11 February 2009

Back On The Record

The other day I chatted with another blogger who shall remain nameless, and I ended up opening the valve and letting loose with a pretty concentrated blast of frustration. He listened with the kindness and charity that is typical of him, for which I'm grateful.

I later mentioned some of the same points in a chat with another friend on line who's been "summoned" by his bishop who wants to "help him" deal with this "burden" in his life. Said friend is no pushover and is going to thank the bishop politely for his concern and will assure him he needs no such help and doesn't require the bishop's intervention. He is also outspoken enough that he's likely to give the bishop an earful of just what he thinks of the Church's whole record on this issue. Wish I could be a fly on the wall in that interview. He even said he might use my rant as talking points in his chat with the bishop.

I didn't think what I'd said was was anything special, just off the top of my head stuff, but he got me thinking. And I started getting a little curious, wondering what all my friends out there in the 'sphere would think of my little impromptu jeremiad. So with original chat partner's identity cloaked, said outburst went as follows:

Me: Thanks for taking time to listen. I still feel like such a baby with all this, even around guys who are younger than me. Almost everybody I know has been out longer, they have more experience dealing with this. I'm just trying to learn from them all.

Him: Why?

Me: I first came out only 6 months ago.  Have only been blogging a little over 4 months. After years of trying to deny even to myself who I really was, and building my life around a faith model that seems to say NO NO NO don't even THINK about this.  It's like a paradigm implosion and I am trying to get back on my feet and get my bearings again.

I haven't completely lost my faith in God or the Savior, that's as strong as ever.  But to be brutally blunt, I don't have nearly as much confidence in the Church as I used to. I am still confident that overall it has more truth than any other Christian denomination. But I just don't know if I can trust it as an institution unreservedly anymore. I have been in it long enough to see for myself how individual agendas can masquerade as "inspiration" and to see how personal politics and preferences often determine what's done.

So coming from such a background, now I read confirmed news reports that for over 20 years now the Church has been actively but secretly planning political strategies with PR firms, hiring lobbyists and setting up lobbying organizations as a front designed to disguise Church involvement, taking and making financial contributions, hiring teams of lawyers, and holding confidential strategy sessions with the Catholics and others in order to influence elections, overturn court decisions, push and influence statutory and constitutional legislation, all in an effort to prevent not only same-sex marriage but even civil unions in some cases.

Then I see the FP letter urging support for Proposition 8 and know that for many California Mormons that letter was the first they'd ever heard of such efforts by the Church and in their innocent faith they thought "Well, this is the prophet speaking, it must be the will of the Lord, we have to support it," and I think "No, I know this history, this isn't inspiration, this is just the next step on the political agenda that's been tracking for two decades now. There's no 'thus saith the Lord' here, this is the political campaign of a handful of senior Church leaders. If it really were revelation, they would have announced it as such from the very start instead of all this cloak and dagger stuff."

And then I read of how comparatively tolerant the Church was of homosexuality before Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson came along and launched their years-long campaign against homosexuals in the Church that resulted in disgrace, excommunications, and even suicides. I recall their years of speaking and writing about homosexuality itself as a horrible abomination and I recall the members who were excommunicated just for being that way. Then I look around me and see the genuine love and happiness in committed gay relationships that I personally have seen and know of, that obviously has done nothing but good for the partners, yet the Church threatens and punishes and kicks them out, and it's all just too confusing. Too many contradictions. I don't know what to think or who to trust anymore.

There is this gaping hole in Church doctrine, it just can't explain how God's gay children fit into the eternities other than to say "after you live a lonely, loveless life, your reward might just be that you get transformed into the thing you never wanted to be anyway." I'm not interested. Hence all the wrangling in my Letter to Mom post earlier.

This is awful.  I hate feeling so helpless, not being able to learn something as essential as what we don't know yet about all this. It's like "You have to risk your whole eternal future on a roll of the dice because the Church can't tell you either way the results of either choice."

Him: It is frustrating.  The prophets are clear that they view homosexuality as sinful if acted upon.  The confusion you feel is that you are not sure if they are speaking for the Lord, or from their own personal experiences and biases.  Right?

Me: Bingo. I am very persuaded by the fact that all the latter-day scriptures which are supposed to be specifically for us and our day say NOTHING about this issue. And every verse in the Bible about it is, in my opinion, open to serious question when the actual texts and contexts are examined in detail, not just glibly tossed off as "well, it's an abomination, end of analysis."

That leaves us with the statements of Church leaders about it. And in light of the Church's checkered history on this, and when I read other statements by LDS leaders about, e.g. mixed race marriages should be punishable by death, birth control is contrary to the teachings of the church, and other such claptrap that was accepted as gospel at the time just because of who said it but has now been completely reversed, you can see why I feel very unsteady if all I have to rely on is today's Church leaders' individual statements on this topic too.

Him: I think you are entitled to know what is right for you.  Seek God's help and then trust in the promptings he gives you.

Me:  I want to believe that.  But it's kind of scary too. I think I will get there eventually but a process like this doesn't happen overnight.

I have made this a matter of a lot of prayer already. It was so stupid, for a while I felt like Huck Finn, you remember that chapter called "You can't pray a lie"? Well that was me. For most of my life even in my prayers I pretended I wasn't gay. Pathetic, eh. That's how scared I was of it. I rationalized that because dating girls was fun and all, and I did want to be a father and have kids someday, I wasn't "really" that way. No more though. After a while of finally saying in my prayers "this is who I am, this is what I want, it's time to be honest," one day that still small voice finally spoke. The way you tend not to forget because it's pretty rare. And the words were crystal clear: "I know what you are, and I approve."

That helped a lot. A lot more peace in my heart, more confidence in myself, and frankly, a lot less patience with anybody inside or outside the Church who insists on treating homosexuality as a "burden" or an "affliction." Unfortunately, it also brought into even sharper focus the dilemma that I and others face in the Church. I guess I need to keep after this and get more clarity, and that's going to take a while.

Therewith ended the rant. Comments welcome. Am I off base anywhere? Does anybody else think like this?


Abelard Enigma said...

I don't disagree with anything you said; although, I don't personally believe that there has been cloak and dagger conspiracy going on for years. The, so called, secret documents I've seen are from previous efforts where the church has been publicly involved in opposing gay marriage in Hawaii and elsewhere - and even previously in California with prop 22 (the initiative that led Stuart Matis to commit suicide). Yes, there were some internal memo's circulated - but that happens all the time. When I was serving in the bishopric, I learned that not all communications received from church headquarters are read from the pulpit.

Myself, I draw a distinction between inspiration and, what I like to call, ickspiration. The reality is that heterosexuals have a natural aversion to homosexuality. They can't help it - that's just who they are. The very thought of male to male intimacy is disgusting and icky. I think the problem comes in when people don't distinguish between true inspiration from God and their natural icky feeling when they think about what gay men do in the bedroom. Basically, it doesn't feel right to them; therefore, it must be the holy spirit telling them so. I believe our church leaders fall into this trap as well. The way I look at it, the thought of eating brains or eyeballs is disgusting and icky to me - but that doesn't make it wrong.

The gospel restoration didn't start until Joesph Smith asked a question. When it comes to homosexuality, I just don't think our church leaders are asking the right questions yet - because they think they already know the answer (because of their ickspiration on the subject).

Grant Haws said...

"There is this gaping hole in Church doctrine, it just can't explain how God's gay children fit into the eternities other than to say "after you live a lonely, loveless life, your reward might just be that you get transformed into the thing you never wanted to be anyway."" - Bingo. That is one part of the equation that doesn't hold up to me. I am supposed to go through my life feeling unfulfilled and like half a person and despising myself, but be magically transformed to be straight afterwards. No thanks. I think earlier in my life when I hated myself and this whole part of me this would be what I would've wanted. But since I finally decided to love and accept all of myself, I can't fit this idea into my perception of a loving Heavenly Father. The real problem is that this puts being homosexual on the same level as being blind or not being able to walk...something to be healed. However, I don't want to be healed. I love this aspect of who I am and wouldn't want to be straight.

Alan said...


Amen to your last two sentences, and in fact to your whole comment. Exactly right.

Captain Midnight said...

Hey thanks! I enjoy your blog too. Let me know if you're in the provo area :)