Sunday, January 4, 2015

When God is no longer safe.

BYU is failing the LGBT Community. Trust me, I don't say that lightly, and I am not simply throwing it out here for shock value. I firmly believe that Brigham Young University is failing the LDS LGBT community, in fact, I feel that it is appropriate to say that this university's core ideal of helping students reach God seemingly does not apply to me and those like me.

Lets start with some background. Three months ago I wrote a post about a mission companion who had made some mistakes. (If you're new to my blog, or need a refresher, click here) His Bishop was everything you could ever ask for.....understanding, caring, genuine, and ultimately, this inspired man did all he could to help my friend. I saw this story as both a testament to the church, and a tragedy, the tragedy being that I could not expect or even hope for the same treatment with my bishop, as Homosexuality in and of itself is a few gray millimeters away from eternal damnation.

The time has come when I need ecclesiastical advise. I have made mistakes. I do things I know I shouldn't, and regardless of how I feel about the church I know that God has standards that I need to keep, and I know I am not keeping them. (Where to find those standards is the topic of another post.) Leaving the church is something I have struggled with, and I understand that it is highly likely that I will eventually leave the Church. That isn't a problem, the problem is that I do not feel myself becoming distant from the church, rather I find myself being distanced from God himself. I can live with out the church but I do not want to leave God behind. What I need is someone to help me, someone I can talk to about my mistakes, feelings, and struggles. This is where BYU comes in.

Most of the time at BYU I feel like the main character of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984; Winston. I feel like I am a threat to the perfect society to which I lukewarmly belong. Due to this feeling, no matter how much as I want to talk to my religious leader and find peace and understanding, I know with that decision comes the opportunity for my expulsion from school. Not just school though, my life. Provo is monopolized by this school and getting kicked out of BYU would also mean getting kicked out of my home and losing my job. My life would be left in shambles, and what would my crime be? Seeking to draw closer to "God." Recognizing my mistakes and attempting to fix them. For this reason I will continue to hide. I will do what I need to. I will lie. I will attempt to the best of my feeble ability to draw close to God, and go through the motions, because I want to keep my life. Leaving BYU, as appealing as that sounds, does not feel like the right path for me, so I will continue with my current path until I feel it is time for a change. I will continue going to church, studying, and standing up for my personal beliefs where and when I can. What I won't do is progress. A goldfish will only grow as big as its tank, and my testimony will only grow as far as the red tape surrounding it will allow it to. I don't feel comfortable discussing my challenges with the world, or with the church. I don't have faith that my bishop would be concerned about my eternal welfare as much as he would be concerned about notifying the proper authorities. Instead of focusing on repentance and improvement I see him focusing on investigation and reprove.  Maslow's Hierarchy of needs states that until someone's basic needs are satisfied, they will not be able to worry about self actualization. Self actualization refers to personal growth and progression, something the Church does very well at. To me, that religious self actualization will uproot my safety and security. By forcing me, and many other LGBT individuals into a situation like this, BYU fails. How can someone grow spiritually if the very steps the need to take to do so will violate their personal needs? It won't happen.


  1. What if you can grow spiritually with steps that don't involve human ecclesiastical power? "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39.

  2. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I don't have any advice as I didn't attend a private church school, but I can relate to how you're feeling right now. A lot of us have your back. :)

    How much time do you have left at BYU?

  3. I have very similar feelings, and I as well have written a blog post about them. Similarly, I fear for my academic standing, my job, and my housing contract, so I can't publish it until after graduation :/

  4. Sadly there are many who are in the same situation as you, many who have been in that situation in the past, and obviously many more will be in the future. The nice thing is that you do have a place to vent or share what you feel you need to. No judgement from us out here in the blogosphere.

    Be careful, don't do anything that would get you kicked out. As you already know, the consequences are more than just having to pick a new school. When I explain to people how intertwined everything is in Provo, they don't believe me, but I know a guy who was expelled. When he got home that evening, he had a notice on his door evicting him from his apartment. Also his work called him and told him not to come in since it was an on-campus job. When did they choose to expel him? Two weeks before finals. Nice! So he gets kicked out on the street, no where to live, no job, no school. And he hadn't told his family he was gay yet. I just kept thinking, "Yes, this is EXACTLY what Jesus would do!"

  5. This is one of the biggest flaws of the church and it's employees. I wish there was an environment where we can ask questions without fear of retaliation. Hmm, maybe like Joseph Smith. Keep moving and stay strong, in what ever decision you make.

  6. While I do not have any experience with a church school, I have lots of experience with the inconsistencies that spew forth from the mouths of "inspired" men. Not only am I certain that my current bishop is not inspired, but he's not even a decent human being. I have never and will never meet with him about my standing with the church/God because I know that the words that come out of his mouth are his own. I have heard him, from the pulpit and while officiating in ordinances, mock and malign good people publicly. Every single 5th Sunday discussion we have had since he took office a year ago has been about not getting offended because he is so overtly offensive about even the most innocent acts of others and he has the nerve to tell the entire congregation that we need to get tougher skin because he can't change who he is. But you can be sure as hell that he would want me to change everything about who I am.

    Some days I really want to believe that the church is true but if the local leaders are clearly not inspired of God, how far up the chain does it go? If no one is aloud to question or look deeply into things, what is there to be hidden? Why does the "one true church" need such robust marketing and PR departments?

  7. "Most of the time at BYU I feel like the main character of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984; Winston. I feel like I am a threat to the perfect society to which I lukewarmly belong. Due to this feeling, no matter how much as I want to talk to my religious leader and find peace and understanding, I know with that decision comes the opportunity for my expulsion from school. Not just school though, my life."

    Great observation and one that is shared by many of us who went through the same thing. Do what you need to to graduate. There's no shame in that.

    Once I came out and left the church I was slightly shocked by how right I was about the church and people around me. Everyone behaved exactly as I had feared. The ones who I believed loved me continued to love me. And the ones I was unsure about, who gave me reason to fear they would disown me or at best react with apathy did indeed live up to my expectations.

    As soon as you get out of school, however, do not hesitate a second for fear of how those without compassion will behave. They've never really loved you anyway.... and in my case I include the church in that category.