Bishop Kloosterman, Courage, Integrity

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Two weeks ago in Salt Lake City, at a weekend-long seminar dedicated to exploring LGBT issues in the church, Bishop Kloosterman from Illinois offered the closing talk. I am copying it here for everyone to consider. Discussion is open in the comments section!

To him I say, thank you.

So much love,

TheLadyMo

“Good morning, brothers and sisters. My straight brothers and sisters, and my
gay and lesbian, and transgendered brothers and sisters.

You and I know that I can’t speak on behalf of the church tonight, but I can
speak on behalf of myself. I want to tell you, if you leave here not
remembering anything I have to say, remember this: I’m sorry. Deeply, deeply
sorry.

Brother Miller got one thing wrong with me. I have not been a long-time
advocate for the cause. I’m a recent convert. [audience laughter] A lot of
people have asked me why I’m here today, and as I said yesterday, I have not
had a situation where LGBT issues have come to the forefront for me personally
in my marriage, in my family, in my extended family, as a bishop, and of
course one of our good sisters yesterday reminded me to include the word
“yet”.

Over the past year, I have felt promptings from the Spirit that I needed to
learn all I could about these issues. To listen, finally, to many of your
stories. Some of them I’ve read in books. Some of them I’ve read on the
Internet. And as I took the time to listen and as I took the time to learn, I
began to have a mighty change of heart.

But it was not without some pain. As you know very well, the stories that have
been written, your own stories, are extremely painful. Some have called it a
tragedy. I call it an atrocity, what has happened. And as I read these stories
and as I learned more about these issues, I began to see the emotional wounds
and the scars that many of you still have today. And I seem to ask the
question, “Where did you get these wounds?” and unfortunately the answer was,
“In the house of my friends.”

And when I felt that answer, I grieved and wept as any parent would for their
own child. It felt like I could not be comforted. I felt like I was about to
lose everything. I threw Carol Lynn Pearson’s book across the room at one
point, because I couldn’t read it anymore. There was one section that was so
hard that I wept in front of my children and they asked me, “Why are you
crying?” And I couldn’t give them a good answer, except to say that I read
something very sad.

When I read about the three recent attacks here in Utah, I knew that I could
no longer just sit on the fence. I knew I could no longer just shake my head
and pass by on the other side of the road, like a Levite or a priest. I knew I
had to do something. I knew I had to say something. I didn’t know what to do,
and I’m grateful that I was able to contact John Dehlin and Anne, and they told
me about this conference, and I felt that I needed to be here, and that’s why
I’m here.

And I still have a lot to learn. Today as we stood in, uh, prepared to go into
the Tabernacle to hear music and the spoken word, I had the opportunity to
talk with one of my gay brothers who flew in from North Carolina. He asked me
why I came here, and I told him what I’m telling you. I said, the straight
members of the church have a lot of repenting to do. Repenting is not
necessarily a dirty word. It’s Greek, it means to change your thoughts. And
we need to change our thoughts. And he told me, “We all need to. We’ve all got
to do that.” He said, “I’ve got a lot of resentment and bitterness in me.” And
I said, “Well, we as straight members of the church need to repent and we need
to make restitution, and maybe the healing can move along a little quicker for
all of us.”

So where did I turn for peace? I fled to the Savior. I fled to Him who
descended below all things. He has been my source of comfort and strength and
confidence, and without Him I don’t know that I would be standing before you
today.

I have been praying to understand this issue for myself. I went to a sacred
place and I pondered the creation. In my mind I could see the different
creations of God, different animals. A bear, a tiger, a lion, a giraffe, an
eagle. And I thought, or the thought came to me, “Who would want to make an
eagle be a giraffe? Who would want a tiger to be a bear? Who would want a
horse to become a lion?” And at that point, I received the comfort and the
strength that I needed, and I knew that I could come here and I could speak to
you today.

I will do all I can personally to make Zion a real place. Zion is not lost. It
begins with one person at a time. It begins with one relationship at a time.
And the only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and
have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes
with your loved ones, with your wards, with your leaders. And encourage them
in this repentance process.

I want to bear my testimony to you that I know that God lives. I know thet
Jesus is the Christ. And I know that we truly are, all of us, straight, gay,
lesbian, transgendered, queer, our Heavenly Father’s children, and that we do
have heavenly parents who love us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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