4.08.2009

Crossroads

I've returned from my spring break trip, and little progress has been made. However cliche it may be, "inner turmoil" is really the only way to describe it. I have achieved some clarity by reading Carol Lynn Pearson's Goodbye, I Love You and also Peculiar People, but no ultimate conclusion has been reached (not that I really expected to arrive at one so soon). I have had the following thoughts, though, and their wide variation shows you the extreme range of my considerations:
  • Given the Church's contradictions on the subject, why should I accept its current prescription for homosexual members? In the past, misunderstanding led to advocating aversion (shock) therapy; the Church now admits that both the practice and the thinking that led to it are wrong. Is it inconceivable that this is the case now, only with celibacy instead of aversion therapy (and re-orientation therapy in general) misguidedly presented as the more righteous alternative?
  • Is my mortal sexuality worth my eternal Priesthood, family, and salvation? (How would the former affect the latter?)
  • God's commandment to "mulitply and replenish the earth" is still in effect; the phrase was actually used in my baby blessing!
  • Adoption is an eternal principle, utilized by our Heavenly Father in the great Plan of Salvation. Aren't we, in many cases, adopted into a tribe of Israel?
  • There are exceptions to some commandments. For instance, "Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to soldiers in combat. (Besides, the Church regularly weds sterile men and women.)
  • Sometimes we are placed in a dilemma of mutually-exclusive imperatives. Such was the case for Adam and Eve, who were told both to replenish the Earth and to not eat the fruit that enabled them to multiply. Were they necessarily wrong and right choices? Were both options right? ...In any case, only one option enabled them to fulfill their full potential according to the plan set for them. (These same questions and statements could apply to homosexuality.)
  • Would my life be fuller living with my emotional/social/sexual needs fulfilled with a gay lifestyle, or with my spiritual/religious/familial needs fulfilled as a member of the Church with the companionship of the Holy Ghost?
  • Sexuality is only one part of a relationship. Hopefully, I am not so shallow as to marry for looks, no matter which gender. If I was, then, looking for someone to grow into old age with, would the sexual aspect of the relationship really even matter that much, at the end of the day?
  • In the Celestial Kingdom, according to revealed understanding of the Plan of Salvation, there will exist only one-man-one-woman marriages.
  • If the above is the case, why did the Church practice polygamy? Why are men allowed to be sealed to more than one woman even to this day? Surely there must, then, be exceptions to the rule that "marriage is between a man and a woman".
  • The Church's understanding is gradually growing. Although homosexuals may indeed be fully accepted by the Church one day, it is my duty to faithfully await that day as a worthy member of the Church, considering all of the Gospel knowledge I have been blessed with. How could I dare proclaim I am somehow "ahead of the Church" or worse yet, the Prophet?
  • Would living a life at odds with that knowledge consign me to an eternal fate of outer darkness and the accompanying wailing and knashing of teeth? Is that a risk I want to take unless God Himself tells me what He allows?
  • "How long halt ye between two opinions?" I intend to struggle with this for as little time as possible, then make a final decision and continue with my life without looking back. I can clearly imagine my life in a gay relationship, and I can clearly imagine my life in the Church, and both scenarios evoke both pain and joy. Therefore, more clarity might be achieved by relying not only on my own vision, but on that of a patriarch (I plan on being interviewed for a patriarchal blessing as soon as I get back from yet another trip that I am embarking on). I intend for this "inner turmoil" business to be a temporary, not permanent, state of mind, and I hope I can reach a decision sooner rather than later. I am striving to be in tune with the Spirit as I go through this process.

I am sure I am not the first one to entertain these thoughts in these circumstances. Any advice from those who have been there and done that?

3 comments:

Scott said...

All of these are good questions/considerations. I'll address a few of them specifically:

God's commandment to "mulitply and replenish the earth" is still in effect; the phrase was actually used in my baby blessing!

I've blessed four babies and given I don't know how many other priesthood blessings. I can say for certain that I've rarely (if ever) felt like I've been given specific words to say--when I feel like the blessing is inspired, the inspiration comes in the form of impressions and vague thoughts, which I then need to translate into language. And I don't always feel like the blessing is inspired. For whatever reason (I'm not receptive to the Spirit, I'm being given free reign, whatever) I'm sometimes on my own, and have to do the best I can.

I wouldn't presume to say that your baby blessing was or wasn't inspired, or even that the exact words were or weren't given to whoever gave you the blessing, but it's something to consider.

Would my life be fuller living with my emotional/social/sexual needs fulfilled with a gay lifestyle, or with my spiritual/religious/familial needs fulfilled as a member of the Church with the companionship of the Holy Ghost?

I've come to understand that the Church does not hold a monopoly on the fulfillment of spiritual needs, and that non-members can feel and receive guidance from the Spirit as easily as we Mormons can. Our doctrine says that only one who has received the Gift of the Holy Ghost can have the Spirit as a constant companion, but how many of us who have been baptized and confirmed actually live so that the Spirit can be with us all the time? Not very many, I think.

My point is, I'm not sure that this is the either/or choice that you've presented it as. (Read Clark's comment on the "Mold" post on my blog for a good statement on this subject--and read the "Patterns/Sustainability" post on his blog for a good post that sort of addresses the issue, too.)

If I was, then, looking for someone to grow into old age with, would the sexual aspect of the relationship really even matter that much, at the end of the day?

A successful relationship can be built without romantic attraction, but I'm not sure about a relationship with no sexual aspect. I won't go into detail about the sexual relationship that my wife and I have, but it does exist (and is reasonably healthy), and I think that our relationship in general would not be what it is if we didn't share a physical bond.

Some gay guys (from what I hear) are repulsed by the thought of sex with a woman. My personal belief is that this is a psychological issue that is separate from their homosexuality. I believe it should be possible for most (if not all) gay men to learn to enjoy (not only physically, but also emotionally) sex with a woman.

But... it's also likely that no matter how comfortable he gets with a woman, he'll never enjoy intimacy with her the way he would with a man. (I don't know for certain that this is the case, because I've never been with a man). It's likely that complete sexual fulfillment will only be found in a gay relationship.

In the Celestial Kingdom, according to revealed understanding of the Plan of Salvation, there will exist only one-man-one-woman marriages.

I'm not sure where you've gotten this idea, as D&C 132 seems to me to make it fairly clear that polygyny (one man, multiple wives) is, when commanded by god, part of His Law (included in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage). Although plural marriage has been discontinued (and will get you excommunicated these days) it is still very much an accepted part of the Plan.

I'm not sure how, given this fact, the Church justifies its statement that marriage is between a man and a woman.

How could I dare proclaim I am somehow "ahead of the Church" or worse yet, the Prophet?

I've heard two points of view on this. Some people give as an example the Nephites prior to Christ's coming who, despite the fact that they knew that the Law of Moses would be fulfilled, were still obligated to observe it until Christ had come and completed His sacrifice.

On the other hand, the world did not have the Holy Ghost at that point (as I understand it). We now have the Spirit, which gives us a direct conduit to God. Elder Packer once spoke of the proper order of things, indicating that one should first approach one's Bishop for answers to questions, moving up the line of authority (Stake President, etc.) as necessary. But, he said, "There is one authorized 'end run' around the bishop, the stake president, the General Authority, and everyone else in our line of authority. That is to our Father in Heaven in prayer. If we do that, we will in most instances solve our own problems." Perhaps, through the Spirit, we might indeed receive personal direction in a matter that the Church as a whole will not receive revelation on for quite some time.

Would living a life at odds with that knowledge consign me to an eternal fate of outer darkness and the accompanying wailing and knashing of teeth?

Absolutely not.

D&C 76:35 makes it clear that Outer Darkness is reserved for those who "[have] denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and [have] denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame."

Finding a partner to love does not equate to denying the Spirit and denying Christ. Neither does having gay sex.

At worst, you would receive Telestial glory ("which surpasses all understanding"), but I don't think the Savior would equate someone in a loving monogamous relationship with "liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers".

Based strictly on the descriptions of D&C 76 the Terrestrial Kingdom seems more likely, and I personally believe that Celestial Glory is possible for those who are trying to live righteously with the parameters of their life on earth (including their sexual orientation).

Good luck in your decision-making! I hope that I've helped at least as much as I've given you more to think about. :) I'm confident that you'll make a correct decision (I say a correct decision because I'm not sure there's a the correct decision).

Alan said...

Scott and I are friends and he mentioned your blog to me. Some very insightful stuff here! Welcome to the group. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and will add you to my own blog's sidebar if you don't mind!

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

@Scott: Thanks for ideas...they really help. I am always amazed, when I read your writing, at how much I haven't considered!

@Alan: Thanks for the warm welcome!