Thursday, August 14, 2008

How Lucky We Really Are

There are times when I marvel just how blessed we are to live in a time when we have a living prophet on the face of this Earth. While a majority of the people on this Earth wonder around confused from one worldly concept to the other, we as Latter-day Saints know that we have the gospel of Jesus Christ restored and that the truth is found therein.

I'm saying this to boast. To appear puffed up. To say I am better then anyone else. I do think that knowing this gives us great responsibilities to share it with others and to put it into practice in our own life.

Knowing that the Savior is at the head of the church and that we have a prophet. That the same organization that existed when the Savior was on the Earth now has been restored and the same power of the priesthood is what is directing this work, this is what sustains me and gives me hope when my own imperfections and doubts make me question.

It also tells me who I need to listen to and whose direction I need to follow.

We know through what the Lord has told us the reasons why acting on homosexual urges is wrong. We know its not because the love between two men can't be as real as between a man and women. We know it can be. But we know the real eternal consequences of it also. We know about our Father's plan for us. We know that two men can't be sealed together. Our eternal example is our Heavenly Father AND Mother. It involves children. Of course their are some exceptions to the rules but the Family Proclamation spells it out as clear as it can be possibly spelled out. As Latter-day Saints we know this. We know its NOT a civil rights issue, we know its not to oppress or take away the rights of others. We also realize that people have their agency, that agency isn't free and that there are consequences to makeing choices both right and wrong.

We do understand, especially those of us who struggle. He know how hard it is. We can feel the pain. BUT we have more truth and so we are expected to act on it.

When I read things like "the church has softened up on the gay issue," or "the church has progressed since the 1970's" I wonder what the people mean by that? Are they saying that the Church was wrong back then? If the church "got it wrong" back then are they saying that those who followed the prophet back then were following wrong direction? I wonder what else they think the church was wrong about then and what they think the church is wrong about now?

I think what a lot of people misunderstand is that it is perfectly possible for the revelation and knowledge given at one era, dispensation, generation or so forth to be different then that of today. Each time frame is different. The Lord only reveals what is needed at any given time. The Lord goes by his own time frame and to him it makes perfect sense. To us we don't see the eternal scheme of things and may think that something is lacking or out of touch. That we know better then the Lord or that the Prophet has it wrong.

The Lord for instance didn't immediately tell the world he was going to flood the earth. He told Noah to tell the people to repent, it wasn't until after they refused that he told Noah to build an arc. The Lord doesn't often reveal his reasons for things. He just gives us commandments to follow and if we follow those commandments then we become worthy for additional revelations on a topic if there is more revelation to be given. If not we need to stay worthy to what we have. When we are faithful to the prophet we also know we have the safety of the Lords yoke which he says is lighter then the worlds.

There is a difference between praying to know the truth of something and constantly second guessing those the Lord has set apart and who he uses as his servants to run His church. Following and obeying the Prophet isn't being a blind sheep anymore then those who followed Moses out of Israel or Nephi to the promise land. Of course none of those who followed these prophets had an easy course but they also had the Lord behind them.

Who We Are?

I have a question for people in this group to ponder.

How do you perceive yourself?

Are you a gay man who have chosen to live according to gospel principles or are you a child of God who struggles with feeling and attractions for members of the same sex?

Do you believe God has created you for a purpose and that our struggles can refine us, that the things we struggle with in this life can teach us and help us grow into the things God wants us to one day be able to inhariet from Him? Or do you believe that God has created us to be how we feel and so these things should define who we are and fighting against them is going against the way God wants us to be? In a sense fighting against our feelings is unnatural?

I think how you answer this question will dictate how you define yourself in a lot of ways spiritually, emotionally and internally.

The brethren have been clear on how we should and shouldn't define ourselves. Do we accept their council as council from God or just council from men who may not understand our struggles but who are trying to? Or do we feel that they don't know enough and no one can really understand our struggles?

Allowing others to have their agency and accepting that not everyone will agree with what we do, do we still accept what the Prophet has said as revealed to him by Heavenly Father. Do we consider acting on homosexual urges sinful or just a personal choice? Do we understand why and how in doing so it would frustrate our eternal progression? Or do we just think its a cruel choice we have to make in order to show God we love him.

Do we believe that it is possible to be tolerant of those who choose to sin, while still believing something is wrong enough to stand against it? Or is standing against sin always going to offend us because we take it personally?

I will admit that when I first heard that the church was going to consent to a meeting with them I too snickered and thought "What on earth is Affirmation hoping to accomplish? These people don't represent me or my point of view?" We all know they aren't looking for dialog, they seek to council the brethren on what they are doing wrong. They hope to lobby for the church to change its beliefs on things that we know through revelation to be wrong and damning.

These people, these "gay Mormons" aren't me any more then Mormon Fundamentalist are in fact Latter-day Saints. I don't think that its judgmental to say that. Part of being a faithful Latter-day Saint is sustaining the Prophet not lobbying against him or his teachings. Yes we need to be loving and tolerant of others but in so doing we don't surrender our beliefs.

I know that when cruel, uniformed things are said in priesthood about gay people, that for the most part, those things aren't about me. I am just as worthy to hold my temple recommend as the next guy. I have chosen not to act on those beliefs. Things like Prop 8 aren't geared against me. Yes we do need to step forward if things are being said out of hatred and ignorance but we also can't confuse someones misinformed attempts at standing for the right to be hateful attacks either. This is where need to step in to foster understanding along with encouraging faithfulness.

I think one of Satan's biggest tools is that after he may fail to bring us down with temptation, he attacks us with being offended. We need to step back and realize that. This isn't about me.

Again I ask you, who are you? Why are you here?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Things We Say About Other People

I want to share as an example of how gossip and rumors could have destroyed a friendship. I've held back writing this, sharing it with some friends first to help me say what I want to say in the best way possible. I want to make sure that I begin with the ending. It turned out to be really positive experience in learning just how tolerant and loving a friend can be.

I had a friend who came to visit. He is an RM, he doesn’t struggle with SGA but he’s having some issues of his own. We both noticed on myspace and facebook that we had a mutual friend. This mutual friend does struggle and my friend knows about it. I hadn't really told my friend about my struggle, mainly because it didn't come up and we never really got on that topic. We had other more interesting things to talk about. The mutual friend knew a lot of other guys who do struggle and is also friends with some guys who have given up their struggles and moved on into the gay lifestyle, some of whom don’t like me because of my opinions.

When I saw that my friend and this guy were listed as friends I got a little worried about being "outed." I really didn't think this guy was a mean spirited person, but I also know that he close to people who don’t like me and who I know have gossiped about me to others in the past. I know he doesn't think that highly of me as a result, so you can see why I am concerned.

When my friend got here, I asked him in a roundabout way how he knew this other guy and he said they had grown up together and had been friends. I said cool, I asked him if he had ever talked about me. He said "Um, not really” and changed the subject. Later we got on the topic again when we were online, and he asked me how I knew him, I told him how. And he said, "Well since you brought it up I guess I should tell you the rest. He warned me that you were a gay recruiter and that I should be careful of you."

A couple things really hit me in the gut at this point. A. This guy did out me. B. He also not only outed me, but he did so by saying I could possibly been a threat to a friend.

A lot of things went through my mind. I was mad.

But I was also amazed how nonjudgmental my friend was. I mean a good childhood friend had warned him that not only was I gay but that I recruit others to the lifestyle and yet he didn’t immediately get scared. He planned on staying the weekend anyways. That part really made me realize what a good friend this guy was when he asked me if I did struggle, and I told him yes. He said he understood and that he would like to be a support to me if I ever needed it.

He said that he knew that his friend was only trying to protect him, but that it was wrong for him to be listening to gossip. He said it was apparent that his friend had never taken the time to get to know me as a person or he would know that nothing could be further from the truth. It still stung because I was beginning to wonder who else this guy has talked to about me. But the funny thing was as much as I didn't want to like his friend and as much as I wanted to delete him from my friend list so that he couldn't "expose" me to anyone else, I respected him trying protect his friend, even if it was unfounded. At the same time I realized just how much the things we say can have devastating effects on others efforts to do good if we speak without really knowing the truth.

I guess what really bothered me was the things that had been said about me--that I was a gay recruiter and that I have a major reputation of going after SGA guys trying to befriend them to pull them into the lifestyle. I've never done that. In fact I’ve tried to do the exact opposite. It did also bug me that to say these things about me, he cited people who I know and who have made it pretty public that they are out and no longer living the gospel, and in fact have publicly mocked the church and its teachings, who DO influence others to do immoral things to "be true to themselves." It’s ironic that it’s their words that he believed knowing how they were now living.

My friend who was visiting told me not to worry and that he knew I was a great guy. He said that he still loves his friend but is disappointed in him. He told me to forgive him and be open to being his friend. That is the part that I admired the most that he was able to acknowledge that what his friend did was wrong, but that he was trying to protect him. He did stand up for me and at the same time stay friends with both of us and try to reach out and fix things. Talk about being a peacemaker. That is surely a spiritual gift.