Friday, June 26, 2009

The Big Doctrinal Question

I would think that the LDS church would have the easiest time with accepting gay marriage. Church doctrine already defines two types of marriage: a civil marriage, which is performed here on earth until “death do you part,” and a celestial marriage, performed by the priesthood in a temple that seals a partnership and their children together for eternity.

Growing up, I understood this doctrine extremely well. It is the heart of the church. As a missionary, I used eternal marriage to bring people to God – and since most of them have heard of God before, and already had a relationship with him, the eternal nature of the family was the only distinguishable, desirable difference between our church and theirs that made it easier for people to accept the gospel as taught by the LDS church.

As I looked into and studied the subject, the doctrine became rather simple: Men, because they were given dominion over the earth, had a right to bind things together for this temporal life. Only the priesthood could bind things afterward (“what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven” only with the proper authority from God).

This is why a couple married in a civil ceremony are not breaking the law of chastity – because we, as men and rulers over this world, have the power and authority to bind a couple together during this life.

But that is also why the temple and the priesthood are so important, so that the things bound together in this life can continue onward in the next.

If you ask any member of the church which is better, a civil marriage or an eternal one, I guarantee 100% will see a difference, and answer that an eternal marriage is better.

Which brings me to my point. Gay couples want nothing more than the marriage that the church already views as lesser anyway. By doctrinal definition, civil marriages performed without the benefit of the temple will be meaningless in the next life.

So why do Mormon’s have such a difficult time with gay marriage?

I can see why other churches, whose doctrine is not so clear, perhaps those who believe that marriage is not given in heaven as per scripture, would believe there is only one definition of God-ordained marriage – but the LDS church should know better. By doctrinal definition a civil marriage is not ordained of God. In fact, he recognizes it only as a temporal occurrence, bound only by the authority of men. By this reasoning, I have the same authority to bind here on earth as any other man born on this planet. Priesthood authority is not required in order to perform a civil marriage.

So why can’t I have what the LDS people see as a lesser, non-God endorsed form of marriage? And what is the big deal if gay people do get married, in the eternal scheme of things.

I actually understand other church’s view of this better: They might consider it doing me a favor to deny me marriage. After all, can you imagine what would happen if I got to the judgment seat and was actually STILL BOUND to another homosexual (and I have discovered that most religions believe these bonds persist after death even though the words in the ceremony might specify otherwise). In this case, there might actually be GENUINE concern for the welfare of my soul.

But the LDS church doesn’t have such an excuse. It won’t make a tiny bit of difference in the eternal plan whether or not I was married in this life, or just a homosexual.

Except, of course, unless marriage can be used to prove the intent of my heart.

But if that is the case, then you would think the LDS church would be front runner in establishing marriage for gay couples. That way, in the afterlife, God could quickly see whether I was a bad gay or a good gay. At least if I were allowed to be married, I would be following his laws as taught by the church as closely as possible. At least then every time I had sex it would be within the bonds of marriage, even if it IS still a sin. The intent that I TRIED would have to mean something, right?

So it seems that by not allowing me to marry, according to LDS theology, I will actually be WORSE OFF in the next life. And if that is the case, and the church still fights against same-sex marriage, then I must take issue with the claim that their stance is God-inspired.

Are there any LDS members who might be able to provide insight on this? I have searched scripture after scripture to find some other explanation as to how civil marriages can be ordained by God but not recognized by him as binding. I can think of no other ordinance where an “imitation” of the ordinance is good enough to be binding in this life but not the next. I can’t even find an example of a civil marriage verses an eternal one!

If I could figure this out I would be able to justify the church’s stance to myself. Until then, it appears that they, indeed, wish for me to be in an even worse place at the judgment bar of God, and the only reasons someone would wish that on another human being would have to be rooted in pure hatred.

And that is a scary thought.

Please email me with comments, suggestions, reading material, your ideas and thoughts.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Secret

I know it has been a while since I’ve posted. I think that is because after my excommunication, it has taken me a while to get into the mindset of feeling like I want to continue opening up and sharing. Today I’m going to go a little backwards, and give you what I believe to be the secret to staying in the church as a gay Mormon. Hopefully this will help bishops, councilors, and etc. up the chain know how to handle people who might approach them with this situation.

It is just too bad I had to leave the church to realize it. The thing I’m not to sad about, however, is the fact that I met my amazing partner – and now I can’t/won’t leave him.

So here it is: You are a gay Mormon. These are two very real and very large parts of your life. They might not seem like they go together at first – but trust me – they can.

If you are still in the church, then you have embraced, fully, your Mormon side. Good for you. You don’t have to let that go, but you do need to embrace your gay side. You can’t just starve it away. It never dies.

Instead, you need to accept it, recognize it, and love it. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and act on your desires, but instead, means you should prepare yourself for full disclosure. To survive in a family oriented church, with or without a family of your own, is going to require that friends, family, church leaders, ward members, everyone knows that you, in fact, are gay. There will be plenty who won’t understand, perhaps some that will shun you, but there will be more who will appreciate your strength in remaining faithful to the gospel.

You are always accompanied in the room by a giant pink elephant. You can’t and shouldn’t hide it. Doing so just makes it worse. Parade that damn elephant around – because there is nothing wrong with a giant pink elephant.

The gay community has a word for this: pride. You should have it for both your gay side, and your Mormon side. I do (and my partner sometimes doesn’t understand it), even though I’m no longer a member of the church.

Coming out is an important psychological step for all gay youth. Just because you are religious, that doesn’t mean you get to avoid this step! You have to do it. It is not fair to yourself to not. You can be an out-and-celibate, or an out-and-married Mormon. This is the only way your relationships with members of the opposite sex can work. This is the only way your relationship to a church who doesn’t understand you can work. You must make this topic less taboo. You must talk about it. The amount of strength that will be required to live such a life will be a redirection of the strength you are currently focusing on you homosexuality. That’s right – avoiding the pink elephant is feeding it. You cannot “white-knuckle” it forever. There is no amount of strength on the planet or in the heavens for that (this is a rephrased quote from my LDS counselor). That energy must be refocused.

If all goes well you will have accepting and loving ward members, leadership, and neighborhoods, and hopefully change a few minds regarding the struggles of same gender attraction along the way. You can finally be a complete person, by embracing all of the goodness in your person – you can even help your sister color-coordinate her wardrobe. Trust me, you’ll be doing everyone a favor =)