Thoughts From the Back Row

Went to church Sunday for the first time in a while, and as I sat on the last row of metal folding chairs, a few things occurred to me.  [This may not, by the way, be a great post to read if you are having testimony trouble.  I should note here that I have a testimony of the Gospel and the Church, but I do see a difference between the two and believe that the Church's leaders are mortal men who have to struggle to find the Truth, just as we do.]

-Had I been born blind, would I have a different idea of my sexuality than I do now?

-Both Alan and Abelard have recently blogged about something I too have long felt: presently the Church has no place for us--culturally, theologically, what have you.  Heavenly Father does, but clearly the Church does not: to Church teachings a gay Mormon is a pesky counterexample, an inconvenient loose end that doesn't neatly fit into our current understanding of God's Plan.  The Church simply doesn't know how to explain or what to do with us, as evidenced by its erratic and contradictory counsel for its gay members and their families.

-Homosexuality affects an estimated one in every four families in the Church, and probably 2-5% of members are gay.  You'd think that the Church would be pretty clear about an issue that far-reaching (any other issue that prevalent would likely be a common theme for GenConference talks).  But in actuality "SSA" is rarely mentioned, much less discussed.  When it is, there's no guarantee it will be accurate or Christian (the Hafen talk and Elder Oaks's advice to parents of gay children come to mind).  Frankly, this is because 1, the Church clearly does not yet have the full truth on the matter (see above), and 2, they don't want people to see their cluelessness.  Imagine what would happen if the entire Church was aware of its meandering record on homosexuality (from instant excommunication to conditional membership, electro-shock to celibacy, reparative therapy marriage to discouragement of MOM, choice to unchosen, curable to 'possibly not overcomable', et al).  In other words, the Church stays (relatively) quiet to save face, and when parents, families, and bishops are left to their own devices (that is, prejudices and ignorance), who pays the price?  Sorry if I seem resentful, but it is what it is.  We're talking lives here--which state, again, has the most suicides among men 19-24? 

-That being said, maybe I've actually caught a gigantic break here.  While I don't see marriage to a woman any great prospect, I'm under no delusions that a gay relationship would be a picnic, either.  Judging from the kind of son and brother I am now, I don't know if I would be a good father or husband (to a man or a woman).  Sometimes I think I've seen all of marriage I want to--that I'm actually lucky to be one of the few Mormons off the hook, if you'll allow me to be so bold.  I know I speak from profound inexperience here, but maybe celibacy wouldn't be so terrible for me.  I like being alone, I would have the Church, I could have my dogs and maybe some neices and nephews.  I realize I'd have to be married in the next life, but hopefully I won't be resurrected as a psychopath.    :) 
[...This is partially tongue in cheek, of course, but partially my genuine feeling on the subject.]


Abelard Enigma said...

I think celibacy is a perfectly viable option for a gay Mormon - and one that I feel we, as a gay Mormon community, need to do more to support.

But, I also think you underestimate yourself and your ability to love and be in a committed monogamous relationship (with either a guy or a girl). You're not ready for that right now - even if you were straight I wouldn't advise you to find a girl and get married as soon as possible. But, it is an option you might want to leave on the table for future consideration as you age and mature.

In the meantime, I encourage a life a celibacy. As you aptly pointed out, you aren't going to get any support from the church - but there is still a lot of good you can do both in and out of the church. Without a family to support you will likely have more time on your hands and you'll have more disposable income than you otherwise would. Both of these can be used to help others.

And who knows, as you serve others, you may find the love of your life (be it a boy or a girl) - someone who has the same interests and passions as you do. Just keep your options open.

Mister Curie said...

I don't mean to push my disbelief on anyone (so let me know if my post is inappropriate and should be removed), but you pointed out some of my biggest issues with the church, its "meandering record", but not just on homosexuality. I find problems with the church's meandering record on a lot of issues. Blacks and the Priesthood is often compared to the church's stance on homosexuality for good reason, the church also has a meandering record on its approach to blacks receiving the Priesthood. It just seems that God's true church should have a better record and be one of the first church's to allow blacks to receive the priesthood, rather than one of the last to allow full fellowship of black members. I think that, like homosexuals, many blacks were mistreated and hurt by other church members due to the church's public stance. The church has the same meandering record on polygamy. Whereas it was once taught that polygamy was required for exhaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, now you are excommunicated for polygamy. I just read a biography on the 33 well-documented wives of Joseph Smith, most of them went on to become wives of Brigham Young and other apostles after the martyrdom. These were strong faithful women who were trying to do God's will and many of their lives were miserable in polygamy often being left alone because their husband needed to spend time with their other wives and not being able to support that many women so a lot of the wives had to work for their own welfare, the church's stance contributed to their unhappiness, particularly those women who were already married to other men before Joseph Smith convinced them to marry him. And those same faithful women would be excommunicated today. I'll stop ranting, but in the church's meandering record I see much more evidence for the work of men than the work of God, and if the church has changed its stance on such previously fundamental issues, how can I trust that it won't change its stance in the future? I suppose for the homosexual community, the church's record on changing it's stance is a promise of hope that things can eventually change. My problem is that I don't see much evidence of a firm rock upon which to build in the church's meandering record on a variety of issues.

Don't close your mind to the possibility of having a loving relationship with another person. Relationships can be difficult, but they are also very rewarding. I am married to a woman, whom I love very much (she's my exception). I would not recommend you get married to a woman if you don't want to. But if you do find a special man at some point in your life, I would advise you to not hesitate to nurture that relationship, despite the church's stance (who knows, it may meander towards accepting homosexual marriage and you wouldn't want to miss out on those years of happiness waiting for the church to change its stance).

I guess one of the difficult things for homosexual members of the church, is that even though the church's stance on homosexuality is hurtful, it isn't that different from the rest of American mainstream Christianity. There are certainly pockets of greater acceptance in the country, but overall people are still biased against homosexuals.

BB said...

I think this is a set of telling observations that many in this choir of the moho blogosphere get. We (almost) all understand that there is a lot we don't know (for a better reference, use Gordon B. Hinckley's Larry King Live Interview where he says it best. We simply do not know.
I think the church has stayed silent because it doesn't know but that as society moves forward, they will be forced to discuss it more. That is the main reason I believe in Marriage Equality, not because it matters on any eternal scale, but because it may pressure the Church to ask/receive a definitive answer on this issue that affects the one in four.

Bravone said...

I hope someday those that follow us will not have to feel the way you do right now. Meanwhile, I take comfort in the gospel and use the church as a means to help me worship. I love you FLS.

MoHoHawaii said...

Although the vast majority of people do eventually want the companionship and physical comfort that a durable pair bond offers, there are a few (maybe 1 in 200) who do better on their own. Maybe you'll end up in this category. As you make your way I'd just encourage you just to be open to what your heart says and not be too put off by less-than-optimal relationships you may observe in your parents' lives or by your culture's bias against same-sex relationships.

I have great confidence that you'll figure this stuff out over time! I hope you keep blogging along the way.

As always, best of luck!