22 November 2010

PE: The One in Sunday School

I was visiting my family this weekend and went to church with them, fully knowing that somewhere in the time I spent there, something would be said about those pesky homosexuals. There is pretty much a 90% chance that it will come up any given Sunday. If the lesson mentions sin, family, false prophets, satan, the last days, or any other number of topics, it is bound to work its way into discussion.

Well, sure enough, in Sunday School the teacher brought up false prophets. "Are there false prophets today?" he asked. The first one to elaborate on the fact that there was immediately went into homosexuals. Gays are the false prophets of our day, proselytizing their evil lifestyle as truth. They are the destroyers of our families, the demise of society. So on and so forth. All I could do was close my eyes and focus on breathing while I waited in silence for the lashings to stop. My mom noticed of course and put her arm around me.
I know that these words come from ignorance. I know that these people are not intentionally attacking me personally. But it is so hard to feel like going to church when that is what I have to sit through week after week. You try feeling uplifted, try feeling the spirit when people you love and respect nail you to the wall as their scapegoat for all the evils in the world as they throw things at you. Try and feel love in that situation. Please, PLEASE think about what you are saying in church. There may be someone within the reach of your voice who is crumpling inside in their silent struggle.

My life is no different from the people in that room. And that is proven by the fact that they have no idea that one of the people they are talking about is sitting right next to them entertaining their cute little kid, reading the same passages they are, and pondering the lesson. Please don't blame me for all the problems in the world.

And lastly, is the world really so bad that we can't think of anything good to talk about? I get so tired of hearing everyone talk about the end of the world and the downfall of society. I find that there is so much good in the world. There are so many good people doing good things. There is so much beauty to enjoy, life to be lived. Why do we have to focus on all the bad in the world? Doesn't the local news do enough of that for us? In the last couple months, due to finally being comfortable in my own skin, I have started to meet and talk to people like never before. You know what I found? A bunch of good-hearted, interesting, beautiful people who were doing the best they could in life. Not at all the evil, cold-hearted, devilish people we talk about who dwell outside the walls of church building on Sunday.

Yikes, we have made ourselves so peculiar and unique that we start to assume anyone else must be wretched, miserable, dishonest people. Is the only joy you find in life anymore that of knowing that you are one of the few righteous in the world? If so, perhaps there is something wrong.

13 comments:

Abelard Enigma said...

This is one reason I quit going to Sunday School altogether. During that portion of our Sunday meetings, I usually sit in the lobby and socialize with the other Sunday School apostates. I call it the gospel non-essentials sunday school class :)

Gay Mormon said...

Yeah, after that my mom and I just went home. I didn't go to priesthood. It'd be great to have a group of people in the ward to start a gospel non-essentials class =P

darkdrearywilderness said...

I must be lucky and have a pretty good ward. The gay topic rarely comes up.

Anonymous said...

Amen to there being too much pessimism in church! Actually, being sick of this very thing is what made me love President Hinckley so much. He was always so positive and optimistic.

Just as you find when talking to all those "scary" people out there, the world isn't that bad. Actually, there's tons of good out there, and we live in a miraculous time where technology (and I'm not just talking about the technology itself, but mainly the productivity it unleashes = riches of time and resources) allows us to experience a breadth of things unimaginable to people just 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Also, as far as being bothered by pessimism and ignorant hatred of difference, speak up! This is actually quite hypocritical because I can't bring myself to speak up directly against bad homosexual comments... usually... but anyone should be able to find it in him or herself to counter the currents of pessimism once in a while.

When people are whining about the world going to hell, make a grateful comment about something that has impressed you lately. When people focus on unattainable personal perfection refer to a scripture on grace. I've tried to consciously do this at various times, and I've found that redirecting discussion like this--in a non-condemning spirit of love, of course--can actually do a lot to change the atmosphere, spirit, and nature of discussion of the class. You may just find a chorus of other positive voices invigorated by your sensibility and notice the crowd of whiners that usually comments being replaced in part by a few new voices that, previously, usually didn't comment...

Gay Mormon said...

Normally, I might speak up if it wasn't for the fact that I am still at BYU. Being enrolled there keeps a muzzle on me in a lot of ways. I am probably already risking more than I should in the ways that I express my opinion.

Once I graduate, I definitely will though. I'm sure that will only last a few weeks and then I will be excommunicated. Not because of the comments, but because I plan on being completely honest and open about my life. Once that happens, I'm not sure I will be allowed to ask questions/ make comments in church. I don't know.

Boris said...

The question you might be asking is, “who are really the ‘false prophets?’’” I can’t be angry at church members who are merely regurgitating what they’ve been taught by their “inspired” leadership for over four decades. On the other hand, will that leadership ever be held to account for feeding what we know are lies and misinformation to their faithful believers, and causing irreparable damage to untold numbers of gay/lesbian Mormon youth in the process?

Church-supported and funded propaganda on behalf of Prop 8 in California two years ago can best be described as Orwellian doublethink. What is doublethink? It is “to know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies . . . to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it . . . “ (Nineteen Eighty-Four, part 1, chapter 3, as quoted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink.) Consider the answers given by Chuck Cooper, the lead attorney defending Prop 8 in federal district court, in response to questions from his audience at the BYU Law School in September of this year (see http://www.marshallthompson.org/wordpress/.) But, in the interest of fairness, you can find a very different version from BYU’s own Universe at http://universe.byu.edu/node/10561.)

"Lucky Jake" said...

Excellent post! It brings up valid points.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of quotes from my former Bishop during one of our meetings concerning my conflict with the Church and my homosexuality: "Some people will never have to go to hell. They're already there". Not profound I suppose but strangely comforting.

He ended that rather bumpy meeting with: "You know, you'd make a good Bishop someday. You really would." That one kinda threw me. Obviously that's never going to happen now but I think he was sincere.

As a Bishop he said he'd 'heard it all' and knew there were people in the ward I wouldn't want to trade places with.

Despite my less than stellar outcome I still remember his words when things get rough.

He left to teach at BYU and I think he recently retired. Members like him are the ones that may end up saving others.

Gay Mormon said...

@Lucky Jake- Thanks for sharing your experience. I am not at all worried that I will go to hell. It isn't even in our doctrine. One of the beautiful, and sometimes forgotten, beliefs is that with the exception of VERY few (one's that will have to deny that the sun exists when it is right before them, shining in their eyes and burning their skin, except in relation to Christ), all men will be resurrected to a state of glory that we can hardly begin to understand.

I am quite happy and content in my life. Sure, bad things happen and there are trials that I face, but if Joseph Smith said we would kill ourselves to reach the lowest glory of heaven if we were able to see it, I'm not worried. The fact that we will be given a glory in which we feel comfortable is also reassuring.

Mike said...

I asked this to someone already, I don't know if you would answer better... I know how you feel about Sunday School, I feel like it's wasteful a lot of the time, that people are prejudiced, and have their perfectly preconceived notions on everything. It feels fake, and last week I even got annoyed with a lady that got emotional because it felt so forced, and everything she said was cliche and I felt so bad about that. I felt so dead, like I wasn't getting anything out of it, but then I remembered just the week before when my sister and I went on a drive after Sunday School. I felt the spirit infinitely more then, and I learned a lot about things that meant something to me personally, and were relevant right then. I'm not saying I think I know better now and that I'll just be going on drives after Sacrament meeting, (even if it might be nice) but I think I found that feeling the spirit is personal, and special. Learning to develop the ability to better listen to the promptings of the Spirit is unique too, I feel it listening to music, when I read about heroic and selfless deeds, when I read about true love, and so on. Anyways, I think remembering that Sunday is about remembering Heavenly Father and Christ is crucial, and that doesn't mean it should be about arguing about things we don't fully understand. Sure we want to learn more about what He wants us to know, but when we let our prejudiced, and imperfect opinions/judgments come in, it just hurts.

Gay Mormon said...

@Mike- I think Sunday School should be about teaching and learning from others about how to apply the gospel in our REAL lives. Not the ideal lives that so often we pretend we live. I can open up the scriptures and learn from them through the spirit all by myself. But I can't imagine Sue's struggle and how she has used the gospel and applied it in her life to help mend her. Notice I didn't say "fix" her. I don't believe the atonement is meant to "fix" things. It is meant to mend them. It is to help you find hope in Christ despite your imperfections. It isn't meant to help you find hope in Christ after you've fixed all your problems.

Mosiah 18 describes how I feel church is meant to be. A place where were share on another's burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that need comfort.

Mike said...

I absolutely agree, it is hard to do that though when people are so set on believing in their 'perfect lives'. I like mend, and that Christ is involved in the process not just after the solution. In many ways I feel like the Church is successful with what you quoted in Mosiah 18, but I also see how the action is there, but the true heart and intent isn't always present. That we're doing good things, just because we are told they are good things, not because we actually believe they are good and are meaningful. Do you know what I mean? I've started to realize when I truly have my heart in something, and that I'm acting on my true feelings of goodness, that's when I feel like it's all worth it, that I'm making a difference.

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