Sunday, May 29, 2011


I've been meaning to post this, especially since May is almost over ... I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on mothers day; My assigned topic was "Charity".

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about talking on mothers day as the usual talks include saintly pioneer ancestors, mothers, and grandmothers that are put on a pedestal so high that no woman could ever hope to match.  My parents are not members of the LDS church - so there are no LDS pioneer ancestors to talk about.  And, while I love my mother dearly, she is no saint.

Anyway, I felt the talk went well - as evidenced by the comments I received after the meeting.  So, here is my talk on charity given on mothers day

  • alms-giving
  • assistance
  • benefaction
  • contribution
  • donation
  • helping hand
  • offering
  • philanthropy
  • relief
What do these words all have in common?  They are all synonyms of “charity”.

So … what is charity?

In seeking to understand charity – I went to the experts:  Wikipedia, which states:

In Christian theology charity means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others. The term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving.
It further says
Love, in this sense of an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God
So, in order to understand charity – we need to understand the “nature of God”
In our quest to become more Christ-like, we need to heed the words of the prophet Moroni who taught us “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing” (Mor 7:46). Moroni went on to explain that “Charity is the pure love of Christ” (Mor 7:47)

The apostle John taught us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus Christ laid down his life so that we may be saved – which, as explained by John, is the ultimate expression of love.

Now, the reality is that none of us will likely ever be asked to give up our lives – but we can give in other ways
  • We can give of our money – through tithes, offerings, and charitable contributions
  • We can give of our worldly goods – through donations
  • But, most importantly, we can give of our time

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Our time here on earth is precious. When we give our time to others, we are giving a little of ourselves.

Edmund Burke has been attributed to saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing”

It’s been said that "Charity begins at home"; but, Horatio Smith went further to say “Our charity begins at home, And mostly ends where it begins.”

Mother Teresa once said “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one”

And an unknown author shared “Charity sees the need, not the cause”

The apostle Paul taught us that “Charity never faileth) (1 Cor 13:8). He went on to explain “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2)

The apostle Matthew taught “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matt 6:3-4)

I learned about charity from my mother through her examples.

My mother had a dry sense of humor. To a casual observer she might have even been judged as being harsh. As a child, when I was outside playing and hurt myself and came into the house crying – she was ask “are you bleeding?” and then send me back outside. But, she knew when the hurt and pain was real. I remember once laying sick in bed with a high fever – and she sat by my bedside all night dabbing my forehead with a damp cloth trying to keep my temperature down.

My mother was a visiting nurse by profession where she would visit people, mostly elderly, in their homes to check on them and administer to their needs. We lived near the coast outside of Santa Cruz, California at the time. During the summer months I would sometimes go with her on her route – and would play in the tide pools on the shore while she visited her patients. Sometimes she took me into their homes to visit with them while she went about her business

When she entered a patient’s home she would ask how they are doing – and they would often respond with “I’m dying” – to which she would reply “well, I’m dying too – you’re just going to die a little sooner than me.” – but she always knew the right things to say to help ease their mind; and, when she left their home, her patients usually said a sincere and heartfelt “thank you”

During my high school years, we moved to Moss Landing, a tiny town of 500 people on the coast outside of Watsonville, California. Watsonville is known as the “salad bowl” as that is the area where we get much of our salad type crops, as well as strawberries, apples, artichokes, and other fruits and vegetables. As such, it has a large population of migrant farm workers – many of whom struggled just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

My mom believed that every little girl needs a baby doll. So she started finding old dolls at garage sales and thrift stores. She would bring them home and clean them up. She would then dig through her stash of cloth and sew new clothes for them. And, when she saw a little girl in need – she would give them a doll.

She never bragged about what she did; but, other people learned of what she was doing and started bringing her old dolls and scraps of cloth. And my mother would use her spare time to clean dolls and sew doll clothes – never seeking recognition for her efforts. It did not matter to her that many of these families were here illegally. She saw and responded only the need in the best way she could – never once considered the cause.

My mother was a voracious letter writer. She would often send a small note to people whom she had only met briefly. My parents are not members of the church and were most displeased with my decision to serve a mission; however, throughout the two years, I always knew there would be a letter from mom each week.

As her health declined and she was no longer able to help in ways she used to, she continued writing letters to everybody she knew. The letters stopped when we bid my mother goodbye a few years ago as she lost her battle with cancer.

I miss my mother; but, I am consoled by the fact that we will once again be joined in eternity.

So, how can we be charitable?
  • When we stay up all night helping a child with a science project, which they’ve know about for weeks but which we only just found out – we are showing charity.
  • When a child cleans their room or does the dishes without asking – they are showing charity
  • When a husband greets his wife with a hug – he is showing charity
  • When a mother prepares a favorite meal – she is showing charity
 Charity need not be grandiose – it does not need fanfare. It is those small simple acts of kindness we perform as we see and respond to a need – without any consideration of the cause.

All of us – regardless of our station in life - need charity. And all of us, need to show charity to others
in our quest to become more Christ-like.

In general relief society meeting of the October 2010 general conference, President Thomas S Monson said

Charity has been defined as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,” the “pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].”

He went on to say:
“Charity never faileth.” May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.

I leave this same thought with you in the name of our elder brother – even Jesus Christ

Posting to my blog also gives me a chance to include a picture that I think illustrates my blog topic.  Charity is the pure love of Christ - what better way to represent this than to include a picture of two men in love ...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm still here ...

The apocalypse came and went and I'm still here - so I guess I ought to write in my blog.  The year is nearly half over, and I think this is only my 2nd post in 2011.  A far cry from how I used to be with this blog.

I received a Scribit suggestion recently - which surprised me as I thought I remembered receiving an email that the Scribit gadget was going away.  Anyway, an anonymous reader asked

Does your wife know about your SGA now? If not, what advice do you give to wives to help?
First off, anonymous reader, I do not struggle with same gender attraction - I struggle with opposite gender attraction.  Being attracted to men feels natural and normal for me.  That said - yes, my wife is fully aware of my gayness.  Although, it isn't something we talk about much.  Often it's more the elephant in the room - something we're both acutely aware of but neither wants to bring it up.  But, I remain faithful and 100% committed to her.

I think every girl, at some point in her life, dreams of a fairy tale marriage where she meets her prince charming.  But, for some girls, instead of prince charming - they get a fairy.  It may not be fair, but that's just how life is - life isn't fair.

As far as advice I might have for wives - I think you need to look at the positives rather than the negatives.  Sure, we're not going to look at you the same way that straight men might - even sexual intimacy may be difficult for us (you're just not plumbed the right way - sorry, that's just how it is).  But, there are positive aspects to having a gay husband.  We probably like to shop more than a straight husband might, we are great cooks, we may even like watching chick flicks with you.  It's like having a gay best friend and a husband all wrapped up in a single package.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post titled Women who love men who love men which I think sums up my feelings pretty well.

I don't even know if any of the people who were once regular readers are even around any more - I've certainly not given them any reason to be.  But, just in case anybody cares ...

I'm still here - still gay - still married - still active in church - still unemployed (sort of)

But, I've been very very busy.  My wife and I started an embroidery business in our home (try doing that with a straight husband).  We have two 6-thread embroidery machines and have been working 12-14 hours/day trying to keep up with the demand.  Who knew there was such a big demand for custom embroidery?  Maybe we're just not charging enough ...

I certainly didn't expect us to be this busy, at least in the beginning.  I seriously don't even know if we're making money as I haven't had much time to delve into the bookkeeping aspects of a business.  I almost hate to say it - but I kinda hope business slows down a bit so that we have time to sit down and figure out how to work smarter, get our website up and going, and a bunch of other stuff that's been on the back burner.

I will have to say that being so busy has had a positive impact on my depression issues.  I feel stressed - but I'm not so depressed about it.  I guess just feeling like I'm useful and that I matter does a lot for my self esteem.

I was able to take a little time out of my schedule to take some engagement pictures for some friends - don't they make a cute couple?

I know you can't see their faces (I don't feel comfortable posting recognizable pictures) - but trust me, they were both smiling ear to ear.

And ... this pretty much sums up my feelings.  I believe in God - I believe in the LDS church - and I believe the LDS church is totally wrong in how they approach homosexuality.

Two men in love - true love.  And they are both happier now that they have each other in their lives.  And I believe God is happy with their union.

Many people do not understand how I can hold such conflicting views.  I can't explain it either; but, it is that very conflict which prompted the name of this blog - as I feel like an enigma.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thou shalt not be gay

I attended the priesthood leadership session of our stake conference Saturday a week ago.  Our stake president began his talk by relating a discussion he had with his teenage son about the one answer that can be given for any question in seminary - no matter what the topic, you can always give this answer.  He then shared the following little ditty
Read your scriptures
Learn to pray
Go to church
And don't be gay

This is, of course, nothing new - I just never heard it put to rhyme before.  Needless to say, there were chuckles throughout the room.  I wondered if those around me noticed my stoic look - dumbfounded at what I just heard.

The main point of his talk was the need to get back to basics.  He went on to talk further about the first 3 lines in this ditty - thankfully never again mentioning the last line.

Since then, this little ditty has been going around and around in my mind - wondering just how much truth there is in it - truth in the sense that this is what is considered "basic doctrine" in the LDS faith.

Elder Boyd K. Packer once spoke of the The Unwritten Order of Things - stuff you won't read in any church handbook, but things we all just "know" - such as men wearing white shirts to church meetings.  I think "Don't be gay" is another of these unwritten principals in the LDS church.  Something that is never really said explicitly in official communications - but, nonetheless, something that everyone in the church just knows to be true.

I feel like I should be offended by the comments made by my stake president - instead I feel sadness, and I have an inkling of what I imagine the savior might have felt on the cross when he said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."  My heart especially goes out to those young men and women who may be struggling with their own sexual identity and who are subjected to this sort of ridicule in a setting that is supposed to be 'safe'.

I expect my stake president probably felt that a priesthood leadership meeting was a safe environment in which to share his little ditty - certainly there wouldn't be any of those types of people in the room.  If only I weren't such a big coward and had the courage to say something to him.

Church leaders can bloviate all they want about how being gay in and of itself is not a sin - only when we act on our gay feelings do we sin.  And everyone can nod their head in agreement - because we all 'know' of the unspoken commandment:  "thou shalt not be gay."

So, in a return to basics - I guess I fail miserably at the "don't be gay" part.  Haven't really been all that great in the scripture reading and praying either - but I go to church!  1 out of 4 isn't that bad ... is it?  Yeah me!