Resolution through the Gospel of Christ
By Charlie Bird
I am a child of God with an issue that separates me from Him.
A child of God who must change in order to be loved.
I am a child of God who is consigned to be unhappy.
To submit to other people’s expectations.
I am a child of God with an unbearable trial.
With a war in my heart.
Terrified of the future.
I am a child of God who doesn’t have a choice.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the unique privilege of interacting with many thousands of LGBTQ+ Latter-day Saints, and these are the feelings they often share.
As heartbreaking and disconcerting as it is, this list was very easy to write. The pain, shame, and loneliness we feel seems to be pervasive and universal.
It’s pain, shame, and loneliness that I know all too well. It’s caused me to weep, develop a sleep disorder, overexert myself in a futile quest for perfection so I can be loved, and at times, wish I didn’t exist.
If you identify as an LGBTQ+ or same-sex attracted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I wish to address you directly. I wish to explain the biggest lie you were ever told and share how you can use the gospel of Jesus Christ to find resolution and claim your place in the plan of salvation.
Some of this might be hard to hear. It might tap into those uncomfortable, vulnerable places around which you’ve built impenetrable walls. But I am asking you to go to those places—to trust me and sit with the discomfort.
I pray that the Spirit will carry any truth in what I say here to your heart and inspire a renewed confidence in your Savior Jesus Christ and in your divine identity as a child of God, with no conditions or qualifiers.
The Great Lie
The scriptures teach that Satan is the “father of lies” (2 Nephi 9:9). As taught by President Joseph F. Smith, “By every possible means he seeks to darken [our] minds and then offers [us] falsehood and deception in the guise of truth.” Indeed, his very purpose is to make us feel captive and separated from God.
I believe Satan has been working on one specific lie for a very long time—one he crafted with the aim to cut off and destroy an entire demographic of God’s children.
And here is the lie: that an integral part of who you are—one that is inseparable from your being—is incompatible with God.
This lie is so cunning and so effective because it plays into the most common human thinking error: black-and-white or all-or-nothing thinking. This type of thinking is psychologically proven to leave people feeling trapped, helpless, or with a lack of choices or compromise.
The adversary gives us a false dichotomy. He tells us that we must either live inauthentically or live a godless life. He wants us to deny one of the integral parts of ourselves under the guise of either righteousness or authenticity. He seeks to distract us from who we really are and where we really come from. This dilapidates our self-worth and removes us from the source of real confidence. By slyly convincing us that we are inherently flawed, he renders us partial—partial children of God, partial children of the covenant, partial disciples of Christ.
And he convinces other people to see us that way too.
Thus, he damns us simply by getting us to believe we are damned.
I believe Satan planted the seeds of this lie centuries ago, perhaps even as soon as the world was formed, so it could be passed down through the traditions of our fathers. This cunning distortion of our divine identity has seeped into every culture.
And it has worked.
As we look around we see the symptoms. Suicide. Depression. The disillusion of families. Broken hearts. And spiritual death. For centuries this has been the landscape among God’s LGBTQ+ children across all nations, all cultures, and perhaps especially within members of Christ’s restored Church. An entire demographic of God’s children—marginalized, cut off.
The Great Truth
It’s likely you feel the weight of this lie, and you’re looking for an answer. Some sort of silver bullet that will fix all of these problems and help you find resolution. Well, I’ll give it to you right now.
The answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we believe in and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are set free from the crippling notion that we must choose one or the other. We break the shackles that bind us and become partakers of the great plan of happiness.
With the Restoration of the gospel we have been endowed with greater knowledge of the plan of salvation. We know that in the premortal existence there was a Council in Heaven where God presented a plan—one that would allow us to come to earth, obtain a body, and learn to progress as we exercise agency. In this great plan of happiness, Christ was provided as a Savior to allow us to return to live with God through faith and repentance (see Moses 4:1–4).
We also know that Satan proposed a counter plan—one that would give himself glory by removing our free will and forcing us back to heaven. It was a persuasive plan, for it drew a third of the hosts of heaven (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36).
Satan and those who followed him were cast out, and he has since sought to make all of us miserable “like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:18)
God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden with a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, along with a charge to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 3:2–3; Moses 3:16–17).
Then, in the garden, when confronted by the devil himself, Eve transgressed by partaking of the fruit of the tree, and convinced Adam to do the same. This transgression removed both of them from the safe, spiritual infrastructure of the Garden of Eden, but it was essential for the progress of humankind. Eve’s bravery—her courageous exercise of agency—activated the mortal chapter of the plan of salvation. It brought pain, sickness, and heartache. But it gave life. Movement. Joy. And set the groundwork for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
In our pre-earth life, each of us chose God’s plan. And we rejoiced. We were excited for this time to be tried and tested. We didn’t want all the answers. We wanted to grow through agency and faith (see Job 38:7).
So why now, just because we’re gay, would we want to resort back to Satan’s plan or believe his lies? Why would we stay stuck in our dissonance rather than using it to propel us forward?
As LGBTQ+ children of God, we can view Eve as an archetype of how we can respond to Satan’s deception. The resolution to our impossible “one or the other” is the same as hers: to courageously move forward through action, trusting in Christ’s power to redeem. To bravely face our wilderness seeking direction from the Lord and to use the miraculous gift of repentance when we unavoidably mess up.
There is no other way. It’s how we come to know the joy of redemption. It’s how we fulfill the measure of our creation.
Ask of God
Now, I present this as a simple answer, but I’m not saying it’s easy. It hurts to move forward, especially with the bruises and broken hearts we carry. And Satan’s deceit is pervasive and powerful. It will likely continue to influence those around us, causing us to limp and fall down at times.
But while the adversary may have the power to bruise our heel, we have the power to crush his head (see Genesis 3:15).
We do that by knowing who we are—and whose we are.
My shame ended the day I knelt and asked God if he loved me the way I am. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He spoke these words to my mind:
“I love you. I created you. I need you to help my children.”
This ripped me out of the hell I had been living in. I recognized that my soul wasn’t some haphazard creation, but that I was purposefully, intentionally, and lovingly made. Orientation and all.
I realized that my heavenly parents have claimed me as theirs, fully, and without reservation. That Christ not only loves me perfectly and unconditionally, but that He is my biggest advocate with the Father and my strongest ally.
All I had to do was sincerely ask.
Many people I’ve talked to are afraid of asking. They’re scared the answer will validate their self-disgust. They fear that God’s truth will be what I have called Satan’s lie. But I assure you, that is not the case.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to [all] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
I testify that when you ask, you’ll recognize the answer.
The depression, despondency, shame, and despair you feel do not come from above. For the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23).
With the unshakable knowledge that we are children of God and that our identities are part of our divinity, we are propelled to act instead of being acted upon—to move away from the stagnation and secrets of the past and begin to live boldly.
What a blessing it is to be queer! There is a place for us in the plan of salvation because our journey IS the plan of salvation. Because of the unique way that our identities interact with each other, and the lack of answers we have to work with, we almost have to live the gospel of Christ. We have to say, “God, I know who I am. I know who You are. Where do you want me to be?”
And then try to go there.
Now, I understand that movement can be scary. It can open you up to rejection, ambiguity, and moral responsibility for your own actions. You might even be thinking, what if I move and it’s in the wrong direction?
Perhaps, like me, you’ve lain awake at night with spinning thoughts of friends who’ve “embraced their authentic selves” only to stumble and fall down dangerous, unhealthy paths. Perhaps you’ve thought, Is that where it all leads? Will that be my future too?
To you I say, don’t be paralyzed by the fear of what you could become, instead of inspired by the possibilities.
The truth is, you will move in the wrong direction. You won’t always get it right. But you have a Savior. And because of Him, you can always correct your path. Because of Him, the power is in your hands to choose what you become. He will not give up on you.
The answers you desire will not come horizontally as you look to what others are doing. They will come vertically as you seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost and use personal revelation to guide your decisions.
Freedom and healing are found as you implement the Gospel of Jesus Christ into your life, through the continual process of faith, repentance, fulfilling baptismal covenants, following the spirit, and enduring whatever may come along with your journey — even to the very end.
“Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” (2 Nephi 10:23)
If you’re sitting in this room — if you can hear my voice, I plead with you to “awake and arise. Put on thy strength, O Zion, shake thyself from the dust and loose thyself from the bands of thy neck.” (2 Nephi 8:24-25)
Stop hiding. Stop abusing yourself with stagnation. Stop believing Satan’s lie and begin to be the change you want to see in the world.
Claim the spaces where you belong.
Become the person you want to find.
Move toward the fear that your gut tells you you need to face.
Because that’s where you’ll find God.
“Mourn with those that mourn.”
“Comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”
“Lift the hands that hang down,” especially if they are your own.
“Ask, knock, seek, find,”
And fulfill the measure of your creation.
(Josiah 18:9, D&C 81:5, Matthew 7:7)
Allow this adversity to make you stronger.
Not stronger in your anger or in your fear.
But stronger in your emulation of Christ.
Forgive those who oppress you.
Have compassion on those who operate under the yoke of that lie — those who have been blinded by the traditions of their fathers.
For if we believe Satan’s lies about ourselves, how can we expect others to believe any different?
“Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Let us emulate the Savior, and prove that the lies that are purported by Satan are of no substance and have no value.
My beautiful siblings in Christ, it’s time to set a new standard. It’s time to stop denying who you are. To yourself or to anyone else.
Because you are a child of God. Every single part of you.
And you are divine.
Of this I bear testimony in the blessed, holy name of our Savior,
(This speech was given at the Gather Conference in Provo, Utah on September 16, 2023. All Rights Reserved)