God Adores You/More Than 2 Paths is a resource for anyone with questions about how God feels about LGBTQIA persons or who has concerns about living Christ’s gospel as an LGBTQIA person. If someone you love struggles with questions, be loving, open, and long-listening. Assure them of your love for them and of God’s love for them.
Questions are how we get answers and grow. God doesn’t mind sincere questions; He possesses all truth, and He desires that everyone have as much truth as they will receive (James 1:5). My experience is that if I am patient and sincere in my seeking, answers and perspective gradually unfold to me, but I must accept God’s timing. Neil L. Andersen promises, “Honest questions . . . will be settled with patience and an eye of faith.” (Neil L. Andersen, “The Eye of Faith,” Ensign, May 2019, 36.) Of course, there are some things I still wonder about—but I know God loves me and has a plan for my happiness, and this is an excellent lens through which to view those things I have yet to receive answers for (1 Ne. 11:17).
Many parents say they want their child to choose whether or not to believe in God or follow a particular religion. This is good—as long as the child is exposed to God and faith—a person can’t well choose or reject something they have no knowledge of.
One word of caution: If your actions create dissonance within you or your beliefs, you can improve your behavior to match your beliefs, or you can alter your beliefs (what you believe is right or wrong, for example) to align better with how you are living(there are likely more options, but these two do for my point). How you live affects—for good or bad—your beliefs. Acts of faith strengthen faith. Some people fail to follow God’s will; then, because blessings didn’t come as or when anticipated, they condemn His work and word as false. (See D&C 58:32–33, 130:20–21, 136:42.)
“Although there will not be another general apostasy from the truth, we must each guard against personal apostasy. You can safeguard yourself against personal apostasy by keeping your covenants, obeying the commandments, following [God’s anointed], partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening your testimony through daily scripture study, prayer, and service.” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/true-to-the-faith/apostasy?lang=eng
RESOURCES FOR THOSE WITH GENERAL GOSPEL QUESTIONS
APPENDIX E. ON MEETING YOUR GOD NEED, PERSONAL GUIDANCE & GRACE
Even if you can only hope to believe God is there and will answer your petitions, my experience is that He is not only willing—but desires to give knowledge to every person. Dr. Russell M. Nelson says, “Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father…. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses…the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day…year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.’ … You don’t have to wonder about what is true…whom you can safely trust…. [N]o one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true [by the Holy Spirit]…. Neal A. Maxwell taught, ‘To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear…the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!’ Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ…and regular time committed to…family history work…. I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing…and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given…knowledge…. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow….
I am optimistic about the future…. But I am also not naive about the days ahead…. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies…that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation. Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again…. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation…. Choose to do the spiritual work required to…hear the voice of the Spirit more…. ‘[C]ome unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift,’ beginning with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift can and will change your life. (Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign April 2018. See: Numbers 11:29, Joel 2:28-29. See Chapter 14.)
If some things in the Bible seem too farfetched, consider how semantics have changed over thousands of years; consider that “days,” as in the earth was created in six “days,” might mean six creative periods. See also The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1829/2013); I’ve been studying it daily for decades—not just its content, but its origins and doctrinal consistency. It brings me to Christ, corroborates the Bible (Matt. 18:16), protects me from error, and reminds me daily who I am in relation to God. (Forged documents always diminish in credibility over time; while The Book of Mormon and its claims have increased in substantiality.) For a daily head check—I encourage you to daily read at least one verse (better to have tiny benefits than none) along with the Bible. (See: https://www.bookofmormoncentral.org/ and https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/archaeological-trends-and-book-mormon-origins.)
"I decide that for this relationship with God to be real, I can't look only for the times when everything worked out. I can't focus on only the miracles and the solutions that came packaged just the way I requested. I can't believe only in a God who gives exactly what I ask for. I will have to lean into the times when God let me down; I will have to remember the answers that never came. I won't ignore them. I will allow myself to consider all of it, and this time I won't keep score. Instead, I will sort through the moments carefully to remember how God is aware of the conditions and particulars of my life. How not knowing increases the necessity for faith. How falling is what forces me to reach out for grace. How letting God be God might lead me to answers I didn't ask for, but ones that He knows I need. I want to look for the times in my life when He got right down in the dirt with me, and I want to trace the goodness that I discover there. His goodness. Even in the hard things. I want to discover Him in the hard things, because a belief in a God that only provides happy things isn't real. And I want it to be real, this relationship I have with God. There, in the dirt, it is there that I will discover how an infinite God can also be intimate. When I find Him there in the mess, when I gather the memory of His goodness, it leads me to one truth that cannot be ignored: Someone who is willing to be there for you, walk through fire for you, dig through the dirt with you, fix the damage, enter the dark places, and the questioning places, and the aching places--the One who meets you in the most intimate places MUST love you." – Emily Belle Freeman
APPENDIX F: HOW WE VIEW GOD’S SERVANTS
Having a group of people (or a person in a role) that, in one’s mind, cannot err or must conform to comportment we individually expect of them is a recipe for our own disappointment. Though it might look like someone else’s problem, characteristics we chafe at follow us wherever we go. The only people guaranteed to function on a certain “acceptable level of decency” are dead; those of us still alive have much to learn. Except for Christ, God has only ever had flawed mortals as his servants. It’s important to not let human frailty rob us of our opportunity to renew covenants, always have God’s Spirit guide and comfort us, and bless and be blessed by unique gifts spread among church associates.
It’s important to recognize that while doctrine is unchanging, God’s earthly kingdom has always had policy changes based on present needs or circumstances. Knowing the difference between eternal doctrine and present practices (like Peter suddenly being instructed to preach to non-Jews) can smooth certain difficulties when policy or practice changes occur (as they always will while time lasts). Latter-day ministers are not paid.
For any who use the fact that God’s servants have never been perfect in order to deny established doctrine (including that of transformative grace), Neal L. Andersen clarifies: As opposed to personal opinion, God’s "doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve [Apostles]. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk" (“Trial of Your Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 2012). Dallin H. Oaks says, "The family proclamation, signed by all 15 prophets, seers, and revelators, is a wonderful illustration of that principle" (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2019). Where all 15 oracles are unanimous, “canonization” is a moot. Neil Anderson adds that teachings reiterated by multiple prophets is doctrine. God deals in paradox. We may not be comfortable with some things, but we should be cautious in declaring prophetic decisions to be errors—especially if they are validated in scripture and/or reiterated by multiple prophets/apostles. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world?lang=eng
Two topics are sometimes cited as reason to doubt divine direction or argue that LDS Church changes occur based on constituent lobbying and social pressure on prophets: President Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto ending the practice of plural marriage and President Spencer Kimball’s revelation extending priesthood blessings to all worthy men (each cited as reasons to hope that temple marriage might one day be an option for same sex couples or that any other variety of doctrinal reversals might occur).
Some people say plural marriage was a mistake or even outright hedonism on Joseph Smith’s part, claiming President Woodruff’s abandonment of the practice as proof. What they ignore is that plural marriage was instituted by God millennia before Joseph Smith (to Abraham and others) and the biblical practice is substantiated in The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine & Covenants (where God explains it is only employed at certain times. “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall [be monogamous],” Jacob 2:30; Doctrine and Covenants 132:38-39).
While plausible that Joseph Smith consummated one or more “time and Eternity” marriages after the first one with Emma, it is interesting that—in spite of there being no reliable form of contraception in the 1800s—no offspring of Joseph Smith have been found that do not also have first wife, Emma Smith’s, DNA. Joseph’s declarations that many or most of his “wives” were unions intended only for the next life seems to be valid (debunking the idea that it was his lust that motivated the practice). I am alive thanks to plural marriages and so, likely, are you (even if not a Latter-day Saint! See https://www.josephsmithjr.org/dna-rules-out-joseph-smith-has-descendants-other-wives/.)
If you don’t believe God shares His authority with mortals, the following may not mean much to you (but the keys given to Peter are active on earth today). If you believe in priesthood, note that, in Abraham’s time, it was pretty much a couple of patriarchs (perhaps only Abraham?) and one son who received it (Ishmael didn’t get it). Later, not the entire family of Jacob/Israel, but the tribe of Levi had the priesthood. Yet priesthood has been extended to more and more people over time; I believe no nation is without it today. It was never intended to bless self (even if you say women can’t have it [presently], its purpose seems pretty inclusive—it’s purposed blessings are available, now, to everyone who ever lived or ever will live. See: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/tg/aaronic-priesthood?lang=eng.)
Why did God choose only men to be apostles anciently? I cannot pretend to know. We don’t know why Brigham Young denied ordinations to black men. Saying it was prejudice is simplistic—especially as one becomes aware of facts: “During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no reliable evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime…. [T]hree years after Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young praised Q. Walker Lewis, [an ordained] black man…saying, ‘We have one of the best Elders, an African.’ (See Historian’s Office General Church Minutes, Mar. 26, 1847, Church History Library, spelling and punctuation modernized. See more interesting details here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng. See also Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color (Oxford University Press, 2017).
Chafing at Church practices, which change according to circumstances, is understandable. But historic practice of plural marriage when commanded, or the fact that God gradually expanded (through flawed/halting servants) who could hold His authority throughout history, are not evidence of prophetic crime. While individuals, congregations, or groups might make prophets aware of concerns, doctrine comes via inspiration, any need-based policy modification comes via divine approbation (typically not via lobbying God’s servants) —though all must also be received by common/congregational consent (as much as the flock will accept. See Doctrine & Covenants 26.)
If you think God would never be behind something that might make it difficult for people to embrace the gospel, consider asking adult converts to be circumcised (as they were in Judah’s day), or God’s Son being conceived by what appeared to be an unmarried woman, or requiring baptism at the hands of a convicted doomsday preacher. How about the stigma of having the church leader in jail (pick a prophet or apostle from history)? Or consider that, to get to God, a person must believe that a dead man (not readily seen) rose from the grave. God tries the faith of His people.
To increase personal reception of Christ’s grace, and to build a united Zion prepared to meet Christ, it’s important to surrender to Him all resentment (particularly condemning thoughts and words regarding His servants—it’s not as if no one will ever tell them when they say something less-than diplomatic!). A disparaging attitude comes from our enemy to sabotage our rescue by the Master Healer. How can we hold out one hand in faith for mercy while rejecting God’s chosen ministers with the other? If a person doesn’t believe the prophets and apostles have authority to declare marriage between a man and a woman to be God’s approved form of marriage, marriage performed by that same (non-?) authority seems a moot point.
BONUS APPENDIXES G - I (Help with compulsive behavior, on marriage, healthful relating)