- Posted May 17, 2012 by
Brigham Young University’s Honor Code: A Claim of Tolerance
Brigham Young University, the United State’s largest religious institution, recently amended an important criterion for its student body stating, “Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior (rather than to feelings or orientation) and does not consider one’s stated sexual orientation a violation of its Honor Code. Indeed, one can ‘identify’ as gay presuming one does not act upon, advocate or engage in homosexual activity.” Brigham Young University Honor Code; Revised 2007. But when we sat down with former Brigham Young University student JOHN KOVALENKO, who, recused himself from BYU as a rising senior, we asked about their claim of tolerance, the criteria of tax exempt organizations, and if or whether due process can reshape the Kingdom of God.
Our political customs seem to favor diversity. Our social customs do not.
I find it more than slightly ironic that today's Mormons refuse to recognize the legal validity of homosexuality, while their own ancestors, just three and four generations ago, were violently persecuted for their unlawful practice of polygamy. The core doctrine of the LDS Church today hinges on the conservative family unit, and thus promotes marriage if and when between "one man and one woman." Yet one look at a snapshot of Brigham Young (and his 52 wives) suggests that Mormon’s have a remarkable ability to change.
I believe that their peculiar and unorthodox history provides them with a unique opportunity. The Mormon pioneers, for instance, are a clear example of what it means to expand the traditional concept of family. Their progressive views were unpopular enough to get them prosecuted, displaced and killed. But while they abandoned the practice of polygamy, so as to live in harmony with the law, they never actually forsook the fundamental belief that polygamy is a “Celestial Law” and look forward to the day when it will be re-instituted in this life and beyond.
My own experience at BYU felt like one of acceptance and inclusion. But for the giant political banner that read "YES ON 8!" I soon realized that gays were merely tolerated rather than accepted among their righteous. In fact, when I was accused of living with another male in a homosexual relationship and therefore "promoting homosexuality” I was thereby suspended from BYU in 2009. While my fellow classmates and faculty seemed outwardly kind and obliging, a secret investigation into my conduct proved incriminating. And while I was invited to return after a 1-year suspension, I ultimately withdrew from my studies never to return.
BYU’s position on homosexuality is a ruse. While they openly claim to be tolerant, they secretly profile, prosecute, and, in my case, expel the scattered and courageous few among them. Like their ancestors, the modern LDS church is becoming increasingly out of step with the law. Any reconciliation will require a modification of their doctrine. But, there again, Mormons have a remarkable ability to change.