This is another in the Gay Gospel Doctrine Class series of posts that takes a lesson from the LDS Church’s (Adult) Gospel Doctrine class and presents it from a gay perspective. Today’s lesson was written by Trey Adams and is based on Lesson #26 in the Gospel Doctrine Manual (“To This End Was I Born”).
Last Sunday was Fast Sunday and the bearing of testimonies. The first Sunday of each month, we Mormons come to church fasting the equivalent of two meals, which technically equates to a twenty-four hour period of abstinence from food and drink. We are then asked to donate a generously-equivalent value of the missed meals to the church for the benefit of the poor and needy - a very effective system, by the way. The last half hour or so of the meetings is open to members to stand, address the audience in bearing witness of what we feel and believe to be true about our religion.
No, I didn’t bear my testimony last Sunday. But many do in the ward (geographical area) I attend and, as is the case in many wards, several children make the heart-pounding trek to the podium, stand on the riser, and, in typical sing-song fashion, proclaim (often with parental coaching) something like this:
“I know the church is true; I love my family; I know President Monsen is a true prophet; I know the Book of Mormon is true; in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
I do not describe this practice to discredit it. After all, we proclaim our feelings and beliefs about many topics and in many public and private settings and venues. What is of interest, however, is that from an early age in this religious setting and in others similar, we are told (coached) what dogma to believe. Over time, perhaps unwittingly, brick by doctrinal brick we build a wall of belief around us which, for many, becomes an impenetrable protection from the truths and societal differences existing outside the doctrinal confines. It is too bad that part of the religious curriculum during more impressionable years does not include a liberal course on respect and acceptance of truth and beauty found in all religions, societies, and cultures – sort of like is found in the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.
For many years I lived in the society of my fellow wall-builders in shame and in fear that it might be found out I had fabricated a part of my wall from the essence of conformity and not from the raw materials of my inner soul. To be discovered would surely mean banishment and, could I exist outside the societal security of the wall? I didn’t see how.
But what does this have to do with today’s lesson topic? It is true (my testimony) that the man-Messiah was tortured and crucified. However, I believe that what is more significant is that it was the intention of His detractors to destroy the Messiah concept: it simply did not fit within the established socio-religious / socio-political construct. Some months ago during a conversation in which her true wall-tenets were being challenged, my wife asked if I really thought gay couples could have a place in God’s kingdom. I answered confidently in the affirmative: yes, I did think it was entirely within reason.
For many wall builders, the construct of “gay” simply cannot exist within the wall of belief. It is anathema to the core doctrine; the bricks, of which, I think man-religion controls and defines and has, thereby, given man-made limits to God, his kingdom, and his dominion. The fact remains that the concept of Christianity was not destroyed but grew stronger and exits in various forms today - though many are the impure off-shoots of a pure concept. In like manner, the pure concept of gay relationships lives on, progresses, and grows within the church and society at large.
I no longer live strictly within the wall I once formed for myself. I move within and without, finding truth and beauty all around. I now have a wonderful, loving partner with whom I share life and happiness. And with no intention of trivializing His sacred purpose, like Him I am compelled to proclaim: “to this end was I born”.