For most of my life, I misunderstood the Atonement. I'm sure i still have a lot to learn, but now that I have felt the effects of it, I at least know I am on the right track. A friend of mine put this into words that spoke what I felt and so I reference his note on facebook.
I fully expected that the Atonement would change my sexuality. I mean, Christ can reverse death right? Surely he could reverse orientation. The miracle I prayed so often for was that I would be made straight. I believed that if I was just good enough, worked hard enough, God would see my righteous efforts and change me. Well folks, he didn't. And now I realize that it isn't a matter of can He do it... it is a question of will he do it.
The idea that the atonement will change your sexual orientation is a dangerous one. Why? Because thousands of members are counting on that to happen. When it doesn't, they become disillusioned with God and religion. They become angry with God. I did. For awhile I was so angry. Was I not good enough? Did I not do everything I was asked? Did I not serve? Why won't you answer my prayers God? Is my request not a righteous one? I had to conclude that a loving God could not exist if He would not answer the prayer of a dying soul. I could not imagine a loving person knowing how much pain I was in and remaining silent. And so, I was done with God. Perhaps I just wasn't cut out to be a son of God. There must have been some flaw that could not be overlooked. That thinking was destructive, and it led to the decision I made to take my life. I was unloveable and unable to love. I hated myself. Why go on living life that way?
But I did survive. And though I would have never believed I could ever count that experience as a blessing, today I do. Why? Because it was only through that torment that I could know happiness today. When I found happiness, I began to understand that the atonement was primarily to heal our spirits. Christ's greatest miracles weren't about the physical healing (though that is often what we think of), it was the spiritual healing. My miracle wasn't that my sexual orientation was changed. It was that I finally realized that it didn't need to be changed. That God loved me for who I am and that I could love myself. It was the first time I could really accept God's love into my life. I punished myself for so long by denying the idea that God could love me. I knew he loved everyone else... he just couldn't love me.
I credit the atonement for the change that occurred in me. I obtained a new view of God and self. I could finally see myself with God. And THAT is how I know that my decision to live as a gay person was the right one. Because all those years of trying to change, trying to suppress it, trying to pluck it out of me drove a wedge further and further between myself and God. He became so distant that I could no longer see how He could possibly exist. But the minute that I accepted my sexuality and decided that I would move forward doing the best I could as a gay man, living honestly with myself and others, God was in my life. He was all around me, and I was suddenly enabled to be a tool in His hands.
I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I don't fit in with the heterosexual majority. I am gay. But the atonement is there because Christ knows that we cannot return to God alone. Because we will always fall short. We are asked to do the best we can with what we are given. If we do that, we can have faith that the atonement will make up for anything we couldn't do ourselves.
I have been given the curse, and the blessing, of homosexuality. I don't know the purposes behind it. I don't know why God saw it fit that some people were gay. But I will no longer deny the gift I have been given. It may not be the ideal gift, but it is a gift. If it wasn't meant for me, GOd would have taken it away. But he didn't. So instead, I will move forward being the best gay Mormon I can be. I will strive to become more like Christ in this life and have faith that in the end, his grace will be sufficient for me to return to my God.