Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cross roads

Today, our sacrament meeting theme was learning from the past. The speakers were a youth and a young couple recently moved into the ward. Overall the talks were very good as they spoke of things they learned from their parents, lessons we learn from the scriptures, etc.

But then the concluding speaker brought up Sodom and Gomorrah. He made reference to proposition 8 in California and how we've been criticized for standing up for right - that all we are doing is to learning from the past and trying to keep our communities from turning into Sodom and Gomorrah.

I don't really remember much of what was said after that. The question kept turning over in my mind "how does gay marriage turn our communities into Sodom and Gomorrah?" Isn't it just the opposite? By telling the gay community that their love doesn't count - aren't we, in effect, encouraging them to engage in debauchery - because it really doesn't matter who they have sex with. Doesn't gay marriage move our communities closer to the family values we claim to hold in high esteem?

At the conclusion of sacrament meeting, I exchanged greetings with a couple of ward members. I paused in the lobby waiting to speak to a member of the bishopric on a matter of business related to my calling. As I stood their waiting as he was speaking with another couple, the feeling washed over me that I just didn't want to be there anymore. I felt totally alone, while standing in a crowded room. So, I turned and quietly walked out into the parking lot, climbed into my car, and drove home, skipping sunday school and priesthood meetings.

After arriving home, I changed my clothes and then went upstairs. I went to my home office and pulled a DVD out of the drawer of my desk. It is a DVD I had recently purchased on amazon, but hadn't have a chance to watch, titled Through My Eyes - a documentary produced by the Gay Christian Network. It's nothing fancy, a series of interviews of young gay christians in their teens and twenties talking about what it's like being gay and christian. Some were rejected by their churches, some even by their own families. But through it all - knowing that they are gay and will be for the rest of their lives - they choose to walk with God.



Why can't I have the same level of faith as the young people on the DVD?

I have a bit of a predicament - my temple recommend expires the end of this month; and, frankly, I don't know what I should do. I'm not going to go into a temple recommend interview and lie. I support my church leaders ... on most things. But, I cannot support their actions related to the gay community. However, I really don't want to get into this discussion with my local church leaders. For them to truly understand my feelings and why I have difficulty supporting church leaders on gay issues would require me to reveal my same gender attraction - something I'm not ready to do just yet.

The problem is . . . my calling is one where an active temple recommend is required. So, if I don't go talk to my bishop, am I being an unfaithful hypocrite? If I simply ignore it, I'll likely find myself being invited to go see the bishop to explain why I let it lapse.

Sometimes, it seems so much easier to just quietly stop going to church altogether.

I am at a cross roads where all of the paths before me suck.

12 comments:

wreddyornot said...

I don't know you and am not in your situation. Best I can do is try to empathize.

I was serving as stake sunday school president. I had some health problems but the church's stance made me sicker (at heart) and I asked for a release. I was then called to be an assistant ward clerk but expressed my distress over prop 8 and my differences.

My heart goes out to you and as a straight man with a family, I plan to do a small part to try and help although I am hamstrung even to speak out.

Anyway, just wanted you to know there are people out there who support you getting the right to marry.

Abelard Enigma said...

Well, it's not my right to marry as I'm already married - to a woman :)

But, I really appreciate your support for my gay brothers and sisters.

MoHoHawaii said...

It is just the opposite. Gay marriage is an inherently conservative idea. If you're worried about promiscuity, what do you do? Encourage durable, exclusive pair bonds. Conservative rhetoric is always about stronger social ties, but the actual policy proposals often have the opposite intention. I find this very, very weird (and this hypocrisy is one of the reasons I'm not a social conservative even though I am all for a culture of responsibility).

I'm sorry you are in this position. The issue of temple recommends has been discussed elsewhere on the Bloggernacle. Many people seem to be okay with giving big-picture answers that avoid smaller points of doctrinal or policy difference.

I am Landmark said...

The fact that you are reaching a crossroads should tell you that God believes you're ready to make new decisions in your life. Granted, these will not be easy decisions...but aren't the tough ones how we grow?
For what it's worth...I was in the High Priest's Quorum group leadership in our ward when I experienced the same feelings you shared -- that sense of being totally alone in a room full of people who were increasingly strangers to me. I'm not sure what tipped the scale for me...Prop 8, church condemnations of who I was, a sense of hypocrisy...but three Decembers ago I said, "enough." I told my wife I wasn't going to be paying tithing any more to a church that used my money to preach against me. And when the bishop freaked out, I just told him I was re-evaluating my relationship to Christ and that right now I didn't feel the need of a church to serve as an intermediary.
I suppose I'm lucky. My wife agreed and our tithing money now goes to a local university for scholarships. My bishop didn't entirely freak out and I wasn't ex'd. I still attend Sacrament Mtg but usually find more solace reading the scriptures than listening to the speakers.
You are not alone in your quandary. Do we remain involved in an organization that hates us? I wish I knew. I used to argue that I was more useful speaking up from inside the church than I would be helpful criticizing from outside...but I'm not sure I believe that any more.
An old companion (straight) tells me the church will accept gay marriage one day, for financial reasons. I'm not that cynical...or that hopeful. I choose instead to focus on living a Christ-like life. That's the best I can do, regardless of which religion I follow.
Please keep writing. I appreciate your honesty and courage.

I am Landmark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Conflict said...

I've been having the same problem every week at church. Today I gave fast offerings, and donated to the PEF, but didn't find any desire to give tithing.

I can't in honesty renew my temple recommend.

Philip said...

Abe,

I think I can relate a little even though I am not Mormon.

Years ago, for the sake of my sanity, I called a moratorium on the conflict I was having with what the Church taught and what I knew to be true as a gay man.

When I went back to my Church to inquiry how well received I would be as an openly gay man, I was told I would be welcome but only as a closeted gay man.

An openly gay man would be perceived (not sure if that is the right word) as a militant; defying the Church's teaching by openly acknowledging his sexual orientation.

The Priest telling me this was effeminate with the voice so many gay men have.

This Don't Ask Don't Tell policy of the Church violates my sense of integrity because it is asking me to lie and pretend to be someone I am not (a heterosexual).

No, but no thanks.

Regards,
Philip

Alex Degaston said...

I really feel for your wife and I feel for you. You are in a very tough position. IMHO the sooner you are honest with your wife the better it'll be for everyone in the long haul. Its not her fault. Its not your fault. Its the church's fault for ever being prejudiced against gay people. Thus when you have meetings/interviews in my opinion I'd refuse to answer any question that you feel uncomfortable about.

Abelard Enigma said...

the sooner you are honest with your wife the better it'll be for everyone in the long haul

FWIW, I am honest with my wife. She know's I'm gay and she knows about this blog.

Beck said...

My temple recommend is due in two months. The only way I can answer these questions is to think "big picture". The big picture is still in focus in my mind... the little things are not.

This discussion is not a little thing. It's funny, but as I've opened up to my wife about these blogs and chats, it has occurred to her to wonder if my association here allows me to answer the temple recommend question of whether I "associate" or "affiliate" with a group or individuals who are "against" the church. I don't even think of this "association" in that light, but it is interesting that she did...

Am I becoming so desensitized that I don't even realize it? Has my affiliation with you brought me to a similar cross roads?

Scott said...

Any time worthiness is seen as an issue--like when a young man is presented for ordination to an office in the priesthood, for example--I've always heard it stated as "so-and-so has been interviewed and declared himself worthy to be ordained..."

I've always understood that we determine our own worthiness, for the most part. Obviously the priesthood leader has to be willing to intervene in the case of someone who's willing to pretend worthiness with the intent to deceive, but I think for the most part us Mormons are far harder on ourselves than anyone else would be.

I'm due for a new recommend in a few months, too. I don't doubt there will be some question in my bishop's mind as to whether I'm actually worthy to renew it. I consider myself worthy, and I feel confident that God is not unhappy with who I am or where I am in my life, and so if I must interpret the questions in a certain way in order to answer them truthfully and still get a recommend--even if I know that my interpretation differs from the standard one--I will do so.

For example, I choose to believe that the question regarding apostate groups specifically refers to fundamentalist LDS splinter groups and those that are directly seeking to discredit the Church, and not to those that are earnestly trying to answer questions and reconcile conflicts and concerns, and so I can honestly say that I am not associating with those groups.

Or, for example, I choose to believe that the question about sustaining the Prophet simply means that I believe him to hold the keys to revelation (which I do)--not that I believe that I am obligated to follow all that he says.

For me, the trickiest is the question about meeting attendance, but even this can be answered honestly, because it asks if I "strive" to attend--so if I simply cannot bring myself to go to priesthood for a week or two or more, as long as I'm doing my best I'm okay.

It's possible that a zealous priesthood leader will try to impose his own interpretations of the questions on you, so if you're worried about that, it might not hurt to continue to toe the line until after you've got your new recommend--and then do what you need to do.

But whatever you do, know that there are those of us who understand very well what you're going through. We should build an inn at the crossroads for all of the weary travelers who pass through here. (Actually--maybe we already have?)

GeckoMan said...

Abe,
Gosh, I'm feeling so many of the same things. . . I feel like an outsider, I feel anxious about a temple recommend interview coming up early next year, I feel less than 100% about paying tithing if the public battle continues against gay marriage. Much of these feelings stems from a loss of confidence in the Brethren and a loss of the 'simple' view of unquestioned allegience to church positions I once employed. Like you, I'm not sure where all this is evolving for me, but I'm willing to take it one day at a time, hoping to prove things out on the basis of A of F #13. Sometime, somewhere I'll need to voice these feelings and see if they are listened to or quickly dismissed. I want to stay actively involved and continue giving in loving service; it is my nature, but not under false pretenses.