I had some great discussions, but I had to face something that has been troubling me for some time. I'm not too worried about the future--marriage, relationships, etc.--because I've finally been able to say, 'I'll cross that bridge when I get there--for now, I just need to take one day at a time." I've finally reached a place where my gay-ness (I doubt that's a real word, but 'homosexuality' sounds so clinical) isn't a big deal, and I've realized it's hardest to grapple with when I make it a big deal. Beyond that, though, is my larger struggle of my feelings about the Church. That is what's been tearing me apart. Not the fact that I'm gay. Not the fact that I don't know what my future holds. The fact that, as a gay member, I am in an uncomfortable position with the Church I love.
Yesterday a fellow MoHo blogger shared his feelings about the new Church pamphlet on 'SGA', God Loveth His Children. He had some frustrations that also went through my mind when my bishop handed me the pamphlet, which--though it certainly beats Helping Those With a Homosexual Problem or whatever the previous edition was called--contains some definite snags, for me at least. I gratefully acknowledge that it's a marked improvement from the previous tone of death-is-preferable condemnation, but this pamphlet is still greatly flawed in my eyes.
Of course, they're very carefully-worded flaws like "It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion. It is better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings" (page nine). Translation: don't be yourself, and don't befriend people who are themselves. I hope I'm not being harsh here, but that's how I interpret it. There's also this: "While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life" (pages three and four). Many Latter-Day Saints? In my view, those who have 'overcome same-gender attraction' are in fact bisexuals. Moreover, 'many' means that it is a goal that can and should be accomplished, that change of orientation is an achievable task, like working through an addiction or other problem. Can't you imagine the gay Deacon, Teacher, or Priest who says, "Well, if 'many Latter-Day Saints' can do it, why can't I? What have they got on me?" I know that that was my thinking for a time, and the bottom line is that it's a futile and destructive mindset. Nearly everyone in the mental health field would agree.
Perhaps the hardest thing for me to swallow is "As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children." In other words, we will become straight in the next life, an idea I find...unsettling. Despite the convenience, I don't think I would want to be straight, now or then. Sexuality is a core part of being--I believe, an eternal part of being. There are many like me, too. Would a just and loving God force us to be turned straight? I don't think so. How, then, could "every one of God's children...find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children"?
For me, though, it goes deeper than this. Throughout all of my inner confusion, there have been three things--three sustaining pillars--about which I have not been unsure:
- Heavenly Father and Jesus both live and love me.
- I need not be ashamed about being gay.
- Homosexuality is no more inherently sinful than heterosexuality.
- “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.” - Brigham Young
- "If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.” - Joseph Fielding Smith. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 3:203–204 ISBN 0884940411)
It's hard for me to stand by and watch the Church's actions on homosexuality and the consequences of those actions. Shock and reparative therapy. Defense of Marriage and Proposition 8. Misleading pamphlets. The Plaza incident. Gay Mormon suicides.
And yet, I can't imagine living outside of the Church. Right now, my family is slipping into inactivity, and it causes me to consider if I really want a life I can't live in harmony with the Church. I look at the many MoHo's (and Mormons in general) who have left the Church and utterly lost their faith--becoming atheists or agnostics-- and think, I don't want to lose my salvation! I don't want to lose my faith! I don't want to lose my belief in God, my ultimate mooring!
I want to stay close to my Heavenly Father, and I don't want to leave (or be dismissed from) the Church. Some MoHo "strugglers" say that SGA is a trial like any other, one that can take us closer to God or take us from Him, but I'm not so sure. I realize that some would say it's a trial that has already taken me away from God. Again, I don't think so. I don't even see it as a burden, a trial, something to overcome. Rather, I see it as a blessing, a part of who I am. This is not a travail I long to be rid of...this is me.
Must 'who I am' automatically remove me from the great I AM?