SALT LAKE CITY —
In May, church leaders backed the Boy Scouts’ policy allowing gays in the ranks. Some gay Mormons who left or were forced out of the church say they are now being welcomed back — even though they remain in same-sex relationships.
It may seem like negligible progress to outsiders, but Mormon scholars said 2013 was landmark year for the religion on gay and lesbian issues.
Jeffrey Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve delivered a message Saturday directed at the faith’s nearly 85,000 missionaries, more than any time in church history.
He relayed the story of a young woman who was spit on and had food thrown at her during her mission by a man who didn’t want to hear their message. He highlighted the fact that she resisted the urge to retaliate.
“If you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or even endure some personal abuse,” Holland said. “Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part.”
The spike in missionaries was triggered by the lowering of the minimum age for missionaries in the fall of 2012. Men can begin serving at 18, instead of 19, and women at 19, instead of 21. That has led to new, younger missionaries joining older ones.
Holland told missionaries that it’s worth it to serve and remain faithful despite a world around them where many people are drawn to comfortable gods who demand little of them.
“It is obvious that the bumper-sticker query, ‘What would Jesus do,’ will not always bring a popular response,” Holland said.
Church president Thomas Monson opened the morning session by talking about the progress of temple construction around the world. He said a new one in Gilbert, Ariz., became the 142nd temple and that there will be 170 when construction is completed on all the current projects.
No new temples were announced.
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