I am Jessa Bateman and I’m a Mormon
March 27, 2015
The link was all over my Facebook feed. The description said something about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders officially releasing a statement on religious freedom and LGBT rights.
Those were two things I never expected to see in the same blurb.
I checked the source. The link led to Mormon Newsroom, the official public news release site for the Church.
I clicked on the link.
“Mormon Leaders Call for Laws That Protect Religious Freedoms,” the headline read.
I try not to keep it a secret that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members are commonly known as “Mormons” since we believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God along with the Bible.
Church leaders Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland, members of the governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Neill F. Marriott, of the Church’s Young Women general presidency, called for legislation protecting religious freedom.
They also said the Church would support legislation to provide LGBT people protections in housing, employment, and other areas where they are not legally protected, so long as religious freedom was not compromised.
This does not mean that the Church’s official stance on homosexuality has changed.
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”
That is the first paragraph of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a statement on the family issued by the Church in 1995.
The Church believes that the Earth was created so mankind could receive bodies and be tested. Receiving a body requires conception, which needs a man and a woman.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does, however, believe that God loves all His children. We can still befriend and associate with people who are not exactly like us and do not agree with our beliefs.
People are more than one defining factor of their existence, such as sexuality or religion.
I believe in and support traditional marriage. I acknowledge that some people are attracted to members of the same sex, but I do not condone acting on those feelings. I believe in loving all people regardless of their choices.
Expressing these beliefs is hard, particularly since most of my close friends disagree. Sometimes I wonder who I am to tell people that they cannot get married
Ultimately, it all comes back to a belief in God. There is no way I could know more than God. I believe traditional marriage to be a commandment from God, so I am in no position to change it.
People are more than their sexuality. People are more than their religion. That is a truth I wish more people would recognize.
The press release from the Church establishes exactly that point. Religious people should not be discriminated against, just like nobody should be discriminated against for their sexuality or place of origin or the color of their skin.
It is extremely difficult to be
religious in a non-religious world. The things I believe to be truth and
the values I wholeheartedly embrace are mocked almost everywhere I go.
I have no doubt many other people have faced discrimination because of what they believe, or who they are attracted to, or where they are from, or any other trait that is too frequently seen as completely definitive.
Do I believe that acting on same-sex attraction is a sin? Yes.
But I also believe that all people can and should be forgiven, as well as forgiving.
“I think it is an accurate statement to say that some people consider feelings of same-gender attraction to be the defining fact of their existence. There are also people who consider the defining fact of their existence that they are from Texas or that they were in the
United States Marines. Or they are red-headed, or they are the best
basketball player that ever played for such-and-such a high school. People can adopt a characteristic as the defining example of their existence and often those characteristics are physical,” Elder Oaks said in a 2006 interview.
“We have the agency to choose which characteristics will define us; those choices are not thrust upon us.”
Nobody should ever be denied housing or a job because of who or what they are. Nobody should ever be forced to compromise their conscience or resign from their job.
The first step to eradicate discrimination is to acknowledge its existence. Religious discrimination exists, much as we pretend it does not, and it will not end until its protection is ensured. The same is true of all forms of discrimination and judgment.
Humanity need not agree on every point to politely discuss our varying points of view in order to create legislation to protect the necessities of life for all people.