  Does any of this resonate with you, Tom? You get the final word here.

T: You’ll be sorry for letting me have the last word!  It is a distinction without a difference when a sister feels some degree of alienation or “other-ness” because she’s embraced an accusatory narrative, or because the reality really is marginalization; the impact on her is the same.  I can understand your point, that helping her to find a narrative that does not prime her for suspicion or discomfort or alienation, is a deeply loving effort.  I can imagine that this sister would embrace the opportunity to gain skills useful to her goals.  But if you and I are going to be truly loving, we also need to address the factors that are in operation around her: that being a minority in any culture, especially when the majority attribute has historically been seen as better, more righteous, or more intelligent, is hard, and it’s neither fair nor in alignment with Christ’s “meeting us where we are and helping us become more” approach.

So let’s do both things, let’s offer additional perspectives that can expand an individual’s emotional, behavioral and spiritual toolkit.  And let’s change how we have acted in the past toward those who are different.

Let us be among those who witness pain and acknowledge the reality of that pain.  Let us sustain and accompany another with our ration of love, our desire to see and comprehend.  Let’s add our prayers and our faith to all of our brothers and sisters that Heavenly Parents will succor, and our witness that our Savior has experienced, every feeling of their hearts and every voice in their minds.  And let’s eliminate racism in our own hearts, let’s eliminate misogyny in our own characters, and let’s eliminate bigotry in our own lives.

This summarizes, I believe, our conversation: you and I both believe that we can play a constructive role in the life of another, that our compassion, our desire to lift, our willingness to say “I don’t know”, can be a worthwhile way to demonstrate our loving neighborliness.  And even though we have different ideas of how best to put the spiritual gift of Charity into action, we each are doing the best we can consistent with the guidance we perceive to bless the lives of those around us.

J: And to that, I can say wholeheartedly, Amen!


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