Thoughts on BYU and Students That Struggle With SGA
As a student here at BYU I do not feel at a disadvantage in any way for having feelings of SGA. My Priesthood leaders back home know of my struggle and so do my Priesthood leaders here at BYU. Both are aware that I have succumbed to temptation and acted on these feelings in the past (even while attending BYU). None of my Priesthood leaders have ever told me I am not welcome at this university. They see me for who I am, a child of God, who struggles with the shortcomings of mortality. They are full of Christ-like love and are there to help me get back up when I fall.
Some feel that there is a great intolerance for those that struggle with SGA here at BYU. This may be partially true, but not entirely so. I think it would be fair to say that a very high percentage of students and faculty (and possibly some Priesthood leaders) here don’t understand and/or are not willing to understand those who struggle with feelings of homosexuality.** No doubt, strong stereotypes and prejudices do exist at BYU about homosexuals and this is a problem that must be fixed. But on the other side of the coin, it would also be fair to say that there are a lot of people here (including students, staff and basically all Priesthood leaders) who love all of God’s children regardless of their imperfections. It is unfair to lump BYU entirely in one camp or the other.
The greatest debate surrounding the issue of homosexuality within this church and university is not a matter of whether those who struggle with SGA are accepted or not, but rather a battle between perceptions and desires (think about it). With this realization, we should earnestly pray for the spiritual gift to “see things as they really are”. Some BYU students (past and present) with SGA may perceive this university as intolerant, oppressive and discriminate. Is this really so? I believe our ability to reason is not above our experiences in life. Those who would answer yes to the above question most likely had a bad experience with an individual or group of individuals here at BYU be they students, staff or priesthood leaders, which negatively shaped their perception. Needless to say, everyone here at BYU is imperfect (And for this very reason, the Honor Code is misused and misunderstood in a multiple of ways). But the opposite can be said of those SGA students who have had positive experiences with other students, staff and Priesthood leaders. They likely will not view the university as oppressive or discriminatory. It is important that we view our experiences as just that, experiences, and not let them develop into an all-encompassing perception of how we think things “really are.”
One who struggles with SGA must also examine his or her perception of homosexuality and self-acceptance. Some may dismiss the morality of the issue by saying, “this is the way I was born, this is the way God made me so I accept myself and am justified in acting on these feelings” while others may say “this is a trial that God gave me. I don’t understand why, but I will use this opportunity to show my devotion to God by refraining from acting on the desires of my natural man. I accept myself as a child of God, who is subject to the weakness of mortality, but not void of aid from His atonement”. Which of these two persons will view BYU as oppressive or discriminatory? It would most likely the first individual, because BYU does not accept their perception. Does that make BYU intolerant or even discriminatory?
Closely related to perception is desire. And often times our desires become our actions. Although I am not an official spokesman for BYU (or even on homosexuality for that matter), I’m certain students here who struggle with SGA can rest assured that if their desire (or heart) is in the right place, there is nothing to fear, regardless of whether they have acted on these feelings in the past or not. BYU is not out to “get you” and to my knowledge there are no secret police. Our priesthood leaders are here to help us on our journey to eternal life, not to run us off campus with sword in hand. Regardless of individual mistakes we should not fear talking with our Priesthood leaders. If our desires are right, our actions will be also, even though we may mess up along the way.
Those that have the desire to follow after the natural man through godless reasoning and intellect will likely develop a perception that BYU is oppressive and hateful of those who have SGA and that the school is “out to get them”. Their actions will likely (but not always) become such that they will leave BYU and possibly fight against it, or they will live secret double lives where they engage in homosexual behavior, while at the same time appear to be doing what is right to those around them. Others will walk in different ungodly paths.
Again, discrimination of homosexuals isn’t the real issue here, but rather, perception and desire. What perception of BYU and homosexuality is right? To answer that, we must look deep within ourselves, examining our own perceptions and desires and ask ourselves as well as honestly answer, am I doing what I’m doing to serve my pride? Or am I striving to serve my Master, the lover of my soul?
**For this reason the author has withheld his name