Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Option 3 - pursuing a gay relationship

I've blogged about the two options for the gay Mormon which keeps them in the churches good graces: Mixed orientation marriage and celibacy. But, what about the 3rd option, leaving the church to pursue a gay relationship?

The truth of the matter is, this is the path that most gay men and women in the church will ultimately take; and, at the risk of sounding like a heretic, I believe it is a viable option for some.

The sad fact is, in the LDS church, we don't set a place at the table for the gay man or woman. We tell them that they can stay in the church as long as they sit alone in the corner and don't bother anyone about their disgusting attractions. Some are OK with this, holding out for promises of eternal exultation. But, most are not.

I've mentioned before that our retention rate of gay saints is abysmally low. And, is anyone really surprised? It almost seems as if there are some who like it that way because then they don't have to deal with revolting people like us.

The thing is, just because a person decides to leave the church doesn't necessarily mean that they are totally turning their back on God. Even if we don't obey all of God's comments, we can still receive blessings by obeying those that we can obey - it doesn't matter which church we belong to, or even if we believe in God at all. The atheist who serves mankind is blessed for doing so.

It is extremely unfortunate (and, in my opinion, un-christlike) that we vilify those who make such lifestyle choices. With the exception of those who are in a position as a judge in israel (e.g. a bishop), none of us are justified in judging another person for their lifestyle choices. We may disagree with it. We may think they are making a huge mistake. But, in the end, we have no choice other than to accept it.. Our eleventh article of faith says we must
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Consider also that the dictates of our own conscience includes those who decide to not worship God at all. Unfortunately, there are some who seem to think that, as members of the church, we forfeit our right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience. We are only allowed to worship as the brethren say we should worship, and anything short of that is deserving of the wrath of the general membership.

The fact of the matter is: If we choose to follow a path other than that taught by the church then we have to accept the consequences. And, those in authority have every right to administer those consequences. But, for the rest of us,

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:10)

Who can say with utmost certainty that a person who gives up his membership in the church in this life to pursue a gay relationship forever forfeits any possibility of exultation? Joseph Smith only translated 1/3 of the gold plates - the other 2/3'rds were sealed. This tells me that the things we don't know eclipses the things we do know.

Lost by Abelard Enigma
Today, we lost another brother
He did not abandon us
But we abandoned him
And, with his departure
A part of each of us goes with him
We all become somewhat less than what we were
Because no one reached out to embrace him
To accept him for who he is
Instead, he was ignored along with others like him
Pretending that he and his soul mates don't exist
Forcing him and others to hide their true selves
Living in constant fear that their secrets will be discovered
Is it any wonder that we lost yet another brother?
How many more will be lost
Before we realize that these losses diminishes each of us?
How much more can we be diminished before we too are lost?

For the people who read this blog, I just want to say that there will always be a place for you at my table. Gay or straight, true believer or doubting thomas, member or simply curious.

27 comments:

Scot said...

Thank you, Abelard. That was quite nice.

Chris said...

Lovely.

Neal said...

Abelard,

Thanks for this series of posts. My thoughts on this particular subject:

1.) I think the Church is trying to "set a place at the table" for us as evidenced by recent talks, pamphlets, etc from the Brethren. It won't happen over night, but I think things are in motion, and I think we need to be patient. Homophobia is not a Church phenomenon, its a global one.

2.) I don't think I would "minimize" (for lack of a better word) the seriousness of leaving the Church. If we really do have a testimony and have made covenants with God through baptism, ordination to the Priesthood, and Temple ceremonies; then we agreed - actually promised - to follow him (and his Prophets), to give all of our time and talents to him and to his Church, and live ALL of his commandments. So I think we are indeed turning our back on God and those covenants when we willfully leave the Church to pursue a lifestyle he has clearly forbidden. This is also true of heterosexuals who decide to just "live with someone" out of wedlock. There is one moral standard. Breaking those covenants is far more serious than never having made them. Because we have been given greater light and knowledge, we will be judged in that context.
"No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God".

3.) "..none of us are justified in judging another person for their lifestyle choices. We may disagree with it. We may think they are making a huge mistake. But, in the end, we have no choice other than to accept it.."

If by judging you mean condemning, then I agree with you here. We all have as much right to fail as we do to succeed. To choose the right or not. That's what free agency is all about.

4.) "Unfortunately, there are some who seem to think that, as members of the church, we forfeit our right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience. We are only allowed to worship as the brethren say we should worship, and anything short of that is deserving of the wrath of the general membership.
The fact of the matter is: If we choose to follow a path other than that taught by the church then we have to accept the consequences. And, those in authority have every right to administer those consequences."

I agree to a point with the first paragraph and completely with the second. But this is where I think may of us get onto a slippery slope if we're not careful. The doctrines of the Church are pretty clear on most issues. All of us at one time or another may have doubts, misunderstandings, etc. with the Doctrine. Our testimonies may be weak or strong at a particular moment. This is normal for the human condition and I think most of us experience it. Where we can get into trouble is the way we deal with those doubts, weak moments, or different ideas. If we deal with them privately or perhaps even publicly as questions or concerns, its one thing. When we begin to teach or preach ideas its all together another. My biggest concern with the Blogshphere is that many go beyond wondering or searching for answers to preaching ideas that are clearly against Church Doctrine. Publishing on a blog is publishing to world. Whether done innocently or deliberately, encouraging others to break their covenants or leave the Church can be a serious offense, as Elder Oaks has mentioned.

5.) "Joseph Smith only translated 1/3 of the gold plates - the other 2/3'rds were sealed. This tells me that the things we don't know eclipses the things we do know."

I have to respectfully disagree. We have the Bible, the D&C , PofGP, and the words of all the modern prophets and apostles as sources of knowledge and direction. They all give us the same counsel when it comes to this particular topic. While the Lord has the final decision and will judge us with justice, mercy and love; he has made it abundantly clear which of our behaviors he deems unacceptable. Sexual behavior seems to be one of his sore spots. I don't think we can expect him to sweep things under the rug that he considers so serious. Especially if we deliberately choose to break those covenants we made with him.

My thoughts, respectfully given, and hopefully recieved as such.


Best Regards,

Neal

Forester said...

I definitely wouldn't want to encourage anyone to leave the church, but I also wouldn't want to encourage anyone to stay in the church if they are going to be resentful of that choice. People should be members of the church if they want to follow its teachings and they know it is the right thing to do. I know the church is true and I live by its principles because I want to and have chosen to do so. No one should feel forced or coerced into following what I believe.

I would hope and pray that all who are struggling with SGA stay in the church and I know from experience that it can be done, but you must first desire it - desire it so much that you are willing to give up everything to stay in the church, including a gay lifestyle.

Abelard Enigma said...

Your thoughts are respectfully received.

This is exactly the kind of civil disagreement we need to have more of in the queerosphere.

I hope you don't take my words as "encouraging others to break their covenants or leave the Church." My whole point is that this is the path that many will ultimately choose - and we need to respect their decision. They are still our brothers and sisters and are deserving of our love and friendship.

What bothers me is when I see people who feel this need to bear their testimony to remind someone of the evil they have embraced. Seriously, does that ever accomplish anything? Has anyone ever turned their life around because someone pointed out the evil in their lives? It just doesn't work that way. People who have left the church and then come back do so because they have been loved back into the fold. They change their lives to fit more closely with church standards because that is what they want to do - not because they feel coerced into doing so.

Coercion was Lucifer's plan. Free agency and love is Christ's plan.

Peter said...

Again, thank you.

I do believe that the Church makes gay Latter-day Saints jump through too many hoops. This is why we loose so many of them.

I don't believe that a gay relationship is incompatible with the Church. If any church has the tools to make gay relationships work in a religious environment, it is this Church. Here's why:

1. Revelation. We claim the divine right to learn new doctrines that haven't previously been revealed. We can make changes. We have a fluidity that other Churches don't allow.

2. Sealing power. We have the power to seal people together beyond mortality. Why can't it be a man and a man? We use the sealing power to unite a child to parents who aren't biologically theirs. Why can't we use the power to unite a homosexual family? We don't need genes and blood to create families, we just need love, covenants, and Priesthood authority. Let's not forget we have a history of unorthodox marriages that were sealed with this power.

3. Three books of scripture written for our day that don't condemn or warn against homosexuality. Seriously, if homosexuality is such a big problem, why doesn't the Book of Mormon warn us against it when it was written with our day in vision?

I wish that the Church would use these three opportunities to become progressive and allow for this more healthy option.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

If we really do have a testimony and have made covenants with God through baptism, ordination to the Priesthood, and Temple ceremonies; then we agreed - actually promised - to follow him (and his Prophets), to give all of our time and talents to him and to his Church, and live ALL of his commandments. So I think we are indeed turning our back on God and those covenants when we willfully leave the Church to pursue a lifestyle he has clearly forbidden.

I don't know. You throw a 19-year-old gay kid into the temple with absolutely no idea of what he will experience, and only a vague notion of the promises he will make, surround him with family and friends with eternal expectations of him, and then on the spot to make promises about things that he's only just beginning to understand?

Frankly, asking people to make eternal promises under such conditions hardly seems fair.

Neal said...

Forester:

Good thoughts. Thanks.


Abelard:

I didn't think that at all, but thanks for the clarification. We do indeed need to love all our brothers and sisters no matter what their circumstances or choices may be. We "all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God"

"What bothers me is when I see people who feel this need to bear their testimony to remind someone of the evil they have embraced. Seriously, does that ever accomplish anything?"

Perhaps it depends on the person. I was rebuked at a particularly low point in my life, when I was ready to throw in the towel and do some pretty evil things, and it made me do a 180. I guess I needed a kick in the head.

Peter:

"Three books of scripture written for our day that don't condemn or warn against homosexuality. Seriously, if homosexuality is such a big problem, why doesn't the Book of Mormon warn us against it when it was written with our day in vision?"

I think it does, if you look closely (quotes from Isaiah). Immorality is clearly spoken against in all volumes of scripture. The scriptures also teach us to follow the words of the living Prophets, and they have given us the Lord's policy on this issue in clear terms.

I agree that the Church is indeed in a position to recieve new revelations as you note, but the latest words from the Brethren don't point favorably to the solution you mention. Specifically, that homosexuality did not exist in the pre-existance and will not exist in the next life (see Oaks/Wickman interview on www.lds.org /newsroom). Of course, miracles can and do occur, but I wouldn't hang my hat on this one.


Regards,

Neal

Neal said...

Chris:

We're taught from primary up the things we make covenants about in the Temple. We're held accountable for our choices beginning at 8 years old. We attend years of Sunday School, Seminary, Priesthood class, etc. learning about these things. I guess what I'm saying is I don't think we're asked to commit to anything in the Temple we haven't previously learned or made covenants to do. The level of commitment is higher, I would say.

Regards,

Neal

Chris said...

Neal,

Our perspectives here clearly differ.

playasinmar said...

Option 4 - Suicide

Beck said...

Abelard, you are totally right on with the confirmation that we LOVE each other no matter what. I am not going to judge anyone their choices they make. I do NOT know what is going on inside them just as no one knows what goes on inside me!

Scot, Chris, JGW, Elbow among others are men that I have come to LOVE and will not judge them for their choices. I respect, revere and honor them as brothers at my table as well!

Playa: Please don't go to option 4. From my own personal tragedy, I beg all who are comtemplating suicide to remember that there is much goodness and much love and much hope... there is always hope!

Abelard Enigma said...

Option 4 - Suicide

Can we all agree that suicide is NOT an option - and that anyone who tries to say otherwise is a poophead who has demonstrated that their opinions are worth less than dog excrement?

As far as I am concerned, a young man becoming a go-go boy at the local gay bar is infinitely preferable to him contemplating suicide!

I think I feel another blog post coming on ...

Neal said...

Chris:

Different perspectives are fine. If the situation you were describing was a personal one, I'm sorry you felt pressured or uncomfortable in the Temple. It does seem a little "foreign" going through for the first time.



Abelard:

Thanks for saying that. Suicide removes all options, therefore it is NOT an option!!

Neal

MoHoHawaii said...

Option 5 - get a loving same-sex partner, stay faithful to that person for years and years but keep coming to church and following its teachings to the extent you can, even after they excommunicate you.

Those who follow this path (you know who you are) truly inspire me. It's not a road many are strong enough to take, but there's something amazingly Christ-like about it.

MoHoHawaii said...

I took option 3. The years of misery, loneliness and loss of the Spirit predicted by some of the more mean-spirited members of my former ward and a few distant relations did not happen. In fact, the opposite did: I blossomed.

Yes, there are consequences of taking Option 3. These consequences can include sanity, emotional wholeness, personal growth and increased closeness in friendships and family relationships. And love, the kind that actually fills the void.

You may argue that I'll get mine in the afterlife. I'm willing to take that chance. I have lived according to my conscience and with as much integrity as I could bring to bear.

But besides the speculation about the sweet hereafter, there's a practical matter. If I had not been able to take Option 3, I really fear that I would have ended up with Option 4. Truly.

Best wishes to you all, no matter which road you are taking, except Option 4, which we all agree is NOT ON THE TABLE FOR ANYONE, EVER. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, AND IF YOU DO, GET HELP *NOW*.

playasinmar said...

Pretending Option 4 doesn't exist is like pretending the I-15 doesn't have an off ramp in Spanish Fork.

It isn't something we like to acknowledge but with so many people taking that exit it cannot be ignored.

draco said...

Playa has a point- there was another suicide last week here at BYU. It's sad that we have to say "another." Romulus mentions this in his latest post...

Perhaps you could consider writing a "Please don't choose option 4" post, Abelard- especially since so many mohos really do consider suicide at some point- I certainly did.

On a lighter note, I loved these posts!! I give back the 100 points you lost for supporting scrapbooking and add 100 more for the sheer eloquence and awesomeness of these posts. Thank you!

J G-W said...

I take temple covenants seriously.

I know this is not a conventional approach, but before I ever even considered a same-sex relationship I resigned from Church membership. I actually felt guided by the Spirit to do this. I did not do anything I felt at the time would have violated temple covenants, until after I had asked to be released and had been released from them. Even after resigning from my Church membership, I was celibate for two years, during which time I seriously explored life-long celibacy as an option.

I think this was important to me in terms of my own process for coming to terms with this, because of the importance of obeying conscience. If you believe something to be wrong, and you do it anyway, even if it is not wrong you have sinned against your conscience, and as Paul discusses in some of his writings, this is a serious thing.

Neal said...

JGW,

I appreciate and admire your integrity. I lived in hypocrisy for many years, so you are a better man than I...


Regards,

Neal

Chris said...

If the situation you were describing was a personal one, I'm sorry you felt pressured or uncomfortable in the Temple.

I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way -- at least not according to the anecdotal evidence with which I am familiar.

J G-W said...

Neal -- Those are kind words... I've messed up plenty, too.

We all learn in our own way.

Booger said...

I was rebuked at a particularly low point in my life, when I was ready to throw in the towel and do some pretty evil things, and it made me do a 180. I guess I needed a kick in the head.

Were you going to murder someone or steal an old lady's purse? What stopped you?

Or were they just evil to you in your paradigm? To me, cheesecake and TV are evil. You malevolent little sinner.

playasinmar said...

Wuzza?

Booger said...

RealNeal's brush with evil at the mall, Cher Horowitz. That's wuzza.

Neal said...

My goodness!! I've never been called malevolent!

Regardless of personal paradigms, I would have been excommunicated if I had gone down that road. If you would like to read the reason for my 180, read Dallin Oaks' talk in the May 2005 Ensign.

Regards,

Neal