Today on Oprah

Interesting show today on Oprah: the fluidity of women's sexuality, and of sexuality in general. It is more focused on women because women do tend to be less fixed in their sexuality than men (because of the way hormones develop in the womb, I understand--also why there are many more gay men than women). There are several stories of apparently straight women falling in love with other women. Anyway, it really seems to be opening people up to the idea that one simply isn't all gay or all straight in most cases; they threw up a visual of the Kinsey Scale, which was new even to the queen herself!

It is also excruciating to see how much the children and husbands of these lesbian women have had to suffer. I can't get the thought of that being me, hurting my family, out of my mind.

Also interesting, a counselor saying she heard her clients saying, "I'm 95% attracted to women, but that 5% attraction to men is enough to sustain my marriage with my husband." I have sometimes felt this in the inverse--although my attraction for men is like a fire, what if the coals of attraction I feel for women could be fanned to the point that I could make a Temple marriage work? After all, I would only have to fall in love with one woman (the right "one"). But I have seen that thinking result in some very tragic circumstances...so many gay Mormons have said they were completely in love in their marriage, but the bottom line was that, in the long run, they were gay.

Then, a woman stated--as Scott and Alan have advised me--that "it's not about the sex". It's about identity, your internal sense of who you are. That's the key issue I'm dealing with. I really feel that I am gay--more of a matter of the spirit than the body


Patriarchal Lenses?

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I caught some sickness--maybe Strep--because, I believe, I feel worn down in all aspects--physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, etc. I have been stressed over grades, money, finals, family problems, and this issue--the apparent disconnect between my recently-received Patriarchal Blessing and my homosexuality.

Comments from both Alan and Scott have given me a lot to think about lately. (By the way, my latest response is in a comment of the previous post.) My thinking has trended towards the idea that the Patriarch certainly is inspired, but he sees things through the lens of his experience, as Scott and Alan have suggested.

I arrived at this conclusion after asking myself, "Do you really think a Patriarch has ever said in a blessing, 'You will marry someone of your own gender'?" I doubt it, and yet, I am convinced that there are some people for whom gay marriage is the path God would have them take. What sort of a Patriarchal Blessing might that person receive? As Scott pointed out, the Patriarch would probably see a marriage and associate it with his experience of heterosexual marriage.

Then there is the paragraph or so in my PB dealing with a full-time mission. This weekend (before going out of town) I received the transcript and read a line I had forgotten: The Patriarch said the Lord is pleased by the desire I expressed to serve a mission. However, in our pre-Blessing discussion (described in the previous post), I didn't really express a desire to do so. It was more like, "I think so" and "maybe/might/probably". It is quite possible that a mission is, as Scott said, PB standard issue. However, I didn't think that was the case with mine because the PB specifically counsels me to, in essence, get along with my companions on my "full-time mission". I have taken that as proof that he means the mission I would go on at age 19. But is it at all possible that that isn't necessarily the case? Is it possible that the companion he saw was actually a partner/husband? Is it possible that he saw me and another man testifying of the Gospel, and because he sees through the lens of his experience, assumed this was a full-time mission?

What do you think? A stretch, or personal revelation/interpretation?

P.S. I decided not to blog about the CA SC Prop 8 decision because I know you all are doing a much better job of analyzing it than I could. :-)


More on Patriarchal Blessings

This post is a continuation of the previous post about the Patriarchal Blessing I received on Sunday. It is mainly directed at Alan, who gave me some profound food for thought in his comment on that post, but I hope others will be able to benefit/contribute as well.

I have thought a lot about what you said, about the discussion thread on BCC, about what the Church has said, and about what I learned about PBs. And I'm sort of torn (big surprise--it must be so annoying to read such an indecisive blog!).

On the one hand, I want to do what Heavenly Father wants me to do; the trick, of course, is realizing what that is. But I did realize that, while the Patriarch is only a mortal, flawed man, I am certainly nothing more than that! In fact, it is the Patriarch, not me, who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, who has this calling, and who has a kind of "special access" to revelation as such. I, on the other hand, have so much at stake that it would be difficult to suggest my interpretation of the Spirit isn't influenced by the outcome I want, which is not necessarily what Heavenly Father wants. While it may be argued that the Patriarch has his own biases, they are probably less intrusive than mine because of the nature of his calling. After all, what would be the point of PBs in the first place if we thought individual revelation superceded a Patriarch's revelation? If I can't trust a Patriarch's vision of God's plan for me, how could I trust my own to be closer to the truth?

Also, I went into this knowing that, first, the PB is completely conditional on my faith and obedience, and second, the PB takes the eternal into account, meaning that some of its promises may not be fulfilled during this life. When I read, Alan, of your grandfather and his non-participation in a Missouri temple's construction, I had a thought. Maybe your resurrected grandfather will help to build a Missouri temple during the Millenium. Or, maybe he left some funds to the Church that went directly to helping build the St. Louis temple. I just don't know, and perhaps it's better for me to err on the side of faith. Ultimately, I don't think I can simply accept the parts I hoped for and disregard the parts I didn't desire as much. Again, if I had gone in with that pick-and-choose attitude, I wouldn't have gone in at all.

So, here comes the other hand, as always. There was a conversation that the Patriarch and I had prior to the PB itself.

He asked me about something, I told him, and it was later brought up in the blessing. This made me wonder if it had something to do with the fact that he had discovered it before. My guess is that it would have come up whether I had told him or not, but I'm not completely sure. Maybe it would have come up either way but our talk just brought it to the front of his mind. I don't know. But there was also a point in our pre-Blessing conversation when we asked what my plans for the future were. I said, "Um...neuroscience, maybe brain surgery," dodging the mission issue. He looked up; I continued trying to block. "College, of course, hopefully somewhere warm." His eyebrows raised; defeated, I added, "And probably a mission," then went on with some other plans. (I now, unfortunately, don't remember if I mentioned the possibility of a family--too bad the discussion beforehand isn't recorded!--but if I did, it would have been a maybe.) He clarified, "So you do plan to serve a mission?" Here I was, this clean-cut, stereotypically stalwart Mormon young man, unsure of his mission? This was, in hindsight, the point where I should have brought up "my challenge." How I regret my cowardice in not doing so! How much confusion it might have spared! Instead, I said, "I think so, yes," to which he said, "Well, you have plenty of time to make up your mind."

Later, my full-time mission was brought up. Is this because he was trying to cement my decision? I don't know. He didn't just tell me, "You will serve a full-time mission," he delivered counsel uniquely applicable to serving a full-time mission. Yet my unsurety of going on a mission (for reasons discussed in the previous post) had been brought up beforehand.

So I find a part of me wondering, as Alan asked, Would he have brought up marriage and family if I had told him of my homosexuality? Did he bring up this dream of Mormon life to make sure this undecided young person would take the Church's "track" of mission-->BYU-->marriage-->children-->so on? Had he thought I was straight (and, at least previous to the PB, I believe he did), this sort of action might be seen as 'making sure this fence-sitter didn't wind up living with his girlfriend in Miami in five years.' The mission and family goal probably would be the ideal objective to persuade the average young, undecided Mormon (which I seemed to be) to follow.

Prior to my PB, I have thought that the Church's general plan for its youth may not necessarily be the same as Heavenly Father's specific plan for me. Yet, the PB is saying they are quite similar, apparently. In any case, the fact of the matter is that the mission and family parts of my PB comprised a significant segment--if not majority--of the Blessing, so I don't think that he just "threw it in" to sway my future plans.

I sorely regret passing by the window of opportunity that the conversation presented me with to enlighten the Patriarch about my nature, but I can't take that back. Accordingly, I am now left to ponder what did happen, and frankly, it probably isn't best to ponder the "What ifs" of the Blessing or the circumstances.

My aunt counseled me that confusion is of the Adversary. "Perhaps he is trying to twist this beautiful, spiritual experience into something that only confuses you more than you already were. You want [as Alan pointed out] all the answers now, you want to see how it works out now, but that's just not how faith works. We have to take the step of faith into the dark before the lights come on. 'Lean not unto thy own understanding,'" she quoted, worried that my logic-based style of thinking is interfering with my ability to trust that the Lord sees the end from the beginning.

I did feel the Spirit during the Blessing. If there were parts when I did not, who's to say that I didn't cause that with my own feelings of doubt, confusion, or fear (my aunt also reminded me that fear and faith cannot coexist, and that fear is of Satan, not Christ)? Again, I have to give the benefit of any doubt to God--I think it would be better for me to err on the side of faith. Yet, I don't especially want to go through the "unnecessary and misdirected struggling" that often accompanies MOMs.



Second--and Third and Fourth--Thoughts

Today I received my Patriarchal Blessing. It was truly a beautiful blessing, and I felt that the Patriarch was inspired...So why am I so confused? The blessing talked about a full-time mission and a Temple marriage to a woman, both things I have been unsure of lately.

I have been unsure of a mission because, in the first place, I thought it would be unfair for some innocent Mormon mother in Orem to know that her son will be spending most of his time with a gay companion. I also thought it might be hypocritical to proselyte others to the Church until my own future in it is more secure.

As far as marriage to a woman goes, I just thought it would be unfair to put an innocent daughter of God through such an unsure situation, even with full openness and understanding of my sexuality. Although I in no way mean to demean those of you in MOMs (you have my utmost respect), it seemed to me that I just couldn't, in good conscience, do that to a woman--especially since I have heard that, for many people, SGA intensifies in a Mixed Orientation Marriage ('MOM'). Not to mention children...as one who's childhood includes two divorces, I thought it would be unfair to rear a child in a marriage with such unstable circumstances. It seemed so reckless to me, but God is commanding me to do it?

So, I have doubts...I have fears, frustrations, and confusions, as we all do.

Even if I had perfect faith in the Patriarch and the Blessing and the Church, I am certainly doubting myself, at least. Have I "misdiagnosed" (for lack of a better term, because gay-ness is, of course, no disease) homosexuality? Perhaps I am actually bisexual (or even straight?) after all. I have caught myself sort of staring at a beautiful girl a couple of times in the last little while. Could this be the hint of an attraction, the likes of which could sustain a marriage, with some cultivation and prayer? I don't know--having read and researched the Kinsey Scale, I don't think I've ever thought I'm 100% gay (this isn't the first time I've blogged about being unsure of my sexual identity), and maybe the few who are completely gay are the only ones exempt from the Gospel's general expectation of marriage.

Moreover, after my early-morning appointment with the Patriach, my lesson in Priests' Qrm. was about dating! Is this a sign, or just a spiteful irony? "You have to find an Eternal Companion in this life," they taught. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but it would be a pretty amazing coincidence, and I am already skeptical of coincidences' existence to begin with.

At the same time, I'm currently reading the chapter in Carol Lynn Pearson's No More Goodbyes about MOMs, and it absolutely breaks my heart. So many think that theirs is the one that will be different--the one that will defy the expectation and conquer the challenges--and find only heartbreak and disappointment. On the other hand, some of you prove that MOMs can be not just possible but successful, rewarding, and glorious, albeit difficult and taxing at times.

Looking at all possibilities, what if I'm nothing but a confused but straight teenager just trying to make sense of his 'over-programmed' hormones? In that scenario, maybe Heavenly Father blessed me with some temporary sexual confusion so that I can develop compassion and understanding for His gay children. I don't know.

I asked for Heavenly Father's guidance, and here it is, right? Personalized scripture, specific enough to invalidate any interpretation that would include gay marriage or a purely post-mortal mission. Pretty direct, in fact, though of course I won't get into the exact details.

I prayed and fasted that this Blessing would give me some clarity, and now I have a clear answer, the direction I lacked and sought. Yet I am now only more confused than I was yesterday, before the Blessing. Whereas then I could have used the wiggle room that exceptions to Gospel principles provide to reconcile my faith and my nature, now they are at complete odds--no room for negotiation, because there can be no exception to an individualized Blessing!

The two choices are starkly before me, now absolutely mutually exclusive. I have lost the luxury of any gray area. The Blessing has painted a clearer picture of what one path would look like, what God intends my path to look like. How can I take the other now, though that is what at least a part of me deeply desires?

Worse still, I despise myself for my lack of faith and gratitude for even thinking these things.



Almost every MoHo story I read contains a part where the MoHo in question goes through a time when all he wants to do is change his orientation...In Quiet Desperation talks about "callused knees" from hours spent in prayer, Goodbye, I Love You talks about dangerously long fasts, Peculiar People speaks of hours spent with priesthood leaders--all in the hope of reversing orientation. Me, on the other hand? Although there are of course times I wish I weren't gay, for the most part I don't actually want to be changed. In fact, I'm more ashamed about not wanting to be straight than I am about being gay!

It's not that I don't try to change my sexuality because I know it's impossible. Nor is it that I think of intimacy with a woman as revolting; I've just never had the desire to change. I've never been much of a conformist, and "fitting in" doesn't really hold all that much appeal for me, especially if it means compromising or ignoring who I am. At the same time, I know that I should want to change "who I am" to reflect the Great "I AM", and I do. But does that entail a change of orientation?

I don't know, sometimes it seems like the obsession to change orientation is a sort of MoHo rite of passage, something that has to be "put in". So I find myself wondering if I lack "righteous desires" because I don't really want to be married (and attracted) to a woman. I don't really think so, because I do want to be married, I do want to have a family, I do want the Temple in my life. But right now I'm not sure that a MoM (Mixed-Orientation-Marriage) is the right path for me. Maybe celibacy is. Again, I just don't know.

Sometimes MoHos talk of orientation change--most often in the next life--as a deliverance from their greatest trial. Am I an unruly, wicked, disobedient son of God, that presently I don't necessarily see that change in my identity as "deliverance", something to be awaited and hoped for and earned? I think Alan brought up something to this effect--that most straight members of the Church probably would not be very motivated by the idea of being turned gay in the next life, for time & eternity. At least right now, I am similarly reluctant.

This Sunday, I receive my patriarchal blessing. I am really hoping--and praying--for some kind of guidance.



I believe in ongoing revelation. I believe that God inspires the leadership of the Church.

But I don't believe that He spoon feeds them every little thing they need to know. Rather, my guess is that, with most things, they have to struggle and work issues out just as they would in their personal lives. Often, we point to prophets' earlier lives to show that they were prepared by the Lord for their calling, and this proves that prophets must also rely on their personal experience and wisdom when making decisions. In many cases, though, with this experience and wisdom come biases and prejudice. While I hold the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of our church to be men of God, they are still just that--men--with all the flaws and imperfections of mortality. The results of this--which include the issue of blacks and the Priesthood--are quite clear.

I think Heavenly Father knew these dilemmas would arise, and gave us the Holy Ghost to account for that. After all, didn't President Brigham Young say, "The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord"? [By the way, this quote and others I found on Serendipity. Thanks, Sarah!]

On the other hand, I came across this reading in D&C, Official Declaration--2:

"Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance" (emphasis mine).

What do you all make of this? It seems to say that the obedience of the minority to the Church policy/doctrine (?) that restricted them was a reason for the prophets' seeking additional revelation. Does that mean we have an obligation to exhibit a similar 'faithfulness of the oppressed' in the hope that it would spur "spending many hours...supplicating the Lord for divine guidance"? Or do you think living a morally upright life in a monogamous gay relationship would have an equally powerful effect?

I know some gay members pray and fast and feel that the Holy Ghost has directed them to seek a same-sex marriage (or rough equivalent where marriage isn't available). Their question might be, "Why must I wait for the General Authorities to receive an answer Heavenly Father has already given me?" But does this kind of thinking conflict with the quote from D&C above?

In other words, is following the Church's prescribed celibacy an act of devoted obedience to a loving God, faithful submission to the True Church, or resigned acceptance of ignorant oppression? I suppose the answer must be worked out between us and God, a question of faith. But there again, I reject the simplistic viewpoint that suggests, 'Gay Mormons have a temptation like any other, and the 20% who stay in the Church are the 20% that have enough faith.' So many Mormons--taught the slogan "Life is a test" since their Primary days--see the MoHo predicament as, 'you have enough faith to stay in the Church--pass' or 'you don't have enough faith--fail'. I have come to see that it is not as starkly black and white as that.

I appreciate any and all thoughts if you would like to offer them!

Thoughts from Church

From Sunday...

Today was the first time I've been to Church in a while. I've always been one of the stalwart models of faithful youth in the ward, so it's been odd for them to see my string of Sunday absences. I've been gone for travel, and also to spend more time with my dad on the weekends, but the bottom line is that I do feel like an outsider and, more importantly, that my testimony of the Church is not what it once was. I do have a solid faith in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Plan of Salvation, Joseph Smith, the Restoration, etc., but I am uneasy with some of the Church's actions--and I'm not just talking Prop-8 here.

Many of you have blogged about similar sentiments recently. In fact, Scott wrote in his post 'Embers' that "...the press releases that issued forth from the Church Office Building felt more like the product of a Fortune 500 company’s PR firm than the words of a Christian organization—let alone Christ’s Church on the earth." I was startled when I read this because I had thought precisely the same thing many weeks earlier while watching some videos the Church had posted on the LDS.org site. It was an unsettling experience...sitting there, watching these videos of people professing many of the same beliefs I hold, but thinking, "This is not missionary work. This is not God's work. This is really good marketing, plain and simple." I had always, I confess, scoffed at the gloss and worldliness of other churchs' efforts to "reach out," so it was disconcerting (to say the least) to suddenly become aware of the increasingly corporate feel of my own beloved church!

Then there are all the issues relating to homosexuality. The contradictions, the suicides, the hatred, the distortions, the illogic, the alienation, the ignorance... While homosexuality itself was not the reason for my crisis in faith, it brought up so many questions--unanswered questions that I wouldn't be able to ignore even if I were straight.

Fortunately, I have a very close aunt who helps me with these issues. As both a forward-thinking, intellectual psychiatrist and a faithful mother of three in a beautiful family strong in the Church, she has been dear in extending true support and acceptance towards me (regardless of which road I end up taking). She did advise me not to rely solely on logic (I am an analytical person) but to consider it along with faith, since she had to do the same while facing her own struggles with inconsistencies in the Church. I accept her advice; religious persuasion, for me, relies on the knowledge of the head and the heart together. Of course, there are some leaps of faith that have to be made when the need for logic and evidence aren't enough--that is, after all, the ultimate challenge of religion--but I don't think that logic should be completely disregarded, either.

Anyway, I love the Church, and it was good to be back today. In spite of the prejudice and coldness, there is also much love and warmth. It's so confusing to be torn between these crucial parts of my identity. My primary objective in going today was to get my bishop's recommend for a patriarchal blessing. Hopefully I can have a clearer picture of my future after that.