A Levitical Digest

Last night at Institute class, my teacher, Carl taught us from Leviticus. His goal, as far as I understood it, was to demonstrate that much of what was included in the Levitical code was NOT a direct, finger of God writing it down.

To illustrate this point he showed us this clip from the West Wing to show how much of what is in the Levitical code doesn’t apply to us today. He also had us read Leviticus 18:21 which states “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.” To illustrate that Molech, a Babylonian God, would have been unknown to the Hebrews and thus the texts of Leviticus written Post-Babylonian captivity. The lack of Levitical law in the Book of Mormon is in line with this theory as well.

Before we could delve into topics on Misogyny, Homosexuality, and Sacrifice rituals, we were sidetracked by a girl whose Uncle and Grandfather study the Old Testament like it’s nobody’s business. Her point seemed to be that we should not take the material in Leviticus lightly but should give it serious thought.

She had one point that started to get me upse. It was that just about everything in the Levitical Law has a direct parallel. Circumcision ==> The Covenant or Menstrual Washings ==>Baptism. She kept harping on this point and it made me want to walk upstairs grab a knife from the kitchen, give it to her, read Leviticus 20:13 aloud and ask her what the sentencing to death of homosexuals like me paralleled to.
I didn’t.

But what she was saying and the overall lesson percolated within me until last night it coalesced into a working idea. Here is a picture of what technology was like 25 years ago. Did you laugh at it at all? I know I was amused by the antiquated machinery. However at their time and place, they were the top of the line, the best things, they were like Mana from heaven! Imagine walking around with music in your hand, how revolutionary.

And yet today that is passé and obsolete. Apple’s first ipod slogan was “1000 songs in your pocket” Now you can carry more knowledge and information than was available at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, on your key ring. Imagine what you would do if you saw a guy walking down the street talking on a Zach Morris Brick Phone. Wouldn’t you think to yourself “that technology is irrelevant!”

I think the same thing applies to Levitical Law. We have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have modern day prophets. We have Personal Revelation. Sure, the Levitical code and scriptures like that formed our base, but they were only relevant for a given culture and people. We are not that people. So when I hear someone use the scriptures to condemn me I look at them and all I see is the spiritual equivalent of a brick phone. To me they look like a fool.


They are missing out on the higher law and the greater commandments by focusing too much on the lesser law and the carnal commandments. So when I see the Church’s stance on homosexuality is based entirely on ”Sacred Scripture” I see a spiritual Brick Phone in the hands of the church.

Here is to Hope! Here is to the 21st Century!

Inferiority

Eleanor Roosevelt has an important quote that touches me often.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I am still distilling my overall thoughts on healthcare reform, but my position on technology is clear. I LOVE it and when I find neat uses for it I have to point it out. Mash-ups are particular guilty pleasures of mine and this video combines everything into one. It is a mash-up of John Boehner’s speech to Congress and the iconic “Yes We Can” video. Hat tip to TechPresident

The reactions, time to move forward

The responses

As soon as I sat down the pit in my stomach that had formed earlier on Sunday was gone. I felt relieved that the shuffling I heard behind me from the Stake Presidents and Brother Pruden weren’t the preparation to ask me to stop talking halfway through. It felt good to be honest and true with everyone in that room.

I looked out at the crowd and gauged the reactions of the people I could see. The mother who helped get Evergreen and Brother Pruden to DC gave me a huge smile, a big thumbs up, and mouthed “Great Job.” My friends scattered throughout the audience gave me encouraging smiles. And strangers locked eyes with me giving me a boost of joy when I saw their smiles as well.

As Brother Pruden sat down, me whispered to me that he wouldn’t have gone after me (for the Wife incident) had the question not be raised and he hoped there weren’t any hard feelings. There are not.

As I got down from the stand, I hand many members of my ward come up and give me a huge hug. Many words of support and heartfelt love. I had many people come up to me requesting copies of my talk. A few asked for my contact information to keep the conversations going. I didn’t have 1 negative comment. Even the stake president commended me for my willingness to stand up and speak out.

I mentioned the talk on Monday to my second counselor in the Bishopric. He is supportive of me and admires me for speaking.

I have had out and pouring of love and it has been wonderful. On Facebook I have had friends reach out, it has been grand! There have been very few negative comments and those were mostly by Brother Pruden, which, as I have said earlier, could have been much worse.

The fallout from this has made me feel great. I went out to dinner with several close friends tonight. All of them knew I liked men and were cool with that fact. And most importantly all of them are straight. Not that I don’t like hanging out with my gay friends, it is just refreshing to be able to be completely honest with everybody.

Moving Forward

So what happens from here? Well for me, I keep living life. I will continue to blog about my life here and will keep you updated.
But how do we move forward on understanding, and fellowshipping members of our wards who are same-gender attracted? How do we comfort them and help dispel some of the mists of darkness that surrounds this? We talk about it. Those of you who are out to yourselves and a few friends, don’t be afraid to come out to more friends, or to at least speak up when needed. Those of you who are straight who would like to help fellowship members, please speak up for those who are silenced by fear of accusation. Speak up at fallacies in class. Be the kind of person someone would feel comfortable talking to about his or her sexuality. By example you can lead.

Fireside Q&A Call and Response

Here are my responses to the questions as well as Brother Pruden’s Answers.

Q1: How do members harm those in their wards with SSA?
A1: SSA Members feel the general fear and apprehension about sex and sexuality that most members have.

David’s Response: I agree that the general fear is felt, but beyond that the negative attitudes and statements about homosexuality, same-sex attraction and eternal marriage, often weigh heavily on the minds of those with same-gender attraction. Often marriage is spoken as “When you get married” it stands as a eventual fact when for many that simply isn’t so. Boy Scouts taught me to be prepared, but Sunday School left me with inadequate education to know what to do when the likelihood of getting married seemed to vanish. If Eternal marriage lessons were taught with caveats regarding same-gender attraction it would help all members, both those with and without SSA.

Q2: Are there traceable causes of homosexuality in every case?
A2: There are many causes, but genetic/biological factors don’t predetermine who we are.

David’s Response: In his full answer he used the example of a 7’ tall kid from the middle of Utah to whom someone puts a basketball into his hands and teaches him how to play. Was he predetermined to be good at basketball? No. But he did have certain traits that made basketball an easy path. In this example, Brother Pruden alluded that basketball was homosexuality and height represents the biological factors that might preclude someone to same-sex attraction. Given my own experience, I don’t think that someone “put a basketball in my hand.” It may be true for some cases, but I don’t think so in mine.

Q3: Is there anything Church Headquarters is doing to spread information about SSA?
A3: No. But we can ask our leaders.

David’s Response: Sadly there isn’t any action from SLC, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and should talk about this openly and often. We need to discuss homosexuality in church. We could also push for discussions in Sunday School, Priesthood, Sacrament and perhaps 5th Sunday discussions. By talking about it we can dispel rumors, by staying silent we perpetuate them.

Q4: Am I (David Baker) dangerous for believing that the Lord is guiding me towards finding a husband?
A4: In all due respect to Brother Baker, I appreciate him and his previous testimony, but that isn’t going to happen. But there is a lovely wife waiting for him. We have to teach correct doctrine, which is why everything I have said refers back to the brethren. Lets stay with what the brethren are teaching us and we will be fine.

David’s Response: First off, he skirted the question asked. Second, he seemed to mock my solemn testimony, which I wasn’t a big fan of, but was probably the best thing I could ask for given the situation. Third, he stressed the utter importance of following the brethren, the brethren, the brethren. In his answer he mentioned “brethren” 3 of 4 times. I have utmost respect for the brethren; in fact I do follow their counsel. The brethren have counseled the need to follow the spirit. Elder Oaks in particular on many occasions has discussed the importance of following the spirit above even his words. Nephi was commanded to do that which was contrary to the law, to the prophets, to the “brethren” and yet God had a reason for it. I think that Brother Pruden’s dismissal of me was appropriate given the situation, but his analysis of following the brethren above the spirit is incorrect.

Q5: What Counsel do you give to those who are faced with the loneliness of celibacy?
A5: The loneliness of singlehood isn’t unique to those with SSA, Single women like Sherri Dew and disabled members also do not have that ability here in this life.

David’s Response: The difference between Sherri Dew and an SSA Member is that Sherri Dew has hope. She has hope that Mr. Right could turn the corner any day. An SSA Member most often feels that there is no hope. As President Uchtdorf pointed out in October 2008, hope is essential. I did feel kind of offended when Brother Pruden alluded (albeit loosely) that I, and others with SSA, are disabled, or just like those who are disabled.

Q6: Do you think that Reparative Therapy is worth continuing to push even though it is dangerous and causes psychological damage?
A6: APA is wrong. There is no tie to genetics and the only thing not tied to genetics for which there is no growth. That makes no common or doctrinal sense.

David’s Response: I disagree that the APA is wrong. Having read the statement regarding over 73 independent studies on the matter I think that therapy designed to change your orientation can range from the odd and unlikely to the downright dangerous. That being said, I also agree with the APA, and myself, when I state that religion and spirituality play a great component in someone’s sexuality. I believe that if someone desires to, and feels like they should, live life as heteronormatively as they can, that these tactics might help them. However I feel that sometimes the idea is spread that because some people can do this, that everyone with SSA should do it. It is there that I take issue. If you tell someone that they are wrong and that you know how they can be right, even if they feel otherwise, and persuade them into a situation that has been documented to lead to psychological damage, then you are wrong.

Q7: How should we react when someone comes out, or when someone is stressed about the church’s stance on a given issue like Prop 8.
A7: The first half of the question was dismissed, but the second was answered as such: In some countries where certain events have taken place, where marriage and families have dissolved what we are finding is that the work of the gospel is almost completely halted. Scandinavian Countries after Same-Gender Marriage’s started to take place, the overall marriage rate has dropped below 20%. 80% of the people never marry at all.

David’s Response: I can appreciate the difficulty of global social policy that the church has to face. For example Haiti’s laws concerning religion states that any religion that recognizes gay members is barred from having missionaries and even recognized churches (wards and stakes). Knowing that I can understand the policy position of the Church a little clearer. That being said let me present the following statistics for you. The global temperature has increased by nearly 2.5 degrees since the decline of pirates (see graph).

Basic statistics teaches us that correlation doesn’t apply causation. That being said, gay marriage and the decline of marriage both deal with marriage, beyond that the issue of gay marriage threatening hetero marriage rates is as absurd as stating that the decline of piracy has caused global warming. It would be better to state that the Free Love Movement had a strong effect on marriage in Scandinavia leading to various decline in traditional marriage as seen in Gay marriage and the overall decline of hetero marriage. Brother Pruden presented a logical fallacy and that is why, to those of you in the crowd, I was was shaking my head profusely.

Q8: What is the process for diminishing unwanted same-gender attractions?
A8: This is a very individual process because individuals reached this point in their lives uniquely.

David’s Response: I agree that individuals reached this point in their lives uniquely. To think that an Almighty God would expect individuals to come back to him using a procrustean method seems absurd. It seems much more akin to the god Elkenah that Abraham’s father sacrificed to. I believe that the Lord provides unique individuals with unique paths and solutions for their journeys.

Tomorrow the reactions so far.

Fireside Call and Response

I will go item-by-item and comment on them. I will give my thoughts that I had as he said them as well as those I have had in my re-listening to his talk. First a brief refresher of his point and then my counter point.

1.     1. God Loveth His Children took 5 years and outside consultants to come up with the final pamphlet
a.     This brings into question the validity of this pamphlet as “revelation” as many point it to be. Asking outside sources and spending 5 years to write the words seems like an awfully long time if it came direct from Heavenly Father. I am not saying it isn’t possible, just unlikely. That also doesn’t meant he pamphlet isn’t important and crucial, just perhaps it isn’t revelation.
2.     2. Same-Gender Attraction is a Sanctifying process for the church and members with it.
a.     In regards to the church, this make it seem as if I am the man blind form birth standing here in my position solely for the world to learn a lesson from. It kind of sucks looking at it like that, and worse if I have to suffer so that “a whole nation doesn’t dwindle in unbelief.”
3.     3. The wrong question is “Am I happy?” or “Can I have what I want?” The right question is “How can I become like Christ?”
a.     I agree that those are the wrong questions. I think that may be the right question, but for me it became, “Lord, What would you have me do?”
4.     4. There is no pill to cure homosexuality
a.     Amen!
5.     5. For some people individual effort, the spirit and other things help some people, for some people it doesn’t
a.     His comment was put in quotes before for a reason. He said that for some people the feelings diminish dramatically and in some cases almost go completely away. To me this seems like a very small percentage of success, and only after tweaking the definition of success a bit.
6.     6. People are distinctly unique in their trials, lives, situations and experiences
a.     I completely agree, and even think that different individuals can have varying positions within this same issue. Some may feel that they can and should marry a wife, others to live alone, and some, like me, to search for a husband. I honestly believe that everyone has their own unique path in this life and as he said, “who are we to judge another’s path?”
7.     7. Same-gender attracted members can serve in any calling, and should
a.     Amen!
8.     8. Everyone is a Child of God and we would do well to remember that
a.     Amen!
9.     9. Silence is the greatest enemy
a.     I completely agree. This isn’t something that should be hidden or talked about in hushed conversations. I thank those who clearly call it out and discuss it openly. H/T to Carl for boldly mentioning this blog and my blogroll in Institute.
This post is already pretty long, so I will respond to the questions tomorrow.

Second Part of the Fireside

I figured I will give a simple, factual presentation of the next speaker and then go into crowd reactions and my responses to Brother Pruden tomorrow.

Brother David Pruden, Executive Director of Evergreen International spoke immediately following me. Here are some of the things that he said.

1. The God Loveth His Children pamphlet took 5 years to create. The Brethren consulted with the leaders of Evergreen International in the crafting of this pamphlet. 5 years of writing and re-writing the material.
2. He feels that the issue of same-sex attraction is part of the ongoing sanctifying process for the church and for those members that are same-gender attracted. It has come along at this time in our history for a reason that will sanctify our hearts and turn to the Lord.
3. It is easy for us to ask the wrong question like “Am I happy? Can I have what I want? Can I change?” They pale in comparison to the right question, namely, ”How can I become like Christ”
4. There isn’t a pill to “cure” same-gender attraction, and frankly we shouldn’t be looking for one. We shouldn’t look for a way to cut corners.
5.

“We have come to understand some things, that 1. With Individual effort, exercise of great faith, reliance upon the enabling power of the spirit, and other types of things, some people with same-gender attraction feelings progress and grow and those feelings diminish dramatically and some cases seem to almost go completely away, for other people that simply isn’t true.”

6. People are individuals, we enter life differently and we have different trials we don’t always end up with the same mortal experience, we are all unique and so we can’t judge.
7. No blessing is or should be withheld from any member on this earth, including any member with Same-gender attraction. Without opportunities for callings, we cannot fully grow in the church.
8. Every person is a Child of God and we need to remember that in our interactions with others, particularly with those who have same-gender attractions.
9. Do not be afraid to share this with others. The worst thing that can happen is silence. This issue should be discussed, not repressed.

Then there was a Q&A, many questions were important; some were, in my opinion less important. Here are some of those highlights:

1. Q: What are some of the ways that members of the Church harm members with SSA?
A: We are a spooked out people and often are turned off by things that are different, especially when it comes to sex. Members with Same-gender Attraction can sense that and the caution that they sense feels like exclusion. It comes from Bishops all the time who wonder if they can call an SSA Member as a Young Adult Sunday School teacher. Of course you can! We often link different issues together like pedophilia, which has NO connection with homosexuality, we need to keep them separate.
2. Q: Are there traceable causes in every case of homosexuality?
A: Like the APA says, we don’t know fully what causes it, there can be biological and other factors that influence these things, but it doesn’t predetermine who we are. We are all Children of Heavenly Father with the capacity to grow.
3. Q: Is there anything else the Church and the Brethren are doing to spread the information in God Loveth His Children out to the Ward, getting the information out there and dispelling the misinformation.
A: We can ask and suggest and say that we should talk about this at a 5th Sunday Meeting. It may be something that they hadn’t thought about.
4. Q: Brother Baker made a reference to the possibility of having a future husband. This is a situation where you can have someone who is a home teacher, who is living righteously, and whose testimony expresses a sincerity of a different view and I think there is a concern on the leadership side. (Later this gentleman with his Italian accent came up to me and clarified his question, telling me that the danger and concern is that leadership will attack me for my testimony and he was wondering where the balance should be.)
A: In all due respect to Brother Baker, I appreciate him and his previous testimony, but that isn’t going to happen. But there is a lovely wife waiting for him. We have to teach correct doctrine, which is why everything I have said refers back to the brethren. Lets stay with what the brethren are teaching us and we will be fine.
5. Q: I have had a few friends who have this situation and it is hard because in order to be Mormon they are faced with the utter loneliness of being celibate for the rest of their lives. What do you counsel to them.
A: I have learned a lot from talking to Sister Sherri Dew. She isn’t same-sex attracted, but she has never married. She often remarks upon the loneliness, concern and the opportunities to serve it has created. I think the brethren we trying to send a signal with Sister Dew’s calling about their opportunities and were using Sister Dew as a model for us. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, but we all carry different burdens.
I have a neighbor, Elder Wirthlin’s granddaughter. She has Spina Bifida and is in a wheelchair. She probably will never marry, never have children and there is a lot she won’t have in this life. There are some things that just aren’t there for her. She has a burden, I appreciate that, they are different challenges that we all have; that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cry together and appreciate each other, but it is still a sanctifying work.
6. Q: On the idea of Reparative Therapy (explained later as the notion of praying the gay away) I have heard that scientifically it is unfounded, dangerous and it causes great psychological for little success.
A: this is one that the APA got wrong. They suggest that this is the singular mortal experience that we cannot tie to genetics. No serious scientist anywhere suggests that. That is a simple fact. What we are saying is that this is the only thing that isn’t genetic, that growth isn’t possible in. What does that say? It is a blanket statement that goes against the gospel and common sense. Will everyone have an experience that changes him or her, no! Some of them, sometimes for some people this can be helpful. The Brethren and God Loveth His Children emphasizes this “some.”
7. Q: How should we react when someone comes out of the closet, or when he or she is stressed because of disagreements with the church stance. How do we show our love for them.
A: The church is concerned with preserving Eternal Families and opportunities for them. In some countries where certain events have taken place, where marriage and families have dissolved what we are finding is that the work of the gospel is almost completely halted. Scandinavian Countries after Same-Gender Marriage’s started to take place, the overall marriage rate has dropped below 20%. 80% of the people never marry at all. There is a lack of personal responsibility evident and perhaps some of the concerns could be the difficulty of genealogy and temple work.
8. Q: What is the process in diminishing unwanted same-gender attractions?
A: it depends upon how they had their attractions. If it came from Abuse, you have to focus on those issues. It is very individual because we don’t know how each person reached this point. However we can offer general processes to develop healthy relationships, continue to go to church, embrace the gospel and accept the atonement. We often get tunnel vision when in crisis, when that happens; we lose perspective, growth stops and anxiety ensues.

A Fireside Chat

So today I had the chance to talk at a fireside with David Pruden the Executive Director of Evergreen. Below is my written talk as well as the audio recorded from the pulpit.

Hi, my name is David Baker and I would like to welcome you to this fireside about homosexuality and the church. To start out, lets point out the big elephant in the room. That’s right, you guessed it. I am an avid reader; I am also a fencer, a Son of God, and 21. If I kept going with this list you would also hear that I am Gay and that I’m Mormon. I am not just a gay Mormon. I am so much more. I am your brother, your friend, and your home teacher.

All of you, at some point, interact with someone in your ward who is homosexual. Let me take a couple of minutes and tell you my story and hopefully illustrate how you can help fellowship these members in of your wards.

Throughout my life I have always known that I was attracted to guys. I first felt this attraction when I was 6 or 7 but I never put a label on it until I was older. I have borne a struggle that some have described as my “thorn in my flesh,” I would more aptly describe it as, a struggle with God; call it my own personal wrestling match with the Lord.

In the midst of my struggle, I pored over scripture; over the words of the prophets; I read every commentary I could find on homosexuality and Christianity, like I said, I am an avid reader.

There was a time in my struggle that my search for answers left me empty handed, my prayers felt unanswered and I even felt that I was past feeling, that I wasn’t good enough for God’s love. The struggle in my life felt like an internal fight between what every fiber in my body told me was right versus what I had been raised and taught was right.

Beyond all of this I felt and knew that I had to commit my life not to what I wanted, but what was right and true. There were times I felt like Joseph Smith praying to know which church was true. I was struggling to understand how I could have these attractions, such a deep emotional, spiritual, mental, and yes, physical desire to be with another man and yet be told that I was damaged, possessed, or flat out going to hell. I craved the truth so much and was being pulled down in this wrestling match that eventually, after pleading with my Heavenly Father to let me know the truth, I got to a point where my mind thought of the one way I could find out the truth. I could see beyond the veil by taking my own life.

The pain I felt caused me to want to end my life and everything about it. I ended up in the hospital and while recovering I decided that I needed look at the big picture and simply put my trust in the Lord. Over the next months I switched from asking the Lord “What is the right thing, what is the truth here?” to instead ask, “What would you have me do?”

I began to follow the psalm of Nephi

“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.”

This didn’t give me the answers I sought, but it did allow me to pray with a fuller heart to the Lord. I became a practitioner of Islam. No not the religion, but rather the principle of the word Islam meaning Submission; Submission to God, to the will of the Lord. The concept of submitting myself fully to the Lord helped to calm my mind but it still left questions unanswered. “How do I submit to thee oh Lord?” “What do you need me to do?”

There is an African proverb that states: “When you pray, move your feet.” I followed this as I continued to search for answers following the advice of Nephi. I sought to feel the spirit and to be guided by its light rather than the words of men telling me which way I should go. I went to the temple nearly everyday searching to know what I should do. My prayers changed from “Lord How can you expect me to live in agony?” to “Where should I step next. I am prepared to walk thy path, where wouldst thou have me go?”

There is a Buddhist story that describes the mindset I eventually learned, it goes like this:

A Great Teacher was gathered together with his disciples one morning, when a man came up to him.
‘Does God exist?’ he asked.
‘He does,’ replied Teacher.
After lunch, another man came up to him.
‘Does God exist?’ he asked.
‘No, he doesn’t,’ said Teacher.
Later that afternoon, a third man asked the same question: ‘Does God exist?’
‘That’s for you to decide,’ replied Teacher.
As soon as the man had gone, one of his disciples remarked angrily:
‘But that’s absurd, Master! How can you possibly give such different answers to the same question?’
Replied the Teacher, ‘because they are all different people, and each one of them will reach God by his own path. The first man will believe what I say. The second will do everything he can to prove me wrong. The third will only believe in what he is allowed to choose for himself.’

To me, I had many paths in front of me and I was willing to take action, with real intent. One morning while I was in the temple, I prayed to Heavenly Father and asked, “Heavenly Father, what would you have me do? If you need me to search for a wife I will; if you need me to remain celibate I will; If you need me to physically castrate myself, to ‘cut off that which offends thee’ I will do it for thee Lord, I could just use some guidance as to which path I should take.”

It was then that I had a specific and personal revelation; a spiritual prompting identical to my testimony of God, Christ, the Infinite Atonement, and the Book of Mormon. I was told that none of these options were for right for me. I didn’t need to castrate myself; I wasn’t meant for a wife; nor for celibacy, but rather that I should open my heart and mind to the possibility of a future husband and adopted children.

Like Nephi questioning God when commanded to break the commandments and slay Laban, I struggled and wrestled with this revelation. I felt like Jonah, paralyzed by the fear of following God. I know that this path is NOT for everyone, and I was shocked and wouldn’t have thought it would be mine.

I feel like Jacob who had finished his wrestling with God and before he would let up asked for a blessing. Jacob was granted a new name and was given the power of God, yea even the priesthood. As I began to submit to this revelation and opened up my heart to the possibility, I have gained a greater portion of the spirit and a stronger testimony of the gospel.

I stand before you now and bear witness to you that this happened to me, it is part of my solemn testimony, something I know I was told to do. Because of this, I have been told that I am possessed by Satan, or guided by the lusts of my heart, but I assure you that not a day goes by that I don’t ask Heavenly Father for more light, more knowledge concerning this revelation.

That struggle of mine, while not fully over, has become a blessing and not a trial. Like the Zoramites whose afflictions humbled them, I too was humbled by my struggle and in that humility I approached the Lord. In return He followed his promise found in Ether 12:27:

I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I testify to you that the Lord has made my burden a blessing and my weakness strength. He did so in personal revelation that illustrates to me that any mortal man that tells you, “This is what is right for you and for everyone” is simply wrong. I admonish you to lean not unto your own understanding or the understanding of men, but to trust in the Lord with all thy heart and might.

I do still have many struggles; mainly the lack of understanding and knowledge of how to fellowship gay members. Oftentimes members say, “It is just like any other addiction, like alcoholism.” Or that we are “just like any single member of the church who doesn’t get married” or that “Judgment isn’t like a footrace, who crossed the finish line fastest, but like a diving competition where we are graded against the difficulty of the dive.” All too often, these conversations lead to further turmoil and pain and sadly suicide.

In Friday’s Washington Post, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated;

“My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?”

I hope and pray that together we can come together to find better ways of fellowshipping each other by looking past any “problems” in others and instead focus on helping the other person become and do what the Lord would have them be and do.

In parting I leave you with Elder Oak’s closing statement from his most recent address to Harvard Law School.

“Continuing revelation opens the canon as readers of the scripture, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, find new scriptural meaning and direction for their personal circumstances.  The apostle Paul wrote that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16; also see 2 Peter 1:21) and that “the things of God knoweth no man, except he has the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11, Joseph Smith Translation).  This means that in order to understand scripture we need personal inspiration from the Spirit of the Lord to enlighten our minds.  Consequently, we encourage our members to study the scriptures and prayerfully seek inspiration to know their meanings for themselves.”

I pray that we will open up our hearts and minds to understand the mysteries of God and help fellowship all members who are wrestling with the Lord. I bear my testimony to you of the truth of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet and president of the church. I know that the book of Mormon is true and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

A New Blog?

So after a blogging hiatus, I realize that having a blog will be a great way for me to update ya’ll on my life. I haven’t been good about blogging lately, but I need to get back into it. The old blog I have is for my journey as a MoHo and figuring out my life. Now that I am secure with who I am, this blog will focus on me as a whole person, not specifically as a gay Mormon. You who know me will enjoy it and those who want to get to know me, well here is a good place to start!

Further Up and Further In

In C.S. Lewis’ last Chronicle of Narnia he weaves a story about the end of the world and the world to come. This chronicle opens with two characters, an Ape named Shift who is wise, cunning, manipulative and lazy & his friend Puzzle, a Donkey who is not that bright, malleable, easily depressed, and gullible. Shift and Puzzle find the skin of a lion and Shift hatches a plan so that he won’t have to work for bananas ever again. He dresses Puzzle up as a lion and convinces Puzzle that his job, nay his duty is to appear as Aslan to the people.

The story is far more involved than this of course, but what is important is that Puzzle listened to Shift instead of what he knew to be true. Puzzle knew he was a Donkey and not a lion and yet he still continued on in the disguise because he was told that it would make things better. Towards the end of the book, the following is written:

“I see now,” said Puzzle, “that I really have been a very bad donkey. I ought never to have listened to Shift. I never thought things like this would begin to happen.”

I mention this chronicle because it reminds me of what I read today and the truth that it bore to me. I came across Paul’s writings on circumcision. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul uses circumcision to teach them a lesson and to expound upon church policy. He states:

“18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.
19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

Paul states that the important thing isn’t whether you are circumcised or not, but whether, in being called to be circumcised you changed your circumcision status or not. Verse 20 “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” Paul is expounding truth that I feel Lewis alluded to successfully. We each have been called to divine paths, paths that for us may be different from someone with the same trials. It is our duty, not to follow what others tell us, what Shift whispers and coerces us to do, but instead to instead listen to our own hearts and souls and more importantly what the Spirit of God calls us to do.

It is our responsibility to discover that call and be worthy to hear it. For some of us that may be a call towards celibacy, for others to find a partner, for others still, to find a wife. I do not believe that it is our place to delegate what others should do, to tell others what they are called to be. We must merely accept our own calling, much as we would from a Bishop, and magnify it rather than shrink from it.

The scriptures are filled with many whom have been called to specific tasks, some obeyed and were blessed like the Sons of Mosiah, others ignored the call and after a lesson repented like Jonah.

I feel that we need a lot fewer groups telling us how we have been called and instead need groups that uplift us in the calling of the Lord whatever it may be. The time is fast approaching when hate will be abhorred & love and support truly embraced. We can, each day help that day of love by answering our call to build each other up in our endeavors instead of focusing on why our own personal answer is right for all. We must answer the call and go further up and further in.