Readers’ Forum 3/10/20: Honor Code Debate


BYU is and should be one of the greatest universities in the world. Developing faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and His gospel should be BYU’s top priority. However, the manner of how a grave miscommunication between our university and CES happened should bring everyone to a pause.

While I am thankful clarification has been given, there are many unanswered questions about this whole affair that should be answered honestly, directly and as soon as possible. Was the change in policy dictated by the university or the Church?  Did the Honor Code Office intentionally lie to LGBT students about dating? What would be the motivations for such? Will there be any punishments meted out to those who were gravely misguided? Why did it take so long for any clarification to come forth?

There are many questions that must be asked and answered as we heal and turn to the Savior for love, grace and courage to obey God’s commandments.

Bryce Spencer
Farmington, UT

In his devotional address given just last semester on BYU campus, President Nelson said, “Homosexual immorality would be treated in the eyes of the Church in the same manner as heterosexual immorality.”

Could it be any clearer? So, for the Church Educational System to make an announcement that completely contradicts that statement is shocking and confusing, to say the least.
This letter was especially upsetting because it came two weeks after the removal of the homosexual behavior section from the Honor Code. The campus was celebrating. Many students came out after finally feeling safe as LGBT at BYU. Honor Code Office administrators themselves told students and faculty what this meant: LGBTQ couples dating, hugging, holding hands or kissing would not be punishable by the Honor Code Office.
But then we got the email. Talk about whiplash. In a matter of minutes, delight turned into despair, peace became pain and hope gave way to heartbreak.
To add insult to injury, those who opposed LGBTQ students dating became even more vocal about their disapproval. They repeatedly tell LGBTQ students that if they don’t like the Honor Code, they should just leave BYU.
Shouldn’t we be making our campus a place where everyone can feel accepted and loved?
Lane Gibbons
San Antonio, TX

I wish everyone would just stop yelling at each other.
On the one hand, we have people insisting that BYU doesn’t love people who experience same-sex attraction if they don’t let them date. On the other, we have people who say that two men can’t hug each other if one or both experience same-sex attractions. They think they’ll somehow make headway by saying things like “homosexuals aren’t children of God” and reciting the Family Proclamation on campus.
Neither group is right. Neither group is truly being Christlike. And caught in the middle are many, many people who are just trying to live the gospel in peace, who love the Lord and who believe and love the doctrine on the family. They are the people that I love and care about and you are hurting them.
The vitriol against people who experience same-sex attraction drives people away from the Church. It does not help anyone listen. This vitriol leads fathers to avoid touching their sons and leads boys to think that they can’t hug a friend without saying “no homo.” It rips communities apart.
On the other side, the insistence that the only way to live a happy life is to give in to the sexual urges from same-sex attraction is a flat out lie. There is a lot of hope and happiness here. Brotherly affection is, in my opinion, much better than any sexual relationship could be. Those who push the societal narrative of sexual freedom are causing a lot of damage as well, not to mention tearing down institutions that provided many boys a lot of hope in their teenage years.
Please, everyone, just stop. Let people make their choices and learn. Don’t insist on others changing their standards to fit your chosen way of life.  Just live and let live, for heavens sake.
Follow both great commandments.
Please stop destroying things and people I love.
Stephen Done
Class of 2006

Recently, BYU has taken the section on “Homosexual Behavior” out of the Honor Code. In response, students took the liberty upon themselves to start a celebration movement for the LGTBQ community. Some of these students are under the impression that because of this section being removed, it is now okay to publicly show affection with their LGBTQ loved ones. Just because this statement was removed does not give students the privilege to support this behavior when it is still against the policy of the Church.

Of course, it is absolutely crucial we love and try to understand all people, no matter the choices they make. It is absolutely crucial that we do not discriminate students that are different than us. I cannot begin to imagine the hate some students receive at the Lord’s university. But as a student that cares a lot about the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must have a deeper understanding of what Christ asks of us than what our own desires motivate us to do.

BYU, clarifying this change, stated that “same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible with the principles included in the Honor Code.” This is crystal clear. There have been rallies and revolts against this new statement and there is just no room for this at a university that believes in being honorable. You don’t see people rallying publicly against the parking issue we have at BYU or the word of wisdom we promise to keep.

If something is not settling right, then pray. Ask Heavenly Father for help to understand. Rethink the motivation behind your actions. Our lifestyle should not be based upon what the honor code says or doesn’t say — it should be based off of what Jesus Christ says.

Brittany Robertson
Austin, TX

Regardless of what “side” you’re on, it’s important to recognize these truths:

1) BYU handled this situation very poorly. Communication between the Church, the Honor Code Office and BYU students was vague, absent or faulty for too long. It’s a PR nightmare that was almost entirely avoidable, but more importantly, it hurt BYU students far more than it needed to.

2) God’s laws concerning marriage and chastity will never change, and BYU has the right and obligation to uphold them.

3) God’s laws concerning dating don’t really exist. Or if they do, they’re not written down anywhere.

4) We need to show real love to LGBT members of the Church. Not “tough love,” but true, charitable, kind, merciful love. They may need it now even more than before. Something as simple as saying “I accept you for who you are, and I hope you feel happy and safe” goes a very long way.

5) Casting shame on anyone, ever, for any reason, does not help them to change for the better. This is the case for sinners, criminals, addicts, etc., and especially for people who have to deal with same-sex attraction while being a member of the Church.

Jordan Stanford
Calgary, CA

In the Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers set forth the fundamental philosophies of freedom for our country. The first priorities for the new nation were the freedoms of expression: the freedom to speak, the freedom to worship, the freedom to assemble, and the freedom to live. As citizens of the United States, we not only have the privilege of freedom, but we also have the civic duty to exercise these freedoms to make our world a better place.

Because of the recent conflict concerning the Honor Code, many have stood for their beliefs, for their rights and for what they know to be true. To all those who have stood—on both sides — thank you. Your voice is heard and your influence has the power to inspire possible change. I ask only one thing: as you stand for truths that are holy to you, stand in a holy place.

I have recently heard of some of the circumstances that have arisen from conflict. Sadly, both sides have those who make assumptions and attack others in ignorance, hate or spite.

As we work towards a solution together, please remember the very ground you stand upon is holy and is dedicated to the Lord. Stand, please, for the right, but as you do, stand with integrity, not depravity.

Stand with empathy, not obstinacy. Stand with respect, not underhandedness. Stand with knowledge, not ignorance. Stand with charity, not hate. Stand for the right, yes, but stand ye in holy places and be not moved.

Jared Rosenlund
Grand Island, NE

God loves us enough to both accept us as we now are but also not be content with who we now are. In the words of Elder Holland, “’Come as you are,’ a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, ‘Don’t plan to stay as you are.’” He makes difficult demands of us to change our very natures and give up what we hold most dear, and He makes these demands of us precisely because He loves us.

Ultimately, He wants us to return to Him and share eternal life, which is only possible through eternal marriage between a man and a woman that allows for procreation throughout the eternities. This is the plan of salvation.

Policies and practices can change, but eternal doctrine cannot and will not change because it describes the true nature of reality and eternity. Regardless of what we may be facing, He demands that we change ourselves to align with Him, not demand that His Church and His teachings change to align with us.

Though difficult and sometimes impossible to overcome some challenges in this life, as we humble ourselves and come to our Savior, we will find true peace and healing.

Payton Hansen
Dayton, OH

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