For those of you who haven’t seen the Northern Lights blog, it’s a blog devoted to faithful LDS first-person perspectives on same-gender attraction. Several of the guysÂ over at Northern Lights have posted on their interactions with the production staff of Helen Whitney’s The Mormons, and there are some interesting items to note there.Â The decision to make Trevor Southey the film’sÂ sole example of same-gender attraction in the context of our faith was a head-scratcher for me, since our basic position regarding same-gender attraction isÂ mostly verifiable:
Notwithstanding your present same-gender attractions, you can be happy during this life, lead a morally clean life, perform meaningful service in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with your fellow Saints, and ultimately receive all the blessings of eternal life…
Same-gender inclinations may be very powerful, but through faith in the Atonement you can receive the power to resist all improper conduct, keeping your life free from sin.
I have lamented in another post the glaring absence of our Christianity in The Mormons:
The thought struck me after the PBS documentary, and from reading the stories here and in other forums of people who have left the Church for one reason or another, that in these peopleâ€™s stories, that language of â€œI knowâ€ or â€œI knewâ€ is missing, and with the exception of Grant Palmer, I do not see in these stories language expressing a conviction centered in Jesus Christ, or more specifically, in the Churchâ€™s concept of Jesus Christ. What are more common among â€œdissenters and exilesâ€ are expressions of a lost sense of community they miss (Margaret Toscano), or memories of having felt like they were a part of something larger than themselves (Trevor Southey), or, as Tal Bachman expressed, memories of a sort of mindless zeal.
How is it that people spend years and years in the Church, and when interviewed for a nationwide TV program on the Church, they find in unnecessary to speak to the core claims of the Church regarding the Atonement?
Over at Northern Lights, we have people actually trying to apply their understanding of the Atonement in the face of same-gender attraction, and being told by Whitney’s crew that their stories are not “emblematic enough,” and so forth.
Am I wrong for thinking that LDS folk who live with same-gender attraction and stay in the Church by developing an understanding of the Atonement are a group that has much more to teach an audience about our faith than those who leave? I don’t mean that in a disparaging way at all towards people who have left our faith- to give a similar example, if I wanted to learn about Islam and how people with same-gender attraction negotiate their life experiences with that faith, I imagine I would have a lot more to learn about Islam’s appeal from those who stay in that faith and can articulate the reasons why, than people who have left it.
To clarify, I really did like The Mormons.Â ButÂ I reallyÂ wish it had gone further in exploring the sentiment expressed by Joseph Smith:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”