Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Moho's and "ites" in the Church

I think we show our level of devotion to the gospel by how we take the council of our leaders. For some time now I've really had an issue with the self proclaimed title of "moho" and the way its used by some people to describe themselves and others who struggle with same gender attraction.

I also bristle when I hear people within the Church talk about "coming out."

And it really bothers me after the Brethren have warned over and over in interviews, pamphlets and articles about using the term gay to describe ourselves as people.

I think that the more we accept the worlds way of handling and describing our struggles the more we open ourselves up to Satan to attack us.

Elder Oaks taught: "I think it's important for you to understand that homosexuality, which you've spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It's an adjective that describes feelings or behavior. I encourage you, as you struggle with these

In short the world would have it become the God we worship and base all our decisions on.

While I think many of us are trying to be faithful, I think that we also fall into this trap from time-to-time.

The Book of Mormon warns of "ites" but it seems like there has been a development, a subculture so to speak within the Church of LDS men who struggle who like to define themselves into this community.

Do we refer to other members of the Church who struggle with other problems with other names?

Part of it may be that we don't feel like we fit in and so we are trying to create a community for oursleves where we belong. I think this is very dangerous because with community's come cultures of their own. In the Kingdom of God there are no "ites."

Don't get me wrong. There I think the most important part of trying to be faithful is accepting a challenge as real. I do think that we do need to be honest with those people who do care about us if we feel its something that they can understand and help provide support to us as we strive to stay the course. But I don't see it as a "rite of passage" or a "declaration of independence and of who I really am." When you come
out of something it means to leave something. So if someone is choosing to be faithful, what are they really coming out of?

I also think sometimes, at least I know this is the case in my life that I may pray for something that I want to know or understand that is already pretty clearly explained but that I just don't like the answer so I keep praying hoping to get another answer that I can agree with. I'm not praying in faith. Its more like I have a deck of cards and I'm going to keep drawing a new card until I get the card I want.

If we allow Satan to win us, in a war that we already know he will lose in the end, and if we allow him to use our struggles to help us choose our path and what we are going to do, how we are going to refer to ourselves and what our relationship with the Lord will be, then we have already failed.

I don't want to sound preachy, but we know what is wrong and we know what is right. The Bretheran have been pretty clear about this. Its up to us to choose. No amount of debate or discussion will change basic gospel principles. Yes we need to love and accept and be tolerant. But we also need to have faith and realize that we may never know all the answers in this life. But if we are faithful and follow the
commandments we will one day be blessed with more happiness then we can ever imagine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Rock

The past couple days there has been a lot of discussion on "coming out" or as I think it can be more appropriately put "being honest" or telling others for those of us who struggle but desire to be faithful.

A friend of mine posted something that I think is often overlooked.

.....One close friend cautioned me from telling others because she feels that every time I tell someone I reinforce the label, realigning myself with it as part of my identity......

Elder Oaks gave awesome council to us about not using an adjective that defines our struggle to describe ourselves. I recently told a friend who was debating "telling" to remember that the only real label we should assume is His name. Everything else that we define ourselves by should glorify that.

Sometimes we struggle with things that if we don't succeed we feel we have failed. There is a story about a man that the Lord gave a commandment to try to move this rock.

He spent years and years trying but even with his best efforts never moved the rock even an inch. Satan got wind of this and went to the man and said, "why don't you give up. You haven't moved the rock." Still the man didn't give up.

The man died having failed in his mind. He went to the Lord and asked "Why did you ask me to do something you knew couldn't be done?"

The Lord responded that He never ask him "to move" the rock just to "try."

"Look at yourself, look how your efforts have made you strong, my son you have been faithful and obedient in your efforts and that's what I asked you to do. Now I will move the rock."

I also know that God loves us and wants us to be happy, but I also know that love comes from bending our will to his. This may be our greatest challenge in life. Whatever our struggles are. God greatest blessings come in His time and we have to sometimes endure pain. We can't be guilty of asking God to bless us right now and not be willing to wait on His time. He will answer our prayers but in his own time. And that time is the time that is right for us. I have come to realize that. I learned that after I came to understand what "not my will but his will."

Pres Kimball said that if we look at life on Earth as the whole of existence then it is easy to lose hope. But when viewed in an eternal perspective, we see that these trials teach us. If God took all our trials from us we wouldn't have to live by faith and at the same time agency wouldn't be needed. Its only through our trials that we are able to use our agency to show God we love him enough to choose his will over our own.

Alma wished he could speak with the tongue of an angel but he realized he was just a man. So are we. We are blessed by our obedience and faithfulness and like in the story as long as we are willing to put the effort into moving the rock God promises to do the rest.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I shared this with a friend in his blog, but I wanted to share it here because I know it fits.

I don't know why we are attracted to some people and not others. I found when I was on my mission that I was prompted to talk to some people more then others. I also know there have been times when I feel the Lord knows I'm stuburn and uses my struggle as a means to direct me to people who I need to know. I don't know. I guess if I keep close to the Spirit and pray for guidance that I can't really go wrong if I'm suddenly "attracted to someone." If my intentions are pure and I am trying to do whats right I can't go wrong.

However I do know that God won't use bad things to inspire us or put us into situations where we could fall in order to save another person. He loves us all equally. We know our own strengths and weaknesses and should challenge them. But I also know he does sometimes send angels in the form of regular everyday heroes.

I went to a party once with a friend. while I was there a lot of stuff started to happen that was really wrong. First someone put on a movie that was bad and then some of the people begin to pair off and make out yes there were a lot of gay people there and whatnot. I felt uncomfortable. I didn't want to leave because I didn't want to offend my friend, but at the same time I really didn't want to be there.

There was this one guy who I had been watching all night who didn't look like he fit in. He had come with a group of girls and was sitting in the corner of the room. I kept looking at him and noticed that he was at times looking at me. And yes he was attractive. And yes I was drawn to him. But I resisted that urge.

So I went out on the balcony. While I was there the guy followed me out.

He said "hey I noticed you seemed uncomfortable in there," I nodded, it was cold. We were both shivering and you could see our breath.

He said "so did I, I don't know any of those people and thats not really what I believe." He then said "I've been watching you all night and I was wondering why someone like you were here." I told him it was funny because I thought the same thing.

I said I was there because my friend had been in the cast of the play and I was his ride and I was supporting him.

We talked some more and he asked me outright "Are you gay?" I didn't think about it and said, "No I'm Mormon."

He looked stunned and said, "OMG so am I."

I think we both thought the same thing right then because while we both smiled at each other we stood out there in the cold for a few minutes not saying anything.

We both realized that it wasn't so much attraction that made us single each other out. It was that we both had "Modar" that "Mormon Glow" so-to-speak. He said he hadn't been to church since he moved out here but that he missed it. He said he still read the scriptures his mom gave him. He said he had done stuff and felt that he wouldn't be accepted, but that he had prayed every night and hoped to find a friend who would understand.

Yes we do stand out even when we may want to blend in. When we start not to thats when we need to really think about if we are on the right path.

We stayed friends, he moved back to where he was from a few months later. But that night we both probably saved each other from making some stupid mistakes.

I've had this expirence a number of times since than and I think it's proof that the Lord does watch out for us when we let him and sometimes when we don't think he's watching.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Perceptions - Respect vs. Acceptance

It's good to be tolerant of other people and their different opinions and beliefs.

In certain cases we know what is clearly the gospel outlook on an issue and what isn't. Either we know from what we have been taught or the spirit prompts us.

When we have a friend who uses their agency to follow a path that is clearly the wrong way, we can love them and even support them in a way that isn't condemning them.

But respecting other opinions isn't the same as accepting them.

Pres Monson addressed this on Monday when Peggy Strack asked if a member of the church can disagree with a church position (same gender marriage in this case) and stay in good standing. He said that it depends on what the position is and if it is apostacy.

Sadly there are times that no matter how hard we try to be accepting, the perception our friends have of us may be a reflection of our true beliefs. Some people will only accept us if we agree with them. We may try to reach out but sometimes for instance if we say "we love you," then vote for things like the marriage amendment, our efforts may be viewed as hypocrisy. Their view of us is based more on how the person feels about what we think and less on what we believe even if we haven't expressed it. In the end we do have to stand for what we believe.

There have been a lot of times when I've honesty tried, but have been told point blank "you say you accept me but there is no way you can be Mormon and believe that way and still accept me as a friend."

Ironically it is normally only Latter-day Saints who are struggling who say that. I think its because they know in their hearts what is true.

On the other hand I think its also possible in our attempts to be tolerant to go too far in the other direction and be confused with acceptance. True we need to accept our brothers and sisters, but if they are doing things we know are wrong then we need to be honest with them - if we are asked.

If we know we are weak ourselves we need to be careful of the influences we allow in our lives. Further if their actions encourage or normalize what would lead us to make a bad choice in our own lives we may need to step back.

I'm reminded of my friends mother's advice when she found out we were hanging out with some people who weren't making the best choices.

"You can be good friends, you may be the only example of a good choice they have. Just be careful it is you who is setting the example and not the other way around. Don't be led to places where you know that the Spirit isn't in your attempts to help them."

Yes there are different opinions and yes there is truth. There is also falsehoods that can comfort us into apostacy. And yes Satan is good at blurring "feeling" good with a spiritual confirmation if in our hearts we desire what is wrong.

It is sometimes easy to accept this as personal revelation and then accept it as truth. Worse if the person shares this with others who are struggling and they follow them than their is a real danger of becoming a false prophet even if our intentions are good.

They key here is that God will never guide us counter to His revealed truths. Personal revelation will only provide us with personal ways to follow the right path, not pave another.

There are also many different ways to follow the correct path and we need to be open to it and not stand as a roadblock to others who are on the right path. We also need to be careful that we don't confuse the ideas of man to be these routes and again the Spirit will serve as a guide to us if we are open to it.