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There were a couple people who talked about persecution during this past general conference.  Elder Nelson mentioned the warning from the Apostle Paul "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim 3:12)  Then he said "That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives."  In my very brief time of interacting with homosexual members of the Church, and of other religions, I have seen those who have been literally crushed into silence by the pressures and persecution of the society and religion around them.  I have also seen those who have decided to be exemplary and courageous.

Ty Mansfied would be among the courageous ones.  He has made the decision to remain faithful to what the Church teaches is God's will concerning homosexuality.  He has published a book containing all of his feelings, and has done many things to help people follow in his footsteps.  I would say that what he has done has taken a great deal of courage.  

There are also those that have decided that the best path for them is to marry a member of the same sex, and therefore walk away from the standards of the Mormon church.  I would say that these people are also just as courageous, considering the opposition they must face in making this decision.  

I have also seen those who have been crushed by persecution and by outside pressures. I have seen people so conflicted about the discrepancy between their own feelings and the teachings of their church and their society so as to render them virtually incapable of making any major decision in their lives. Or perhaps they have repressed their feelings so strongly and so universally that they no longer feel any emotion at all. They are afraid that if they allow themselves to feel any emotion at all, then they will feel homosexual attractions, which they have been told are evil and must be overcome.

Elder Nelson went on to say "How you deal with life’s trials is part of the development of your faith. Strength comes when you remember that you have a divine nature, an inheritance of infinite worth." I fear that many people, having been convinced that their homosexual feelings are ungodly, forget their divine nature and infinite worth. Many people are made to silence their feelings and their own nature with all of the pressure surrounding them to consider it evil.

In his talk Sunday morning, Elder Uchtdorf mentioned the severity of Paul's persecution of the saints. He went out of his way to send them to prison and make sure they got what he felt was their just reward. His persecution of the saints was so severe that the Lord felt it necessary to appear to him in person and command him to stop. I see similar persecution happening among us now. I see people who go out of their way to persecute others who are homosexual. In fact, the Westboro Baptist Church has gone to such an extreme that they have felt it necessary to persecute the families of deceased military men--even the ones who are heterosexual, merely because America is tolerant of homosexual people and therefore it has brought upon it the wrath of God. This church travels far and wide to persecute innocent people, all because of the belief that homosexuality is evil.

On a similar--but quite less severe--manner, the Mormon church has gone out of its way to insist imposing its beliefs concerning same-sex marriage on other people, as they did with their campaigning in favor of Proposition 8 in California. I view this as no different than Paul traveling all over Jerusalem trying to coerce the saints into believing the same thing he did--that Jesus was not the Messiah. Certainly the Church has every right to teach its own doctrine inside its own organization, but for it to step outside of its organization and attempt to impose its beliefs and standards on other people is not right.

I do not wish to set myself up as a victim or a martyr to any cause. I do not say these things to attract sympathy for me. But, I have had certain members of my own family and certain of my own friends inform me that they no longer wish to affiliate with me because of my sexual orientation and my boldness in openly discussing my opinions concerning the matter.  I must add the disclaimer that this has been an extremely small percentage of my family and friends, and certainly does not include anyone in my immediate family.  As I mentioned in my post Yes, I'm Gay, I will not harbor ill will toward any such person, nor will I bear them a grudge. As soon as they are willing to be my friend again, I will welcome them with open arms and a happy heart. I wish to distance myself from no one, but to be friendly and loving toward all. I will love anyone, regardless of their beliefs or their feelings toward me or any other person. At the same time, I will not be crushed when persecution comes my way. I will not be silenced. I will grow stronger and more resolute in the path that I feel is right.  I will grow more courageous.  I will serve my God all the days of my life.

Certainly, there is a difference between persecution and a loving family member issuing a warning to protect someone from making a bad decision. I do not mean to give any impression that I feel these two things are the same. But, I do feel that the content of these is not nearly as different as the attitude with which they are given. A loving admonition and a statement of persecution may even contain similar phraseology, but one will be made with love and compassion--with a true understanding of the other person's feelings--while the other will be made out of ignorance or false pretense.

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