Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear



I received an anonymous comment to yesterday’s post that was obviously written by a committed (straight) Mormon.  Because of the nature of the comment, I decided to punt it to you, dear readers, to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts before I do the same.  I’d like to invite you to comment, and I hope many of you will.  This is an opportunity to directly address several of the notions and attitudes that exist in the minds of “faithful” LDS concerning homosexuality.  I will offer my own thoughts, but I’d like to first ask you to respond to this person and to help him/her to have “eyes to see” what we see and “ears to hear” what we hear, to feel what we feel, and to understand what we understand.

Here’s the comment:

Sincere question for you here.

You have a teenage daughter, so I'm guessing you have to be at least mid-40s correct? Average life expectancy of the American male is 76 years. So, assuming you're 45, and will live to be 76, you're approximately 60% of the way through your life. Up to this point, you've been a faithful member of the Church, paid your tithing, etc. So, you've only got 40% of life to go and if you can just keep on the path for that last stretch, you'll very likely receive exaltation and be together with your family, as the LDS Church teaches.

On the other hand, if you choose to live a homosexual lifestyle, you've got, on average, 31 years (assuming you're 45) left. Keeping in mind that after 65 you're pretty much "old" (no offense intended) which brings the "wild oats" years down to roughly 20. Are those 20 years worth it?

I'm not your bishop so I don't think what you do directly affects me very much, but I'm just curious about your thoughts on whether those 20 years are worth what you're giving up.

The floor is now yours. 

23 comments:

  1. From what I understand about LDS doctrine, and according to the quote above "you'll very likely receive exaltation." Also, it's a lot of work and no guarantees. From my perspective, yes, it is worth it. To quote one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias, "I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."

    Now, from an "outsider" perspective. I know I am reconciled to God. I know I am in relationship with Him. I know that if I died right this second, I would be in Heaven. I John 5:13 says, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life."

    The Bible is full of these promises. Not maybes. Not likely to's. Promises that come with full knowledge, grounded in the work that Christ finished on the cross. Yes, because we love Jesus there are certain things that we will want to do...but they are not mandatory and they have nothing to do with salvation or the eternal where a bouts of my soul!

    So, in answer to this question....being truly who God created you to be...is it worth it? A resounding YES and AMEN!!

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  2. I don't know if what I post here is going to give eyes to see or ears to hear. I have had discussions with family members that have gone round and round on this topic. But I will share my feelings:

    I believe that is a very ignorant question. And one of the mind sets that creates so much grief for so many people dealing with being gay. And not only being gay, but in my opinion so much grief for many of the members of the church. The idea of enduring to the end is not about holding one’s breathe for 76 years and then “poof” we are exhalted. The same spirit that possesses our bodies in this life is the same one we take into the next. I can “be living all the commandments” and I won’t have any more or less of a gauranty of being exhalted than someone “living a gay lifestyle”. I know that might come across like rationalization or justification and “how dare I”, but I feel there is so much more to the equation of life than we can pretend to know. But I do believe that being happy is the pursuit of this existance. I know so many members of the church that are miserable and unhappy. Those people aren’t suddenly going to be happy when they die. If we don’t learn how to be happy in this life we will not be instantly happy in the next.

    What does “homosexual lifestyle” mean? There are many people that for what ever reason, call it genetics call it environmental factors I don’t care, but they don’t have the ability to build a meaningful, loving and fulfiling relationships with someone of the opposite sex. They just can’t do it. You talk about those 20 years of “wild oats”–like that’s what gay is all about. It is very possible that Invictus could meet someone in the next couple of years and then using your numbers have some 25+ years of sharing a life with someone with which he can connect to emotionally, spiritually, intimately, etc. A life filled with love and happiness. I know a couple of men who met in their early 20’s and have been together for almost 40 years. Building a life just the same way a man and a woman would who couldn’t have children. I have been in their home and experienced the feeling a loving home. Because they are gay, does that mean they have forfitted their right to be exhalted? I don’t know that is not mine to judge.

    Now with all of this I am not against someone who wants to choose to remain active in the church temple worthy living a celebate life. But that choice needs to be personal and that person has to understand and find happiness in making that choice. And, if that person is married, his wife has to be willing to live in a relationship where not all her physical and emotional needs can be met. Is this possible I believe it is for some. However, that does not gauranty exhaltation but then again that is not mine to judge.

    Christ is the only one who can judge.

    I don't have any profile setup I could use so I just selected Anonymous. My name is Wayne

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  3. Dear Anonymous,
    You just don’t understand. I mean on a fundamental level, you have no idea what we’re going through. Then, all of your views about “us” are filtered through misinformation and prejudice.
    I don’t blame you. I think I was like you, even though I’m gay. I’ve had to unthink a lot of things even though now to me they are so obvious.
    I’m young and married. I have been debating a lot of things. One of which was, “Well, shouldn’t I just stick out my marriage for the rest of my life for the sake of eternity?” The answer I got was a resounding no. God does not want me or any of his children to be deliberately miserable. Why would he ask me to choose something that would bring me, my wife, and others such unhappiness?
    I’m all about learning from trials, and life not being easy. But our Heavenly Father does not want us to be self flagellating monks, blindly obeying laws and policies. Rather he wants men of faith who follow him with trust. You can only have that trust when what God gives you brings you joy. I’m not saying that life isn’t going to bring you lots of sadness. But when was the last time you followed the commandments, and that meant cutting part of yourself off, repressing it, stuffing it away? When doing so made you suicidal or depressed? I’m not talking about bridling your passions but choking them off forever. Making yourself a false persona, pretending, all kinds of experiences that you probably haven’t and never will have to face. Is that what God wants for his children? I don’t think so.
    Examine your views of what Invictus, or any of us want. What I ultimately want is a committed, monogamous relationship with a man, someone I can completely trust and give myself too. I’m sorry if my “lifestyle” choice as you put it offends you. Did you choose to live a “heterosexual lifestyle”? I suppose you did right? I mean, you could have chosen an asexual lifestyle. You could have chosen to live all kinds of lifestyles. But I think you “chose” the lifestyle that you believed would bring you happiness, love, peace.
    I’m done for now. Try to open your mind a bit and see things from our perspective before you jump to a conclusion or a judgment. That’s all I’m asking.

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  4. I have so many comments to make, I'm not sure where to begin...

    1. Is there only one path to "exaltation"? I know that the church reposes on one path; however, I do not believe that God does. This is one's choice of belief.

    2. If one were to believe in what I will call "blind sacrifice and return" :
    1>wouldn't this mentality justify anything, e.g., if God says that I am to do x then I will receive y, i.e. the end justifies the means?
    2> wouldn't this suggest a manipulative relationship with God? I will do things IN ORDER TO have exaltation?

    3. We are all condemned to death from the day we were born. No one knows when one's time is up: we could grow "old" or we could die crossing the street today ... Inch'allah.

    4. As I said in response to the comment yesterday: It is not the number of years you live but the life in your years. Should one live a miserable life, untrue to one's self for the sake of conforming to what one does not believe? Are we alive to suffer? Suffering is a reality of life, but we have a choice to not let it win. Are we alive to break beyond the barriers of limitations and experience joy ... I believe we are.

    5. The only thing certain in this life is PERSONAL "testimony" whatever you want to call it and aligning one's actions with one's thoughts.

    I will not quote scripture: I am not a scholar. I am a humanist and all I can say is that if we were to put humans first and the right to the pursuit of happiness and EQUALITY, I think that we would relish in a new spectrum of colors, life and love.

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  5. This past year has been remarkably challenging. My wife left me, I had to adjust to not seeing my children nearly as much. My finances went through various forms of turmoil and adjustment. And yet, despite being "gay," and sowing my wild oats as you put it, I'm remarkably happy. I feel like I have more friends than I've ever had in this life. I've learned that these wild oat sowers (gay men) are a very loving and wonderful group of people. Our worth as individuals just isn't tied to our strict adherence to a set of codes created to enforce cultural norms. I'll agree thats a hard concept to grasp, but its true.

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  6. I appreciate the straight faithful commentator's question because it is detailed, quantified, and supported with reasons.

    I will add two pieces to what has been said already.

    One: “It has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints, that a religion which has not the power to save people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here, cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, to exalt them in the life to come.”
    (“The Truth about Mormonism,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, Sept. 1905, 242.)

    Two: There is value in authenticity. This doesn't justify behaving authentically per se, but it is an argument in favor of such absent a countervailing consideration.

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  7. I wouldn't be quick to assume that he's judging or condemning. To me, it just sounds like he's genuinely curious and doesn't necessarily mean any harm, even if some of his word choices were a little bit inelegant. I think some of the poor word choices come more from a place of not knowing than trying to put down Invictus Pilgrim's path.

    Even if his intentions are malicious, I think the best way to have a constructive conversation about such things is to be aware of the possiblity of maliciousness, but respond with the assumption that he has the best of intentions.

    My two cents. :) You generate lots of great discussion, Invictus.

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  8. I am appreciating all the comments! I just want to voice my agreement with what JonJon has said: I don't think he/she was judging or condemning; his/her questions struck me as sincere and genuine. That is why I viewed this as an opportunity for us in the gay (ex-)Mormon community (and friends) to "educate", to help give this "stereo-typical" person eyes to see and ears to hear.

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  9. Dad's Primal Scream posted as response on his blog, which I am going to quote here, likely in two comments. His blog post can be found here:

    http://dadsprimalscream.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/is-it-worth-it/

    First Part:

    One of my favorite bloggers Invictus Pilgrim recently posted a question from one of his readers. I tried to comment on his blog but I think my comment was too long so I decided to answer here.

    My Answer:

    There’s so much wrong with the question that I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll try to respond sincerely and respectfully.

    First, the question implies that there is a “decision” and that that decision is all ours. Not only did I never “choose” to be a homosexual, I did not choose to leave my wife and children. What I did choose was to be honest about it. Are you going to argue against that?

    There was never unfaithfulness, but my ex-wife with the encouragement of the church chose to divorce. So, the question in my particular case is why did the church and my ex-wife not see that last 20 years of our lives to be a worthy investment for their brand of eternity?

    As much as it hurt and felt wrong at the time, in the end I believe it was the right thing to do. Since there are two in a marriage, shouldn’t our wives have equal say and equal opportunity to find an eternal companion with whom THEY want to spend that last 20 years? The easy assumption is that is was all our doing, but it’s not always the case.

    (To be continued)

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  10. Here is the second part of Dad's Primal Scream's response:

    Second, what you describe is essentially a philosophical concept called “Pascal’s Wager”. You are basically saying, “why not bet on eternity since there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain?” But the problem is that there is a lot to lose when you look at the opportunity costs of sticking with a life path that is so dramatically wrong. I would be giving up the chance to find and spend eternity with someone I truly loved, a man. The second problem with Pascal’s Wager is that it sets up a false dichotomy. I know Invictus Pilgrim still believes in the LDS faith, but I don’t. The truth is that there are more than two choices here between a righteous, straight LDS Married life and a decadent “lifestyle choice” with a man. Those aren’t life’s only two options for us and sticking with the straight LDS married life automatically eliminates a wide array of positive, life affirming choices for me and my family that in the long run are BETTER (both now and in eternity).

    Lastly, do you really think it’s about “wild oats?” Wrap your brain around this…I’ve been divorced for 5 years. While I didn’t choose it, I’m grateful for it and I now think it was the right thing to do for both me and my ex-wife. If I never have sex with a man, find a lover or participate in what you think is “wild oat sowing”, I still say the divorce was worth it and the better choice for everyone involved.

    I spend more time with my children now than ANY priesthood holder I know and I am able to teach them the morals and values that they are not getting with their Mom and her LDS faith. My ex is free to find her “eternal companion” and as for me, there is a high level of peace that comes from living on the outside in a manner that is consistent with how you feel on the inside that does make it worth it. Yes. Even if I never encounter one wild oat in the next 20 years it will have been worth it.

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  11. Here's another friends reply, which he posted on his blog last night:

    http://crackingtheclosetdoor.blogspot.com/2011/03/men-are-that-they-might-have-joy.html#more

    Anonymous--

    I can't help but respond to your comment. While I began the process of coming out two years ago, I've been totally out for nearly one year. Without question, this has been the best and happiest year of my life--by any measure. Interestingly, my gay brethren who have come out in mid life all say the same thing. I have NEVER met a gay Latter-day Saint who is unhappy as a result of coming out of the closet and would choose to return if given the opportunity.

    I believe that when the Book of Mormon says that men are that they might have joy, it is speaking truth, both for this life as well as for eternity.

    As a gay man once married to a wonderful straight woman, raising tremendous children, serving in a variety of Church leadership positions, I never understood what joy was. I had happy moments, but in my trial never felt the joy that the Gospel is intended to bring.

    Since divorcing and actually being true to who I am, I have amazingly experienced a fullness of joy EVERY day--joy so profound it often causes me to tremble with gratitude for a Father who loves me for who and what I am and is willing to share His Spirit with me in a profound and immutable way.

    If wickedness never was happiness, I have to take the Lord at his word. That means that if what I am doing is wicked, I shouldn't be happy. At the same time, if marriage to a woman brought such unhappiness that I was willing to inflict tremendous pain and suffering on the people I love most--my former wife and children--would it be pleasing in the sight of God?

    Anonymous, it is so easy to live in a world constructed of cultural norms that is in reality antithetical to the teachings of the Gospel of Christ. Because it is easy, too many members of the Church choose to live in such a world of blacks and whites rather than a world of sunshine and rainbows as Heavenly Father intended.

    I'm grateful that God led me into a world of color and with it, a world of boundless joy. I hope someday in this life or the next, you are able to find this world as well.

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  12. I'm trying to look at this entirely frmo a "faithful" member's point of view, and I can't help but wonder why homosexuality doesn't get the "free pass" that a lot of other situations get?

    People born with Down's Syndrome or other mental incapacities: "He isn't capable of understanding the gospel fully, so baptism isn't required. Possibly he was even born this way because he was so faithful in the pre-existence that he doesn't need to be 'tested'".

    Someone who commits suicide: "Only God can know what was in his heart, and it's likely that mental and emotional issues made him incapable of rational decision-making, so he won't be judged for his act [which is, essentially, murder]".

    Women who never marry: "If she hasn't been given the opportunity to marry in this life, God will provide a way in the next one." (Never mind how ridiculous it is that we still, in this day and age, consider it a woman's job to just sit around and wait for a husband to find her, rather than pro-actively looking for one and even being the one to pop the question).

    People who never hear about the church: "he'll tave another chance in the next life".

    ...

    I was taught that the atonement was for making imperfect people perfect. That it is intended to compensate for "weakness" and to allow for a merciful evaluation of our choices and actions, taking into consideration all of the things that might have influenced them. It allows our motives and righteous desires to have an impact on our final judgment.

    Even if we accept as a "given" that homosexual relations are, in fact, frowned on by God (and I don't accept that, for the record), shouldn't we still believe that, thanks to the atonement, God will consider a person's situation and circumstances when judging his actions?

    Can't we believe that a gay man who has a righteous desire for love and fulfillment and companionship and joy (in this life), and who fulfills that need in the manner that is natural to him, will be held to a different (and absolutely personal and individualized) standard than a straight member of the church?

    Of course, this requires accepting that people are, in fact, born gay, or at least made that way through no conscious decision or their own. The church didn't used to accept or believe that, and if "being gay" is indeed a choice, then this whole argument falls apart.

    But more recently, the church has acknowledged that these "attractions" are not consciously and willfully chosen. Given that, shouldn't the inherent nature of these attractions allow us to withhold judgment from those who "act on them", and allow God to look on them with the mercy that the atonement allows?

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  13. Thanks for posting this Invictus. I’ll try to be respectful, but also blunt. I don’t doubt the commenter’s sincerity. However, there is little emotional awareness in the comment. There are 12 uses of numbers. There are only three words that even slightly evoke any kind of human feeling: “sincere” (again, not questioning that), “faithful” (used as Mormon jargon in connection with church membership status) and “affects” (please see below). I guess numbers do say something. They can also blind us if we’re not careful.

    Invictus, your blog is both thought-provoking and deeply personal. I have much respect that you’re willing to be emotionally vulnerable here. The thoughts and feelings you share evoke thoughts and feelings in all of us. That can lead us all to work through some very difficult things, as well as more fully experience and illuminate the joys of life. Your blog and many others in our Moho community give a chance to reflect on our own lives, whatever path we are taking. It’s sad that the commenter seems to have missed an opportunity by not seeing and feeling what you have written on your blog. Of course, that opportunity still exists.

    Assuming there is a heavenly book of life written for each one of us, it is not a balance sheet being kept by some cherubic bookie. I understand very well the notion of “enduring to the end,” which seems to be the commenter’s primary point. For me, there is much more meaning and joy in life to find that doesn’t have a lot to do with the kind of cold numeric calculation present in that comment.

    Most of us who either grew up Mormon or who spent many years in the church allowed ourselves to be infused with a concept of eternity as a zero-sum economic system. That isn’t the reality of eternity. It’s not surprising that a true-believing Mormon may unintentionally dismiss your thoughtful and agonizing decisions by what he or she believes to be a sincere question asking whether 20 years of life as an openly gay man is worth it. It’s also not surprising that some people view homosexuality as just about sex, which blinds them to the much larger picture of the actual experience of a gay person. It isn’t just about sex, anymore than heterosexuality is just about sex. The “wild oats” comment is offensive, regardless of intent, because it shows a lack of consideration for the deep feelings you have shared throughout your blog posts.

    The “I don’t think what you do directly affects me very much” comment made me chuckle. It clearly affects the commenter. Otherwise, why post the comment at all? Perhaps the commenter will be affected in positive ways by reading more of what you’ve written here, and the comments of others sharing their perspectives and feelings.

    I hope that devout Mormons like the commenter will genuinely try to hear and see and understand what we as gay people experience, whether in or out of the church. A gay person’s relationship to the church is often complicated. Deciding to leave the church behind is not the path to outer darkness that some the in church believe it to be. Mormons still grappling with their views about gay people might find some unexpected enlightenment if they open, ever so slightly, the blinds that Mormon culture so often and so unfortunately places on the windows of the church and the homes of its members.

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  14. And speaking of making assumptions, I guess I shouldn't have assumed that the anonymous commenter is male!

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  15. Dear Anonymous,

    I wanted to thank you for your question because I really believe that it comes from your heart. As I write my answer, I am going to speak to you as if you are a dear friend in whom I have great respect because I have no doubt that were we to meet outside of this blog, we would have a great deal in common.

    Growing up on the church, I heard a great deal about how serious of a sin it was to be gay. Knowing that I had these feelings was an incredible burden to me that I wanted to ignore, hoping they would go away. As a result, I did everything I could to be that “good” child; deacon’s quorum pres; teacher’s pres; priest’s 1st assistant; missionary. I even got married while holding this secret deep inside me.

    For right or wrong, several years ago, I met a guy who was in the same situation as I was, and we connected on such a deep level, it was incredible. It was the first time that I understood the romantic feelings that my wife had for me. Because of our situations, this didn’t last very long, but the main thought that hit me was, “How have I lived this long and never felt this way?”

    Anonymous, I’m embarrassed to admit this to you, but sometimes I flinch when my wife touches me. Oh my gosh! How cruel is that to her? She deserves better. But when this friend would put his hand on my knee, I suddenly felt like all the stress in my life melted away.

    I know it’s so easy to hear people discuss topics that are foreign to them in labels that simplify the complexities. I have no doubt that I do that in many areas. When gay people hear others describing their lives in terms of a “gay lifestyle”, it gives me the impression of some club-going party boy who is just out looking for a good time. And sure, there are some guys who live that way. But I guess my main issue is that those traits don’t apply to everyone and are as incorrect as saying that straight guys just lounge around all weekend watching sports.

    Anonymous, I could continue with all my thoughts, but I think so many others have addressed them so well. I wish all happiness in your life. And I hope that one day I can be with a guy with whom I can truly be myself. Whether I live another 31 years or just 5, I truly seek the joy that comes from being honest with myself and with God.

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  16. @Pablo - I am going to prepare a detailed response to Anonymous' comment, and I plan to address all those who have commented, I wanted to go ahead and thank you for the very kind things you had to say about me and about my blog. I began my blog as an outlet, a vent, a channel for all the things I had kept bottled up inside of me for years. I have felt at times that perhaps I have shared too much of myself, but I couldn't deny that doing so was and is therapeutic for me. I also started receiving feedback that some of what I was expressing was helpful to others. So I continued. Thanks again for your generous and heartfelt comments, Pablo. I really do appreciate them.

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  17. (I see I'm a little late but will add my two cents anyway.)

    I believe this is fundamentally a question of perspective. Many of us have been where you are and can relate; you have the disadvantage of not having “lived” our perspective. I would first like to acknowledge and appreciate what I feel is a sincere expression of concern (perspective) for the eternal welfare of Invictus specifically, as well as for all of who have made or are making similar decisions. And from experience I am fairly certain that it will be difficult for you to understand my perspective and that of my friends who have and will also comment.

    A Mere Twenty Years?

    Time is very relative. Twenty years lived well is a life-time; twenty years lived in misery is an eternity. If you haven’t experienced hunger you cannot relate to the hungry if you haven’t known defeat you cannot fully appreciate victory. Please read the following Dickinson poem.

    Success is counted sweetest
    By those who ne'er succeed.
    To comprehend a nectar
    Requires sorest need.

    Not one of all the purple Host
    Who took the Flag to-day
    Can tell the definition,
    So clear, of Victory,

    As he, defeated, dying,
    On whose forbidden ear
    The distant strains of triumph
    Break, agonized and clear.


    I lived in marriage for 33 years suffering in a way you cannot know unless through experience. I was a faithful husband and a father of six beautiful children. I served a mission and held high ward and stake callings. But all the while I waged a secret inner war that nearly destroyed me. I had no lasting peace, and no joy. I hoped for death and contemplated it many times. I prayed and fasted, sought counsel and received blessings from my church leaders, and when that didn’t work, I prayed harder.

    I longed for freedom and identity of self. At times I would have willingly traded twenty years of my remaining life for one day of peace, freedom from pain and pretense, and for sense of self. You hold up the Celestial kingdom as incentive for hanging on for a mere twenty years more. You don’t understand that a Celestial Kingdom is a disincentive for some of us. I personally have no desire whatsoever to go to the celestial kingdom if that means living with a woman, let alone my wife.

    I am alive again for the first time in 33 years. I have a very loving, supportive, joy-filled relationship – with a man. To you that may appear repugnant. Our relationship is every much as beautiful as the best “love-at-home” Mormon family. We pray together, we go to church together; we live in harmony and mutual support. We feel God’s love and acceptance. LDS people think they have a monopoly on spirituality and on God’s blessings and acceptance. They generally have no idea concerning the breadth of God’s love. They profess unconditional love and charity, but when tested, many fail; trust me, I know.

    Again, I feel that your comments and concerns are genuine. But hanging on to misery and living an anguished life of deception and pretense is not part of God’s plan of happiness.

    Trey

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  18. Jeff in Colorado (jeffwcos@yahoo.com)March 9, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Great comments by all. Here's a brief response to the anonymous comment because much has been covered already:

    In the church we talk a lot about the importance of trials...

    What if I arrive at my personal judgement day and sitting there with my Savior and my Heavenly Father, I learn that my trial was NOT to suppress my orientation, but to embrace it and to help others to also learn to love, embrace, and accept?

    What if Invictus had ignored those promptings during last October's conference and at the ripe old age of "76" passed away only to find out that he failed to heed the call of the Spirit to climb his Moriah?

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  19. I find topics like these philosophically interesting. I'm most comfortable fitting in the Agnostic box. While I sometimes contemplate and can relate to spiritual ideas, my life doesn't revolve around having anywhere near a perfect understanding. There are times I feel like God could exist and other times that it really doesn't add up. Either way, it doesn't matter. God or no God doesn't change who I am and what makes me happy. It doesn't make me someone "devil-ish" or without any sense of what is right and wrong. In fact, I find it liberating to know that what I believe and how I choose to live my life is all based on what I feel is good and right. It is no longer based on what is supposed to be right and wrong as written in books. With that background here are some thoughts:

    I love Jeff's response. I share a very similar belief. If we delve into some of the most commonly accepted beliefs in Christianity we will see that the greatest commandment is love. Notice that it isn't "strict obedience" it is "love."

    You hear on talk radio shows and other therapeutic geared media that you can't truly love others until you learn to love yourself. How can you love yourself when you feel that "enduring" and "burying" your feelings is the only way to be accepted by God? Where is there love in unacceptance?

    The part of me that accepts that there could be a God sees a being that isn't entirely foreign to the LDS faith. Through refining my thoughts and relating to my own life I sift away many of the "Hellfire and damnation" views of a vengeful God. I am a gay father. My marriage ended 3 years ago. I have two amazing boys that have taught me more about what a God should be than anything else I ever learned. (continued)

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  20. I have felt many ranges of emotions as a father. I have felt fear, anger, embarrassment (of my lack of ability), heartache, worry, contentment, and joy. Most of all I have felt love.

    We have this strange concept in life of what is wrong and what is right. Everything has to be black or white. We somehow picture this book in heaven that judges each move in life as either sin or its righteousness. We either get a check in the naughty or nice column. Our hope is that we get enough "nice" checks to get into heaven. I don't know many Earthly fathers that live that way in everyday life. How many of us have watched our children make mistakes? Do we judge everything they do as right or wrong and worthy of praise or punishment. How many of us have watched our kids build something with legos or blocks knowing that the laws of nature will never allow it to stand on its own. Do we have to rush in and command that they alter their course and do things "right" or do we just make a mental note for punishment later? I don't and believe that most fathers don't as well.

    Being gay is no different than being straight in that we all will have our own opportunities to learn and grow. These may be strictly my own morals, but I don't see "sowing my wild oats" as inherently sinful or something that God has noted for later punishment. Just like the legos, its a life experience for me. It is my chance to see what will stand on its own and what will not. While I have greatly slowed my sowing, I can't deny what I have learned and the value that came from such supposedly damning behavior. I have found contentment in being single, but there is always that part looking for love. In my sowing I have found a greater understanding for what love is.

    Back on track with fatherhood. My love for my sons is not contingent on them making all the choices I want them to make. I know we are taught that God loves us all no matter what. There is a HUGE BUT (no pun intended) in LDS teachings though. He loves us BUT if we don't heed everything he COMMANDS of us, we have no place in his house. Really?? I can not fathom the day that I would bar my own children from everything I have. I cannot imagine not allowing them to stand in my presence, let alone not always feeling the desire to hold them and show them all the love I have for them. If that is true with me, why not a more perfect Father in Heaven? (continued)

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  21. The only expectation I really have for my sons is that they not willingly injury another either emotionally or physically. Even then, they would never be banned from my presence. I may want them to be a doctor, or lawyer, or great politician, but if they find joy in working at McDonald's so be it. I may have things I'd like them to do in life, but all I really want is for them to find happiness, joy, and love (in one form or another). If I feel this way about my children, why can't God?

    I can't imagine the sorrow I would feel if I found out that my son endured years and years of Medical school "enduring" to be a doctor, because he thought it would make me happy, only to find that he didn't enjoy it and would rather have been a garbage man. I don't have those expectations of my sons and I would never want them to put their happiness on "hold" in order to live up to some ideal they think I have for them. As Jeff stated above, what if our "test" wasn't to endure? What if it was to love? Why deny the amazing man (who loves other men) that God created? Why not be authentic, real, and happy in this life? How can that translate into damnation in the next?

    I feel that I have more to contribute to society as an openly gay, authentic, self-loving man than I ever did as a closet case "enduring."

    I can't believe such a God exists that expects us to deny the greatest commandment of love and replace it with enduring. Enduring is not fair for me as a gay man in a hetero marriage, and it is not fair for the woman that has to endure as well. Would any one of us want to be in a marriage to someone who was "enduring" rather than "loving" us?

    If love is the greatest commandment, we should live it.

    (Sorry for the novel)

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  22. Here's a link to Miguel's thoughts concerning Anonymous' comments: http://lifeismg.blogspot.com/2011/03/so-what-is-it-really-about.html

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  23. Jumping into this way late. I will not comment on the religious aspect of this discussion as I am not, nor was I ever Mormon.

    All I have to say is that it really is not about "sowing oats" or sex. This seems a concept hard for many, especially Mormons to understand or accept. It is about who you relate to, who you feel close to, who you feel you can share yourself emotionally with. It is simply not just about sex. For this reason, it is worth it. It is about being true to yourself and your partner, being able to have a full relationship with someone without having a part of you that desires something else.

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