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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Schilaty

Some Thoughts on Charlie and Ryan's Engagement

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

In the weeks since Charlie and Ryan publicly announced their engagement, I’ve received a lot of messages about their decision to get married. “I’m so happy for them!” people have texted me. “I’m really disappointed,” others have said. And many more have reached out hoping I can help them understand: “I want to be happy for them,” they say, “but I don’t get how someone can say they love the Church and then go against it.” I can see how Charlie and Ryan’s choice to get married has left some people feeling uncomfortable. They’re likable guys. They’re fun and cool and attractive. They’re the kind of people you want to be friends with — the kind you naturally root for. And they’re solidly good humans. So it can cause some dissonance if you aren’t sure whether you can root for them and be happy for them and support their choice to marry each other. But I’ve noticed a recurring theme in those who have expressed concern. Many people who have been unable to articulate why Charlie and Ryan are using their agency to enter into a same-sex marriage haven’t truly listened. Rather than seek to understand, they have allowed discomfort to lead them down the easier path of assumption, dismissal, or blame. Charlie has made his intentions and his heart so public and so clear, yet he is still being misunderstood and feared because people aren’t taking the time to listen. As his friend, it’s hard for me to watch. When Jesus was in agony in Gethsemane and on the cross, He not only paid for the sins of humanity, but He also experienced everything we’ve experienced. He knows why I do what I do. And He knows Charlie and precisely why he is choosing to marry Ryan. Later, when He visited the Nephites as the resurrected Savior, He invited each of the 2,500 people there to feel the scars on His body. They did this one by one. I don’t know how long that took, but it surely took a while. It’s clear to me that taking time to understand others is a characteristic of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to agree with Charlie and Ryan's decision or even like it, but you do need to understand it. That’s what Christ does. Charlie doesn’t owe us any explanations about his personal life, and yet he has been so publicly open and vulnerable. Perhaps the best way for you to understand his heart is to spend more time with him. You can watch the videos he recently shared on his social media pages, or read his op-ed in the Deseret News, or learn from his amazing books, or listen to him on more than 100 hours of “Questions from the Closet.” (Here are three episodes I’d recommend: Why Do You Stay in the Church? How Can I Find Joy in the Temple as an LGBTQ Individual? What Happens When You Fall in Love?) It’s amazing how fear and confusion dissipate when we seek to know each other’s hearts. I feel so much gratitude when I think about Charlie. I have witnessed miracles with him and I fully anticipate to experience many more. A few years ago my close friend Maria expressed concern when her son got engaged to his boyfriend. The choice wasn’t in line with what she had taught him and she felt disappointed. As she was deciding whether or not to attend the wedding, she sought counsel from her bishop. He responded, “There is nothing wrong with supporting your son and celebrating with him. I hope you will attend.” “So did you go to the wedding?” I asked after she told me the story. She looked at me like I’d just asked her the dumbest question in the world and exclaimed, “Of course! And I’m so glad I did.” She smiled an enormous smile and added, “And I danced!”

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