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Elusive Unity at BYU — A Conversation with Tom Christofferson and Patrick Mason
Elusive Unity at BYU — A Conversation with Tom Christofferson and Patrick Mason

Faith Matters



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Today’s episode was a tough one, to be honest. In the aftermath of a speech that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave recently to faculty and administration at BYU, we try to explore and understand why the message created such a firestorm. Among other things, the speech raised anew the Church’s longstanding challenge in speaking to LGBTQ issues.

If you aren’t familiar with the speech that we’re talking about, don’t worry — we give a little more context once the discussion starts. The full transcript and video of the speech are available on the Church Newsroom website.

Most of the work we do in this podcast and at Faith Matters, generally, is to provide a forum where difficult issues can be explored in expansive ways through real dialogue and understanding, in a spirit of generosity. Doing that can be tricky on topics which feel particularly polarizing and raw. We are really trying to “broaden the circles” of our culture and community to help them become as expansive and inclusive as they can be—both for those who already feel super comfortable at Church, and for those that are trying to find a place to fit in. We definitely don’t always do this perfectly, and we’re sure we didn’t in this episode — so we really appreciate the grace we hope you’ll extend as we navigate this tricky territory.

As conversation partners, we brought on Patrick Mason and Tom Christofferson, both of whom have been close friends and advisors to Faith Matters for a long time. We felt like their perspectives would really help to round out both the theological and personal aspects of this issue, and we weren’t disappointed. We found their insights both realistic and reassuring, and as always, they modeled a Gospel and a Church that we’re proud to be a part of.

Aubrey Chaves:

Okay, Tom and Patrick, thank you so much for doing this with us. I really do mean that, this is a heavier conversation and we really have a lot of respect and appreciation for the fact that you would show up and be willing to be in the arena and help us navigate this big topic. You both are such expansive thinkers and you’ve done so much work loving and healing administering to the marginalized and it just feels like that’s such an important… all of those things feel so important for this moment right now. We really, really appreciate that you are willing to come talk about this.

Patrick Mason: Thanks, Aubrey.

Aubrey Chaves: It’s always good to see you. It’s so fun to see you guys. I’m going to give a little bit of context for anyone who doesn’t know about Elder Holland’s talk, and I’ll try to just be really brief. But just in case you haven’t been on social media at all, or missed the whole thing. On August 23rd, so just a couple of weeks ago, Elder Holland went to BYU and he gives this speech to BYU faculty staff and administration. He spends the whole first like half of the talk just expressing so much love for the university. He reminisces about his love for the university as a kid, and then as the President and his own experience at BYU. Then about halfway through… and he really he talks about BYU’s unique mission and how it really should be a peculiar university in the best way. It should really stand out and be different, and that is BYU’s unique mission.

Then about halfway through, he shifts gears and he starts addressing LGBTQ issues, and specifically, the way that he is concerned about faculty not defending the faith the way he’d liked to see, or its doctrine and policies on marriage and family. This is really the part of the talk that has been troubling for a lot of people in our community over the last couple of weeks. Tim and I are going to try and ask you the hard questions, ask you the questions that we’re seeing being asked and hope that our listeners will extend a lot of grace because this is a charged topic. I know it’s one of those things that you can get pushed back no matter what you say. We’ll do our best to ask the questions that people are asking and just appreciate all of your thoughts about this.

So maybe to start could you both just talk about maybe if there was anything in the talk that actually did resonate with you? Because there were a lot of… he expresses so much love for the LGBTQ community and so much love that it really did feel genuine to me, his love for BYU, and for the marginalized populations. I don’t want to jump right to the things that were problematic. Maybe we can just spend a minute and would you talk about anything that resonated with you or that you really did appreciate about about his speech? Patrick, do you want to go first?

Patrick Mason: Sure. I agree with you, Aubrey, there was a lot in this speech to love and it was characteristically Elder Holland, right? With just this profuse outpouring of love and admiration for BYU and for all the good work that goes on there. I absolutely share all of that. BYU is my Alma mater, I’ve got two brothers who teach there, I’ve got a ton of friends who teach there. It was so important in my formation as a college student in terms of taking on big ideas. Some of the biggest thoughts I had ever thought up to that point happened in BYU classrooms. But also in the context where even if faith wasn’t being talked about explicitly, it was always in the room, and a lot of times it was explicit in terms of connecting secular knowledge with spiritual knowledge.

It was just it was invigorating. I just had a great experience there, and in a lot of ways, it set me up for the next quarter century. I look back on that with real fondness. I think BYU absolutely plays a crucial role, both in American higher education. I think there’s this little group of serious religious schools that are also serious about research and teaching. Baylor and Notre Dame and my other Alma mater, and Wheaton and Pepperdine, and a handful of these schools and BYU is right there. It’s such an important place and higher education that has become increasingly secular in recent decades for BYU and these other schools to say, “No, we’re a place that takes spiritual knowledge seriously and you can integrate these two.”

That’s the challenge, but it is a challenge. It’s really tough to do. I think what Elder Holland was trying to do is to get the faculty and staff and administration to rise to the challenge. Not that they haven’t, not that this was news. But reiterating just how distinctive the mission is. I love that part of it. I love that challenge. I don’t know if we have all the answers. There are some real tensions there in terms of how to do the balance? But I think we absolutely have to, both to serve higher education, but most importantly, BYU exists to serve the church. The church has gotten so much good out of BYU, not only out of its graduates and the way that it’s sent them out and had successful careers, but every successful and mature religion needs a place where the thinking gets done. BYU was one of the places where, not the only place, but it’s one of the important places where the thinking gets done for the church. I share Elder Holland’s just love for the place and care for its distinctive identity and mission.

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, love that. Thanks, Patrick.

Tom Christofferson: I think what you’re talking about there, Patrick, that balance, I loved at one point when he was reading what I believe was from a current professor at the university, but his thoughts about the experience. He, in that letter, is talking about a Emeritus Professor, John Tanner, who’s had such an impact on the university community. He said he, John Tanner, knew scores of passages from Milton and other poets by heart. He had verses of scripture float, if anything, even more freely from the abundance of his consecrated heart. I thought that was such a beautiful way to see what he’s trying to talk about, about that balancing of the mission of BYU in the life of a professor who has had such impact on so many people.

I also, and Aubrey you referred to this, I felt like in the whole speech, his emotions were very close to the surface about his love for BYU. Then as he also talked about that he and many of the brethren spent more time and shed more tears on the subject of LGBTQ members that he could adequately convey and they spend hours discussing doctrine on the subject. As he said that, it brought tears to my eyes and certainly made me think about my experiences during the time that I was a member of the Ward in Salt Lake City that Elder and Sister Holland were members of, and the opportunities there to be a recipient of their many kindnesses and compassion and the goodness that they represent in their outreach to everyone.

Not just the church as a whole in general conference, but really two individuals in their own ministry, personal ministry, that we felt so profoundly as members of the same ward, their kindnesses there. It reminds me that Elder Holland, in my lifetime, has been one who has had such a gift for bringing into focus the often unseen, unheard members of the church. So that the whole church can be more attuned to different experiences, and that the love that we feel can be broadened and deepened.

Tim Chaves: Yeah, I really felt all those things too. I’m another proud graduate of BYU. I think Aubrey you’re the only one that is not.

Aubrey Chaves: [crosstalk] Patrick.

Patrick Mason: Which means of course you would have the best education.

Tim Chaves: Wait a second, I thought you just-

Tom Christofferson: Thank you, Patrick.

Patrick Mason: They pay my bills right now [crosstalk].

Tim Chaves: That’s fair. That’s fair. No, but I feel largely the same way and I was really resonating with that portion of the talk too. It seems just every time we drive down through Provo, it’s a special place, BYU. It does have a unique even just feel about it. I really love a lot of things about it. It seemed that when Elder Holland made the transition into the parts that he referred to as the same sex challenge, he was, obviously, he was focusing in on where it seemed like he felt, or maybe the brethren, more broadly, felt that BYU is in danger of diverging from its unique mission. Obviously, that’s where a lot of people felt that there were some problems with what he said. Like Aubrey alluded to, there was a an immediate firestorm on social media and elsewhere due to his comments.

And many of the takes that I saw and read and heard and talked about were from straight people, either allies or defenders of the speech and of Elder Holland, generally. Tom, I felt like magnifying voices that are actually directly in the LGBTQ community to talk about how the speech made them feel is really important. I would love if you would take a moment to share what you felt as you listened to that portion of the talk and what you’ve seen, read, heard from other friends in the community?

Tom Christofferson: I think as we start that, it’s important to say that the intended audience for Elder Holland’s remarks here is essentially an audience of church employees. But the way it’s publicized, it comes across almost like a devotional general conference talk that is intended for a larger audience. So many of the feelings I had or that others had were really from a broader perspective, and yet he’s speaking in a narrower one and I want to acknowledge that. That I am perhaps taking some of his comments to my heart in a way that he didn’t intend. But there were really four things, and I’ll try to do this briefly, that I think struck me and other LGBTQ members of the church and especially students of BYU.

The first is when he began by reading a letter from a concerned person who I gather is a parent of former students, or something like that. Suggesting that they no longer want to send their children or their dollars to BYU, presumably, if it is a welcoming place for LGBTQ students, staff and faculty. Many parents of LGBTQ students reached out to me and to others and said, “Boy, I feel the same way. I’m really worried about sending my kids there because I don’t want to put them in a place that perhaps is going to be hostile to the reality of their lives, or that will somehow discourage them from really discovering how, as children of heavenly parents, they can embrace all of the identities that are meaningful in their lives.”

That I think gets to the second point, which is that what felt like a scornful reference to Matt Easton’s valedictory address two years ago suggesting that he commandeered the ceremony to announce his sexual identity. Obviously, that’s a pretty painful example of one with authority calling out or demeaning one without the power differential that is a challenge. But also I think that one thing Elder Holland has always done so effectively, again, is to ensure that when he’s speaking, he leaves room for people in all their individual circumstances to not feel he’s demeaning them. This felt contrary to that, but I was also struck by the fact that any prior valedictorian of BYU who has mentioned his wife or her husband with appreciation has announced their sexual identity.

Tim Chaves: Good point.

Aubrey Chaves: Good point.

Tom Christofferson: What’s so different? In some cases we’re saying, “Well, if you are in the majority, please say what you want, and if you’re in the minority, your comments will be heard in a way that’s divisive.” That, again, I absolutely don’t believe he intends that, but that can be the feeling of it. That somehow if my experience is not shared by most people, if I speak to my own experience, then somehow I’m introducing an element that others can see as divisive. I also was struck by whatever Matt’s current engagement may be with the church or not, I don’t know, but it stands in comparison as Matt talked about an appreciation for the experiences of BYU that helped him in spiritual growth and in a healthy acceptance of the realities of his own circumstances, of his sexual identity. Stands in contrast to, and Aubrey you mentioned this, the term that Elder Holland used of same sex challenge.

Aubrey Chaves: Oh, the challenge, yeah.

Tom Christofferson: We hear that language that being gay or trans is a challenge or an affliction. I don’t believe it is, it’s simply a reality. That reality, I believe, is neither morally positive nor negative. Elder Holland said that any… he used the example of being gay is not a release from commandments or an exemption from commandments. I agree, there is no exceptionalism in the gospel in that sense. But that gets to a critical point, which is I think what we want to do is use our efforts and our energy not to dispute someone’s identity or suggest they hide it or only speak of it in these very limited circumstances. But to say that every single one of us has the opportunity to make the choice to follow Christ. That’s the most important choice in our lives.

That’s where I think we should be spending our energy to talk, not only to students of BYU, but everybody else we encounter. Which is how is it that we are accepting that challenge, making that choice to work to follow the savior more diligently on a daily basis. I also think that when Elder Holland said that BYU’s mission, presumably with regard to the marriage doctrine, means foregoing some professional affiliations and certifications, then so be it. That’s not a gratuitous comment, and it’s really likely that specific schools within BYU will lose national certification, absent any changes.

The feeling of his comment to LGBTQ listeners, I believe, certainly I felt it to an extent is that the educational scope of BYU can shrink, the membership roles of the church can contract. Convert baptisms in developed countries can continue to dwindle in order that no change to current teachings about marriage would happen. That I think was the most challenging message or sense of the remarks that the LGBTQ members of the church and their families and those who love them might’ve come away from.

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, that was a really comprehensive answer. Thank you.

Tom Christofferson: Sorry.

Aubrey Chaves: No, that was so great. One thing I wanted to ask you in particular about, just reaction wise, one thing that I’ve seen floating around social media a lot was just this idea, especially from straight members of the church defending Elder Holland saying, “He expressed so much love, he expressed so much love. Like it wasn’t that bad. You could see how sincere he was and he wept.” That comforted me a little bit too. I appreciated that he seemed like this was hard to talk about, but I talked to someone else who is LGBTQ and who felt really different about that exact point that it was, actually, it was the tears and the expressions of love that actually were the most difficult to hear because it was such a mixed message.

So, for him, it felt like… I’m going to say what he said, which is abusive. It felt like it was something very harmful mixed up with a lot of love. That, to him, felt damaging. Like he felt that was the hardest part. I don’t know that that’s how everyone… and obviously that’s not how everyone experiences that, but have you heard that sentiment expressed and could you talk about how maybe that’s being received by other people in the LGBTQ community?

Tom Christofferson: Yes, and I think that relates to the fact that so many have seen Elder Holland as this just so conspicuously caring and compassionate, empathetic person. And perhaps because the remarks were delivered by him, it came across in a way that felt even more painfully. I, again, I think we want to talk about the message, and not the messenger, except for the fact of this is a person that we all admire who has just had such great impact on all of us, and his expressions of love are absolutely genuine. I don’t think there was anything about that, that was contrived or intended to, I don’t know, soften a message in some fashion.

I think he was really genuine there about the wrestle, and that wrestle continues. I think the challenge again is that we don’t want to be loved only as we suffer, or only as we’re afflicted. We want to be strong and healthy and active disciples of Jesus Christ who are healthy in our own understanding of ourselves and the reality of our lives, and to be able to share love and receive love in a wholesome healthfully way. Not just as an object of pity.

Aubrey Chaves: Thank you, yeah.

Tim Chaves: Sorry, Aubrey, were you going to say something?

Aubrey Chaves: Well, I was going to switch gears. I have a Patrick question, so if you have anything else?

Tim Chaves: Oh, no, please go ahead.

Aubrey Chaves: Okay. The thing you mentioned Patrick about every church needs a place for their thinking to be done. That’s such an interesting thought, and I can see that, that is the case. It reminded me of the article that Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote for the Tribune. I think she was actually quoting another alumnus, yeah, Michael Austin. He said, basically, the same thing he said, “It’s great for a church to have a think tank where everyone has PhDs and that’s where their thinking can be done. But that isn’t how universities work.” BYU can’t be the university or the church’s think tank. So could you talk about that, and how do you make both of those things work? Is it even possible to truly be intellectually honest if you are supported by a church that you’re being asked to defend?

Patrick Mason: Yeah, that’s great. I agree that I thought the Mike’s quotes that he shared in Peggy’s article were really useful. I’d recommend people to go back and revisit those. Part of it has to do with what professors are hired to do, and what we do as researchers. Research isn’t really research if you already know the answer, and that’s called confirmation bias. The scientific method, and however it’s applied, whether in the hard sciences or in the humanities or in history, like I’m in. But the idea is you have a question that you don’t know the answer to, and you go out and gather data and you apply theory and you do a rigorous examination, oftentimes the data conflicts with itself. It’s rarely straightforward.

And using the best tools that you have available and all of these different disciplines, whether it be chemical engineering or history or marketing or whatever, we’ve all developed different disciplines that we applied to this to try and structure the knowledge, structure the kinds of questions, and the process that we go through to generate knowledge. Well, then we follow where the data leads. Sometimes we usually go into it with a hunch or a hypothesis, and sometimes the data confirms that, and sometimes it surprises us. Then we publish the findings, and the idea is that we publish findings that in, and then any other researcher could come along and could test our findings and contest our process. Either come up with the same results or at least see how those results could be determined.

If you begin with the answer in mind and then work backwards from there, that’s not research in any recognizable way in the academy that’s developed since the middle ages. These are long time tested methods that we have to create this knowledge to create expertise. I think from a faculty perspective, what Mike Austin said, he says that becomes propaganda. If you’re saying, “Here’s what the party line is, now go support it. Now go find things to fit that preconceived narrative.” That’s not what we do at universities. That’s not what we do at BYU. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we’re in the truth business, and we have an article of faith that talks about that.

So we’re not afraid of the truth, and so we will follow the truth and we can find lots and lots and lots of scriptures and quotes from church leaders that speak to this. That’s one of the things I love about Mormon theology, is the expansiveness of it, the willingness to it, and calendar and incorporate scientific knowledge and philosophical knowledge and religious knowledge, even if it comes from other traditions. All of this, as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and other leaders have taught, that’s all Mormonism. That’s what should be going on at the Lord’s University is the pursuit of truth. Sometimes truth forces us, sometimes our research forces us to rethink the way we think about the world. But that’s a good thing, right? That’s why we have the modern world that we live in.

Sometimes we get answers that don’t make sense, and sometimes other researchers come up with other answers that are different. Within fields, we have competing things all the time. That’s fine, and so we work that out. But we don’t start with the answer in mind. Academic research is not a game of jeopardy, you don’t start with the answer and then work backwards to the questions. There are tried and true methods that we need to follow even at BYU, or it’s actually at BYU, actually.

Tim Chaves: Yeah. Okay, can I challenge you on that just a little bit?

Patrick Mason: Yeah.

Tim Chaves: Because I feel like BYU, in general, in many of the scientific fields, we do a pretty good job with that. In the more “Mormon studies” sorts of fields, I feel like… and this is even going back to a talk that Elder Holland gave at the Maxwell Institute. Maybe it was a couple of years ago, I think. It feels like there is more of a direct call to apologetics or beginning with the end in mind. I have a hard time seeing BYU publish evidence that doesn’t say or that doesn’t bode well for Book of Mormon historicity, or for the characters of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. I feel like maybe it’s like, “Okay, we’re going to be a scientist. We can follow that tried and true academic method for a large lots of things.”
But then there’s this specific field of faith where maybe we do end up a little bit, or start with the end in mind a little bit more. Elder Holland quoted a letter that he received from a parent that credited a BYU specific department and its faculty with, she said, the destruction of her friend’s faith. I’m just wondering like is it reasonable for a parent to expect a child or whoever to go to an academic institution and say that they’re going to be challenged… because that’s what you think of when you think of the modern university, is their thoughts and beliefs are going to be challenged. Is it reasonable or appropriate to say, “You’re going to be challenged in all these ways, but you’re going to be affirmed in this one way.”

Patrick Mason: Well, I don’t think it’s reasonable for any of us to send our kids to BYU in order to be insulated from the rest of the world and its ideas. Then what’s the point, right?

Tim Chaves: Yeah.

Patrick Mason: BYU is the place where we engage the world and its ideas, and we do so from the perspective and the foundation of the restored gospel. That’s very different than sticking your head in the sand and pretending like all these issues don’t exist. Pretending like the scientific research isn’t out there, pretending like some people don’t believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and here’s the reasons why? No, BYU should be precisely the place where we talk about that. That should be precisely the place where in religious education classes, they say, “You know what, there are a lot of people who do not believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon, both from skeptical and even sometimes from faithful perspectives. Here’s what the evidence suggests, here’s why I believe, and here let’s make some arguments for the historicity or whatever the issue does.”

The church has already done this with the gospel topics essays, and you say, “I can’t believe the Maxwell Institute publishing anything to do with speak negatively or with the problematic aspects of the church’s history.” Well, the church did this itself. The church published essays, they speak very forthrightly about all kinds of difficult topics in church history. Actually, we have a great model coming out of Salt Lake in terms of that we’re not afraid of the truth. We’re not going to run from the facts. We’re going to present them and then we’re going to talk about them, and then BYU is precisely the place where we should try to make sense of them. This notion that the professors are running around radicalizing their students, I think most professors would love to have that much influence.

But the reality is kids come in, they take a few notes, or pretend to while they’re looking at TikTok in class and then they walk out. Like who knows what’s going on in any particular classroom or in any particular professor’s office? Certainly, I have no doubt that there would be cases where sometimes things like that have happened. But if you look at the faculty and look at what goes on there, I think you see the vast majority of faculty who are very mission supportive.

Tom Christofferson: It reminds me I was talking to some of the professors, friends of BYU, who mentioned this letter that Elder Holland read, and said there is no one on the faculty of BYU who’s filed does not contain letters from parents who were upset by something their kids said that professor thought. It’s sometimes it’s that you’re too conservative and you’re too liberal, whatever it might be. But, I don’t know, and so I think every person, just as we are there, is doing their very best to follow where the spirit leads them. I think that’s the point of BYU, is to have the very best scholarship we can find led by the spirit as we seek through as much different information, different perspectives as we can to see where the spirit will lead us.

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, and so it makes sense that this idea becomes the most charged around LGBTQ issues. I think because people are really trying to figure out if they think that the church is going to ever move here and they’re recognizing the discomfort in either their own lives or the lives of people that they love. I think there’s this idea that you can go to this university and have these really healthy debates and feel this out for yourself. I think, for a lot of people, the speech felt like a warning to stop doing that. He talked so much about this, about unity and how next to reaching perfection, the next best thing would be being totally unified with the prophet.

He talks about a house divided cannot stand, and it just was like this constant call to like be one and to trust and to be unified with what the prophet is saying. Maybe that it gets fuzzy because historical issues don’t seem quite so inksy right now because it’s over, and we can have these interesting conversations about it. But LGBTQ issues are happening right now and are really affecting people’s lives, like in real time. I understand why people feel like they’re hanging on every word that he said, and trying to…I have one good friend who was really trying to analyze like, Is what I’m doing considered condoning? Is there any way that I can switch the words in my mind to make this feel like I’m not technically condoning or advocating?”

I empathize with the pain that she was feeling because she wants to be unified with the profit, the way Elder Holland was challenging everyone to be. At the same time, she is really recognizing that she’s not sure she is. She’s not sure she is in alignment. Can you talk about this idea that… and I don’t know who wants to answer this, but the difference between healthy disagreement that creates progress and continues the restoration forward versus a divided house that is falling apart?

Tom Christofferson: Well, that sounds like a good Patrick question.

Patrick Mason: Well, I’ll start and then you can cleanup, Tom. But, no, I think it’s a terrific question. I think it’s a question we have to grapple with. I think so much of it has to do with the intent behind it, with what is in somebody’s heart, and to what end? Look, disagreements are natural, conflict is a natural part of life. Conflict is built into creation, conflict is built into relationships. Conflict itself is neutral, and in fact, can be put to positive and constructive use. The issue, and what the Lord warns us against and what is destructive to relationships and to societies and to the Kingdom of God, is what Christ calls contention in Third Nephi 11. That’s where we approach conflict with anger and with recrimination and with cynicism and with an intent to harm, an intent to tear down.

That’s what Christ warns us against and says is of the devil in his language. That’s very different than simply disagreeing. For whatever reason, as a culture and as a people especially in the United States, I don’t know so much globally, but we’ve developed this Mormon nice thing. There’s a lot of passive aggressive part of it. A lot of it is real kindness, and I think people from the outside who encounter it or who are so struck by it, that they don’t understand that actually it is rooted in fundamental kindness and decency and compassion. But it can be passive aggressive, it can also be we are experts at conflict avoidance. As a people, we are generally very poor at engaging conflict in healthy, constructive ways. It’s one of the things we have to grow in as a people and individually.

I think this is of these areas where we have to. Because here’s the thing, and I’ll just say one more thing and then toss it over to Tom, the conflict in the church right now is real and present and unsustainable around this issue. we have our own Zion canyon right now. Where on the one side, we have the prophets and apostles teaching doctrine, which is their prerogative. And we sustain them as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their calling to do so. Part of that doctrine that they declare is the doctrine of love and the doctrine of compassion, but it’s also doctrines around sexuality and around marriage.

On the other side of the canyon, we have the real experiences of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers who are, as Tom said, they’re not only in pain, but there is a lot of pain. Looking across the canyon, it’s hard to know how we would ever bridge that. In the middle of that canyon is just a ton of pain and confusion and hurt, and it’s felt on both sides. There are some people just lobbing artillery shells back and forth, but there are a lot of people who want to build bridges, who want to find a way to bridge that gap and aren’t sure how. I’m convinced that that’s where the work of Jesus happens.

I’m convinced that as Latter-day Saints, right now our calling is to somehow find a way to build a bridge over Zion canyon, and to find a way to bridge these things. The scripture that I always come back to is in Ephesians Chapter 2 where it says, “Now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ for he is our peace in his flesh. He has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us. And so he came and proclaimed peace to you who are far off and peace to those who were near.” That’s the work of Jesus and then that’s our work. There are so many people who feel far off, who feel near, it looks like an unbridgeable divide. It looks like there’s all this hostility, there’s all these dividing walls.

Right now where we’re at is unsustainable exactly for your friends, her sentiment. I think a lot of us feel this. How can we sustain the prophets and apostles and how can we love our sisters and brothers? It seems impossible. That’s the challenge that we have before us. I don’t think we have the answers yet. I think we’re looking for conversations like this. The conversation’s there, but the prayers that have been said over the past two weeks, the prayers that Elder Holland said that he and his brethren and the leadership offer daily, that’s how we’re going to get there. Because the Lord’s going to give us more revelation. We’re not there yet.

Where we’re at right now, we can’t stay here because the gap is too big. Our job together is to fill that canyon. I hope we fill it with compassion and love and discipleship and trust and all those kinds of things. But it’s going to take a little patience as we seek the Lord’s revelation.

Tom Christofferson: I think that’s profound. I think what we always have to be focused on is the savior, the reality of Jesus Christ and the his salvific mission from assigned by our heavenly parents for our good, for our behalf. And that is the framework of everything we’re trying to understand. As you’re talking about it, Patrick, I’m thinking about the ninth Article of Faith, that the promise that God will reveal more. I think that we all have a role in that. That, obviously, prophets in formulating the questions and the heavy lifting of pondering and searching and trying to solicit viewpoints.

But also I think each of us in that we don’t tell the Lord what it is He needs to reveal. We pray that our lives are such that He will feel to reveal more, that we’re doing our very best to live what we have and desire a larger picture. A better understanding of the scope and that our hearts and minds will be prepared for whatever He chooses to reveal whenever that might be. In that process, I think, again, we each may see things from the perspective we have with the experiences we’ve had and have ideas about how progress could be made. But I think we want to not be so wed to our own points of view that we’re not ready to hear something that the Lord will say with His obviously much larger perspective and understanding.

I also think that we can look at our history and say, “Okay, how have we understood conflicting views in the past and how has the Lord enlightened in those circumstances?” I was reading a chapter of a book by Matthew Harris called the LDS Gospel Topics Series: A Scholarly Engagement, and he was talking about some teachings around what might be called a doctrine of whiteness. But he he talks about the fact that from Brigham Young [inaudible] and many apostles or prophets, and prophets, have, in private letters or conversations or even in published pieces, shared their personal view that in the next life, everyone would be white. We certainly wouldn’t believe that or teach that today, but that was, for 100 years, a view at least of many. I’m not saying that was the majority, it certainly wasn’t all.

But some very influential voices, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce McConkie, and the others. I’d say that as a single gay man, others have lovingly said to me that in the next life I will be straight. I think we have heavenly parents who delight in variety and I think that variety is beautiful. I feel the loving when somebody says that they have found happiness as a married person whose gender is clear. There’s no conflict between the gender they feel in their spirit versus what’s evident in their body. But I’m not sure that, that exact way of being happy will be the way everyone will be happy. Perhaps we could allow that the variety and diversity in a common framework of desiring to follow Christ and to each day become more diligent and effective as his disciples isn’t suddenly going to make us the exact duplicates of everyone else.

That in fact the variety of our experiences of perhaps our intelligences actually allows us to reach others perhaps in ways that some of those experiences different might not. I feel like the Lord can use us in all of our variety to be useful tools for Him, and perhaps that will continue into the next life.

Tim Chaves: Yeah, that’s beautiful.

Patrick Mason: Yeah, that’s exactly, Tom. God doesn’t want clones, but he doesn’t want aights either. That’s what the church is supposed to do, and that’s what we’re supposed to figure out is how do we find unity in diversity? While, at the same time, not turning our diversity into identities that overshadow our unity as children of God, and that’s a real tension.

Aubrey Chaves: That seemed like something Elder Holland is specifically is worried about. Let me see if I can find what he actually said about flags. He seemed as concerned that there are symbols that are more divisive than unifying, and I guess he didn’t specifically say pride flags or pride parades, but he said flags and parades and symbols and language that is divisive. Maybe, Tom, could you talk about how you see these symbols? Like does it feel divisive? Do you recognize it as a big platform that is meant to set someone apart, or just how do you feel when you see a pride flag at BYU or anywhere?

Tom Christofferson: It struck me when when Matt Easton gave his speech and called himself a gay son of heavenly parents. The response of his peers in the Marriott Center was thunderous. I don’t think that needs to be divisive. I think as we love each other, we desire that each person will fill the measure of their creation. We’ll find all the attributes and capabilities and talents and gifts that they’ve been given and find joy in those and find joy in sharing those. Put those at the service of the Lord in a desire to lift those around us. I don’t feel like a pride flag or a parade is meant to be exclusive, I think it’s meant to be celebratory, and that’s why there’s an audience at a parade. That we celebrate with those who are marching and in the joy of recognizing talents and gifts and experiences that can bring joy and diversity and variety and beauty to the world.

The experience certainly I would… Let me just personalize it a minute to say in my own experience, I have felt like that being gay was a reason for me to seek even more diligently to draw closer to the savior. I felt like I needed to know that he knew me. His awareness of me, his understanding of my experiences, and each of us, I hope, have that experience because of the different experiences in each life. Then, for me, it was being gay that led me to it or gave me greater impetus to push harder in that sense. Others will have their own. I think, again, there’s so many different ways that we each experience the world, but each of those experiences can be used in the service of the Lord. I don’t think we need to be afraid of the fact that we each have experienced his love through the lens of the lives that we live.

Patrick Mason: This is a great time, okay. Can I just share a quick story about these symbols, and especially, about flags? I think it gets at the heart of the tension here. We moved to Logan a couple of years ago, and we’d only been here for a couple of weeks when we went on family vacation. When we came back, we came back and drove and pulled into our driveway and saw that there was a big pride flag flying in our front yard and I was like, “I don’t remember putting it there.” Then my wife said, “Oh, yeah, I think I signed up for… I’m going to out myself for the Cache Valley Democrats.” I think it’s pride week and I think they were going around and putting flags in people’s yards if you gave a donation or something like that.

I was like, “Okay.” We got home and unloading and what we’re thinking about is like, “Okay, what does this mean? We just moved into this neighborhood, in Northern Utah, we just moved from Southern California. Nobody knows us, and now all of a sudden we’ve got a pride flag in our yard. What are people going to see in that?” Now my wife has a gay brother who’s engaged and it’s been a big part of our family life, and to see him happy as he embraces his identity and finds a partner. On the one hand, so my wife is like, “We want to fly that flag to support my brother.” But we also have this tension like, “What will the neighbors think?” That we were going to come in and spread our California values or whatever in peaceful Logan.

We decided like, “Well, let’s not make any waves. Let’s take the flag down.” We took the flag down that night and then 24 hours we didn’t feel good about it so we put the flag back up. Later that week, our neighbors who were just getting to know us, a couple of them were like, “We saw the flag come down and then we saw it go back up and we didn’t know what’s going on?” They were confused and we were confused. It’s because, yeah, the same symbol can mean totally different things to different people. In so far as it was flying in our yard, for us, it was an act of love and solidarity for Melissa’s brother and for all of our gay friends and family members.

Other people could see that as a threat, as a divisive thing and so forth. That’s the tough things about symbol. We wanted to put a plaque out in front next to the flag like, “This is why we are flying the flag.” But that’s not what… you don’t get to do that with symbols. I think it’s generational, largely, pride flags and rainbows and all those kinds of things. What oftentimes older Americans see as divisive, younger like millennials and gen Z, they see those exact same symbols as the most inclusive symbols that are out there. The opposite of division, so symbols are tough.

Tom Christofferson: Maybe you could get an Angel Moroni to be on top of the flagpole.

Patrick Mason: Out of his compass. Appears to be coming out a rainbow or something like that. We need to-

Tom Christofferson: No, and I hear you. That’s, really, that’s a great point of somebody that feels really unifying and supportive and inclusive to me can indeed feel divisive to somebody else. I think it’s what you said before that the need for us as we strive to feel the love of the savior in our hearts and to convey it to transmit it to others around us. Part of that I think is listening and really trying to absorb the goodness of the people around us and not judge by symbols, but to take the opportunity to know their hearts.

Tim Chaves: I think it’s important to… Thank you both so much for sharing your thoughts on that. I think it’s important to talk about one of the portions of the talk that maybe raise the most eyebrows, which was when Elder Holland specifically called for disciples and defenders of the faith. I think the words that he used, “To have a trial on one hand and a musket in the other.” He called for, specifically in his words, more musket fire from this institution in regards to defending the faith. I want to be very clear and disabuse anyone of the notion that we think that Elder Holland was actually calling for violence of any kind.
It was very clear in the talk that he was speaking metaphorically. It was clear that what he really wanted was for academics and those at the institution to use their skills to to defend the church and to uphold the institution that’s upholding the institution to BYU and those that work at it. That being said, obviously, a lot of people saw some problems with that language. Patrick, in particular, I know that you’ve done a lot of work and research as a proponent of nonviolence. I’m curious really for both of you, how you took that, and in general, what rhetoric like that can mean in a community and just your thoughts on it?

Patrick Mason: Yeah, so that was a really hard part of the talk for me to hear. As I’ve talked with people or been on social media, I’ve seen that for a lot of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, that was extremely hard because this is a community and many individuals within it who have been victims of very real violence. Certainly, rhetorical violence which continues and I think about the things I said all the way up through when I was at BYU joking with my friends and the rhetorical violence we used and homophobic slurs and so forth, and I’m deeply ashamed of that. A lot of that rhetorical violence still happens, but there’s actual violence. There are gay and lesbian and transgender and bisexual children and adults who are victimized by real violence in this country, and especially, around the world every single day.

To use the language of violence, even if it’s metaphoric, in connection with this message about the LGBTQ community, I think it was… I completely agree with you, Tim, I’m sure Elder Holland would be… he’d be the first to be horrified if anybody used his language to justify any kind of violence against any of our brothers and sisters. But I think it was inartful, at the very least. This is the thing, the language we use matters, and it’s certainly true that scripture and the teachings of prophets, our hymn books, they are full of violent imagery. It’s not just Old Testament stuff, the Book of Revelation, the New Testament has this. The Book of Mormon, the doctrine and covenants, the Lord speaks in some pretty strong and sometimes harsh language.

We have this kind of language, we sing onward Christian soldiers, these kinds of things. We know that most of that is metaphorical, but we also know that it’s contributed to real violence throughout history. It seems to me that we, each of us individually and then also as a community, we have a choice to make. In his last sermon to the Israelite, the Lord through Moses said, “I set before you life and death, therefore, choose life that you may live.” I think we have this in the language of scripture, in the language of our hymns, in the language of our church leaders, we have peaceful language and we have violent language, “I set before you life and death, choose life.”

I think we can choose language that is full of life. We can choose language that is non-violent. It doesn’t mean you have to be wimpy about stuff. You can speak very strongly, you can speak very firmly, but without using the metaphors of violence. It’s hard to do, we use it all the time. We say, “The Yankees annihilated the Red Sox last night or something like that. It’s just part of our everyday discourse. But I think we need to be thoughtful and intentional about it as disciples of the Prince of Peace. Will the words coming out of our mouth point people towards peace and towards love and towards care and compassion? Maybe this is an episode where maybe all of us think a little harder about the language we use in our everyday life, and especially, when we’re teaching gospel principles.

Aubrey Chaves: I can imagine someone pushing back a little bit about this idea that Jesus is only the Prince of Peace. Like we have scripture that you could read maybe just as convincingly that would justify this idea of a warrior God, like a fighter, angry warrior God. How do you reconcile both of those and why do we get to choose the peaceful God?

Patrick Mason: It’s a great question, Aubrey, and so this is… So I’m going to plug my book that’s coming out next week-

Aubrey Chaves: Nice.

Patrick Mason: … which is called Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict. Actually, we have a whole chapter about this question of God’s violence. I’ll give you a very brief answer here, is that, yes, absolutely. I don’t believe that we can just pick and choose and just pick the Jesus we like. I think we have the whole scriptural record, we have to wrestle with the whole scriptural record. But on this score, I would argue… and you’re going to have to read the book available in all fine bookstores. But I would argue that whatever language or instances we have of divine violence is reserved to God himself for a variety of reasons and does not give license to his children to do that kind of violence to one another.

I usually don’t like it when we fall back on my thoughts are not your thoughts and so forth. But there is a way in which actually God is in a different state of being than we are. To begin with, He gives us the gift of resurrection, which is something that I cannot give anybody. This is the reason why violence is such a horrific sin because we cannot undo it. We do not have the power to undo it. And God also just has a completely different calculation in terms of the way that He interacts with His children. I would make the argument that, yeah, we have to grapple with the whole revelation of God that we have in scripture. But even so, that does not… I would make the strong case, that at no point does that give us license to treat each other violently, and I would extend that to the rhetoric that we use.

Jesus says this in the Sermon on the Mount, not even to be angry with one another, to call one another fool. He’s clearly pointing to a higher holier way, not only of behavior, but of language that we use when talking about one another.

Aubrey Chaves: Wow. That’s such a good answer, yeah.

Tom Christofferson: Can I jump on that too?

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, please, Tom.

Tom Christofferson: Because I think it relates a bit also to Elder Holland’s comment again about condoning. Because I think if we look at the life of Christ in the New Testament, we see his endless patience with those who are outside. The demeaned, the suffering, the afflicted, whatever. But if we hear sharp words or if we hear him expecting more to those who have authority over others. Whose responsibility it is to care for others, and his comments to them, as I read at least, are about their failure to, frankly, act in his name to benefit those they are responsible to serve. I think there’s a commonality of that in the image of violence or the thinking about that and condoning, which is really it’s stewardship.

If we have stewardship given to us by the Lord over family, over calling for a season, whatever it might be, then I think section 121 comes into play, the reproving be times with sharpness. But, afterwards, showing forth an increase of love. I don’t think we can engage with the world for whom we do not have stewardship with sharpness. Because it’s not available to us to afterwards show forth an increase of love. I think, to my mind, that gets to the notion, my notion of condoning how I avoid it is by how I live my life according to all the light I’ve received, not by how eloquently I tell someone else to live their life. I just feel like this all comes together in that notion of how the muskets are so easily aimed at the meek of the world.

That would certainly not be the Savior’s desire for us, but I think we can share through our our lives the light we have received why we have a perspective that we may have. That, to me, is how we put forward our understanding and faith in and hope in Jesus Christ.

Aubrey Chaves: I love that, yeah. What would you say… I’ve heard people criticize faculty at BYU who choose to stay because there’s this line that’s been drawn that’s crystal clear now, and so the criticism is if you know this and you choose to stay, then you’re anti-LGBTQ. Do you think this is true, first of all, and why else might faculty and staff and administration choose to stay at BYU after a speech like this?

Tom Christofferson: Because they can serve.

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, like if they are affirming, like is there any reason to stay because they can stay?

Tom Christofferson: Yeah, and it’s not that you’re in there subtly undermining the brethren or our teachings, it’s a desire to lift and see every individual and help them in whatever way you can in their individual circumstances. I really dislike that notion if the line is clear, you’re either with us or you’re against us. I think the point is, as those who would be disciples of Jesus Christ, we want to be with everyone and to bring peace and his love to everyone. We want, again, to listen and learn from the experiences of everyone around us. It reminds me of that hokey old song like was it he drew a circle that left me out and I drew a circle that brought him in, or whatever.

It says [inaudible] what we’re saying is, yeah, you may say there’s a dividing line and I’m either in or out, but my desire as someone who wants to follow Christ is there is no dividing line. We are all children of heavenly parents, we’re all susceptible of receiving their influence in love and turning to them for healing.

Aubrey Chaves: I love that. I think this is the real heart of the problem. I don’t think that people would be talking about it still if this question was clearer, and that is just it feels like a dichotomy has surfaced and either you are affirming an apostate or you’re not affirming and you’re faithful. People are so uncomfortable because they’re feeling like they have to choose a side. I love this idea that like, “Or you can draw a bigger circle and choose where you fit.” Because I think that’s what I think people feel like tortured by that idea. That they just realized they were on the wrong side and they didn’t need to be of whatever side they’re on. I think that’s hope [crosstalk]-

Patrick Mason: It seems to me that these kinds of either or choices are usually false dichotomies. Again, it goes back to our usually unhealthy and uncreative ways that we engage conflict. We see it as two dimensional, we see it as either, or, and so then that leads us to either, or solutions. Life is usually much more complex than that, relationships are more complex than that. Certainly, being a disciple and being a member of the church is more complex than that. So we seek for both and solutions, and I’m pretty sure that our heavenly parents love the prophets and apostles and their gay daughters and sons. I’m pretty sure of that.

Tom Christofferson: And their gay non-binary children.

Patrick Mason: Exactly. So [crosstalk] that’s our challenge, and we haven’t figured it all out, especially, in terms of policies and doctrines and all this kind of stuff. But when we set these things up as either, or, we may be limiting the creativity that God often gives us in revelation.

Tom Christofferson: That really makes me think of a phrase we sometimes hear, which is what has not changed and what will never change is… and that’s been applied to this topic in the past. I feel like as beneficiaries of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph, the Revelator, the only time we should ever use that sentence is when we’re referring to the reality of Jesus Christ. That has not changed and will not change. But everything else is subject to greater understanding, broader knowledge, and light from heaven. I just I think we just got to stop. That we don’t divide the either ors, and we stop telling the Lord what He can’t tell us, yeah?

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah.

Tim Chaves: Yeah.

Patrick Mason: Or what he must tell us.

Tom Christofferson: Right, exactly, exactly.

Patrick Mason: All of this [crosstalk] Revelation have confirmed what we already think. You mentioned earlier, Tom, that sometimes we have to be open to being wrong. We have to be open to Revelation telling us the hard thing that we don’t like. I don’t know how you feel about this, Tom, but I never want to give people the false hope that we’re living in 1977. That six months or a year from now, there’s going to be we’re going to get an announcement from the President of the church where we do a 180 on this thing. Because, for me, I have no idea what the future holds. I absolutely believe that God has many great and important things to reveal to us, and this seems pretty great and important.

I have full expectations we’ll receive more light and knowledge on the subject, but I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what it looks like, and I don’t know what the timetable is. I never want to give people the sense, when I say that, I don’t want to be, “God’s going to tell us what you think should happen and He’s going to do it tomorrow.”

Tom Christofferson: It’s critical, we live in the developed world, so perhaps that’s the perspective we operate from so that I do. My sense is this is a critical issue for the growth of the church. Now I can be wrong, but in that sense, that’s I think why the Lord may yet reveal many great and important things that include this because it can provide opportunities for the expansion of the gathering to take place on a much broader scale that it seems to be constricted in right now. The other thing I think is that we talk about steadying the arc, I don’t think we need to be so dogmatic or so afraid that the Lord’s teachings will not stand, that we need to study them.

I think we, as our hope in Christ tells us, we know the end of all things. That every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. So knowing that I think we can say, “Okay, what is the way that I can live in this world today and love people whose perspectives and experiences are so different in a way that helps them to feel a desire to draw closer to the Savior?”

Tim Chaves: I really love what you both are saying and it really resonates with me, but I think there’s a stance too that says we have more doctrine than just Jesus is the Christ and doctrine doesn’t change. Like you’d say, “Okay, so what’s doctrine?” Maybe a standard definition is it’s what the first presidency in the [inaudible] 12 have taught consistently over time. I think one place where we can hold up an example of this, or not we, but again like bringing the argument from the more conservative side is to hold up the proclamation on the family and say, “Well, look, we’ve got doctrine on what marriage really means. Therefore, that is not going to change. It’s all you.”

People that think that there’s through their knowledge on this like, “Sorry, on this one, we’re a little set in stone.” Do you have thoughts on… Because I think there are people, to be clear, I think there are people that are proponents of that idea. But then I think there are people that don’t want to necessarily be proponents of that idea, but they don’t see a real way around it either. Do you have thoughts on that?

Tom Christofferson: [inaudible] you saved the hand grenade to the end here.

Tim Chaves: I’m sorry.

Tom Christofferson: I feel your [batteries], we are the Church of Jesus Christ, not the church of the family. So the centrality of our doctrine is Christ, and we believe that as we are a part of the family of heaven. I think the nuclear family is a little hazier for me in terms of where that fits in doctrine, but there’s no uncertainty about the family of heaven. I think that’s what I wanted to base my foundation on is that. I think when we talk about the doctrine of Christ, it’s repentance, ordinances, and endure to the end. I don’t know, that’s, I think, that’s a doctrine I want to focus on.

Patrick Mason: Yeah, it doesn’t take a PhD in history to know that we’ve not always consistently taught that marriage between a man and a woman is the only marriage ordained of God. I think we know that the shape of the family and teachings of the prophets and apostles about how that family structure relates to exaltation, those teachings have changed pretty substantially even within the short history of the church. Now some people would say, “Okay, fine, there we’re talking about numbers, we’re not talking about genders and sexuality.” Okay, but all that to say that anybody who would say that the doctrine of the family has been a constant throughout the restoration, not exactly.

I think Tom’s point is exactly spot on that the whole notion of ceiling is for the entire family of God to be sealed to one another and sealed to our heavenly parents. That is the family that our mother and father most want to reclaim and to restore. Our nuclear families, whatever that looks like in the next life. Again, it doesn’t take very long to figure out it gets real complicated like whose house does everybody live in? But the ceiling is about the entire family of God.

Aubrey Chaves: Yeah, I love that idea.

Tom Christofferson: During the time that I have, again, been a member of the church, we’ve had the November 2015 policy around apostasy of gay marriage and delaying of ordinances for children of those unions. The reversal of that policy, some really challenging messages in general conferences. But this one hit me, and I would say it’s already taken two weeks to feel like I have my legs under me again on this one, and partially because I love Elder Holland so much. But also because it just felt like doubling down again and again and again of that message that it feels to me I’ll use the word divisive since he used it in a different context. Through a lot of tears and prayers, I can come back to what Patrick began with, which is that our hope is in Christ. That as I can orient my focus on him, then things I can’t resolve, I can at least live with as I try to move forward and draw closer to him.

I’ve also had conversations with some LGBTQ siblings who feel unseen. I said, “Look at that verse in section 49, verse 8, where the Lord tells Joseph that he’s reserved to himself holy men you know not of.” I said, “If we are trying to follow Christ, if we’re doing the very best we can to follow the spirit each day and to turn to him for healing to each day strive a little harder to follow him more diligently, perhaps we are holy men and women that others know not of.” Maybe that’s not a consolation, but just like our faith is in Christ, I think our consolation is in Christ. If we are doing the very best we can and being willing to interrogate our souls as honestly as we can about our motivations.
But really trying to act in love for heavenly parents and savior and for all around us, that’s the best we can do. Whatever that looks like, and my best doesn’t look like your best and any of the rest of us. It’s in our unique spheres, we are the only ones with the Lord who can determine what’s best.

Aubrey Chaves: Thank you so much.

Patrick Mason: The one thing that I just have no patience for is if anybody takes any joy or pleasure, even secretly, in seeing some people leave the church. And doing so in a sense of, “Oh, here we are separating the wheat from the tares, and isn’t it nice that I’m wheat and they’re tares.” Go back to the parable, Jesus does not give us the right to judge the wheat from the tares. We use that parable in exactly the wrong way. The parable is all about you can’t tell who the wheat and the tares are. You can not tell. The only one who can tell is God at the end of time, and then He’ll do His work. He’ll figure it out. You have no right because you can’t tell.

So anybody who feels self-righteous or anything at any of this, I mean, we should be… If anybody who leaves or anybody who feels like they can’t worship among us, that there isn’t space among us, we should just be in grief, we should be in mourning. Remember what Paul says about the body of Christ, which we’re supposed to be. That, first of all, it includes all of the diversity of all of its members, just like Tom said, our heavenly parents delight in the diversity that they have made. But then Paul goes on to say that we give honor to the members that are least honorable. Not that they really are least honorable, but the members that have been given the least honor by the rest of us. Those are the members of the body that we should welcome in and embrace and pay attention to their gifts that we need in the rest of the body.

Aubrey Chaves: Well, thank you so much.

Tim Chaves: Thank you both so much.

Aubrey Chaves: That was just amazing. Yeah, every single point. Thank you. Thanks for being willing to be vulnerable and talk about something that is just hard. It’s hard to do it perfectly, and we really appreciate all of the work you’re doing.

Tim Chaves: Yeah, I’ll just say-

Patrick Mason: Thanks, it’s good to be with you guys.

Tim Chaves: … we love you, Tom, we love you, Patrick. You’re long time friends and advisors to us and we just can’t thank you enough.

Patrick Mason: Absolutely.

Tom Christofferson: Thank you for giving us the chance to process this with you.

Patrick Mason: Yeah.

Tim Chaves: Yeah.

Aubrey Chaves: Thanks so much for listening. We hope that you enjoyed this episode and that it was helpful in some way. We want to extend a special thanks to Tom and Patrick for coming on and for being so open with us. As always, the Faith Matters content is resonating with you. When you get the chance, we would love for you to leave us your review on Apple podcast or whatever platform you listen on. We read every review and it really helps us to get the word out about Faith Matters, and we so appreciate the support. Thanks again for listening. As always, you can check out more at

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