Feb 8, 2011
John Larsen and Robyn speak with Steven Fehr about his homosexuality and his faith in the LDS Church.
Salt Lake Tribune: LDS and gay: Believer reconciles faith, love
Podcast: Play in new window
By John Larsen
Tags: Bishop, commitment ceremony, disciplinary council, excommunication, family, gay, Homosexuality, Love, marriage, people, Prayer, reparative therapy, sex, Snow College, ward
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Steven, I can’t possibly hope to understand how you can still believe the church is TRUE when this church clearly and repeatedly has stated that homosexuals choose to be gay and are evil.
These positions contradict the feelings you got about the church when you were praying and felt you should read that particular scripture. The church you claim to still believe is true *opposes* the confirmation you felt that you are a good person and will be fine. The LDS church opposes your love for Isaiah, your commitment ceremony, your potential marriage if this human right is ever granted where you live.
Nothing that made you feel good about yourself when you prayed comes from LDS Inc. Nothing that makes you happy with Isaiah comes from LDS Inc.
Your happiness comes by NOT living as this church wants you to live. How you can still believe the church us true when it clearly makes you miserable and destroys the good feelings you believe you got from the Lord when you prayed. If you believe these feelings of ease and self worth came from God, where do you think the feelings of pain, self-hatred and sadness come from?
It seems you love the church for social and community reasons. You might feel good around the members of your ward who know you That does not mean the LDS corporation is truth any more than any other group you belong to is truth or from God.
You know for a fact that church leaders lie. You know you did not choose to be gay. You need to think about that and ask yourself how the leaders of a church that claims to speak only the truth can speak so many lies.
Not “allowed” to speak in Sunday School? Steve, they are still treating you like garbage.
Dude, ozpoof, when are you going to understand that there are all sorts of shades of Mormonism, not just yours? Let Steven believe in whatever he wants to believe in…from your view, does it matter?
Umm, that’s my point. He DOESN’T believe in Mormonism. If he did he would believe he was evil, chose to be gay, would be married to a woman, and miserable.
There are no shades of Mormonism at all. You either believe it 100%, or you are an apostate. That’s Mormonism’s rules, not mine.
Well, I guess in your eyes mormonism has its ‘rules’ and there is no grey area. But I think the beauty of this story and of many others about people in the ME community and the Mormon Stories community is that there is a way to maintain a relationship with the church without buying in 100% or not at all. The church has it’s standards, like one man one woman marriages in the temple with children born in the covenant, but a lot of times it doesn’t work out that way, and the church doesn’t kick people out if they don’t fit 100%.
You missed the message of the bishop who told Steve that the church could excommunicate him but they couldn’t terminate his relationship with god. So in my mind, and I think in Steven’s the church can encourage and even demand certain behavior and they may respond in negative ways if those demands aren’t met. But ultimately when we’re talking about spiritual matters, the church does not have the final word on salvation or anything in the afterlife.
And if someone doesn’t believe in god then the church really has no power whatsoever anymore. Sure, you can call it abusive, but once a person doesn’t believe in sin or resurrection or whatever, then the church just turns into something like an annoying little brother that won’t shut up and leave you alone. I guess you can call it abusive, but I just call it an annoyance. Your attitude gives me the impression that you still are letting the church have way more power over you than it needs to have. Steven has moved beyond that, and I find it inspirational because that is the approach I am trying to take as well.
The church doesn’t kick people out if they abide by it’s rules. Steve WAS kicked out because he didn’t. That’s what excommunication is.
I agree with you and Steven’s bishop, the church cannot stop a relationship between anyone and the God they worship, however, the church can stop you performing the rituals and ordinances a believer in Mormonism thinks he/she needs to return to God’s presence. They could also ask Steven to stop attending if he dared to make any comments affirming his lifestyle.
STEVEN clearly has not moved beyond the power the LDS corporation has over him. THEY WON’T ALLOW HIM TO SPEAK, and he complies. I don’t go to the Mormon cult anymore because I don’t believe any of it. Steven doesn’t believe in Mormonism either – if he did he wouldn’t be having sex with a man – yet he continues to attend. He has not moved beyond the church that told him he was crap. That’s really sad.
You still missed my point, ozpoof.
What’s your point? Steven IS NOT A MORMON. He doesn’t believe what they teach and he has been exxed. There are NOT different shades of Mormonism at all. Mormonism is the same everywhere on the planet. You either believe, or like Steven, you don’t.
Mormonism is bigger than the dogma preached by 15 men in official statements. It is bigger than a single church, including several churches and some individuals with no institutional affiliation. It is like a language, existing in as many different forms as people use every day. Sure, some folks try to corral it into ironclad rules, writing grammars and dictionaries and founding institutes for the preservation of the mother tongue, but in the end, these efforts are inadequate to contain the vitality of human imagination. No matter how hard anyone tries, Mormonism will never be a closed system, a zero-sum game run by an unambiguous leader or leaders.
Yes! You took the words right out of my mouth, Hermes. And the fact that people like Steven are willing to continue to participate despite some of the crap that has happened to them gives me hope that we can still be a community of saints regardless of whether we all think, walk, or act alike. I don’t mean to go on so much, but I just feel like again Steve is a great example of using the church community for the positive aspects and just not worrying about the other stuff. It may not be the one ‘right’ approach and it is certainly not the only approach to take, but I admire it nonetheless.
No. It’s called the Morg for a reason. Assimilate or be rejected. What other church would pretty much ignore someone who attends – not *ALLOW* him to speak – because he hasn’t fully assimilated? The man has to sit silent in class. Pathetic and disgusting.
Anyone try bringing up TRUTH about the Mormon cult when they spout lies and see how long it is before you too are told to shut up.
There is NO middle way.
I don’t know how many times I need to repeat this, but here goes again.
If you don’t agree 100% with what the 15 old farts say, or the COB faceless corporate clones, whoever is running the cult, then you are not a worthy Mormon and can’t get a temple recommend and are therefore not 100% TBM.
You CANNOT claim to be a Mormon and disagree with church dogma and policy. Whatever the Prophet and the others who claim to communicate with JESUS CHRIST say goes. You don’t argue with a messenger of Christ. When you go through the temple you vow to give ALL to the church. You must support the leadership before you can even go to the temple. You must attend the temple regularly to be in good standing, so your continued support of the leadership is demanded.
So Hermes no, there is absolutely not a range of Mormonism. You are either in 100% or out. The “ironclad rules” are written by those who DEMAND you support those rules.
Try getting a temple recommend by saying you don’t support the leadership in their treatment of gays and you believe the LDS church is lying when they claim gays choose to be gay and you oppose the LDS stand on gay marriage. You will not be allowed in the temple because you will not be temple worthy and therefore you are not a TBM. You’re a cling-on attending church to catch up with friends, but you are not a true Mormon.
Well, Oz, in my last temple recommend interview I told the stake presidency member that I thought the church was wrong on Prop. 8. He agreed with me. I still got my recommend.
If I put it in the terms you said, and said they were ‘lying’ I suppose it might be a different story. I don’t think they are lying. But I do oppose their stand on gay marriage and I know several people in leadership positions who feel similarly.
I won’t let any active member, leader or otherwise, tell me what it means to be a ‘true’ mormon. I certainly won’t let someone who is full of anger and hate toward the church tell me what it means either.
The GAs tell gays that we choose to be gay. I know for a fact that is a lie. I very much doubt, given the lives most gays have to endure under the BS of people like TBMs, that anyone would ever choose to be gay even if they could.
You really shouldn’t have received your Temple Recommend if you openly stated you do not support the leadership of the church.
Fortunately for me in this case, my leaders are obviously more reasonable on this issue than you are, oz.
No, they are dishonest, and are not doing the job they have been called to do. There is no “reasonable” with TR interviews. There is a set of questions and you are expected to answer them honestly. Why you even feel you need to go to the temple when you appear to have received your TR under false pretenses is beyond me.
I only attend church when I feel like it. I don’t have a temple recommend, and may never have one again. I do not regard the brethren as authorities in ethics, biology, or anything else really. But I will always be a Mormon: my ethical outlook on life comes from the culture (of which the church is just a part, Oz).
So you are not an active member. You may call yourself a Mormon, but by saying you don’t believe the brethren are inspired of God and that you therefore don’t support them 100%, you aren’t a fully active Mormon. A Satanist may occasionally sit in the back of Sacrament meeting, but that doesn’t make him a Mormon. Mormonism is very clear as to who is in and who is out.
“Mormonism” isn’t clear. 15 guys are very clear (or try to be).
You’re 100% correct. Mormonism isn’t clear. I don’t think you are clear on what is currently required by members of the LDS church either.
ozpoof I think the only one trying to make Steven feel like ” Garbage ” is you . The good thing is that Steve seems to have moved pass the pain and anger that the church has caused him . One thing that your right about is that Steven has found his Happiness from within. I hope that you will find your happiness and peace as you move forward in your Life . Did you not find anything moving about this podcast. I guess not ..
Ozproof is right about one thing: Not allowing Steve to speak in meetings is pretty freaking belittling. The dude obviously loves the church and believes in it. What harm would it cause to let him speak? THAT is treating him like garbage, not Ozproof.
It pains me to hear Steve love a church that hates him (his lifestyle, and thus his inner self) so much. The church is POISON on so many levels it is absolutely depressing.
Good luck to Steve. I really wish you the best. You are clearly a good person with a good, honest, pure heart.
Indeed. Way to go church — kick out people who love you.
Yes I did. I found it moving like I find it moving when I hear stories of women who stay with abusive men. The church is STILL abusing him, forbidding him to speak in meetings! It’s sad that Steven puts up with this when he clearly doesn’t believe what the LDS corporation teaches anyway.
This was probably one of my favorite ME podcasts of all time. I remember reading the article about Steven in the SL Tribune and feeling angry at the way the church treats him. Listening to Steven really opened my eyes. He certainly has a lot of reasons to be angry and leave the church forever. But he hasn’t decided to take that route. I am really moved by his determination to see the good in his leaders and the overall organization. Of course I don’t expect anyone or everyone to take this approach, but it was obvious that he is content with his choices as of right now, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I can only hope that one day I can arrive at a similar happy place whether in or out of the church. I still struggle and deal with anger and other emotions regarding my relationship with the church.
I think the one part that could really sort of put things into perspective for those who can’t really understand why he stays is how he talked about how much he loved and cared about his partner, and how it was so painful to consider that his membership in a church that he loved and cared about would be put in jeopardy. For some people the answer is to let go of the church. But why is it so hard for some listeners to understand that for others, even given the fact that the church is not perfect, that the love and caring they feel for mormonism is not something they want to just toss aside because it is not 100% true, or true they way they believed it was when they were 12 years old? Just because my relationship with my wife isn’t 100% perfect doesn’t make it worthless by any stretch. We can keep changing and improving.
I have seen discussions between people about how an organization can’t be true because it’s like saying what Subway sandwich is the truest sandwich? So which Subway sandwich is completely untrue anyway? In other words, if an organization can’t necessarily be defined as ‘true,’ can it be defined as completely untrue?
Great story, Steven. You prove the rule that an -ism cannot be owned; it can only be shared. Thanks for enriching Mormonism (and all of us who follow Mormon Expression) with yourself.
I was very impressed with the emotional maturity and intestinal fortitude displayed as you described your journey . There are few people who can transcend what others see as injustice, inequality, unfair practices, etc., and take from these experiences the opportunity for greater awareness, self discovery, introspection, and growth. I sense no agenda with you. I admire the fact that you are good with who you are, and that you comfortably exist in your own skin. I find you “harmless” in a complementary sort of way. I think you are truly a person who sees the value in “taking the high road”. I found myself wanting to teleport back into time and mount a defense on your behalf.
I think you diffused the power of the institution by shaking hands with it and saying in effect, “You did what you had to do, and I’m OK, how about you?”.
Steven has the healthiest attitude about life that I’ve ever encountered! I’m a little jealous.
AMAZING interview. Steven, thank you so much for sharing your story. I believe you are uniquely positioned to make things better for other people, in a way that only you could manage. Kudos. Thanks, ME, for this podcast. It’s certainly a winner.
Stephen is an amazing man. I’m also impressed with his committment to his own spiritual core and decided that though a church might excommunicate with him, it doesn’t excommunicate him from God and his own religious core.
I think one of the reasons why I was impressed, though, was the way that his leaders treated him. I understand the formal rules that they are under, and I think they did the best they possibly could. Could they have voiced their opinion against Salt Lake? Sure, but is that really realistic with men like that?
I’m not sure if Steven is reading comments or not, but what has the reception of the ward and ward leadership been to him returning to church? Does Isaiah go with you? It sounds like they’re somewhat accepting, since you’ve performed during sacrament meeting…
My leaders and fellow members have treated me as they always have. If anything, they have been even more welcoming. Isaias does not go with me. He supports my decision to attend church, but does not feel (and I agree with him) that he needs to confine himself to four walls of a church to worship God.
Steve you are inspiring in so many ways. First your willingness to share your story in a community that is extremely judgmental, secondly following your own path and desires and being willing to choose that path regardless of the consequences, and thirdly maintaining a positive attitude when you were given every opportunity and reason to be resentful and bitter.
I admire you that you were willing to follow this path instead of trying to be someone you weren’t and bringing a wife and children into it as well. I wish more people would take this path and that the church would stop trying to use therapy and guilt to change people and instead let them choose their own path. A lot less people would be hurt in the long run.
Thanks for the great podcast!!
That was beautiful! I really enjoyed it. Stephen I really appreciate how positive you are. You did a great job.
Steven, what is it about the church that you believe is true? I’m sure you are welcomed and that some of the members of your ward accept and love you but, if that is what you *believe in* well, you can find that in many places.
You are either deluding your self out of guilt by still going to church or, you are not being honest about your motivations.
Sorry, but I don’t believe in “black and whites.” I don’t attend church simply for social reasons or the love of my fellow man because, yeah, you’re right; I could get that elsewhere. I know others will disagree, and that’s fine, but I DO believe that Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and the Son and really did translate the Book of Mormon and in the restoration. I also believe that regardless of what has been taught across the pulpit at times that all is not as “black and white” as it sometimes appears, and that there is much more to Heavenly Father’s plan than we may realize.
I fully admit that I don’t have all the answers or understand how everything correlates, but I do believe that God still inspires me and that I still am able to recieve personal revelation, and I still very much feel that the LDS Church is where I am supposed to be right now.
I still gain much insight from attending church, listening to lessons, and feeling the spirit. I feel no guilt in my life regarding my sexuality, and I also feel I am being honest in my motivations for why I attend a Mormon ward, so perhaps there is a third choice.
I do not feel that I have to throw the baby out with the bath water just because the bath water has some problems. I don’t believe in an “all or nothing” approach. There are many positive things that Mormonism gives me and has given me, and I don’t feel like I have to throw that all away just because there are issues I have with the LDS Church regarding homosexuality. I take what I can use and discard the rest. If that appears disingenuous to some, I can’t really help that. I’m doing what works for me and what makes me happy, and as long as it works for me, and as long as I feel I should do it, I will. I make no apologies for that.
There are those who leave the LDS Church who automatically toss out or “forget” any of the good things Mormonism has given them because of the things they find distasteful or untruthful. If they wish to do that, that’s their choice, but I don’t feel it has to be that way.
You know, I live with someone who is of a different faith. He lives his faith the way he does and respects the way I live mine. In spite of differing ways of organizing our faith, we respect and love each other and live together in harmony, and all is good.
I’m not here to convince anyone that the way I live my life is “right” or “preferable.” It’s just my way of living it. And the fact is that although I may be a Mormon in my heart, I am no longer a Mormon officially. No one is forcing me to go to church. I can still speak all I want about any subject I choose outside the four walls of an LDS Church. The LDS Church has no power over me that I don’t give it. I am healthy and happy, and free. I honestly have no agenda. I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking; I just wanted to share my story and hope that maybe some good can come out of it.
I know I’m confusing to some, but I’m happy nonethess, and I guess that’s really what counts for me.
I appreciate everyone’s comments and questions, and I sincerely mean that. I’ve pretty much said what I want to say in the podcast, so it is doubtful I will be responding to any more comments here.
Thanks so much for listening to my story and caring enough to even talk about it. It means a lot to me.
Steven, you say you believe the church is true up until the death of Joseph Smith it seems, then you want to take or leave only what you want after that.
If the Mormon church is true, and it was founded by a true prophet, then where do you decide what doctrines actually apply to you? Do you go by the standard works alone, including canonized revelations, or do you also believe all the prophets after Smith were true too?
You seem to be cherry-picking. Mormonism doesn’t work that way, which is why you have been excommunicated. How can you say you believe in Mormonism when you have lived in such a way that forced church leaders to treat you this way?
ozproof I think your treating Steven just like the church leaders that your talking about . Wow your really caught up in the church. Ozproof maybe you could learn something from Steven and maybe its how to let go of the past and move on to not be so bitter. Put down your cup of bitter tea.
No. I’m being honest. I don’t believe anyone in a leadership role in the church is honest, and I don’t believe Steven is being honest with himself either.
In future, I wonder if you could explain yourself rather than just making an accusation like “your (sic) treating Steven just like the church leaders”. How am I doing this? At least get my name right.
I don’t believe Steven has let go of the past.He is STILL ATTENDING the church that clearly does not want him. How is that moving on?
Bitter? Oh yes I’m bitter, and I have good reason to be. I don’t feel that it’s in my best interests to simply ignore my past and not to inform others where the LDS cult has got it so wrong. You can’t learn from the past if everyone ignores it. I’m sick to death of people (mostly TBM cult members) telling me to forget what is in the past and move on. The only reason many people escape the LDS cult is through people researching and bringing the past to light.
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