Monday, August 20, 2007
A few weeks ago Evergeen sent out this notice about a new CD that they had put out and wanted to get all over the place. I thought about this and ordered four. One for myself and two for two friends and my bishop.
The thing was I wasn't really sure how to get it to my bishop or what kind of conversation I could come up with to broach the topic. He already know about me struggles. I was "outed" a two years ago when I had discovered a young man who was struggling and needed support. He was about to fall when I found him, he had got involved with the wrong yahoo group and had met some "affirming" friends.
Anyways in convincing him that he wasn't a sinner and it was the act and not the action, I also told him that if he had anything he needed to fix he should talk to his parents and bishop. He took my advice but at the same time he also told them about me. They panicked called the stake president about the "old internet stalker" and I got called into my bishops office. My bishop was loving and compassionate and soon found out that my intentions were pure and called the kids bishop and said that he was really upset with the things that the stake president had said they had said and that I was someone that could be trusted and that he trusted me and had already asked me to befriend several guys in the ward who were also having issues. He then told me to be careful, that he would defend me against any attacks and that he knew I was doing my best.
That was the last he said of it. That was two years ago. Anyways back to this Sunday. I was walking out of the chapel. The disks in my pocket when the executive secretary came over and said, "the bishop wants to talk to you."
I go in his office and he asks me to sit down and offer a prayer. I'm sorta scared at this point, it had taken me a very long year to convince him that I wasn't a good activities coordinator and I didn't want another go at it. I finish and he looks down on his papers and hand me this little blue booklet.
Yep, the new pamphlet. He then tells me that he thinks I may be the only one in the ward who really understands what these brothers and sisters are going through. Would I read it and meet with him and explain it to him. He thinks there are some needs in the ward and he wants to be able to understand. He said he prayed about this and felt like he should ask me to read it. I smiled at him and told him that I already had read it and had shared it with some friends and if he wanted an electronic version of it and the interview I could forward it to him. He said, "I thought you might already be up on this." Then he asked me if I knew of any other resources he could use.
WOW!!!! This was one of those air leaves the room moments. I must have given him the oddest look because he jumped back and then ask what was wrong. I smiled.
Okay, I've heard of God finding ways to bless you with what you want. But I've never had it happen this way before.
I said, "Yeah, actually I have a disk and a brochure I want to give you."
He thanked me and said he was going to read it. He said "you know I felt like you would have something for me." I was still almost at loss for words.
Oh yeah, the rest of the interview, I didn't get away without a new calling. He also asked me how the job search was going and if I needed some money. I told him well and no not yet. I left feeling really loved.
You know its great to know that the Lord really is in charge of His stuff. We may try to make it hard for ourselves, but it's times like this that I know he is really in charge and that I just have to have faith because as long as it's His will that is done all is well.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
"Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:5-6
Also, a quote from Paul Washer, "Your best friends are the ones that tell you the most truths." If your friend was heading off a cliff, would you tell them or would you simply just let them walk off...as long as it make them feel better. (THINK HOW WE DEFINE SUPPORT HERE)
How does your life compare to the Word of God? Your true friend don't let you keep sinning, (DO WE REJECT THEM BECAUSE WE FEEL THEY ARE JUDGING US) they tell you that you are doing wrong in the eyes of God, even though it might convict you and might make you feel bad about your life, (ISN'T THAT TRUE CHRISTLIKE LOVE TO LOVE SOMEONE MORE THEN TO CARE IF THEY "LIKE YOU") but it is better than just letting you live our life headed for eternal damnation.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I was talking to a friend who has left the church about this and he said he thinks this is just a case of cognitive dissonance to the max. I'm thinking of changing my blog title to that. Thank you Josh.
In all these cases I felt the pain and frustration that was leading to these statement. But after wiping my tears and thinking about how many times I wanted to believe everything they said the Spirit told me it simply wasn't true. I can't look or listen to the Prophet and not know with absolute assurance that he is THE Prophet. I can't hear him talk and not feel that in my heart.
It boil down to one very important concept. I think it is very important to distinguish the difference between feelings that make you feel good and relieve conflict and personal revelation from God.
I think that those of us who struggle with this often and sometimes give up hope. We feel that it is a losing battle. But we also know we are good and that God loves us. I think sometimes in desperation we choose a path that while it goes against what we may have been taught to believe, gives us some peace because it removes the inner conflict of having to repress what we want. To some degree this frees us from having to lie about what we want to others and ourselves and so we feel happy. At peace.
First off I'm not saying that I don't believe that a person can't receive Personal Revelations from God about how to deal with an issue. But I also think that these insights will help guide them to follow the established gospel plan not go off on their own. I think we need to be wary of those who begin to separate the church from God and the gospel from the plan of salvation. I think wanting to make some sense out of this struggle can often lead to some false notions that can than lead to some bad mistakes.
Some of us fall away other try to rewrite the gospel. But what it comes down to is faith. And the faith to act. It's pretty simple. We are literal offspring of God, heir to a kingdom. We are a princes, our father is a king and we are brothers. We do have everything we need to become like Him if we humble ourselves and put His desires first and follow His path. It is not up to us to choose another path, that is His job. He is God. He decides after we choose a path how we will spend eternity. Those of us who have been to the temple have been endowed with a power that through our faith will make us worthy to inherit these things. That's what the atonement is for. That is what we have been promised.
It comes down to what we know our purpose on earth is. Is it to live a life free of conflict? Pres Kimbell once said that if the Lord answered every prayer and took away every conflict it would shatter the whole purpose of our being sent here to learn and gain expirence. That would be Satan's plan, to give us the truth and force us to live it. God offers it to us and gives us agency to choose it or another path. He didn't give us the option to repave it for ourselves. Either its the truth or its not.
Yes we choose to act on our feeling. Our even not to act on them but to give up trying. Accept that we are gay. Decide it isn't a trial, its who we are. We can choose to live however makes us feel we are being true to ourself and think that if it makes us happy then it must be what God wants for us. I don't really see he wisdom of using "If it makes me happy" as a measurement of if it pleases God. I can see this becoming selfishness and used to justify anything.
This isn't just a little issue though. If we believe this then it does put our whole testimony at stake. If our bishop is wrong, if our stake president is wrong and if the GA and the Prophet is wrong then they have fallen into apostasy and are misleading the church on this issue. If this is true then the church isn't true and while it does teach us how to be good people, we could get that from any other church or even from just being a member of a service club. If this is true then gender isn't eternal, family's aren't essential to the plan of God, the temple is just a pointless and rituralistc exercise meant to indoctrinate the importance of strict obideance to a church and plan made by man. If this is the case then there has to be some eternal purpose for homosexuality, you had to have been gay in the preexistences and will be in the next. This cuts at the basic purpose of the church and as we believe the plan of salvation and if it is true what we have been taught is wrong for everyone because God is no respecter of persons either that or what is right for one person is wrong for another and we should all step away from the church to find God and to follow him in our own path and leave behind the church and its uniform plan.
I do think we need to be honest with ourselves.
The other thing that is beginning to bother me is blogging in general.
The problem I have with people who claim and hold to personal revelations that do fly in the face of those that are given by the Prophet is that I really do think that if the Prophet is the Prophet, than the Lord would reveal those things said to another individual to the Prophet because of his special calling. I don't think he would tell the Prophet one thing and that person something else and then let the two of them be in disharmony. I do think the Prophet would tell the stake presidents and bishops that the Lord has revealed to him that there are some exceptions and to tread lightly.
I also have issues with people who blog this stuff. If it is personal revelation and you are indeed an exception, then you need to keep it sacred to yourself so as not to "give false hope" to others who too also want to be an exception to the rule and stumble across your blog and find justification in their actions if the Lord has no intentions excluding them from the commandments he gives the rest of the church. I personally am beginning to think these blogs are a dangerous thing because I think a lot of false doctrine is being mingled with scripture and being passed off as the gospel. It's like my patriarchal blessing, its meant just for me. It wasn't meant to be given as revelation to anyone else or shared.
I wrote before about wolves in sheep's clothing but I also think we need to also be careful of those who have struggled and who out of desperation may have accepted things that aren't on course but who may be trying their best to make the best of a situation. We need to love them and stand by them but if we honestly feel they are wrong we need to be careful not to judge them but also not to say anything that may advocate we agree with them. We need to love and understand them and do our best to help them stay as close to the path as possible. We can do that without straying off of it ourselves.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Much like Elder Oaks counseled us not to use the term gay to define ourselves. I sometimes bristle with the term "coming out." In the gay culture it normally means embracing your sexuality and leaving behind any attempts to avoid it. To celebrate it. It means "being true to yourself" and your urges. For some it becomes what defines them, how they look at the world, what they belive and it shades their realtionships with family, friends and God.
For those of us who are striving to be faithful, I don't think much of that applies. Yes I do think I need to be honest with myself. Repressing my feelings doesn't make them go away. Denying them to myself isn't healthy. And hating myself for them isn't very emotinaly healthy. I do think if it is needed that I should be honest to those around me whom I think need to know. But I don't think its really imperative unless we feel an urge prompted by the spirit to share it with anyone. In some cases it may be better to keep it to yourself. In other cases you should share it with your parents and close friends. Of course if you have to make things right with the Lord you should tell your bishop as part of the repentance process. But if you haven't acted on it and feel that keeping it to yourself is best, then you should do that. Whatever the case this choice to be honest about your feelings is something very personal and should be done only after a lot of prayer and contemplation. I also think we need to be willing to accept that some people may not be able to accept or handle it and be just as compasionate and loving to them as we except. If our goal is to be faithful to the gospel, we may be the only good example they have ever seen in a world full of sterotypes.
Parents, friends and priesthood leaders need to realize that it is the act not the feeling that is sinful. That just feeling this way doesn't make you this way. Acting on it is what does that. I know growing up that wasn't clearly taught to me and I thought as early on as when I was a deacon who had crushes on the priests that I was going to hell and that I was a mistake. There is a lot of room for improvement in the church in this area. I see signs of positive changes, but a lot more does need to be done.
We also need to learn to accept that we aren't perfect. That we will be constantly tempted. Just choosing to not give in isn't going to stop the urges or the feelings. We need to also make good friends who values are the same who will encourage us and not enable us. And yes there are times when we may fall. It is possible for us to belive something with all our hearts and still be tempted and in the heat of the moment make a bad chioce. I don't think this is an indication of our lack of faith, just that we are human and make mistakes and so we need to repent and seek the Lord's forgivness. It dosen't make you a bad person.
I am grateful for my testimony. I know the church is true. I don't know all the whys or reason, but I do know the hows. I do know that the person who created me knows all the answers and He's the one I want to follow. Knowing this makes it easier. I think the only thing that we do need to is to "come out" of is the world and it's concepts. We are first and foremost children of a loving Heavenly Father and that's the only identity that really counts. On Sunday when we take the Sacrament and take His name, that is all that needs to define us.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I think at least with the first that while yes, you are sinning at least you are not lying about it. If you honestly no longer believe in or can't act what the Church says about it, you are acting with some integrity and not trying to cover it up. The latter I think operates more under the guise of "Wolves in sheep's clothing" promising the option of "being Mormon" and "being true to yourself" at the same time.
First I do want to say that some of why these groups exist can be blamed on us. If we continue in the church to treat those who struggle as less then saints. If we continue to raise children who think that they are flawed for even having same gender attraction feeling so much so that they are afraid to ask for help, these groups will have a constant supply of some of Heavenly Fathers most beloved sprints.
I won't mention them by name but there are social groups established at places like BYU that offer an escape for those who join them. The question is, what are BYU students who are supposed to be living the Honor Code of which they signed needing to escape from? The organizers would say: This provides a positive social setting for those who are dealing with the issue of being gay and Mormon, a place to meet others like themselves and make friends and find support.
Ok,so on the surface this sounds like a grand idea. BUT, the whole concept of having "to escape" from something should clue you in on the real motives here. Escape from what? The gospel? The Honor Code? The morals of the LDS Church? I received an invite to one of their recent camping trips a few weeks ago. It sounded like your typical YSA activity until you get to the part were it warns that "if you plan on having sex with your partner or anyone you may meet here we ask that you do so in your own tent away from the other campers so as not to disturb those who are camping."
Not really advice that I've read on previous LDS or even quasi LDS organized events. Not warning that I would expect to find on an flier advertsing something for guys attending BYU or who have an LDS background.
Basically what this and other groups provide is a way to safely break the Honor Code in a group that will turn a blind eye also and very likely encourage you and affirm you while you do it to "be true to yourself."
There are other groups that have have been established nationally that promise to Affirm your orientation and celebrate your LDS background. One particular groups website is very positive looking. There are no shirtless guys, no overtly sexual content. In fact I have heard of some parents seeking to understand their child's plight who stumble upon it by accident and think that by its appearance its LDS friendly.
This same group offers a publication called "For the Strength of Gay Youth" which goes so far as to openly say that the prophet and apostles are behind on the issue, tells struggles that using agency is more important then obedience and any one who would tell you to be obedient is restricting your freedom to "be yourself." It provided safe sex tips "should your decide to explore physically," and it says that you may have to lie if you want to attend BYU or serve a mission and says its okay because such things are between you and the Lord and only he knows your heart.
Not exactly the guidance you would expect from an LDS friendly site but it really isn't. This group hosts mission reunions during conference that are merely parodies and venues for those who are disenfranchised and bitter against the church and they fight for causes that faithful latter-day saints have been urged to stand against.
Some groups are formed using names that sound like church sponsored study groups like FHE and other LDS cultural specific things. These groups encourage those attending to search out the intellectuals reasons for "being true to themselves" often mocking church leaders and the inspiration they receive and replacing it with the teachings of man in regards to why people struggle. They study orientation and gender and have guest speakers who have been excommunicated or who have openly and publicly spoke against the church. I have had several friends fall victim of these groups, all but one of them is now inactive. They in short help you justify and intellectualize yourself out of a testimony.
The last two groups are the most dangerous as they mimic and appear like church sponsored groups. When someone is struggling and desperately seeking love and support, they offer comfort and acceptance and after that they are eager victims.
And yes there are groups who think that the church is some kind of government that you can lobby or affect change through majority rule. That if you picket enough, use words like dialog which translates into "listen and see it our way," threaten to sure or take other actions against to punish if the church or church institution refuses to "see it our way." They claim to be fighting this cause for me. I don't remember asking them to. The participants say they are LDS, and yes they may all be endowed and RM's. But are they now living up to what they convented to or taught in working to bring the world into the church. The church is supposed to take the world out of the people, not the other way around. They march, give speeches and work on our emotions and play the sympathy and martyr card. They employ the names of LDS men and women who committed suicide over this. Many of which they do without first seeking the families permission. They make those who are faithful sound like bigots if they oppose them.
I think one clue here is that any group that would encourage you to have "pride" in something that if acted on would separate you from God should be avoided.
In the recent interview on the topic of same gender attraction Elder Oaks said its best: "Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic.” In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach."
Monday, August 13, 2007
Its been my expirence from dealing with a lot of guys who struggle is that when we are being faithful and hear advice, council and support and we are humble and open to the spirit, it confirms to us what is true and we take it as uplifting and comforting. If we are right with the Lord council from the prophet and apostles is uplifting and beautiful. We simply can't get enough.
But when we drift to the other side what used to comfort us troubles us and we resent it. The spirit has left us, replaced with pride and we see it as an attack on our self and "who we are." We reject those who do speak truth and search after those who affirm us and our choices. We don't think what the church says "fits us." I think thats why so many people have reacted negatively to the new pamphlet, its not what they want to hear. They are spiritually malnourished and seek to fill their hunger pains with food from another kitchen.
There are a few who are striving to be faithful but who feel the council isn't for them. They are exceptions so they put themselves on diets and only consume the bits and pieces they want not ever really enjoying the full feast and not getting the full nourishment that the gospel promises them.
I'm torn between wanting to help honestly and just wanting to comfort at times. I want people to like me. So I'm torn. Do I keep my mouth shut and not say anything knowing that I'm repressing what I'm feeling prompted by the spirit to say. Or do I say what I know is right and risk losing their friendship as they think I no longer support them. I wonder when comfort turns to coddling and becomes detrimental. And yes a part of it is also that I don't know all the answers and I do need to be more loving and understanding.
I know we have to be patient and loving and realize that each of us are following our own path. Sometime we need to soften the message without watering down the doctrine because it would offend the over sensitive people. Sometimes I worry about being too honest. But sometimes I worry if we aren't being honest enough.
". . . God's every command is righteous, every directive purposeful, and all for the good of the governed."
A lot of us who have struggled with this all our lives sometimes surrender a little bit as an end result of imploding in trying to be faithful. To be faithful we sometime justify having certain elements of the homosexual culture in our lives. We call it "finding a balance." We may even feel "at peace" in attending doing things like going to clubs and other places that promote acting on homosexual urges as "being true to ourselves." I think there is some danger in trying to find acceptance in these places as we often confuse feeling of being "at peace with ourselves" when we do go to places like these when what we are really feeling is the effects of becoming spiritually numb to the wickedness being promoted around us. "Wickedness was never happiness." This often causes conflict when we try to justify it to others who realize what we are doing.
Pres Kimball's quote was meaningful to me because I've often feel better about doing these things because I tell myself I'm an exception to some commandments. That because I am what I am, I'm different and the Lords plan has been altered for me. God needs to take my trails into account when he judges me and not all the commandments are for everyone. I've come to realize that this is justification and we have to choose.
I may even go so far as to say that the apostles are wrong or have been wrong and that they don't know enough about this to properly council us.
Elder Holland said recently at a conference at BYU called "For Such as Time as This" in a talk called "What Time is It," that we are the generation that is charged with preparing for the Savior's second coming and that it is time for us to live lives that reflect the things we say we believe in at testimony meeting. The Savior will come when we start acting like saints. On the way home I thought about these two quotes. Sometimes we think the things that the prophets say to us, the guidance they give to the church will only apply to us if we accept it. As if we are accepting the terms of a credit card. That we can throw the card away if we don't want to use it. For instance when we say, "well I agree with 70 percent of that new pamphlet" what we are saying is that we don't agree with everything the brethren says so we'll just follow the guidance we do agree with. But if we are to uphold our covenants its not a matter of agreeing with it, it's a matter of sustaining them and following in faith and obedience.
"...God's every command is righteous, every directive purposeful, and all for the good of the governed."
It's a matter of faith and putting faith into action. I sometimes think we get lured into thinking a commandment is to restrict us from "being true" to ourselves if we want something that goes against what we are commanded to do. But I think we need to realize that God has given us commandments out of love. He knows us better then we know ourselves, he is the one who made us. He is the only one who knows the truth about us. We have to believe this if we are to have faith. He is much like a father who tells a small child not to touch a hot stove.
Dad knows it will hurt us. We often have to touch it to expirence the heat and know that it will hurt it. But it is better for us and a lot less painful to accept his warning to not touch and not expirence it. Yes after we touch it and expirence the burn our dad may scold us after he applies some ice and kisses it to make it better and he does this cause he loves us. But wouldn't it be better if we just trusted him and didn't play anywhere near the stove. Do we not believe him before when he says its hot? Do we think he is just trying to keep us from having fun by touching the stove? Or does he know the end result will hurt us?
Trying to find "the balance" between living the gospel and living in the gay world is problematic. I mean fundamentally I understand the dilemma here. And there are times, well lots of times I don't feel the love I feel I should at church. But I worry about what we may be trying to balance with the gospel. what we are giving equal time to. Is this like having a home in heaven and a vacation home in hell? I mean at some point we do need to take a stand about what is right and wrong. For me the balance is allowing myself to interact with other members of the church who are struggling also. Its not found in parades and clubs. I find the balance in sharing struggles and trying to be a support. Although I do fail sometimes miserably.
King Benjamen said that when we are in the service of our fellow men we are in the service of God. Pres Kimball added "God will hear and answer our prayers but he often send other to do it." I think this means happiness is found in making sure others are happy.
I've thought back in my life and the times I've been the most not depressed was when I did lose myself in trying to be friends and helping others. The times I've been the most depressed was when I was dwelling on myself and my issues.
The world says that finding happiness this way is bad, its codependent and unhealthy. The best way to be happy is to "be true to ourselves." Yes we need to think of ourselves, but I think that the best way to be happy is to forget ourselves and help and love others.
I was trying to think about people who do this who aren't happy. Yes, there are some who are clinically depressed. But if we look at what we can't have as punishments for wanting those things we do resent God and we get upset. This resentment makes us feel unhappy and deprived.
I do think we need to accept ourself. When we do "find that balance" what makes us happy is the ability to be honest around people. But I wonder if these are really people we do need to be honest with and if the spiritually deadening effects of such environments are worth it. Honesty is part of the gospel. Repressing the truth creates a vacuum and its unfortunate that we have to lie about our issues to try to fit in. It shouldn't be and hopefully one day we won't have to. If we loved the way we should, we wouldn't have this fear but unfortunately there is a certain amount of fear that leads to homophobia in the church.
I don't mean the type of homophobia that Elder Oaks talks about, I mean hatred that is influenced by ignorance in the name of being faithful. There is as Pres Hinckley said, no place for it in the church. But at the same time we need to live in the world but not be of the world and most of the gay world is fueled with encouragements to be "true to yourself" and not God. Or worse this is how God made you so be happy.
I think that we need to have faith that he made us, he knows us, he's done what he has to in order to save us. So now we need to believe him and take him for his word.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Let me introduce myself, I'm 34. I was raised in a very small town and was the only member of the church at my school. From as long as I can remember I have always been "the only" in every group. At school I was the only Mormon, at church I felt I was the only guy who was gay. I've spent my whole life feeling isolated and alone in almost every situation I've been in. So I've grown really strong in a lot of ways as a result.
My first real spiritual experience came when I went to EFY when I was beginning my senior year in high school.
I went to college and got involved in things like student government and the newspaper, was even homecoming king and did lots of YSA stuff. I also begin to explore a little about my feelings for guys and stuff. I waited until I was 20 to go on my mission. I did the whole “if I serve you will you take this from me,” thing.
I had an awesome mission.
Anyways I came home after two years and yes, I still liked guys but I now know that the church is true. The gospel is true.
Now the people and some of the social aspects I think sometimes get in the way. Us Mormons are good at "When" and "Why" questions. I think it's because we are raised to think that happiness comes as a result of following a plan.
I know how hard it is to love something so much and feel that it doesn't love you back. Like in the church. I've tried to go outside of it and "experience the gay community," what I have found in almost every situation is that I feel like I am visiting a foreign land and I don't belong there. For the most part everything that I've found is exactly the opposite of what I feel is right. I've also found that in a world where people are looking for "self" there isn't any room for anyone else unless you can do something for them.
The biggest tragedy is when one of us gives up and out of desperation, ventures out to the world to find happiness that Satan tells us we will find by just trying it, we try it and then he then turns around and says okay you tried it and now you can't go back your not worthy and so you might as well just keep doing it and also try other things and within a short time we are doing drugs, smoking and drinking and having
casual meaningless sex.
I think a lot of us think that we can mix our Mormon values with parts of the world. They can’t mix. And then somewhere along the line we realize just how lonely we are because we have lost the only real way to be happy and Satan has convinced us that there's no going back.
This is the biggest lie out there, there is always a way back. That's what the atonement is and why we have the gospel.
We just need to do our best and let God do the rest and realize that mistakes don't make things forever wrecked unless we let them. That’s the lesson I learned on my mission.
I know that a lot of what I think about the subject doesn't bode well with what has become the
popular, accepted or comfortable beliefs among the faithful SGA or the Moho community. No one likes to be broken or and everyone wants to feel like nothing is wrong with them. But lets face it. We are ALL broken. Everyone is broken, that’s the reason we are here.
I think to identify ourselves as gay is wrong. Elder Oaks made this clear in his statement that we aren’t to use adjectives that describe a feeling or urges as nouns. We are first and foremost the offspring of God. He created us and he knows what’s best for us. We don’t need the world to tell us who we are.
We are imperfect. This urge if acted on will separate us from God as all sins will. And if not acted on or overcame will strengthen us and bring us closer to God. This is what the atonement is all about. We accept it when we humble ourselves and allow him to heal us instead of coming up with theories and ideas about the “why’s” and “how’s” to fix ourselves. Some urges won't go away, some will. I honestly believe that a lot of the guys who deal with this, and I mean the faithful ones sometimes lack a sense of the eternal and have been deceived by some philosophies of men that have crept there way into their reasoning and their desire to feel unbroken. They argue against change because they don't want to believe that they need to change.
We need to not confuse judgment with condemnation. But we reap what we sew, we are a product of our environment. We also need to love and understand.
I know that the first presidency doesn't recommend marriage as a cure to this. I was glad to see them say that. What I'm afraid of however is how that will be read or perhaps misread to mean. "See, I was right, marriage isn't for me." I choose celibacy, not pursuing women, not trying instead of pursuing "change" and generally resting content with "mortal mediocrity" as a friend of mine recently put it. I know that many bristled when President Packer said that one of the sins that results when homosexuality is fallen into is selfishness. I think this is what he means. He isn’t saying that the person is intrinsically evil or selfish. This is pride, self-deception, and apathy and honestly its not taking responsibility for the agency we've been given. These are all things the devil uses to persuade us from pursuing righteous ends.
Now let me say I'm not innocent. I have my addictions; I have my issues and things I've done that have made me unworthy at times. I don't justify it, or say "well it taught me this so I'm grateful for it," I am, but to be honest I wish I hadn't done some of those things. But admitting this I think allows me to say that I know from experience what I'm talking about.
I've seen what happens when we act certain ways and let certain elements into our lives. I know the end result. We can hide behind a mask of "not judging" but at the same time I think we need to be honest to ourselves about the consequence that follow such self imposed blindness.
This is life. This is our personal trail. For those who accept it as who they are and who are grateful for it and who don't want to change but who strive not to act on it because its a sin. That's like accepting that God has given you a gift that you are never going to be allowed to use, God is not that cruel. There isn't any other word but stupidity for that kind of thinking. We live in a world that for whatever reason God has decided that we need to be tested in this way. The church honestly doesn't need to know "why" we are this way or what causes it.
We know that we aren't bad people for having these feelings. We know that God loves us. Most of those who have given up didn't do so because they wanted to "spite God" they did so because they are disparate or tired of fighting. Those of us who are trying, desperately want to be loved and understood. That’s the one thing that both side have in common.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
How can you be friends with someone and after years of prayers, conversations and warm feelings, find out that the person doesn't really like you or feels that they really don't feel like they know you or want to know you? What do factors of location, common struggles and opinions have to play into this?
Why do people feel they have to hurt people to feel better about not feeling like they need to a friend? Why do they feel that they have to say things like "Do you know why NOBODY likes you?" or "Do you realize what EVERYONE really thinks about you?" Does this make them happy because they can remind the other person of their flaws that make them unworthy of their friendship? Does it bring them joy to let the person in on what EVERYONE thinks about them behind their back? Does it make them feel good to remind someone of things that the know but are trying hard to bottle up and forget? Does knowing that EVERYONE feels the same about someone make treating that someone like less than a person ok?
Are friends merely allies in a battle? Is is possible to be friends with someone that you don't agree with?
Why is it so hard to find someone who can look past flaws and inperfections? Why is it that when you think you have and you have been there for someone unconditionally over and over that if they get mad at you they can't do the same. How can we ever expect the Savior to forgive us if we can't forgive others likewise.
Are there some people who don't deserve friendships? Who are so flawed that it would be better if they just didn't voice their opinion, or put themselves out there? Are there things that make us better than these people? Should these people just accept that they are unlovable and seek happiness on their own?
Is it that what we think as support is really seen as judgment or conditional love? Why can't people accept that some of the things that a person does are imperfect, but real attempt to be faithful and be strong? That they may actually be worried about something they feel may be harmful to them. And love that person anyways. Why do we get so wrapped up in our own problems that others who struggle with things become burdens to us.
Is it because we are all so emotinaly flawed or afried of being hurt that we don't want to reach out to others? Are we so drawn to perfection that we are unable to accept it in others in order not to be reminded constantly that we too are imperfect? Does it make us clingy and needy when we feel alone and try to reach out to someone that has inspired us? Why do we put boundaries up to some and build bridges to others.
Why is it easier to say that a person has boundary issues then to really try to understand them and why they act the way they do? Is it that we are afraid to see things in them that we don't want to see in ourselves?
How can we say we are Chirstlike and live on the hope that his mercy will be enough to forgive us and save us, if we won't do that for someone else? What would happen if this was how Christ loved us?
When we apologize to a person is it more to make us feel better about who we are or is it to truly heal the other person. When we say we love someone is it because we do really care about someone or is it because we believe that because the Savior tells us we have to? Afterwards do we truly seek to get to know the the other person looking past the forgiven offense.
I guess maybe somewhere along the way I've missed out on this lesson. I guess I'm flawed cause I'm asking myself these questions or maybe I'm one of these people. I think we are feel like we are at some point.
I have a couple theories about this. I think that online based friendships based on common struggles foster these situations. People tend to open up and share deeply personal things with people they should only share with a loved one or a priesthood leader, but because of the nature of their struggle feel they can't. At first because of the perceived long-distance they feel safe. They feel a common bond with these guys and they form attachments. Some are starved for affection and crave approval. For a lot this is their only interaction with people like themselves. If they live in remote or isolated places or because of their religion or beliefs they are the minority these friendships become substations for the real thing. Or maybe they are just afraid of being honest about how they feel with people they really know. I think this is why do many people in the group move to Utah hoping to find the same kind of community.
You and I both know that a lot of guys who struggle also have emotional issues with attachment on both ends of the spectrum. Some guys are incredibly shallow when it comes to things like age, looks, and body size. They are good at finding justifications for this. They may tell you they love you like God tells them they have to love everyone, but again I think that is to make them feel Christlike and not mean. I've found that the key to being Christlike is how the other person feels and not how you feel when you strive to be that. A lot of these guys think that these measurements for perfection have something to do with the value of the person inside. Those who fit these standards of perfection often judge others who don't as less worthy and their attempts at friendship as desperateness and neediness. Those who don't fit it, also judge themselves harshly and often develop self esteem issues. They do come off as needy and lets face it, it probably is easier for young good looking guys to find supportive friends then those who don't fit that mold.
The problem comes when someone wants to move a friendship beyond the net. Personally I see the net as a tool. I don't really see it as a venue. If someone is worthy of friendship online then they are worthy of being friends offline. But thats just me. I've also heard of friends who needed to "step back" or take a break. I think that there is some danger in trying to seek advice about how to do something from people who haven't quite figured it out on their own. Strength in numbers isn't good when misery seeks company and unless everyone has the same goals some of this support can turn into enabling. I think others confuse support of affirmation. For whatever reasons I thnk at times we do more harm then good when we try to help. I really do think groups like Evergreen and FHE are a good thing, but they can become bad things to. I think they become what you put into them.
Because it is online, there is a certain amount of privacy and sometimes dishonesty. Again I think that we find ways to justify these little white lies about who we are and things like that. We are scared or need to protect something. For some people after forming what they think is a close friendship with someone online, then learning that someone isn't who they say they are, say their friend has lied about their name or age or other personal details really does put into question the truthfulness of other aspects of their friendship. Trust is an important element in a friendship. The person who is lying may feel they have good reasons.
Other people may not understand how someone can be so open to telling them things and than not want to hang out. Like I said there are all sorts of emotional and attachment issues here. All of these things are things that may be worth further study.
The other thing that bothers me about the subculture is our need to compartmentalize friendships. You know "these are my gay friends" these are my "straight friends" for me if we are LDS and trying I honestly strive not to make a separation.
I was reading the last few things that came from the church and was wondering if this is partily why Elder Oaks warns us about dwelling on the topic, getting too much involved in groups and making it the whole of our existences. I think that just as we aren't supposed to use the word gay as a noun to describe ourselves we shouldn't also use it as a means to pigeon hole our friends.
I know that a lot of what I think about the subject doesn't bode well with what has become the popular, accepted or comfortable beliefs among the faithful SGA or the Moho community. I think that a lot of what I believe falls in line with what has been taught, but I'm not afraid to be blunt about it or soften it so that people won't feel bad about themselves. I know no one likes to be broken or and everyone wants to feel like nothing is wrong with them. But lets face it. We are ALL broken. Everyone is broken, thats the reason we are here. That's why we needed an atonement. We are imperfect. This urge if acted on will separate us from God as all sins will. And if not acted on or overcame will strengthen us and bring us closer to God. Some urges won't go away, some will. I honestly believe that a lot of the guys who deal with this, and I mean the faithful ones generally lack a sense of the eternal and have been deceived by some philosophies of men that have crept there way into their reasoning and their desire to feel unbroken. The argue against change because they don't want to believe that they need to change.
I think too many in this group have accepted the fact that they are gay but that they won't act on it. They have accepted many elements of the gay culture into their lives. They are living in the world and trying to be as much a part of the world without being of the world. No before you get upset and tell me I have no right to judge. I think there is also another very important concept that we have all forgotten. We all judge. When we choose to enter into a friendship for whatever reason we have done so based on a judgment. We need to not confuse judgment with condemnation. We reap what we sew, we are a product of our environment. If we surround ourselves with reminders and with parts of a culture then we normalize these things in our lives and they become part of who we are. When we use standards of the culture to judge other people we are adopting those values.
I know that the first presidency doesn't recommends marriage as a cure to this. I was glad to see them say that. What I'm afraid of however is how that will be read or perhaps misread to mean. "See, I was right, marriage isn't for me." I choose celibacy, not pursuing women, not trying instead of pursuing "change" and generally resting content with "mortal mediocrity" as a friend of mine recently put it. I know that many bristled when President Packer said that one of the sins that results when homosexuality is fallen into is pride. I think this is what he means. This is pride, self deception, apathy and honestly its not taking responsibility for the agency we've been given. All things that the devil uses to persuade us from pursuing righteous ends.
Now let me say I'm not innocent. I have my additions, I have my issues and things I've done that have made me unworthy. I don't justify it, or say "well it taught me this so I'm greatful for it," I am, but to be honest I wish I hadn't done some of those things. But admitting this I think allows me to say that I know from expirence what I'm talking about. I've seen what happens when we act certain ways and let certain elements into our lives. I know the end result. We can hide behind a mask of "not judging" but at the same time I think we need to be honest to ourselves about the consequence that follow such self imposed blindness.
This is life. This is our personal trail. For those who accept it as who they are and who are grateful for it and who don't want to change but who strive not to act on it because its a sin. That's like accepting that God has given you a gift that you are never going to be allowed to use, God is not that cruel. There isn't any other word but stupidity for that kind of thinking. We live in a world that for whatever reason God has decided that we need to be tested in this way. The church honestly doesn't need to know "why" we are this way or what causes it. We know that we aren't bad people for having these feelings. We know that God loves us. Most of those who have given up didn't do so because they wanted to "spite God" they did so because they are disparate or tired of fighting. Those of us who are trying, desperately want to be loved and understood. But neither groups will ever be happy is they see the church as a prison that they live in that confines their desires.