Clearing the name of the Church

Many people have, in public and in private, informed me that some of my posts have seemed to be very bitter toward the LDS church (and any other group who bespeaks homosexuality), so I would like to apologize if I have been unclear on the matter and more completely articulate my feelings on the matter.  I have no bitter feelings toward the LDS church.  I support the Church and wish that I were allowed to fully participate in it as I once did.  It is a good, helpful organization.  Its purpose is to help people become like our Savior, which is a very admirable purpose and one that I can fully support.  I truly wish to be like Christ and to help all of my friends and family to do the same.  Since this is the core focus of the Church, I support it in that measure.  The Church does so much good.  There are so many things that it has done to help out third-world countries and clean up after natural disasters.  It has a program designed to help young men (who would otherwise not have the opportunity) get a higher education at a university or a trade school in order to enter a higher-paying career.  I have tried to express these feelings about the Church but perhaps I have not declared it as strongly as I feel it in my heart.  Please read either (or both) of the following blog posts I have made in the past for a more accurate depiction of how wonderful I think the Church can be: What's a Mormon? and Jesus Christ.

Also, I would like to quote what I said about the Church on the post Yes, I'm gay.
 I love my church and I will never turn my back on it.  Even if it comes to the point where I am asked to leave my church, I will not harbor any ill feelings or bitterness to it.  It has been a great source of strength and comfort in my life, and I hope that it will continue to do so throughout the remainder of my life.  I am very grateful to my church, to all of the leaders that have helped me, and to all of my family and their support in keeping me active in the church.  I will always consider myself a Mormon, even if I cannot remain on the records of the church. 
 I still stand by that statement.  I love the Church and I acknowledge that it has done much good in the world and will continue to do so.  It has also done much good in my own life, making me a better person than I otherwise would have been.  I believe that the leaders of the Church are sincere and that they truly do wish to lead its membership in the way that they feel God wants them to go.  I truly believe that the counsel that they give, for example during General Conference, is what they sincerely feel will bring people happiness.  I do not believe that they are intentionally trying to deceive anyone or even that they are intentionally trying to cause any harm--rather, I feel that they are trying to heal what harm does exist in this world.

That having been said, I need to state that the Church has cause much harm over the years, particularly among its black and its gay members.  As recently as 1978 it did not grant its black members all of the same privileges that it granted all of its other members, and around that decade and the next it said many extremely harsh things against homosexual people.  I do not mean to excuse the things that have been said, nor do I feel I need to apologize for them, but I would like to point out that the bulk of that is in the past and I am not one to dwell on things in the past.  The Church has come a long way since then and fortunately, the majority of the acutely homophobic things that were said back then are no longer being taught as forcefully as before.  I truly feel like the Church itself (the general leadership, in Utah) is being much more compassionate toward gay people and trying to make them feel more welcome among its membership.  This is one of the many reasons why I retain my respect for the Church and its leadership.  The Church has made official statements and published pamphlets to the effect of making gay people feel more loved and included than it had done in the past, for which I believe it is to be commended.

The reason that I mentioned the harsh statements that have been made in the past is merely because the hurt and harm that those sentiments cause is very real.  There have been many people take their own lives because of things taught by the Church to the effect of homosexuals being evil and perverted.  There have been many more who have entered into a marriage with a person of the opposite sex, given the false hope from the Church that such an act would change the person's sexual orientation.  There have also been many who participated in reparative therapy (gay-to-straight therapy) at BYU and developed many psychological complications because of it.  So, whenever I make statements that seem to be bitter or holding a grudge, it is more along the lines of any group or individual who causes such harm as this, rather than merely those who wish to believe that homosexual behavior is sin.  It is one thing for the Church to teach its own members that a certain behavior is sinful (which is currently what the Church teaches, but it has not always been that way) and it is another thing entirely to teach a person that he or she is evil merely for experiencing the attractions that come quite naturally to him/her.  While I believe that, contrary to what the Church teaches, homosexual behavior is not sinful, I have always respected the rights of any individual to believe that and also the right of the Church to teach it.  At the same time, I do not feel as though I need to be silent about the harm that such teachings can cause.

Therefore, in summary, I would like to restate the purpose of this post.  I admire and respect the Church for all of the good that it does.  I do not harbor any ill feelings toward it for any personal injury (whether real or otherwise).  On the other hand, I will point out any damage that I feel any of its particular teachings (such as its doctrine concerning homosexuality) have caused, and I will do my best to discourage such damage from multiplying.  As I stated in this blog post, I feel that in the name of protecting myself and my loved ones, it is requisite to acknowledge faults where they exist and strive to cleanse them.  But, I do not want anyone to think that I think ill of the Church merely because I am willing to point out some of the flaws that I see in it.