homosexuality vs. same-sex attraction.
i have had a few conversations in the past month that have reminded me why outsiders look at Mormons with a negative eye and why perhaps the cultural aspect of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can get too self righteous for my taste. i hope that this does not come off self righteous in any way either, as i simply want to convey to you what i have learned in the past few years of experience and in recent weeks.
i got to talking with LA one day, the intern in my department, about homosexuality among LDS and he was interested to know how that worked. being that he is himself...
i don't pretend to be an expert by any means on the matter, but i will say that i have dear friends that deal with this as members of the church and it is a difficult thing because of how taboo it is to even talk about in our culture, let alone to say we accept or agree with it. the issue is that many Mormons want to say that being gay is wrong. they want to judge or condemn those that deal with same-sex attraction as sinners regardless of what they do with that condition that they find themselves in. there is simply more to it than that. open your mind with me a minute.
i explained to LA that we are against gay marriage, because doctrinally we believe marriage is between a man and a woman. this doesn't mean that we treat those who do decide to live that way or be married, LDS or not, any differently. doctrinally however, the GAs have explained that homosexual "activity" is what is against the law of chastity, in fact, any sexual activity outside of the bonds of marriage is sin.
after my first conversation with LA on the subject, i found myself bearing testimony of the truths of the gospel and of my love for people in general. i told him that members of the church that have same-sex attraction are not shunned or treated any differently, and they are not looked down upon in any way. they just cannot practice a homosexual lifestyle. i wish it were true. i wish those who live this way could know we love them. not in spite of, but because of who they are.
the church doesn't even battle with the how people have these tendencies, and it is almost irrelevant. genetic, environmental, situational... whatever it is, to me, i just equate it with depression. those who have it must find a way to deal with it because they know that they do not want to live unhappy and those who are clinically depressed usually do not find a way to just "think differently" about their situation. it is what it is. those who live within the guidelines and covenants they make in the church will have to do the same and if they do, they will still be given all of the blessings that will be given to any other saint who keeps their covenants.
again, same-sex attraction is not a sin, acting on it is.
LA was concerned. he thought that it was horrible that "we make them [those with homosexual tendencies] hide who they are." he said that those who have to live that way will never be happy because they need to be loved too and they are "killing a part of their soul". my response came naturally, though i had not thought before about this. i told him that in the gospel, we believe we have things A-Z that we must do in order to obtain the full happiness that God has in store for us. this happens to be one of those things. and those who understand that about the gospel and their relationship with their Savior on an eternal scale, will do what they can in life to live the way He has outlined, though it will be difficult for them. he shuddered and made it look like we [Mormons] were awful people, but eventually after he asked some doctrinal questions he said he actually believes a similar idea. he has never yet acted on his tendencies because he is conflicted as well. the moral compass by which we judge ourselves is the only safe guard.
my belief, my own personal opinion: i think some of those with the tendency toward same genders have a strong enough hold on their testimony and their desire to do what they know is right, that they will be life long fighters of "acting" on those and turn out just fine. some might have tendencies too great, or a testimony too weak to be able to make that sacrifice. my heart goes out to them both. it seems to be one of the most utterly difficult struggles. i also know that God will not give men more than they will be able to bear.
"Most of us are born with [or develop] thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim ‘I was born that way’ does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal."
Dallin H. Oaks, “Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, Oct 1995, 7
i was so grateful to have been given the words so that i could come across genuine and let LA know how much i truly do love him and anyone who "deals" with this as well. those who are gay outside of the church, i also love. they do not usually have the same moral compass and therefore living this way for them should never be an issue for us. it can't just be tolerance for those who live those lives, we need to accept that they believe what they believe and never make them feel inferior to us because of those beliefs.
i went home after our conversation, and worried about it all night and for the next few weeks as well. i got online and read what some of the Bretheren have said on the topic, reading through talks and lectures and interviews and mormon.org to see how it has generally been explained. i was comforted to read words that confirmed what i had shared with LA and that reaffirmed how much the men who lead and guide us truly do love and support us. they are truly guided by revelation and maintain principles of the gospel.
now, in sharing this, i do not hope that you think i am at all getting political on you. i am not saying no on prop 8/102 nor am i implying that you should either. doctrinally, same-sex marriage just doesn't "happen" in our church because of what we know.
man + woman = marriage. period.
so obviously we support the traditional marriage.
i read an interview with Elder Wickman and Elder Oaks that was also very helpful.
reading it was enlightening and gave me a better understanding. he is asked about how to treat the issue from a parent's perspective, how a person is expected to live in this condition, and how we are to live in a world where homosexuality is fast becoming a reality as a way of life for many people of all cultures and faiths.
again, some (in other cultures as well as your own) will choose to live that way.
get over it, and love them too.
i pray that we will have compassion and be careful with our words as we discuss these political issues that are more than just issues for some. i pray that we will never consider same-gender attraction as something that is a sin or that we should ever treat individuals who deal with this mortal condition with disdain as i have heard many members do.
end soap box.