Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kendall and the Stake President's Requirements

Last night, Kendall had a meeting with his bishop. He and Valerie have decided that maybe they'd like to get married sooner than February of next year, which requires him to work on a few key items. The main requirement at this point is to have him pay a full tithe for at least three months, which he's working on. There is another "requirement" that we're uncomfortable with.

The bishop told Kendall that the Stake President has asked Kendall to write a letter, telling him how he feels and what his position is with my situation/homosexuality. He wants to know if he feels that it's a sin, if he supports it, etc.

As Kendall told me this, I couldn't help but begin to boil a bit inside. Here is this man, near perfect, who has stood by me for YEARS - being deprived of connection, intimacy, romantic love, and affection. He pushed all selfish needs and desires aside for the love of his wife, no matter what that meant for him. He has gone to church every week, whether I'm with him or not, whether he felt accepted and fellowshipped or not. He has made a few mistakes, but (even though it's hard to imagine with the "perfection" and all) he's human! He has a fiance that he's head over heels in love with, who treats him like the king he is, and they have a desire to be married for eternity. His desires are pure, his intent is golden, his wishes should be granted and then he should receive above and beyond even that!

But Kendall's reality in this moment is that he's faced with the very real possibility that if he shares his true feelings, beliefs, and heart, he and Valerie may not be granted the wish they desire. But he doesn't believe that lying or withholding will be productive either. My personal feeling is that he is being forced to go against what his heart tells him is okay.

I tried to pin his feelings down, because even though I know our story and have listened to his heart for years regarding this subject, I was curious as to what he is now feeling... now that he's in the position of having to choose. He said, "Well, I feel that I'm being asked to judge you and I don't think that's right. I think that being gay is fine and you should be able to do what you want. I also think the church as an organization hast he right to set requirements for the members." I realized he was talking very generally and I pushed him even harder. I said, "I know those feelings. Now I want to know how you feel about our situation, about me personally, about the fact that the church was so important to me and I had to choose which identity to fully embrace, since both identities (homosexual and spiritual) were so important to me? How do you feel about the fact that I wish I could be a full member of the church AND be true to myself as a lesbian, yet I was thrown away? Shunned. Driven away from my people? Do you think that's right? Do you think that's fair?" He very emphatically said, "No. I don't think it's right. I don't think it's fair. But what do I do?" His exasperation and fear of the what-if was evident.

I told him that he and Valerie are going to have to decide that, but that I don't believe it's fair that he's been placed in that position. It's not a requirement for a temple recommend to write a letter to his Stake President, telling him his stance on homosexuality. Kendall is not "acting on homosexuality." Kendall is not in a committed relationship with a man. Kendall is not speaking out against the church. In fact, he is actually doing what he can to be a part of something that is important to him and his new wife, even though he sees the damage that it has caused me/us/our family. He is fulfilling the requirements and I don't believe more should be asked of him.

I believe a person should be able to have opinions, stand firm with them, and still be accepted into the church. I recognize the fact that actions contrary to what the church has asked of him will bring necessary consequences. No big deal. I get it. But Kendall's actions aren't in question. He's an amazing man with a genuine desire to make a beautiful life with his new wife and their combined families. He chooses to do this in the church, in the temple, the best way he knows how. So what if he supports me? So what if he supports many like me, and equality? So what!


Last I heard, he was considering either writing a letter to the stake president telling him that he doesn't feel it necessary to share his stance, or he was going to talk with his bishop again and see where things went.

Let me just say this, the stake president has not once had a discussion with Kendall to find out who he is. He never had a discussion with me either, to try to get to know me, before accusing me of being a predator. I sense a theme. I don't believe it's right or fair to ask Kendall to write a letter simply stating "for" or "against" the homosexuality issue, especially since he's never taken 30 minutes out of his time to introduce himself and to get a feel for the caliber of man that Kendall is. I have no respect for this man. I have had beautiful experiences with many leaders, even in a tough situation that requires discipline, so this isn't church-leader hatred. This is disbelief, discouragement, and disrespect for one specific leader who has required something that is uncalled for.

Although I don't personally feel that it's necessary, or "right," for my own life, I know that a temple marriage is what Kendall desires. That's good enough for me. I can't for the life of me imagine that he could be deprived of such a supposed blessing when he's as amazing as he is. I'll update the blog with any new developments.

1 comment:

Trev said...

Oh my, that's terrible. I hope everything works out; I'm sure it will in the end. I'll be interested in seeing how this develops.

When ridiculous stuff like this happens, I like to think that it forces some kind of institutional confrontation and can catalyze change that wouldn't otherwise happen if everyone (on both "sides") just went along with a nice face and stagnated.