Recently I have been asked and wondering myself “How can I honestly believe that I can enter the celestial kingdom with after living a life with a male partner, given the absolute truth of every facet that the LDS church currently teaches?” I think that I finally have a coherent enough answer to get out on the interwebs.
The Apostle Thomas.
When you first read that name what did you think of? Most will say “Doubting Thomas.” That is, after all what he is most known for by us. However, this is only one of his actions that should cause us to reflect on the Apostle. When Christ wanted to return to Judea, knowing that he probably would be murdered there, Thomas said to the others, "Let us all go that we might die with him." But Thomas was not remembered for this bravery. His claim to fame came later when he refused to acknowledge the resurrection. He just couldn't wrap his mind around it. The story goes that he needed to touch Jesus' wounds to be convinced. Among us he is known as doubting Thomas, the apostle who lacked faith. He is looked upon mostly with, dare I say, contempt at his lack of faith in the resurrected Lord. However, Thomas did believe in Christ and through that belief, he “might have life through [Christ's] name.”
While we often see Thomas as the doubter, I have to wonder how Christ looks upon him. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”. I think that Thomas, given his track record of willing sacrifice, to lay down his life for the Lord, as well as his ministry as an apostle of God that he is, even with his doubt is guaranteed a place at the right hand of God. I think that the Lord looks upon us and our hearts and sees our actions and why we did them and that is one facet of how we will be judged and found lacking at the last day, and that it is the measure by which Christ will intercede for us on judgment day.
In almost all cases, our lives will be weighed, much like the imagery of the Egyptians, and on one side will be our mistakes and sins, and on the other our positive actions. And while our positive actions alone cannot open the gates of heaven, they can demonstrate a willingness to follow Christ and serve him through serving our fellow man. The one case that I know of in which this is NOT the case is in my ancestor of the heart David son of Jesse.
David was refined and trained throughout his life. He was groomed for his position later in life through several key stages in his development before he became king. And while they were not easy and were serious trials, his perseverance allowed him to become an elect of God. As a sheppard he learned to contemplate on life, and become introspective about himself and his Father in Heaven as he was tending his flocks. As a courtier, he learned self-control, charity, and chivalrous courtesy for those around him. As an outlaw he learned much concerning human nature, particularly with regard to human nature. Each of these stages of life prepared him and sent him through the refiners fire, out of which he became a man after the Lord’s “own heart.” He became the one through whom the line of kings and the king of kings would come forth.
As we all know David sinned with Bathsheba, which was one sin along a path that lead to the murder of Uriah. However David, because of his contrite heart was able to find forgiveness for his sins, all but the murder of Uriah. Because of his time spent ruling righteously, for uniting Israel, and through following the Spirit of Christ, David was granted forgiveness for all BUT the second greatest sin. And even with the second greatest sin left unforgiven and the third greatest sin washed clean, David only lost his exaltation, but he was promised that he would not spend eternity in hell, but would be brought forth into the glory of our father who art in heaven.
So given the examples of Thomas and David, I believe that even if living with a man to whom I am committed for my life is an abomination, that while I might not achieve exaltation, if I dedicate my life towards the two great commandments and devote my life to following Christ through serving my fellow man, and living with a humble and contrite heart, that even with a partner I can achieve Celestial Glory. I still do not know if I really want a male partner in this life yet, it is something that I am still deciding, but if this mindset that I have had the past week continues then I could see myself dating guys regularly by mid-July.
Recently I have been asked and wondering myself “How can I honestly believe that I can enter the celestial kingdom with after living a life with a male partner, given the absolute truth of every facet that the LDS church currently teaches?” I think that I finally have a coherent enough answer to get out on the interwebs.
No offense, but the ad above from NOM, besides being misleading, FAILS at what it is trying to do. Realistically these guys are trying to create a campaign of traditional marriage activists. If this is their goal, then why did they start off with "Massachusetts schools teach second graders that boys can marry other boys." In any ad you should start with your strongest point first and this one is over my head. They should be outraged and focused on how gay marriage is being taught in the second grade, but not voice it as if what they are teaching isn't fact.
FACT: It is legal, in Massachusetts, for boys to marry other boys.
FACT: Second graders in Massachusetts are also learning about land masses, and most likely pangea.
That is not what the bible says happened and so are groups not in uproar about that? Because they realize that we do not live in the great society where the state is raising their kids. They relaize that they have an obligation to teach their children that they believe differently than what the schools teach. The same thing applies with Gay marriage, all the teachers are doing is stating fact. 2 Men can get married. It is a parents responsibility to raise their child and teach them the beliefs that they hold dear. If you, as a massachusetts parent believe that gay marriage is wrong then tell your kids that by all means. Tell them that you believe that marriage is defined by God as between 1 man and 1 woman. I actively encourage that. But the schools in Massachusetts are NOT teaching that Gay Marriage is how marriage should be, they are stating how it is... the facts.
That two men Can and Will get married in Massachusetts.
The second part of their propaganda was how a field trip was taken to city hall to see a gay wedding and it seen as a teachable moment. I have not been able to find the article in question, but it seems as if it was a teachable moment. Just like the JFK assasination, the Civil Rights Marches, the first interracial marriage, September 11th, September 12th, and November 5th were all teachable moments. They, like all moments in time are teachable. These times however taught us lessons of tolerance an that is what was being taught in California. At that time Gay Marriage was legal, it was a moment when two men could get married and the fact that those 18,000 marriages are still legal tells us that it is still a valid teachable moment becuase these kids were being taught about an historical event and about tolerance for others whose views may differ from yours substantially. If that is wrong, then what is right? Complete war against those that are different? Re-criminalization of homosexuality?
I can understand how the fear of a school teaching your child that gay marraige is ok can be scary and frightening, but at that time it wasn't wrong (in the eyes of the state, a part of which the school is). It may have been wrong to God, but that doesn't mean that that viewpoint should be taught in schools. There is a seperation of church and state for a reason.
The last attack that they state is " the rights of people who believe marriage means a man and a woman will no longer matter." First off even if they were right and Gay Marriage did take away the definition of straight marriage (I know it is hyperbole), why is it that their right to define marriage is greater than ours? The other aspect of this attack is that it is not going to change the fact that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Nothing can. Nothing wants to. Those advocating for equality are seeking equal marriage for everyone, including straight people.
The last part thing that I have a problem with is the actor. I really hope the audition tapes for this one get leaked too! Oh Boy! This male voice artist really doesn't do a good job at selling the story that they are going for. So for now I am grateful that NOM has a horrible sense of taste, truth and Public Relations, But I hope they keep it up because it is only helping the equality cause.
Today I had a lunch meeting with an old friend at the U. While we were ruminating on the extent and expanse of the nations political failings, we hit on one theme. Humans are afraid of shame and cannot accept failure. I am going to focus on the shame aspect today. Granted we can work to overcome this failing, but an overarching theme of human nature is this fear of shame.
Shame is something that drives us more powerfully than anything. We fear shame more that death. Doubt me? Think about seppeku, Oedipus, Caesar, your average teen suicide, and even Adam. If you think about it, Adam hid his shame using fig leaves, but ultimately he choose to leave the Garden, leave life itself, separate himself from God, from his life in order to help Eve bear her shame. Adam knew that if he ate of the fruit he would surely die and yet he did it. Why? I think it is because he could not bear the shame of being alone, the shame of having his help meet (whom he was partly responsible for) dieing. This shame was so much that he, like his descendants after him, took his own life twice because of the shame.
How often do we let shame control our lives? How often do we lie to cover up embarrassing moments? Why? If we are aware that no one is perfect, why do we continue to put on airs of perfection? To impress others? To impress ourselves? To lull ourselves into a delusion that we are better than we are? What would happen if we all began to be honest about our mistakes and admit when we are wrong? What if President Clinton had been honest and said, "Yeah I smoked Pot" or "Yes I did have sex with that woman" What if President Bush had come out and said, "I made a mistake, I goofed, I acted irrationally and sent our troops into war without accurate information" Wouldn't we be able to better make decisions and not carry about so much pain and anguish in our own lives?
If we would simply be honest with each other, with ourselves, honest with everyone, wouldn't life be so much better? After all, why do we lie? Why is it that when we are asked "does this dress make me look fat?" we all know that the answer is "no, you look beautiful"? Isn't it to not cause that person shame by lying? Isn't it better to be honest, because that way there is no shame?
Just some interesting thoughts I figured I would pass along. Let me know what you think!
Labels: MoHo Dilemma
SALT LAKE CITY 26 May 2009
Today's decision by the California Supreme Court is welcome. The issue the court decided was whether California citizens validly exercised their right to amend their own constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court has overwhelmingly affirmed their action.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the deeply held feelings on both sides, but strongly affirms its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.
Accordingly, the Church stands firmly for what it believes is right for the health and well-being of society as a whole. In doing so, it once again affirms that all of us are children of God, and all deserve to be treated with respect. The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.
So above is the Official church statement concerning the California Supreme Court ruling regarding the legality of Prop 8. Let’s review and move on from there.
First off, the line that gets me (and shows me that there might be hope if worded and approached right) is this line “The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.”From this line it is clear that one of the church’s large fears is the oppression of religion by becoming labeled as bigots and the oppression of the church as a hate group for speaking their views (which I believe they are entitled to have and speak). It shows that they also fear the implications of public education concerning homosexuality and in today’s world where parents are suing schools over a Harvey Milk presentation (I honestly think that this is about as retarded as the woman who sued Winnebago for not stating that when on cruise control you had to remain in the seat, but that is another matter entirely), they are right to be scared, as am I.
I can completely agree with the issue in schools and think that, for now, any legislation put forth concerning the legalization of Gay marriage needs to explicitly prohibit the planned teaching of homosexuality without parents consent. Let’s face it there are times when the teacher has to buckle down and answer a pestering child’s question that shouldn’t be included. This should be in place throughout elementary school and maybe into middle school, but lifted by High School where we are (supposedly) teaching students how to think critically and challenge the facts that they are being taught.
I also think that express religious considerations should be put in place just like Gov. Lynch put forth in the New Hampshire legislature. Religious protections already guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution BTW. Granted would this change the Church’s political position regarding legislative movements, but it would 1. Force them to come out into the open and state, “We think homosexuality is wrong and we are going to legislate religion,” and 2. it would provide us with many supporters who are swayed by the misinformation regarding these campaigns (see Gathering Storm for further proof of outlandish claims).
The one line that I love in this Press Release is “The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.” This is wonderful for two reasons. The first, because I think it is insanely wrong to demonize the other side. After-all, if we look at them objectively we can recognize their fears and faults within ourselves and, although a lesser degree, we cannot hate them for their stance that they believe is right, if we do then we run the risk of losing our ground that our stance, the we believe, is right. Second and most important is, “serious discussion of these issues.” This Press Release shows that they are willing to have a serious discussion, a discussion in which each side is treated with respect and dignity, a serious discussion whose goal is to come to at least a mutual understanding and become educated regarding each other, and at best a legitimate compromise that both parties can live with.
This gives me hope and I call upon the Church Leadership to offer to have some sort of conference or seminar or workshop of some sort that is either open to the public and accessible for an internet audience, or to invite leadership of several differing levels of MoHo groups that could come and listen to the Church’s view, in detail regarding homosexuality. A seminar where we would mostly listen and ask questions sparingly. This same model should be utilized by a coalition of MoHo groups to invite church leadership to where we can express our views, our beliefs, our interpretations and translations of scripture. A conference where the Church Leadership from local bishops to President Monson are invited to attend and listen and help us understand. A conference meant to bridge the divide between us so that, while we might not be one group, at least there is some connection, some understanding between the groups so that so many no longer feel like they need to hang a millstone around their necks rather than struggle with inconsistent understanding of how the gospel applies to them and how they can be both Gay and a loved Child of God.
I do not know who should take the first step and if there were more organization between MoHo groups I would suggest that we make the first move and hold a conference first, but I feel as if, because we are disorganized for now, (Scott how is that website coming :p) because, let’s face it, it takes a lot to get them to come down from their mountain, as Affirmation knows all too well. But because I feel we need to make the first step I suggest that we draft a form letter (Alan, perhaps you could check it for neutrality) that we all send to the First Presidency, a letter intended to ask for such a conference here in Salt lake to be hosted by them, a letter that states our desire to have a “serious discussion of these issues” without gall or bitterness. If we were to send these to the First Presidency, our local leaders, our friends and perhaps family members in leadership positions, the news (both local and national), and is we continue to come out and educate the members around us then perhaps they will grant us an audience.
I can’t help but feel as if this is one of the purposes and uses for the blog network that we have. I feel that with all of our connections to Affirmation, Northstar, Sunstone, The Gay Escape, MorMenLikeMe, Family Fellowship, GYLA, LDS Reconciliation, LDS Reasources, and individual high profile MoHo’s (to some degree) we have a chance at bringing our side together into an active coalition seeking more information, more light, more knowledge more truth. I also believe that with our connections to high profile LDS leaders with just 2 or 3 steps removed at maximum that we will be able to get the word out. I feel as if this is something that we need to do, if not for marriage equality then at least to help bridge the divide and save lives.P.S Because my connections are small and I have a relatively smaller readership, feel free to re-post this or link to it on your blog or website (Scott? ... Abelard?... Clark?... Anyone?). I really think this is something we should do and I hope you guys agree. Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions about logistics or said form letter.
P.P.S. If this is all naive ramblings of someone who "high" from his first protest then please also feel free to ignore this post, BTW the rally was great but shouting "separate church and state" near the Church Office Building and temple square felt... idk, wrong? Does that make any sense?
So next time you are bible bashing with someone regarding homosexuality, make sure that you dont say that Christ doesn't mention homosexuality in the bible. First off this will get you pulled into one of their traps of "Well he didn't mention rape either so then that's okay right?" Instead say well actually Christ, in his infinite knowledge predicted the increase of public knowledge pertaining to homosexuals and that they too are his children and will be saved. When they look at you in doubt and confusion, reach for your handy KJV and turn to Luke 17:34. When asked when he shall come again, Christ answers in part "I tell you, in that night [that he shall come] there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left." (emphasis included in original)
This scripture is talking about the "rapture" and those taken are those saved (according to most scholars although there is some debate). This scripture is sure to catch them off guard and force them to whip out the classic Article of Faith 8 "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." They will most likely tell you that there is a problem with the translation, which admitedly there probably is (something to do with the overtly masculine language we english speakers use, although I wondder how this will read in the LDS Spanish Bible?). However, you just got them to tell you that the direct reading of the bible might be wrong and it is necessary to go back to the greek (whch implies that they are a male/female couple), This opens them up for the Hebrew To'eba and the Greek Aresnokoites arguments that are much better, although perhaps the greek is wrong and it did mean two gays in bed, and then the next verse really did mean two girls "grinding."
Thanks Liberal Mormon Who Could for the idea.
You know those times when you are asked to prepare a talk or a lesson and you have the distinct feeling that the preparation of said lesson is more important than the actual deliverance of it? Usually that is what is said if no one listens, shows up, or if you end up not giving it for some reason, but ever so often, one comes around where you know it was the guiding hand of the lion for you to prepare that talk or lesson.
Well I had one of those experiences today. Last night I was asked at 6:30 PM to prepare a lesson for Sunday school today. (First off, I am a member of this class and so teaching it is … awkward, Second I was asked just under 18 hours before. These are one of the 2 things I hate about UT Mormon culture BTW, but that is another post entirely) Today, after preparing the lesson, I got to my class to be confronted with one other member, someone who has had 1/3 of his brain removed and is now… how to put this nicely… his place in the Celestial kingdom is assured. So besides having the prompting all throughout my preparations last night, it was confirmed today that this lesson was meant for me to learn a great deal from. And I did.
My Patriarchal blessing states a couple of things about the celestial kingdom that have, since coming out, left me feeling down. For instance it states “Through your honest effort and the gift of Jesus Christ you will be able to inherit eternal glory, with your eternal companion, in the celestial kingdom where glory and happiness never end.” Looking at this in context of my homosexuality it as left me kind of depressed that I will not be able to enter the celestial kingdom or it has galvanized me to believing that the celestial kingdom can be shared with an eternal same-sex companion. Largely it has led me to become depressed, feeling like I will be destined to live in the terrestrial kingdom (a great place) and knowing that I could have had celestial glory. This thought process is interesting because of the section right before this in my blessing that states “You will be acutely aware that you are not perfect and have faults, but never let this bring you down, for Satan wants you to think that you are just not good enough to return to Heavenly Father in the Celestial kingdom.”
What was interesting was the fact that the lesson I was to prepare was “Kingdoms of Glory,” and it talked all about the 3 kingdoms and Outer Darkness. I was planning on having to teach the high school juniors and seniors as well so I prepared to have a dumb down basics version with deep thought questions should the basics not be enough. Well in going over everything I was focusing on things I had questions about, largely progression between kingdoms and whether there were 3 or infinite kingdoms of glory. It wasn’t until I was in the car with my brother-in-law (another blog post concerning him is forthcoming) and I mentioned the last minute assignment that he, in his infinite trivia-focused mind, asked “what is the only thing required to enter the celestial kingdom?” I in my depressed state offered the answer of “temple marriage.” I was wrong. Turns out the only ordinance (what he meant by thing I am sure) is baptism (which everyone will have BTW). That is the only physical ordinance required for entrance into the celestial kingdom. This struck me as odd until I remembered, like a big dumb idiot, that there is a difference between Celestial Glory and Exaltation.
All too often we in the church lump celestial glory and exaltation together. I heard it told to me by my bishop’s daughter while we were talking over everything earlier this week when she asked me if I would sacrifice the celestial kingdom by marrying a man? Granted I don’t know if she was confusing exaltation and celestial glory, but when she said it I sure combined the two, leaving me with “if I marry a man I inherit Terrestrial glory at the greatest.” I think this is one of the reasons I have been so depressed and confused concerning the possibility of exalted homosexual partners.
I have spent a lot of time contemplating and conceptualizing a way for there to be exalted same-sex partners (males at least, sorry ladies something about priesthood power). The one hang-up I had was something that I had thought of and no one has yet to point it out as a possibility for an error in my logical approach but me. Given that Intelligences are called forth into spirits by priesthood power, then there really needs to be no eternal sex, meaning no eternal need for opposite only exalted couples. The problem comes in with the creation of man. Now, because sex in general is a taboo word let alone eternal sex as a topic in Sunday School there is little proof for this, but I wonder where Adam came from. 3 theories have presented themselves to me, largely because the mud man principle doesn't make sense as literal and must be symbolic.
1, Evolution within the "6 days" happened as Darwin claimed it did with the body of what is now Homo Erectus evolving out of primordial ooze into chimps into homo erectus and when Heavenly Father/Jehovah breathed the Spirit Michael into the body it became Adam (man, Homo Sapien). 2, the Body of man was transplanted from another species from another planet, as prophets believe happened with all other life on earth, and then filled with the spirit becoming Adam. 3, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother had sex and due to their perfected resurrected bodies created a perfect human in the image of God that was quickened with the spirit of Michael and then raised in the Garden (or sprang forth fully formed), then after the fall (namely the partaking of the fruit) the body became mortal and thus no longer perfected.
The second approach seems to not work because then Man was created in the image of Heavenly Father's relative and not him and regardless it had to start somewhere. Number 1 is more plausible and in fact could probably happen (it does explain dinosaurs) and we are after the image of our father due to the breathing in of the spirit which changes us from Homo Erectus into Homo Sapiens. However, a part of it hasn’t set well with me and only the third option really works in my mind, but it has two flaws, one it precludes a same gender God companionship, hence the difficulty, and it doesn’t explain how things originally began with the first God, but this one is explained away by the “it doesn’t have a beginning” principle that our mere mortal minds can not grasp. So I have been left with this one possibility, the 3rd approach, that doesn’t fit for me, meaning I have to marry against my orientation or not enter into celestial glory. At least that was my thought process, depressing I know!
The amazing part of this entire lesson learning experience happened in realizing and remembering the difference between a Celestial Glory and Exaltation. I might be the only one who crosses these together as one but I know that it has made me depressed because of this (thanks Satan!). Exaltation is not meant for everyone. It is an Eternal weight of Glory. Think of how infinitely difficult it would be to sit and watch as your only begotten son suffered everything for all of us and you had the power to stop it and save your son. Melvin J. Ballard put it best here
God heard the cry of His Son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when, it is said the pores of His body opened and drops of blood stood upon Him, and He cried out: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.”
I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress, in this world, and not render aid and assistance? …
He [Heavenly Father] saw that Son finally upon Calvary; He saw His body stretched out upon the wooden cross; He saw the cruel nails driven through hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life’s blood of His Son. He looked upon that.
In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of His Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over His Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment, when even our Savior cried out in despair: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even He could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room so as not to look upon the last struggles, so He bowed His head, and hid in some part of His universe, His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us, for He had not only the love of His Son in mind, but He also had love for us.
Parents out there I know you have felt a taste of this in parenthood and it is bitter-sweet. Imagine the Eternal weight of that. Now so often we are taught to seek after exaltation and hey I think we should, but also too often we view it as exaltation or failure, that if we give up striving for exaltation we are settling for sin, but in the infinite love that our Father has for us we know that it is not, even if I lose sight of it sometimes.
I can fully accept the possibility that I might not be meant for exaltation. I do not even know if it is something that I want. I do know that I want celestial glory and seek to live with Heavenly Father and will strive to accomplish that goal, but it doesn’t require a temple marriage. It only requires giving all we have in the service of God and Christ, in the service of our fellow men. This is why I love this C.S. Lewis quote so much.
It may be possible for each of us to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden, of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry,snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
This quote so exemplifies the goal of all those who seek to enter the Celestial Kingdom and return to his presence. Love the Lord they God and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Things which I, in a committed Gay relationship, could accomplish.
Given the distinction between Exaltation and Celestial Glory, and the difficult simplicity with which we can enter into the celestial kingdom, I can see an easy path for broader acceptance of homosexuality in the church. It might simply be that both parties are right. That exaltation is meant for a traditional couple and that the act of eternal procreation is a key facet in the eternities, in becoming gods and goddesses, in exaltation. It could also be right that Heavenly Father, in his infinite love, would not place so many of his children in a situation that, particularly for those who are not born into this church, is so easy to not return to him and instead has a distinct plan for his GBLT children in the Celestial Kingdom, and not cut off from their families in a lesser glory. It depends entirely on the willingness of each individual to accept the doctrine of Christ and do all that is necessary and within their power to follow him. To focus on those who are downtrodden, heavy-laden, with their arms hanging low and bring them up through service and love. To focus on keeping all of the commandments that we can, ie. Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and Tithing.
Perhaps it is our mission, perhaps only mine, to follow in the footsteps of John (Young Stranger) and continue going to church and remaining as active as possible even after excommunication. Perhaps we should, when comfortable and impressed by the spirit, bear our testimonies to our wards. Because if we leave then the leaders of the Church can simply ignore us and quite possibly Heavenly Father will as well. And the Members will, as all too often happens when someone leaves the church, discount all that we say and will not listen to the truth that we testify of, the truth that we know in our hearts that God loves all of his children, even us and that we all have the chance for Celestial Glory. But if we come out, come out en masse, come out in our wards and stay active amidst the storm, be the resource that our ward members can come to, to learn the truth just as they ask investigators to approach them and not the Anti-crowd. If we come out, and not until then, the hearts of the saints and the leaders may be softened and perhaps that is what is needed to reveal the mysteries of God unto the Church concerning us.
And if it turns out that temple marriage is necessary in the world to come in order to enter the celestial kingdom (which D&C 131:1-2 states it isn’t) and it has to be with an opposite sex companion, then I would be willing to sacrifice what I have had here on earth for a temple marriage prepared during the millennium when all truth is restored. And if, not until that time, I am allowed to take a husband into a temple marriage, I will glory in the Father for his love and compassion for me an insignificant, imperfect son who still has much to learn even beyond the veil. Regardless, I will serve the Lord in the eternities, be it in separation from an earthly male companion, joined together with an eternal female companion, or joined together with an eternal male companion who was my earthly companion, I will not let my personal preferences interfere with the Lord’s plan for me.
P.S. Wow this got long fast, hence the double title.
P.S.S This doesn't mean I have made any sort of decision as to how I will spend my life in the classical MoHo Dilemma sense, but it does mean that I have leaped yet another hurdle in my way.
So last night, I watched Angels and Demons with a bunch of friends. I really enjoyed this movie. It was very well performed and much much better than the DaVinci Code. There were a couple of moments that I wished this movie wasn't about the Catholic church and instead about the LDS church so that they could hear some of the lines in it. Like this riveting speech, modified just a little bit.
Our church is at war; we are under attack from an old enemy. They have struck us from within. Threatening us all with destruction at the hands of their new God science They call it retribution, they think it justified, because of the church’s attacks on men of science in the distant past and it is true. Since the days of Galileo this church has tried to slow the relentless march of progress, sometimes with misguided means. But science and religion are not enemies. There are simply some things that science is just too young to understand so the church pleads stop, slow down, think, wait and for this they call us backward. But who is more ignorant, the man who cannot define lightening or the man who does not respect its natural awesome power, the battle is well under way brethren. We must defend ourselves, but what if this time we fight their stuff with openness combat their wicked scheme with simple truth and end this brutish battle once and for all. If the outside world could see this church as I do, looking beyond the ritual of these walls, they would see a modern miracle, a brotherhood of imperfect simple souls who want nothing more than to be voices of compassion in a world spinning out of control. Brethren, I ask, I pray that you break this conclave, open the doors and tell the world the truth.And this one here
And when you write of us, and you will write of us, may I ask that you do so gently. Religion is flawed, but only because men is flawed, all men, including this oneThis quote, at the end of the movie, made me just want to jump up and shout because I wish other people could understand this flaw of human design and how it does affect the church. I wish that I could speak this thought out loud and not be persecuted for it. I wish that I could point out that yes the Prophets are men, lok at the Kirtland Anti-Banking society, Mountain Medows, The Blacks and the Priesthood from Brigham Young down to Spencer W. Kimbal. I know of many people who will agree with me that these are examples of prophets acting as men, flawed men, and not as the mouthpiece of God. But if I point out that there is the possibility that the present policies concerning homosexuality in the church could be because of these same flaws of mankind, I am deemed an anti-mormon, a heritic. This furiates me and I hope that it doesn't continue.
So this has been a long week, filled with a bunch of things. So I told you about my graduation festivities and then my Truck getting hit by either the Jets or the Sharks. I told you about my chance meeting with the Elder from Texas that I went on exchanges with as a boy of barely 14. I also told you why I use the term MoHo and then I went and wrote down my near breakdown thoughts that occurred after my visit with my bishop. Well on Wednesday I had the opportunity to see one of my good friends off. She is the girlfriend (read future wife) of my missionary who is serving in India right now. She and I have been in very good touch and she was one of the first friends from BYU that I came out to.
She is going to be teaching the gospel to Spanish speaking investigators in California for the next year and a half and I went to the Empty Sea (read MTC) as part of her family. It was an interesting and blog worthy experience because the last time I was at the MTC it was with said missionary sending him off. It was shortly after my BYU bishop had informed him that I had been asked to leave BYU, and it was an emotional time for me because we were meant to head out at the same time. It was 3 weeks later that I was on a fateful flight to D.C. where I came out to myself and finally allowed myself to utter the words “I’m Gay.” That MTC experience was wonderful and sad because I wasn’t going to be heading out with him, but because I was supporting him and I had my mission to look forward to, I was ok with everything.
This experience was completely different because I am now out to everyone and myself, and I have been debating whether I should go on mission or not. The night before I had been pretty much told that my faith in the prophets wasn’t strong enough and so I could expect to not leave until I worked out those “issues” that a mission (albeit selfishly) could help resolve. So this experience at the MTC was different and kind of sad. It started out with me getting there about 45 minutes before she showed up. So I decided to wait by the flags just outside of the entrance and spot the entering MoHo missionaries. This was an interesting thing, and kind of eerie because I could see what they were going to go through either on the mission or when they got back and I wished that I could take it from them. I finally met up with her and took pictures and headed into the chapel where I was basically preached to about how all males in the preexistence covenanted with Heavenly Father that we would serve missions and that those who were here were honoring that covenant and those who choose not to go are oath breakers. That was nice and uplifting! But in the end, I saw her off without any drama and promptly made the drive home to West Jordan mostly crying feeling that I didn’t know what I needed to do.
So I decided that now was high time for me to have a Joseph Smith experience and so I decided that I would climb Mount Olympus here in SLC and when I got to the top I would pray to find where I belonged in this giant mess of a world that I live in. I kind of felt like Hercules trying to figure everything out:
So I was going to climb on Thursday but I had to help my mom move some more furniture and so I didn’t get to it until today. But I didn’t start until late and once I got up about … 100 feet, I realized that my muscles have atrophied and I am weak. I got thinking, after the 5th person passed me, that I wouldn’t make it to the top. I figured I would keep going until I couldn’t go anymore and then stop, read and pray. I got about ½ mile further when I thought I was going to collapse but my power song had just come on and I only had about 9 songs left in the playlist and so I decided to push through until the playlist ended.
I ended up getting to the halfway point and knew that for time reasons as well, I needed to head back down. While I was there I studied and prayed but didn’t get much. I am thinking that I need to train some more and then hike it again get to the top and take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and connect myself to the temple that is nature. I just really feel the need to connect with what is right and find my mission be it education about GBLT rights/issues to church members, or teaching the gospel to investigators. One interesting thing that I read was my patriarchal blessing that mentioned twice my opportunity to share and that people would praise my name for sharing the “truths of the gospel.” This wording struck me home because it implies that there are either “untruths” of the gospel, or that I will teach many truths of the gospel while not teaching the gospel itself (if that makes sense). With this in mind I thought about bringing spirituality to other gay peoples lives and think it would be a worthy way to live life.
I also reread the Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis and noticed an interesting passage. “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.” This comes right before his most quoted (at least by LDS) passage in this sermon that states “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. Or else a horror and a corruption such as now you meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”
I highly recommend the whole sermon (it is only 9 pages). It is really great and inspiring. But in reading these quotes and contemplating my life and my possible glory I realized that my life is not my own and it belongs to those who partake in it, that my life would be well spent simply serving others rather than focusing on dogma. Sure it would be wonderful to know the absolute truth but it would be perfectly acceptable to God if I spent my life guiding a majority of people closer to Him.
We shall see where this line of thought take me in the future and I will keep you updated as to when I finish that climb up to Mt. Olympus.
One lesson I have had repeated over and over in Sunday school and priesthood over the years, whether implicitly or explicitly, has been that the answer to any trial is just around the corner and all we have to do is hang on a little bit longer. I have kept trying and trying to keep pushing around one more corner and all I get is another corner facing me. When does it end?
I keep trying so hard and I end up nowhere, does this mean that I am not really enduring to the end? Or does it mean that I have done all I can and I need to commend my spirit into Christ’s hands? I have always been taught that if we just persevere; if we just go that one last step then we will receive a truly great eternal reward. So often in the past months I have felt like I had reached that point and then some. Obviously I didn’t reach that point but is this like exercise and the more that I push for longer the more I will grow, or is this me crawling on all hands and knees through the desert trying to push one last foot when between me and water lies miles of sand? Should I give up and be weak, or should I give in and drink my own urine, or drink some blood so that my thirst may be quenched? Sure it may not be the water of life, but is there really enough to go around or am I one of those meant to be a ministering angel to the exalted ones?
I am really at a low right now and could use some answers. I want so badly to know the truth so that then I can keep pushing knowing that there is indeed an oasis waiting for me, and I know that if I were to give up now, to consciously stop striving for that, then should the fountain be shown to me in the next life it would be an eternity of hell, knowing what I could have had had I just pushed a little bit further. And if there is no oasis, how will I know? If everything I have been taught is right, then that perfect pure water is held only for those who make it, the rest are forced to sit and do without.
I understand the fact that the Telestial kingdom will be like earth life (so Hell) and the Terrestrial kingdom will be like the Christian version of heaven. So would it really be that bad? And then there is the view that there really are numberless concourses of kingdoms, a level and station that is perfect for us, consisting of the most glory that we can handle. Assuming this is true, then what ever I will do I can be happy in the next life, but knowing what I might have had would be my greatest challenge. A part of me really wants to just be content with life right now, and to stop hurting so much. To stop being bogged down by this so incessantly so that I could get on with the life that I have, but that is selfish I really need to just gird up my loins and push through one more door.
I just don’t know how many more doors I can get through before I give up and in what form my giving up will take. Will it be one door, 5, 100? And when I break, when I fail to endure to the end, will I give up with honor like the Japanese, or will I go off and party a disfigured life, scared from wrestling with God? Do I even have the strength to go one more round? I don’t know. Perhaps it is time for me to climb the mountain and cleanse my mind and my soul of all worldliness, I only hope that when the time comes I will find the strength to defy gravity and fly above my pain and sorrow rather than continue to wallow in it. I think that hope, however small is the only thing going and I fear that it might just be spiritual conditioning talking and brainwashed programming commanding me to step forward rather than truth from God and so I am timid and afraid right now. I guess I just had to get that and this good cry out thanks for reading.
I choose to use the term MoHo for several reasons. Largely it is because I feel as if in either community I do not belong and so I have banded together with others who are likewise oriented and we have formed an ad hoc community. Since the Proposition 8 battle, there is little place for someone with Same Gender Attraction in the Church – at least publicly where support can be given – and in the Homosexual community (to any extent) there is hardly a place for an active member of the Church.
This ostracism from the two communities (both urging me, and nearly requiring me to destroy half of who I am) is what largely defines me. I define myself as homosexual in the respect that I am more attracted to men than to women. On the Kinsey scale I am probably about a 5 out of 6 with 6 being only same-sex attractions and a 0 being only opposite-sex attractions. As for defining myself as Mormon, I find that while I have a strong testimony of many things ranging from the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the fullness of the Atonement (including how Elder Holland sees it) and Thomas S. Monson.
I do find that my testimony of the Church’s position on Same-Gender attraction is severely lacking. Because of this I often fluctuate in my opinions of what I need to do with my life. Which of these seemingly two opposite masters should I serve? I feel that they are not mutually exclusive as there is a large space for homosexual spirituality and the Church is not a resort for the perfect but a hospital for the sinner and trying to reconcile this is my dilemma. I define myself as an odd member of two separate circles not out of any desire to advance either’s agenda, but because of the simple fact that that I am the tangential point in these two circles.
Labels: MoHo Dilemma
So while cleaning out my computer yet again I found my English final, a self observation. The first one I wrote was apparently not true enough and so I wrote this one some of it exaggerated, some of it true. The first one I wrote was actually copied from online because I was afraid to write about myself for what it would reveal. HA I should have just done the assignment in the first place because it was this assignment that got the administration to remove me from school the last week before graduation. I find it fitting that I saw this tonight, just less than 36 hours away from my undergraduate graduation. So without further ado, the observation that just about got me expelled from High School.
High School is filled with fake people. People wearing masks, trying to “fit in,” to be someone they are not. I am no exception to this, however my mask is one of many facades that I wear to hide and conceal my past life from others and me. I have dodged the rules and cut corners in order to escape the primeval life I live. Each day goes by, and I have to live with all my past mistakes, and the domino effect it has had on my family. Because of me my parents got divorced, because of me my mom, my step dad and I were not able to attend my sisters wedding, because of me my mother and my sister are no longer speaking to each other. Through conscious or sub conscious activity, I have ruined my family, and in order not to break from the pressure, I build up walls and put on a happy face for the world to see so that I can survive knowing all the suffering in my family was caused by me. I know and realize that everyone has their own problems or difficulties in life that they deal with, but when people start backstabbing and hurting others it just adds to the emotional baggage that someone is carrying. I am sick and tired of this crappy experience and am ready to explode from all of the CRAP that has been thrown at me this year. And normally when I explode, heads roll. When I have exploded in the past, I have kicked my principal in places where the sun doesn’t shine. I have thrown a chair at my band teacher, I have sent a kid to the hospital with a broken nose and the need for 7 stitches, I have nearly run over my step dad with a Ford Expedition, I have beaten a kid with a two inch thick walking staff across the chest, back, shins, and neck, I have escaped from the grips of an Army Lt. Colonel and because of that had I sprinted over three miles of mountainous forest and swam over three quarters of a mile across a lake. I fear that I will never be able to escape these atrocities, but just because they happened, doesn’t mean that they have to continue. Although at the rate that kids keep giving me crap at school I fear it might happen soon. My life has been full of Crap that I have dealt with, and the extra garbage that is shoved on me daily at school by hypocritical egotistical morons is bound to set me into a frenzy. Each day I try to flick away the daily grime and accept it as a fact of life. That is why I hide behind a facade.
Labels: Revisited Writings
I am done with finals and am cleaning up my computer files and came across this so I figured I would post it here. So here it is, the Allegory of the Acorn.
Allegory of the Acorn
Sunday, August 05, 2007
There is a motivational poster that states, "Inside one Acorn lies the entire tree." I believe that this is truer on a spiritual level than we even realize. In side us, a single acorn, lies the potential to become a magnificent person, or tree. However, I also believe that each tree produces more and more acorns to eventually create a magnificent forest. We, as humans, have the potential for limitless growth. But let us look at the creation of the tree. How was it made. Some believe that random cell divisions eventually created the magnificence that is a tree. However, I believe that there was some intelligence involved in the design. Trees were created by a higher power. We were created by a higher power.
I don’t think that very many people who believe in a higher power have asked the following question. Where did God, the creator of our world, come from?
Was he just a coincidental division of cells, or was he too created by someone else?
This is a difficult question because if you believe in God, then you might just have faith that he was created by a random cell division. Or you might come to the same logical conclusion that he was created by, to Him, a higher power. So, following this train of logic, if God was created by someone and He is a God, then we, as God's creations have within us the potential to become Gods and create others. All things in life follow a cycle, does it not make sense that things after this life will also follow in a continuing cycle. That as we are, God once was and as God is, so too might we become. We are his creations, his acorns. We have the potential to create ourselves as trees, and others to build our forests. Would it not make sense that eventually we will get to a point that we, who were created by some higher power, could become as he is, just as an acorn can become a mighty Oak like its creator. In the logical progression of things, this makes extreme sense to me.
However, for all of the acorns that a single tree produces, how many ever become full fledged trees that have the ability to create acorns like unto the original tree. Many acorns are cast in rocky soil, others are cast by the wayside, while others are placed in a rich soil that allows them to grow to there full potential. I believe that our lifestyle is represented by the many locations that the seed fall in the scriptures. Those of us whose are cast in rocky soil are caught up in our own vanity. We are too shallow to allow the fullness of a tree to grow. Those who are cast by the wayside are too caught up in the ways of the world. They are willing to follow anyone who passes by them and therefore are not rooted enough to grow fully. But those few who are not shallow and who are rooted in a firm place are those who have been planted in rich soil that can support a full tree.
As a boy longs to become a man and a girl longs to be a woman, so to do acorns long to become great Oaks. We all have something that we wish to become because that is the natural order of things. We need to strive to become a fully fledged tree that we might follow in the steps of our creator, even God himself.
Labels: Revisited Writings
I am sick and tired of this elitist attitude that everyone surrounding the Gay Marriage debate has. And after re-reading Empire by Orson Scott Card and reading his afterword in which he describes how a civil war could easily break out due to the extreme polarization of the Left and the Right, I am here to call out both sides.
First some brief background. My name is David Baker, I am 20 years old, I am Gay and I am Mormon. I feel that I am in a very good position to understand both sides of this issue because of these two facts. Being Gay I want equality, but being Mormon I understand the need and desire for protections from persecution. I intend to systematically offer a solution to this issue that is a compromise much like our founding fathers did at the constitutional convention. Each side might think I am crazy or that I am trying to deteriorate their position but lets face reality, no matter how strong you think your stance is you are not going to win… either side. If Gay marriage advocates get all that they want then the religious advocates will resist at every turn, protesting, seeking reform and it is quite possible that a civil war could break out. If religious advocates get everything they want, there will most likely be protests and boycotts and pickets as attempts to achieve their goals. So why can we not come together?
I am addressing this to the two largest groups for each side but they are intended for both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.
Human Rights Campaign:
The Human Rights Campaign mission statement states
“HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs.”Breaking this down and stripping away the rhetoric it appears that you are advocating for what you dub equality in the following:
1. Workplace equality
2. Family/Marriage equality
3. Public support of this equality through education
These seem to be admirable goals, an attempt to ensure the fair treatment of gays and lesbians. This must stem out of the fears and oppression of the Stonewall era and the desire to be protected from hate crimes of force or discrimination. Marriage equality is a main goal, perhaps the most important, because it signifies legal protections from this harm that can invade your life and wreak havoc in the event of a death or injury of one of the unwed partners. These goals are wonderful and the fears are all too legitimate, but lets look at the National Organization for Marriage’s side and see if we can see any similarities.
National Organization for Marriage:
The National Organization for Marriage has no clear mission statement but they do have talking points. Number 4 especially “What’s the harm from [Same-Sex Marriage]? ‘How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?’” provides an accurate description of their fears and in a sense their goals.
A: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”After breaking these and the points from the Gathering Storm commercial down and stripping away the rhetoric I have come to a few key points and fears that same-sex marriage increases.
A: “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”
“Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage."
“Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”
“When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.”
“One thing is for sure: The people of this state will lose our right to keep marriage as the union of a husband and wife. That’s not right.”
1. Gay marriage will take away your right to define marriage as you see it.
2. That you will be persecuted for your beliefs concerning homosexuality and same-sex marriage
3. Loss of tax exempt status and use of public lands
4. Children will be indoctrinated in school with the belief that same-sex marriage is ok
5. In a world where same-sex marriage is legalized the ability for you to teach your children your beliefs will be increasingly difficult
6. Jobs will be on the line because of your religious views
7. Same-sex couples are seeking to change the way you live
These fears are understandable and given my heritage as a Mormon I can understand the fear of persecution for your religious beliefs as the world around you changes. You fear that you will be forced by the government to go against your faith, that you will be ostracized from the community because of your religion and what you want is for things to stay the same as they were 5 years ago before Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage and barring that, at least keep the status quo where it is at and allow same-sex couples to cohabitate but not marry.
Now while I could make obvious attacks at both statements pointing out that HRC isn’t about universal equality because of their views on the bigoted nature of religious beliefs that disagree with their agenda. Or by asking NOM why their right to keep marriage as it is defined is more important than my right to change it. But that would drive the wedge farther between the two groups instead of trying to bring you together.
Looking at both sets of fears I can see an obvious similarity. HRC fears any continuation of the Stonewall era discrimination and oppression and NOM fears any oppression or being labeled and treated as bigots for their religious beliefs. Shouldn’t this speak volumes to both of you? You both are acting out of fear of the same thing and your actions are reinforcing those fears in the other group.
HRC, would it really be so bad to take a step towards the middle and offer to ease the fears of the religious community that you have lived with most of your life and understand and offer an olive branch, a peaceful solution? Would it be that difficult to advocate for workplace equality with protections built in for religious beliefs however backward you might see them to be? Would it be that difficult to allow doctors the right to refuse non-lifesaving treatment based off of their religious preference? Or how about allowing them to keep their tax-exempt status even on lands of public use because of their religious convictions? Is there really a need to enforce education in lower elementary grades concerning homosexuality, cant it wait until 5th and 6th grade maturation and allow parents the option of a traditional concept of marriage versus a contemporary view?
NOM would it really be so harmful to step down off of your position of only traditional marriage for people who do not hold the same religious beliefs as you, while continuing to be able to practice and teach your religious views? Would it be difficult to try to bring everyone together around a working solution that provides equal protections to both homosexuals and religious peoples? Would it be so painful to recognize one another’s fears and work together from preventing both? Granted neither side would get everything they wanted, but does any side in any debate ever truly gain all they want?
Granted I am merely a 20 year-old college graduate, perhaps I am naive and this vision of cooperation is only achievable by the great men who founded this nation but I cannot help but have hope. Hope that the rhetoric will decrease and the tensions lessen as we work together. Perhaps this is a false hope and this is an unattainable goal but just as I seek to find balance in my life with two nearly irreconcilable characteristics that shape and define my life, I seek to find balance and peace in this debate. Both sides are free to argue that they are being reasonable, that it is the other sides fault, but both sides are at fault and I can not help but see this as going to the point that Dr. Seuss predicted in his Butter Battle Book, a point of near war or war simply over two different views of how things work. After all, can’t we just get along?