From Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge, Question & Answer – Sunstone Symposium 8-2-14:
Voice: The more these situations are going on, I feel so strongly, more and more, I just keep getting that this is all about unity, and it's an opportunity for us. And if unity is about "agreeing" then frankly God did a terrible job. So the more I see of this, what I keep going to is, the quest for Zion seems to me, to be the quest for open heartedness, and charity, and unity. And so when I see one side that says, An actively gay person will never come into the presence of God. This person will go to hell. And then on the other side, I see a person who is an active Mormon, or a person who doesn't approve of homosexuality, who is an awful person because he's a hater. And I see those two things. And I see Christians say that Mormons are going to hell. It seems to me that we more dig our feet in and say, I'm right, and I'm trying to push this agenda…we are working away from God, and away from Zion. More and more I think that if we could say, This is my experience, this is what I believe, and let me hear where you are, and what you believe, and let's talk and consider. I think that's great. Even though I may disagree with you and think you're wrong, I trust God to lead you to what is right, and I trust the atonement of Christ to take care of whatever you've got wrong, just like I trust that for me. I think that truth exists, but I think when we all know all truth, we'll all agree. And in the meantime we are trying to find a way. So my question is, first of all, is that possible? I mean do you agree?
Denver: I agree very much. In the first book I wrote I said, "Religion was intended to be applied internally only."
Voice: Thank you. My other question is, my theology for the issue of our day, homosexuality, is that I believe that homosexuals are a gift to us, to teach us great things. I think we need to learn charity. I also believe that God does have a standard, but I want to know if those two things can coexist. Can we say, I truly love you, I'm thankful for you, I accept you, but this is my theology and morality. Can we be in this place where we love each other and seek unity without agreement?
Denver: I grew up in a little town in Idaho. Homosexuality in the 1960s was almost a nonexistent issue (and even though it existed, it was not a source of fighting). There was a restaurant in Mountain Home, Idaho that was owned by a gay man and his boyfriend, who lived together (in a house about two blocks away from my parents’ home). Everyone knew that they were "funny." They were comfortable living in a community that was full of a bunch of retired military and active military people in Idaho in the 1960s, where I suppose, they were just as Republican then as they are in Idaho now. It was known, it was not talked about, I mean there might be a passing reference, but that was it. I worked in those guys’ restaurant. One of my first jobs was washing dishes in a restaurant owned by a gay fellow and his live-in lover. It was no big deal. There was no politics involved, there was no agitating on the issue.
One of my law school classmates is here. A few years ago he wound up on a drive (to a business meeting in) Idaho with a fellow who was gay. (The gay fellow) announced (to my classmate) that he was attracted to him. It was one of those awkward moments. [laughter]
When (he and I subsequently talked about it), we kind of chuckled about it. But the fact of the matter was that both he and I had a business relationship with that fellow and (his announcement) was essentially a nonevent. It was strange. It a was, (however, merely) "Thanks, but no."
I think we ought to be ginger about the way in which we deal with one another's weaknesses and problems. I think we ought to be firm in what we believe, and apply it rigorously internally, and then have compassion on every idiot you are going to meet-- because we are all idiots, myself included. I agree with you.
"The Book of Mormon was abridged by a man who lived in an environment filled with sex and violence. He was untouched by it. He was a man of righteousness. Why is it that he could preserve himself in such an abhorrent environment? Because he was filled with light and truth. He educated himself, and had learned the things that are true. When you minister to someone who is suffering, their sins ought not to shock you. They should cause compassion to well up in you. People struggle with some very difficult, very challenging things. You need to try and overcome that by the light within you." (Denver Snuffer, Repentance, 40 Years in Mormonism)