I was given a copy of this book, That We May Be One by Tom Christofferson, in return for my review. All opinions are completely my own and I pray that no one will take offense to anything I write here. I still feel very naive when it comes to LGBTQ, and wish no ill feelings toward anyone of any faith or understanding.
I volunteered to read this book because 1) I want a better understanding of the LGBTQ community and 2) I felt that I could read it with my husband who is a Stake President and has likely dealt with this issue, maybe it could give him insight as well. We both appreciate Tom’s willingness to share his unbiased story and as well as more compassion for the LGBTQ community as we now have a better understanding of them. We have always felt that it is important to love everyone, despite their beliefs, gender, or even sexual identity.
This book is about Tom Christofferson’s journey through life as a “gay Mormon”. Yes, he is the brother of D. Todd Christoffererson- one of the 12 apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He realized, at a very young age, that he was different than his older brothers and felt very ashamed and wanted to hide that he is gay. He did everything he could to live a “normal” LDS life (There really is no normal. Everyone is unique. Normal is only what people perceive it to be.), for he loved the church as a youth and had a beautiful testimony of it’s truthfulness. He served a mission and even married a woman in an LDS temple, which was later annulled. He then decided to embrace his homosexuality where he had a monogamous partner for 19 years. Later when he felt, “my desires were changing, my priorities evolving, my goals shifting”, Tom chose to embrace it in a different way.
After reading this book I understand that being LGBTQ may be bigger than choosing a life style, and can be the way some people are born. To some, as much as they would like NOT to have those feelings, they are there and a part of their core. One can’t just help them think differently, it is a part of them and we should love them like we love anyone with any difficulty in life. We all have struggles, we all have trials in this life and this just happens to be Tom’s. With many things we don’t understand, we have to trust in an All-Knowing God to help sort things out in the end.
The love that is shared in Tom’s family is beautiful. When he came out to his parents, it was hard to understand, but they did not shun him. They loved him as they always had. When Tom chose to leave the LDS church they did not condone his actions, but they did not cast him aside either. He says, “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…My parents’ willingness to walk in faith was deeply ingrained in them. And it allowed them to continue to walk without clarity of how, or if, their righteous desires would be fulfilled. Their love for me erected no barriers. If I was interested in something, they were interested…” What exceptional people. I have so much respect for his parents and hope to always show this kind of love to my children, no matter what comes up in life. Tom’s whole family accepted him and loved him AND his partner.
The part of the book I like the most is Tom’s testimony shared throughout the book. Such beautiful understandings he has of the gospel, God’s Love, Christ’s Atonement, God’s Plan and family. The pages are filled with excellent passages like this one:
“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. I know in the same way that Peter knew, for flesh and blood have not revealed this unto me, but our Father which is in heaven (see Matthew 16:17). And with all the love in my heart and with all the power and integrity my soul can muster, to Him I acknowledge, ‘Thou art the Christ, the [living] Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).”
Tom’s testimony strengthened mine!
If you choose to read this book, I highly recommend that you also watch/listen to the Panel Discussion that was done by Deseret Book.
Again, I appreciate Tom sharing his story. One that doesn’t put anyone down but hopes to enlighten everyone and give hope to all.
SEE THE HAPPY