Navigating LGBTQ issues has been complicated for Latter-day Saints. We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years with a long way to go. It’s a winding path where we are still seeking answers and still learning the best courses of action to undertake in our interpersonal relationships and church life.
It can be easy to label same-sex attraction, or SSA, as something to be overcome – a weakness meant to be eradicated similar to disease and addiction. It can be easy to assume a homosexual orientation is an error that we must do our best to “fix.” It can be easy to feel the best course of action for straight members of the Church to take with gay Latter-day Saints is to preach to them, to offer them insights, to tell them how to get from A to B. After all, we are an evangelizing people, and we are keen to share.
But oftentimes the most effective way to minister isn’t by preaching, but by taking a step back and listening. It is folly to assume we understand what LGBTQ saints are experiencing simply because we have a testimony and read the scriptures. Perhaps the most Christlike thing we can do is listen and seek understanding.
That’s where this week’s guest comes in. Richard Ostler, a former YSA bishop, speaks at firesides and conferences about how to more fully embrace LGBTQ Latter-day Saints, see their gifts and contributions, and better understand their unique road. He is the host of the Listen, Learn and Love podcast (listenlearnandlove.org) which provides a platform for Latter-day Saints to share their stories on a number of topics.
He is also the author of the book Listen Learn and Love: Embracing LGBTQ Latter-day Saints, available at Deseret Book and Amazon, as well two recent Ensign Articles: “How the Savior’s Healing Power Applies to Repenting from Sexual Sin” and “7 Tips for Overcoming Pornography Use.”
Richard is deeply committed to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to creating more understanding and support for LGBTQ members—a goal started during his service as a YSA bishop as he learned to set aside past assumptions to better fulfill his stewardship responsibility to meet the spiritual needs of LGBTQ ward members.
We are thrilled to welcome Richard Ostler to This Week in Mormons. Great discussion this week. You can also watch a full video of the interview below.