03 March 2009

Why I Don't Want It Gone

Robert's response to my last post got me thinking. Like him, I understand the line of thought about how being gay may be just a "test" or an "affliction" limited only to mortality. I also understand that it's only conjecture. I started writing a response to him and it quickly mushroomed into a full-scale follow-on post. So in anticipation of Scott's warning (also in a comment to my last post) that he was probably going to address the same topic, here are my reservations about the idea that being gay is limited to just this life and is akin to being blind or deaf or physically handicapped.

Being blind or deaf or whatever is "merely" a dysfunction of a temporarily mortal body, whereas in my experience all of the attractions and feelings and hopes that are wrapped up in being gay go way deeper, to the very center, the core of the heart and spirit. They are part of one's capacity to love, feel attraction for and affinity to, be intimate with. These are all Godly attributes. To believe that such feelings and attributes are either a flaw or a test imposed by God solely because they are directed toward one's own gender strikes me as akin to believing that God allows not only the body but the spirit itself to be deformed. I just can't accept that. I've had enough experience choosing right and wrong to know how both choices make me feel deep down inside. I know how it feels to give in to sin, to fall short. And as I said in my Letter to Mom, when I imagine being with a guy who is my partner, the one I love above all others, every feeling of my heart is pure and noble and uplifting. I want to be with him not just because he's a guy, but because he's the guy. I want to be better because of him. I want to help him be better too. I want us to live our lives together pursuing everything that is good and true and praiseworthy and charitable, supporting and caring for each other and reaching out to share the pure love of Christ with others. Just like any heterosexual couple would.

The Savior said we should judge all things by their fruits. The fruits of what I want are nothing but good. I want a guy to be with, in this life and the next, for all the right, good, true, loving, pure in heart reasons, and to spend this life and the next with him pursuing all that is virtuous and praiseworthy and bringing to pass much righteousness. Is there any bad fruit there? No. That's why I just can't bring myself to believe that this is a "flaw" or a "test." I know what those feel like, and this ain't it. To me it feels not like a flaw, but like completion. Not like a "burden", but like liberation. Not like a "test", but like a privilege.

This is why, like others have said, I can't imagine not being like this in the eternities, and I don't want it taken away now or then. Mind you, this is not defensive braggadocio or mere conjecture. I speak from experience. As I said before, I have already spent years doing everything that so-called experts like Jeffrey Robinson, Ph.D. say I should do in order to eradicate this part of myself. I have been married and played the classic straight Mormon husband for a number of years. And it didn't work. This "core characteristic" remained at my very core. It has always been there. I can't imagine being me without it. To even attempt any sort of "reparative therapy" would be to deny my own nature. Some would say I'm giving into "defeat" without even fighting. To them I'd say "I've already fought, for a very long time. And I won. I won, because who and what I am finally prevailed. The idea that I had to completely transform my own nature into something that wasn't me in order to qualify for God's love and acceptance--that's what lost. But I won."

This does not mean I have to go out and start living the stereotypical "gay lifestyle." It doesn't mean I have to abandon my faith entirely. It does mean I have to recognize that the Church is almost completely in the dark on all of the reasons and the explanations and the why's and the what if's. It means I have to really have a lot of faith and hope and charity, and I really have to cling to the idea that God can and will yet speak more to His prophets, perhaps someday about this part of who I am, because so far He hasn't and all the Church is doing right now is tossing around a lot of opinions. It also means I have to recognize that what we don't know about the eternities is vast beyond imagination, especially compared to what we do know at present.

So purely in terms of averages and proportions, I would like to think chances are pretty good that even somebody with an "affliction" like mine could do pretty well after this life, if God is as Joseph Smith said so much more loving and merciful to His children than we can imagine. Ultimately He alone will be the judge of the deepest desires of my heart.

He knows that those desires are for things virtuous and praiseworthy. The only reason one of them may not currently be "of good report" in some circles is that what I believe is simply a lack of knowledge and understanding still keeps many from seeing with the pure love of Christ, in whom I place my trust. I don't place that trust in the opinions of other people, and not even in the theorizing of church leaders who are just as fallible as anyone. My faith and trust are that God and the Savior knew what they were doing when I was created this way, so I do not feel flawed or broken or burdened (other than by the misunderstanding of others). I know that they know that my heart wants only to love and be loved and to be their hands in this life to "do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly" before them, and to be with the ones--especially "the one"--I love most here in mortality and hereafter, and I trust that if I do my best to follow the Savior's teachings and the voice of the Spirit as it leads me, then I will in some future day have all the desires of my heart fulfilled.

And that's why, while acknowledging that I don't know everything either, I can't accept the theory--even if it comes from top church leadership--that this is just a "test" or a "burden" limited to mortality alone. That just doesn't ring true to me. I have never felt as fully alive, as complete, as joyous about life and God's blessings, as I have since coming out. It doesn't feel like a "test" or an "affliction." I feel ecstatic, finally free to be my real self, the way God made me. Why would I ever want that taken away?

6 comments:

enkrateia said...

Alan,

It's always struck me as odd that homosexuality is viewed so often as a deficit, something negative rather than something positive (in the value-neutral senses of the words).

Now, my own concerns about metaphysical dualisms aside, it's interesting to consider that the body is not just a temporary burden or test to improve the spirit. Bodies actually improve the spirit. It's not just a short-term refiner's fire. It's an eternal union, an upgrade.

So it doesn't seem unusual to think that the body simply amplifies what was already there. I don't mean to suggest that spirits are pure or unflawed, but it'd be nice to see some discussion of what might be positive (in both senses) in spirits in respect to homosexuality. Maybe find some good reasons why homosexuality isn't just tolerable, but useful and valuable spiritually and temporally.

Anyway, hope that makes at least a little sense. I'm still trying to clarify my thought. :)

Grant Haws said...

The irony is that you did exactly what you had been taught to do by the church and the prophets: You had a question, you studied it out, you obviously have prayed a lot about it, and you came to your best conclusion about the situation as directed by both the Spirit and your mind.

Thank you for this post. When I think about having a relationship with a guy, I see it much the same way you do. One that is eternal and based on love, commitment, and charity.

Ezra said...

But the church doesn't REALLY want you to pray to come to a personal conclusion--because if your conclusion doesn't jive with the LDS Corporate Manifest, then your testimony and faith is immediately called into question.

I realize that my whole childhood was spent praying for change, to be made straight. It never occurred to me to ask God what he would have me be/do, because I already knew God's will through the church--how mistaken was I.

Beck said...

First of all, in my opinion, an interview by a GA does not make that interview "doctrine". I think it is a summary of current opinions by the Brethren, which is subject to change.

You argue that homosexuality is different from other physical conditions (such as deafness or blindness) because homosexuality goes to the core of a soul, the core of a spirit, the core of one's "intelligence" (that was never created but has always been). While, deafness or blindness are physical mortal conditions, and though a deaf or blind person may find their deafness or blindness an integral part of who they are and that they don't want those disabilities "changed" in this life, that said, they still don't go to the core of the person's soul, spirit, or intelligence, and so they cannot be equated with homosexuality.

And if homosexuality goes to the core as much as heterosexuality goes to the core, then it should be obvious that this "ain't going away" and no one should "want it gone" for to say so implies that you want the essence of who you are (that predates your body) to be gone.

Right?

Alan said...

@enkrateia:

I like and agree with your point about bodies improving and amplifying the spirit. I too see it as a very symbiotic relationship, impossible to separate the two and each amplifying qualities of the other.

@Grant:

Well put. It is truly ironic, isn't it. As I told another friend recently and actually said in an earlier post, I should be the poster child for success of efforts to change orientation--IF that were possible. Oops. I have indeed thought, studied, pondered, prayed, beaten on the door till my knuckles were bloody, in Spencer Kimball's phrase, and sorry, Pres. Kimball, it changed nothing except my previous hope that change was possible.

Nor does being gay t mean I'm a slut, and I resent the popular misconception to the contrary. I want to be as moral and restrained and honorable as anyone, regardless of orientation. I too want the eternity of love, companionship, charity and service.

@Ezra:

Sure can seem that way, can't it. Institutionally speaking. Fortunately, my covenants aren't with the institution.

@Beck:

Agreed on the opinion attribution.

To the rest of your comment, I'm not omniscient, and I don't claim infallibility, but yes, that is how I personally see it.

AmbiguouS One said...

Amazing post. I wish that more people (MoHo's included) could see that even homosexual attractions can be significantly spiritual and can also be a source of happiness and completeness in our lives.

I'm like you; I don't see my attractions as a deficit in any way. In fact, it bothers me when others refer to it as a "trial," "challenge," burden," or "test." Is it testing? Well, honestly, what isn't? I have come to love myself for who I am, not despite what I am.

It makes me happy that another MoHo has discovered this same idea.