Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mixed Orientation Marriage

In a talk titled "To the Single Adult Brethren of the Church", President Ezra Taft Benson said:
My dear single adult brethren, we are also concerned. We want you to know that the position of the Church has never changed regarding the importance of celestial marriage. It is a commandment of God.
Yet, according to the Straight Spouse Network, it has been estimated that there are more than 2 million mixed orientation couples and that more than 80 percent end up divorced.

Speaking of divorce, President Gordon B. Hinkley has once said in a talk titled "What God Hath Joined Together"
But among the greatest of tragedies, and I think the most common, is divorce.

Against such overwhelming odds, should a gay person even consider pursuing a heterosexual marriage? But, if they live a life of celibacy, what is the best they can hope for? In a talk titled "The Importance of Celestial Marriage" President Spencer W. Kimball taught

Even unmarried, we may reach the celestial kingdom, but we will be ministering angels only.
So, where does that leave the single gay Mormon who chooses to remain active in the church? Should they be content to aim for a lesser sphere? Or should they pursue a heterosexual marriage, even with the statistical likelihood that it will eventually end in divorce - the greatest of all tragedies?

And what about those of us who are already in a mixed orientation marriage? How secure are we? How confident are we that we will live to a ripe old age and keep our attractions at bay?

May the best commenter win ...

23 comments:

Tito said...

First, I'd like to know how they got those stats. Accurate stats on something like this seem near impossible to come by.

Second, even if they are accurate, God expects us only to do what we can do. If we are faithful and committed to the gospel, we need not worry that any blessing of eternity--celestial marriage included--will be ours. Whether that blessing comes in time or eternity is of little consequence when all is kept in perspective. Thus, no one need shoot for any "lesser sphere."

Gimple said...

I think that everybody should push for a heterosexual relationship. Like you said, celestial marriage is something that God ordained and he wants all of us to achieve it. It might be hard, but I think that it can work. I see Salad and Drex as great examples. -L- and his wife and you and your wife are also great examples. You have been married for a long time and it sounds like it has been relatively happy.

Do you think you would have found the same happiness being with a man? To be with a man, you would have to give up the church, maybe your family, and many others things that are important to you. Could you be ok with that? Everybody needs to do a lot of thinking and praying going into either relationship or before making a decision..

Brady said...

Shoot, you beat me to it. I had already started writing a post on this topic... oh well, I think you've done a good job. I might still post mine.

I'm wondering if Tito read the same quote from President Kimball that I just did. Even Christ said "in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. 22:30) According to the doctrines of the church, is it really possible to attain the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom without marrying now? Cause I'm really confused about this. I know what Tito is referring to, as Elder Wickman and Oaks have said the very same thing, but is that really true? How do we reconcile what Elders Oaks and Wickman say with what Pres. Kimball and Christ have said!?

MoHoHawaii said...

It may be an overstatement to say that divorce is the "greatest of all tragedies." I can think of plenty of other life tragedies that make divorce pale in comparison.

I've seen that a good divorce can be a lot better for everyone concerned, including children, than an unsuitable marriage. I'm not "pro divorce"; I'm just saying that it's not the bogey man. It's an option that makes sense in some situations.

There would be fewer divorces if we were careful and sensible when entering into marriage. The high failure rate of mixed-orientation marriages can't just be dismissed. Regardless of the exact number, it's for real.

Beck said...

As statistically accurate as it may be, there are those of us who buck the trend and are still around happily married.

Now, regarding marriage in this life or the next, in my opinion, there's got to be a window, an opportunity for ALL to embrace and accept marriage, celestial marriage either in this life OR in the next. Just like those who never heard the gospel and never were baptized in this life, but are given a chance, a fair and real chance in the next to do so, what about all of those who never had a chance to be married (whether that was because they died early in life, because they never had that opportunity, or because they chose not to because of other circumstances, i.e. what we are discussing here)? Obviously, in the Plan of Salvation, there is a place, a space in time, where those that would have married had they had that "true opportunity" will have that chance in the millennium.

The resurrection is a process of time, not an instant. Granted, the Morning of the First Resurrection is a moment in time at the point of Christ's Second Coming, but even that is a PERIOD of time. There will be opportunities prior to resurrection for those who righteously choose, to obtain celestial marriage. To say otherwise is to make the Plan of Salvation a falsehood.

I think Pres. Kimball and Christ are referring to those who had the opportunity to marry and chose otherwise in this life or the next, because of selfish reasons, greed, etc.

No one is limited at birth to a "lesser kingdom" unless he chooses so... otherwise, why the humongous effort of temple work for all those less fortunate ancestors?

There is always full hope in Christ for all of us, even MOHOs...

Abelard Enigma said...

Whoa, apparently I hit a raw nerve with this post. I just want to say that I'm not the enemy here. I'm just pointing out the dilemma we are faced with so that we can have an open and honest discussion.

tito, you're right. Finding accurate statistics on this is probably impossible. But, one only peruse places like Affirmation, GAMOFITES, and other gay organizations to see the number of failed mixed orientation marriages. I don't know if it's 80% or 70% or even 90%; but, from my own observation it is clearly a majority. Before I found the Mormon Queerosphere, I thought I was the only one in a mixed orientation marriage that hadn't failed.

gimble, would I have found the same level of happiness with a man? No, I don't think I would have. But, no matter what choice we make, there will always be a longing, a feeling of emptiness, for what might have been. Such is our lot in life.

brady, this is the second time you've alleged that I've stolen your thunder. Maybe you and I have some sort of physic link or something :)

mohohawaii, I completely agree that, sometimes, divorce is the best option for all concerned. But, it is still a tragedy, especially in our LDS culture.

I think it is important that we discuss these things rather than bury our heads in the sand. I'm not saying that we should or should not pursue a heterosexual marriage. But, for those who are contemplating such, it is imperative that they do so with their eyes wide open to the risks they face and not pin their hopes on an illusion.

Personally I have a lot of hope in the upcoming gay Mormon generation. Many, if not most, of the failed mixed orientation marriages we see were entered into without full disclosure. Now we see couples like drex and salad who have a completely open and honest relationship - and that has to be a good thing IMOHO. But, they will face challenges that most married couples don't have to deal with - and that is in addition to the normal challenges that all married couples have.

Abelard Enigma said...

... otherwise, why the humongous effort of temple work for all those less fortunate ancestors?

Basically, what you are saying is that it will all be worked out in the millennium. That is certainly a common belief in the LDS church. I've even taught that myself when I served as a Ward Family History Consultant and people would come to me with bizzare situations in their research.

It is certainly a comforting belief; but, are there any scriptures to back it up and not just reverse logic?

I was talking with my son the other day (on an unrelated gospel topic); and, he said that his mission president told them that when a general authority says something, if he can't back it up with scripture then he considers it their opinion and not necessarily as doctrine.

Beck said...

Abe: I think I made it very clear that my comment was my "opinion" and not scripture. I don't claim any authority here.

That having been said, look at D&C 138:33-34. In the preaching of the Gospel to the Dead, it states that "all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to QUALIFY themselves..." has to include marriage. I know it's a jump in logic, or at least an extension of logic. But I believe in that logic. I believe my God is logical. I believe he has a plan for us to ALL be saved, if we so choose to.

I don't want to allow myself to believe that a God would make a plan where ALL that is his (D&C 84: 38) isn't applicable to ALL, including MOHOs.

Beck said...

P.S. And, I don't want any unmarried "struggling" MOHO to believe that they are destined, even pre-destined to a "lesser sphere" because of some "condition" assigned to them in this life that may preclude being married.

Do you realize that by implying only MORTAL marriages apply to the hereafter, how many great and wonderful righteous brothers and sisters you are condemning to a "lesser sphere"? I can't believe in such things.

I've said too much and will now go disappear and leave everyone alone...

Abelard Enigma said...

I've said too much and will now go disappear and leave everyone alone...

No, please don't disappear. These are questions that seems to be on a lot of minds; however, we're afraid to confront them. IMOHO, we need to have these kind of open and frank discussions! And, we're all not going to agree 100% - and that's OK.

I admit that I'm stirring the pot; but, if we're going to survive, it needs to be based on a firm foundation and not on some flimsy vague hopes; otherwise, we're living in a house of cards.

Beck said...

Okay... I said I was going to disappear, but one more thing. I know you want hard and fast evidence, but I don't know you're going to find it.

However, my beliefs are from a lot of thought and spiritual conviction, not some "flimsy vague hope". I know you don't mean to imply that personally about me, and I, too, would like hard evidence... but I don't have any, but somehow, that doesn't make me want to believe any less.

salad said...

Ok, for better or worse, I'm going to weigh in on the topic.

I agree that many of the "older generation" MOMs fail because of a lack of full disclosure from the beginning and I can't imagine how the straight partner deals with full disclosure in the middle of the marriage (but I applaud those of you who have made it through that!).

The biggest reason Drex and I can even contemplate a long and successful marriage is because of our honesty and ability to communicate openly. He tells me everything and will answer any question I have no matter how raw it might be. And on the flip side, I do my very best to make sure that I'm not holding anything in and harboring ill-feelings or insecurities because of our situation.

There is no doubt in my mind that our marriage will be difficult, but what marriage isn't? Is our relationship really that different from a normal heterosexual realtionship? We're two people who love and care for each other deeply and have chosen to perpetuate that love on another level by getting married. We just happen to have an extra challenge, but one that we have both agreed to conquer together.

I think that those who have not had the opportunity to marry in this life-time whether because they deal with SSA or for other reasons, will have the opportunity in the life to come. Stuart Matis is a prime example. Brother and Sister Matis relate the story time and again of how his companion was waiting for him in heaven.

Don't lose hope or heart! God wants us to be happy and we will all have the opportunity to fulfill that happiness in some form or another whether in this life or the next.

mulan said...

On the whole stats thing, I've been thinking about how many mixed orientation marriages there might be out there that are succeeding that we just don't know about. There certainly have been more and more popping up in the blogosphere over the last few years.

We're much, much more likely to hear about the MOMs that fail as opposed to those that are doing well, because the ones that are doing well have no reason to reveal themselves. The data is naturally going to be (grossly) tipped towards the failing side. Who's to say that the success rate isn't actually higher than everyone thinks?

I don't really know either way. Maybe that assumption is totally wrong. But people in MOMs generally believe that they're few and far between, and that the majority of society is against them, doubting that such an arrangement could possibly work. So logically, if they don't need to talk about it to anyone, they're not going to -- ESPECIALLY not people gathering statistics that are eventually going to be used against them.

I would guess that those who blog about their MOMs are towards the more struggling end of the spectrum, simply based on the fact that they've sought out this outlet. Similar to the assumption that we're much more likely to hear about MOMs that fail in the stats, we're also much more likely to hear about MOMs that are struggling on the blogs. There could be many more out there who have made it work and who are continuing to make it work, and we haven't heard their voices BECAUSE they are making it work. And they haven't heard and come to answer our pleas for reassurance, either because they don't wish to reveal themselves, because they haven't happened to stumble across the blogs, or because they have no reason to realize we exist.

Again, I really don't know. This could all be wishful thinking. But these are just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

P.S. It's not that I think the MOMs on the blogs aren't making it work, because a lot of you clearly are... I'm just suggesting that there could be others out there who are just having an easier time of it. You guys are all great!

Abelard Enigma said...

my beliefs are from a lot of thought and spiritual conviction

I don't consider such beliefs flimsy or vague.

We should all give this topic a considerable amount of thought and make it a matter of fervent prayer. Relying only on what others say is the house of cards I was referring to.

Ok, for better or worse, I'm going to weigh in on the topic

salad, I really appreciate you chiming in here. You can offer a different perspective than any of the rest of us can. You're comments are always welcome here. And, BTW, you're awesome!

Abelard Enigma said...

mulan, I didn't see your comment until after I posted my last comment. You are always welcome here too!

Abelard Enigma said...

... and you're awesome too!
.
.
... and maybe I should just shut-up now before I gag on my foot.

MoHoHawaii said...

Abelard--

Many, if not most, of the failed mixed orientation marriages we see were entered into without full disclosure.

That may be true, but disclosure and communication, while helpful isn't a full solution. I went into my mixed-orientation with full disclosure, and it failed. Mr. Fob had the fullest sort of disclosure you could imagine and the most open communication possible, and he couldn't pull it off indefinitely.

buck-- I appreciate your comments. Also, I'm glad you have been able to navigate these issues successfully. Mixed-orientation marriages are certainly possible for some of us.

salad--
Is our relationship really that different from a normal heterosexual realtionship?

Unfortunately, yes. I was discussing mixed-orentation marriages over burgers the other day with Mr. Fob. I was impressed by the love and commitment to doing what's right that he and his wife have shown. They still couldn't stay married. Their relationship was different from a heterosexual pairing.

salad, I hesitate to speak plainly here because I truly wish you the best as you start your life with drex. May you love and cherish each other the rest of your lives. But make no mistake that what you will be entering into is very different from a heterosexual marriage.

salad said...

I want to see a picture of you gaging on your foot. I think it would be entertaining ;)

Abelard Enigma said...

Here is me gagging on my foot :)

salad said...

good work. you get points for that one.

drex said...

I find that full disclosure and open communication are a necessity for an MOM to work. But for mohos entering MOMs, a strong testimony and a deep commitment to the precepts of the gospel are of paramount importance. Without a testimony of the importance of celestial marriage, without commitment to gospel precepts and temple covenants, and without faith that heterosexual marriage is the divinely appointed way of things, there's honestly not very much draw to entering an MOM. Love for an individual can be expressed in a friendly relationship almost as strongly as in a romantic relationship, so even love probably wouldn't be strong enough to hold a marriage together without a strong gospel component.

General authorities have repeatedly reassured single females that if they are unable for whatever reason to find an eternal partner in this life, that the opportunity will be available in the hereafter. I would be so bold as to assume that such a promise extends to the faithful celibate moho. As such, and due to individual circumstances, trials, etc., I wouldn't claim that MOMs should be an aim of every moho. I think that it ought to be a matter of prayer and fasting, and of seeking the will of the Lord. I consider it to be the default aim, but not the universal aim. Certainly if one's patriarchal blessing states something about marriage in this life (or not) it should be heavily considered.

I guess I have a lot of opinions on this, but I'll elaborate more in a post of my own. If I ever get the time and drive to post. :P

Mr. Fob said...

First a clarification that should not be seen as an argument for or against anything in particular: It's not accurate to say that FoxyJ and I had "had the fullest sort of disclosure you could imagine and the most open communication possible." The image I projected in personal essays and on my blog, based on the ideal I wanted to be reality, is not the same thing as reality. Honest communication was always an issue in our marriage, and I particularly have always had a hard time disclosing parts of myself I was ashamed of or felt might hurt Foxy--I obviously don't mean my homosexuality in general, as that was no secret, but rather the nitty gritty details of what that meant for me and our marriage, the things I thought I could quietly deal with on my own rather than share them with my wife.

Second, I'm going to speak for a moment from an LDS perspective even though that's not my own value system anymore (and this should be taken as an argument for something in particular): While general authorities and other church leaders and even scripture can give valuable counsel on general matters, one of the most important facets of LDS doctrine is personal revelation. For decisions as personal and important as marriage, general counsel should be taken into account, but ultimately it's up to the individual and God. Any attempts to parse out from scripture and GA quotes a Dante-esque classification of who will end up in what circle of heaven, as it were, seems counterproductive. Yes, it is interesting to speculate about whether or not we will have the chance to marry in the next life, but ultimately we don't know the answers and speculating--or worse, convincing ourselves that we do have the answers--doesn't seem too helpful for individuals who are trying to figure out what they need to do now. I imagine, in fact, that it's more likely to add undue stress to the decision, potentially distracting from that vital personal revelation, much like Nephi's second-guessing about the general morality of murder distracted him from the personal revelation that he should kill Laban.

-L- said...

Amen to Fob's comment. I think I may err on the side of representing my communication with my wife as more ideal than it is too. It's something I recognize and keep working on. I think we're getting somewhere.