07 October 2008

STAGGERING: Aporia's Rebirth (Prop 8)

Disclaimer: THIS IS A *LONG* POST. Maybe the longest in the history of blogger. But it's long overdue, because it happened on August 24th. It's a post that will be incredible. And controversial. It's about Prop 8. And my testimony. Please plan some time and then actually READ this...it took me forever to write it after all :P

Honestly, I'm not even really sure how to start it – where to begin – by what manner I can hope to have this make enough sense for anyone to understand where I am and how I got here. A lot of it doesn’t even make sense to me. If I hadn’t just experienced it, I doubt I would believe it. But I did. And I do. Just like Joseph,

“I have actually [experienced this]; and who am I that I can withstand God or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually [lived]? For I had [experienced this]; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation” (JSH 1:25).

Which—before I even get into it—I should mention that word, “condemnation.” What I have just lived leaves me wondering how the hell I’ll ever get anyone else to understand it or see the way I see. I am bracing myself for the confusion, the recoil, and the controversy that will surely swirl around this assertion of myself and who I have decided to be, yet do not wholly know how much I can prepare myself for the backlash that will invariably wound me.

With my recent discontentment on Prop8, I resolved to speak to my uncle—not the uncle I was having problems with (that’s a different Cali uncle), but the one who’s helped me so much in the past. Surely if anyone would understand Prop 8, if anyone could help me know where to go and what to say to respond to my other uncle, if anyone would be able to assist me in communicating with my parents, it was to be this uncle. How right I was.

And how sorely, sorely wrong at the same time.

Interestingly, on this trip to visit him my uncle called me a few hours beforehand to tell me a family friend had called and wanted to take them out to dinner and he invited me along; to which I readily agreed. We went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. The food was pretty good, but I wasn’t overly hungry since I’d eaten lunch out with Vi, and had breakfast out also.

Somehow Prop 8 came up. I cringed. Felt sick. Got quiet. Didn’t know what to do. The friend’s kids asked about it and the dad emphatically said, “The prophet said we need to support it. That’s all you need to worry about.” Really? Could it be that easy? That mindless? That unthinking? What about reason? The role of agency? Weighing? The opportunity to check your spiritual moorings? Shouldn’t this be just a bit more complicated than he was making it?

I sure thought so. I made that clear with an email opposing Prop 8 sent to people in OTR's ward when they said the same thing:

"I appreciate your sense of duty and activism regarding this issue, but as OTR pointed out, this is killing people we love and I cannot stand for that. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to feel? I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know it is true, and as much as I wish it wasn't sometimes so that this wouldn't be so hard, here I am. Do any of you even understand what it is like to have the same faith that is the source of joy and peace overwhelming you with anxiety and sorrow? No, I don't think so. I'm being asked to support a cause which will only compound those feelings among people who are gay. This type of rhetoric in my opinion further encourages hate and discrimination. I know the Church officially discourages these types of behaviors and I wholeheartedly agree with them, but something has to be said for how the members act and why they apparently feel that it is okay to treat others in the hateful and disrespecful ways that they sometimes do." (The full email is available upon request, but is way too long to include in full, especially with how long this post already is).
Dinner ended up being taxing on me, and not just because of Prop 8. That man, who I’m sure is loved and respected by my uncle seemed to me nothing more than a bad father and it was torture to watch him and listen to him interact with and mistreat his children. His son confessed that he’d seen the new Batman movie and he father demanded to know how. He evaded the question and his father asserted his authority, “Answer the question right now, son.” He confessed he’d seen the movie downloaded from the internet. His father replied, “That’s illegal. A sin.” I just listened, said nothing. They harped on their kids for their grades as well, because they weren’t doing well enough. Well, I wonder why not. The kid wasn’t even failing. He just didn’t have A’s.

When that bout of torture ended, another began. My uncle was sitting in the living room and I went down there and he said the time was mine, he had no plans. I asked could we go upstairs, since my 17-year old cousin was there; it wasn’t particularly something I wanted to discuss with her around. He agreed and we went upstairs. I felt nervous like anytime I have a serious, somewhat awkward conversation – how do you just ease into something like that?

So I asked him how he was and he chatted a minute to update me on his life. He took the bait, and asked me how I was. I spouted off about work, about OTR; pretty much everything being great. Oh yeah, except Church. The one place that’s supposed to uplift me, that’s supposed to help me, to heal me, makes me feel like hell. Mostly when they bring up Prop 8. I launched into my feelings on Prop 8, and all the Grassroots work going into it. I told my uncle that this was hurtful, even when/if it didn’t seem like it.

My uncle is incredible, and I hate when he asks questions, because I never have good answers for them. He started by talking about when he thinks. Oddly, the best time for him to think about things is apparently when he is plugged into his ipod and mowing the lawn. Anyway, he’d been thinking the other day about all he’s seen in the course of his life, and then recounted to me many of the things he’s been through in his life, including where he was the day blacks were authorized to receive the priesthood. One of the most significant events for him was the proclamation on the family, which will be celebrating its 13th year this September. Essentially Prop 8 revolves around the proclamation, and the declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman. My mom tried to say that Prop 8 was about defining marriage, I felt it was about restricting agency. My uncle said it was about the family. He then asked me why God created the family? He exists without beginning or end, has been around forever, and has progressed far beyond any of us. So why did he, in his infinite wisdom, in his eternal love, and in his omniscient understanding, create the family? I didn’t have a ready answer. There are many I think. To give kids an environment to grow and become stronger in, to learn to support someone else, and love them more than yourself, to be able to relate to and struggle with other people, the list goes on and on.

My uncle’s answer was Moses 1:39: “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This are clearly not the same thing, or they would not be listed together. Immortality = never ending. Eternal life doesn’t. It’s a kind of title. I’m not going to go into the whole proof here, but basically Eternal can be equated with God, so Eternal Life can be understood to mean a life like God’s. God’s life. Never ending life like God. Well how do you achieve that?

Lorenzo Snow felt he understood this achievement when he declared, “As man is, God once was; As God is, man may be” (See Q&A #2)

To achieve his design, his plan, his purpose, you have to have qualities like him. Do you really understand what that means? To be like him? We all understand physical differences between men and woman. But God made man and God made woman. Different designs. He has wisdom, knowledge...trust?

My uncle then likened this achievement to being a part of a grand institution which has prescribed requirements for belonging. IBM, apple, the LDS church, all prescribe ways of living and being to be in harmony with their designated policies. Everybody has to fit inside the box, whether its a group, an organization, or an entire society. My feelings were, I want to. I love my church. I want to fit, I want to be worthy, I want to be righteous, but HOW do I achieve that? How do I change what doesn’t fit to do so? This reminded me of Peculiar Mormon’s old blog entry:

"I had 'the talk' with Mom this morning before we went to the temple. I'm so sick of crying. I told her how I feel about life right now: that I'm walking on a knife-edge, and I'm damned if I fall either way."

"Right now/knife edge=living celibate...not getting in trouble...only problem is that I feel like I'm really walking the figurative knife...and my feet are cut so badly. I fall to the left, and I live the lifestyle. Maybe I'm damned for eternity for rejecting the gospel, and maybe I actually end up miserable in this life...but from the experience I've had in the past year, going towards that side is the only relief I've had from this blatant self-hatred. To my left is continuing to "fake it" but I won't "make it," I don't feel. If I keep on grinding myself against the wall that is the church, looking for some hole to squeeze through and find my salvation, I'm going to grind myself to paste before finding anything. And by grinding myself to paste, I mean killing myself.

"So it's spiritual death, or physical death...and we only live once. There's not point to living miserably...right? I suppose I could try to live "happy," but I never really know how over the guilt I'd entirely be able to get. That, and the eternal "what if's." Then what if I end up killing myself. I know, I know, cop out. Thing is, I'm scared of effecting more people negatively. I'm scared of the negative influence or affect that I have on anything. I don't want to damage anything else. It might sound like it's ridiculous, but you know how it's not considered murder if it's in war? Or how it's murder to shed "innocent blood?" I don't see myself as innocent blood. Sure my homosexuallity isn't something that I picked, but I feel like it's made me tarnished...impure and imperfectable. I'm hoping that when I do die, I'll be able to fall down at God's feet, and just cry, and hope that I'm enough...hope that I'll be able to be raised up, and hugged, and told "yes, you did well. You're enough, now take some rest. You've done enough." I guess I'm hoping there'll be some sort of grace for my huge faults. I can hope."

How do you walk that line and not be suicidal? How do you endure that much, for that long?

My uncle chalked this up to identity, that I didn’t know who I was. Needless to say, I was pretty offended by such an assertion. He’s been onboard with my journey for quite awhile, and you’d think that I know who I am. Since October, without looking back, I have moved steadily and actively forward – I love me, and I’m happy. I have no qualms. I know who I am, and I love it. Where is the conflict in that? Where is the identity confusion? He said he heard me saying I want more than anything to be in the church, but something prevents that, and he asked what. I wasn’t sure how to answer that either so I replied that it was my gayness, and he emphasized that he felt strongly I was trying to live in both worlds. I was a little taken aback with that too, especially since it reminded me so much of my dad.

Journal Excerpt August 21, 2006: “After reading my essay (my original thoughts on being gay, which was what CLP read and used for No More Goodbyes), I asked my dad what he thought. He said, ‘Well, I’m analyzing (which he wasn’t supposed to do), but it seems like you are trying to have one foot in both places, and that doesn’t work.’ Then he said, ‘But if I say anything else, I’ll be fixing, so I guess I can’t.’ That made me smile. It also struck me. Can someone explain to me that if my life is so completely based on achieving balance, why THIS is the one place I CAN NEVER HAVE IT?! That doesn’t make ANY sense to me! It makes me mad too! WHY NOT???” (vol VII.A, p. 2).

I was determined to prove my Father wrong. I would be the first. I would find balance where no one else had. I tried it, and it didn’t work. I’d thought I resolved it. But here it was again? The biggest and hardest thing for me at that moment was that it seemed my uncle was saying basically there really is NO place for gays in our church. Seriously. So much for love and understanding! I was pretty much flabbergasted at his response.

He then went back to Moses 1: 4-9. Here God tells Moses three things:
1. Moses is a Son of God.
2. As his son, Moses is in the similitude of Christ.
3. Christ is full of grace and truth.

In the Bible Dictionary under grace, it says:

“It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.” (BD, p. 697).

Likewise, in D&C 93:24, truth is defined as: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (p. 182). So understanding these pieces helps you see that you too have a work. What is it? "What is my work?" he asked. I responded, “I believe it’s to help other people. To help them learn and grow and understand and be strong. Change the world in little ways that make big differences.”

He went back to verse 7 in Moses: “And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee” (p. 2). Again. God told Moses who he was. Understanding this is VITAL. Who are you vs. who do you want to be? When are you going to make that choice? Take that step? Have that resolve?

My uncle brought up the covenants I made in the temple, asking me a question he’d asked previously: “Do they matter anymore? Do I still believe in them? I said I would be obedient, I would sacrifice, live the gospel, be chaste, and consecrate my time and talents. Am I honoring those covenants? Am I keeping my word? Being true to self?"

I was reeling at this point with the questioning of my identity and who I am. Temple. Promises. Self. Which self? What self? Who self? Do I know who I am? I thought I made a decision to move forward with the church last October. I resolved my identity and moved forward. Maybe not? AGH.

All that aside, what I needed most from him was counsel on how to approach my family. I told him about my other uncle and the family newsletter where his activism for Prop 8 was creeping in, and how I felt obligated to respond. But how did I go about that without throwing bullets?

He asked me do I determine what they think and do? No. Who does? They do. And myself? Who is responsible for what I think and do? Me, of course. Right. The responsibility lies within each of us. I can’t think their thoughts, can’t determine how they will react or think, or be.

He reasserted understanding Christ’s enabling power, that he can do anything and I just sat there baffled feeling like my uncle whom I trust and love was telling me to have more faith and believe more that Jesus could heal me and I could get over being gay. Was this conversation really happening?

He then said, “To get peace you have to get perspective.” I immediately thought, what perspective? Change it to what? Believing I’m not gay? That I have just been deceived/confused by Satan about who I am? That these feelings aren’t more powerful than anything I’ve ever felt? Incredible.

He quoted the scripture, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He told me to pray to know the answers, to know what to say, and to be ultimately responsible for it.

Throughout, my uncle brought up his recent girl’s camp experience where they’d done an iron rod exercise with the girls. They had to wear blindfolds and were told, “Don’t let go of the rod ever.” There was a part where the rod went down some stairs and people were positioned there to say, “Hey, there’s steps here. Just give me your hands for a second and I can help you down.” He was amazed at how many people let go to take the hands and the help...abandoning the rod. They had to take off their blindfolds, go meet with the bishop, and then he could reinstate them on the rod, but they didn’t get their blindfolds back. Those who stayed on kept going, and came to a point where their blindfolds came off as well. Ron’s commentary on this was that at the very end he could no longer tell who had let go and who hadn’t. God treats all fairly and equitably.

My uncle had been up since 4am and was pretty much falling asleep as the conversation went on, so he decided to leave it as it was, and give me time to think; we’d talk again tomorrow. I was left wondering, wanting, and feeling sicker than I had in a very, very long time. What had he just told me? Had he helped me? Why didn’t any of that make sense? I had no words, just a pit in my stomach... how did I begin to make sense of what I’d just heard? The only word I could come up with was staggering. I was staggering.

I had to get away from there. Now. I said I was going for a walk to think about things and called OTR to come get me. She came over and we drove away, deciding to drive the 50 minutes up to the Lick Observatory which we'd talked of doing, but had decided against.

I told her how I felt: Shaken, staggering, reeling, I had no words. I didn’t know what to think, what to feel, how to respond. I was totally at a loss. I told her I thought I was ready to vote yes on Prop 8. I was also more ready to leave the church than ever before. I expected her to freak out about me changing my mind but she voiced that she’d received a prompting about 2 hours earlier telling her when I came back that’s what I’d be feeling. Interesting. She said neither of those made sense, but to me, yes they did. You cannot have both. There is no place for gays inside this church. Voting no on Prop 8 and being a Mormon don’t match up. There is dissidence there people are sweeping under the rug. There’s conflict there people are ignoring. And I couldn’t anymore.

The drive was frustrating beyond belief but I tried again and again to make sense of my conversation. OTR made a very poignant comment and everything clicked for me. I am amazed and flabbergasted that I could be here: “Voting no on prop 8 is easier.” What the f...yes. Yes, it is. It’s just like the people who take the prop at face value, and say, “Prophet said, that’s all I need.” Here, I am taking the stance that this is hurting my friends, it’s hurting me, so I’m voting no. And I breathed in sharply and deeply and couldn’t believe that I could ever be here. That I could ever act like this. That I could ever be so freaking strong. She also continually brought up the fact that when she feels like she did then, she wants to run out and do something bad; she wants to sin on purpose, but knows she never will.

I then likened my place to my decision in October to stay with the church. I know who I am, I’m not confused about my identity, I’m not lost in conflict; I know who I am, and I recognize my attraction for men, and I CHOOSE something different, because that’s how much my testimony matters and how much this church means to me. I fulfill the scripture: “[Obedience] is better than sacrifice” (Samuel 15:22) and I stomach the pain and heartache not having what I want brings, because I choose to want the gospel more. And so now on Prop 8. I realize that I want to vote no with all my heart. I want to oppose it, I want marriage equality, I don’t want anyone to be hurt ever by ignorance and misunderstanding and prejudice, and... I choose my church. Damn my faith. Damn my resolve. Damn my testimony! I never in a million years would have imagined being able to be in a place like this. I am ready to vote yes on prop 8 because the apostles have spoken, I have made covenants, I have reasoned, weighed, and now exercise my agency to show that I have an unshakable testimony that matters to me more than anything else I have. And I’m NOT okay with that! The knots tighten, my tension mounts, and I am drowning in my new understanding.

Staggering. In the other direction. Not only will I not let go of the rod, but now I fear that I may grip it so tightly I will break it. People aren’t supposed to understand like this, aren’t supposed to accept like this...dear God in Heaven, I understand but now in only a matter of moments I have taken a complete 180. I understand and I accept and I believe, but this positions me opposite everyone I love most: my friends and family who understood where I stood before. How in my mission to foster love and understanding do I ever explain this? How would anyone ever understand that faith can be THIS powerful? I’m ready to vomit, and I don’t know how the hell to even start to vocalize this to someone I now call friend who is gay. How to tell my brother who was behind me all the way that I’m now on the same side as my parents, that I don’t want to fight my uncle in California anymore. I want to vote no on prop 8 with every fiber of my being, just like I want to be able to no longer believe in the church that has given me everything... and just can’t. I can’t do it.

This to me is why people leave. This to me is why marriages end. This to me is why I am always alone. Because people’s faith doesn’t run as deep as mine – I didn’t even know faith like this was possible. People just aren’t meant to hack faith like this. They aren’t. It makes me want to stand up to every single person confronting homosexuality and say, run. Turn now, and just run. Get away from the church before your belief in it is so strong and so powerful and so uncanny it’s almost like being enslaved. To truth. What the hell is wrong with me...?

This is what I meant at the beginning: condemnation. The misunderstanding—in the other direction—begins here. To be criticized as a sell-out, a traitor, a turncoat. To hear that I have been brainwashed, that I have been deceived by sly Mormons. Just as in 3rd Nephi when the prophets could not write what it was like when Jesus spoke to them, I cannot in my finiteness begin to expound how I am feeling right now. I tried and tried and tried to OTR. She didn’t get it. Over and over and over she didn’t get it. How do you explain that you agree so wholeheartedly with her saying that voting no on prop 8 is easier that it has taken you to an entirely new and foreign plain of understanding and realization that she cannot hope to join you on because she has not walked your path, not been where you are, and has not formed spiritual moorings like yours? OTR started crying and lamenting feeling like she was left behind. I tacitly and tactfully tried to explain to her that she was being selfish. How dare her try and join me every step of my journey! That’s really how I saw it. She has not walked where and how I have. Yes, there are things she could share, but I have reached and done things she is just approaching in her own self journey. While she strives to love herself, I can join her, for I have walked that road. We go hand in hand and I help her every way I can, so that she feels safe and comfortable and able to continue forward. But when I, far beyond her, take another step into the darkness, and she tries to make an impossible leap to join me, I collapse to my knees.

She is not strong enough, she’s not ready, how do I make her see that she is trying to eschew her limits and attempt a feat that I do not believe she can achieve right now? I suddenly decided that I never should have involved her, never should have tried to bring her along with me, and I needed to leave her behind, which hurt her even more. Either way led to her getting hurt. If I tried to bring her with me into my new understanding and lean on her, I would break her. I know she struggles in her testimony with things like pre-mortal life, and especially life after death. Her testimony is not ready to handle such a beating. I lean on her, and I break her. So I have to leave her. I call this protecting her, but am I just being selfish in my own wickedly twisted right? I have discovered an incredible, baffling strength I never imagined in any right would come to bear as being part of myself, and I jealously don’t want her to share in it?

Language, words, explanation fail me. I am shattered, broken, everywhere. I put myself quickly and forcefully back together, understanding with never before achieved comprehension, but my finiteness prevents me from sharing that with anyone. I did not know I was ready, that this was possible, but it is and I am. I am so strong it’s magnificent and frightening. How do you come to a place where you are ready to oppose everything you moments ago stood for? Does this count as a type of transfiguration? Is that presumptuous? Lofty? Self-righteous? I don’t know any other words in our vocabulary that can reach what I am feeling.

The simple explanation is that my dad and now my uncle were right – there is NO PLACE for homosexuality in this church. This is absolutely confounding. It’s so simple to say and yet it is so so so infinitely more complicated than that! God designed the family and he made man and woman to fit together in perfect unity and harmony and I get that, and I’m willing to follow it, without even attempting to understand how the f**k I reconcile my attractions and actually DO it.. I don’t believe any more than I did yesterday that the way I feel is changeable or that this is a choice. But I wonder if my uncle and so many others continue to bombard with the simplest of messages because it contains locked within it the greatest, most complex, astounding understanding. *You are a child of God.* If you REALLY understand that – on a level where again, language, word, and explanation fall short, then that is the trump card. That is the card that overpowers, dominates, subsumes, extricates everything else. I am a son of God, and that’s the first thing God told Moses, and the last thing I fully capt. Somehow, some way I cannot give meaning to, really seeing how far that goes, how deep that is... it makes nothing else matter. My attractions, my inklings, my desires don’t matter when I understand my divinity. Again, I expect criticism, confusion, and maybe even outrage at my new place, my new position, my new (old?) self. Have I just pierced the veil by the tiniest fraction with my understanding? Or have I plummeted into a new depth or self-deceit disguised as sure truth?

How? How do you get others to see this? To understand this? To be able to ACCEPT this? I have taken a huge step, but I feel like to do it, so much just got left behind in the blink of an eye and now I don’t know how to recuperate that. What do I do to stop and pick up the people who just got hit with a wall of bricks and are now recoiling, crying, hurting...in many cases against me...when I just had their hands seconds earlier?

I have no answers, no hope, no iota of elucidative power.

I balk like Nephi of old: “And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Ne. 11:17)

“[I] don’t know everything, but [I] know enough.” (Neil L. Andersen, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session)

That “enough” can be eternally frightening...but I do not worry about the future and the details. Only the now. And that I am strong. And continuing to move forward even though I may be more confused than I have ever been before.

I do not believe in easier. And it makes me want to cry. Really, really, really hard. Hold me.


Scott said...

I hope that a LONG comment to a long post is okay. :)

I'll start by saying that I have the utmost respect for your feelings and your faith, and I certainly don't believe that you are deserving of any "condemnation" for expressing your struggle or its conclusion, even if I don't necessarily agree with the end result.

I'd like to share some of the thoughts that I have had on family, and Eternal Life, and the Proclamation, and God's Plan, that have allowed me to reach a different conclusion than yours.

The foundation of the belief that marriage must be between a man and a woman is, as you pointed out, the doctrine of Eternal Life, or Eternal Increase, or Exaltation. Exaltation, as we understand it, means to become like God in every respect--to become gods ourselves, and overseers of our own creations; to enjoy "eternal increase" through the creation of our own spirit children. That much of the Plan is known to us through scripture and through the words of Latter-day prophets.

The details, though, are hidden from us, and anything else we think we know is simply speculation. We assume that the creation of spirit children is significantly similar to the creation of bodies for God's spirit children here on earth. That is, we assume that it requires both a male and a female. Although it is seldom discussed, I would hazard that many members of the Church, if they think about it at all, even go so far as to assume that the process is simply a Celestial version of sexual procreation (and in fact the Church's detractors occasionally criticize us for our belief that in the hereafter our women will be "eternally pregnant"). In reality, however, I know of no scriptural or prophetic statement to support any of this speculation, and in fact there are even statements from leaders of the Church that discourage us from speculating on the existence of a Heavenly Mother.

We believe that there is further support for the idea that only a male-female marriage has the potential to be an eternal one in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I assumed the same thing, and when I came to terms with my own sexuality I came to consider that document an irritant and a thorn in my side. I tried to deny that it was inspired or to convince myself that its authors were mistaken or misled.

But then one day I sat down and actually studied it, and I realized that it didn't say what I thought it said.

We ... solemly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God...
There is no exclusivity clause here. There is no "only". I might say that Elder Holland (to pick an apostle at random) is "ordained of God", but in doing so I am in no way implying that the other eleven apostles are not.

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
This one might pose a problem for the transgendered subset of the GLBT world, though I can think of a possible interpretation that would not. Applying it to myself, however, is no problem, because I have no problem believing that I was male in the pre-existence, that I'm male here on earth, and that I'll be male through eternity. I am a man who is attracted to men.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.
Obviously the husband-wife relationship is an important one. It's vital to the Plan because only a male-female partnership can procreate, and there are billions of Heavenly Father's spirit children waiting for bodies. It makes perfect sense that God would start off with a man and a woman, and that He would command them to multiply and replenish. But to conclude that such a relationship is the only valid one (without any further corroborating statement or evidence) is a stretch.

...God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
This can easily be seen as a prohibition of homosexual intercourse. As someone who is married to a woman and does not intend to act on his homosexual attractions, I am willing to concede that this may indeed be the case. But one could also choose to believe that the "powers of procreation" require both a sperm and an egg and argue that when one is missing and procreation is impossible one is no longer "employing" those "powers of procreation". (Perhaps this is sophistry and I'm not saying that I believe it, but I'm not willing to condemn those who might).

Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan
If the powers of procreation are only to be used in a marriage between man and woman, and procreation is necessary for the Plan to proceed, then obviously marriage between man and woman is essential. But again, there's no exclusivity. Just because one thing is essential doesn't mean everything that's similar is prohibited.

There are other bits and pieces that could be interpreted similarly, but to repeat them all would be redundant. Suffice it to say that after actually reading the Proclamation I was no longer so anxious to throw it away, and I was much more comfortable believing that perhaps there was a place for homosexuals in God's plan after all.

I've got a pretty good imagination, and I enjoy speculating and wondering about the "many great and important things" that "We believe ... that He will yet reveal...".

What if the creation of spirit children is not patterned after sexual procreation, and in fact does not require both a male and a female? There's actually evidence that within a few years we humble mortals will have perfected same-sex procreation (using either two sperm cells or two egg cells). Six thousand years ago Elohim, Jehovah and Michael (all male) created Adam, and then Elohim and Jehovah created Eve from Adam's rib. It's not too dififcult to believe that an omnipotent God (or a pair of gods, be they male-female, male-male, or female-female) could create a spirit child.

We have the words of Latter-day prophets and apostles telling us that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is contrary to the plan. But are they speaking for God, or are they speaking their own feelings and beliefs?

One of the most difficult challenges I faced in coming to terms with being gay was reconciling what I had been taught in the past about homosexuality and what the Church currently teaches.

President Kimball, who was "my prophet" all through primary, taught that homosexuality was a choice, that it was vile and evil (he didn't distinguish between homosexual feelings and homosexual behavior), and that one could make the feelings and attractions go away with sufficient prayer, faith, and reliance on the Atonement. Other Church leaders of the same era made very similar statements.

When I finally became willing to consider that I might be gay, I discovered to my surprise that the Church now teaches that homosexual attractions are not evil, but that acting on them is; that "we don't know" what causes homosexuality (with an implied admission that it is probably not something that most gay people choose); and that those who "suffer from same-sex attraction" may never be free of those feelings in this life.

My own experience and feeling and the promptings of the Spirit told me that I was not (am not) evil, that I had not chosen to be this way, and that I did not need to attempt to change who I am because Heavenly Father accepts me as myself.

My faith was in turmoil. I had always believed the prophets and apostles to be infallible, yet I now had evidence that a prophet of God had made statements that not only seemed contrary to my own experience and feeling but that were also contradicted by statements from later Church leaders! The only possible answer to the dilemma that I faced was that the prophets and apostles did not always speak the truth--that at least some of what they said came from their own personal feelings, experiences, biases and prejudices.

Since I came to that realization I have made it a point to pray for guidance on any point of doctrine that I might have any question on. In most cases, the answer came before I even asked the question: "you already know that that one is true." I do have a testimony of the Gospel and of the Church, and I do believe that our leaders are men of God, capable of receiving revelation and inspiration as they lead His Church. But I also recognize now that they aren't infallible as I once believed--that they are capable of making poor decisions when they allow their judgement to be clouded by personal bias and fear.

And after having prayed and pondered and prayed some more, that is what I believe is behind the push to support Prop 8. The arguments in favor of the proposition are not rational. The Church's involvement is harmful to its many gay members, as well as to the families who are embroiled in conflict and contention as some members are for and some against. Passage of the proposition will keep gay couple from forming stable families that would ultimately strengthen society in all of the ways that the Proclamation was originally intended to encourage. The only possibly valid supporting argument for Prop 8 is that God wants it to pass, but I cannot believe that God puts so much importance on the word "marriage" that He would be willing to condone or encourage the lies, conflicts and controversy that surround the issue.

Our leaders are from a generation that finds the thought of homosexuality supremely distateful. Many of them, I'm sure, have the same personal feelings that most people of their generation share, and are allowing these feelings to color their judgment. I wonder, too, if the critisicm and attacks that the Church endured during the Republican primaries while Romney was still in the running have encouraged our leaders to seek greater acceptance among mainstream Christianity--a goal that might be achieved by our participation in the coalition for Prop 8.

Whatever the motivation and driving force behind our involvement, I simply have not been able to bring myself to feel good about it. In reading your post it sounds like perhaps you haven't either. I interpret my feelings as a confirmation from God that supporting the proposition would be the wrong thing to do (not that it makes much difference in my case, since I live in Utah). I gather that you have interpreted your feelings as being something of a trial of your faith. Perhaps we're both right. It would certainly have been wrong for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, yet he followed his heart and obeyed the Lord. I hope that you ultimately receive equal blessings for honoring your faith.

I hope that I haven't said anything inappropriate of offensive, and I hope that you'll forgive me for the length of this comment. I'll be praying for you (and for all the members in California), that you'll be able to make the correct decision, whatever that may be, and that you'll find peace in doing so.

Hidden said...

DICHO: Thanks for your long response! I loved reading it!

In reading your post it sounds like perhaps you haven't either. I interpret my feelings as a confirmation from God that supporting the proposition would be the wrong thing to do (not that it makes much difference in my case, since I live in Utah).

Indeed. I'm adamantly ache to oppose Prop 8 because I know how much hurt its causing.

And it seems that it's just opened up the avenues for all church members to actively perpetuate homophobia.

And don't you worry, I don't live in California anymore, so my vote doesn't count either :P

The longer it goes, the more in turmoil I am over it. I had this experience, felt these things, but look at all the lies and the hurt, and then I don't know anymore.

Maybe all this IS wrong and I have deceived myself. I hate choices like this.

bale said...

Your post was my fast Sunday feast (as was pinkie-promised yesterday). I also read your 'resolve' from last October. My current position is very close to where you were a year ago. For the first time in many months I feel fully invested as a latter-day saint. I've not been to the temple for a very long time...at year a least. Now it's time to get my recommend renewed.

The insight you received, that there's no place for homosexuals in the Church, is irrefutable. Sympathy for our plight has come as far as it can, in my opinion.
Dichotomy noted a significant shift in the Church's official position toward homosexuality. By distinguishing our natural feelings from the condemned behaviors they often lead to the Brethren have removed much of the pervert stigma attached to gays. It has been vital for the self-worth of countless Mohos, myself included. However, the change is not profound enough to resolve the internal conflict we face every waking (and dreaming) moment.

Our Moho Gospel perspective is remarkably esoteric. Few can fathom how terrible our resolve must be in order to press forward with faith and endure to the end. The straight saints simply cannot comprehend it. They have to simply not think about it...and if I'm going to survive this probation neither can I. I must somehow slip back into denial, like my parents have done, and just pretend I'm straight, knowing full well I'm not...ignoring the obstacles hedging my way to Family and Eternal Life.

When we first met a few months back, I was trying to find a happy medium between Gospel and Gayness, (as you once did). It was primarily a rational endeavor. Countless hypothetical scenarios that allowed fulfillment of some if not most of my emotional and physical needs of intimacy (while maintaining activity in the Church) all ended in alienation and personal ruin.

I don't have any answers, my friend, but I can identify with many of your horrible realizations.

Scott said...

Few can fathom how terrible our resolve must be in order to press forward with faith and endure to the end.

I was thinking about this this morning... I've had the Prop 8 madness at some level or another of my consciousness more or less constantly for several days now, and with the recent broadcast (that went to Utah County in addition to CA and other parts of the country) and the accompanying articles and editorials in the Deseret News and Tribune, I've just assumed that everyone else has been at least peripherally aware of it for the last few days as well.

So I was dreading going to church today, certain that there would be mention in testimony meeting or in Sunday School or Elders' Quorum lessons about those evil gays and their family-destroying desire to get married.

My mind ran away with me in the shower and I had a pretty clear waking dream of sitting in Elders' Quorum and hearing some comment along those lines, and boldly speaking up, something along the lines of:

"You cannot speak about 'those people' [in my daydream he had referred to gays as 'those people'] in such disparaging terms. You have no idea what is in their hearts or in their heads, and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that most of them are good people who only want the same things that you want: to love and be loved in the way that is most natural to them.

"I know that desire because I am one of 'those people'. I have chosen to marry and stay faithful to my wife, but not a day goes by that I don't wonder what I might be missing. I will never be free of the desire to love and be loved by a man--I'm not talking about sex here, but the intimate emotional love that you share with your wives. I belong to a church that teaches that to follow my heart would be sinful. I have made my decision, but I cannot find fault with those who have chosen differently."

... In my dream they all sat there shell-shocked for a bit, and then the instructor tried to pick up the pieces of his lesson and I finished my shower.

Church turned out to be completely uneventful, so I'll have to save my speech for another day. Most likely I'll never actually have the guts to use it in real life, but I do wish there was some way to help people understand the conflict.

(Oh... by the way, I'm Dichotomy. Or I was. I celebrated "National Coming Out Day" by dropping the alias.)

Hidden said...

BALE: Thanks for identifying with me, and taking the time to read my thoughts. I wish that I could stop struggling on this matter...it's driving me crazy.

SCOTT: ;) I know who you are. I keep up on your blog just as much (or more) as you do on mine. But thanks for the clarification for everyone else. And the interesting dream-speech. Now if only if could be so? But would that work? I read your post about coming out in church and agree with your commenters that sacrament isn't the place, but it could be done elsewhere. Although I don't know if all the ramifications of such action are known. But again, you have done nothing and who you are DOES NOT make you evil, though that's not really the way it's being painted lately, now is it?