This is another in the Gay Gospel Doctrine Class series of posts that takes a lesson from the LDS Church’s (Adult) Gospel Doctrine class and presents it from a gay perspective. Today’s lesson is based on Lesson #38 in the Gospel Doctrine Manual and was prepared by UtahHiker801.
This week’s lesson discusses the further mission of Paul in Acts 21-28. In this section, Paul travels back to Jerusalem despite being warned by his companions not to go because of persecution and threat of death he would face there.
Paul goes to the temple and submits to the ritualized cleansing, at which time he is seized by the chief captain on accusations of teaching against the Law of Moses. Paul asks to speak to the people, and after being permitted, commences to bear his testimony of Jesus.
The lesson emphasizes the need to courageously bear testimony even at times which are challenging.
In relating this to gay issues, I think back to times when I’ve been in church meetings where homophobic things have been said and instead of speaking up against mistruths, I sat quietly because I was afraid that I would out myself by defending those principles which I have come to know to be true. When I say nothing, I end up feeling abused, marginalized and angry.
I believe this is what Paul is teaching us to do; speak up and defend our truths. Are there ways this can be accomplished with love and understanding?
I was serving in a bishopric at the time of Elder Packer’s now infamous speech (which I won’t rehash here). In our ward, following conference, the bishopric selects talks to be used for the 4th Sunday lessons for Priesthood and Relief Society. I was dreading the time for choosing the next several months’ topics because I didn’t want Packer’s talk to be used in any classroom or Sacrament meeting.
One of the challenges I was facing is that my bishop is oblivious to the angst caused by Elder Packer’s remarks. He sees everything as black and white, and can’t comprehend that someone could have a different outlook. Well, sure enough, a month later as we were going down the list of talks, he wanted to use Elder Packer’s talk for a future lesson.
I expressed that I thought that was a bad idea because of the way it was received. When that didn’t work, I finally asked, “Which gay members of the ward do we want to offend? We do not want to use this talk.” I was deeply relieved when they changed the lesson to a different topic.
I was grateful that I spoke up about this. It accomplished something small, but good. I recognize that I need to develop greater courage to express the truth about homosexuality when those with ignorant self-righteousness start making proclamations about people choosing to be gay, or that homosexuality is about selfishness, or they use the horrible condescending expression that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.”
Paul bore testimony to many people; some believed him while others rejected him. Nevertheless, he continued to do this because it was the right thing to do. We, too, have the opportunity to bear testimony of the truth we have learned and experienced. Some may open their hearts and come away with deeper understanding, while others may continue to reject. But I believe by doing so, we will gain from it by feeling empowered and not afraid. My hope is that we can all do this.