On Monday, August 23, Jeffrey R Holland, an apostle of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, spoke to the faculty at Brigham Young University in a speech entitled “The Second Half of the Second Century” where Elder Holland expressed love for the University and emphasized the importance of aligning the teachings at BYU and those of the church. He addressed the topic of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, sexual orientation, and avoiding divisiveness instead of being a “house divided.” His talk stirred up a lot of controversy on social media among many members of our church. I too felt many emotions as I first read the talk, and then listened to it twice, all while observing many heated discussions online.
And while I think much of the controversy online was stirred up by those who took certain lines out of Elder Holland’s talk out of context and cut-and-pasted certain phrases that without the supporting and surrounding context were very different than the intended message, I also wanted to understand better why so many were expressing feelings of hurt, anger and sadness over this speech.
I called my mom wanting her input, and she said she had just finished talking to her friend Melinda, whose experience as a life coach, desire to be “all in” the church, and a mother of two sons who are gay, was the kind of perspective we were both seeking.
Immediately after talking to my mom, I reached out to Melinda to see if she could squeeze in an interview for my podcast to talk about this sensitive topic and she graciously agreed. Melinda Welch is a certified life coach, an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a mother of five children. She also has two gay sons, a lesbian sister, many bi, gay and lesbian cousins and transgender friends. Melinda describes herself as “all-in with [her] family and the church.” She is married to her high school sweetheart Wayne (who currently serves as a singles ward bishop), and she says their “black-and-white thinking has been replaced with a sea of rainbows since two of their five kids have come out as gay.”
I’m extremely grateful for the chance I had to talk to Melinda about this topic and for her advice and perspective. Melinda said to me before we started talking, “I don’t know if I’m going to say what you want me to say.” And I told her that was exactly why I wanted her to come on the podcast, to offer exactly her thoughts and feelings whether they were similar or totally different than mine. So, although we had some differences in how we feel about or understand some of the complexities of this situation, I deeply respect, admire and appreciate Melinda and the advice she offered to me in this chat. I hope you feel uplifted and enlightened after listening to this episode and that it’s as helpful for you as it was for me.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Christian Mingle. Go to christianmingle.com/mintarrow to find a like minded partner that you can make a real connection with.
[01:17] – Let me tell you about Melinda Welch and how she came to be our guest today.
[02:42] – Melinda recalls the first experience of dealing with her son coming out.
[05:29] – Thinking about her children, Melinda focuses on embracing the journey as it comes while giving room for each individual to make personal decisions.
[07:19] – I share with Melinda what I felt reading and listening to the talk. What is Melinda’s take?
[10:15] – Melinda points out the bigger question about this talk or any talk from a church that causes internal conflict at a crossroad.
[12:15] – Melinda and I talk about being a believer and finding the balance between traditional church values and inclusion.
[14:59] – What are the five reasons that keep Melinda grounded in her faith?
[17:41] – How can we show love to the LGBTQ+ community while still being strong in our faith?
[19:36] – Melinda talks about leaning towards compassion and curiosity to keep everyone in grace as we all navigate our personal perspectives.
[21:44] – Melinda describes what curiosity looks like and sounds like when approached in a genuine way.
[23:21] – Nobody has all the answers. What we do have is faith and agency.
[25:02] – I state my organic thoughts on how exploring the space between church and personal preference can feel unsafe.
[27:45] – Melinda emphasizes that everyone should be welcomed to church.
[30:27] – Melinda shares her view on the relation between faith and private institutions, namely BYU.
[32:05] – Melinda and I discuss releasing any judgement to focus more on our own accountability.
[35:08] – How do we defend our faith?
[37:16] – Questions and hard conversations are to develop ourselves, not opportunities to argue with one another.
[39:29] – Melinda and I talk about the discussion having two sides of people who want to feel supported.
[41:15] – Between the experiences of her children coming out, what advice does Melinda give to others in this situation?
[43:04] – Melinda feels that the power of love will be the greatest grace in dealing with life.
“The Second Half of the Second Century of Brigham Young University” Talk by Jeffrey R. Holland