05 February 2011

THT: I think I'm ready to face the church

January was an interesting month for me as I began the transition to the "real world." That transition isn't exactly complete, but I am optimistic and excited for the future. I love that scripture "consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin." It brings me such comfort and I am reminded that I don't need to worry about how things will work out as long as I am doing what I feel is right. I've never really had to worry about money. I mean, things have been tight... and I am poorer now than ever, but I have never gone hungry or without shelter or warmth.

I've been sick lately. I caught the flu a couple weeks ago. Now I have some throat thing. But I feel that I am on the upswing and now that I've gotten all my sickness out of the way for the year, it should be a healthy 11 months haha. I don't typically get sick. Maybe once a year. So here's hoping.

Now that I've come out to basically all my family and friends, the last cloud hanging over me is the church. It is like unfinished business. I don't like leaving things unfinished. It makes me feel lazy and fill me with regret. Today I felt this strong urge to face that unfinished business. A friend of mine was recently called to a church court. It was supposed to be tomorrow, but he has work. I don't think it matters how prepared you are for that, it always hurts. No one likes to be punished for something they are not guilty of. When you've had personal witnesses to assure you that your life decisions are not evil and that the Lord supports you, that is exactly how it feels to be exed.

I've given much of my life to the church. I've defended it. I've brought people in. I've tried to be an example of a good member. I've taught people about it. I've given two solid years of life to it as well as other time and resources. Much of my life experiences have come from being a member of it. Yet, because the deepest love I can feel can only be for another man, I will be cast out. It is hard not to feel thrown away and discarded. All those years of commitment and devotion and service are simply wiped away and forgotten the moment I announce that I want to spend my life with a guy and build a family with him.

But I know that God will not forget. I know that his love for me is real and his support is evident in my life. I know he will bless me and care for me even though the institution that claims to be his will revoke their blessings. That knowledge is enough for me to face the pain I will feel when I will be turned away. It will give me the confidence and the boldness to speak from my heart. It will give me the inspiration I need to prepare myself to face a room of men I have never met before in my life, but who will decide what what is best for me. I pray that God will give me the strength and power to speak in his behalf.

So, as long as I am healthy, I think next week may be the week. The beginning of the end of the life of pain, guilt, shame, and self-hate I lived for so long. And then I will finally be free. Free to love. Free to grow and learn. Free to inspire and be inspired. Free to finally be happy.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kiley said...

You have your diploma in hand right? Your transcripts show that you have graduated? (I know it is February so it probably does, but just make sure first.)

I was right there just last year. AS I met with my bishop and stake pres I definitely let them know that I knew in whose hands I was entrusting my life and that God was not going to let me down. It was not something that they could understand.

I wish you all the best. Good thoughts coming your way.

Jonathan Adamson said...

@this blog author- Thanks so much! That was so kind of you. I will also pray for you as you make those difficult decisions.

@Kiley- I certainly do haha. I have my diploma and 10 copies of sealed transcripts. It is sad that we have to go to such lengths.

AKgayN.LDS said...

Good luck! I'm disfellowshiped and honestly it has been a good growing experience for me. Whatever you decide I hope you the best. I hope you find happiness in you decisions.

Sean said...

Courage and peace friend. Now begins the harder part of your journey but living in full honesty and integrity has its merits the most in the church will never realize. You will be challenged by those who do not yet have "eyes to see, or ears to hear." Perhaps even close ones who may reject you for rejecting the Mormon institution. Christ came with the sword to divide the world. Gird up your loins and have at it!

INSIDE - Trevor said...

The church may "leave" you, but you dont have to "leave" the church!

Ned said...

May you be blessed for your honesty and courage, and I hope you'll find a way to integrate your full name and the scriptural reality of Jonathan and David into your statement. Remember also that the Book of Mormon talks of two men who were beloved of each other. Alma 53:2
Godspeed to you, Jonathan David

bradcarmack said...

I have sealed copies of my transcript as well, though I will not have my diploma until June. It is indeed sad that we have to go to such lengths.

From http://www.affirmation.org/discipline/lds_discipline_and_excommunication.shtml#means (LDS Discipline and Excommunication:
A New Guide for Gay and Lesbian Mormons):

"The truth of the matter is that no one on earth can take away your baptism, your endowments, or if applicable, your priesthood. No one can take away your faith or your testimony. Most importantly, no one can take away your spirituality. The Spirit never withdraws from those who sincerely seek to do good. Your integrity, your morality, and your spirituality remain intact.

If the day comes when you are summoned to attend a disciplinary council, we encourage you to consider attending. If you attend your tribunal and bear your testimony as a gay son or lesbian daughter of God, you will be making a powerful statement that they cannot ignore. Go to the council and let those men hear what you know. You may not learn anything from them, but they may learn something from you. Let them see that you are not intimidated. Let them see that they cannot hurt you. Be a witness to your own integrity and a witness against their actions. If you touch only one person by being honest, then your attendance is invaluable.

A Final Word

Disciplinary councils can be an insidious system of control, manipulation, and abuse. We believe that they are contrary to the teachings of Jesus. But we also believe that every person who is excommunicated can find the way to transform a potentially painful experience into something positive, empowering, and uplifting.

With a few exceptions, excommunication does not prevent you from continuing to do the basic things that are at the heart of Mormonism. You can still attend Church meetings and conferences. You can still search the scriptures and feast on the words of Christ. You can still have family home evenings and work on family history. You can still be an example of integrity and find ways to serve your neighbor. Most importantly, you can still pray, fast, and keep in tune with the things of the Spirit.

We testify to you that no earthly court can take away your potential as a child of God. No Church leader can judge your life. No administrative procedure can condemn your soul. In the words of Nephi, "the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there" (2 Nephi 9:41).

God bless you. Above all, remember that our Heavenly Parents love you. They want you to live in joy. They will always accept you the way you are."

Call me if you want to talk or need support with your unfinished business- I'm with ya.

Boris said...

Affirmation, as quoted by bradcarmack, has it right: “Disciplinary councils can be an insidious system of control, manipulation, and abuse. We believe that they are contrary to the teachings of Jesus.” I would also add, aversion therapy (as practiced at BYU a couple decades ago, possibly under a certain Univ President who is now a GA), and today’s Evergreen/reparative therapy (offering hopes and promises that are so rarely fulfilled) are also insidious systems of control, manipulation and abuse.

INSIDE - Trevor says “The church may ‘leave’ you, but you don't have to ‘leave’ the church!” True, but why stay if they cast you out like so much foul excrement? As you have said, church leaders are human, and humans can be mistaken. BUT Mormon church leaders want you to believe they are prophets, speaking for God through REVELATION in their every official utterance. Even the Catholic church in Rome is less arrogant: their claim is merely that their Popes are “infallible.”

Question: if your own Bishop is one of those more tolerant, open-minded souls who might seek to protect you from formal disciplinary action, will you insist on a “trial” (i.e., inquisition) by Stake authorities, as is more-or-less required for sinners who hold the Melchizedek priesthood?

Please forgive me if I seem to be harsh or callous. I hope you know this is the one time above all others that I will absolutely support and stand behind you. Although I think you may be somewhat Pollyannaish in your optimism re the future course of the Mormon church (e.g., that its leaders might eventually elevate human decency over narrow dogma), I believe young people like YOU (and NOT the gerontocracy) hold in your hands the future of Mormonism. They, the leaders, the GA, reject you at their peril!

Jonathan Adamson said...

Thanks for the support everyone :)

@Brad- I read those links you left for me. Thank you!

@Boris- The reason to try and stay is because I believe in the power of Christ and in his gospel and have hope that it can manifest itself purely within an organization given enough light and knowledge. The members are the body of Christ. If I cut myself off, I am not only harming myself, but I am doing no good to the rest of the church.

Mormon leaders do claim to be prophets, that is true, but prophets do not claim to be infallible or without fault. Every word from a prophet's mouth is not revelation and was never meant to be looked upon as such. People and egos can start to manipulate this truth and forget that prophets are imperfect men too.

If my Bishop decided to "look the other way" I will not ask that a court be called. However, if I am not included and invited to serve based on the same standard of "chastity" that my straight counterparts are, I will most likely seek out a church that would include me and allow me to serve and use my talents to the benefit of others.

I don't think you are harsh or callous. As always, I appreciate your remarks. They help me consider other ideas and perspectives I may otherwise not consider. Thank you!

Dustin Bankston said...

I think you will feel free. Good luck with going to your bishop.
Concerning a previous comment - I didn't realize any local church leaders were looking the other way. I didn't even know that was an option.

Steven Lester said...

Well, after they kick you out of the Church for being yourself, you might try the Reorganized LDS Church, which isn't called that anymore but I can't remember what their new name is. It is still sort of LDS and I don't think they hate gay people as much. You might even get your Priesthood and Temple endowments back.

I still don't understand why you are committing social suicide in this manner, but you seem determined to do it, so good luck, dude. May you never have second thoughts about the matter.

Steven Lester said...

I know that I was being snarky in the previous post, but now that I know more I can be taken more seriously. The Reorganized Church is now called Community of Christ, and if their website is an accurate portrayal of their group, I have no doubt that they are fully Christian, and friendly to everybody without giving any judgement in the least as to what they are, including being gay. Within their latest addition to the D & C, number 164, is an expression of love that is completely opposite to how the Proclamation To The World sounds. If you are kicked out, you might find your true home within that Church itself. I, myself, am going to check them out as well. They use the same scriptures that we do, with the exception of The Pearl, which has some serious problems of authenticity. They certainly have the same Priesthood that you have now, stemming from the same source and history of receipt, only they are far more careful about to whom they give it, unlike Salt Lake, which gives it out like candy.

I would say, that in my opinion, The Community of Christ is what the Salt Lake Church would have become if they had not been taken over by Brigham and his cohorts. In all seriousness, brother to brother, check out their website and read 164. As a Christian and as a gay person who is LDS, no friendlier home could be found. The Church is not their god. Jesus Christ is. It is an amazing place.

Plus, they use grape juice during the sacrament. Water has never been a true substitute for actual wine, as required in the original tongue.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on sticking up for yourself and holding your head high. My court was different. I went in sheepishly with my head down. It wasn't a horror show but I remember waiting for their decision in the hall (as if I didn't already know) and thinking what others have said: T
hey're only men and frankly I question just how inspired they are.

Excommunication was not the jolt I expected. I even continued to attend church for about a year or so. They even assigned me home teachers to help me feel connected, I guess. That must have been our own ward's policy because I can't
imagine that it's a church policy.

Being excommunicated was what I really wanted deep down. I was exhausted from the fight with myself. I thought I'd feel relieved. Actually I felt nothing. The toughest part...feeling like I just didn't belong there anymore.

Anonymous said...

You have been in my thoughts the past several days, Jonathan. If today is your day with the church, then you are even more on my mind. I will be anxious to see how it goes/went for you. I hope you will be alright with whatever happens.

love and respect, always.

bradcarmack said...

Thanks for your experience, Anonymous. I'm glad to see dialogue about excommunication experiences- I think there's a harmful stereotype about those pejoratively categorized as "apostates," and hearing their stories helps to de-objectify them.

Post a Comment