Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reflections on The Prodigal Son

I think that the wonderful thing about parables and why they are such great teaching tools are that they can apply at several different levels. "The Prodigal Son" is one of those examples.

In talking about this I'm referring to the scripture (Luke 11-32) and not the movie, which is a good variation, even if I still get irritated with the wife every time I watch it. I know she is right, but she could be more compassionate her own self, (but that's a whole other story.) This is a reference to a movie the church once made.

I think the important thing to remember is that while the story talks of hope, redemption and love, it also talks about the importance of being diligent, obedient and faithful.

When the second son took his portion early on and took it with him into the world and ended up hanging with swine,"(V:13), I think what Christ is referring to is to those who have the gospel and the knowledge given to them without much work on their own, i.e. "goods that falleth to me," and who then take what they have and go out and live like the rest of the world does.

I think this has a lot to do with our own personal conversions. Yes, some of us can be born in the church, even go on a mission and still not really understand it enough to realize that it's not a treasure unless we apply it to our lives.

I also think that part of the redemption aspect is that they know that they can come back and fix things if they desire to.(v.17 and 18) I truly feel that those people who truly have and understand the gospel, even if they are tempted, won't because they understand what they have. That doesn't mean they aren't tempted and that they don't sometimes make mistakes.

It is interesting to point out that when the son goes to the world for help after he starts to want (v. 14) the world doesn't help him, they send him to the fields to dwell with swine (v. 15) this could very well tell us what the value the real world places on us and make us think twice about wanting to be part of it. How much of this is seen in the world, once someone has fallen out of what is considered to be what is "in" at the time.

As for a second class reward. Remember that what the two sons started with are portions. Not rewards.

They had to do something with what they had to make it a reward. I think that part of the reward for obedience early on is that you don't have to go through all the "swine" parts to find out that what you had is really your treasure that you squandered if you did hang with pigs so to speak. And please don't take this to be a judgment of pigs, we are all sinners, but in avoiding sin sometimes it's important to avoid those who would encourage us to sin.

The treasure is only treasure if it's applied to our life. The gospel doesn't mean anything if it's knowledge that isn't acted on. That doesn't mean you won't be rewarded if you come back, but it also doesn't mean you won't have to accept that you also lost something as a result of your decisions. (V. 17) And the fatted calf can go about it's life and not killed. I think the poor bovine is the real victim in this tale.

When the other son came back and saw what was going on his pride overcame him as it does with a lot of people including myself at times. Sometimes I think this is natural frustration because its like having to watch someone you love suffer needlessly because they know the truth but don't want to accept it. That too is pride. You know the whole, "You have no right to judge me," mentality. I think that's has to be one of the most often over used scriptures and misunderstood scriptures, what I think is really amusing and yes, tragic, is the next part about "go and sin no more is never remembered by the one using it to defend their actions.

Sometimes when a person is trying it is viewed by those who are aren't as self rightness, because I think they resent the fact that they see happiness. But yes, I also think the older brother indignation gets the best of him and yes, a sin on the older brothers part, but lets have a little compassion for him also. He is trying.

I think what the father meant when he told the other son that "Son, thu art ever with me, and all that I have is thine," (v.31) means that he will earn his reward for "Sticking to it." Also that he already understands that his reward is that he didn't have to learn it the hard way. Meaning that yes, their are greater rewards for obedience, just as there are different levels in the kingdom of God. It doesn't mean God loves someone less, but we get what we deserve.

And yes sometimes that means while we are "out wasting our substance with riotous living," (V. 13) and then discover the world is actually in some kind of feminine (14)or moral decay and the goods part of the returning process is the revelation that we had are what protects us from having to suffer through this to begin with. I think this is why we have agency. The tragic part is when someone who has this gift don't realize that the gift is that he doesn't has to go suffer through life on his own and if he really understood it that in living the gospel, he will be happy instead of trying to make his own happiness and finding self produced happiness to really be of little real value, "And he would fain to fill his belly with the husks that the swine did eat." (V. 16.)

I do believe we have to learn things on our own in order for it to mean something to us. And maybe the years in the world can do this, but I think it is also far better to not have to go through this by "Sticking to it" to begin with. One of the first sons rewards was that he didn't have to go through the process of losing something in order to discover he had it to begin with and who knows what kinds of opportunities were lost during the second sons adventures in riotous living.

If this is the case in someones life, I hope that they will use this lesson and realize that they need the gospel and come back to it before it's too late.

Yes, the father was overjoyed that his other son had come home, enough to kill the calf and throw a party complete with "musick and neck kissing," just as Heavenly Father rejoices when one of us returns to the fold so to speak. But I think he is even more happy when we don't leave to begin with.

I think the problem is that sometimes we look at parables for more then what they are. They aren't the complete picture, I think they also are adaptable to a lot of situations and sometimes when certain parts are emphasized over other parts they may be used to emphasize something that really isn't there. I don't think this parable means that sinners who repent are going to get a second class reward any more then it means that sinners who repent will get the same as those who never sin to begin with. This is a story about how a father is happy when his son returns and how he welcomes him back and celebrates his return. Both sons started with the same reward, it was up to the individuals to decide what to do with it in order for it to become anything. God is just happy when we are near him.

I do think we have to admit to ourselves if we do wrong that, yes, because of what we do we may not deserve "All that is thine," but maybe we aren't ready for it and haven't spent our whole life preparing for it by by being "forever with me."

The key though is that the atonement makes up for a lot of mistakes when we accept it. We are all saved so to speak, that's mercy. Our actions dictate what happens after that, that's justice.

Everything we need to return to our Father is found within and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it's just a matter of accepting and living it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Because we are the only ones who will listen

Sunday a friend came over to my house and we begin the process of Christamtizing the home. You know decking the halls and all that fun stuff. Before he arrived I had been writing the missionaries and listening to BYUTV. They are doing a serious on the "9 Be's" and they we're highlighting be clean. I only remember 6 b's but I guess somewhere along the line the prophet found 3 more, Most of the talks were pretty much the same. One touched me, in what was said that was different. But that’s another post.

So as we sat there on the floor, surrounded by pine needles, garland, various manager scene pieces and Santa’s. We half listened to the speakers and talked about church.

My friend is aware of my struggles, he doesn’t struggle with the things I do, but he has his own issues. Ironically he asked me the first day we met if I was gay. I was taken aback by this and asked him how he knew, and he said, "well it not because of anything like your mannerisms or anything like that, its just this feeling I had."

He opened up to me and told me about his struggles. It was interesting because what he struggles with is something I think we all do. I just didn't know it had a name. It too is an item for a future post.

So anyways we listened to one of the apostle speak about the law of chastity and my friend finally just sorta snapped.

"You know I don't need to hear that," he said. "And yeah I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that I must have a problem with it and that it’s hard for me to hear it. But that's not what I'm saying. The problem is that I don't have a problem with it. But it’s the only thing they ever say. I go to church; I hear the same stuff over and over, now what? I know this stuff. I obey this stuff. I don't need to hear this. What I need to hear is more, more about what I need to do now."

I sat back and looked at him. True to my LDS upbringing I said. "Have you talked to you bishop about this" of course it was a dumb, knee jerk reaction.

"Oh yeah, that’s why I was late." he said. "Of course he said it was some sort of spiritual handicap of mine. That the teachers and leaders are all inspired and teaching what they need to teach and if I'm not feeling the spirit its because I'm not intune to it," he said. "Dude, I read my scriptures, I pray, I serve I do all those things. I don't have a problem with these things. I pay my tithing. I go to church. Now what?"

I looked at him and said, "I understand." We started talking about how the church handles the who SGA issues. I had given him a copy of the new pamphlets. He read it, we both agreed that it was awesome. We started talking about the way it had been dealt with in the past, I went and found my copy of "To the One" and read what at the time Elder Packer had wrote. I told him that I knew that Packer was inspired to write it, and at the same time I knew we had to think about the time period it was delivered in and the spirit it was delivered in. I also told him that I had many friends who had been hurt by what it said about selfishness and all that. But that I think that our leaders are trying and honestly they want us to avoid and not get involved in what is a sin, or what would even lead us to question what is sin, rather we understand the cause of it. The final answer is that it is a sin and that's it. But that doesn’t always help make it easier.

He asked me how I did it. How I stay faithful. How I deal with it knowing that how I feel and want isn't always in tune with what I want so badly. Not so much my lusts, but my desires to be loved and share love in a way that isn't "work" or feeling like I'm sacrificing what I want for what someone, even if that someone is God, wants for me and only having his promise that in the end I'll be happy.

I told him about these groups, and blogs and the whole "moho" thing and that I know that I'm not always well liked for advocating being faithful and stuff and that I've actually lost friends over this and am seen as somewhat of an overzealous preachy guy. But that if the church is true, than everything about it is true. I can't follow a version of it, or an altered liberal version of it. I've been to the temple; I've made promises and covenants to the Lord and now its up to me to keep those. Some may find this being over zealous, but I what if God blessed us according to our zeal? If this leaves me friendless then so be it. I try to be the type of friend who is honest and who does stand for what is right. What if a friend started drinking poison, would we not tell him because we didn’t want to offend him? Maybe this isn’t what those who struggle want as support but it’s what they need, but it often just makes them feel preached to and I end up getting rejected. I told him that I think maybe that’s why he feels the way he does. But that I also understand how he feels.

There are times I feel the same way, like “Okay God, I’m doing what you asked, now what, why don’t people like me, where is the happy ending that comes at the end of the seminary movie? When is that check going to appear in the mail? When am I going to be respected for what I do? I’ve shown Christlike love, when will I feel it from others?” I don’t think me feeling this way is a lack of faith on my part.

We sat and listened some more. Honestly I wanted to change the channel to “Desperate Housewives,” the mood had turned from holiday festive to "endure to the end gloom."

He finally looked up to me and said something. "You know how the year before we were asked to all read the Book of Mormon?"

I said yes.

"I was already reading it, then I suddenly felt guilty for not reading it fast enough to get to the end of it by the end of the year," he said. "It's like when the stake pres gets a lecture from a GA about Sacrament meeting attendance and so he speaks to all the wards about the importance of attending church. The problem is that these are the ones who are attending church; these are the ones who are already reading the Book of Mormon. But these are the same ones who will now bare the brunt of all the guilt in the church for not doing it."

I looked at him, and nodded. "So why are they being so hard on the ones who are doing what they are asking us to do?" he asked.

"Because,"I said. "We are the only ones who will listen to them."

We both smiled and started to laugh. The mood lightend. We needed that. Things started to make a lot more sense than.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My new intro

I thought I'd write a new introduction. I've sorta outgrown the last one. And so in an attempt to get to know people better here goes. It's a bit long, but I wanted to touch on a few things and hopefully foster some understanding and if I needed to clear anything up maybe this will help.

I'm 34, an RM and live in Northern California. I have a testimony of the Savior, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, the church and the Prophet.

I'm also attracted to guys.

I know how hard it is to believe something and to feel something else. The contradiction is painful. I think that it's healthy to be honest with yourself, it's the first step in trying to face it and overcome it. And yes, I said overcome it. That doesn't mean deny it or pretend it doesn't exist, it means "I choose to act not be acted on." I believe that my struggle is part of the "natural man" and I need to overcome the desires to live by the flesh and my lusts and live the way God wants me to live. That also means feel love the way God wants me to love. I also know God gave me this struggle to test and refine me, I know in Mormon culture we like to call our struggles gifts, but I do think it is a tool to teach me and to give me things I need to have to become who I am to become. I also know I need to acknowledge the way I feel as real.

I know so many guys who repress it and when they finally do cave, it turns them into really mean people who end up bitter, cynical and sarcastic towards the Church, God and anyone who is trying to be faithful to it or who may in their attempts to be faithful make them feel guilty.

I am so grateful to Elder Oaks for making it clear that I am not to use my feelings or attractions to define who I am and that it is my actions not my feelings that I am accountable for. I am not really out. I mean I've talked to my bishop. I've never really told my parents. I tell people who I think need to know. But I don't see it as being something that I need to "come out proud" about. That's a worldly concept. I am who I am, I am me first and foremost.

As for me personally, I've been to the temple and I've taken covenants that "I won't have sexual relations (notice the word relations and not sex, I believe that means things like making out, kissing and whatnot), with anyone expect with the person I'm married to." And so the bottom line is at least in this respect, I know what God's eternal purpose is for me and I can't reach that in a homosexual relationship. It's really that plain and simple. I can fight against the pricks so to speak and drag my feet and cry about how unfair it is. I can curse God and try to come up with reasons why I am the exceptions to the rules. But if the church is true and that is the doctrine, then I have to accept it if I want to be faithful. God is no respecter of persons and he doesn't give Personal Revelation that would counter what we know is true. I know he can give us revelations to help us individually be faithful and that isn't always the same as he would give
others but its always about how we can stay on the right path. Its more like a GPS system then being given a different map altogether.

Now having said that, I do believe that there can be real love between two guys. It just can't be eternal as much as I want it to be, or hope it could be. If what I believe is true it will have great eternal consequences. This is the hard part because I know that love can be just as real right now and that love can trap someone into not wanting to accept the truth and keep them bound to something that will eventually have devastating effects on their eternal lives.

At times I've thought I could make a compromise with God, if I could be with a man I love, I'd forgo sex and just live with him monogamously, coupled but celibate. And at times I've also wondered how God can keep his promise to me that if I'm faithful I can marry someone I love when I've never liked girls. And yes I've used "attraction" as an excuse not to pursue dating saying that "it's unfair to the girl." But I've also come to realize those aren't the real reasons. They are good excuses that make me feel better about not doing what I know I should. Because while I say I want to, I really don't and it really does come down to what I want and what I'm willing to do. I can believe God or my own doubts. Both are powerful forces.

These are hard questions for me and while I don't know the hows, I believe I know the answers, it comes in being faithful and following the Prophet. Its just hard to follow the Prophet sometimes when you feel like the answers are general and don't take how you feel into consideration. But then I also have to hold onto the fact that as far as Christs atonement is concerned, the pain He felt was very personal. He not only suffered for my sins but He also suffered and endured my pain so He knows how I feel. So if His servants give me a commandment from Him, while that servant may not fully understand it or give it with the verbiage that I feel shows understanding, I have to have faith in who his master is and that He loves me and understands me.

I've been "the only" for a long time. Growing up in the church in a small town meant facing being the only LDS guy at school and being judged according to those standards. Then add feeling like I was t"he only" one at Church who was different. I've never felt like I've fit in. And of course growing up in the Church being "gay" was a sin. No one ever told me that I could have those feelings and it wasn't my fault. It wasn't taught but it was implied that "I choose to feel this way" I knew I didn't, so I felt as if I was some sort of mistake. I went on a mission, and developed a strong testimony, but I cam home still attracted to guys. But all of this has made me stronger.

It also has unfortunately at times made me very head strong. I've joined some of the "moho" groups, again I use that term only for clarity, I think its a bad term which turns us into "ites." Personally, I reject a lot of the ideas that come from this community. We are all flawed people. These flaws are tools that God uses to teach us. I think a lot of the new philosophies out there serve to make us feel unbroken and fixed. As if there is really nothing wrong with us. That we need to "accept ourselves as we are if we are to be happy" and that change isn't possible and even a sin to consider. While I'll agree that change means more of a change of heart then change of feeling, I believe it means humbling ourselves to His will and not insist on Him accepting ours and then trying to mold the gospel around it. I believe that in order to be true disciples we have to mold our will around His. We are ALL broken and need fixing. That's what the atonement of
Jesus Christ is all about. That's the whole point of mortality. To overcome those things that do hold us back.

I think sticking to these ideas have led in part to me failing in my attempts to make friends because I can come off as preachy or over zealous or clingy or whatever emotional issue people want to use to make themselves feel better about judging me and distancing themselves from me.


I've tried reaching out to some in the LDS gay or SGA community and have found that to be honest with you those who are struggling can be just as mean and hateful as anyone in the gay community. But I also need to accept that a lot of it comes as a self defense mechanism. Its a product of self loathing and double life they are trying to lead. They don't want to feel bad, they want support. I may remind them of something they see in themselves that makes them feel unconformable or I remind them of something they want to block out. But support needs to hold up not justify or enable. They can also be just as judgmental about things like a persons age and physical appearances. If I am saying some harsh things, remember these are based on my own personal experiences.

And yes, while I know this may be making an unfair "generalization" I think there is some truth to it. I can't really "gay it up" at Gossip or some other gay club or bar on Saturday and than pass the Sacrament on Sunday, as if I'm visiting Sodom on a day pass. I can't than get mad at someone and call them judgmental who may point out the inconsistency. I can't use the "the Savior said not to judge me" card knowing that he also said "go and sin no more." BUT and I admit, I'm also very good at graying the area and saying "I just go to be with my friends and dance" but I know the other reason is that in some ways I crave being in an environment where I can let my hair down, "be who I want to be right now" and forget who "I'm trying to be," I can be "myself." These places normalize what I know is a sin but wish I could partake in without sinning. But I also know that the Sprint is miles away from those places.

Its hard when you don't fit in into either camp. And ironically some of my closet friends, those who have encouraged me to stay faithful have been LDS guys who are in gay relationships. I don't really know how to explain this other then to say that while I do believe what they are doing is wrong, they are living with honesty and not living double lives or trying to hide stuff. I also think deep down they know what they have given up and they don't want to see someone else go that path. I've also realized that these guys, while inactive aren't bitter or hateful towards the church. I've found that that comes mostly from those who are trying to lead double lives.

I've also learned a few lessons about making friends.

One thing I have learned is that I can't take the rejection of an offered friendship personally. I can't take what someone thinks about me or how they react to me as an indication of my personal value or worth as a person if my offer of fellowship or friendship was given with good intentions and honesty. There are times when that rejection has nothing to do with me and more to do with another persons emotional issues. Perhaps I remind them of something about themselves they are trying to avoid or forget or maybe its just an outward sign of there own inward struggle. When we are trying to feel normal we often attracted towards those we consider normal.

One final thought. I also can't let the way I've been treated by a few color the way I treat others. I do need to maybe listen more and talk less. Not be so free with my advice or opinions but I also need to be more forgiving. The hardest part of being forgiving is being able to forgive when someone hurts you and won't acknowledge it or apologize. True love will allow you to forgive that person and accept their flaws even if they refuse to do the same for you. I don't know why some people react to me the way they do. But I need to love them anyways and be willing to accept them as they are. I don't by to the notion that you can only have a few real friends. I think the power of love is insurmountable and there is always room for one more friend. Forgiveness needs to mean something to the person we are forgiving. It can't just be done to make us feel better. It has to be real. And sometimes its not accepted, but as long as my attempt is genuine then
that's all that matters.

The Internet is a tool for keeping in touch with friends, not a substitute for friends. But I also think its a good way to move beyond you local social network and reach out to new people and make new friends.

If I turned my back on everyone that I think is sinning I am making a mistake. I think also trying to project the "I love you even if you are a sinner" mentality can also be patronizing. I am honesty trying as hard as I can and being as faithful as I can. And that's something. I'm not perfect. But I need love and friends to. When I don't post for a while it would be good to know that people miss me or wonder how I am. We all need this. There are a lot of LDS guys who struggle with this who have given up. I think that those of us who are here are making an attempt no matter how strong or weak that attempt is to hold to something. I don't think we will ever get to the Celestial Kingdom fighting alone.

Honestly there are times when I can only be as faithful as I have the strength to be. These are times when I need support. If this is true for anyone else. If the church is true there will be a time when if I am trying, than I will be more fully converted.

Again if I have offended anyone in the past I'm sorry. I hope you will forgive me and give me another chance. I'd like to know what I did and be given a chance to fix it. But I also refuse to dwell on it past this. I'm extending a hand and an apology. I'm willing to move it further if anyone I've hurt wants to. But I won't force it. I'm sorry if my efforts to reach out have bothered anyone. They were done with the best intentions. I was only trying to be supportive and show love for those who struggle also. I have so much respect for those of you who are trying and I feel for those of you who feel like giving up. I've been there so many times. I understand. If you need a friend or someone to talk to I'm here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Letter to a friend: The Gospel, The Church and The Culture

This is a comment I left on a friends blog. I think it addresses some key issues. I wanted to share it here.

The more and more I read your blogs the more and more I want to point out that I think your biggest problem is that you have confused the culture of the church with the doctrine.

If you or your friends, including ATP and who else may be reading this reads this comment and if I can say one thing that you will take serious and ponder, I ask that you read this. I will repost it to my blog and I seriously would like to have comments on it. Please know that I'm am trying to write you with true love and reassurance. I feel I know your heart even if we don't see eye to eye.

A. The doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that we will ever come to the Savior. It is true. It is THE ONLY way to gain exultation and salvation. The atonement is the key.

B. The Church of Jesus Christ is true. It is divinely led by inspiration. Christ is at the head of the Church. It is led on Earth by men who are inspired but who are also NOT perfect.

C. Mormonism is a culture. There are many good and wonderful things about this culture. But there are also many things that are dogmatic that aren't true. And yes a lot of the culture is at odds with the doctrine. You can be as good a Latter-day Saint living far off in the littlest branch with not the slightest bit of Mormon Culture. As long as you live the doctrine and keep the commandments.

There are three parts that I've spoken about. I want to make it clear. They are connected. But only the first is Eternal. The second will lead you to and keep you true to the first. The third is only a product of both, but in itself its worthless. That's why being culturally Mormon won't save you.

There are things that are true that are doctrine that to be honest are hard to accept because they go against our own personal desires and wants. There are things that we are ask to sacrifice in obiendence. There are things that we need to accept as true in faith. And there are things that aren't really that important.

There are things like Pres Monson said in the Priesthood session are like little strings that we carry in our pockets that will keep us from the things that are really important.

There are things that keep people from being friends that shouldn't. And yes there are people that if you listen to them will convince you that things that are true are false and that a key element of agency is the ability to choose without fear what is wicked and what will rob you of eternal blessing and that because we aren't to judge others we have a license to sin with out any consequences.

But there are also those who some would call monsters who are just wounded souls needing love and acceptance and tolerance. Most of all they need to feel like they are children of God and not spiritual orphans. I know I need to forgive some of those people who may have offended me as those who are simply lashing out because of hurt in their own lives.

I don't know what else I can say. I accept you as a friend and brother. It's up to you to accept me. I can't help what you think of me, but I have all the power over what I think about you.

I wish you would realize that the gospel is true. That the church needs people like you to help those who do struggle. You can be the most faithful member of the church. You are a smart guy, you know the difference between culture, dogma and true doctrine.

Keep the faith, pray, stay close to the Spirit. Reach out. A friend of mines mother once gave him good advice about choosing friends. If you are spending time with people who you know are are doing things that are wrong. Just be careful. If your good habits rub off on them, awesome. You may be the only light they have in their life. But if you risk having their bad habits rub off on you then you need to be careful and may need to step back.

At any rate, everyone needs love and acceptance even people like me. I'll keep you in my prayers and I will always consider you a friend.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Attacks from other bloggers

Wow, I must have pecked at a nerve. An entire blog dedicated to me!!! And there isn't any references to Crow excrement. I compliment you.

And of course its an open invitations for everyone else to add their pot shots. To attack the intolerant, to belittle the zealot with their smug sarcastic and enlightened statements that aren't clouded by the repressive influences of the church. So now that we are all in our respective corners with our dander up and ready to attack how should we proceed?

I love the way Zeal for the gospel is now a bad thing. And defending things that the church says will prevent us from progressing is now en vogue.

Okay, first of all. I'm really not sure why there is dissent. The church isn't forcing anyone to stick around if they don't want to. No one if forcing anyone to believe anything. That's why its called faith. That's why we need to use our agency to make a choice. We aren't hear following Saten's plan. Yes, if you want to be faithful to the church you do need "to be of one heart and one voice." Yes, it is possible to do this and retain your own sense of individuality.

That is what agency is all about. If you disagree or feel something is wrong, then please by all means develop a backbone and follow through with your beliefs. Stop wallowing in self loathing. If you choose to leave the church, that's your choice and we need to respect it, love you and accept you.

Of course those of us who do have testimonies will think you are making a eternally devastating mistake. If we love you and also believe in the church we would of course feel that way. Oh perhaps you need to walk way and lose it in order to realize what you do have and desire to get it back. Who knows. We don't receive revelation for you, your the only one that can do that. All I can do is pray for you and hold to what we believe is the gospel.

But please have respect for those of us who do want to stay and remain faithful and and leave the church alone.

Its ironic that the same person who who accuses me of "preaching" items that are not official stances of the church is the same person who rejected my friendship after I offered what I thought was a heartfelt and public apology and is now using my blogs or at least thats the implication in his comment here as one of his excuses to "go elsewhere." I really would like someone to clue me in what apostate doctrine I'm exposing. What untruths am I guilty of spreading.

Bloggers here can bash the prophet and his appearance on Larry King and other interview and attack leaders like Elder Bateman for his statements. They can tear apart and parody the Elder Oak's and Wickman Interview. They can offer their version of what the Church should say in their opinion since they seem to think they now receive inspirations to lead the church and guide those to go against those called to be Prophet, Seers and Revalators.

They can come right out and say that church leaders are wrong and then they can go off and say I'm somehow intolerant and closed minded because I have the nerve to stand up for things that I do consider sacred and that I clearly remember making a covenant not to be part of "evil speaking of the Lord's anointed" and to stand up for the church when I encounter this. I'm a bad person for sticking to what I said I would do.

I've been told if you don't like what I've blogged don't read it. Well what's the point? Do you only blog so that those who agree with you can back you up? Are you saying you don't want dissent? Are you saying you want to crush anyone who has an opinion that goes against yours?

I posted today why I had taken a step back. Why I had stopped reading these blogs. I felt that was a peace offering and a move towards more tolerance on both parts. But apparently that's not how bloggers play. Today I let curiosity get the best of me and I returned. And what do I find and entire attack based on me. All I can say is wow, I'm flattered that I've had this kind of effect on everyone. I am sorry that the attacks have to continue. I guess being Christlike in the Moho community is another word for conditional love and acceptance.

I have found those who demand tolerance don't normally understand what it is to be tolerant. In fact they are normally the least tolerant ones out there. It's there way or no way, it's black and white. You are either with us or you're not. You don't have a right to an opinion if you disagree with us its because you are a ignorant bigot. Ironicly isn't that sorta what I'm accused of here? Seeing things as black and white?

If they can't debate in a civil and respectful way, they resort to petty insults and attacks. If they can't argue against the message their next move is to belittle the messenger. If they can make that person message appear tactless and simple-minded they can win by default or at least feel smug in that they have been attacked.

I'm sorry if I mistakenly believed that it was somehow admirable to stay faithful to the church. That my CTR ring meant choose the right. Apparently it means Choose the relative.

If I'm standing for what I believe, I honestly don't care if you tolerate or not tolerate me. Because I know whom I'm standing up for. If I'm bad for believing that I'm right then I suppose anyone who argues with me is also guilty of the same offense. I only worry about one judge.

I've heard so many people blog about being tolerant and Christlike. But apparently thats only reserved for those who go along with what is the group think here. Again more of what I'm being accused of.

That's one thing you can't accuse me of. I may disagree with you but I'd never openly attack you. I may defend myself as any human would who is attacked. I may disagree with you and tell you why. If you want to take it as an attack that's your issue. But I also would rather us work it out and be friends then continue to take pot shots at each other.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

His work and His Glory and My apology

I started blogging think it would be a good outlet for myself to express myself. Then I started venturing into other blogs, mostly those in the Northern Lights site. After a while I was finding it wasn't having a positive effect on me and all I was doing was contending and defending the faith so to speak against people who I would probably otherwise really like but who are struggling to find a way to be faithful and still feel they are themselves. What I'm posting today is mostly a letter in response to a friend who wrote a letter to leave the church after years of struggling.

I have stepped back a few weeks and not posted anything because to be honest I don't think contending with varying opinions what is true and what is false in regards to the gospel isn't helping any one, and if anything is only frustrating and causing further contention. I wasn't feeling the spirit, in fact I was just amazed how many people thought so many different things about something that we do have a clear standard of truth about.

My friend wrote:

....that my desire in life is not to gain the greatest blessing, but to serve God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.....

I think what would make God the most happy and would lead to his own complete happiness is knowing that all his children want and accepts the greatest blessings that he has to offer, the way a parent wants their children to gain those things. Nothing I think causes him greater grief then when one of his children rejects his gifts.

His work and his Glory is to bring to pass the exhalation and eternal life of men. We say he's perfect in that he is complete, but I wonder if he ever will be completely until he has finished "His work and His glory."

I don't dispute personal revelation but i still maintain it is given to help us find our own individual way of gaining this glory that is his work.

And perhaps maybe some of us won't get married or be attracted to girls in this life. But is it worth canceling our blessing and our sealings to your parents and throwing away everything because we feel we can't accept a part of it. Our leaders are just teaching what they have been inspired to teach about what is "His work and His Glory."

Yes find other ways to serve him. Be faithful, do your best. Be open to change if it is to happen. Change isn't bad. Its how we grow. But I do know that we will be blessed as much for our effort as we are for our accomplishment. In the temple we are endowed that through our faithfulness we will be MADE worthy. Not by anything we can do alone. Like the atonement, we can't do it alone.

Last week we studied in Sunday school the Athens and how the philosophers spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21) They turned to logic and what made sense to them. What they lost was the fact that they were "the offspring of God" and that as children of God their roles are the same as God. Paul taught them that when we understand God's nature we understand our own. Paul didn't try to reason with them, he just bore a powerful testimony of the Love of God. They felt it and while it didn't make sense or was logical, they felt it inside and were converted.

Just stay close to what you can. Be faithful to what you can. You don't have to go all or nothing now.

I know that for those of us struggling this is a lot like what Abraham had to endure when he was asked to offer up Issac. We are being ask to give something up that we feel is part of us, that we do love that we do feel is real. But I do have faith that if we do take our Issac's up to the alter that the Lord will provide us a lamb. Is it cruel of the Lord to test us this way? Well when compared to what he wants to reward us with maybe he has to in order to see if we are strong enough for what he wants to give us. Maybe thats the real reason we are being tested.

I'm sorry if I've ever said anything that upset you or anyone else here. I only did so in love and not to contend with you. I hope you understand that. If I really didn't care or thought you were pointless or not worthy of friendship I would have walked away. I know you are just trying to make since of something that doesn't make sense. I know cause I've been there to.

Sometimes I think we don't write what we want. We write what we feel and instead of reacting we need to listen. We need to listen between the lines and not react to the words. We need to react to the feeling and not to the thoughts. Sometimes we lash out when we are hurt and sometimes we do just need to love.

Sometimes its not a matter of being right or wrong. Its a matter of feeling loved and accepted. And loving and accepting those who do struggle with one thing or another. As a church and people I think we need to work on the second part of that much much more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Lord knows his stuff, a Sunday Mircle

I had a really awesome expirence that I wanted to share with the group. This happened on Sunday.

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

Short and simple and true

A friend of mine who isn't a member of the church sent this to me from his Bible Study Friday. I think its awesome.

"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 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

Good Feelings vs. Personal Revelation

I'm kinda new to this whole blog thing, but there seems to be a trend surfacing in the church especially among the LDS SGA community. I've read a number of blogs that talk about the importance of personal revelation over what is taught by the Prophet and the apostles. In the past week I've been told by someone who I normally respect that "You need to step away from the church to find God." The past Prophets were wrong. I had one friend tell me that Pres Kimball admitted he was wrong about blacks and the priesthood. I went and read the 1978 section and it says nothing about being wrong, it says it wasn't until than the time. I've had another friend tell me that he has had a spiritual confirmation that that he is sure that trying to change would be an abomination before the Lord because this is how God created him.

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

"Coming out " OF the World

Sometimes when we try to live in the world but not be of the world, the world sometimes creeps in. This is especially true for those of us that struggle with things that the world says is ok but we know through the gospel to not be the case.

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

Wolves in Sheeps Clothing

Sometimes I wonder what is worse, just stepping away from the church and acting out and being open and honest about it or trying to find ways to stay attached to the church, act out and justify it by aligning yourself with the ideas and philosophies found in some of these so called "gay Mormon" Affirming groups.

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


One other thing that I worry about a lot is the difference in perceptions people have between being honest and judging. And what they think of about me. I've come to the conclusion that the when the Savior said not to judge what he meant was not to condemn. Having standards means judging. Standing up for whats right means to judge. We have to judge in order to decide which side to be on and what is right and wrong.

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.

Giving Up Our Summer Homes

Today in Priesthood there was a quote that really hit me in a different way. The thought was from Pres Kimball.

". . . 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

Who I am and what I believe

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

What is friendship?

What is friendship? Does it mean anything to anyone anymore? Or is it just a relative concept? Something to avoid if it becomes more then causal or superficial.

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.

Casual, superfical Christlike Love

One of the things that really bothers me about gay culture and what sometimes seems to also find its way into the SGA culture of the church is the tendency of guys to be wary nurturing friendships that are more than anything casual or superficial. Now granted I don't think people should write each other and be best buds for life. Casual is okay but superficial isn't.

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.