ruthnboaz

So.

This is it.

This is the post I have felt developing in my heart for a little while now.
This is the post I haven’t felt like I could put into words until today.
This is the post which will both alienate friends and gain friends.

Introduction

But first, as always, a little background information. From birth, I was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I believed what was being taught. It was both a devout home and a dysfunctional home, with the Church, it’s teachings, it’s doctrines, and it’s leaders – especially it’s prophets and apostles – enshrined at the very center.

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As a young adult, I made the excruciating, humiliating, very difficult choice to go through anything that was ecclesiastically required of me by my priesthood leaders to regain full fellowship in the Church. It was a “they said jump, and I asked how high” sort of situation. I went through this crucible because I sincerely, honestly believed that it was the only true Church on earth, the only church with continuing revelation, the only church with priesthood authorized by God and the only way I could even hope to be together with my family in the kingdom of God.  I honestly believed the truth claims and sought to obtain their promises.  After my reinstatement, I became an even more devout and dedicated member. I have heard this is common. As Goethe has said,

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back… Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans;
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred… Whatever you dream you can do. Begin it; boldness has
genius, power and magic in it.

I had multiple confirming spiritual experiences connected to the General Conference talks given by the top 15 Brethren over many years. I believed them to be what they claimed to be: authorized prophets for, visionary seers in service to and true revelators of the Living Lord Jesus Christ. So when the Church’s position became known in regard to California’s Proposition 8 and Proposition 22, and the national debate about gay marriage raged in 2015, I remained aboard the Church’s boat.

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The Old Ship Zion

Yes, the Boat I had been taught could never be sailed astray by any captain; the Boat I had been taught was the only safe and true place in a dark and wicked world; the Boat I had been taught was my only means of passage back to God; the boat which was literally my only hope and salvation because it had all been personally established by God the Father and Jesus Christ. The construction of that Good Ship Zion began in the shipyards of upstate New York, and even earlier, with the writing carefully reserved on gold plates for our time by ancient prophets who’d lived on the American continent in ages long past. In fact, it’s root of existence, of doctrine, of lineage stretched like a golden thread all the way back to Adam and Eve themselves.

So, honestly believing I was being led by men of God telling me what God’s will was for mankind today, I chose to go public in support of “defending traditional marriage” in 2015, as I was encouraged to do by my church leaders. I posted on Facebook. I studied the issue to resolve it for myself. Of course, I studied only the writings and teachings available within the LDS circle, always believing that what I was being taught was the God’s honest Word. I wrote a t w op a r t blog post in defense of two things I viewed as being under threat of hijack: traditional marriage and the Biblical symbol of the rainbow. I was not ashamed of my stand, because I was confident that what was being taught to me over all these LDS podiums was the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, spoke by the power and authority of the Lord. It was, plainly and simply, the truth. I lost friends, but I figured that was the price tag of “standing for truth and righteousness”.

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I believed that people who disagreed with me were simply deceived and maybe even wicked. However, unlike what I saw a lot of other people do, I never openly attacked or  publicly condemned any gay person. I was proud of that. I was careful to keep my advocacy focused on the act of homosexuality, the act of same-sex marriage.  I thought this was being as loving and kind as was possible in the situation. I wasn’t so milquetoast about my views toward gays and lesbians in the privacy of my own home, though.

I did all this, despite the fact that I have close extended family members who are gay. I essentially chose “the truth” (that is, the Church and what it was teaching) over them. I had known these individuals all of my life and yet it amazes me now that I never sat down and tried to connect with any of them. I never asked to hear their story. Perhaps because in the face of “the truth” it was irrelevant. Perhaps it was simply because I was completely unwilling to consider being persuaded in any direction away from the prophets and toward “the world”.

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After all, I thought that I had learned, like Alma the Younger, by my own experience that the Church was always right; that whenever I disobeyed it’s teachings I was in the wrong. Yes, love the sinner and hate the sin, but it really wouldn’t do them any good to pity the wicked. It would only prolong their sorrow. When they “came to themselves”, as the Bible puts it in Luke 15:17, then they would know that I had been their true friend. Yes, a true friend for holding out the truth to them instead of holding on to them in their sins (see Alma 11:37, Helaman 5:11).

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

– some guy named Alexander Pope whose words, above,
my father liked to quote

The Truth Behind “The Truth”

Fast forward to April or May of 2018, when news of McKenna Denson and the MTC president, Joseph Bishop broke out. For me, that discovery led to learning about more stories just like them at Protect LDS Children… and that created a profound, paradigm-shattering shock.

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All the feelings, all the the issues, everything which I thought I had forgiven, everything which I thought had been laid to rest, at least in part… everything which I thought I was almost at the end of processing out and permanently clearing… what with my eldest two children coming of age, and with a relocation across the country from where all the pain had occurred… everything just opened their eyes like zombies, rose up out of their graves and told me that they had never really ever been completely dead.

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Every demand, every offense, every act of unrighteous dominion that has ever been made against me, in the name of God, by a temple-endowed officer of the LDS Church?

Lined up in rows like soldiers.

My 2014 faith crisis which occurred at the same time that my ecclesiastical abuser ex-husband violated the conditions of our JOD and lured away my son?

Still breathing and stronger than before.

The 2001 ecclesiastical support of my abuser and their non-endorsement of my choice to leave the marriage, “tear the children from their father and destroy a ‘happy’ home”?

Violently alive and kicking.

The complete fiasco of the very grave LDS ecclesiastical misjudgment, castigation, and complete abandonment to my abuser (including excommunication) in the time period between November 1992 and March 1994?

Dressed in Elektra-assassin-red and roaring with 25 years of rage!

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Every Tree of the Garden

luscious

Since that time, I have become a voracious consumer of ALL knowledge, good AND evil;  not just the censored and white-washed LDS-approved knowledge. If the LDS well is poisoned, why should I keep trusting my spiritual and mental health to the water or continue to drink it exclusively? There is no book, no pdf document I will not read, no conversation I will not have, no social media comment I will not make, no video I will not watch, no post I will not blog, no claim I will not tear down to its basic parts to investigate for truth in the light of the complete facts, and no belief I will not re-examine for maintenance, repair, replacement or elimination. That is what happens when a 98% blue personality discovers that the Church she believed was always as loyal to their people as their people have been to them IS, IN FACT, NOT SO.

Can I be held to blame if the proven, repeated actions of very clear, obviously unrighteous dominion by the Church and it’s officers has broken my trust?

Can I be held to blame if , finding when seeking, I discover a greater knowledge of these instances of evil… and how many of them there have been since it’s founding and with it’s main founders, and which still keep happening?!

Would you have me blindly obey and force myself back into a box of an oblivious personal faith when this new knowledge has shattered my belief in

– any modicum of actual priesthood authority,
– any jot of true revelation
– and any tittle of infallibility* of any kind at any level

* Especially that convenient form of infallibility known in Mormon lingo as “continuing revelation”: which is whatever happens to be pronounced by the current prophet/s and also supposedly flowing down in pure, unadulterated streams of electrical authority to the local leader now scowling so darkly across the desk from me?!

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All this has led to

LISTENING

And as I have listened, I have also retained in mind what I discovered and concluded after learning the fullness of the details: the “plain and precious truths” which the Church had deliberately withheld from me before. The Church had been wrong about polygamy. The Church had been wrong about withholding priesthood from members with the lineage of Cain. The Church had been on the wrong side in it’s fight against the E.R.A. and I had personally suffered for it. Could it be that the Church was also wrong about homosexuality?

LISTENING

Really listening, for the first time, to the NON-LDS stories of my brothers and sisters who identify as homosexual, or who love someone who is. I’d listened to the soppy LDS videos about gay members and felt even more confused and disturbed by the church’s seeming double-standard. I felt very sorry for the people who’d been schnuckered into making them, especially Jessyca. The Church gave itself public kudos for defending gay rights to things like equal housing in Utah while simultaneously fighting the establishment of any gay rights to marry a same-sex life-partner. That didn’t make any sense to me. The sorrow of the people in the videos didn’t make any sense. It all felt phoney, especially in the face of the things I have read and heard about homosexuality from General Authorities all my life.

The “others” outside of the approved LDS circle had been speaking all this time, too, but I had been absolutely unwilling to hear them. Without the crack in my resistance to the gay message created by the Church’s own betrayal of it’s full truth, and it’s ecclesiastical AND LEGAL betrayal of ecclesiastical abuse survivors like me – I would not have listened to Brian Breese‘s story of the death of his compassionate son. Samuel Breese committed suicide as a result of other LDS youth gay-bashing him, a completely straight boy whose only sin was caring about some gay friends. I would have remained afraid to hear Carol Lynn Pearson out; continued to “pass by on the other side”, continued to be satisfied with letting her sit, wounds unaddressed, with the memory of Gerald alone.  I would not have continued on and heard the dignity-cloaked agony of Bruce Bastian‘s story. I would not have wept in anger at the story of Jaime and Madeleine Soulé when I heard my LDS story in their LDS story. I would never have watched BYU professor Dr Bill Bradshaw‘s lecture entitled “The Evidence For A Biological Origin For Homosexuality” on YouTube.

Let It Go

This was when I finally let go. In June 2019 I let go of holding on to the truth and authority assertions of other men: men in rameumptom-red Conference Center chairs, men that I’ve never even personally met, men who didn’t care about me despite the 40 pages I sent them begging for my children and I to be protected from the bane of my life by keeping him outside of the Church until they came of age. I owed them nothingI let go of the obligation  (whose retention had been carefully maintained in me by even the most trusted of my therapists and sincerest of goodly bishops ) of holding on to the Brethren’s assertions as necessarily having to be my own, if I were to be a wise virgin among the Ten Virgins, since their teachings were ‘undeniably’ from God. I also accepted that by not fully disclosing the complete content and nature of the temple covenants to me before the moment that I was expected to make them, I had been coerced by the Church. This doesn’t happen with the baptismal covenant, that innocent-looking hook that draws the unknowing public in. This also didn’t used to happen with marriage when the original D&C 101, endorsing open and public ceremony, was still in our canonized scriptures. Now all sense of divinity was fled.


“Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. (Thanks Aaron. Now I finally understand.)

What Remains

All that is left is my rage at the reality of what has been hidden for hundreds of years, for my entire life, behind the Oz-green veil of Mormonism all along. They were just 15 corporate businessmen and an international ForeverFamily© brand selling Church (thanks for the eye-opener, Roger Hendrix) who didn’t personally seem to have a struggle with homosexuality. But who DID have a problem with homosexuality’s threat to their brand. So nobody in their ranks should venture in that direction, either. (I was not experienced enough in the machinations of this world to recognize The Proclamation On The Family as actually being a preemptive anti-gay legal document, as Hendrix and some of his friends were. At the time, my 21-year-old reaction to the Proclamation was incredulity that such obvious things even had to be said.)

All that is left in me is shame for my own behaviors and judgement, however couched in polite speech amid the reality of my actual rejection of this population’s assertions, testimonies and desires. I have behaved this way toward strangers, acquaintances, teachers, friends and even members of my own family. I have behaved toward them in the same way that others have behaved toward me about my own truths in regard to domestic violence and vaccine choice. They are based on my own experiences. How could I have denied them any validation, when I knew what that felt like myself?

tillithappenstoyou

LISTENING

June 2019 is when I “gave place” “to no more than desire to believe” the word of real people in the real world who were actually living with the challenges of homosexuality and the harsh prejudices against it. At that moment I also realized that I had been holding on to both compassion and a judgement of condemnation. It was a turning point. I hadn’t fully realized there was a duality within me. I hadn’t realized what this duality had been doing to my soul and how it had been influencing my attitudes toward and treatment of individuals in the LGBTQIA community.

LISTENING

Thinking back on it, outside of the interrogations that I received from Church leaders, only ONE individual member of the Church ever approached me, on her own and in private, for my version of the story. She had been my mother’s friend, and I was, initially, suspicious that she’d only asked me to lunch to pump me for information. But I spilled my guts to her. I was desperate to have somebody care… somebody to just listen to my side of the story… to try to understand… to just care about me and the confusing, overwhelming disaster that had happened to me.

I thought about erasing my Rainbow Connection blog posts altogether, but I have decided against it. I think it should remain as a milepost along my path of growth. When you know better, you do better. 

Revisiting The Star Thrower

In the past few days, I have also remembered Loren Eiesley’s original Star Thrower story. I think it’s an important piece to review because most people THINK they know the story of the Star Thrower, but they don’t at all. Somehow, in the milieu of popular culture, the key principle of the story got bastardized into a cliché which wasn’t even spoken or hinted at in Eiseley’s actual version. It isn’t about “matter[ing] to that starfish” at all. It’s about something else entirely.

savedyourself

So I put a shortened reproduction of Eiseley’s Star Thrower up on my blog yesterday, as well as the New Footprints in the Sand story, knowing that this coming out post would be next, and that I would probably refer to it.

Under the Rainbow

I have come to the following realization: I believe that there is a God, and that this Divine Being did establish moral laws for the benefit and happiness of his human creations. I believe in the wisdom and veracity of the teachings of Jesus Christ, and in the necessity, reality and redemptive power of his completed Messianic mission. When it comes to judgement in the law, it is my belief that God will judge by the laws established and that we will judge ourselves by the laws we knew of and the laws we actually lived. I no longer believe than any other soul has any right whatsoever to intrude upon this sacred tribunal that is always in session between me and my Redeemer. This is what I think is really meant by judge not, that ye be not judged: do not assume to put yourself in the place of God with your fellow.

However, I also acknowledge that making moral judgments is necessary and good. As sentient beings, we can not help but constantly evaluate the imput we receive from our inner and outer worlds. It also is important to self-govern our own behaviors, reactions and emotions. But none of these things are the same as passing judgement on another person; as being their self-appointed judge and tribunal when neither they nor God have asked or given you permission to be so. (English vocabulary must lack the words to describe these various types degrees or forms of what we call judgement.)

So it’s actually a very thin line that we walk with judgement and judging followed by determining then acting; a line which I think the philosopher Ayn Rand delineates brilliantly:

“One must never fail to pronounce a moral judgment... [However] a judge puts himself on trial every time he pronounces a verdict… In fact, a man is to be judged by the judgments he pronounces… —it is the nature of his own soul that he confesses…. 

“It is their fear of this responsibility that prompts most people to adopt an attitude of indiscriminate moral neutrality. It is the fear best expressed in the precept: “Judge no, that ye be not judged.” But that precept, in fact, is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself. [When I wrote my other rainbow posts, this was my feeling. The growth of the moral blank check was my core problem with what I perceived to be the unspoken core goal of the pro-homosexual movement.]

“There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.

[But in the case of ecclesiastical persecution of biologically homosexual individuals, one must first decide who the torturer and who the victim really are. Because I was taught and believed that homosexuality was a choice, and not biological, I misjudged this entirely]

“The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: “Judge, and be prepared to be judged.

“The opposite of moral neutrality is not a blind, arbitrary, self-righteous condemnation of any idea, action or person that does not fit one’s mood, one’s memorized slogans or one’s snap judgment of the moment… [Something I see WAY TOO MUCH OF with my self-confessed Christian conservative friends: this unthinking knee-jerk of a condemnatory trigger finger; it’s a behavior which I find both repugnant and repellent for its blind hypocrisy. The Golden Rule be damned, and f**k any clear-thinking, emotionally sensitive liberal for pointing out the discrepancy.]

“To judge means: to evaluate a given concrete by reference to an abstract principle or standard. It is not an easy task; it is not a task that can be performed automatically by one’s feelings, “instincts” or hunches. It is a task that requires the most precise, the most exacting, the most ruthlessly objective and rational process of thought. It is fairly easy to grasp abstract moral principles; it can be very difficult to apply them to a given situation, particularly when it involves the moral character of another person. [Um, I think this is what Jesus was talking about.] When one pronounces moral judgment whether in praise or in blame, one must be prepared to answer “Why?” and to prove one’s case—to oneself and to any rational inquirer.

“The policy of always pronouncing moral judgment does not mean that one must regard oneself as a missionary charged with the responsibility of “saving everyone’s soul”—nor that one must give unsolicited moral appraisals to all those one meets. It means: (a) that one must know clearly, in full, verbally identified form, one’s own moral evaluation of every person, issue and event with which one deals, and act accordingly; (b) that one must make one’s moral evaluation known to others, when it is rationally appropriate to do so…

“This last means that one need not launch into unprovoked moral denunciations or debates, but that one must speak up in situations where silence can objectively be taken to mean agreement with or sanction of evil...

“Moral values are the motive power of man’s actions. By pronouncing moral judgement, one protects the clarity of one’s own perception and the rationality of the course one chooses to pursue. It makes a difference whether one things that one is dealing with human errors of knowledge or with human evil...

[And that, my dears, is the crux of this whole debate on homosexuality. Is homosexuality evil? Or is there a human error of knowledge in regard to it? Religionists would have you believe the former, while LGBTQI supporters affirm the latter. But what if it is the religionists who are, in fact, a source of human evil?]

“Observe how many people evade, rationalize and drive their minds into a state of blind stupor, in dread of discovering that those they deal with—their “loved ones” or friends or business associates or political rulers [or religious leaders]—are not merely mistaken, but evil. Observe that this dread leads them to sanction, to help and to spread the very evil whose existence they fear to acknowledge.

“If people did not indulge in such abject evasions as the claim that some contemptible liar “means well”—that a mooching bum “can’t help it”—that a juvenile delinquent “needs love”—that a criminal “doesn’t know any better”—that a power-seeking politician is moved by patriotic concern over “the public good”—that communists are merely “agrarian reformers”—the history of the past few decades, or centuries, would have been different.

“Ask yourself why totalitarian dictatorships [or incorporated religious institutions] find it necessary to pour money and effort into propaganda for their own helpless, chained, gagged slaves, who have no means of protest or defense. The answer is that even the humblest peasant or the lowest savage would rise in blind rebellion, were he to realize that he is being immolated, not to some incomprehensible “noble purpose,” but to plain, naked human evil.”

Voilà 

LISTENIN

Like so many starfish upon the shores of life, we come upon others on our way. How they got washed up on the shore… why they may be missing a limb… or crawling toward land instead of sea… or hiding from ravenous sea birds… or what ever other condition or predicament or happenstance or happiness we may find them in has absolutely nothing to do with us. While it may, of necessity, cause our evaluation, it does not require our condemnation. While there is life yet left in our fellow man, their circumstance or orientation does not require our condemnation to death, either by apathy or malice.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  – Micah 6:8

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Star Thrower, Love Sower

I Will Be a Star Thrower. That’s it. I will just look for those that are yet living amid the Scarey Rocks With Angry Faces and let my acts launch their souls back toward that Maker and Final Judge from whom they came.

I will use the divinely created hands and feet of my own compassion, to carry my sisters, and my brothers, those who are like me and those who are not. My choices will try to keep them within the circle of life, let their choices and Providence do as they may. For that is exactly what my atoning Lord did for me and every other living thing; every single one of them.

Rainbows Are Really Circles


Eisely’s Star Thrower did not expect followers, nor did he demand exactness and honor in tracing the steps of his feet or the technique of his star-casting. Everything and everyone else was of little matter to him except Life. This coincides exactly with the LDS theology that the universe is made up of eternal intelligence and matter. Intelligence is defined as light and truth. What a perfect description for that thing which we call life. In fact, I made the conclusion a long time ago that ultimately, human beings choose one or the other: intelligence or matter, or in other words, life or stuff. Most people, like the Collectors in Eiseley’s story, choose the lifeless stuff. I have come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth didn’t set out to collect bands of worshipping groupies or to set himself up as a light over any followers. Consistently and repeatedly throughout scriptural accounts, he kept figuratively throwing his disciples back into the sea – pointing them, ever pointing them to his Father, their mutual Creator.

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I used to think that the Parable of the Sower was cruel. I used to think it was unfair that God would equally distribute good seed over land which he knew from the beginning was of varying quality, and then turn around and condemn every other terrain but the good soil for poor productivity.

Now I understand that Jesus was teaching about the seed, not the soil. He was teaching that God loves all his children and distributes his love to everyone, even when it appears that there is little hope for some.

Jesus was teaching that the primary factor behind whether or not love comes to life within the human heart is up to them. Don’t like the soil in your heart? Then change it.

He was also teaching that love could grow up within you, to carry on that perfect circle of a compassionate life. Rooted in the love of God would grow your mature planting of love, and you could becoming a grower and sower of love, yourself.

Love is a choice. Love. Is. A. Choice.

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Catch and Release

What about the passages with his apostles, where Jesus calls, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Surely the intent and end of that fishing expedition was not a banquet (James 4:3, Ezekiel 34:1-6). Surely it was to find the wandering and lost so that they might be released again beyond the reefs and shoals, set free again to commune with their Creator. If there ever were footprints in the sand, surely the Lord’s were that of a Star Thrower, and surely so shall mine be.

Out on the beaches they lay there, hungry and helpless and cold
So with compassion we’ll hasten, nurt’ring whom life yet doth hold 

It isn’t my job to judge. It’s simply my job to love God and love my fellow men the best that I can or know how. It isn’t my job to be a light. It isn’t my job to blaze the trail or even walk my brother’s path. I am the source, designer and destination of none of these for anyone else but myself.

But I can shine what light and influence of compassion that I have, for the sake of the yet-living, o’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent ’til the night is gone. I am committed, from here on out, to being compassionate and inclusive toward every living thing I find here, at my end of God’s perfectly encircling rainbow. Let Him sort things out as he will.

As for me, on this shipwrecked coast of mortality, I will “walk, because I choose to, always in desolation but not in defeat.”

skylie

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back… Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred… Whatever you dream you can do. Begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it. – Goethe


This post is dedicated to my Uncle Edwin, my Aunt Kim Lani,
and especially to my beloved niece Mattea,
as well as to my LGBTQI teacher-friends Abbie M.,  Julie G.,
Stephen R., and Charles B.  I’m sorry I was not willing to know your truth.
I love you. Please forgive me.

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For PART ONE: Footprints Back To God
For PART TWO: The Star Thrower
Thank you for reading PART THREE: Waking Up At The Foot of the Rainbow 
For PART FOUR: An Important Failure


Note: This essay may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This presentation is making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of religious issues. This essay presentation is a Creative Commons work – available for free in the public domain – of criticism, commentary, research and nonprofit education and thus constitutes a ‘Fair Use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided in the United States Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107.