Quickly, I thought I’d weigh in on the Fireside issue before I finish my Missionary Monday post.
Let’s take this from a different perspective for a moment: needs. First, Who is the audience of the fireside and how will its content serve them? It’s clearly an outreach effort to gay members, their friends, and family members. Ultimately, as Beck points out, this boils down to a damned if you do/don’t scenario as one attempts to address the needs of this group.
1st, let this group of people know they are not alone. This is where the fireside will succeed. The higher the attendance, the more productive the emotional outcome in this sense.
2nd, provide a dialogue regarding these issues. In order to address concerns of this group, it is necessary for these men and women to feel they are able to vocalize their concerns to one another. Being heard is one of the most important aspects to emotional suffering. I believe this can succeed to a very limited degree. As Rob put it, “homosexuality should not exist” the way it is currently treated, and it’s very difficult to approach a problem that should not exist within the gospel. Fireside goers will be able to discuss their feelings, but this discussion will be constructed around a framework of shame in the sense that homosexual feelings cannot be discussed positively.
3rd, offer solutions/coping strategies so that one can lead a happy life. This is the presumably the primary reason Ty Mansfield has been invited as keynote speaker. I take issue with this for the same reason as Rob and MoHoHawaii, but would like to extend it one step. There is an unspoken endorsement of Mixed-Orientation Marriages, which—perhaps—can work for some, but I have seen multiple cases in which that goal has only led to heartbreak for the men and women involved (including my own best friend Cole). That said, I feel many other solutions emphasized above that outcome including celibacy.
Put simply, hands are tied and mouths stifled because of the larger discussion (or lack thereof). Celibacy and Marriage seem to be the only endorsable outcomes for gay members of the church. While I tend to think that the fireside will be successful in providing a sense of community, I tend to think that the only way for the meeting to have any further success (and avert unintended damage) is for the program to include success stories of celibate saints AND accounts of unsuccessful mixed-orientation marriages, so as to not elevate Ty’s circumstances as the only or best possible outcome for gay saints. It’s very possible that the program does take this into account and if it does, it would be the best possible program given the current atmosphere of fear and silence.
9 months ago