Tuesday, November 17, 2015

No Room at the Inn

Quote from my 18 year old son - The way I see it, if we save 25,000 refugees and 200 people die because 10 of those refugees are terrorists, then we still saved 24,790 people. - Carter Wight

The last couple of weeks, at the beginning of this Christmas season, there has been much upheaval in the world. The bombing of several cities and the deaths of many, the requests for asylum for refugees, the suspicion and and hatred of Muslims, and in the LDS church the leaked information that the children of gay parents will not be officially welcomed into the fold.

Everywhere, people are saying "there's no room at the inn."

My sister D posts links claiming that Canada can't even take care of its own and so in this vast country that is wealthier than most, we have no room. The refugees will take from the poor. The refugees will take from the middle class. The refugees will take from me.

Is it really that we can't take care of the poor, or is it that we don't? Is there not enough room and to spare in this enormous land of ours?

I see it among my American friends too. There is fear. What if we let in those who would harm us? Better to turn them all away. Say there's no room. Lock the doors. Let them take care of their own out there in the cold.

When Joseph showed up knocking at the door of the inn, he could have been a danger. He could have been hiding a weapon under his cloak. Mary may have only been posing as a pregnant woman. They too might have been the terror that grips in the night instead of a young couple looking for a place to stay. Thank goodness that one inn keeper, even though his inn was full, still found a place for them.

On a much smaller, quieter scale, it was discovered that the LDS church created a policy, intended only for the eyes of bishops and stake presidents, that would ban the children of gay members from receiving baby blessings, baptisms, ordination to the priesthood, and opportunities for missions. The leaked information which again, was never intended for the world to know, caused leadership to scramble and make amendments to the original policy which affected families who had listened to counsel in the first place when the church told gay men to marry straight women as an effort to cure them which resulted in failed marriages. And so the church clarified the policy by stating that it was only for those children who lived with their gay parent and it was all intended for their own good because apparently, gay people and their children, are not as capable of making decisions as their straight brothers and sisters.

The clarification assured the membership that the church loves ALL children, even though they are creating a separate class of kids who can only watch baptisms and not recieve the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Boys who can only watch on the sidelines as their friends, some who had been drinking the night before, one who is a drug dealer, and another who is having a sexual relationship with his girlfriend, pass the sacrament. Young men who will have difficulty getting dates with the Young Women in their stake who are counseled to only date boys with the priesthood. Eager young men and women who would like to serve missions but can't because they live with a gay parent.

It is obviously a way to get rid of the gay problem. What gay parent who loves his/her child is going to stay and watch as the place they once loved turns their child into "other". Even if it means that they have to leave their community, their church, their friends, and their family.

It is a way for the church to say "we have no room at the inn for you or your children."

I watched in dismay as decent people supported this, claiming that these men spoke for God. It's easy to not have to justify your own prejudices and bigotry when you can blame God for it. When you can say that God says so. You don't have to be accountable for your hatred. If you can hand over the responsibility to a group of men you don't have to listen to your brain or your heart and the courage of your convictions comes in the form of this group of men. You won't hear the still small voice because you don't have to. You can squelch your conscience. You can claim superiority because you are following those who claim to follow God.

As adults we should take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. We should not be pointing at men and saying "they say it's from God" as a way of justifying our uncaring responses.

These same people fight to make sure their own children are not labeled as "other". They post memes about acceptance for autism, deafness, race, downs syndrome and other instances where a child might be an outcast or difficult to accept. Yet for the children of gay people they claim that if the leadership says to exclude them, it must be so and that they will be valiant and do what is right by supporting the exclusion and saying "there's no room at the inn."

One person who's Facebook post was circulated criticized those who left the church over it by claiming that you don't just quit when things get tough.

But quitting is a viable option. We quit abusive relationships and marriages for our own well being. We quit jobs when something better comes along. We move away from cities, give up hobbies that no longer feed us, change directions when we discover we're going the wrong way, or quit one college major when we discover that we are better suited to a different career path. We quit things when they no longer work. Quitting is an important part of life and knowing when to quit is part of that eternal progression to higher paths. Quitting one thing opens the way for greater things. Joseph knocked on many doors, quitting each one when he was rejected, so that he could find a place for Mary.

"But it's for their own good," the argument whispers and sometimes shouts. We've seen this before. We saw it in slavery - "it is for their own good. We've taken them from their backward land." We saw it in denying women the vote. "It is for their own good. Women don't need to bother about politics. That is a headache for men." We saw it with the Jews in Germany whose very existence was a threat to good Christian people. It was for their own good that their businesses be taken away and that they be rounded up and cared for. We saw it in the Japanese internment in Canada, when they too had their homes and businesses taken away and they were put in camps for their own protection.

Even more scary we have seen what people have done and continue to do, in the name of God. Witch hunts, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, holy war after holy war, 9/11, the Taliban, Isis, and Paris. It's more scary because it's hard to reason with someone who believes that they speak and act for God even if it means that they wipe out entire villages as in the Old Testament, turn in their Jewish neighbor, or tell a child that they are not good enough for baptism, or even decide that a baby does not deserve a name and a blessing in the church of her family.

We've seen this all before. Again and again and again. "It's for your own good." "We do this in the name of God." "There is no room at the inn."

There's no room at the inn.

There's no room at the inn.


  1. I feel a bit torn. I know some people are not going to like waiting. Some parents are going to be hurt on their kid's behalf because they didn't go through the same ritual that their friends did on the same year. And yet....it's not about participating in a ritual the same year as everyone else (or at least it shouldn't be when done right). One of the reasons I am very careful how I phrase things when talking to 7-8 year olds. Never do I say, "When you get baptized".....always, "If you choose to be baptized" and make it clear that it can happen at any time after 8...it is up to them. I was trying to think of a parallel that might explain my perspective. I work in a Deaf school. The parents at our school are very supportive of Deaf culture, ASL, the whole kit and kaboodle. But there are also parents who are staunch audists, they reject ASL, Deaf culture and focus on oralism, implants, etc. Their entire perspective of deaf children is opposite to what I firmly believe and understand to be true. If I were king of the school....how would I feel if a child wanted to enroll if they had parents who were focused on only oralism? I would have trouble doing that because of the lack of support they would receive at home. What if the parents promised not to say anything bad about Deaf culture? Or...the kid REALLY wanted to come to the Deaf school? I would likely give it serious consideration...there would be extra hoops to jump through as I tried to figure out if such a scenario would work for that kid. Ultimately, the lack of support (because agreeing not to disagree with someone is not the same as providing support), the distance that would eventually happen between child and parents would be something that would sway me. I would sympathize with them because they would be disappointed...especially if their best friend got in and they didn't. However, the Deaf community isn't closed to them and they would be more than welcome to continue to participate and hope their parents would see things differently or support them differently or eventually do what they needed to do in order to gain entrance into that Deaf community and understand the cultural mores and linguistic nuances of ASL. Not the perfect solution, but since none of us are perfect, I'm not holding my breath. Everyone seems to want to jump on the "poor kids of gay parents" bandwagon. I don't dispute that some will feel like they are the "poor kids of gay parents" even though we don't think they should....but none of these people were up in arms over the polygamous kids getting the same treatment. I spoke to a bishop recently and he said that policy has been in place for a long time, and used in a variety of situations. It is only be clarified a bit by the first presidency.

  2. Torn....I feel TORN....lol. Stupid typing errors.

  3. The assumption here is that children of gay parents and their parents are not capable of making decisions - the church has to do it for them, whereas straight people and their children are.

    I think it's too easy to say "they should go somewhere else". Gay people are raised in LDS homes. For many of them it's part of their culture and they want to share the good things about it with their kids. You may not think that's what church is for, but culture is a huge part of going to church. And the church culture is that children get baptized at 8 and boys get the priesthood at 12. Now the church can change the culture by making everyone wait until adulthood, but it's not right to say "these people get to do this - and you people don't."