Marilyn Johnson August 30, 2001
8993 Oak Road
Salinas, CA 93907
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Church Office Building
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Dear President Hinckley,
Enclosed is a letter I sent to President Ezra Taft Benson in February of 1993. I received no acknowledgement of receipt, but now realize that he probably never saw or read it, considering his condition during the last years of his Presidency. I have also enclosed a copy of a letter addressed to Elder Packer by David Eccles Hardy, on the chance that you may not have seen it. The subject of both letters is the Church's position on homosexuality and the consequences of that position in the lives of individual Church members.
Brother Hardy's letter is dated October 7, 1999, and is the most lucid, comprehensive and eloquent writing I have seen on the subject. Since then, the Church has poured many resources money, time and effort into preventing same-sex marriage. Here in California, the Church used its local leaders, its communication channels, and the general membership to promote the Defense Of Marriage Act, an initiative stating that only marriages between one man and one woman will be legally recognized. I cannot imagine how allowing a homosexual the privilege of formalizing his or her exclusive relationship through marriage would in any way detract from the holiness of my own marriage or that of any other heterosexual. Marriage as an institution is much more great, hallowed and blessed than any person's or group of persons' ability to detract from it in any way. I believe that just as "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" marriage was made for man, and not man for marriage. And if marriage truly is from God, as the Church states, then to stand between a homosexual person (or any person, for that matter) and his or her God by denying him or her the God-given blessing of marriage is nothing short of reprehensible.
In our area, a young, faithful, returned-missionary, gay man committed suicide in front of his stake center when he learned of the Church's active support of the Defense Of Marriage Act initiative in California. I have not seen an acknowledgment from the Church that such a thing happened. I am so thankful I did not take part in the Church's decision to become involved in California's political process as I'm afraid I would not be able to sleep at night with that young man's blood crying out to me. I am also thankful I have not relinquished my right to think and decide right from wrong for myself, and found the courage to vote against the DOMA initiative in California. (Yes, it took moral courage because the Church of which I have been an active and faithful member for 50 years pressured me to vote for it, thus encroaching upon my political privacy.)
At the time the DOMA initiative was an issue in California, I was our ward Young Women's President. I was honest and confessed my "heresy" to my bishop and stake president's counselor during my subsequent temple recommend interviews. My bishop was very understanding, and acknowledged that the Church had indeed entered the political arena while stating the half-truth that the issue was not a political one but a moral one. Those who are ignorant of the facts of homosexuality could possibly consider it a moral issue by, but only a person of very limited intelligence or in denial of fact could believe it was not also political. My stake president's counselor hesitated to sign my temple recommend, reminding me that, "When the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done." But, nevertheless, he did sign my recommend.
I, like Brother Hardy, have a homosexual child, a beautiful, talented daughter. Thank goodness we raised her here in California where there are loving, understanding, accepting people inside as well as outside the Church, and she did not come to the point of feeling that suicide was her only option. She has left the Church and is living a full, happy, productive life. She is the most loving, kind and giving of all my nine children, and to imagine her "recruiting" any of them or any of the children she works with is utterly ludicrous. I wish she could sanctify her special relationship with marriage, as I, along with the Church, believe the bonds of a loving, committed marriage provide the most healthy and joyful way of life for human beings. But that will not be an option for her in the foreseeable future, thanks in some measure to the Church to which I have given a considerable portion of my life and means.
I am struggling to understand how a group of wonderful men who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ could be part of an effort to limit the civil rights and spiritual opportunities of a group of their brothers and sisters, especially, in the light of their professed belief that "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The DOMA initiative was based on hate, ignorance and fear, NOT love, knowledge and faith. If support of the initiative truly was from God, then I reject that God. The God I worship loves his children and would not command any action that would harm them. I deplore the actions of the Church against homosexuals, and I feel very strongly that the Church will, in the not too distant future, be forced to abandon its stance on homosexuality just as it was forced to abandon its stance on blacks and the Priesthood. With forthcoming conclusive scientific evidence that people are born either heterosexual or homosexual, it will be an untenable position to deny homosexuals any privilege or blessing enjoyed by their heterosexual brothers and sisters. I pray that Heavenly Father will help me to forgive the Church leaders for what I consider their un-Christlike behavior in their dealings with homosexual members of the Church.
Prunedale Ward, Monterey Stake
Copyright 2002 by Marylin Johnson
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