Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Can't Tell You That Just Yet

Heavenly Father and I have conversations in very interesting places. I think I’ve mentioned before that for a long long time, some of my most intimate spiritual experiences and answers to prayer occurred while in the shower. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think: one, and I already mentioned the word, the shower is a very intimate place; two, it’s also a very vulnerable place (can you imagine an angelic visitation occurring while you are in the shower! Yikes!); and three, it’s a comfortable place, and I’ve always found it much more easy to be receptive to the spirit when I’m warm and comfy.

While I still find myself praying often in the shower, I’ve noticed a new place that has become a rather reoccurring sanctuary: my car. I live on the east side of the valley, but find myself very often driving west. Most of the times I manage to get traffic timed right so that I’m not driving for more than 20 or 25 minutes, but occasionally it takes between 45 minutes and an hour to get to where I’m going. I had a rather interesting experience while getting onto the 21st south onramp the other day that I think is pertinent and that I wanted to share/get opinions on.

First, a bit more background: I’ve been studying a lot of church history lately, specifically from all the websites I’ve always been cautioned to stay away from, tee hee hee. There is a lot of information I knew, but that I can see as alarming to someone without a “testimony” of the church (like Joseph Smith translating the BOM with a seer stone in a hat, and NOT the Urim and Thummim – but who really cares? I have no idea why the church would want to keep that a secret other than the fact that seer stones have pagan connotations), some information I never knew but still don’t seem to care so much about (the number and ages of Joseph Smith’s wives, polyandry, temple adoptions sealing men to men), and quite a bit about polygamy.

I’m actually surprised at how the doctrine of polygamy is perceived in the church, and how that perception has changed, and how the perception of women is different than the perspective of men, even in today’s church. I don’t understand how members of the church deny that polygamy is an eternal doctrine, one that I would imagine, a good majority, if not all, church members may be asked to participate in as a condition of eternal salvation in the Celestial kingdom.

I’m surprised how this subject is treated, discussed, snickered about, and celebrated in Priesthood session – but does it ever come up in Relief Society? I’d assume mostly not, because I have yet to meet many women who feel comfortable with this doctrine and are willing to participate in it, whether in this life or the next. I always assumed everyone knew about it and accepted it – if not accepting and embracing the practice, than at least accepting that it was possible that they would be called into a polygamous situation in the next life (after all, how is a man/God supposed to populate planets without number with only one wife? Seems to me that polygamy would be REQUIRED for Godhood in order to make enough spirit bodies for eternity).

So a while ago I asked a bishop about this doctrine (it was during one of our homosexuality discussions, about how polygamy was the celestial order but how the teachings on earth have changed depending on God’s mood/will at the time, and why it couldn’t be the same with homosexuality). He told me that while polygamy was a doctrine of the church, it required a special calling to practice it, and that such a calling would not be extended in this life under current church policy (at least for living polygamy), and that he imagined the Lord would extend personal and individual callings to people who were ready to or could practice it in the next life, if at all.

Now, back to my car ride, entering the 21st south onramp…

I’ve mentioned before about my feelings regarding what will happen to homosexuals, and homosexuality, in the next life. Specifically (to refresh your memory), I feel that, at least FOR ME, homosexuality will rise with me in the resurrection, and with full understanding of the Lord’s plan, it will then become more of a choice. After seeing how I, specifically, fit in to the plan of salvation, as a gay man on this earth, I believed the specific gifts and lessons I learned here would be the end of it. I could actually envision a day when my partner and I would look at each other with love and admiration, and with full understanding of God’s plan go our separate ways.

Whether we would be going our separate ways to live as single individuals or to form more “traditional” families, I didn’t know – nor was it my concern. What happened after that moment of clarity where homosexuality would become a choice was not something I concerned myself with. I figured it was just something the Lord was wanting me to understand without revealing all the mysteries surrounding the hows, whats, whys, or whens.

At the time I felt I received this insight from the Lord, I was ok with it. It allowed my two halves to unite, allowed me to love the fact that I was gay, love the fact that I was learning things that I could not learn any other way. I knew the gifts being gay brought me would be used in the eternities – but the form they took in the next life didn’t matter.

Until that day on 21st south on the onramp.

I remember thinking that I no longer had any desire to be straight. Sure, the “ideal” family with husband/wife(s)/children appealed to me because that was what I was taught I SHOULD want, and appealed to me because that was what I was taught I would NEED to continue to progress throughout eternity, but I’ve always found the mechanics of such an arrangement to be unappealing and uncomfortable.

And so, on the 21st south freeway onramp the Lord and I had a conversation. I told him how grateful I was for the chance I had been given to feel love, to unite myself with my partner, and to feel a great respect and awe over him every day. I told him how grateful I was for the revelation I felt I had received in the past regarding how my perfect body and spirit would handle homosexuality in the next life, and expressed how grateful I was that I knew that he had not turned his back on me, ever.

Then, I expressed my concerns over what the next life would look like for me. I knew I would have the choice to separate from my partner, and that we would both be happy fitting into the Lord’s plan. I told him that I looked forward to the day when all of this became a choice, but that I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to not be gay. There are too many gifts, too much to love, too much to learn – and I told him that I never wanted to give up those gifts – and that I found the idea of giving them up to be much like the parable of the unused talents.

His answer started with a gentle reminder of the conversation I had in the bishop’s office, about how polygamy was a calling.

I told him I didn’t want to be polygamist either – that the idea of one woman was bad enough, haha. But I told him that I had no doubt I would be happy with whatever he was willing to bless me with in the next life. I told him that I honestly questioned the plan of salvation for me, if it required marriage to make me happy… if it required me to make that choice when presented with that particular calling, but that I had enough faith to know that somehow I would fit in.

And then something absolutely insane happened. The Lord reminded me about that choice in these words, “Remember how I told you that after you were resurrected, you would see my entire plan, and I would allow you to make the choice about whether or not to remain a homosexual?”

“Sure,” I responded. “That is the choice this whole prayer has been about.”

“You never bothered asking what choice I wanted you to make.”

And I realized, that I had assumed. Because of all the church’s teaching about the traditional family, because of the required new and everlasting covenant as a gateway to Godhood, I had assumed that what Heavenly Father would have wanted was for me to choose to separate from my partner.

“That will be an option,” Heavenly Father said, “if that is what you want when you understand; but I have something else in mind for you.”

I admit that by this time I had tears running down my face, and all of my fears and burdens seemed to be lifted beyond anything I had ever felt before. It was a truly liberating experience.

Of course you’re wondering if I asked him what he had in mind for me, and of course I did. But that’s when I got the infamous “I can’t tell you that just yet” answer that seems to be so common for the Lord to tell me.

So why do I tell you all of this? Why do I share such a personal experience? Mainly because I’ve felt like I should, but also because I know a lot of people who assume that the choice to be gay is the choice to go against God’s will. This has not been my experience.

But who really knows. Maybe my experience is unique. Maybe I’m totally delusional or 100% wrong. I’m sure many will prefer to believe I am deceived by Satan or listening to evil spirits and not the spirit of the Lord – but of this I am sure: As the spirit of the Lord is real, so is God the Father and his Son, and so was this conversation with him.

It seems that sometimes the Lord expects strange things from certain people. For Joseph Smith, it was translating a book out of a hat using a pagan seer stone. For the church, it has been to require some to practice polygamy. For you, it may be a “non-traditional” family in the afterlife where your greatest job will be to populate the planet with as many spirit babies that you can possibly create.

It is wrong of us to assume that what the Lord wants for us is what he wants for someone else. I honestly believe he really does know how to make us each individually happy. Why does my happiness require a different path than the happiness of my sisters, parents, or friends? Well… I can’t tell you that just yet ;)