Friday, March 27, 2009

Paradox

Yesterday I read Max's (Here's to Hope) latest blog post
[pause - go read it if you haven't already]
And now I'm so totally confused. He seems so happy, so content, so confident. But, he's not supposed to be dammit! He should be feeling lost and confused. We're taught that true happiness can only be found by keeping the commandments - commandments which tell gay people that they either have to be heterosexually married or live a life of lonely celibacy. He is supposed to be miserable - not joyful.

It's a paradox.

For most of my life I lived in complete denial of my sexuality. There was no paradox - I simply had a dark secret that I was prepared to take with me to the grave.

But just a couple of years ago I finally found the courage to come to terms with who and what I am. For the first time in my entire life - I was able to utter the words "I am gay" and not cringe in disgust. But, with that acceptance arose this paradox.

I am truly happy for Max (and, I must also confess, a wee bit jealous). Yet, I find myself feeling sad as well. Sad that he is forced to make a choice between his happiness and his religion - a religion that teaches people like us that we cannot be truly happy if we give into to our natural attractions. And yet, for many of us, that is the only way to find true happiness - that is the paradox of being a gay Mormon.

But, by being happy for him - am I supporting, affiliating with, or agreeing with an individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Is this an act of apostasy on my part? Am I sacrificing my own eternal reward for simply wanting the best for my friends? A 'best' that is at odds with my religion.

How can I resolve this paradox? I want to fully support my church - I've covenanted to do so. But I am finding it increasingly difficult to support it in all things. I know the party line - I taught it myself for many years. I need to have more faith - I need to trust that the men whom I believe are called of God are doing the will of God. And yet, these words sound increasingly hollow.

Many people in my position want answers. But, is it possible to get an answer from someone who doesn't even acknowledge the question? It seems that the only people who acknowledge the question are the same ones seeking answers. We are the blind leading the blind.

I fear I am turning into a cultural Mormon - one who participates in body, but not in spirit. I attend church each Sunday, I sing in the choir, I teach seminary each weekday morning. But, I don't feel my heart is in it as it once was. Fortunately, I attend a ward where I am not being constantly bombarded with homophobic rhetoric. The topic of homosexuality only comes up rarely in my meetings - and then only in passing comments. And yet it stings when those moments occur - I cannot imagine what it must be like where such conversations are commonplace. I can only say to those that endure that you are a much stronger person than I - as I don't know if I could endure.

Some would say that I've been seduced by Babylon - that I've lost my grip on the iron rod and am groping around in the mists of darkness. But, how can something that feels so right be so wrong? If I cannot trust my own heart ... then how can I possibly place my faith and trust in others?

I believe in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

I believe that it is possible for two men (or two women) to love one another - and that consummating that love in a committed monogamous relationship is acceptable to God even if it is not acceptable to society.


I support Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, seer, and revelator

I feel President Monson was wrong to abandon our normal position of political neutrality and encourage church members in California to donate of their time and means in the battle to pass proposition 8 in California.

This is my paradox. But, how long can I keep clinging to to these irreconcilable ideals? I feel like I'm being torn asunder. Something has to give - but what? My faith? Or my heart?

Max, if the path you are on leads straight to hell - take comfort knowing that many (if not most) of your friends in the queerosphere will be right there with you. Hey, maybe Scott could throw one of his MoHo parties once we all get there.

Let us all felicitate Max with his new found happiness.

11 comments:

Beck said...

Wow! I wasn't expecting a post from you today - and this one is a dooozy! It hits home personally, and I comiserate with you on almost all your points.

I, too, am incredibly happy and yes, even quite a bit jealous of Max and his story. I look at it as such a blessing.

But, why do you jump to the conclusion that such thoughts of love and support are steps to apostasy? I know the worthiness question intimately that you quote, but I don't even begin to associate our reaction to Max's admission of new-found joy with apostasy. I look at that question as one where I am trying to affiliate and support to bring about the Church's demise and destruction.

I don't feel at all in any way, shape or form, that giving my love, support, encouragement, and wishes of happiness and joy to a fellow brother, even if that brother is not in keeping with church standards, is anything but Christlike and completely and explicitly appropriate - and more members of this Church should feel inclined to do so without any paradox in their thoughts.

As for cultural Mormon verses spiritual Mormon, I think we all go through these cycles. I'm trying to see beyond this one aspect and one issue and find the bigger picture with the spirit in tact. If the spirit goes and the testimony of saving ordinance, priesthood power and authority, and gift of the HG all go with it, then what's the point? But, if the bigger picture still contains that spirit within it, then maybe with faith, I can see through the darkness that envelopes me (us) in this issue.

Until that point, though there are things that don't add up and statements that contradict and frustrate, and actions by leaders that are contrary to gospel principles, faith still resides and dwells within me enough to hold on and try to fight (or survive) from within.

I, too, however, would wish that someone, anyone, one of us, can find the path whereby our sexuality, happiness quotient, and the spirit of testimony and conviction can all live happily together without one or all having to be lost or destroyed along the way.

kgwz77 said...

Hey Abe
I guess we need to define what we have faith in and if it is well placed. I have faith in God and have a personal relationship with him. He talks to me in my heart, I must trust that. I am reevaluating my faith in the mechanics of the church. If something has to give that is going to be the one. It gets too complicated to figure out all of the conflicting details. Because I am a geek I am now living by the "3 Laws" ("I Robot"). Law 1 Love the Lord and have a personal relationship with him. Law 2 Love your neighbor, treat everyone with love and compassion. Law 3 Love yourself, for if you don't, you have no chance of living the other two laws. There will be no resolution to the paradox. We don't fit in the church doctrine and we won't for some time. Until then we are on our own and for me that is trusting my heart. It is not all or nothing. The Church can have great value in our lives, but we must trust our hearts. Isn't that mostly why we are hear on earth? Sorry if this post is kinda erratic. My thoughts rarely make it out right through my fingers (I am envious of you your eloquence).
Still lurking in the background.

Ezra said...

Interestingly, I use the term "cultural mormon" to describe someone who believes in many of the core values of the church but DOESN'T participate in the formal practice (the motions.)

Weird, huh? It's like the opposite of what you said. Maybe I've got it all backwards?

It wouldn't be the first thing! ;)

Abelard Enigma said...

[Beck]
Perhaps calling myself an apostate is a bit strong. But, supporting, affiliating with, or agreeing with an individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the LDS church would certainly put temple worthiness into question - wouldn't it?

As far as not expecting to hear from me today - it is a madhouse here with all of the company and wedding preparations - and I need to escape the chaos once it a while :)

[kgwz77]
I suppose I should clarify that the faith I refer to is my faith in the LDS church - not necessarily my faith in the Gospel.

[Ezra]
According to Wikipedia, a cultural Mormon is one who does not believe all or part of the doctrine of the LDS church and/or one who does not follow all of its practices. And, if it's in Wikipedia, it has to be true - right? :)

Carter Niven said...

It is challenging, but I believe there are all sorts of resolutions to this paradox. Max may find his happiness outside the sanction of Mormonism in a relationship of his choosing. For Claire and I the resolution didn't come from leaving each other but leaving the church. I'm not trying to advocate leaving the church, but I am trying to illustrate that life is far more complex than we like to think at times.

Alan said...

Well so much for blogger's block Abe. Told you!

As for "supporting, affiliating with, or agreeing with an individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the LDS church," the logical conclusion of your worry is that any one Mormon person who knows any one other person who is not already celestially perfect, who sins and falls short of the glory of God, is not worth of a temple recommend. Because that person who's not celestially perfect is engaged in "practices" which are "contrary to or oppose those accepted by the LDS church", namely, sin.

So I don't think that can be the right answer. TR questions change all the time and this one was probably created without thought of such implications. I've learned not to sweat the specifics of the words and instead concentrate on the intent. I think the intent here is to ask if the TR holder is actively and publicly fighting against the Church. And you're not. Neither is Max.

I too see and feel the paradox. I think the Church has "a lotta 'splainin' to do" about this whole issue that it hasn't done yet. The party line words are increasingly hollow for me as well, and I say that coming from a background like yours, a lifetime of furiously active Church participation and even leadership. Like Scott, I have to say that I never ever thought I'd hear myself say that, but there it is. Life takes funny twists sometimes.

I share your belief that love between two women or men can be acceptable to God. I too recognize and support Pres. Monson as a prophet, and at the same time believe the Church misstepped with the Prop 8 thing. I pray daily for the heavens to open and the massive gaps in our knowledge to be filled.

And if I too end up with you in the place you fear, then we'll do what Joseph Smith said and turn it into heaven. Because if I were there with all my MoHo bro's, that's what it would be.

Bravone said...

Amen to Beck's words.

Abelard Enigma said...

Alan, I understand what you are saying; but, it's more than just knowing someone who is doing things contrary to church teachings - it's advocating their actions. It's believing that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. It's even being, at a certain level, jealous that someone else has something that I yearn for.

Brigham Young had something like 26 wives - can't I have just one of each: A husband and a wife? It could even be a bi-guy - I don't mind sharing.

All kidding aside, I'm just not sure I'm on the same road the church is on anymore; and, I find myself wondering - am I on a parallel path; does my path lead to the same destination? And, if not, where does my path lead?

Is the celestial kingdom going to be full of homophobes? Sounds like hell to me. I like your idea of making our own MoHo heaven. Do you have a link to the Joseph Smith quote?

MoHoHawaii said...

I hear you.

Is the celestial kingdom going to be full of homophobes? Sounds like hell to me.

This reminds me of the old joke:

Q.: Why is it better to go to Telestial Kingdom?

A.: It's much better decorated.

(I'm guessing it also has better musical theater and certainly much better food.)

Kidding aside, I really wish the Church allowed more wiggle room for a diversity of opinions on various topics. Making the tent a bit bigger wouldn't break the bank.

Beck said...

"Is the celestial kingdom going to be full of homophobes? Sounds like hell to me..."

I know you're spouting off, but who's to say that it is? And who is to say that the homophobic member-in-good-standing with that TR in his pocket is going to be there? Read John G-W's recent post on "interviews" for a different perspective!

J G-W said...

Well, I think your blogger's block is over, for at least this post.

"If I cannot trust my own heart ... then how can I possibly place my faith and trust in others?"

Well, this gets to the heart of the problem, no pun intended.

Abe, I'd say if anyone has earned the right to ask hard questions about the current church policies on this matter, it is folks like you and Beck, who've given your whole lives to living in line with the policies.