Monday, September 1, 2014

Double Standards

Yesterday I visited an old friend from my mission. We were always super close, and had great times together on our missions. He was the companion I was closest to. We were soo close that when issues came between us, all either of us had to do was say, "Hey Elder, we need to talk." Where ever we were, at home, in the car, anywhere, we would talk, and fix what ever was wrong. It was awesome to see him again, and true to form we had a great night. At the end of the night he opened up to me, and shared with me a few issues he is facing. He has made some mistakes with some girls he dated, and has spoken to his bishop. Being employed by the church, and attending a church school, he was in a tough spot. Any church disciplinary action could cause him expulsion from school and loss of his job. With that understanding, his bishop worked with him, allowing him to experience repentance without completely ruining his life. My friend kept his job and his endorsement. What a kind bishop.

As we were talking I could not help but think of what would happen to me in a similar situation. I attend a church school. I live in approved housing which is required to adhere to BYU's code of conduct. Conceivably if I fell under church discipline I could also be expelled, kicked out of my home, and left with nothing. With this realization I decided it would be a good idea to find out exactly what the honor code stated about homosexuality, and so I looked it up. I am going to summarize it, but the honor code in its entirety can be read here. To the straight BYU community the honor code states that "sexual not permitted." For the LGBT BYU community, the rules are significantly more constricting. The blanket term "homosexual behavior" is used here. Anything that "give[s] expression to homosexual feelings" is deemed inappropriate homosexual behavior. In short, holding hands with a guy, cuddling on a couch, even a gay date could be described as an honor code infringement.

Now, I want to return to the story of my friend, but I am going to put myself in his shoes. I have been on a few dates with a guy, one thing lead to another, and we ended up making out, an insignificantly minor mistake in the straight BYU community. What would happen to me? Assuming I tell my bishop, would he be fair, or would I lose my endorsement? If I had gone further than a make out session, what then? I don't believe that I would be given any leeway. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that I would lose everything if I were to violate the law of chastity with another man. It would not be seen as an honest mistake, a learning opportunity or a slight set back; it would be Satan himself manifesting through me and would be treated as such.

How can there be this much disparity between sin? Sex is sex right? Why is chastity grotesquely stricter for me than my friend? How can a loving God allow that? My opinion is that he doesn't. This is not God, it is man. The church needs to eradicate this double standard and begin living what is preached. If the plan of salvation is universal, and the commandments likewise, then let it be so.

I want to talk to my bishop. I want spiritual guidance and direction for my life. I want to be able to ask questions and receive answers, but I am terrified of what that will lead to. Once out there is no going back. I will always be seen as "at risk." I want help not shame.