I really do not have any desire to leave the LDS church. In fact, it saddens me to even think about it. Over all the church has been good for me and my family. But the harsh reality is that the path that I am on no longer lines up with that of the LDS church.
The obvious answer is that I should repent - that is, I should make adjustments in my life so as to get back in line with the LDS church. But, that's easier said than done. The LDS church teaches that the first step in the repentance process is to recognize that you have sinned; and, I just can't seem to get past that first step. Mind you, I'm not trying to claim that I don't make mistakes. But in the events that have led up to me being on a diverging path - I just don't see where I've made some sort of grand error.
About 3-1/2 years ago I finally ended a lifetime of denial and accepted the fact that I am gay - and that set into motion a series of events that brought me to where I am today, including starting this blog, making new friends, and reexamining where I stood on gay related issues.
During this same time period, the LDS church took steps to solidify where it stands on gay issues. They released a pamphlet telling me that God loves me and that it's OK to be gay - so long as I don't have gay sex, don't think about gay sex, don't exhibit gay mannerisms or flaunt my gay characteristics and don't have gay friends. And, while not specifically addressed in said pamphlet, they really do not want me to call myself 'gay' - preferring that I 'struggle with same gender attraction'.
On the issue of gay marriage: I started out opposing gay marriage but supported civil unions - and I've evolved into being a firm supporter of gay marriage. While the LDS church has made it abundantly clear that they consider gay marriage to be the biggest threat to 'traditional' (i.e. male/female) marriage in the world today. They have also claimed that societal acceptance of gay marriage threatens their free speech right to oppose it.
The bottom line is: The LDS church and I just don't see eye to eye anymore. With mormonism being an "all or nothing" sort of religion - that's a problem, a very big problem. Once I start questioning the LDS church in some things, it leads me to question it in other areas as well. For example, how do I resolve an account of the creation that puts the world at a few thousand years old with scientific evidence that it is, in fact, millions of years old? Gender is supposed to be an eternal characteristic; so, what about those who are born with both male and female genitalia and whose gender is "assigned" by doctors?
On the subject of gay marriage, consider two hypothetical situations
A) A gay male couple have been together for years and live in a committed monogamous loving relationship
B) A heterosexual couple get married in Vegas in a drunken stuporAccording to LDS teachings, God is OK with couple B having sex but not couple A. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it. It does not compute. As I ponder this in my mind, the LDS position only gives me stupor of thought.
Don't get me wrong, I still think the LDS church, overall, is a force for good in the world. I fully support its commitment to family - where we disagree is what constitutes a family.
Nor am I suggesting that my leaving the LDS church is a foregone conclusions - I'm just saying that the path that I am on is diverging from that of the LDS church and, if nothing changes, eventual separation will be the logical outcome. I also realize that if anything is to change this direction - it will have to be with me as it is highly unlikely I will see any major changes in the LDS church philosophy in my lifetime.
There is a difference between doing what is right and doing what is easy. The easy thing would be for me to reject my own thoughts and feelings and just accept the LDS church, and what it says, at face value. The easy thing would be to go back to my old life - living in denial. But is that the right thing to do? Or, is the right thing to follow my heart?
Most TBM's (True Believing Mormon's) would tell me that I've got this backwards - that the easy thing would be for me to follow my own feelings and that the difficult path would be to follow the church - but those people do not know me! They have not walked in my shoes. They do not understand my commitment to my own family. In many ways, going back to my old way of thinking - pretending that this gay thing was just a phase, a mid-life crisis - would be the easy thing to do. But, could I look at myself in the mirror every morning?
I continue going through the motions. I attend church every week, I sing in the choir, I stay after the block of meetings to help put away chairs and clean up the building. In private I abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, I abstain from eating two meals on Fast Sunday. We pray together (although private prayers and scripture reading have gone by the wayside). My wife, who handles our finances, writes a tithing check every month which I give to the bishop. From all outward appearances I am a good Mormon - but only in body, not in spirit.
I'm tired of sitting in a crowded room - and feeling all alone.