A few issues ago I saw the writing on the wall, as most did, that marriage equality was coming our way and I called for “balance and respect” in our response. I wrote:
“Like any victory, we want to run to the end zone and do a shuffle, pound a ball to the ground and turn to the other side and give them an ‘up yours’ salute. Some would say that is the least we deserve. Sometimes I count myself among them. But if there is balance in this fight, that means the opposing team is bringing something to the game. So, let’s shed the raw emotion for a second and analyze this.”
All of that, and what I wrote afterward, is true. Apparently Quorum of the Twelve Apostles’ Dallin Oaks read my column, and called for “civility” in a speech he made at the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“When our positions do not prevail,” he said, “we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries.”
“The teachings about contention are central. When Christ found the Nephites disputing the manner of baptism, He gave clear directions on the ordinance and then taught an essential principle: ‘There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
‘For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is … my doctrine, that such things should be done away.’”
I agree. I also believe, however, that “such things” may take some time to heal before they are “done away.”
Oaks, himself, was president of Brigham Young University when gay students were being subjected to electroshock and vomit-inducing therapy to rid themselves of their “same-sex desires.”
My friend Bruce Barton and many others have not received an apology for this barbaric practice.
Oaks was also president of BYU when their security force would go to the popular gay bar, The Sun Tavern, to record license plates and expel and excommunicate students who were parked there. Many were rejected by their families when the reason for the expulsion and/or excommunication came to light.
My friend Chris Eccles and many others have not received an apology for this practice.
Church leaders at various ranks encouraged gay men and women to marry someone of the opposite sex, saying God would shed them of this “evil” should they do so.
None of my many friends, or their wives and children, have received apologies for this horrific advice.
Church leaders also sent young men to Evergreen, counseling them to “knock on God’s door until your knuckles are bloody” to ask for their innate feelings to be swept away so they could be straight.
None of my very many friends have received an apology for that as well.
As a call for civility rings out on both sides, I think it is prudent for all of us to understand when someone may take some time before such ill feelings may be “done away.”
I’d also ask Mr. Oaks if he may reconsider his use of the word “adversaries,” which the church uses as a term for Satan, and might consider it for one of those hundreds of edits the church will make to conference speeches … in the name of civility. Q