Despise Not the Revelations

This guest post comes from Jon, who is a friend of the blog. He’s a student of statistics and son of parents who follow the admonition of Paul.

I saw this phrase first on the door of a Catholic parish in Santa Fe, Argentina: “Every child that is born is proof that God has not yet given up on human beings.” The idea appealed to me at the time, both because babies are adorable and because as a missionary I had a daily habit of giving up on humanity. An element of that phrase has been working on me in the nearly 10 years since: the idea that people enter the world bearing divine information—that we are each a revelation.

Jesus is the ultimate example. We call Him the Word of God. That title evokes the idea that God spoke and the information that came out was Jesus, or that God wrote and the ink on the page spelled out Jesus. He came to earth, in a sense, as a projection of the mind and heart of God in human form. He is the personification of the fullness of divine revelation. All the visions of all the prophets could not express the depth and breadth and height of the love of God. Only Love in physical form would suffice.

Perhaps Heaven has deposited in each of us a message for the world. We may not be THE Word of God, but each of us may be A Word of God. We are each a part of a divine story, a holy message about what is, what was, and what will be. Though I’m sure I’m not a terribly important word in that story, it is not complete without me, and it will never be complete until I release myself into the world. The only way to contribute my part, the revelation that God deposited inside me, is to live my life as me.

The place of gay people in the Mormon Plan of Salvation is unclear. As a person who has spent my entire life as a Mormon and as a gay person, I’ve mentally walked through all the scenarios and decided that there are compelling reasons to almost every perspective. Many people who approach the topic arrive at the same frustrating conclusion: we need more revelation. Until God makes His will clear to the leadership of the church, no amount of private prayer or public activism will make a meaningful difference.

I would love for us to open our eyes a little wider to the revelations being born every day. A significant number of the children being born into Mormon families every day are, and will continue to be, gay. Every one of them comes bearing a message that we cannot afford to miss. God is speaking in them. Our vision of the destiny of the universe will never be complete until every one of God’s Words is heard and added to the story. Perhaps the problem is not that revelation isn’t coming; it is that we are throwing the revelations away as they arrive.

Jacob 4 is a beautiful passage of scripture, and I particularly like verse 8:

“Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.”

I learned a powerful truth one day while reading that verse: I am a revelation of God. By despising myself, I was rejecting my most direct and personal source of insight into the Heavens. Only by accepting who I was would I be able to receive the mind of God as it is expressed in me.

If same-sex couples and their families are removed from the church, the loss to those who remain will be enormous. Each of these people—every one of them—has a terrifically important message for the church and for the world, which is all the more essential because it is different. We have not begun to imagine the things the church could learn by worshiping beside these fellow Saints and witnessing them working out their salvation in their own powerful way. So many divine revelations will be lost. To use the words of John Greenleaf Whittier made familiar to us by Thomas S. Monson:

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

Comments

  1. As the same applies to our relationship with God, the only person that can truly remove you from the church is yourself.

  2. Jon, this was breathtaking, profound, and beautifully written. I can’t thank you enough for sharing it.

  3. Jon, as KAS said, your thoughts are beautifully written, but I would turn them back in your direction. Might not some have been born to try to change your mind?

  4. Jon: thank you for sharing your witness with us.

  5. That introduction. Oh my heck. Intermediate genealogy declarations now matter again.

  6. “Immediate” genealogy declarations now matter again.

  7. Lee Williams says:

    Your reflections were very moving for me. As an active, and temple worthy gay Mormon I have found refuge this week reflecting on three pillars of my faith. Similar to your likening of God’s children to words, I see us as truths. So I frequently contemplate these words: All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. D&C 93:30. I have my life and breath in this sometimes puzzling sphere where God has placed me to act as myself.

    Secondly, this verse in the 5th Lectures on Faith:
     “…and is called the Son because of the flesh–and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer,..and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.” If the Savior Himself suffered contradictions, then surely the one contradiction central to who I am can be suffered and borne on the shoulders of Him who understands and bears all.

    And finally, the last verse of the Hymn Though In The Outward Church Below: “O! awful thought, and is it so? Must all mankind the harvest know? Is every man a wheat or tare? Me for the harvest, Lord prepare.” I try to keep my eye fixed on the Savior and as the wheat and tares sometimes are inextinguishable to me, I look to Him alone as my guide.

  8. Amazing.

  9. I have never been able to swallow this implicit contention that your sexual abnormality is any different or more privileged than my daughter’s congenital birth defects. Do we have to create entirely new categories of humanity and tell her there isn’t actually anything wrong (as she struggles to walk…seeing every minute that other can without effort) in order for her to lead a psychologically healthy life? She isn’t going to get to do a lot of things she would like to in life. How are you any better than her? Why do we have to change the Plan for you and not for her? There are plenty of physically disabled folks who will never get to have sex or have children in this life. Why are you so much better than them? Why is it supposed to be such an impossible burden for gays to live a celibate life when so many others, disabled and not, manage to pull it off however hard it may be? You aren’t God’s special little revelation, you’re just one more human with divine potential and human challenges.

  10. Anonynony, thank you for your insightful questions. I obviously cannot answer them but I can absolutely confirm that I am no better than anyone else. Glad to have your perspective here.

  11. Anony, homosexuality is not a disability.

  12. Jon, kudos for responding to Anonynony so kindly and politely. You’re way nicer than I am.

  13. No doubt the trials you describe are severe and heartbreaking, Anonynony, but there’s a difference between not being able to find that kind of love in this life and a being forbidden to find that kind of love.

  14. Wow. Thank you so so much for being willing to share in such a powerful and beautiful way. I have never thought of things this way and I’m going to be thinking in this for a while. I really appreciate your words.

  15. I believe we all have things to overcome in life. It is supposed to be a challenge. For some it is obviously harder than for others. I dont think for a moment that homosexuality is intentionally given to man by God or that perhaps we havent received or have dismissed that revelation.
    I dont know the exact reason why people are gay or have same sex attraction. I do tend to sway slightly in favor of believing it to be a disorder of sorts whether it be genetic, socially picked, up or chosen outright.
    I do know that acting on same sex attraction is a sin just as is any other immoral act.
    The answer to the dilemma at hand is not acceptance of homosexuality. I firmly believe we need to treat it just like we are treating it in the church.

  16. This is beautifully insightful. As I met and came to know and love gay friends, I pondered the very questions Aponynony asks here. Are they valid? Are my gay friends “disabled”? “Perverse”? I look at their fruits — no puns please — and consider what they bring forth. A couple of them were quite promiscuous in their younger years. But wait, many more of my strait friends were as well. Most, though, we’re like me…they met someone, fell in love, and wanted more than anything to marry that special someone. This was back in the day when they couldn’t even come out of the closet the rest of us shoved them into. We told them in many uncharitable ways that they must never, ever come out where we are because they were worse than a disabled child; back, when most such children were also put away out of the existence of family and society. We….the vast, vast majority….were uncomfortable around such folk. Or worse, ashamed. We were ashamed…

    So my friends quietly married one another in their own private ceremonies where they pledged to be faithful and true to one another in covenants known only to them and God. From there they went on to make a living, pay their bills, and go to their churches. Just like me and Honeybun, only they had a big secret they had to keep and carefully maintained facades to put between us and them lest we discover “what” they really were and put them away from us completely.

    I have learned so much from them. All of it good fruit. They have blessed my life in understanding and truth that I could have learned no other way. Thus, they are revelations from God, as Jon says, bringing forth wisdom far greater than my own.

    How many ways can God teach us to love the lepers, the Samaritans and the Gentiles among us? How long till we learn not to put away from us….these. How long till we truly “see” and “hear” His teachings that our way of doing things aren’t His? When will we learn to truly love one another as He has loved us? To stop having closets and exit doors and stiff necks and hardened hearts? When will we lay down our pride?

    When?

  17. anonforthis says:

    How are we treating it in church? I know for a fact that it’s treated differently in the church in, say, small town Eastern Idaho than in Bay Area California. (And I know this because I’ve lived in both extremes). Hopefully we treat everyone in our congregations with love and acceptance–even those who are different from us.

  18. Rob Osborn, people tend to change their mind when a loved one comes out as gay. Perhaps you’ll have a child, grandchild or someone else dear to you, that is gay, and maybe you’ll then start to see things differently. Statistically speaking, there’s a good chance this will happen to you.

  19. Anonynony: Just because some are born with a leg missing doesn’t mean everyone should hop on one leg for life. “How are you any better than her?” How are you? I don’t see you lining up to be celibate for life. “Why do we have to change the Plan for you and not for her?” Because it’s God’s plan, not ours, and gay people continue to be born into LDS families. Gay people have served missions, have been a faithful part of our communities. This policy purports to protect the children, but it does not protect the gay children at all.

  20. “If same-sex couples and their families are removed from the church, the loss to those who remain will be enormous. Each of these people—every one of them—has a terrifically important message for the church and for the world, which is all the more essential because it is different.”

    Shall we include polygamous families as well?

    In fact, why haven’t we heard any moral outrage about the exclusion of children of polygamous families? Surely you guys must have been aware of this.

    Steve: “Homosexuality is not a disability.” Careful, if the church’s doctrine on the subject is indeed immutable then you might be dashing people against the rocks with that kind of dogmatic statement.

  21. “Just because some are born with a leg missing doesn’t mean everyone should hop on one leg for life.”

    Nor does it mean that we should alter the standards of the NBA to allow for one-legged basketball players.

    “I don’t see you lining up to be celibate for life.”

    Nor do I see NBA stars amputating there legs just be fair.

  22. And yet no such melodrama when the same approach was applied to children living in polygamist arrangements. Of course supporting polygamy is not nearly as fashionable as supporting gay marriage.

  23. What about blessings and baptisms of chidren whose heterosexual parents are unmarried and or living together? Will they also be denied? If sexual sin is the problem, should not such children also be excluded?

  24. Jack, Ryan, you’re right–I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to the experience of polygamous families. There are many people whose situations I should be more aware of and sensitive too. I often think of myself when I should be thinking of others. That is true.

  25. CSC, sorry I missed your comment before. Indeed, if someone was born to change my mind about something, I hope they do!