06 August 2011

THT: More Like Men Than We Think

Today I was thinking about the leaders of the church. For most my life, I believed that they were pretty much infallible. I mean, we talked about them being men, but we didn't really believe it. Why do I say that? Because no one would dare disagree with a prophet. It is heresy! So even though it is written in our doctrine that they are imperfect men, our culture overlooks it and basically maintains the idea that their word is God. That culture is perpetuated by the leaders who continue to teach that their word is scripture, etc.

Shortly before and after coming to terms with being gay, I realized the folly in believing these men to be practically perfect and that I probably should have taken more notice of the actual doctrine that says that they are indeed, just men. I accepted that they could be inspired and that at times they could speak words that would be approved of by God, but that at others they simply spoke from their own human experience and therefore would come from a place of ignorance.

Today, however, the thing I struggle with is the idea that these men are so far behind the curve on the whole gay issue. I mean, if they were even slightly inspired by God, shouldn't they be towards the beginning of the curve? These are educated men who hold positions of power... power they claim has been given to them by God. They claim to speak for God. In my opinion, any person who claims such things and who has such a mass following of people who are making decisions directly based on what that person says would do well to be damn sure they are speaking truth. I mean, what advantage do we have over anyone else by listening to these men if they cannot come to the realization that gay relationships are not unnatural... that they are not harmful? Even in the midst of study after study and professionals offering their findings that show clearly that being gay is a natural occurrence and that it is in no way perverse these supposedly inspired leaders refuse to apologize and recognize that changes should be made.

At what point do these men become just like every other man who is set in his ways, closed to new ideas, stubborn to the bone? And if this described the leadership of the church, how are they even open to inspiration from God? Why is it that the world is the force that needs to pressure the leaders to change? These questions make is so hard for me to maintain faith in the idea that these men are in anyway more qualified to teach me how best to lead my life than my own mind is. Other questions are, why have our prophets been chosen from such a small group of people? Interconnected through family and other personal relationships? Why does the position of a prophet always seem to be an advancement or promotion? Why do these men all have long histories of leadership in the church starting as bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, seventies, etc. when in the past, God has chosen people who were slow of speech, uneducated, unworthy, of little power or influence, of all shapes, sizes and areas of residency? Why does God's choice of prophets all of a sudden seem so calculated and businesslike?

I don't know guys and girls... these are the questions that constantly go through my mind. They are the result of a person who is trying hard to find reasons to continue believing. For so long I didn't ask questions. But because of the things I have experienced in large part because of this faith and my sexuality, I must ask. Is there something I am missing? Have I been blinded in one way or another or are my eyes finally opening for the first time?


Trev said...

"Heresy," not "hearsay." Having gotten that out of the way :)... yeah, I've thought of these, too, so here are some comments in case your interested (either way, I'm interested in venting):

"I mean, if they were even slightly inspired by God, shouldn't they be towards the beginning of the curve?"

I struggle with this, too.

"At what point do these men become just like every other man who is set in his ways, closed to new ideas, stubborn to the bone?"

They always have been. There are no "super-humans."

"And if this described the leadership of the church, how are they even open to inspiration from God?"

The same way you and I and every "every other man who is set in their ways..." etc. are open to inspiration from God.

"Why is it that the world is the force that needs to pressure the leaders to change?"

I think we forget that in the Church we're still a part of the world, whether we like it or not. Nobody in or out of the Church has a monopoly on truth or progress, and we need to be "taking hold of all that is good." Having said that, I also have to wonder why we are so bad at this.

"These questions make is so hard for me to maintain faith in the idea that these men are in anyway more qualified to teach me how best to lead my life than my own mind is."

They're not. If we can't have the Spirit confirm truths to us individually, then how can we know anything?

The whole "follow the Prophet" thing has always grated on my nerves.

Jeremy said...

I like how this was written. Writing from the point of view of deception (and self deception) is truly fascinating. Your questions and points are very well described in my opinion. I especially liked your argument on prophets being behind the curve on important issues. I always wondered that with the Church on gays, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, women's rights, and such. Why is the Mormon Church so reactionary if they claim they are the mouthpiece of God? I like your points and will be following your blog :)

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a Gay Mormon, I'm sorry, but the second you act upon gay tendencies you are not a Mormon. A true Mormon is one that, at least, strives to follow the commandments. Being a homosexual is a huge no-no in Gods eyes, and you know it. Quit trying to pull Mormons into being the enemy because you are doing something that you know you shouldn't be doing. Quit trying to justify everything by saying the General Authorities are "behind the curve." What a crock, if you don't believe in the prophets, and don't believe in the laws of God, then don't call yourself a Mormon. Its a belief, its based around faith, and its all or nothing, ... not just following what you want to follow. Unfortunately some day we will see and know the full truth, but if you are a Mormon, you know that the power of the Holy Ghost can teach you things if you ask in faith. Got did not make you gay. What a cop-out.

Jonathan Adamson said...

@Trev- Thanks for the correction, and also for your insight. I suppose it is right of you to say that we are all "men set in our ways" and that we therefore have equal ability to receive inspiration. I guess I just always believed that the prophets were somehow more open and so it is hard to imagine otherwise. But evidence seems to point to the fact that they aren't any more open than anyone else to God.

@Jeremy- Thanks. I'm afraid I often ask more questions than I find answers too... but I use this as a means to thinking through all those questions.

@Anonymous- Is there such thing as a dead Mormon? Because that is sure where I was headed when I was living the life you seem to accept as a "Real Mormon." You think that gay Mormons everywhere haven't agonized over what God might think? I don't know if you realize how difficult it is for a gay Mormon to find reconciliation. It is often a life or death process and I chose life, and so you condemn me.

Being gay has nothing to do with "acting out." Did you become heterosexual only after you kissed a member of the opposite sex? Were you neutral before then? I've been gay my whole life, but the first time I kissed a boy was around my 24th birthday. That kiss didn't make me gay. And for that matter, is there no such thing as a Mormon who has sex outside of marriage? Or a Mormon who drinks? Or a Mormon who has had an abortion. Because frankly, there aren't many people left that you include in your circle of Mormons when you cut out all the sinners seeing as you count homosexuality a sin.

bradcarmack said...

I think you may have a troll on your hands, Jonathan. Anonymous's comments seem superficial and calculated to offend, so they may not be genuine (tough to say though). Even if the comments are genuine, they may be worth not responding to if the currency of influence is emotion, rather than reason.

I've had many thoughts similar to those you express. It's not realistic for the Brethren to be well informed on every issue (there are millions of issues- e.g. the effect of correlation on Indonesian saints, efficacy of West African water projects, changes needed in Young Women's curriculum because of the rise of social media, long-term political repercussions of missionary work in the Middle East, etc. etc.). However, one would think that by doing serious listening and praying (the work of prophets) their decisions would, on average, "turn out" better.

We should remember that they do get a lot of things rights (e.g. focusing on service and loving family relationships). However, I think such acknowledgment doesn't resolve the difficult question of whether to "continue believing." I think I'm at a similar path in my spiritual journey and have yet to conclude.

Thanks for sharing,

Jeremy said...

I just wanted to reply to your comment to me, Jonathan. I think that questions are always a good thing to ask and sometimes (or even more often than not) more important than answers. Keep smiling!

Freddie said...

Brigham Young was "inspired" to convert pioneer wagon companies to handcart companies. But, he didn't even pay enough attention to the Willie and Martin companies to track their uncertain progress. In the end hundreds died and hundreds suffered their entire life afterward. The final analysis was that the "inspiration" was just a way to save money. It was thoughtless and arrogant.

In a similar way the attitude of the leadership toward homosexuality is arrogant and thoughtless; they have been facing this for a very long time and not even questioned it.

Joseph F. Smith knew that John Taylor's son was gay. The boy left for Oregon terr. and was never heard from again. It is more than a little condescending to assert that all of the prophets since that time have been too busy to ask God what he thinks about it.

John in Tucson said...

Hi Jonathan ! I came across your YouTube videos and followed them to your blog and I am glad that I did. I am a Gay Ex-Mormon myself and had myself ex'd the day after I got back from my mission to the Spain, Madrid mission in the 80's. Served the whole mission 'intact' but I refused to do any of the missionary work because I saw that the church is nothing but a huge money making venture and it made me sick to think that I was there to promote a rosy outlook to prospective members when in fact I knew the truth to be otherwise. Hence I came home, told the bishop that I AM Gay, always have been and will always be so. He relunctantly had me excommunicated. I did not suffer the bull of going through an idiot church 'Court of Love' (what a crock that is) and simply got a certified letter in the mail telling me that I was no longer a member.

Oh - and the bishop came to my door and announced to my parents that I was Gay even though I had not told them yet. Nice, huh? Shows a lot of love there. My Mother told him to get the hell off our property and never show his face again or we would have a protection order placed against him. Yay Mom ! LOL My parents had already suspected and are quite fine with me being who I am meant to be in this life.

I consider myself to be spiritual person but I will bever again be sucked into any religious train of thought simply because it's all man-made. God is real, the churches on this planet are baloney, pure and simple. I agree with your Mother when she says to distance yourself from religion and get back to the real reason for your quest in the first place: GOD himself. Like you I was taught to hate myself for who I truly am, a man who loves other men. Nothing is more pure than love. NOTHING.

I applaud you for your fortitude in trying to fight the good fight, but in the end it all comes down to you loving yourself. Once you do that, God is pretty easy to love as well as sharing your love with others. I wish you nothing but the very best that life has to offer you my friend. Be at peace.

John D. Birmingham - Tucson, Arizona. EX Elder

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