Stumbling Blocks

Shortly after the birth of our first child, my husband and I made the decision to bring our children up in faith. This was new, in particular for me, and something of a return, for my husband, who had been a practicing Buddhist for well over a decade. When we thought of what we wanted for our family, we both kept remembering LDS families we knew as kids- and how good those families were, without exception. That is one of the main things that brought us to the doors of our local Mormon church- 20 year old recollections of childhood friends. But it turned out, like so many things in life, those recollections were not as simple or one-dimensional as our child-minds understood.

Stuart Matis used to give me a ride home from school; his youngest sister and I were in the same grade, and the whole Matis family often included me in activities, in caroling, at dances, in games and always made me welcome. When Stuart killed himself on the steps of the Los Altos stake center in February of 2000, I was far from home, and had not seen or spoken to my friend in years. Shocked and sad, I wanted to reach out, but knew they didn’t need another long-lost person showing up on their doorstep. Time moved on, and thoughts of them receded.

When my oldest baby was 8 months old, I found myself, one Sunday, at the doors of an LDS chapel. I sat in the back, didn’t talk to anyone, and held my squirmy baby on my lap. Why was I there? I didn’t really know. Ostensibly, it was to hear the music, but I was looking for something, too. Looking for something good for my new, small family and instinct and faded memories had brought me to the chapel. It was a fast and testimony meeting, and as I listened to the kids get up and bear their simple testimonies, I knew I wanted this for my family. My heart changed in that moment.

My heart knew where it was going. But with that realization, memories of Stuart and his family came crashing in, and my mind was thrown into turmoil.

Over the next few weeks, I revisited old memories; I read the obituaries and the sad letters, and excerpts from the books and articles about Stuart’s life. I found myself conflicted. This church had so much of what I was looking for, and had so much good, and yet I have gay family members and friends- How could I reconcile the two- or was it even possible?

For me, this isn’t about politics, grand policies, or sweeping generalizations. This is deeply personal; the gospel of Jesus Christ is nothing else if not deeply personal. There is so much rhetoric, from all directions, finding your own peace, especially if you have loved ones involved, is painfully difficult.

I began asking questions, reading and talking with the Lord. When I got what sounded like screwy information from someone, I checked it with my own heart, and realized there is a whole lot of culture and sociality mixed in with doctrine on the subject. This was my first experience of trusting my own heart, and distilling the Gospel of Christ from the culture of Mormonism- and I wasn’t even a member yet. To be clear, in no way am I claiming any sort of authority for anything but my own heart.

I know what the scriptures say about homosexuality. But the scriptures are also full of things we don’t take literally or that we temper with agency and compassion. Does anyone beat their children with rods anymore? Do we hack off the hands of people who take things? Do we stone adulterers? And the really big thing, I think I understand correctly, didn’t the mission of Christ fulfill Mosaic Law and create the new and everlasting covenant? Isn’t the most important cornerstone of that covenant being that we are to love God and love one another, in that order? This is what I have chosen to hold onto.

And so I am a Mormon.

I have not reconciled some of what the Church teaches with what I personally believe. There are things I do not have answers to, yet I am unwilling to just “shelve” them, as the popular saying goes. My loved ones are not something I can put on a shelf like a teapot and not think about. The moral debates that take place are not generalizations for me- what are ideals and questions of obedience for some, to me have faces, names and tender hearts. Painting the issue of being Christian, Mormon and Gay with a broad brush serves no one.

Ironically (or perhaps not), it was the example of the Matis family themselves that helped me realize I could hold my beliefs and still be a faithful Mormon.

So, as a faithful member, I now bumble along, working my own salvation, and trying to live the teachings of our Savior. In a world that is imperfect, I have found solace and comfort in His teachings. In a church that is run by called, estimable but still fallible people, I have found a home in spite of the world.

Comments

  1. You mention what the scriptures say about homosexuality, etc. Most people do not understand the difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law is impossible to keep, and God knew this, hence Jesus Christ, God Himself, sacrificing Himself on the cross.
    In Saint Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus makes an astounding claim. He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. In brief, Jesus is saying that the law and the teachings of the prophets were preliminary sketches of God’s will and He will now be and teach its fullness.
    So, in essence, homosexuality is a sin that is an abomination in the eyes of God. This is NT as well as OT. Read Corinthians and/or Romans. Saint Paul makes many mentions of this. The Law is a mirror for us to evaluate ourselves against the will of God Himself. Since we are imperfect humans sinning against a perfect, infinite Holy God, we are held accountable. An unrepentent homosexual will not inherent the kingdon of God any more than an unrepentent thief or murderer. So says the Holy Scriptures. Failure to heed the truth does not make one immune to the consequences. Mormons, unfortunately do not teach about hell. There is a heaven and there is a hell. Contrary to what our Catholic brothers teach, there is no purgatory. People will be sent to both. Saint John 14:6 makes this perfectly clear.
    BTW, I’m not a Catholic or Mormon, or fundamentalist. I’m a confessing member of the orthodox Lutheran church.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    This is beautifully put, Tracy. My feelings are similar to yours. You learned early the secret to being an intelligent yet faithful Latter-day Saint, and it is experiential knowledge that will serve you well.

  3. Tracy,

    You are probably fortunate that you have grappled with uncertainty and doubt about these things from the beginning. Many of us who grew up in the Church have had to overcome a lot of silly dogma to get to where you are, and it isn’t always easy. Of course, it isn’t easy to be where you are either.

    I don’t think the purpose of your post is to debate the merits of the Church’s position on homosexuality, per se, but just in case anyone’s interested, I’ve always thought Nate Oman’s post over at a certain obscure LDS group blog was interesting:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3025

    Aaron B

  4. Just as I believe that our evangelical brothers and sisters need to repent from the awful things they say about us (no matter how pure their ideological intentions), I believe that mainstream Mormons need to repent from the awful way we have treated our gay brothers and sisters (no matter how pure our ideological intentions).

  5. Aaron- thanks for the link to Nate’s post. I usually appreciate his point of view, and am off to read it.

    Thank you for your kind words, Kevin. This was a hard post to write, because the feelings are tender and just beneath the surface. I hope I handled it with the sensitivity it deserves.

  6. Homosexuals should be treated like anyone else. I’ve worked with homosexuals, athiests, agnostics, Mormons, Jehovah Winesses, buddhists, wiccans, you name it…
    Everyone sins, but certain sins are worse than others. Murder is far worse than cursing. Both are sins, both offend God. Men sleeping with men is sinning in a unique way, because, like people sleeping with each other out of wedlock, it is a sin against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
    Homosexuals should be loved like anyone else, but their actions should never be affirned, praised, or accepted as normal, because they are not.

  7. Tracy, thanks for your comments. This is my favorite of your posts for BCC so far. Taryn (whose hands are busy) concurs — she had to resolve similar issues a few years ago when she was baptized.

    As a Mormon graduate student in California, I spent years having to talk with people about my feelings regarding Stuart Matis’s death. The answer I have given — the only answer I can find within myself to give — is that, for his sake and for the sakes of many others, I pray that God has a better, more inclusive plan than is yet apparent.

  8. John, it’s so easy to say that when you don’t have a face, a person you love, attached to the statement. When you do, it changes your point of view. Where but for the grace of God go I…

    Thank you RT, and your wife as well. I agree, it is just something we must have faith in.

  9. Tracy: You’ve read my fragile feelings on this. I have nothing to add here but a point of connection. When I read about Stuart Matis’ death one evening years ago, it led to an unexpected and overwhelming faith crisis. I had successfully corralled my feelings for several years, refusing to probe my own thoughts and emotions on the matter too deeply. Reading his story broke something inside me. I cried for hours. But I’m still here. Still asking. Still loving. Glad you are, too.

  10. Hmm, #6, I don’t know. It seems to me that as long as we approach salvation as a contest of which sins are worse than someone else’s, I think we’ll never really figure out the message of grace and atonement. That’s what the core of Christianity is about, isn’t it?

    I’ll just wait for April conference. Maybe they’ll announce the hierarchy of sins so that each of us can calculate our Sainthood quotient, and figure out how much more repentance we need to do in order to earn forgiveness.

    Til then, I’ll go back to lurking….

  11. Thank you, Tracy. I’m without words.

  12. Tracy, this is a complex and compelling post. Not sure that I have anything to add accept that I am very moved by it. Thank you.

  13. Men sleeping with men is sinning in a unique way, because, like people sleeping with each other out of wedlock, it is a sin against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    Except that there are a lot of homosexuals that are married.

    Homosexuals should be loved like anyone else, but their actions should never be affirned, praised, or accepted as normal, because they are not.

    If God is the creator then the creation is His ultimate text. Homosexuality is part and parcel of the creation. From birds and reptiles to primates, one can observe homosexuality in a wide variety of species. Homosexuality exists in every human culture. It’s an essential trait of humanity. Therefore it is normal that some members of humanity are homosexual and act accordingly. That’s how God made them.

    Notice, Paul’s view of sex does not reflect the status that Mormons confer on marriage. Paul is quite clear that celibacy is better. Mormons believe the opposite. There is a reason for Mormons to get married young. That reason is that no species controls procreation. One function of marriage is to legitimize the inevitable. Therefore, Mormon theology understands sex better than Paul and has a more reasonable attitude about sex.

    More to the point, it is probably not reasonable to read Paul’s injunction against sex slaves and pedophilia as an injunction against married sex among adults.

    Regardless, had Paul known about the consensus on homosexuality among life scientists of all the relevant disciplines then he might have evaluated sex quite differently. When we deny the nature of the creation in favor of dogma then we only undermine our capacity for love and inspiration.

  14. I hope that we don’t let a random lutheran troll spoil what is a deeply moving thread and interesting discussion.

  15. If you have to call me a troll, Anon, at least give me the courtesy to capitalize Lutheran. :)

  16. Hellmut, anon was referring to John at comments #1 and 6, not you.

    Aaron B

  17. Thomas Parkin says:

    Tracy,

    My understanding of ‘shelving’ a thing isn’t to stop exploring – as you say, “asking questions, reading and talking with the Lord” – while hoping that SLC gives a definitive (and acceptable to our feelings) doctrinal fix. Rather, it means setting our trouble aside enough that we do not estrange ourselves from the ordinances of the gospel and the companionship of the Holy Ghost – while continuing to explore with a heart that is humble, teachable and willing to submit. From this distance, it seems to me this is pretty much what you are doing.

    ~

  18. herodotus says:

    This is a great post. I’m not sure I can write with the same level of personal involvement, so any remarks I make will probably seem cheap by comparison.

    My personal view of homosexuality is influenced by two basic facts. First, I have absolutely no “gaydar.” It just never occurs to me to wonder about someone’s sexuality. Secondly, the few people I know who are openly homosexual are magnificent people. As a result, I suppose I take a fairly simple view towards it. I consider it to be a sin like other sins and tend to reject the idea of a “special category” for homosexuality. Perhaps it belongs in a “special category,” but since I don’t see much utility in finding “special” reasons to condemn others, I’ve never really scoured the scriptures for such justification.

    As an M.D. I acknowledge that there appear to be genetic predispositions for about every kind of impulse imaginable. On the other hand, I tend to reject the idea that a predisposition implies either validation of the impulse or the loss of agency. I also make no claims to having a “perfect understanding” of the issue. I’m happy to leave the application of any judgement or condemnation to God; I hope others will be equally understanding of my own flaws.

  19. Tracy, this is beautifully written and full of the hope I would like for myself and that I wish all converts could come to. Thank you for sharing it.

  20. Welcome to the fold. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people are deeply committed to the Church and the Gospel and have similar worries and concerns. Their voices are generally not as strident as those who have left, but their passion is often equally potent and to my view much more credible.

  21. Hellmut: If God is the creator then the creation is His ultimate text. Homosexuality is part and parcel of the creation. From birds and reptiles to primates, one can observe homosexuality in a wide variety of species. Homosexuality exists in every human culture. It’s an essential trait of humanity. Therefore it is normal that some members of humanity are homosexual and act accordingly. That’s how God made them.

    This is a terrible argument that you insist on repeating even though it has been repeatedly and thoroughly shown to you by many people why the reasoning is completely illegitimate. I won’t repeat the exercise because this isn’t the place and anyways it seems to be futile with you. I’ll just note the fact that the reasoning is worthless and you continue to use it nevertheless.

    In response to Tracy’s post . . . Prohibition of homosexual acts isn’t something I’ve had any difficulty accepting because it makes sense within the framework of the Plan of Salvation with exhaltation of man/woman partnerships (and, probably, because I’ve never had homosexual inclinations). But I can definitely sympathize with those who have a hard time with it. There are other things in the gospel/Church that don’t make complete sense to me but I have just enough faith in other, core aspects that I’m able to go forward not having all the answers.

  22. herodotus says:

    Mormons aren’t the only people strugglig with this question. There’s an interesting article in today’s Washington Post about the coming vote to dismember the Episcopal Church over the “gay bishop” issue.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/03/AR2006120301186.html

  23. I am tired of this topic and want to only make the following observation. I am not interested in debating the merits of the arguments made in this post in support of Tracy M’s position.

    LDS Church leadership is emphatically opposed to gay marriage and the normalization of gay sex and lifestyles. All 15 of the Q12 and FP are united

    The vast majority of the TR holders in my opinion agree and sustain the SLC leadership in this regard.

    There is no widespread movement in the church for anything other then this. There is no “struggle” like the Anglicans.

    What generally happens with members and Investigators who feel otherwise is they either make peace with themselves and “put it on the shelf” or they leave the church.

  24. Please, please, PLEASE! Do not turn this into an arguement for or againt gay marriage. Nowhere did I ever broach that topic, and I am not really interrested in opeing that box.

    This was simply me indentifying and sharing a deeply personal, for many reasons, struggle I have had, and yet I have found profound faith as well.

    If this devolves into a SSM thread, comments will be shut down.

    Thanks.

  25. LIke Tracy, I am an convert, having converted from Hinduism. I think what happens in our Church is this – people take certain social mores and ways of believing, that are specific to their socio-cultural environment, and make the mistake of confusing it with what the Gospel actually says. Sometimes folks who, say, grew up in Utah or Idaho get their cultural beliefe and the Gospel mixed up – just becasue they are used to believe certain things, and then there is contention, when other members who dont bring that cultural baggage, interprete some passage in a different manner.

  26. Tracy, I have been challenged by many things like this while I have been a member of the Church. One thing that I like to remember is that which Dallin H. Oaks has recently stated, “I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility.” To me, this implies that personal revelation and a personal relationshop is needed to understand every single situation others may be facing. I have heard t taught over and over that we as LDS need to err on the side of Mercy.

    Even if we convert “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” to “Judge not unrighteously..” I think we need to analyze what unrighteously means in the context of D&C 121.

  27. I apologize if anyone thinks anyone is trying to hijack the thread that Tracy started. This was not my attempt. I was only trying to point out the orthodox view on things. This will be my final post here.

    To Matt:

    Some judgments we are forbidden to engage in, some we are commanded to do. Judgement means we are forbidden to judge the final disposition of someone’s soul, whether they will go to heaven or hell. We are allowed to point out doctrinal error to our brothers and sisters.

    The judgement we are told to practice is the judgement of prophesy and doctrine. –1 Corinthians 14:29 & 2 Peter 2:1-3 to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good.

  28. John, you are welcome to comment- and even to do so if your views are not in line anyone here- my only concern was another (futile) devolving into a SSM thread. Not at all what I was tring to say.

  29. Nick Literski says:

    I think Tracy’s very moving post illustrates the fine balancing act that any thinking person engages in when it comes to matters of faith. I would expect that nearly every member of a particular faith struggles with certain issues of belief, history, or practice. The question is where the threshold lies for each person, beyond which they can no longer be willing to participate.

    For me, there was a lengthy period of time where I had issues with current practice. I was frankly of a somewhat fundamentalist bent, but couldn’t find any legitimate authority claims in any of the breakoffs, so I remained solidly within the LDS church, believing that all would one day work out. Part of my attitude stemmed from being an avid student of church history. I saw the Nauvoo era as the “golden age of Mormonism,” and most everything since then in stages of departure. Still, I was a “true believer” that I was a member of the one true religion on the face of the earth, and I hung on.

    Then, four years ago, I began intensive research for a forthcoming book. I spent a great deal of time with primary sources which have never been analyzed or published. Much of what I found reinforced my belief, though again, it was primarily in the early aspects of Mormonism. Eventually, however, I began to uncover things that, at least in my mind, simply didn’t square with the faith and historical claims of the church. I also began to have issues with the whole model of “sin” and “atonement” as taught in the church. It’s fair to say that I became more of a skeptic, and went through a period of “going through the motions,” where I still clung to some level of belief, and actively participated in the church. That remaining level of belief wasn’t the only aspect, however. There was also the fact that I was married and had children. I simply couldn’t imagine the kind of disruption and conflict that would result from a change at the time.

    Throughout all this, I struggled in the same way that Stuart Mattis did. Like Stuart, I never followed through with those feelings, because I was a believer. It was always my family and the church that kept me from making those sorts of decisions. In the end, however, that foundation was found wanting. My marriage was increasingly filled with intense conflict. My faith was increasingly marginal. Inevitably, I think, I reached a point where some very strong personal needs and desires outweighed my commitments to the church and my marriage. I hit that point where the balancing act could no longer be maintained, and I asked that my name be removed from the records of the church.

    Now, why have I gone on at length like this? I suppose it ultimately is to say that there was a time when I thought nothing could take me away from what I thought was the “one true church.” Unexpected things took place, however, and I found myself making a dramatic change in course. As much as that change has brought me a happier life, there is admittedly a sense of loss. Whether we know it or not, we each have a tipping point—a place where the balancing act fails. I just hope that each of us can find joy, wherever we happen to be on that scale.

  30. Tracy,

    In your view what is the list of typical ideas, doctrines that you would consider simply cultural ideas or doctrines based on Utah or Idaho regional LDS culture. I hear this a lot in the bloggernacle and have yet to hear specifically what is simply cultural and what is “the gospel of Jesus Christ”

  31. bbell, that’s threadjack no.2 you’re working on. Tracy’s post isn’t about doctrine vs. culture, and she doesn’t owe you a list.

  32. That’s very sad, Nick. I am happy that you found something that works for you.

    Tom #21, I am sorry that I am frustrating you. You might have noticed that I only admitted a couple of days ago to be wrong on BCC. That happens when I am confronted with quality reasoning. If you think that I have ignored quality arguments, I will be happy to explore that. Shoot me an e-mail (hellmut at mac.com) or start your own thread and we can try to hash it out without imposing on Tracy.

    For now, I feel that Nick’s experience validates my reasoning. According to the tenets of the life sciences about sex and homosexuality, Nick’s Mormon experience is predictable. Unfortunately, so is Stuart Mathis’s. The gospel is the good news because it embraces and transcends human nature. Denial only breeds alienation; neither are good news.

  33. Steve,

    I must be missing the intent of the post.

    Can you perma-bloggers put up a post on the topic of what a more liberal LDS member would consider a “true” LDS doctrine vs a cultural doctrine.
    Maybe Kevin or J. Stapely could write it up.

  34. bbell- the intent of my post was to share a deeply personal trial I had to go through before deciding if I could adopt this faith. I had to look at my feelings about my loved ones, and how those feelings might be in opposition to the Church- and could I be OK with that. I also had to examine the repercussions of choices a childhood friend of mine made. This was not something I read about in Newsweek- I KNEW them, was welcome in their home, and am still friends with the youngest daughter. I had to wade throught my feelings and find my own peace. That is what this post is about.

    I attempted to keep my tone personal and not make any political statements or value statements. The fact that I knew Stuart Matis and his family should not be seen as a political stance.

    Obviously, I choose to become LDS. And, I sustain and love our leaders, local and otherwise. But I also frequently check in with my own heart, and there are some positions I just don’t feel very Christlike adopting. I refrain for joining the fray, simply because I do not know what the answers are. What I do do, is love my family, and try and exhibit that, no matter who they are.

  35. John, you are not orthodox. You are LUTHERAN, you radical protestant.

  36. Thanks for this post, Tracy.

  37. sarah lott says:

    I suppose your post resonates with almost everyone in the bloggernaccle; it’s why we engage in these discourses and find solace in our mutually faithful, occasionally dissonant spiritual awareness. When I was eight years old, I asked my father a very precocious question about the nature of God that is still unanswered. My father, who is by all accounts both inordinately brilliant and devoutly LDS replied, “You know, that’s one of the questions I plan to ask God someday.” That was a great lesson to learn early on in my spiritual development. Learn what we can, keep wondering about what we can’t, and know that we will eventually learn from the ultimate source.
    -SL
    PS I enjoy your contributions Tracy, you’re a great addition to the ‘naccle

  38. I’ve forwarded this to some good friends. Thank you, Tracy. We have taken this important issue on only with platitudes, I’m afraid. (“Of course we love gays, it’s their sin we hate” which sounds far too much like, “Some of my best friends are Black, but they’re still a cursed people.”) I am certain we will be dealing with this issue in far greater depth than we now do–simply because we’ll have to. As families like the Matises come forward to tell their very personal stories, and as people like Carol Lynn Pearson write movingly about homosexuality, the discussion will HAVE to break free from platitudes.

  39. As families like the Matises come forward to tell their very personal stories, and as people like Carol Lynn Pearson write movingly about homosexuality, the discussion will HAVE to break free from platitudes.

    But probably only when it’s written about in the Ensign or the Church News or shows up on Meridian. I’m willing to bet that most members outside a few large areas of the Church have no idea who you’re talking about.

  40. I really appreciated this post. Thanks.

  41. Connell O'Donovan says:

    Tracy:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful approach to this complex and painful subject. I really appreciated reading your POV and understand all too well your dilemma. Eventually I had to leave Mormonism, because I am an “unrepentant homosexual” and despite years of faithful and compassionate service to others, fasting, prayer, reorientation “therapies” of all sorts, and consant vigilence by priesthood superiors, I remained completely Gay and profoundly suicidal. My options were to either remain in the LDS church and kill myself from the guilt I felt over my desire to love a man, or be “delivered to the buffetings of Satan” and see if I could find peace outside your church.

    I never met Stuart. But I live near Los Altos and Stuart and I shared a dear friend in common, a local Mormon bishop, named Bob. This bishop loves, respects, and trusts me dearly, and gave Stuart my phone number on February 23. Stuart agreed to call and talk with me, a fellow sojourner out in this wilderness, on Friday, the 25th. Instead, Stuart took his life that day on the steps of the stake center. He, like FAR TOO MANY OTHERS, sealed his testimony against the church’s homophobia with his very blood.

    I entreat you all to visit the “Book of Remembrance” of the Affirmation website, and read the biographies of the many Gay and Bisexual Mormon men who have killed themselves to relieve the suffering brought on by their religion. I’m a historian and helped compile the names and biographical information on these people. The “statistics” are alarming and should become a wake up call for all people of faith to re-evaluate how they express the LOVE they are commanded to offer to “the least of these my bretheren”.

    Of the 33 documented suicides since 1965 (and trust me, there are MANY more), the average age of the Gay Mormon suicide is 31.5. The youngest was 20 and the oldest was 62. At least ten were returned missionaries. Two were Eagle Scouts. Seven were BYU graduates and another seven were BYU students at the time of their suicides. One was a BYU professor (and his Gay grandson recently committed suicide as well). At least six killed themselves on church property (chapels, temple grounds, or BYU campus). And things are only getting worse. From 1965 to 1999, 21 men killed themselves. In just the past six years, at least TWELVE already have.

    With every breath of my life I choose to stand with my GLBTI brothers and sisters (that’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Intersexed, for those not in the know) in working, even fighting for a world where we are loved and respected BECAUSE of who we are, not despite it; BECAUSE of the incredible gifts like beauty, creativity, empathy, and innovation which we bring to the Feast to share. While others have sealed their witness with blood, I decided to live to voice my testimony. In an ironic twist of fate, I think we are in a very real way angels sent to prove the “cities of the plain”, to test your hospitality, your treatment of the stranger, the outcast, the downtrodden.

    And quite honestly, the report which I have to turn in on the LDS Church is absolutely dismal. I was treated HORRIBLY by LDS leaders; the amount of ecclesiastical abuse I suffered at their hands was overwhelming. The misinformation I was given as “fact”, the stereotyping I suffered, the assumptions made about me and my “lifestyle”, the unjust and unjustified judgments passed on me were enough to drive anyone to the blessed rest of eternal sleep. But I won’t give up. I will strive with you to help make your church and this world better, kinder, more loving. All of you, please read Carol Lynn Pearson’s new book, “No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones” if you wish to discover more about the ways we can all work together for a better world. I hope one day that I can grow strong enough, big enough, gracious enough to forgive.

    But for now, I just bear witness….

  42. What an interesting and well-expressed post. I’m also a convert and while I don’t have to wrestle with this particular church doctrine, I can understand the difficulties you feel with trying to mesh everything together. I’m mostly impressed with the maturity you seem to handle the incongruities you feel. That’s very admirable, and I know many people who give up and leave the church before giving it enough prayer and thought. Learning about why certain things are the way they are truly is among the treasures of knowledge that Heavenly Father promises to us. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Tracy:

    Religion. It goes with prejudice and bias, as well as lots of other good things. When you can not refer back to anything concrete, you can say whatever you want and to hate whomever you wish who disagrees with you on this vapor-subject.

    I think this is the primary and best function of religion: to have to love everyone, for we are all God’s children. There are even some apostles we have to love, like it or not, because they are people. Gays are counted. (But how we can hate the sin and love the sinner is beyond my comprehension. When we see sin it should be with the sorrow of unfulfilled potential and loss.)

    Homophobia is another manifestation of our xenophobia, for we truly fear people who are different. But it is more. In addition to just the basic xenophobia, it looks like God made males, especially, to like other males. Strong male bonding could be a manifestation of this imperative. In that borderland condition it appears that quite a few males who are struggling against nascent desire become strongly homophobic as a separation defense.

    We are required to forgive (love) all men (women). So, I have been thinking, as an act of love and understanding, as a straight man of long standing, what it would be like to be loved by and love, in an erotic way, another man. I have decided it is another dimension of existence which I will never experience or understand well. But, looking deeply, I can sort of understand. The seeds must be there somewhere, unsprouted.

    Of all religions Mormons have it easiest. Regardless of what John, the Lutheran, thinks, not having a hell to thrust our neighbors into is a great comfort. It means that God is a God of love and will not condemn his offspring to everlasting punishment. It means that we can honor and love all religions because they are all religions of truth, pointing toward different dwellings in God’s kingdom. We should be the most accepting and tolerant of all people.

    Our gay brothers will be accepted into the kingdom of God, they are at least as good as the Baptists or Catholics, or even the Lutherans. However our own feelings of non-acceptance and hatred will demote any one of us to the lowest estate. Love is required in the Celestial Kingdom.

    Bob

  44. What amazing and well thought posts, for the most part. Just a question. Gay men who are married in Canada, Massachusetts, and Spain……are they sinning?

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