MCS is your typical single Mormon in his late 20’s. He faithfully attends his YSA ward, and is one of the Same Ten People who rotate through all the hard callings. You’d never guess he was gay, but he is, surprise! He graduated from BYU with a degree in history a few years ago and, seeing as history factories across America shut their doors during the 2009 financial crisis, will start a professional program this fall.
The Church has done an inadequate job of meeting the needs of gay, young single adults. I don’t mean to speak for others who are older than me, or who have entered mixed-orientation marriages, or who have left the Church for a same-sex relationship, or who have re-committed to celibacy after a time out of the Church. I’m speaking as a 28-year old, gay, single Mormon, committed to the Gospel but uncertain of my future in the Church. I am grateful for recent efforts to reach out to people like me.
However, I have some questions, and the answers have been non-existent.
1) It’s said that being gay is okay, as long as you don’t act on it. What does this mean?
Clearly sex is off-limits to a gay Mormon wanting to stay in the Church. But is kissing bad? How about hand holding? Non-platonic cuddling? Platonic cuddling? Acknowledging another man’s attractiveness out loud? Turning my head when a shirtless guy runs past (this is the most wonderful time of the year, by the way)? Where’s the line? Is there one? Talk to a gay Mormon and you’ll hear a lot of opinions on this; talk to a straight Mormon and you’ll hear even more. But nobody seems to know anything for sure, and the Brethren have been silent. Every bishop has his opinion, of course. But what is the Lord’s opinion?
2) What is my old age supposed to look like?
Someday I will retire, and my career won’t occupy much time. My nieces and nephews will have families of their own, my siblings will be in grandchildrenland, and my parents will have passed. Straight members of the Church have plenty of options within the organization to find fulfillment, including serving senior missions and working in the temple. As a gay man, none of these options are open to me. When my career is over, what should I do to fill my time? Visit historic sites by myself? Go on singles cruises? Clearly, the Church as an institution needs to make room for us. There are myriad policy changes that would be helpful and relatively non-controversial. What is the will of the Lord?
3) Where should I attend church services?
Age 31 is looming large in my life, and the idea of aging out of YSA and attending church with a bunch of families is less than appealing. All those young families, many of them peers I have known for years, with their coordinating outfits and FHE reports and Sacrament meeting cacophony, can be intimidating to someone like me. Those things will apparently never be mine, but every talk and lesson is geared toward building them up. There is little nourishment for me at church, and attending meetings is more a function of obedience than fulfillment.
Treatment of straight singles in the Church is a major issue, and others smarter than me have gone in-depth on it. However, we have had silence from East South Temple on the gays. We are a significant portion of the membership. The Lord said every soul is great in His sight. But does the Lord’s Church truly have a place for us? If so, where?
4) Is being gay an eternal characteristic?
So far, the consensus among straight leaders seems to be no, and that in the next life this “burden” will be removed. However, many gay members (myself included) have received powerful personal revelation saying that I am how I am for a reason, and that this is an eternal characteristic. I don’t know what my afterlife will be like, whether I’ll be in an eternal partnership with a man, or if I’ll miss out on exaltation and settle for life in one of the other Celestial Degrees, whatever that entails.
It would be wonderful if we could have doctrine on this. A 15-person solemn declaration, not just General Authorities speaking off-the-cuff in firesides about an issue that does not personally affect them at all. Could the Lord have a revelation for us? Or are the Church and its members to remain in darkness? What is the word of the Lord?
These are only four questions; I have many others. I’m not the first to ask them, and I won’t be the last. However, until I have answers, my life stays on hold. I have no good examples, and no clear direction. I feel like a pioneer. It’s very lonely out here on the plains, only God as a travel companion. And unlike the handcart companies, there are no Sweetwater rescues on the horizon—only more snow, and more cold. Occasionally an angel intervenes, but for the most part, we’re out here alone in the lone and dreary world. Isn’t there any help for us?
I find myself aching more and more for the men I sustain as prophets and seers to prophesy and see.