I have always been a very devout Mormon. I’ve had a very deep testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the Book of Mormon, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, independent of my parents since I was in my pre-teen years. I’ve also thought Civil Unions were a good Idea, and fair, since about high school. Marriage, however was nothing I could reconcile between my beliefs, and my desire for people to be treated fairly, and Children, I thought, really did need the influence of both a Mother and a Father.
Dispite the fact that I am gay, and there fore had a great deal of empathy for my friends who had left the church to find love and fulfillment in life. I understood, I thought, why they were choosing as they did, but I knew what the prophets taught, and so I often judgementally felt they were trading great eternal happiness for something short term, and less valuable.
A few years ago, when my state voted on marriage equality, I joined in the ranks of many from my church campaigning against it, and even shared annonomysly, my story to that point, to help the cause.
Yesterday, 24 hrs after my fast for greater understanding and compassion within the church, and a better approach to this issue within my relegious community, I recieved a message on fb from the very woman I had annonymously given my story to, in the effort to campaign against gay marriage. She is the wife of one of my former church leaders, and very strongly in agreement with the church position on the matter. She said she would like to talk with me sometime, about my views on Gay marriage, which obviously have done about a 180 in the past two years. I was nervous when she said that, because a lot of people just want to pick a fight with you about it, but I dont like fights. But she said that she would trust me to show her another view point without being defensive or argumentitive, and that precisely because I wanted to leave the matter agreeing to disagree, that is why she wanted to discuss it with me. She wants to understand, without feeling she will be attacked, just as I want to be understood without being attacked.
So I’ve set about trying to figure out how im going to explain this to her, because it was a journey to get here. I thought about sharing some of the scriptures i’ve come to interpret differently, some of the church documents that make it clear our leaders have no idea what the Lords ultimate answer on this will be, and things like that.
But as I did so, I knew that was the wrong approach. Thats exactly what she and I dont want. This matter for me is a matter of personal revelation, and personal testimony. I can support my postition as well as she could with facts, and figures, and quotes, and resources, but that never was what brought me to a new opinion.
The thing that changed my mind, in reality was two years of learning to understand my own, and the experineces of others, Mormon, Christian, Aithiest who are gay. It was two years of pleading constantly with my Heavenly Father to understand why, and what, and how he feels, and how I should feel.
It was a dream, as revelatory and personal and sacred as any that really started to change my mind, that convinced me that God, perhaps, didn’t feel about things how I was told he did, and more personal revelation and answers for myself in my own life personally that came after that that changed my mind. And once I was open to the possiblility that maybe God didn’t feel about it how I thought he did, and the possiblility that my path in life wasn’t perhaps to be as I planned it, or my parents planned it, or as my church planned it that I began to notice something.
I began to notice the generally distructive nature of most Mixed Orientation Marriages that I knew about, mostly resulting in ugly divorce, or at a minimum constant self loathing and angst by the non straight individual in the marriage, and sometimes, resulting in adultary, pornography issues, or even suicide. And then I looked at my friends, Gay, Married, or in a committed relationship as married as the law in their part of the land allowed. Raising kids, being parents and doing a damn good job of it. They were as stable and steady and as good of parents with as good of kids as any heterosexual couples. They weren’t permiscuous, or Godless. They were good people, with as strong a moral compass as anyone. They loved and cared for their spouse. They treasured their marriages/Partner, They treasured and loved their kids.
That sealed the deal, and my opinoin for me. By their fruits, ye shall know them. I looked at the fruits of forcing people to live alone, celebate, with little to know hope of love and companionship. I looked at marriages, forged for religious reasons sometimes based on a lie, I looked at the rare ones, that were mixed orientation marriages that were genuine, authentic, and I think work. I looked at the ones that were trying really hard, and having faith but were feeling constantly tortured, and in a state of mourning. And then I looked at my Gay /Lesbian married friends and I saw that sometimes- it works for someone to be alone, and stay single, but usually it doesn’t. I saw that sometimes it worked for people to enter a mixed orientation marriage, there was love there, love for kids loved for spouse, honesty and communication- but usually it didnt work. and I looked at my gay/ lesbian friends that were married, and i’ve yet to find an instance there where it wasn’t working, and where I couldn’t enthusiastically endorse their union.
Im sure there will be bad gay marriages, just as there are bad straight marriages. Im sure there will be struggles, and sometimes parental failures, just as there are in any family or home. I changed my opinion though, becuase what i’ve seen so far from my friends is equal to the good and the best marriages and families among my straight friends.
I believe in modern prophets, and I believe they are called of God and inspired in how they lead the church. How can I believe that, and believe not only in marriage equality here on earth, but that somehow in the heavens, in whatever crazy way God comes up with, I think there will be a solution even there for LGBT sons and daughters of God. And I dont think it will be that he changes us and takes this part away from us. I haven’t addressed my opinions on gender here, but I think my next paragraph will cover that as well. I think that anyone who has a testimony, and trusts God, and wants to have an eternal marriage and family in the next life, will, even if it isnt the traditonal familiy we now hear preached. I dont know, or presume to guess how God will work that out, I just feel he will, and it wont be by ripping these families apart or by making people like me straight. And I can only say I’ve come to that conclusion through personal prayer, and a personal relationship with God.
As far as Modern Prophets, especially the Proclamation on the Family, words of President Kimball, and other leaders of the church, and so forth. Well, a lot of things will say “here is our current policy, unless the Lord reveals something new its not changing. … we dont know everything on this matter or how it will be resolved” They say that, and then they turn around and say “This is doctrine, it wont change.” Well, a lot of similar happend when they were saying that Blacks would not recieve the priesthood. Scriptures were quoted, unchanging doctrine was proclamed, and then after 150 years a revelation was recieved, and it changed.
I believe that happend not because God couldn’t have straightened the matter out sooner, or because the Prophets and leaders weren’t inspired of God. I believe it happened because leaders are human, but also the culture and climate at the time. I think sometimes God gives us a lesser law, because we can’t handle the greater law. The opinions and culture of that time would not have been supportive or a good growth experience for Black people in those years. It would have been a stumbling stone for other members at that time that were racist. So for a hundred and fifty years, some of Gods children were temporarily denied blessings that he gladly would have extended to them, while slowly he changed, and prepared his people for greater light and knowledge.
Slowly on the matter of Gender and Sexual Orientation, God is changing and preparing his people, in my opinion, receive greater light and knowledge on the matter. At the current climate of the world, we need the procimation on the family. I dont think its completely accurate. I can’t see how we can be so black and white on the issue of Gender- alot of which is cultural, and a lot of other aspects of it, both physically and emotionally that are clearly not always black and white as the proclamation proclaims them to be. But, there is also a lot of good in that document- as far as helping husbands and wifes work more equally together, and reminding people how important treating your family correctly, and raising them with morals and values is. I also think its important for the church as a statement so that they can continue to take the gospel to other countries that are far far less than tollerant. If they were to change that now, I imagine there would be countries, like Russia, that they wouldn’t be able to do their work in, and share other valuable and important beliefs.
Is it painful, and hurtful sometimes. Does it create a culture that misunderstands people, and denys some the blessings I think they will ultimately be entitled to. Yes. But, I think in time that will change, and already its changed a lot. But at the pace that will not hurt the work and kingdom of God going forth as it needs to into the world. Its all about Gods timing, and I think mercifully, to many of his LGBT/SSA Mormon sons and daughters, he has provided a path of personal revelation, and personal comfort and peace. Sometimes, our opinions are going to change, and not agree with the church. I think thats fine. Sometimes, we will have to take a different path, that may hurt our friends and family and ward members. But ultimately I think all will be made right in the end, and probably not exactly in the way I nor my church leaders Imagine it, but in a way by which no one feels ripped off.
Thats my thoughts, my opinions, and why I now dont personally side with my church on the issues of Gender and Marriage equality, and same-sex relationships. But I still believe in the Gospel, and in Prophets and revelation, and the Book of Mormon.