I was driving on Interstate 15, very near the 600 South exit in Salt Lake City, on Nov. 5, 2015, when I first learned of changes to Church handbook policy regarding same-gender couples and their children.
My co-worker spoke quickly. I could tell he had run to the telephone. He did not have all the information, but had heard that the Church would “not bless or baptize children of LGBT parents.”
“That can’t be right,” I said.
I pulled off the road and read a news article that I found on my phone.
Then something happened to me. First, I questioned. Then I cried. I called my husband and told him the Church, for the first time in my life, felt unfamiliar. He listened as my mind rushed.
Finally, we determined to put my doubts in a theoretical box and deal with them at a later date. He insisted on that day, that we choose faith over fear.
I returned to the office and wrote a Church News article on the policy.
A few days later on Nov. 11, my cousin — who is gay — called to talk about my mother on her birthday. He mentioned the policy, but I had stored my feelings away in the theoretical box and did not respond. Women in my Relief Society also wanted to talk about the policy, but all I could do was quote the Church’s statement. My high school friends got together for lunch and for three hours they talked about the policy and our testimonies. “I have a box,” I told them.
We choose faith over fear.
To this day I remember how it felt when, on Nov. 13, 2015, I read a First Presidency letter clarifying in the policy (“Our concern with respect to children is their current and future well-being,” they wrote) and again when I watched a video interview of Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking about the policy (“This is about family; this is about love and especially the love of the Savior,” he said). I also remember learning that Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles loved and supported many in the LGBT community as a stake president years earlier in San Francisco.
This year I cried again when President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, announced April 4 that children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptized in the Church without First Presidency approval. I realized that while in my box, the issue had changed for me. Understanding had come slowly and completely.
Church to allow baby blessings, baptisms of children of LGBT parents, no longer defines same-gender marriage by a member as ‘apostasy’
Yesterday as I sat in the BYU Marriott Center and listened to President Russell M. Nelson speak at BYU, I quietly rejoiced. It wasn’t that I needed clarification on the policy; that had come years and months earlier. It wasn’t that I had felt a prophet’s love for me and the 19,000 young adults in the Marriott Center and others across the globe; though that was powerful. And it wasn’t that the Church which felt unfamiliar on Nov. 5, 2015, now felt like the only home where I could or would ever safely reside, even though it did.
President Nelson explains LGBT 2015 policy, asks young adults to pray ‘if we truly are the Lord’s apostles and prophets’
It was a simple, profound thought that consumed me. I knew it was true. President Nelson had given me a pattern that had eliminated my need for a box. I understood God’s love and laws.
I knew five truths: 1) God loves me, His daughter. 2) Eternal laws direct my life and are simply true. 3) Great blessings and happiness will come to me as I learn and live by God’s laws. 4) Prophets and apostles speak for the Lord and will always teach those laws. And 5) I can know all these things for myself. A loving caring Heavenly Father — and those who lead His Church on earth — weep when I weep.
I don’t need a box.
If I could return to Nov. 5, 2015, my prayers would be different. I would simply ask my Heavenly Father to know if the prophets and apostles had sought His will regarding His law. I would ask to feel His love for me and for my LGBT friends and relatives. And then I would wait — knowing that it would work. As President Nelson once taught a prominent professor who asked about the laws governing the heart and as he taught all of us Tuesday: “It always works, because it is based on divine law.”