This Sunday is Mormon “Fast Sunday” – the first Sunday of each month when faithful members of the Mormon church abstain from food and drink, pray for special blessings for themselves or others, and donate what they would have spent on food to be used for Mormons in need. I imagine that most will be praying for the victims of superstorm Sandy. And as they did prior to the debates, many Mormons will be fasting for Romney. I’ll be joining a smaller group who are praying that hearts will soften toward our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
I’m participating in this fast, and in this weekend’s “Circling the Wagons” conference (an opportunity for those in the Mormon community to discuss LGBTQ issues in a spirit of “condemnation for none and compassion for all”), because I know that God loves each one of us – because of our differences, not in spite of them. And I know what it feels like to love the person I love. My love for my spouse fills my soul and makes me want to do anything for him, if only to help him feel loved. These feelings give me a sliver of insight into what God’s love for me must be like. I can’t imagine what it would be like if someone told me that those feelings were wrong, sinful, or not from God simply because they were directed toward the “wrong” person.
I also know that hearts and minds can change, even in the Mormon church. The church I attend now would have felt far less comfortable years ago when historians were excommunicated for publicizing church history, blacks were banned from fully participating in the church, and feminists were considered dangerous. I’m heartened to see the drastic difference in the Mormon church’s influence over the same-sex marriage measures on the ballot this month in Maryland and other states compared to their involvement four years ago in California. I hope for similar progress in the future.
Because of these hopes, one of my prayers on Sunday will be that Romney doesn’t win the election. Although I respect his beliefs and recognize that they likely reflect those of most Mormons, his statements on LGBTQ rights do not reflect my values, my faith, or the principles I hold dear as a Mormon woman. I hope that the rest of the country recognizes that there are Mormons who hope for everyone to be able to worship God, partner with whom they love, and be accepted in their faith community regardless of sexual orientation.
Catherine Jeppsen, a college sociology instructor, lives in Provo, Utah, with her family.