27 December 2013

Unworthy

I want to go to the temple.

There. I said it. Out of my system.

The problem is that I didn't know how to go. And trust me... it's a hell of a lot harder and more complicated than convincing the bishop and stake president to sign a piece of paper, and then driving to one of the four temples in the Salt Lake Valley.


I'm a Mormon. I'm a Mormon who's a Democrat, an intellectual, and a feminist, and a lesbian. That right there just put four road blocks down my path to "spiritual enlightenment", and I have no idea how to reconcile it. I'm the danger in President Boyd K. Packer's imfamous quote, "The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals."

The biggest road block is easily the fact that I'm gay. I believe that the Church has got it wrong on homosexuality. Like the Church's new policy on race, I believe that the denial of full fellowship to LGBT members is coming from a place of privileged bigotry. I have had personal revelation from God that tells me very plainly that I was born gay, and that it was absolutely something God intended. I was gay in the premortal existence, I'm gay in morality, and I will be gay hereafter. Easy peasy. But I can't be dishonest. Because I have had sex with a woman *gasp*, I need to go through the repentance process. Am I ok repenting for sex before marriage? Yes. Am I ok repenting for having sex with a woman, and promise to never do it again? Absolutely not!! I simply can't do that with good conscience. However, in the Bishop's eyes... this is a "cut and dry" example of not being repentant of my sins. And BAM. No recommend. No temple. And possibly a form of formal/informal Church discipline. No bueno.

But all of these concerns are things that are real to me. I have severe concerns, and disbelief about the Church's positions on homosexuality, and the ordination of women to the Priesthood. I have serious concerns about the Church's teachings to our Young Women about modesty, and how they are responsible for the "pure thoughts" of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders. I have serious concerns about the Church's lack of transparency about it's history. I have concerns about the Church's "worship" of Joseph Smith, and his portrayal of the most perfect man who's ever lived, when in truth, while inspired and called of God, he was a man with many flaws. I have doubts! And simply "doubting my doubts" isn't cutting it. They are not going to go away.

And yet the temple pulls at me. Everything aches when I drive past... knowing that everyone else around me can go in, and I can't. I've tried to ignore it. I've put it out of my mind, telling myself that it's simply something I won't get to have in this life. But I shouldn't have to resign myself to the fact that I can't go! Do I feel worthy? Yes! I respect my fellow brothers and sisters. I strive to do good in my day to day life. I help when I can. I pay my tithing into the Book of Mormon fund, and the general missionary fund. I sustain the leadership of the Church. I read my Sciptures and say my prayers. I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life, nor have I ever stopped feeling it. I know that I am worthy.

But it's up to 2 men to decide if I am. And I don't think that they'll rule in my favor.

20 December 2013

I Am Free At Last - Marriage Equality For Utah

It happened. I honestly didn't think that this would happen while I was still in my twenties, or even in my thirties... and I certainly never expected it to be within the year that DOMA was struck down.  But after years of fighting and getting ourselves out there... showing that we are normal members of society and that we have the same capacity to love and cherish a spouse and raise beautiful children, Utahns have gained the right to get married in the state that we love. Judge Robert J. Shelby, District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Utah wrote in his 53 page decision, "The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."

Couples are lined up at city hall in Salt Lake County, Davis County, and Cache County. Seth
Anderson and his husband Michael Ferguson were the first couple to be married, and in early reports it looks like over 200 liscences have been issued. Salt Lake City Mayer Ralph Becker has announced that he will stay all night if nessessary to perform marriage ceremonies.

Seth and Michael
 
Mayer Ralph Becker
 
I am so proud of my city!! I am proud to be a citizen of this great state.

The state of Utah has already filed an appeal from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and filed for an immediate stay of the ruling. As far as I'm able to see... a stay has not yet been granted, but we'll see if one comes through tomorrow morning. While it's disapointing, it was certainly expected. I hope and pray that the pathetic reasons that are being argued in support of discrimination, will be swept aside. And if they do stand, I hope they refuse to issue marriage liscences to couples who are no longer of child bearing age, and refuse to allow couples to have children, when they won't follow "responsible procreation" or be raised in "optimal child rearing enviornments".

When I heard the news, I was sitting at my desk at work, and immediately after I read the message from a friend alerting me of the news, I started crying. Tears streaming down my cheeks, and a huge smile spread across my face. I'm sure I looked like a fool. But it was one of the most monumental moments of my life.

The Church has also made a statement after the announcement, "The Church has been consistent in it's supporter of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court"

 
 
One day I hope that the Church I love so much will one day recognize the words of our Savior, quoted from John, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." It is also my hope that the leadership reads the declaration given by Joseph Smith on August 17, 1835 in the 134th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Verse 4 reads, "We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others..." Verse 9 reads, "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government..." We are a Church that has faced discrimination in the past, with a extermination order issused against us. We know, more than many religious and civil groups, the bitter sting of discrimination under the law.

Today, I am recognized as normal. I will be able to call my (one day) wife, my wife! I won't have to call her my "partner". Partner has always felt cold, distant, and not real. Now I can say I'm "married" without it being a lie. I'll be married rather than being eternally engaged to my girlfriend. I am now protected by law... laws without any pretty exceptions that they have to put in there so that people cannot deny me a home, or employment solely based on my sexuality.

I am free. No one can cage me now.

18 December 2013

Nostalgia

The best gift you can give a loved one is by far, the gift of a pleasant memory. 

I made my roommate go check the mail today... I was exhausted, and in bed, and I didn't want to move. When she came in, she handed me the gas bill, but she also handed me a package.  On the box, I recognized the handwriting for my Grandpa Romary's, and immediately a smile came onto my face. The last time I saw my Grandparents was on Spring break in 2007, and since then I treasure the phone calls and letters I receive. 

I brought the package inside, and when I opened the package, I pulled out the card my Grandma had enclosed. Tears streamed down my face as I read her words. She reminisced about us grand kids eating "poofies" (multi colored mini marshmallows) out of plastic cool whip containers and drinking chocolate milk out of Tom and Jerry jam jars. I remember those trips to Gram's house fondly. Enclosed in the package was a bag of those beloved poofies. I laughed out loud because it was so perfect, and unexpected. But as I kept sifting through the newspaper, to my surprise, there was a Tom and Jerry jar too. It touched me so deeply that she had sent such a special token of my childhood. It is so powerful that even now, the tears are welling in my eyes.

But perhaps more powerful, is the second gift she enclosed. Sitting inside the Tom and Jerry jar were two bells. They were given to her, by her father, on her wedding day in the early 60s. I don't remember my Great Grandpa Rainey. He died in 1994 when I was only four years old, and the only memory I have of him is a photograph that hung in my Grandparents' house. These bells had hung in her kitchen for as long as I can remember... I never knew their story, nor their significance. But she gave them to me, and no other gift can be given that is more precious to me than this.

"Regular" Christmas gifts are great... don't get me wrong. Last year, and the year before they were sets of beautiful winter hats, gloves and scarves. I love them, and I wear them often. This year it was a beautiful watch... One that I cannot bring myself to change from Central Standard Time in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Mountain Standard Time for Salt Lake.

But those poofies, bells, and the timeless Tom and Jerry jar out weigh them all. They always will. They put their unconditional love for me over their disappointment of my past actions and words. They put their love for me over the expectation to shut me out like my parents and siblings. Today they chose to see me as God sees me, rather than as my mother and father see me.

This year, Gram and Gramps sent me the gift of love. The gift of tender care and mercy. They emulated Christ. They followed His commandment to "love one another as I have loved you." By showing me Christ like love, they truly put Christ back into Christmas.

Thank you Gram... I love you.

11 November 2013

And The Lord Sayeth to His Disciples... Vote For Abi!

So... I don't normally do this... but eff it... doing it anyway.

My friend Abi Harrison is a comedian. And she competes against boys... because she's awesome. Right now, she is the ONLY girl, and is up against 29 other guys.

And she's in 3rd place. Because she's awesome. Duh.

So help a girl out! She's hilarious, and we need her to win. It's going to launch her career into high gear, and we need more women in comedy. You can only vote once a day, but you can vote everyday til next Monday. She's Mormon... but this ain't your BYU Mormon comedy. Vote for Abi!!

Here's her entry video, and the link to vote.

Here's some of her other awesomeness...






08 November 2013

I Need Feminism

I'm not a feminist because I think it's fun. I'm not a feminist because I'm gay, or because I like to stir up trouble. I'm a feminist because I feel unequal and marginalized in the vast majority of experiences and day to day life of being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I feel unequal when there are more a lot more men’s voices in religious texts, meetings, leadership positions, and decision making bodies.

I feel unequal when callings that don’t require the priesthood are given only to men: Sunday School Presidency, BYU, BYU-I and BYU-Hawaii Presidents, Church Education Commissioners, Ward Mission Leaders, recommend takers at the Temple, etc. (Similarly, men are not currently called in Primary Presidencies and should be.)

I feel unequal when women doing the same job are called by different titles (i.e. "the missionaries" vs. "the sister missionaries", Sister vs. President) and/or are accessories to rather than serving equally with their husbands, i.e. Mission President’s wives.

I feel unequal when I have a calling as an auxiliary leader and have to get approval of every decision by men and/or when I am not invited to attend Priesthood Executive Committee meetings (PEC) which directly influence my stewardships.

I feel unequal when my value is primarily linked to being a wife and mother rather than by being a child and daughter of God.

I feel unequal when the men in my life acknowledge that they have no female spiritual leaders in their wards or communities.

I feel unequal when women have less prominent, prestigious, and public roles in the church, even before and after child rearing years.

I feel unequal because even one of the most inherently female-dominated time periods, having a new baby, is publicly displayed at church in an all male ritual of the baby blessing.

I feel unequal when males handle 100% of the church finances.

I feel unequal when I am taught at church that my husband presides in my family, he is the head, and all things being equal, he still has the final say.

I feel unequal when people preach that men and women are completely equal and in the same breath say the above sentence.

I feel unequal when I realize that at church all men have the final say. Good leaders might consult with female auxiliary leaders, but ultimately even after being called to a position via inspiration, men still make the final decisions.

I feel unequal when cub scouts and boy scouts have a larger budget than achievement days and Young Women's and thus, they often have better activities.

I feel unequal when the Young Women and Young Men’s programs have such different manuals, budgets, activities, etc.

I feel unequal when fathers and mothers are encouraged to fulfill primary roles to provide and nurture, but only the fathers are given the freedom to seek out the best way for them to provide, whereas, mothers are told the best way for them to nurture—to be stay at home moms.

I feel unequal when men teach me that being a stay at home mother is the most important thing a person could do, and yet most of them do not do it.

I feel unequal when people do not emphasize fatherhood as much as they do motherhood and when we have numerous annual lessons on the priesthood and I’m not taught anything about the woman’s role as a priestess.

I feel unequal in primary when most of the lessons and songs are about men although most of the teachers and leaders are women.

I feel unequal because church disciplinary courts are made up of solely men and there are no female voices in the very sensitive matters of church discipline.

I feel unequal when women have to talk to men about their sins, especially sexual ones, and have no other church sanctioned options.

I feel unequal because most men, even inspired ones, can’t fully understand or provide enough resources for sexual abuse.

I feel unequal when young girls are taught about modesty and chastity from older men, especially because females make decisions about these things for very different reasons than males.

I feel unequal because many of the official church declarations and proclamations have no female input, regardless of how drastically they affect women.

I feel unequal when there are no checks and balances for females who experience abuse in the system. While abuse may be rare, it is terrifying that women have no resources to go to outside of the male hierarchy.

I feel unequal because the Relief Society’s autonomy was taken away and it became an auxiliary presided over by men.

I feel unequal when women’s financial autonomy isn't encouraged as much as men’s at church and/or church schools.

I feel unequal because men conduct, men preach, men speak. Men teach us how to be women.

I feel unequal because local leaders rarely use gender inclusive language even though church manuals and General Conference talks try to do so.

I feel unequal when men speak at Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings, but women never speak in priesthood meetings.

I feel unequal when there are very few women’s voices in our official correlated church manuals.

I feel unequal when women don’t pray (until April 2013) in General Conference and usually only give 2 or 3 of the many talks.

I feel unequal because men and women can be sealed to different numbers of people.

I feel unequal in the temple because women a have different script and role.

I feel unequal when female employees of the Church Educational System and temple ordinance workers are no longer allowed to keep their positions after they have children.

I feel unequal because we know very little about Heavenly Mother and her role in the Godhead and there doesn't seem to be any emphasis on the part of our leaders to pray and find out more about Her. I don’t know what my divine potential means as a female and that makes me feel less important.

I feel unequal because all of these concerns are mediated by male leaders and that they are only as important as these men deem them so. While most of our leaders are wonderful, there is very little in the structure or doctrine to prevent male leaders from misogyny or benevolent sexism.

I feel unequal when these gender inequalities are not acknowledged by leaders. It is difficult to be a female in a patriarchal church and we are trying our best to make it work. Acknowledgement of that difficulty would go a long way.

I'm a feminist because it emulates how Christ treated women. Christ refused to condemn the woman caught in adultry, and reminded us that we all are guilty of sin. Christ prefered Mary sitting at His feet listening and learning, rather than in the kitchen, slaving away with Martha. Christ treasured the widow's mite over the rich man's showy gift. Christ took time to engage with the woman at the well rather than shunning her. Christ first appeared to Mary Magdeline after His resurrection, rather than to His disciples.

Feminism looks like valuing women's opinions and perspectives, rather than passing them over for a man's opinion. It looks like valuing women who work outside the home, just as much as women who choose to be stay at home moms. Feminism looks like loving women, and accepting women as respected equals.

07 November 2013

The Life That's Waiting For Us

When I was 17 years old, my parents sent me to a residential treatment center to begin and finish my senior year of high school. The experience was not the worst experience of my life, but it tore me down bit by bit, inch by inch, until there was little left of the light, and strength of my spirit. It tore my self confidence to shreds. The experience taught me that no matter the pain or heartache I had experienced in the past, I was solely at fault for everything that had happened.



Observing the interactions with my family was telling as well. Very few letters, awkward and shorter than allotted phone calls, and being the only one whose parents did not permit them to go home for Christmas. I learned that I had
earned their tolerance rather than their unconditional love.

This is only one side of the story, and not a complete one at that, but it conveys accurately the feelings of my heart... Feelings from 7 years ago, and feelings from today.

During my time there, I developed the belief that God alone could save me. That God alone could heal my afflictions and mistakes. I believed that with enough faith, with enough devotion, I would be made whole.

This led me to the Church. I was yearning for truth in a way I had never sought before. I was entranced in the idea that righteousness brings blessings. And the only blessing that I wanted was to be made whole. To be made into the image that God intended. To see myself in the way God saw me. And it was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized that after two years of strict adherence to the letter of the law... nothing happened. My family relations were still non existent. I was still broken. I was still gay. And it only led to more self loathing, more self hatred, and more failure.

But it lead me to really open my eyes. That's when my search for truth took off. And the truth I found, while unorthodox and unexpected, was exactly what I needed.

I learned the truth. I learned that while I had done wrong, and that I was to blame for the vast majority of it, I was not to blame for all of it. I learned that my parents had done wrong, and they were to blame for some of it, but not all of it. My classmates, teachers, neighbors, friends, bullies... they were all to blame for some, but all. They were to blame for their words, and their actions towards me. I was to blame for my words and actions, and for all of the hurt that I caused. But I learned not to carry blame that was not my own.

From that day forward, I learned that healing was possible. I learned how to have compassion and forgiveness for my fellow men and women. I no longer looked for their faults, but instead I looked for their good. For their praiseworthy actions. I learned to recognize that all of us have done wrong. You. Me. Your spouse. Your dog. Some of those wrongs were done intentionally, but most weren't. Some of these wrongs were severely painful, and others were not.

Because Christ's Atonement is infinite, I've been able to forgive myself. I've forgiven myself for my lack of self control, and inability to think before I speak. I have forgiven myself for the wrong I have done. Because after all we can do, Christ's Atonement picks up the slack. When I drop to the floor in exhaustion and anguish, He picks me back up. He carries me until I have the strength to stand on my own. And on those marathons where I am too fat and out of shape to finish, He carries me to the finish. He is there. He knows me to my very core. He knows the intentions of our hearts. He is there.

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell

29 October 2013

Doubting Thomas

In the New Testament, we learn about the life of Christ, and of His Apostles. We hear of the miracles that Christ performed, and of the lives He touched. We learn lessons of love and service to others through His parables, and we learn to accept others through His ministry. We see the attributes of His Apostles... unwavering loyalty from Peter, and the unconditional love of John. But what do we hear of the Apostle Thomas?

The Gospel of John gives us the most information about Thomas. In John 11:16 the Apostles were hesitant to go back to Judea, where the Jews had attempted to stone Jesus. But Thomas, showing his devotion and love for Christ, says, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." He speaks again in John 14:5. Christ had explained that He was going away to prepare a heavenly home for His followers, and that one day they will join Him there. Thomas reacts by saying, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" Thomas wants to follow the words of Christ, but he was afraid that without Christ, he would not know what to do. He is loyal. He knows and loves Christ.

But we don't remember this about Thomas. What we do remember, is that Thomas was a doubter, and poor Thomas really gets put through the ringer for it.

 
Last summer, I performed with my Young Single Adult Stake for the work of "Lamb of God". Thomas is one of the main "characters" in the story, and there is a song, sung by Thomas called "Sometime We'll Understand". Here are some of the words from that song:

You've seen the Lord? You've seen Him risen? You've seen His hands, and touched His side, and you are certain? But I've not seen him. and I must see him. Until I've seen His wounded side, until my hands have felt His hands, I will not know, or yet believe...

 
Can you really blame Thomas? I can't. If I were in his shoes, I would have been just as skeptical... not because I don't believe that Christ is Divine, and the Son of God, but because the emotions and fear that I would have felt, seeing my Savior crucified, would have rattled my brain. Hard. So my friends telling me that they had seen Him... I simply would not have been able to believe it.

Does that make Thomas any less loyal? No. Does it make Thomas any less faithful? No. Does Thomas deserve to be remembered as a doubter? Absolutely not.


I love the Gospel. It is everything to me. But I doubt. I wonder about things. I wonder about many, many things. I wonder about the role of women in the Church. I wonder about what the Church says about the LGBT community. I wonder about everything. I doubt everything. Most of these doubts resolve themselves. Most of them are resolved because I "doubted my doubts". But not all of them.

Thomas doubted. But he was not shunned. He was not made to be less than the other Apostles. He was not told to "believe or else". He was accepted. He was welcomed into the fold. There was a place for him, because Christ made a place for him.

Christ Atoned for our us. He felt the struggles and pain we feel every day. He has felt the weight of the questions and uncertainty we bear. He knows the emotional turmoil we feel coming from all directions. He knows the skepticism, the hesitation, and sometimes outright disbelief that we feel in our day to day lives.

But Christ loves us. And just as He made a place for Thomas, He made a place for you and I too.

28 October 2013

Modesty

Modesty... let's talk about it.

Now... before you jump all over me about this, and start calling me an apostate and a whore (ok fine... most of you don't call me a whore), I'm all for people dressing modestly. Seriously. Cross my heart, hope to die (No needles in my eye though... those mofo's give me the creeps).

But seriously, all sarcasm aside... I love it when people dress modestly. It shows the world that you show yourself dignity and respect. And it generally means that you treat others with the same dignity, and the same respect. I'm all for that. Also... take note that I did not direct any of this exclusively towards women.

For me personally, I have always dressed "modestly". I had the strapless dress at Homecoming and Prom, and the occasional tank top on the beach to show off my rockin' body, but I had always been a t-shirt and jeans; hoodie and boardshorts kind of girl. Hell... it was my mom's greatest goal in life to get me to wear anything that emphasized my womanly curves.

 


What I find ironic, is that when I was in high school, the lack of bared skin labeled me as a prude. After I joined the Church though... those bare shoulders turned me into Potifer's wife.

The Church is obsessed with modesty. It is obsessed with what women wear, or don't wear. We teach our young women that they alone are responsible for keeping the "priesthood holders" clean and worthy, and that we alone are at fault when they look at us with leering eyes. We teach our young women that modesty is directly connected with their virginity virtue, and that their virginity virtue is directly connected with their marriage potential. We teach our young women that their virginity virtue is everything, and that if they lose it, they will be a chewed piece of gum, a shattered vase, a crushed rose, and a dozen other horrific analogies.


Stop it already!! Men know how to control themselves... and if they don't... well, there's something much more serious going on. And trust me... I know that beautiful women in bikini's are hard to keep your eyes off of, but if I can keep it in my pants, so can the guys. We are all taught about inappropriate touching and respecting others as kids. Those rules still apply throughout adolescence and adulthood.

I vividly remember one of my very first Sunday's attending my Singles Ward after being baptized. I was poor. I was SO poor that ramen noodles and goldfish with a glass of water had become the center of my diet. Because I was poor, and because of the circumstances in which I moved to Utah, I did not have much to my name. I had one three year old skirt that no longer fit, and I had a bunch of my famed hoodies and shorts. I had no church clothes. But I did have dress slacks. So I wore pants before it was cool. But it was NOT cool with the Bishop, the Patriarch and the Relief Society President who was counseled to "talk to me" about what's appropriate for the Lord's house.

I was mortified. And I stopped attending my ward. The missionaries went a little haywire, and so did my roommates who were just so excited to have a new convert move into their apartment. But I stopped coming. And I went to another ward where people didn't care.

Modesty isn't about the clothes you wear. Modesty isn't about your virginity. If you carry yourself with dignity and deal with your fellow men and women with kindness and fairness, then you are living a modest life. If you strive to live within your means, and not be flamboyant and ostentatious, then you are living modestly. Modesty is about the life you live, and the person you strive to be... and it has nothing to do whatsoever with the length of your shorts, or the covers on your shoulders.

16 October 2013

Just Be There

A couple of months ago I went to BYU in Provo, to help with a video that USGA (Understanding Same Gender Attraction) was shooting about suicide awareness among LGBT Mormons, especially those at BYU. Although I am not a BYU student, I went and participated, because this is something that I have dealt with in the past, and it's something that is important to me. Suicide rates are high among LGBT teens and young adults, and even more so when they come from conservative religious backgrounds. It needs to stop.

Stories like these, and talks like the one given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland in General Conference, will help us on this journey. Things are changing.

Without further ado....


06 October 2013

"Come Join With Us"

Yesterday I stood in the stand by line with over 300 women (and our male allies) for admittance to the Priesthood session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a bittersweet experience. I started my morning by watching the morning session of Conference, and eating breakfast with about 10 other LGBT Mormons. We were all in shock with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's address at the close of the Saturday morning session, and it touched me on a deep personal level. It prepared me for the activities for the rest of the day, because it proved to me that I was doing the right thing. The Church has a place for me.

I went home, and got dressed, and really mentally prepared for what was about to happen, not because I was nervous, but because I was about to make history. I was about to do something that I genuinely believed in, and it was something so many people in the Church look down upon, and claim to be apostate.

I went and parked at the Ballpark (1300 South) TRAX station, and got on the train to head downtown. I got there early so that I could listen to the rest of the afternoon session on Temple Square, and after the session I headed to City Creek Park on State Street and 100 North. When I got there, I saw over 200 women, active, worthy LDS women gathered, and ready to head over to Temple Square. I had some time to meet new people, and visit with my two friends, Bridey and Elizabeth. We were briefed on logistics, sang the hymn, "The Spirit of God", and had a prayer, and then we were off. We were off to make history.

By the time we left for Temple Square, we had over 300 women and male allies among us. As we turned onto North Temple, I pulled out my Scriptures, and started reading my patriarchal blessing. You have been blessed with a sense of right and wrong and with a willing heart to hear the truth and you are true to it. You will experience loving, tender feelings as the Lord visits you by the power of His Spirit to comfort you, to give you reassurance, and strength to go on in times of need. Those words sang true to me that day. I was truly doing what I absolutely know to be right. And it was exhilarating!

Once we made our way onto the Temple Square grounds, we got in the stand by line for the Tabernacle. It was real now. We were there. People started coming up to us asking what the line was for. On more than one occasion I replied with, "This is the standby line for admittance to the Priesthood session in the Tabernacle." Most looked confused, but then smiled and said thank you. Others however... they smirked, and looked me up and down, as if looking for the male genitalia requisite for holding the Priesthood. And then the Sister Missionaries came to call... three companionships total. The first two were pretty... hostile... in that sugary, sweet sister missionary way. But the third set as amazing... they listened, they heard me out, and they understand how hurt the marginalized groups in this Church are. It was missionary work at it's best. They listened. They actually listened.


It wasn't long until word came that we were officially denied entry to the session. It wasn't really surprising to me. We decided to turn and face the crowd of men walking past us... this way they had to look at us. And we walked up, one by one, to ask for entry to the session. Once it was my turn, I walked up to the man standing in front of the door, and said, "My name is Ellen Koester. I'm requesting entry to the Conference Center to hear the counsel of the Prophet and his Apostles." This man, replied, "As you know this is the standby line for men to enter the Priesthood session. It is for male members only."

That statement floored me. I was expecting to be denied, but I was expecting the reason to be because I don't hold the Priesthood... not because I don't have a penis. I looked him straight in the eye, and said ok... and paused to look through the doors into the Tabernacle before I turned to walk away. Soon after, they closed the door, pulled a red tape across the entrance, and eventually drove a mini garbage truck in front of it... as if they were expecting the well behaved women, who had been asking peacefully for entrance, to suddenly storm the building. We all soon gathered for a prayer, and to sing the hymn, " I Am A Child Of God", and we made our way back to City Creek Park. But not before noticing three men standing inside by the window staring at us. They didn't smile, they didn't show any sort of outward emotion. They just stared.

On the walk back, I did a lot of soul searching, and conversing with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To hear their personal stories was unbelievably inspiring, and faith promoting... I felt the Spirit more strongly than I had all day... with the brief exception of when President Uchtdorf spoke that morning. 

Conference weekend as a whole has been discouraging to say the least. But I am holding fast to the words of President Uchtdorf, "Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples is a strength of this Church." This taught me that my opinions and perspectives are valid, and that they are valued... even by the Church. "If you define hypocrites as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us are quite as Christ-like as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and sins to become better with the help of Jesus Christ.", and "If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come join with us." This taught me that although I break certain commandments, and have differing opinions about certain doctrines and practices within the Church, that I am valued. And that there is a place for me. I am Mormon... no matter what anyone else says or thinks. "If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed.", "If you are looking for a place of belonging come join with us." , "If you have left the faith you once embraced, come back again and join with us.", "If you are tempted to give up, stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here." He showed us that there is a place for us. He showed us that we are vital to the Church, as are our opinions and perspectives. He showed us that we were valued.

I am valued. I am wanted. My perspectives are valued. An Apostle of the Lord has asked me to stay. Many people have told me that I don't listen to the counsel of the Prophets, and that I should leave for the benefit of the Church, and the members around me. To them I say........ I'm listening. And I'm staying.





01 October 2013

I Support Ordaining Women To The Priesthood

I often mention my Catholic background in my day to day discussions about religion. Maybe it's because I like that it makes me different from my Mormon peers. I don't have the same pioneer stories about my ancestors, and unlike my generational Mormon peers, my family history binder is bare... there are just too many members if my family to find!

I still identify as Catholic in a way... not so much doctrinally, but culturally. I still attend mass on Christmas Eve and Easter, and on other holy days of obligation. I still light Advent candles and observe Lent... to prepare for Christ's birth, Atonement, death, resurrection and ascension. I will still make the sign of the cross occasionally after a prayer, because it helps me remember the three members of the Godhead; The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

In short, I still have a deep devotion to a cause that is no longer my own.

I feel this same devotion on the topic if women's ordination to the priesthood. I never considered myself a feminist until about 18 months ago. I was too scared of my homosexuality to think of anything else I could do to mock and displease God. And even now... as an advocate in the Church for the harshly marginalized LGBT community, I've slowly aligned myself with the Mormon Feminist movement, because it helps me feel like I'm not alone. I'm not the only person that sees the Church as an old (white) men's club. I'm not the only one who wonders why Heavenly Mother is frankly... Ignored. I'm not the only one who believes that religion has no place in government, and politics have no place in Church. I'm not the only one who sees inconsistencies in Church History. I'm not the only one who hears mixed messages in General Conference... "Love one another!" , "Tolerance is a trap!" I'm not the only one who has had doubts, and I'm not the only one who still has a deep and sincere love for my Heavenly Parents amid these doubts.

Should women be ordained to the Priesthood? I believe we can, and we should. I don't know if God meant the Priesthood to be for men only... Just like I don't know if the Relief Society should be for women only. I haven't asked all questions, but the question I have asked is, "What is required to be ordained to the Priesthood?" I don't have all the answers, but my I have received an answer... that you must be worthy, and willing to serve throughout your whole life. No mention of male genitalia. 

I don't know if women will be ordained in my lifetime. I don't know if women will ever be ordained. But I believe that we should. I know that I can worthily serve God. I know that I can serve worthily in the leadership of my ward, and stake. I know that God respects my devotion to my convictions. And that's why I stand with the rest of the women who tirelessly work for this cause. And on Saturday October 5, I will be standing in line at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, requesting entry to the Priesthood Session of General Conference. This cause no longer belongs to someone else. This cause is my own.


25 September 2013

Outer Darkness

If there's anything that I've learned from speaking and participating at Affirmation two weeks ago, it's that there are high emotions surrounding being gay in the Church. The workshop that I participated in was highly weighted in why we stay in the Church as LGBT Mormons, but there were many participants who expressed their concerns, and pain with staying in the Church. I'm someone who will defend the Church when it deserves to be defended. I am someone who finds the good in the Church when there is good to be found. But when there is no good to be found, I don't stay silent, and I don't go away. It's just how I roll.

Because I don't let up on my convictions, I get beat down. Often. Which sucks. But it makes me wonder how many other LGBT Mormons, and our allies, get beat down for our beliefs and our lifestyles. How much longer are we going to be marginalized? How much longer will we hear the audible gasps and feel the unabashed stares? How many more friends and family will quietly walk out of our lives?

I've grown weary. I hear the disapproval of my peers often. I get it on social media, and through my emails. To them, I'm an apostate. I discourage the Spirit from coming anywhere near me, and by extension, them. I entice doubt, not faith. I promote deviance, not obedience. I am Satan incarnate... I am damned to Outer Darkness.

Believe it or not... these are all real examples, and they are all people who claim to "love their LGBT brothers and sisters". Some even claim to be building bridges between the communities. This doesn't build bridges. It tears them down.

My bridge is slowly crumbling... and sometimes I don't know why I stay in the Church. I honestly have no idea why I put myself through the pain. I wonder if I would be happier outside. I wonder if Christ only atoned for our sins... rather than for our sorrows. I wonder if God loves me. I wonder if He had me turn out gay so that He could damn me to Outer Darkness. I wonder if God is the vengeful God of Evangelical Christianity. Is He the loving God that we say He is? I want to believe it! I want to believe that He is compassionate, and warm!

But why are His children so cruel?

19 September 2013

Mormon Misogyny

"Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" I remember when the missionaries asked me these questions as an investigator. I told them that I came from Heaven, but was going to Purgatory. They didn't think it was very funny...

As members of the Church, we believe that God was once mortal... He was like us. We believe that the ordinances and covenants in the temple will allow us to become like God in the afterlife. Once we're like God, we'll make little spirit babies, and we'll live happily ever after, as we send our kids down to mortality and listen to them bitch and moan at us for stubbing their toes and losing their keys.

That's the plan. Be like God.

What if you're gay? If you're gay you need to reevaluate everything. "Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" The answers we all have been taught in Church... well... they simply aren't applicable anymore. They aren't going to happen... at least not as the Church teaches us.

How did Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother make us? How do we, when we achieve Godhood, create our own spirit children? In Moses 3:5 we learn that God created all things spiritually before they were created physically. He created us, and therefore we will create our own. Will I be literally birthing out babies? Ummmm... no. I'm not going to be doing that in mortality... much less for the rest of eternity. And the word create isn't exclusive to spirit children... it extends to things like planets and trees. Will I birth a planet? Fuck. No.

There is so much about the next life that we simply don't know. We don't know how we will make spirit children, or how eternity will be. Trying to say that homosexuality is not natural and not ordained of God by saying that you have to have a man and a woman to physically make the child, is idiotic at best. Heavenly Father would have had to have an eternal stash of little blue pills, and Heavenly Mother would have had to have a really high pain tolerance... and an ironclad vagina. It simply isn't logical.

And even if this is the way it's supposed to be... if the Plan of Salvation is really full of misogynistic doctrines and ideals... how ridiculous is it that Heavenly Father gets pleasure and power while Heavenly Mother gets pain and stretch marks? I mean... it is such a small price to pay to spend an eternity having your children, at worst, have no idea that you exist, and at best, feel you are too sacred to brag about...

17 September 2013

Horseshoes And Handgrenades

I've never really understood Mixed Orientation Marriages... a marriage where one member of the marriage is straight, and the other is gay. I've never understood why the gay spouse would subject themselves to a marriage of tolerance... a marriage of "horseshoes and hand grenades"... a marriage of "good enough". I've never understood why the straight spouse would subject themselves to the same marriage of tolerance... a marriage where they are loved... kind of.

I've never understood mixed orientation marriages. Until today.

Yesterday I went to my friend's house for FHE (which... was only FHE because we read one scripture... and then we went on with our lives). These friends are a married couple, and they are in a mixed orientation marriage. (For their anonymity, I'm not going to give their names). We talked about how mixed orientation couples are really overlooked by both the gay community, and the straight normaity. To the gay community, they are unauthentic because it's perceived that they "aren't gay enough... Secretly bisexual", or that they are selling out. Society's normality tends to just assume that the straight parter is gay too.

Their marriage is different from most married couples. The dynamics are different and will always be different. She has to really work to make the marriage work, and there's nothing wrong with it. She's gay. She's really gay. He knows she's gay, and is totally ok with it. He acknowledges that things could change, and they have a plan if they do. The most remarkable thing to me is that she didn't feel "obligated" to enter into this marriage. And I think that's important. No one should feel like the "have" to marry someone of the opposite sex, or the same sex.

Mormon culture is a little wigged out for me... when I was a brand new convert to the Church, I was consistently asked if I had "prayed about it" whenever I had a big decision to make... Like picking out matching socks. So naturally, most people in the Church will pray about the person they want to marry. When she prayed about marrying her husband, the answer she received was, "If you want to marry him, I will help you be happy." She believes the answer would have been the same had she wanted to marry a woman. How remarkable! There are SO many stories about LGBT members of the Church who have had divine confirmation from our Heavenly Parents, about their same-sex relationships, but how many of you have heard a story about a LGBT person receiving a confirmation that they can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex? 

I still don't have a personal understanding of Mixed Orientation Marriages, and I cannot advocate positively for them, because I know that I cannot honestly enter into one. I would never be able to love a man in the way that he deserves to be loved. But if I have learned anything, it's that people absolutely deserve to make their own choices when the choices are right for them... especailly when they have confirmation from our Heavenly Parents that what they are doing is right. We have no room to judge. We have no place to say what people can and cannot do. We need to love people for the lives they live, and support them in the decisions they make. We need to support them in the beautiful families that they raise, and we need to love them for the work they put in to make their families happy. 

Anonymous couple... you are my new besties. Stay gay, and stay awesome. And y'all have a cute baby!!

Affirmation Talk

On my journey to accepting myself as a gay Mormon, all of my pillars crumbled with the revelation of my sexuality. I lost friends, I lost family, and for a while, I lost the Church. I lost everything. The only pillar that remained was God... my Heavenly Parents. Prayer, the temple, and the Scriptures were what got me through those hard times.

I really took advantage of the healing power of the Atonement... but not because I had sinned. The Atonement is for all of God's children. It's not just for sinners, and a lot of people forget that. The Atonement applies to everyone. It applies if you sin... it applies if you are in pain, it applies if you are in sorrow, it applies if you're straight, and it applies if you are gay. It applies if you are a member of Church, and it applies if you aren't. The Atonement of Christ is everything.

The Book of Enos from the Book of Mormon, was by far my greatest strength. In the first chapter, we read of Enos, and the struggle he had before God. He was concerned about his eternal life, and his soul hungered and he knelt before God in prayer and supplication of his soul. He prayed all day and night.

And then came a voice from Heaven saying, "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed." Enos knew that God could not lie, and his guilt was swept away. He asked God how this could have been done, and God replied, "Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole." Enos heard God, and he felt that his brethren needed to hear these words, and he prayed to God for them.

Enos and I are mirrors of one another. I knelt in prayer, and I paced my bedroom, praying over and over again. And one day, while in the temple baptistry, I heard God. He confirmed His love for me. He lifted me up in my hour of need. He lifted me above the scorn I felt from the world, and from the children in His Church. And once I could stand on my own... once I could again bear my burdens, I turned to pray for my fellow brothers and sisters. I turned to help them. Gay, straight, Bisexual, Transgender... I prayed for them all. I go out to live Christ's true love, and to bestow it on those who need it the most. 

This is why I stay.


 

09 September 2013

Journal Entry 2 December 2011

It's three weeks before Christmas... And for the fifth year in a row, I'm alone... again. My family doesn't want me. God doesn't want me. Nobody wants me. I'm nobody's somebody.

I get why my parents hate me. I get why they don't want me around. They don't even know that I'm gay, but I'm a bad enough person that my gayness doesn't even need to be mentioned for me to be expelled from the family.

I get why God hates me. God hates me because I'm gay. That's a pretty good reason. It's cut and dry... Plain and simple. God loves straight people. God loves people who can "multiply and replenish the earth." God loves people who are pure of heart. But that's not me. I have impure, immoral, and unnatural thoughts all the time. I'm dirty, and repulsive. No unclean thing can enter God's presence. No unclean thing can go to heaven. But no matter how hard I scrub my skin, no matter how much, and how sincerely I pray... I'm still impure. God can't possibly love someone like me.

I still hold my temple recommend... But I know that I shouldn't. Someone gave a talk in Sacrament meeting last week about morality, and told us that if we feel rotten in our hearts about something that we have done, it means that we've sinned, and that we need to reevaluate our temple worthiness. I know that I shouldn't have it. But I need to go to the temple one last time... And then I'll figure out what to do. But I have to go just one last time.
 
I'm wearing out the carpet in my room from pacing and kneeling in prayer. I've never prayed about anything more intently, or with more sincerity than this. I was told I would be blessed when I joined the Church... And the only blessing I want is for me to be cured... I want to be straight. Yet God is silent. I've been taught that He will always answer our prayers... but to me, He is silent. He doesn't love me. He can't love me.

04 September 2013

I'm Speaking At Affirmation!

Yep! You heard it! I'm speaking at the Affirmation Conference on September 13-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm participating with one of the workshops on Saturday morning (Sept. 14) titled: Restoring Our Relationship with the Restored Church and Gospel. John Gustav-Wrathall will also be presenting, as well as a few others who have yet to be announced. I will also be featured in Daniel Parkinson's presentation, God's Affirmation, which highlights people's stories of receiving personal revelation, and inspiration of God's affirmation of our orientation, and our lifestyles.

If you have't registared for Affirmation yet, DO IT! Here's the link to the registration website.

I personally am really excited to attend the conference (it's my first one!), and obviously am humbled that John has asked me to participate. So come on out!! You won't regret it!

02 September 2013

Cultural Mormonism

Cultural Mormonism... I hate it. I walk around Salt Lake City everyday, and everyday I hear about another horror story about people's interpretation of doctrine, and their attempts to be that perfect Mormon.

I hear stories about people who won't eat pork, because the Old Testament tells them not to. We've internalized the idea that the sight of women's shoulders and knees will unhinge every single man in the Church, and will cause them to revert to their primal sexual instincts. Or that if a young man wears anything other than a crisp, white shirt with a tie, they cannot participate in the sacred ordinance of passing the Sacrament. Or having more than one set of earrings, wearing sandals to Church, getting a tattoo... I could do this all day.

Every single one of these situations are textbook examples of culturally accepted beliefs in Mormonism that are more bulletproof than some of the most basic, established doctrines in this Church. None of these examples are cannonized doctrine. And last I checked, Christ came and fulfilled the law... meaning that we don't have to follow the Law of Moses anymore. Except for those two convienent verses in Leviticus... those are obviously valid.

There is a fantastic quote from Hugh Nibley, that perfectly addresses the "culture disguised as doctrine" in this Church, "The worst sinners, acording to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistance on proper dress, and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism."

I firmly believe that the obsession with how long your skirt should be, or how many earrings you can wear, is directly akin to the ancient obsession with how many steps you can take on the Sabbath. It detracts us from what is really important. When we obsess over the woman breastfeeding her child in Sacrament meeting, we forget about the miracles of Christ. We forget how Christ refused to condemn a woman caught in adultry. We forget that Christ was happier with Mary of Bethany sitting at His feet listening to Him teach, than with Martha slaving away in the kitchen. We forget that Christ tells us to love one another, as He has loved us.

We're human. We're in our earthly state of probation. We are not yet resurrected to our perfect, celestial bodies. We are therefore imperfect. How frustrating that must be for our Heavenly Parents! Judge not. Focus on what's really important. Treat others how you want to be treated. Take care of you're own imperfections before focusing on others. It'll make the world a better, happier place!

25 August 2013

"Why Are You Mormon?"

"Why are you Mormon?" I get this question a lot... And I get it from both sides of the aisle. From the left, I'm asked, "Why are you Mormon? Why do you put up with being called a sinner? Why do you affiliate with a church that hates you and belittles you?" From the right, I'm asked, "Why are you Mormon? Why do you continue to affiliate with this Church when you refuse to follow the words of the Prophets? Why do you continue to sin? You obviously don't understand what the Gospel means."

Some people on the left believe that because I am a Mormon, it makes me less of a lesbian. Some people on the right believe that because I am a lesbian, it makes me less of a Mormon. Both are wrong. I'm gay. I'm Mormon. I make no apologies for that. And I am not ashamed of who I am.

You want to know why I'm Mormon? I'm Mormon because I want to be. I'm Mormon because it makes me a better person. I'm Mormon because I follow the word and teachings of Christ. I'm Mormon because I believe it's what God wants for me. I'm Mormon, because nothing the Church does or says could make me want to leave. I'm Mormon because it's true. 

I'm not leaving. I cannot deny what I know to be true. So take that, and if you disagree, you can shove it where the sun don't shine.

17 August 2013

To See The Face Of God

How many of you have heard a story of a family kicking their kid out of the house because they found out their son or daughter was gay or transgender? How many stories have you heard about a teenager or young adult committing suicide... And finding out that the primary reason was because they were gay?

How many of them were Mormon?

The more I ponder this horrendous trend in the culture of my faith, the more I ponder this question: How can the "true church" of Christ, with their beliefs, practices, and doctrines contribute to so many suicides and homeless teenagers?

There's really no good answer. A lot of Mormons I know would answer with something like this, "The Church is true, but the people are NOT!" In it's most simplistic form, this statement would be correct. But the problem appears when we notice that it has become culturally acceptable to interpret the statement, "I know the Church is true," to mean "I know the Church leaders and membership are always perfect." They are far from equivalent.

So the question really is more like this: Is it the doctrines of the Church that contribute to suicides and homelessness? Or is it the culturally accepted beliefs of the members and leadership?

While the Church's doctrine and beliefs are not directly to blame, it is dishonest not to acknowledge that the Church has policies about LGBT people that have caused deep despair, as well as emotional and spiritual harm. Add in the human interpretation of these policies, and you have a very unstable mental and emotional compound.

We are taught that the family is the foundation of the Plan of Salvation, and that the only place more sacred than the temple is the home. Yet parents are cutting their kids out of their families in the name of purity and righteousness, and are using these doctrines and policies to justify their actions.

The Church came out with the website mormonsandgays.org in late 2012. While this is far short of what most LGBT Mormons and their allies need from the Church, it is the first small step towards love, acceptance and equality for the LGBT Mormon community.

While I have mixed feelings about the site in general, I have pulled some good out of it. Elder Quentin L. Cook has a video interview that's towards the middle of the page, and he says some really great things. This quote warms my heart, "[As] a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be a part of the family circle. [Let] us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I'm sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it's a very important principle." Elder D. Todd Christofferson also does a video interview, near the top, about the purpose of the website, "You'll see in these experiences that some people state what you could call the position of the Church—it coincides perfectly—and others not. But again, they're all very authentic, and as we listen to one another and strive to understand, things can only get better." This quote stood out to me because he is acknowledging that there are people in the Church who have chosen a different path than what the Church teaches, and he acknowledges those experiences and feelings as authentic.

This is coming from the mouth of two men we sustain as Apostles of the Lord, and personally, two of my favorite General Authorities. But because mormonsandgays.org  isn't listed on the Church's official website lds.org, no one knows about it. So can we place all of the blame on the members and local leadership for the hurtful rhetoric they teach? No. Because no one has taught them otherwise.

As members of the LGBT community, and as allies of this community, we need to bring attention to the site (even with all its flaws). We need to tell people in our Sunday School classes, Relief Society, Elder's Quorum, Young Men's and Young Women's to cut the crap when they talk badly about homosexuality and gay people. We need to correct them, and tell them about the Church's website when they believe that Church doctrine and policy allows them to hold such hurtful opinions. We, as the membership of the Church, need to speak out about against kicking children out of their homes. We need to reach out to those who are marginalized, and hurt. We need to offer a hand of friendship to those in need. We need to consciously ask ourselves in every situation, "What would Jesus do?" 

Because when we love another, we see the face of God.

11 August 2013

Silence

What do you do when Heaven is silent? When God simply doesn't answer a prayer? We're taught in Church that God will always answer our prayers. That not one goes without consideration. Sometimes the answer is yes... you pray to find your keys, and the next table you look under, voila! there they are. Sometimes the answer is yes, but in the most frustrating ways... "Sure... I'll help you find your keys... keep looking, I'll make you remember this experience." This is probably the most common answer, at least it is for me. Sometimes we are so hurt and upset that we can't recognize His comforting hand on our shoulder, and I think that is common for everyone. Sometimes the answer is no, "Nice try... This is the tenth time this week. You're on your own kid." But what happens when there's silence?

About a year and a half ago, I was taking a Statistics class. I studied hard, and spent hours with tutors. But Math has never been my strong point, and I struggled with even the most basic concepts. The night before my final exam, I knelt down and prayed that I could pass... even telling Him that a C- would suffice (C 's get degrees after all...) But I felt nothing. Not a yes, not a no... just empty space. I didn't know what it meant, but I got up and went to bed anyway.

I failed my exam. With flying colors.

I personally believe that silence is the "answer" when our hearts are closed to what God could say. I limited God. I doubted His power and influence. If we doubt (consciously or unconsciously) that God can actually answer our prayers, then He'll be silent. It takes two to tango.

That doesn't mean that if we have perfect faith that God will answer our every prayer, that He will do so. I can't tell you how many times I have begged and pleaded with God to help me find my car keys. His answer? "You're on your own with this one kid... this is the 10th time this week." God doesn't answer our prayers in the way we want Him to... That's the beauty of it. He makes us think; He makes us learn. Our Heavenly Parents are just that... parents. They will help us learn. But sometimes, it means teaching us a lesson... and that lesson is to put your keys back where they belong, otherwise you'll be ten minutes late for work.

It's not just the general membership that have silent prayers every once in a while... It's the Brethren too. I used to work with a guy who is one of President Monson's grand kids. He asked President Monson one day if he and the Brethren had prayed about homosexuality in the Church. And they have. They pray in their room in the temple, and they haven't received an answer. Not yes, not no... just silence. Why is this? I believe that it is because some/most/all of the Brethren have a bias... They believe that they are already right, and that they don't need to be praying about it. But instead of getting the instantaneous "yes" answer that they are looking for... it's absent. Gone.

I don't know about anyone else... but it gives me hope.