At church, I am the instructor for the "Teaching For Our Times" lesson in the high priests group. For those not in the know - this is where I teach a lesson assigned by either my stake president or bishop. Today is the 4th Sunday - which is when I teach; and, my assigned topic this month is "Wayward Children". I was also given a couple of links to conference talks to use to prepare.
This morning, an hour before church, I sat down to prepare my lesson - which itself kind of describes my feelings for the church. Although I attend every week, my heart just isn't in it anymore. I go more out of a sense of duty than of any sense of desire.
But I digress ... That isn't what I wanted to discuss in this blog post.
As I often do, I used google to find other references for wayward children that I could possibly use in my lesson; and, I came across was a blog post titled To Parents of Apostate Children by an LDS stake president (at least, he was back in 2011, the date of the post). He tells the story of a divorced sister who was devastated because her daughter chose to live with her gay ex-husband rather than her. She was embarrassed because her daughter then decided to live her fathers livestyle.
Now my first thought was: "You would never accept your daughter as a lesbian - so, of course, she would rather live with her gay dad." I was about to close the browser window since there was obviously nothing in this blog post that I would use in a lesson. But then my curiosity got the better of me - I wondered what sort of comments were made on this post. The first couple of comments were the sort of drivel one would expect - such as the guy (who goes by James) who, one day, saw a man wearing shorts and a pink tanktop carrying a poodle - and knew that he had just "seen the face of pure evil."
James later commented:
Hold to the rod, but do not rub or stroke the rod. Do not sit on the rod, lean against it, or put your mouth on it. Do not show the rod, or pictures of the rod, to your friends. Do not walk on the rod like a balance beam, and do not hang upside down from the rod. Do not look at the rod longingly.Huh??? I had to go back and read this a few more times. In all honesty, I have no idea what James is trying to say.
As members of a Church run by worthy men who hold to the rod without playing with it, I urge us each to follow their examples.
If you don't currently have the rod, then please find someone who does, and grab hold.
My first reaction was one of amusement at the homoerotic tones in his comment. I even considered posting it to the MoHo facebook group so that others could share a laugh.
I thought of this comment more as I sat in church daydreaming - and my amusement turned to disgust. What sort of pervert equates the rod in Lehi's dream as some sort of phallic symbol? James is obviously a creepy guy that I hope I never see.
As I pondered further: "me thinks James has a much more intimate understanding of what gay men like to do with their rods than is normal for a heterosexual male." And I started to consider that maybe James is like me - a gay Mormon. Obviously one is deep denial of his true self - but a brother none the less.
I don't have to look too far back to see a time when I was like James. Well, the part about equating gay with evil, not the part about having a rod fixation - that's just weird.
James does not deserve my mocking nor my disgust. If anything, he deserves my pity.
So, in case James, or someone like James, ever happens to come across this blog ...
James, you are in my prayers. I sincerely hope that you are able to accept yourself as the gay man God created you to be. Being gay is neither good nor evil - it just is. Yes, there are evil people in the world who happen to be gay - just as there are evil people who happen to be straight. But most of us are good people.
Gay culture is far more diverse than many believe. Even many gay members of society don't realize just how diverse it is. Yes, it includes guys wearing pink tanktops carrying poodles. But it also includes people like me - gay men who are married to women and choose to remain faithful to their wives - and everything in between.
In all honesty - I wish I were brave enough to walk around wearing a pink tanktop carrying a poodle. But my particular situation makes it more prudent for me to remain in the closet and to blog using a pseudonym. But that doesn't diminish the fact that I'm just as much a part of gay culture as the guys wearing thongs marching in gay pride parades.
And just because I choose to remain celibate doesn't mean that I think all gay men should choose my path. Frankly, mine is an extremely difficult path - and not one that I would wish for anyone else. At times, I feel sad that I will likely never experience the love of another man. And I celebrate those who find someone to share their life with. Love is Love - and God is Love. For that reason, I believe God accepts gay relationships just as much as straight relationships.
Now, I'm sure many would consider my views to be those of an apostate. And they're probably right - at least in regards to current LDS theology. But, I'm OK with that.
And James, maybe you just need to learn to play with your rod and not feel so guilty about it.