What Would You Say?

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What Would You Say?

Post by Meoclew » 21 Sep 2012, 14:46

I would like to issue everyone a challenge: What would you say if you were to give a sacrament talk at this very moment?

Here's mine.

In the past few years since Proposition 8, our church has received a great deal of negative attention on a national scale. This is not too troubling to us. We have been prepared to deal with persecutions since the days of our pioneer ancestors. We do not need the world to approve of us because we serve a higher cause.
Prop. 8 was a time of great conflict. It was a time that revealed great strength and great pain on both sides. Members in the state of California were asked to give their time and efforts to support Prop. 8 and the idea of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Many faithful members put aside their own personal feelings on the matters and obeyed.
What resulted was an inspiring moment in time. We saw an extremely efficient, organized and determined group providing an essential service toward the success of a law that defended their idea of a sacred relationship.
We also saw that experience sow hatred and anger in the hearts of many. Tragically, Proposition 8 became of battle of ‘us versus them.’ Many members, in seeking to be even more obedient, began looking down on people in the homosexual community, going so far as to ostracize and alienate even our own members. Gay members, whether practicing or not, were subjected to persecutions of their own, as well as any of those in the church that felt that they could not in good conscience support the Proposition.
Many people left the church, some out of anger and some from hurt. While the Lord may have intended for it to be a purifying time, of separating the “wheat” from the “tares,” we consider ourselves to be a loving and accepting people, and would never seek to drive away any from our midst.
Fortunately, these past few years have seen some healing take place. Anger has died down, the ‘us versus them’ mindset has slowly faded, and new light has been shed on the issue of ‘Same Gender Attraction’ in the church.
Church leaders have urged us to open our hearts to our spiritual brothers and sisters, and make our religion a safe place for people of every sexual orientation. We are helped to understand that homosexuality, in and of itself, is not a sin; it is not a choice. Members with feelings of same gender attraction have a right to the same blessings and roles within the church as any other worthy member. We are to understand the great difficulties and trials that those members face, and help strengthen and uplift them as they journey through this painful mortality. We are to embrace them into our fold and welcome them with open arms.
Now, I would like all of you to momentarily forget all of that and focus only on the story that I am about to tell you.
My good friend Shawn and I have been close for many years. I have always admired and respected Shawn as a very faithful and very active member of the church. Anyone who knows him can see that he has a very close and personal relationship with Heavenly Father.
One day, in Sacrament Meeting, he stood up to give a talk. As he looked over the familiar faces of his ward, he said these words:
“Good morning brothers and sisters! How excited I am to be able to share with you today the gratitude that I have for Heavenly Father. I have been so very blessed in my life; truly the Lord has rewarded my meager faith with all the blessings one could hope for, and my cup spilleth over.
“I was fortunate enough to have been born into the covenant to choice parents in the land of Zion. My family was so loving and supportive. I guess that things did get a little strained sometimes in my teenage years since it wasn’t always easy for us to see eye to eye. But I found a deeper appreciation and love for them as I served my mission in Brazil. My mission was the best consecutive two years of my life.
“As sad as it was to see it end, I was looking forward to getting back into the world of dating. Attending BYU was a marvelous time. I was blessed to meet and go out with many attractive and faithful LDS women. My parents teased that I seemed to be in love with a different girl every week. After some time of dating around and meeting all these amazing girls, God finally led me to the one true love of my life. She is so beautiful, and my soul would not be complete without her. We got married in the temple three years ago, and we just found out that we will soon be expecting our second baby. We are so happy with our one year old son, and we can’t wait to greet our next little boy or girl.”
Here, Shawn paused for a long moment and looked over the congregation solemnly.
“Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, much of that last is not true, nor will it ever be true.
“I am gay. I have been gay for as long as I have ever known. And before you start wondering; No - it is not the product of sexual abuse, pornography, hormonal deficiencies, gender confusion, recruitment, unchaste behavior, persuasion or any other external factors. And no - it cannot be cured with counseling, hormone treatments, confession, lecture, sympathy, electro-shock therapy, lines in the sand or sheer force of will.
“In the same way that you are attracted to the opposite gender, I am attracted to the same. God, in His infinite wisdom, has made me this way. I can no more choose who to be attracted to than you can. Perhaps one day God will see fit to perform a miracle and change me, but due to certain things such as priesthood blessings, discussion with many church leaders and personal revelation, I have reason to believe that this will not happen, and I can expect to feel this way for the rest of my life.
“Brothers, when you came of the age of your first childhood crush, I developed my very first crush on a boy in my class. My friends all seemed to be interested in one particular girl, and I could not understand it. I was confused.
“When you first developed deep feelings of longing and attraction for the girl of your interest, I had secretly fallen for a boy I met at a church activity. I was embarrassed.
“When you first attended a dance and got to dance with the girl of your choice, wondering if perhaps she was “The One,” I was on the side, trying not to be seen and trying not to look at the other boys just in case I found one attractive. I was afraid.
“When you were going on your first group date, enjoying a night with your close guy friends and your soon to be girlfriends, I was at home avoiding movies, books and real life in the hopes that I might stop yearning for the kind of romantic relationship I could see all around me. I was ashamed.
“When you were excitedly planning with your missionary companion new ways to bring the joys of the gospel to more people, I was listening to my companion muse about how homosexuality is “unnatural” and does not fit in any part of God’s plan. I was distraught.
“When you were courting lovely women, in search of “The One,” I was on my knees begging God to remove this curse from me, asking Him for ways that I could have had greater faith and obedience so that I could finally be worthy of His grace. I was devastated.
“When you were telling your mom that you were engaged to be married in the temple for time and all eternity, I was telling my mom why I may never be sealed to someone, why she may never have any grandchildren. I was humiliated.
“Someday, when you have your wife, your children, your grandchildren, perhaps even your great-grandchildren, I will still be alone, avoiding any circumstances that may tempt me, avoiding any man that I may become too close to. When you are called to the bishopric, I will be serving in any capacity that I can while remaining unmarried. When you are looking back on a long lifetime of a loving relationship with your spouse, I will be wondering what that might feel like.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not seek pity. I do not seek to criticize our church. I do not wish to bemoan my lot in life. I only need for you to understand. My circumstances are not unique, and many of you know someone who is also in my position.
“I ask that we always remember to have love in our hearts for all of God’s children. We must seek understanding before we pass judgement. We must become a channel for the pure love of Christ.”
As Shawn returned to his seat, a pressing silence filled the chapel. Not a sound could be heard. Shawn quietly drew a tissue from his pocket and wiped his eyes.

We no longer have the luxury of dismissing Homosexuality as being “not my problem.” That time has passed. I beg you to remember that your actions and your attitudes do affect other people. Look back on what happened during Proposition 8. Look at who we became, how we treated people, the things we said. Vow that we will never become those people again.

We are Latter Day Saints. We are better than that. We are a family, and we take care of our own.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
-Winston Churchill

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Meoclew » 21 Sep 2012, 14:50

I also want to point out that this Shawn is not any Shawn that anyone would know from staylds.com.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
-Winston Churchill

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Sep 2012, 15:46

Honestly, there are so many talks I would give (and have given and do give) that it would be hard to say - but, not surprisingly to anyone who knows me at all, I probably would center it on Elder Wirthlin's orchestra image in "Concern for the One", with the central topic focus being charity and the pure nature of Zion.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Heber13 » 21 Sep 2012, 22:51

I would ask Wayfarer to write the talk for me, and I'd deliver it word for word! :D

Actually, my talk would be something about Christ's love. I would want something people in the congregation could apply to their lives, maybe a new angle on a familiar topic.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by mom3 » 22 Sep 2012, 08:56

My talk would be on 3 Nephi 18: 22-25 and 30-33. I've given in the shower often and it sounds really good.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Orson » 22 Sep 2012, 09:04

I always like to focus on the greatest commandment.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Sep 2012, 09:58

I wouldn't talk in Sacrament meeting even though I'm an experienced speaker -- unless they asked me to. Then I'd modify the assigned topic to fit what I can speak about with authenticity.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Gerald » 22 Sep 2012, 10:38

There's some real power in your sample talk, Meoclew. A great deal of courage, too.

I'm not sure what I would talk about but I know what I would NOT do: I would not make a feeble joke about the circumstances under which the bishopric member asked me to give this talk (I love my ward but EVERY SINGLE SPEAKER in sacrament meeting starts his or her talk this way. I'm not exaggerating.) I would not discuss how nervous and ill prepared I am (talk about setting oneself up for failure). I would not read my talk (though I know some people have to). I would not go over time (though I have done that in the past).
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by mercyngrace » 22 Sep 2012, 13:09

I teach and speak so often, I don't think I have anything left to say.

I feel like I'm a broken record lately. Speaking of which, I have a lesson to prepare for the morning...
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

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Re: What Would You Say?

Post by Roy » 23 Sep 2012, 12:06

Hi Meoclew,

I really liked your hypothetical talk. Part of why I liked it is that I agree with so many of your sentiments. Unfortunately I don't think that is what you would get from a typical ward. Not that everyone would react uniformly. To the contrary, I believe that there would be a huge divergence in the reactions. Some would love it and others would hate it and I would be most uncomfortable at the center of the conflict.

My most recent talk was about Charity - How God has it abundantly and gives it perfectly, generously, and lavishly to us. How Christ through the atonement knows everything about you, yet looks on you (and me) with compassion and love and then forgives you anyway.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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