gailymormon

The spiritual adventures of a gay man recently returned to Mormonism

Web Presents

Since I have some experience being Mormon—and a great deal of experience being gay—several friends have asked me what I think of the new website http://www.mormonsandgays.org.

After reading through it and watching all of the videos, I think it’s wonderful! I have read many of the criticisms levied against the site: that it fails to change the church’s underlying position, that the message of basic Christian love is one the church should have been teaching all along, that the church is being disingenuous or hypocritical or is trying to have it both ways, or that this message is “too little, too late” to erase the enormous pain the church has caused gay people and their families and allies in the past.

I truly understand these criticisms. They are validly held. For me, the site’s message consists not only of what it is saying, but how it is saying it. The church’s position has not changed, but the tone is significantly different. Here apostles and others are modeling for church members how to accept gay folks in families and in congregations as friends and fellow children of God. How to suspend judgment. How to listen. How to place gay people in the “us” category and not in the “other” or “them” category. This will have an immediate impact on church leaders, church members, and gay Mormons. The gay Mormon experience will change significantly because of this website. The lives of many gay Mormon youth in particular will be substantially better because of this website.

For those who, like myself, are left doctrinally unsatisfied, I say: the perfect is the enemy of the good. I would love to see a revelation tomorrow in which God clarifies that homosexuality is just as much a divine gift as heterosexuality, and that gay couples can now marry in the temple. But just because mormonsandgays.org isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent step in the right direction. I like to give credit where credit is due.

With regard to the deep pain the church has caused gay members and our allies: I know that pain. That’s why I left the church 12 years ago. Speaking only for myself, I now know that the church was able to hurt me because I had unrealistic expectations of it—admittedly fostered by the church’s own rhetoric of following the leaders and prophets never leading anyone astray.

I returned to the church not too long ago. I believe I have grown up a good deal spiritually, enough to realize that the church and its leaders are just as imperfect as I am. Why does this not bother me? Because the church is not my ultimate source of spiritual strength. I have an unmediated relationship with God, who is my nurturer, my lawgiver, and my judge. I know unreservedly that my sexuality is a gift from God and not any more a “struggle” or a “challenge” than anyone else’s sexuality. The church is simply wrong, and that’s okay.

Instead of viewing the church as my infallible conduit to God, I view it as a sibling, since we were both created by God. My sibling hurt me, but since I am imperfect and need God’s forgiveness, I feel compelled to extend that same forgiveness to the church. If it will be patient with me on my journey toward divine wholeness, I will be patient with it as it finds its way out of homophobia. I choose to engage fully with my sibling despite our imperfections because we love and enrich each other. To paraphrase Carol Lynn Pearson (in her delightful new book, The Hero’s Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon), I am a gift to the Mormon Tribe, and the Tribe is a gift to me.

5 comments on “Web Presents

  1. melaniecarbine
    December 8, 2012

    You are definitely a Seeker! I just find myself still waiting for someone to address the most obvious of contradictions: the expectation that a person should not find a partner or build a family unit in a religion that emphasizes eternal family relationships. But, this is a contradiction that’s only apparent when one is able to recognize that it’s not a choice or something that can be changed. And, that’s where this website is at. I doubt it will be the last we hear.

    When I got home from my mission there was a nice article by Elder Holland much like this website, and I was so optimistic. Then Prop 8 happened and I realized how mean and afraid people were. The people have to change before they will be ready to follow new revelation. I feel sure that when we have civil marriage equality, some kind of revelation will come. The Prophet will have to ask what the church should do with all these wonderful couples who are married legally and who want to be a part of the church.

    • EdwardJ
      December 8, 2012

      I agree, Melanie! I think our showing up to church and being who we are will go a long way to effecting the change you mention.

      I’m so happy we’re friends!!

  2. sarrah
    December 9, 2012

    all people who are gay, still attend church and try to keep their covenenats are some of the strongest memebers I know! I just keep following christ, life is a test, its hard.. but we can do hard things! I always say, its not where you’ve been but where your going; and, its not what you’ve faced but WHO (Christ) you’re facing NOW that matters. we all just put one foot infront of the other. I think all of us are just here on earth, making choices hlearning from those choices, and then just keep moving forward, trying to be more Christ like each day as Gordon B Hinckley said, trying to be a LITTLE kinder a LITTLE better each day- nothing huge, just little by little.-I know with out a doubt that all the prophets down through ever age have not nor ever will, lead me astray. my only objective? Eternal life and exaltation. I don’t go to church to soicalize nor do I care what “man” thinks of me or any issue; I only care what Heavenly Father thinks of me. I finally decided, to sacrafice what I wanted fo be/do; for what my Heavenly father wants me to be/do. I found peace and happiness in this thing. bravo for you! brovo for me, brovo for US!!

    • EdwardJ
      December 9, 2012

      I agree wholeheartedly, sarrah!

  3. Andrew
    December 10, 2012

    @EdwardJ@melaniecarbine
    Thanks for starting your blog and continuing this discussion. I am confused by the LDS church’s stance on homosexuality (and the way they represent their stance) after the release of the http://www.mormonsandgays.org website.

    On this site, it declares “Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”

    The churches official statement regarding Same-Gender Attraction reads, “we do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control.” http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction

    I understand that both statements seem to say that one can be attracted, but one can not act on the attraction. I also understand the mormonsandgays.org statement as the LDS church now openly stating that homosexuality is not a choice. Is this saying that God has given a person who is born a homosexual, conditions that prevent one from attaining their eternal salvation? My question comes with the understanding that one must marry to attain eternal salvation, and secondly, that the church does not encourage a homosexual to marry into a straight relationship.

    Thank you so much for your insight. This is an ongoing discussion with my family and friends. I appreciate any and all input.

    -Also, regarding the LDS lexicon, are “same-sex attraction” and “same-gender attraction” synonymous with homosexuality? Or is this a progressive word choice by the LDS church to start including bisexuals as well?

    -Andrew and many others

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