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Drew's Reviews #11 - "That We May Be One"

I just finished reading “That We May Be One” by Tom Christofferson

Quick Take: Excellent read. Tom Christofferson shares his experiences as a gay man both inside and outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Longer Take:

I recently read A Walk in My Shoes” by Ben Schilaty. Ben recommended “That We May Be One” by Tom Christofferson*, so I decided to give it a read.

Tom Christofferson's book takes its title from 3 Nephi 19:23 & 29, where Jesus Christ prays that his people “may be one.” He uses this as the backdrop to describe his experience as a gay man in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Exploring a topic that can be unsettling and confusing to many members of the church.

The first half of the book is largely biographical. He discusses his family, his upbringing, how he left the church, and then his decision to return 20 years later. The 2nd half of the book is devoted to a discussion of the value the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring into anyone’s life, and how the church will be much stronger with everyone involved.

I especially enjoyed:

1. His views on how we can make the church a more welcoming place to everyone.

2. The honesty with which he testifies of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and at the same time describing the hurt his faith can bring to his fellow LGBTQ members.

I believe we could all benefit from reading this insightful book.

*Tom Christofferson is brother to Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

**KSL also made a 30 minute documentary around the book as well.

Some of My Favourite Quotes:

“I often hear, “I want to reach out more to LGBT brothers and sisters, but I’m afraid I’ll say something offensive without knowing it and certainly without meaning it!” May I suggest, if that is your feeling, that you simply begin your conversation by expressing that feeling? Few things open doors of understanding more effectively than an honest acknowledgment of the desire to be taught. Your open heart will have the same effect on the persons with whom you speak: they will want to reciprocate your kindness and your interest. So, please don’t be afraid to speak to any of your brothers and sisters. Just give them the chance to know your heart, and you might be surprised not only that no offense is taken but that your new friend will also want to better understand your experiences and perspective!”

Quote from Tom Christofferson’s mother: “The most important lesson your children will learn from how our family treats their Uncle Tom is that nothing they can ever do will take them outside the circle of our family’s love.”

Speaking of his family: “They weren’t waiting for me to return to church before they could fully love me, and so through them I came to understand the meaning of unqualified love.”

“...without any need to ask, you can be absolutely certain that as young people face a new understanding of themselves, they need to know there is a place for them in this Church, and that their families and Church leaders who loved them yesterday will still embrace them with empathy and acceptance tomorrow.”

“Through the amalgamation of many days of walking by faith, in darkness and in light, I have also come to believe that being gay is one of the great blessings of my life. Had my existence been otherwise, it might have been easy for me to go along in the Church, with the testimony I had, and to have had a happy and relatively problem-free life. Because I am gay, there came a time when I had to know, not merely believe, that Jesus Christ lives, that I will be resurrected as He was, and that through the power of His Atonement I can gain strength and power to become His worthy disciple.”

“To bishops and youth leaders who may be reading this, may I also plead with you that now is the moment to draw LGBTQ youth closer, not to push them away. ... Please, please let them know that you love them, that you want to be part of their process, an ally in their daily lives."

“I could relate heartbreaking stories about the impact in the lives of young people who have been shunned by their peers or by leaders at church. Such things have no place in the Church of Jesus Christ. We may feel awkward or ill-informed, but that is no excuse for not reaching out in love to all those in our stewardship.”

“Each of us is unique. Each of us has claim on our Heavenly Father for His inspiration and direction. Each of us is deserving of the love of our families and our congregations exactly as we are and where we are."

“...we are capable of greater empathy, understanding, compassion, and charity than we had previously imagined. As recipients of that gift, we will likely discover that there are so many others around us, far beyond the LGBTQ community, who will flourish when receiving our expansive acceptance and embrace. Zion is incomplete until each child of God joins us.”


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