Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm coming off a two or three year battle with my testimony and have only recently begun to "see the light" again. I've had a lot of questions about my faith, my church and what it means to me. Do I really believe it? And if so, why? Especially in the face of being gay and married. How could I possibly believe in a church that does not accept my sexual orientation? Somewhat reluctantly, as I've done this soul searching, I've come to find that I still believe. I believe in the restored church of Jesus Christ as presented in the Mormon faith. It would be easier if I didn't believe anymore. That way, I could reconcile my sexual orientation with the teachings of the church. But, do I really need this reconciliation to continue believing?

Believing in the doctrines of the church is one thing. Living them is another. Do I continue to play this Jekyll and Hide game? Is this dual reality even compatible? Does coming out to my wife and family erase the duality and make things as one? For most of my life, there was no duality. I was always comfortable with myself, even when the church was teaching me that my sexual orientation was wrong. It never bothered me until the past few years - maybe as things became more serious with being married and having a family. Even when I dated throughout my teenage years and on to getting married. I never really questioned the incompatibilities. It all seemed to work just fine.

So where do I go from here? What does it really mean to be gay, married and an active, believing member of the Mormon faith? Will I ever be able to fully live the religion? Am I just maintaining a charade? It doesn't feel that way. This feels real, it feels like me. This is who I am. I'm not doing this to live up to somebody else's expectations. I'm doing this because it's what I want to do. I feel no anger at the church. I've had no bad experiences with respect to being gay and in the church, even when I've come out to church leaders and a few friends. It's all been positive. The difficulties I've had, as evident in my posts for the past few years, all have to do with me and my own inner reconciliation. I've been amazed at some of the things of done and some of the situations I've gotten myself into (see earlier posts). I'm guessing I'll probably end up having more of these outrageous moments (ie., posting naked pictures of myself on the internet, meeting guys while on business travel but never going through with anything, looking and masturbating at porn, etc.). I guess it won't be a problem to keep you all entertained (I know you wish you could have seen the internet picutures though). So, I'm still here, still blogging. I'll try and post more again.

10 comments:

Scott said...

I'm glad you're back (or still here...)

I firmly believe that the Gospel--as taught by the LDS church--is true. But the more I study and ponder and pray, the more convinced I am that the church itself--the vehicle by which that Gospel is given to mankind--is not the perfect organization that many members expect and believe "the one true Church" to be.

I'm still working on trying to figure out what that means for me, personally, and for my relationship with the church.

But I'm very grateful to have my wife at my side to help me figure things out. I can't imagine keeping this struggle and this entire aspect of my self a secret from her. Coming out to her didn't make the conflict go away, but it did give me someone to lean on when it gets too much to handle.

Good luck in your continued journey!

Forester said...

There are a few people who, if I told them of my SGA, would make me constantly feel guilty. It's not that they would make me feel guilty, just them knowing would make me feel guilty. I would also lose all of the confidence I have in myself. My wife is one of these people. But I don't want this post to turn into a discussion of whether or not I should tell my wife. I wrote it to focus on me, my testimony and the church.

Alan said...

Hey Forester. It really is nice to have you back. Add me to the list of gay Mormon guys who've felt prompted to a profound re-evalatuation of my understanding of and relationship to the Church as an institution. Scott and I line up on this one (except for the wife part, mine decided to go her own way a while back, for which I'm grateful).

I mentioned a while back to my bishop my growing sense that there was a VERY big difference between the fundamental truths of the gospel and the thick overlay of changing and changeable policies, practices, habits, customs and even myths created and perpetuated by The Church, Inc. and Mormon Culture. He smiled, put his arm round my shoulder, and said "You have discovered one of the great truths of life in the Church."

So I don't worry anymore about trying to square every little bit of my understanding of the gospel with what might seem to be prevailing attitudes in The Church or The Culture. Their opinions don't matter. I don't pray to The Church or rely on The Church for daily breath & sustenance. I care more about what God thinks than what The Church thinks.

Beck said...

Testimony is a very personal thing. I've asked whether I believe because of expectations and obligations, or is it something more, and have come to conclude that it is something more - I really do believe in the teachings and principles and Plan as taught by the Church. And this personal foundation and spiritual base has kept me anchored even when inconsistencies arise between who I am and what I believe.

Scott said...

@Forester,

I'm sorry about the poorly disguised plug for coming out to your wife. I'm trying to do better at understanding that different people make different decisions in that regard (I haven't bugged Beck about being more open with his wife for weeks!) but I still relapse now and then.

I do understand that the main thrust of this post is about testimony and your relationship with the church, and I hope that bringing my wife into the discussion didn't distract from my thoughts on that subject, which Alan has done a good job of restating and clarifying.

For me, the resolution has come (and continues to come) in determining what is truly doctrine and what is not. Doctrine has been defined as the revealed word of God as contained in the scriptures. By that definition, there is very little doctrine that deals with homosexuality, and the little that exists is very vague and unclear.

All we have otherwise, really, is non-canonical (non-doctrinal) policies and statements by church leaders (prophets, yes, but also men) that have not been given to us through the accepted process by which doctrine is revealed.

I can believe fully in the Gospel, then, and I can believe fully in the Church of Jesus Christ, while at the same time believing that that church's failure to fully accept me as a gay man is wrong and uninspired and will eventually be corrected by "further light and knowledge".

That belief brings me peace and reconciliation.

Bravone said...

Forester,

I just posted the following on another blog that asked what it meant to me to now embrace my homosexuality. I think it applies to what you have posted.

1) After years of living a lie to myself and others, I can freely admit without feeling like a second class citizen that I am gay.
2) I finally understand why I have felt so conflicted, so depressed, and felt such little self worth as I have measured myself against my perceived yardstick of perfection. I realize that being gay doesn't make me any less worthy as a human being or member of the church than anyone else.
3) I realize that I don't need to be fixed. I am not broken.
4) I realize that just because I am gay, I don't have to live according to the world's perception of what that means. I can still live a life that includes faithfulness to myself, my wife, my family, my church and most importantly my God.
5) I have a greater sense of empathy for those who are also gay, no matter what life choices they make. I understand the incredible pressures placed upon gay people, especially within the church, and can understand why some choose different avenues of life.
6) I have made incredible friendships that bless me daily. I am no longer alone.
7) I am able to reach out to others who also need help and understanding.
8) I am now able to speak with priesthood leaders about how the church can better educate youth and parents about homosexuality. I can show them by my example that being gay does not have to equate with promiscuity and "the lifestyle" that is so often presumed to accompany being gay.
9) I can teach my children tolerance towards not only gay people, but all people, helping them to look for the good that inherently lies within all of God's children.
10) I can be at peace, knowing that my Father loves me and has blessed me, not cursed me with a gay nature. I can appreciate the good qualities that often accompany one with same gender attraction and build upon them. I have the assurance that the full blessings both earthly and eternally are still available to me.
I could probably go on, but suffice it to say that while once, I hated and suppressed from myself and the world, my homosexuality, I can now feel at peace and make positive steps to improve other aspects of my life, realizing that my homosexuality is only a part of who I am.

Forester, I believe it is totally possible to be an active Mormon, married and gay.

Thanks for your post,
Steve aka Bravone

Crisco said...

Isn't it always a battle? We are to believe in that which is not seen. Generally, we as a people have lost our superstitions and have replaced them by a scientific understanding of the world (admittedly that understanding keeps changing and evolving).
The example I like to use about how our world view has changed is that I've never heard anyone pray for the sun to rise in the morning. I'm sure many humans in the past have made such prayers or requests of deity until it was understood the planetary motions.
How do people of faith live in a scientific, analytical world? I too believe at the core that Jesus' doctrines are the truth, but I still roll my eyes (figuratively) sometimes at the things said over the pulpit or the policies that the bretheren use to administer the church.

Z i n j said...

good advice from those above. Keep things in perspective. Joseph Smith was amazing. Too amzing to have done what he did alone. The Book of Mormon is amazing. The prophets each and everyone in their own way did incredible things. They also are in the end also men who for whatever reason are allowed to flounder and just be men. The heavens are not always open to them. Let them be human as we are human but keep that in perspective. Brigham Youngs prejudice against blacks..Spencer Kimball's view of Gays, Gordon Hinkleys pro war stance, Joseph Fielding Smith's anti-science....well you get my point. Each different prophet must find the courage to undo some of the wrongs of the past. A prophet will make things right for those who struggle with SSA. Time, courage and patience. I also disagree with some of the other posters... that not all situations require one to reveal this part of their life...each situation is different. Zinj

GeckoMan said...

You said, "Will I ever be able to fully live the religion? Am I just maintaining a charade?"

These are classic questions we all struggle with, and we each work through our individual answers. You also say that you're comfortable with the path you've carved out for yourself over the last few years, and I'm glad for you. I would say that so long as you're not stuck in box and afraid to evolve, then you're in a good place.

I feel I have grown over the years to a place of more openness, but it is a matter of circumstance as well as maturity. I'm an empty-nester now, and I'm more willing to be open with my family. There was a time when it would have been inappropriate to throw it all out to the wind--I would have damaged my relationships and could have never gone back.

I also relate to that feeling of not wanting to 'disappoint' the important people in my life. I never told either of my parents or my LDS faithful aunt before they passed on. However, I wonder now what rich understanding might have developed between us, had they understood my orientation vs. the trial of my faith. Now that I no longer accept that I'm inherently flawed because I'm gay, I can speak to the subject without fear or humiliation. Recently I came out to my brother and sister-in-law, who are not LDS, and their response was first affirming and then questioning my future plans with wife and the church. I took the opportunity to declare again my love and humble faith in both relationships, which I felt struck a chord of deeper acceptance and appreciation from them.

Robert said...

Forester,
I'm glad you posted again. I'm not married and I'm only now working on coming back to church attendance and prayer and scriptures, so I'm not really in any position to share advice. I do agree A LOT with ZINJ, and I love Scott, Bravone, and Alan and the things that they shared. I firmly believe that God restored His church through Joseph Smith. I also believe that God leads any of His children who desire to follow Him, no matter their origins, orientations, location, or situation. You're a good man. You possess integrity and you're honorable. You do what's right because it's what you desire, not because it's what you're "supposed to" do. With a look at the Articles of Faith or at Christ's commandments to love God, thy neighbor, and thyself, it's quickly seen that being gay (whether married to a woman or man or not married at all) and being a follower of Christ and member of the Church are not mutually exclusive. We're in a good boat - a good situation. Remember article #11 - We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

You're loved man. You're cared for. Later Forester. :)

Since July 15, 2007