Lets say that I am completely 100% right in my thoughts/feelings/understanding of homosexuality (I would never make such a claim by the way). If that were so, and a typical, faithful member of the church came to that same conclusion, their world is likely to fall apart. If leaders are wrong about this, how do we know they aren't wrong about A or B or C... etc. By asking them to understand, I am asking them to question everything they believe. It is much more simple to say- "I follow the prophets, everything they say is true, and you are an apostate," and cast all of the word vomit away as if it were a devil. To open it up for real discussion and debate in one's mind would be to risk falling into a black hole where certainty is non-existent.
For this reason, I really feel as though homosexuality will be the defining issue for the church. The fallout from the churches stance and political involvement has already been too great to know. It won't be long before gay marriage is legalized. Once that happens, it won't be long until public opinion changes as people begin to realize they work with, learn with, live with, play with, and depend on people in their lives who are gay. And then the church will have to really think about its stance. You may say, well- "this has already happened with polygamy and blacks and the priesthood, those things didn't really become 'defining moments.'" Let me tell you how this issue is different.
The internet. The accessibility of information. The world-wide church. We aren't talking about a small organization with little influence and publicity anymore. The world won't accept a 30-year lag after society has made up their minds about what is right and civil about marriage like they did after deciding what was right and civil about the color of skin. The church is still suffering repercussions on the issue of blacks on the priesthood, but it will be nothing like the issue of homosexuality/gay marriage.
In my eyes, the church has two options, both having complex consequences:
- The church maintains its stance on homosexuality and its in-hospitality toward those who choose to embrace their orientation (as the "core characteristic" that Elder Oaks says it is) and move forward with their life. The consequences of this, as society continues to realize the prejudice and bias that is the root of the unjust treatment of homosexuals, will be more broken families, wards, and testimonies. It will mean less converts, more members leaving, and poorer world image. Mormons will become even more isolated and "elite." The church will loose many ward organists, choir members, performers, and other talented members who serve the church in ways that touch people who otherwise would not be touched by the spirit of their message.
- The church changes its stance on homosexuality and welcomes and includes monogamous, committed homosexual couples in their congregations. The consequences of this will be a loss of power over and blind-trust exhibited by many active members. Members will have to reconcile the change in policy with their testimony of church leadership. They will be thrust into a world of understanding an issue that they have actively been avoiding well after society has visited and considered it. Some members may leave with broken testimonies. But families will be reunited and relationships mended. Wards will become more diverse and welcoming. Leadership and membership will be reminded of how little we know and understand and how ill-equipped we are to judge anyone. Many of the gay members of the church who have left will return with their families and talents and love to serve in the church. The black marks on the church's reputation will begin to be erased as the church will be forced to apologize (something they aren't accustom to doing). The reason leadership will have to apologize, again, is the availability of information. The people and families affected by the issue will have wounds that are still fresh. The hurtful words and actions will not be forgotten. It won't be 30 years for disgruntled members to work out their feelings. In short- the church as a whole will be humbled.