Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Shift of Faith

I can tell you the exact moment when I lost faith in the church’s ability to help me overcome my same gender attraction. It was the same moment that I realized they had no understanding of my struggle. Sure, I knew that Elder Oaks had stated that the causes of homosexuality were unknown. I knew that the church didn’t officially endorse marriage or reparative therapy as a solution to the “problem.” But for some reason I continued to believe that there was something I was missing, something that could be found in the church, something I wasn’t doing, or didn’t understand, that by finding, would put into perspective the grander scheme of my place in the plan of salvation. Now I leave that for God to reveal, and hope that he will do so using the church. Until then, I’ll finally listen to the choir of church leaders that I had heard for so long singing “I don’t know.”

The moment was rather simple. I was sitting in sacrament meeting in my local single’s ward during the time that the federal marriage amendment was before the senate. Around this time the church put out a letter requesting all of its members to write their senators in support of the amendment. Our high-counsel man got up to read the letter, but instead of simply reading what was put out by the church, he first attacked “gays and lesbians” as being “detrimental to society and the sacred institution of marriage.” His rant continued for about ten minutes (perhaps there was just some time left in the meeting he felt he should fill?), before finally reading the letter, adding his personal testimony to the fact that the amendment needed to pass, and sitting down.

The bishop during this time knew of my plight. He purposely avoided my eyes during the entire tirade, and did not stop the man at the pulpit. Obviously I was furious. I remember feeling my hands ball into fists, hoping no one would notice while at the same time feeling an overwhelming desire to get up and march out in protest. The only reason I didn’t was because, at this time, I wasn’t prepared to come out publicly.

To make matters worse, as the words of the closing hymn were being sung, I was struck by the incredible hypocrisy that only I seemed to notice. I looked around the congregation in awe and wonder as they sang “As I have loved you, love one another.” I got so choked up I couldn’t sing.

That night I wrote my senator asking him to vote “no” on the federal amendment to legally define marriage between one man and one woman.

The next week I had my regular appointment to see my bishop and report how I was doing. After informing him of the astonishing event I had witnessed, and that he had been apart of the week earlier, and telling him of my choice to write my senator in opposition to the amendment, I was informed my temple recommend was then in danger. I was, the bishop informed me, in violation of two of the temple recommend interview questions (paraphrased): 1. Do you sustain the leadership of the church, and 2. Do you support or affiliate yourself with any group whose practices are contrary to the doctrines of the church.

I did not lose my temple recommend that day, but was warned to repent and take heed. I left the office flabbergasted and awed that such a display of outright hatred was expressed with no repercussions. This fact caused me to distrust my bishop’s sincerity in his quest to help me. I realized that the church, with all of its understanding of both the physical and spiritual world, had no idea, or just didn’t care, what it felt like to be a full-fledged worthy member struggling with same gender attraction. There was no endorsed program to help me, and those that tried to help knew less about how to help than I did.

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*The Diehls* said...
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