The words “to young men only” probably mean any number of different things to different people. This assumes we are dealing with a diverse group of people from a variety of ages, backgrounds and faith traditions.
To Latter-day Saint men of a certain age, however – say anywhere from 30 to 60 – this phrase would probably immediately bring to mind the talk by Boyd K. Packer delivered in Priesthood Session of General Conference in the fall of 1976 (don’t bother looking in the church’s online database for the talk; it isn’t there) and was subsequently made into a pamphlet that every bishop in the Church for the next two decades and beyond no doubt had a supply of, tucked away in his office.
I have written about this talk a couple of times, most recently here. Yesterday, a man who self-identifies as a gay Latter-day Saint, wrote a lengthy comment to this post, and I wanted all who read my blog to benefit from his (very slightly edited) story, his testimony:
I grew up with the words "for young men only" echoing in my mind. These resonated through my youth, from the time I did my mission, and when I got back home as a Returned Missionary "to get married".
As many others before and after me, I have tried to be heterosexual. However, at the time I thought to myself "I'd rather be condemned to eternal damnation by my own doings than destroying the lives of a wife and children.” So I never got married to a woman.
I made my decision, and I prayed to God, and I felt that He loved me for who I AM and not for who I was pretending to be. I am a Latter-Day Saint, I am Gay, I am man who loves another man, I am happy in my relationships, I am a son of God, I am worthy of His Love and Eternal Salvation, I am definitely following the path for MY salvation, and I have my own family now with the man I love and we have been together for 14 years since I returned from my mission.
However, the only regret I have is not having the right advice back then to give me some psychological stability. All I had were the myths and assumptions of some church leaders, who know nothing about homosexuality, yet they proclaimed to know that being gay is an abomination. No it isn't!!!
Sexuality is a continuum, and we all find ourselves shifting within this continuum. For, any man who comes to me and says that he has never (at least once) felt attracted to another man, even in a platonic way, I will call him a liar. This includes the President of the LDS Church, too.
To all Young Men out there struggling with their sexuality, I say “Struggle no more.” You can be who you are and you can get married now with another man, if that's what you want, and build your own family.
A New Age Mormon
Thank you, Miguel, for your testimony. Voices such as yours truly help show the younger generation the possibilities that lie before them and – I am convinced – give at least some of them the hope and perspective that they need to embrace who they are, believing that in doing so they enjoy God’s full blessing.