To commemorate LGBTQ Pride Month, BYU-Idaho adjunct professor Ruthie Robertson wrote an uplifting, private post on her personal Facebook page. Robertson is a 22-year-old Mormon who graduated from the same university; BYU-Idaho (along with all the other BYU campuses) is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In June, Robertson saw Pride Month as an opportunity to explore the conflict between her religion and her support for the LGBTQ community. As she notes, the church of the Latter-Day Saints has a pointed history of opposing the rights of LGBTQ individuals – a stance Robertson takes issue with.
The Salt Lake Tribune obtained Robertson’s Facebook post in full, in which she criticizes some pretty common rhetoric about using the Bible to guide values concerning LGBTQ individuals. She calls out the church, saying: “For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit.” According to the Old Testament, she notes, being gay is a sin. But the Old Testament also forbids wearing clothes of mixed textiles. The Old Testament says a woman is “impure” while she is menstruating and must be completely avoided. Robertson wonders why the church follows some of these biblical guidelines and avoids others.
Robertson finishes the post with her “official statement” on the issue. “I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful . . . I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community. Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that’s how we were made. Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are, not despite who they are.”
“Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that’s how we were made. Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are, not despite who they are.”
Robertson says she was asked to sit down with the administrators at BYU-Idaho the day after she posted the message. The conversation reportedly started “pretty positive,” with the officials attempting to learn more about Robertson’s passion for the LGBTQ community. It eventually took a negative turn; the officials urged her to reconsider her values, to pray on the issue for a few days, and to take down the post. They seemed to imply that there was an ultimatum: Robertson would delete the post if she wanted to keep her job.
After the meeting, Robertson did make some edits to the post, but she ultimately refused to take it down. A week later, she was fired. Robertson told The Salt Lake City Tribune she “was upset they would fire me over something like this. I was kind of indignant. I wasn’t going to back down.”
This isn’t the only controversy over its treatment of LGBTQ individuals and allies that the Mormon church has faced in recent months. In June, an equally disheartening story surfaced about a 12-year-old Mormon girl named Savannah who attempted to come out to her congregation during a testimony meeting. The church switched off her microphone before she could finish, and her church leader told her to return to her seat.
For what it’s worth, the LDS Church has slightly expanded its official view of the LGBTQ community. Decades ago, the church referred to homosexuality as an “evil lifestyle choice,” but last year, it declared that there is a place for gay people in its church. Despite this public messaging, stories like Savannah’s and Robertson’s seem to prove that behind closed doors, there is still deep-seated opposition to really accepting the LGBTQ community in a meaningful way.
Read Robertson’s full Facebook post:
In honor of LGBT Pride Month, I thought I would reveal some things in the name of authenticity.
I’m currently a member of the LDS Church. This organization has openly and forcefully opposed same-sex relationships and legalized same-sex marriage. They pushed members in California to fight against Prop 8, and had a policy claiming that same-sex relationships were a sin and discouraged individuals from participating in them. In the past, the Church was a facilitator for adoptions. They ended this part of the organization to avoid having to deal with adoption requests from same-sex couples. In November 2015, they took their stance further by labeling same-sex couples in the Church as apostates, meaning those found in these relationships would have a disciplinary hearing to determine their membership status; they can either end their engagements in this sinful life, or be excommunicated. The policy also prevents their children from joining the Church until they are 18, with the condition that they disavow their parents life style. For an organization that places so much importance on the family unit, this policy sure seems to be attacking a form of that unit.
Most Christian faiths label homosexuality as a sin based on archaic writings. A few hateful verses in the Old Testament have led to hundreds of years of prejudice, hatred, violence, and pain. If we’re going to follow the Old Testament, and use it to justify a hateful stance, there are several other things we need to start condemning and punishing. Leviticus 19:19 tells us we can’t wear clothing of two kinds of material… so, basically every clothing item ever has to be burned. The next time you see someone wearing clothes(which is always… so, you’re welcome for the opportunity to show your spiritual superiority), check the tag to see the materials it’s made from. If it’s more than one, tell them they should desire to walk around naked rather than wear clothing made of more than one material! Women, in Leviticus 15, we learn that God purposely made us unclean. When we menstruate, we are unclean for those 7 days. Oh, and anyone or anything that touches us during that time is unclean as well. You aren’t allowed to go to church at that time because you’ll corrupt everything there with your blood flow. Oh, and you know how God also gave us the ability to grow a human inside of us? Well, after a woman has a child, she has a period of impurity and cannot be touched. If it’s a boy, she’s unclean for 40 days. If it’s a girl, she’s unclean for 80 days. As a female, you also are not allowed to read from the scriptures (wait… how am I supposed to know about my impurity rituals then?! I need to know how to make myself pure after my period!..too bad). You also cannot preach in a church (can I use this excuse next time I’m asked to speak in church?) None of this is archaic, sexist, or totally illogical at all though, right? God commanded these things, so we need to make sure we make these into policies as well!
What I’m trying convey is that we like to pick and choose from the scriptures, and if we choose to use the Old Testament as a defense for condemning homosexuality… there’s a whole lot more we need to be condemning as well. The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the keystone of the Church, right? It never once mentions homosexuality. What is does mention is that God disposed the practice of polygamy, and the Nephites are brought to repentance for practicing it…. yet, Joseph Smith said God commanded him to practice it. We can’t keep picking and choosing what kind of God we worship, and we can’t keep picking and choosing which commandments of his are to be enforced or not.
This is my official announcement and declaration that I believe heterosexuality and homosexuality are both natural and neither is sinful. I will never support the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” because that “sin” is part of who that person is. Homosexuality and transgenderism are not sins; if God made us, and those are part of who we are.. then God created that as well. I realize that my views counter the current day policies of the LDS Church, but I hope that over time the Church will come to see the harm these policies have. Church History shows that the Church has rescinded policies before that weren’t doctrinal, and that weren’t inspired by the Lord. I hope that this will some day apply to the stance on the LGBT community. I will always and forever stand up for the equality of the LGBT community. Sexuality and gender are not binary, they are on a spectrum and that’s how we were made.
Stand up for humanity, love people because of who they are… not despite who they are. Trump can break the tradition of June being LGBT pride month, but I’m still going to celebrate it.. this month and every month to follow. #LGBTPrideMonth