As I am Mormon, I am completely susceptible to guilt trips. I will admit it. Abelard challenged us to make September blog all about Masturbation. Now I admit this (the blogging about it part) has been on my mind.
Masturbation has often recieved a bad wrap. It will make you blind, it will make you grow hair on your hands, it will turn you gay... and then later OSA (Opposite Species Attracted). Growing up I was never really introduced to Masturbation until I moved outside of Utah. My scout troop never mentioned it in Utah, my friends in school never talked about it, in fact the first person who told me such a thing even existed was my brother who was trying to give me "the talk" due to a "less-than-present" father.
I was a Freshman in HS when I heard it mentioned next and that was also the first time I was called gay. I was in English class and someone on my football team (the Douchebag QB) asked me how often I "beat it". I had to ask him what he meant and when he told me, I told him I didn't. His response was to tell me I was gay. (Oddly enough I have never told that story before) I remember thinking to myself, what was "gay" and why did being a good person make me gay.
Since then I have learned a lot. I have entered a new range of understanding of doctrine and scripture and I think that all too often we are caught living in the Law of Moses (or Packer) when we have the Mount of Beatitudes. The first of the 10 and of the greatest commandments is all about focusing on the Lord. All of our ordinances point to that.
In Judaism (I am staying with some Jewish friends so this is applicable) there are many things that are meant to continually focus your eye towards God and towards living righteously. The doorways of their houses contain a mark of remembrance. Keeping Kosher (which includes not mixing meat and dairy, nor the plateware and flatware used to eat it) serves as a constant reminder of God. This has given me a greater appreciation for Garments which (having not gone through the temple) have always seemed a bit odd.
I believe that the reason why masturbation is talked about with such ill and seen as so horrendous is because it can very easily become idolatrous. In fact when I stop and think about where my focus is when I am whacking off, it is nowhere near having an eye single to the glory of God.
For almost a year and a half I went from being kicked out of BYU for my sins to cold turkey with no stimulation. After that time I looked back and saw what I had gained from that experience and realized that I was more frustrated with myself and even more desiring of a random hook-up than I had ever been. I think that having the occasional "jam session" is completely normal and fine. However, when it starts to become idolatrous, then you have a problem.
As I am Mormon, I am completely susceptible to guilt trips. I will admit it. Abelard challenged us to make September blog all about Masturbation. Now I admit this (the blogging about it part) has been on my mind.
Two Weeks ago, Alan had a great post about Marriage sanitizing the “Sin” of homosexuality If you haven’t read it, stop and read it now.
Are you back yet? Good.
Today, while deciding which apartment to choose for the next couple of months, I decided to sit on a park bench and pray about it like I had been doing the past few days. After the prayer I put in my headphones and decided to listen some music. Well as I listened to these songs a combination of my prayers for answers, the second song, and a line from the movie “Contact” convalesced into the missing piece about Alan’s post that I had been struggling to vocalize. I had found the proof to back up the internally known concept of sanitization that applies not only to monogamy and polygamy as Alan pointed out, but in other abominable relationships as well.
My mind, upon hearing the song “Lost in the Wilderness” started thinking about Cain, that led me to a quote from Contact about how as a little girl in Sunday School she asked too many questions like “Who was Cain’s Wife.” Well IDK if Cain even had a wife but I followed that with. Who was Seth’s wife? He had to have a wife because we exist. Eve, the Mother of all life, was the first woman and so A follows B that Seth married his sister (I like to call her Amy) and that is how we came to pass.
While researching this, I discovered that Abraham also married a close relative. Sarah, his wife, was also his half-sister. Now both of these are odd because we are told today that that is a sin, that that is abomination. And yet, was Seth not the father of many people? Abraham was not cursed for being an abomination; he was blessed with a great posterity. Didn’t the grandchildren of Noah have to intermarry amongst their cousins if not their sisters? And yet they were blessed and honored with the priesthood?
If these were such abominable acts in the eyes of the Eternal Law, then how were these men Prophets? I can only perceive of two answers:
1. The Law of the Eternal Eternities that governs our Heavenly Father allows for various forms of relationships within the covenant of marriage.
2. The Law of the Eternal Eternities that governs our Heavenly Father allows for understanding and exceptions to the Law under trying circumstances.
If you can see other possibilities for this please point them out.
If it is answer 1, then could it not be possible that the same legal rite of marriage that allows a man to marry his sister, half sister, cousin or multiple women could be extended to homosexuality? Could it not be that the LORD in HIS omnipotent wisdom focuses on the family, and the strength that it has in bringing forth a righteous generation and so the key part is righteous relationships, not gender?
If it is answer 2, then isn’t homosexuality a powerful exception? Isn’t a set of circumstances beyond our control, that leaves us open to the constant pull of Satan - as he tries to get us into each other’s pants - with no sanitizing marriage in sight, being guided to live our lives without the quintessential Mormon keystone of family an appropriate exception? I believe so. How about you?
Regardless of which decision, I believe that either 1. There is more to be seen or 2. I have to ask. “Really! Seth and Amy? Really!?!”
A few months back I heard a principle that made so much sense to me. An idea that didn’t strike me as strange, but as something that I should have seen all my life.
As Mormons we are taught that the soul is comprised of the combination of body and spirit. Two separate entities in one. We are also taught that we are able to feel the spirit of God in our lives and that it (and the Holy Ghost) speak not to our physical selves, but to our spirits. Our spirits recognize the spirit of God.
Someone was discussing with me the value of choice in our lives, and that because our spirits made the conscious decision to retain our agency; we are very protective of that choice here on earth. So much so that if you discuss a situation to a person in which their agency is being taken away from them, they almost instantly start recoiling (granted anecdotal evidence). The concept struck me as interesting so I changed subjects and chased the white rabbit. I asked this person (who ashamedly I have forgotten) if they thought that this happened not only for the matter of agency, but of all things good and evil.
Their response stood out in my mind not because it was unheard of, but because I hadn’t looked at it quite like this before. They told me (I am paraphrasing) “Absolutey! Think of all the natural beauty and the awe it inspires not from your eyes, but from your heart, think of the joys of music and how it touches your spirit and can lead to an emotional feeling and longing of ‘Home’ not your earthly one, but your home above. Think of love and how it is not the physical attraction as much as the supernatural spiritual connection that makes relationships last across time (and eternity). Our spirits resonate to truth. When they come into contact with absolute truth, our spirits bear witness of it to us. That is why those who are in tune to the still small voice (those with a deep personal consistent relationship with our Savior) are able to recognize right and wrong so effectively.”
This caught me off guard, largely because the truth of it was literally resonating within me. Both of my major experiences with the spirit, my burning personal revelations about truth have both felt like they are coming from HOME, from the home of my homesick spirit. Like a call from your mother when you feel alone, the spirit of God had touched my spirit and in the process illuminated my soul.
It has taken me a while to write this down because I had to process it a little bit and apply it to my spiritual understanding before I shared it. I was planning to wait another few months to share, but a couple of things happened today that struck a resonating chord (cliché and lame I know, but think of why the cliché is there and smile) with me.
The first came several times while reading Dan Brown’s new book “The Lost Symbol.” This book talks about mysticism and universal truth from a perspective of the Masons (of which Joseph Smith was one). The different rituals that the masons had (illustrated in the book) resonated with the temple, the conceptualization of “apotheosis” or man becoming deity with the crux of the Plan of Salvation and Exaltation, and the concept of understanding parables from many perspectives has always been instilled in me by my Mom’s readings of Hugh Nibley. However, there were also times when what was said simply resonated negatively as well which was interesting, especially because after my first bout of complete skepticism I checked myself, and my skepticism at the door, but perhaps it is just that Mormonism is the primary language of my spirituality and I will always understand spirituality with an LDS accent.
The second experience came later today as I was out apartment hunting; one of the places I stopped by at was near this bell tower I heard so I walked over and stepped into the National Cathedral. The beauty and the majesty astonished me and upon impulse I dipped my fingers into the holy water and crossed myself (something I never intended to do throughout my life). The imagery was astounding and I felt my spirit resonating at a few of the images and writings within the Cathedral. Like a tablet drawn in an obscure corner that read (in Latin) “Truth from life” or that the statue of Christ held what appeared to be a Liahona (I know it isn’t one, but it appeared to be) or the stain glass windows depicting the atonement .
These two experiences, coupled together, solidified the notion that our spirits, when open to the divine and not blocked by the physical, can discover the truth all around us. The truth that is present in many forms, in many places. It is why we need to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy. We need to understand that other religions, other flocks, other nations, kindreds, tongues, people and languages all have resonating truths. And when all that we take with us into the next life is our minds, it is best to keep them open.
PS, the title of this post came from this song. It was used in Rigoletto made by my uncle and so it struck me as a tender mercy that I found it again after all these years.
So I was really excited to go to Scott's Halloween MoHo Party this year, but with my new job in DC I will only be able to be there in Spirit. Recently, I have been thinking of what I would go to a Halloween party (either in DC, or Utah) dressed as. I have usually gone as a Vampire (Count Dracula, not the accursed Edward) or a turtle or a fencer. In fact that is all I have ever gone as. But after seeing Captain Midnight's post about obscure people he has dressed up as I have been wondering how to expand my dismal display. Here in DC, Halloween is pretty much the biggest gay holiday ever. It is to gay men what Valentines day is to straight (coupled) women. I have been lost until I found this drawing. I think I might become Peter-pan (the twink) for Halloween, but I want your thoughts.
Labels: Personal Life
So tomorrow I am going to do a strange new thing. I am going public. Not as an IPO (I can hear the inside joke now my economical friends) but on a radio program.
A couple of months ago I had a video entitled "Why I Stay."
It was prompted by a discussion that people were asking me why in the hell I would stay in the church that is so destructive to my temporal life. So in that video I commented about this blogger and how he mentioned that the shootings in Tel Aviv were his fault because he didn't do more to "gay it forward."
Well he found me and my vlog and wrote this article about me, and how I am the ORsa Parks of the Gay Mormons. I do not think I am at all, granted we are a widely diverse bunch and I by no means represent any loose group, I think that job goes to Scott or Alan if anybody.
Well I just happened to be someone who grabbed his attention and so he asked me to join him on his radio show tomorrow at 8 PM Central Time. It will be available to listen to afterwords, but I figured I should let you guys know, and for those of you who think this means I am an apostate, I firmly disagree and I think I have the Hope to find out. (you know who you are :))
Here is the link
To those of you who know me, you know that I am a firm believer in priesthood blessings. Many of you who have met me in person know that I often quote my Patriarchal or Baby blessing as they help give me perspective in my life. I see them as a testament of my Heavenly Father’s love for me. I am so particular about these blessings that I recorded my Melchizedek Priesthood blessing so that I could review it later.
Well for those of you who don’t know I recently got a job in DC and on Thursday flew out from SLC. Before I left I asked and received a blessing from my Bishop, the same guy whom for the past 2 years I have told EVERYTHING to. Going into the blessing I was completely prepared to have his own personal feelings dilute the blessings from my Heavenly Father. I was pleasantly surprised.
My Heavenly Father knew of my longing for peace, for answers, for comfort in my path, or to be told that what I had chosen was wrong, that my fears were correct and I needed to adjust my course. My Father knew my heart and knew precisely how to calm it while still allowing me follow in faith rather than be given perfect knowledge, giving me a chance to grow.
My Heavenly Father, through my bishop, told me that HE had a “specific plan of happiness” for me. HE told me that if I continued in my “paths and patterns that I have been following and establishing” and through the gift of my Elder Brother Christ that I will be able to “overcome the world.” This is especially touching and an example of my Lord’s love for me because it is very near to what was said in my patriarchal blessing which states; “Through you honest effort and the gift of the Jesus Christ you will be able to inherit eternal glory, with my eternal companion, in the celestial kingdom where glory and happiness will never end.”
How wonderful is it that my Heavenly Father has told me, and given me peace and comfort that I will overcome the world of lust and lies and filth that I have been trying to extricate myself from for the past 3 years, if I continue on my path that I have started on and focus on HIS son and my savior. How wonderful is it that my Heavenly Father has a specific plan for me to accomplish this, and that I am on that path right now? My heavenly Father knows how to succor me and has done for me precisely what I needed, even though I didn’t even know what that was specifically.
PS, if you are reading my blog and live in DC, shoot me an email or a comment, I would love to meet other MoHo’s or those with SSA/SGA in the area.
So this started out as a comment on Alan’s most recent post, but I felt it needed to be here on my blog as well. I HIGHLY recommend his post BTW.
This is exactly what I feel and I am grateful for the D&C ref. to back it up. I think that the Church and its members has this stigma that all gays sleep around, that it is just a fact of nature. If you are Gay you are promiscuous (from now on referred to as a "whore").
Now while sadly in this life this is often true, it isn't always. Many guys I have known have remained faithful to the LDS standards for years after coming out.
I had this discussion with two lovely evangelical christian members of the Tea Party whom I told I was a Gay Mormon. I told them that there was a difference from the "San Francisco"lifestyle of a whore and abstinence before marriage. They couldn't quite wrap their heads around it (or a lot of my political discussion either so that is ok). In order to help them understand I had them follow this thought experiment.
Imagine that you have found someone that you have fallen in love with, someone whom you want to commit your love, life, and heart to. But all your life you have been told that you can't. You have been trained by society, religion and an overbearing mother that it is impossible for you to get this marriage. And that you have been told by your friends, (the Gay Whores) that you don't need commitment.
What would your reaction be? True you might become one of the 1% who commit to each other out of rebellion like Romeo and Juliet, but the vast amount of people will simply (and sadly) fall in line with the policy and be whores.
Now imagine you grew up instead in a society where marriage, secure monogamous life-time (or eternal) partnerships are desired. (ironically not to hard for a kid who grew up singing "I long to see the temple" and "families can be together forever"). How would that change your goals, your beliefs, your desire regarding commitment vs. Whoredom?
If Marriage is withheld it is likely that many will choose not to pursue it. If marriage is put on a pedestal as something to strive for, to save yourself for then isn't it more likely that more people will do so?
Today I was called Anti-Family by a member of the Church who doesn't even know that I am gay. She called me this simply because I was anti-Tea Party. Little does she know that I am a firm advocate in marriage (granted I just moved to the most single city in America and could have two straight dates lined up if I wanted them lol).
When I first came out I felt as if I had to choose between being gay or the church. Once I started following the Prop 8 debates I realized that I could have a marriage, a complete devotion and commitment to someone that I loved and was attracted to. This gave me hope for a possibility through my dilemma that I had not had before. It literally gave me the hope and will to live, truly live and no longer desire a bus to hit me while walking down the street. But it didn't give me hope for Sex, it gave me hope for completeness in a world that I always seemed out of place with.
I think that the fact that the entire church, both leaders and members, still see homosexuality as whoredom allows them to condemn us and not change. In order to change that concept and prove Elder Nelson wrong, I believe that we need to stay in the church and work for positive change from within. I have seen it with my bishop who started out two years ago with very little knowledge of homosexuality to me being able to tell him my full plan of living abstinent (from sex) and active in the church until I find a husband and that after that even if I/we are excommunicated that I will continue to be an active member in the ward community, both at sacrament meeting and in service throughout the ward. After I told him this he seemed to accept it as a logical and plausible scenario that would be best for me. (but more on that encounter in the next post).
What is Faith? Hope for things, which are unseen, which are true? That is the Sunday school answer, but what IS faith? Is it the spiritual companion of patience where we bear what must be born with the concept that things will work out? Is it just a meaningless word?
To me, Faith is the temporary stage that we, as humans, are required to live in. It is a state of leaning purely upon God, but only after trying to discover things for ourselves. We cannot have faith, strong lasting faith at least, if we do not seek it out and work for it ourselves. Faith is something that wavers often, that we must tend to constantly and is the best we have.
Faith all too often feels like it is not enough. We are beings of tangibility and seek for definitive answers to the questions that we have. We are not content with faith and instead are famished and lusting for perfect knowledge. As Humans, we strive for more light, more knowledge, more truth, so that we can abandon faith and finally gain the answers that plague us.
We frequently allow our pursuit of perfect knowledge override our faith and override our consistent strivings, and hard work for faith. We let life happen, we let pride or sin to enter our lives and we forget our path of faith.
Why should we expect any different from the Church? We expect the church to live a life of perfect knowledge, in fact we constantly think of it as a source of the perfect knowledge that we crave. What if it wasn’t? What if the Church actually ran on the same principles that govern us? The organization, the working concert of members & leadership, working in faith that what we are doing is right rather than knowing that it is?
Think about it. Wouldn’t it make sense given the number of changes to Church Policy? If it were set up with Perfect Knowledge, then there would be no need for continuing revelation, for prophets, or for changes in practices. If it were set up with Faith, then there would be a need for continuing revelation to keep the church on track, for prophets to inspire us and changes in practices as more light, more knowledge, more truth was earned.
And just as we get distracted from our labors of faith, couldn’t the Church become distracted by the world, by prejudice, or by lingering on the changes of policy? Who is to say that we are not, right now in our struggle for perfect knowledge rather than faith, missing something big? How do we know that we are right, that we are not just repeating the same mistakes of the past? We don’t! We must live on in faith, constantly struggling against sin, immorality, and personal prejudices while constantly examining ourselves in our search for perfect knowledge.
Shouldn’t we as members, embrace the changes to policy not as reasons why the Church is false, but why the Church, in its faith, is true? These changes mark the progression and growth of our collective faith like the growth of a forest from the ancient stirrings of a single acorn. Think about it!