04 January 2011

THT: How Would You Interpret These Facts?

I read a blog post by Lionheart that I thought was extremely effective in demonstrating the situation gay Mormons find themselves in. I want to address the same things that were addressed in that post and perhaps elaborate a bit on them. But please read the post I am referencing.

The Church has been wrong on the causes of homosexuality. Leaders have taught that bad thoughts, masturbation, and selfishness lead to homosexuality and that homosexuality leads to unimaginable crimes such as bestiality. Leaders, both past and present have suggested that it is a choice and not inborn. However, the Church has recently reversed many of these claims due to the solid evidence against such teachings and now suggests that causes are unknown. Leaders have also begun to acknowledge that homosexuality may not be reversible or curable.

The Church has been wrong about solutions to homosexuality. Praying, fasting, being more righteous, trying harder to suppress feelings have all been suggested as cures for homosexuality by the church. Shock therapy, ex-gay programs, and other forms of intense therapy were not only suggested but required in many cases by leaders. Up until recently, heterosexual marriage in the temple was suggested as the cure for homosexuality, and worse, to keep that information about their "struggles" hidden from their wives. President Kimball even said that cures were often just a few months away. Due to the complete failure of these supposed "cures," the Church has reversed its opinion and no longer offers any solution to homosexuality.

General Authorities were wrong about blacks and the Priesthood. Leaders of the church holding positions as high as president of the church made racist, bigoted remarks about black persons. They proclaimed the color of their skin to be a curse and taught that blacks would not receive the Priesthood in this life.

The Church has tolerated unequal treatment of women. Before 1978, women were not permitted to say a prayer in Sacrament Meeting. Women did not speak in General Conference from 1930-1984. There are still many issues regarding women in the church that have yet to be resolved. Women are still largely defined by their husbands despite their own personal education, callings, or careers.

Church leaders have spoken out against interracial marriage and evolution. Both these ideas have been condemned using quite strong language by prophets, yet we are free to believe in evolution and marry a member of another race.

The Church offers no real solutions for homosexuality. The Church currently gives two suggestions for help: counseling and spiritual encouragement. Counseling can help in two general ways: 1) It can help homosexuals understand themselves better including their feelings, and 2) It can reduce destructive behavior, such as risky sex and drugs. After accomplishing these two goals where applicable, counseling reaches its limitations.

Spiritual counseling is good for any type of struggle. However, spiritual counseling alone is inadequate for nearly all gays. Imagine a cocaine addict simply being told to “pray and have faith and everything will be fine.” Or imagine a bishop suggesting only faith and prayer to a person who is bipolar. Certainly, spiritual counsel is not sufficient for these trials. Why is it okay to suggest that spiritual counseling is sufficient for gays?

The “fruits” of the Church policies towards gays are very negative. Most gays go inactive. Suicide rates are higher for gays than straights. Divorce rates are high. Families are torn apart as they choose between gay love ones and the church. The Church's involvement in Prop 8 has brought a storm of bad press and negative publicity for which the church is trying hard to re-cooperate from by inviting hi-profile gays to the Mo-tab Christmas concert for example.

If the Church’s support towards gays was sufficient, then activity among gays and straights would be equal. We would expect to see a fair number of older adults who are active and still gay. Given that at least 3% of the population is gay, where are the elderly gay members who have lived a life of celibacy and remained active? The Church’s fruits relating to this issue are embarrassing.

To summarize, the Church has been wrong about the causes of homosexuality, the Church has been wrong about solutions, Church leaders have been wrong about other issues such as blacks and the Priesthood and women, the Church offers no unique solutions now, and the fruits of the Church’s policies leave much to be desired. How do you interpret these facts?

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Many non-members or people who have left the church may look at this list and say, "this is easy... just leave the church!" Gay people generally feel no pity for Gay Mormons because in their mind, we are insane masochists. But keep in mind some other facts that many Gay Mormons have to consider:

Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many still have strong faith in Christ and in his teachings and still seek to do his will and share his message with others. They seek to use their talents and means for good, righteous causes.

Testimony of the Restoration. Many cannot deny their feelings about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the primitive church. A large percentage of them have served missions for the church teaching people about this restoration and baptizing them. They believe strongly that God speaks today and can guide and teach us.

Testimony of the Priesthood. Many have seen the priesthood work in their own lives, in their own homes, even by their own hands. The believe in it's power and ability to heal, comfort, and perform any work commanded by God. They believe in the restoration and application of this power.

The culture in which they were raised. These people grew up in Mormon communities, in wards and stakes. Mormonism has informed much of their life, their values, their goals, their dreams. They cannot simply strip off everything that was affected by their upbringing because it has become so infused with who they are.

The history within their families. Many come from long lines of Mormons. Their grandparents, their aunts, their uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters all look to them to be an example. These loved ones who give Gay Mormons a sense of belonging and family all have expectations and hopes and dreams for them. Gay Mormons don't want to be the one disappointment, the one failure, the one that is cast out.


This isn't an easy fix. It is very confusing and frustrating and can even be earth shattering. Are you surprised that people in this situation have suicidal thoughts? What would your conclusion be?

8 comments:

this duck author said...

As a gay Mormon woman, I have wrestled with ALL of the above. When, several years ago, I came face to face with myself, and had to acknowledge one way or the other if I was gay, I had to answer yes. My next question was, "What am I going to do with it?"

At that time, I thought I only had 2 choices: stay in the church and deny the gay part of me OR leave the church and accept the gay part of me.

It caused such chaotic stress for me because I did not know how I could leave either part of me. The emotional pain it caused was horrendous.

I finally decided that I could no longer take the pain, and concluded that I would have to take my life, to be rid of the pain and any aftermaths caused by other decisions.

If not for a police officer who pulled me over for driving too fast, and NOT giving me the ticket I so rightly deserved, I was led to understand that God's hand was in my life, that Heaven did NOT want me killing myself and that I was loved.

All of this happened within a few seconds after the police officer told me to drive slowly. The enormity of what had just happened hit me like a million pounds and I began weeping. I had to pull to the side of the road because I could not see to drive.

Within a couple of days, I was able to come to peace that I could be in the Church, i.e. I would not need to relinquish the "church" or the gospel parts of my life AND I could be gay, whatever form I chose to take that aspect of myself, i.e., remain celibate, find a partner, leave the church, etc.

That was my conclusion.

And, a rather long-winded one at that. Sorry.

Clive Durham said...

Great post! You and Lionheart have summarized both sides of the issue most effectively.

For those of us who are trying to find a middle ground in which we are able to enjoy the full measure of our creation and still be true to our testimony of Christ, our dilemma can be profound.

For me, this challenge was resolved with the understanding that the Gospel and its principles (including the Atonement and mission of Christ, man's divine parentage, the non-existence of hell, the nature of heaven, etc.)are eternally true, but the interpretation and application of those principals through the Church may or may not be.

Personal revelation and our agency allow us as individuals to determine how these eternal principles apply to us and our lives, and ultimately serve as the foundation for our relationship with God. Nephi, for example, committed murder and still stood before Christ approved.

In the end, I believe we will all be held accountable for how we forged our relationship with Heavenly Father and how honestly we exercised our agency in our quest to return to him.

Unquestioned obedience to the voice of men regardless of their calling or position, is not in my view, how God expects us to exercise that great gift of agency. Unquestioned obedience in fact places responsibility for our salvation in the hands of others rather than on our own shoulders where it belongs.

Gay Mormon said...

@this duck author- Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story with me! I'm so glad that you are still here with us! Unfortunately, too many of us (like you) come dangerously close to ending the pain and confusion the only way we know how. For those of us that, by some miracle, survived, that experience seems to bring us closer to truth. For me, it really felt like the effects of the atonement- a knew view of God and self.

@Clive- Spot on. The value of personal revelation is far greater than any other. I agree that our judgment will be much more personalized than we seem to talk about in church. I believe in a checklist that decides what level of heaven you enter. I think it goes against everything I have come to know about God. I also agree that we are the ones to work out our salvation by personal study, which includes questions and seeking personal revelation on anything presented to us as truth.

Steven Lester said...

The problem with these kinds of wrong definition articles is that they always beg the question: Well, if they were wrong with these thing, what else are they wrong about? Anybody out there game for a little pickin' and choosen'?

Gay Mormon said...

@Steven- I think it just puts that much more importance on personal revelation. We aren't supposed to just sit and nod and accept everything as truth without really pondering it and applying it to our own experiences and life.

LionHeart said...

Thanks for the shout-out! I agree with the comments about personal revelation, but getting that revelation is difficult sometimes when such strong emotions/feelings are tied to this issue.

Gay Mormon said...

@LionHeart- very true. When you feel like you are not deserving of answers, you can't really recognize them.

Steven Lester said...

I never get answers, but that is because God knows that I don't really want to hear them. So He is silent with me because we both know that I'm just a big coward, which is fine. Distance is safety.

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