I’m sorry to say it, but the liberals have taken over BYU.  Perhaps it happened when Jon McNaughton warned of it years ago. Or maybe they must have taken it over in 1909 and 1925, when the First Presidency stated that the Church does not have an official position on evolution, these statements officially reiterated and published and distributed by the BYU Board of Trustees in 1992. Or perhaps it just happened on February 19th, when a cabal within the Honor Code Office finally put their long term plans into motion. To read many responses to the recent changes in the BYU Honor Code, one would imagine this to have been the result of a Provoan Game of Thrones struggle. (Less green death fire.  More green death jello.)   

Some people have reacted negatively to the change because they simply do not want to see two men or women being affectionate:
-“Are students and parents who are uncomfortable seeing homosexual behaviors on campus just supposed to get used to it or leave?”
-“Are we going to see gay couples at BYU? Are we going to see increasing displays of gay pride and professors who don’t care about the Church’s standards?”
-“Even if we don’t allow homosexual relations, our tents have been pitched towards Sodom. Along our trajectory, there will be a steady decline in the morality of students attending BYU.” 

There’s more to it though.  A good portion of the negative comments regard the idea of even allowing such behavior on BYU’s campus.  By not punishing two guys holding hands, the thinking goes, we tacitly encourage their path to gay fornication. They feel that even to date, hold hands, and kiss (DHHK) is to blatantly violate the law of chastity:
-“What is the point of dating as Latter-day Saint young adults? It is to find a spouse and to get married and sealed in the temple.”
-“Pursuing romantic relationships in the direction of spiritual death is not okay.”
-“Even hand holding and kissing is a dead end, as those things eventually lead to more physicality in a relationship. Why would we encourage people to go down that road?”
And probably my favorite comment of all:
-“The HC change is a beautiful call.  It dares the rot to proudly present itself and will force the Mormies to take their heads out of the sand and choose a side. I’m also hopeful it will force the average male student to Chad up so he’ll avoid any confusion as to which way he swings.”  

Some of the responses related to the concern that education in the humanities tends to decrease faithfulness in the church: 
-“For whichever of the possible factors educated humanities types tend to falter, one can imagine these factors are likely in play for BYU professors focused on the humanities. Pity them. Love them. And perhaps at times remind them that their opinion and “reality” isn’t universal to all smart people.”

The reality is, these professors pretty much exist in all departments at BYU.  They exist in the physical and biological sciences, where I was taught on much of the overwhelming research through the years that did not support the Church’s repeated narrative regarding gay individuals.  They exist in the Marriott School of Management, among all the professors that repeatedly have to fight against mysogyny, myopic points of view, and gay bashing that exists among incoming MBA students. (Much of which my friends in the MBA program directly encountered from other students.)  And they exist in the ecclesiastical leaders and religion faculty, who actually have interacted with gay individuals, realizing that none of the choices available to them within the church are good ones, and as such, recognize the moral dilemma these individuals face.    

Here are some things I feel I have to reiterate to individuals behind some of these responses:

  1. Gay people exist.  We are real. It isn’t a phase.  It isn’t a weekly flavor of ice cream.  No matter what you may have read or heard, the vast majority of cases are not just a preference or passing curiosity.  (And there are plenty of gay guys named Chad, too.)
  2. “I don’t want to see that” is not a good reason to maintain the previous double standard. Professor Brau in the finance department of the Marriott School noted that the workplace will have plenty of LGBT individuals, and that it’s necessary to learn to be welcoming.  He mentioned that a former student had recently been fired from their company for making homophobic comments to a gay coworker.  
  3. Gay people consistently have not had opportunities to model and practice good social dating behavior in adolescence and young adulthood.  Carol Lynn Pearson has remarked “We throw them in the gutter and then shame them for getting dirty.” Particularly at BYU the previous explicit honor code double standard allowed for subterfuge, sexual hookups, and increase in the potential for abuse.  While open dating policies do not guarantee a lack of sexual activity or abuse, I always support sunlight as a disinfectant.  
  4. Every choice has consequences, including celibacy.  Anyone proclaiming celibacy for someone else needs to be able tell their gay friends and family to their faces that God’s plan for them is to be single for the remainder of their lives and still regularly attend a church that places the utmost importance on married sexual relationships and the resultant families.  I want people to realize the practical implications of their requirements for others.  
  5. Equity in treatment is a good reason for this policy.  Has punitive action ever turned anyone straight? I hope plenty of guys and girls DO chastely date at BYU, learning the highs and lows of initial dating that their straight friends usually discover earlier in adolescence.  After BYU they may continue to sexual activity. Others may choose to be single. I agree with one comment on this point: “Starving gay students from affection is sure to send them straight into the arms of a same sex partner but relaxing and trusting students to use the spirit to come to their own righteous decisions seems logical and healthy to me.” 

In any case, it seems that the liberals have been in plain sight at BYU for over a century, and it looks like they are there to stay*.  I’ve always appreciated Pres. David O McKay’s emphasis that the Church was made for the members, not the members for the Church. “He pitched a big tent and then told members of all stripes that he welcomed them to join him and build the Church within it.”  No matter the responses, I ultimately think two guys or two girls holding hands at BYU could still have a lot to offer in this tent.  

  • *I do not actually think the liberals have taken over BYU. I thoroughly appreciated that my time at BYU was filled with people and professors of all types.
  • Some of the responses attribute this BYU situation to willful misinterpretation from individuals. Since the changes came down from CES, is it possible that the GAs didn’t think through the consequences of the language change? Is it possible that they DID think through the consequences and support this change?
  • Is it possible that this change is related to Sports, as some have suggested?
  • Is it really actually weird to see two guys hold hands? Is it any weirder than standing by your brother in line at Disneyland while he makes out with his girlfriend? (That’s happened to me plenty of times. I generally don’t support intense PDA in public.)
  • Do you feel there will be any blowback towards BYU, from above or below?
  • Of all those in the FP/Q12, which one/ones do you think is/are the most prepared/capable of engaging with “the gay” in regards to the church?