The Master Plan

I heard this story told to me and realized that it might apply to my situation so much.

The Teacher was gathered together with his disciples one morning, when a man came up to him.

‘Does God exist?’ he asked.

‘He does,’ replied the Teacher.

After lunch, another man came up to him.

‘Does God exist?’ he asked.

‘No, he doesn’t,’ said the Teacher.

Later that afternoon, a third man asked the same question: ‘Does God exist?’

‘That’s for you to decide,’ replied the 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?’

‘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.’

I do not know why the Lord has given me the Spiritual experience that he has. I just know that he has and that D&C 122:6&7 tells me that even “if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters … all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” I know that if I follow this prompting and keep my eye single to the Lord then everything will work out.

I am reminded about an interpretation from Scriptorian and LDS scholar Brother Wilcox who told me the following. Satan was not essential to the plan of the Father, How could it be that the ultimate plan required the falling away of 1/3 of HIS children. Many people think that Satan has the power to disrupt the plan of the Father, but we know how the story ends. It ends with the people of the Lord conquering Satan in a civil war, where brother fights brother. Satan was not necessary to tempt Eve and get her to leave the Garden. Satan’s actions however disrupting he thinks they might be, have time and time again, only played into the hands of the LORD. Having Eve eat the fruit might not have been the ideal way that the LORD wanted Adam and Eve to leave the Garden, but he did intend for them to leave the Garden. Satan misinterpreted the hierarchy of the contradictory commandments and thought that eating of the Fruit would be a worse sin than to stay in the garden. However, this attempt to disrupt the plan of the Father only played into the Fathers hands. I believe that the LORD has ultimate power and understands the intrinsic individual weavings of our own personal threads and how they form a greater picture than we can imagine. I have faith in the Lord that in the end, just as our actions can do nothing to reverse the flow of the Nile, our actions will not affect HIS great plan both for the whole and for us individually. I have faith that the LORD will provide a way for his children as long as they have their eyes turned towards him!

Testimonies and Interviews

This weekend has been an eventful one. Friday night was an emotional day for one of my friends who had to deal with parents and family who did not understand. I tried to lend comfort as best I could but somehow feel like it was lacking.

Saturday night I shared my story of how I nearly killed myself over the internal battle over religion or self and how I have gotten to where I am now. At the End I wanted to bear my testimony about the truth that I feel but stopped short and stuck to my desire for others to feel the peace that I feel in my life. The entire experience was great and i felt so glad that I did it even though my body was in fear and rejection mode the whole time.

Then I had Scott and Sarah’s Party which was great! I never felt so welcomed by so many people who didn’t even know me. I have always had a hard time in social situations, but this time I had none of that. I mixed and mingled throughout the crowd and it was wonderful. I am so Glad that I spent the time there.

Sunday, Fast and testimony meeting. So I was composing the previous post on following the Spirit as Sacrament meeting started and was moving along following the Spirit in gaining inspiration on what to write and then Testimony meeting started. It started off with a woman who used to be a member of the ward who came up and spoke about how grateful she was that when she was here she could walk to church and not be surrounded by the ugliness that is in her city of San Francisco, and how much pain she feels after living in California these past 6 months with Prop 8 and all of the ugliness that has surrounded her. She then spoke about how she is so grateful that she has the ability to just simply follow the Prophet. During this whole thing I was getting upset by what she was saying and that last comment made me go, Uh? Don’t we have the Spirit for a reason? So in silent protest I walked out behind her and left the Chapel. On my way out I caught the eyes of one young man who I am sure is a MoHo in hiding and the Sadness that was exuding from his face tore at my heartstrings. So I went outside the Chapel and finished my thoughts that became a blog post. and then pressed upon by the Spirit and the look in that kids eyes, I went back in and walked up to the Front. I stood on the stand and started to bear my testimony of the Spirit and how grateful I feel to be able to follow the Spirit of truth and knowledge that testifys to me the Love God has for us, and the atonemnet. I was really tempted to take that time to share my story with the audience as a blessing of feeling the spirit. but Again I refrained.

As I sat back down I thought to myself about the juxtapostion of wanting to bear my testimony in the secular setting and share my story in the spritual and I am bittersweet about not taking the advantage to do so.

Graditude, to follow in Faith or be led by the Spirit?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.”
These words are often the most quoted political words in the history of America and they are the words that start the Declaration of Independence. These words are those that are cherished in the hearts and minds of most citizens of the United States. Why? Why do we cherish this phrase “all men are created equal” so much? Is it the actual words as were written to mean “all men (read: free land owning white males) are created equal”? Or do we cherish this phrase because we see it to mean “all men (read: Human Beings) are created equal”? Is it the words themselves that we cling to, the diction presented to us by Thomas Jefferson? Or is it the spirit that the words give to us? The Spirit of truth that rings through and declares itself “self-evident”? Personally I am one to follow the spirit that is meant by a law, not so much the words with which the law was created.

When it comes to things of the Gospel, do we focus on the physical words that are spoken and passed down from generation to generation? Or do we focus on the Spirit, which they bring into our lives? Missionaries are now being taught that it is not through the words they speak that people will want to join the Church, but through the Spirit which touches an investigators heart and resonates true with them. Should we not apply this principle to our own lives? Should we not focus on what the Spirit and the gift of the Holy Ghost is telling us rather than on the literal words that are spoken unto us? As C.S. Lewis touches upon in the introduction to his book “The Abolition of Man” we as human beings statements about objects of subjective value (such as “the waterfall is sublime”) are, in part, because of our feelings about the object and the feelings that that subjective object exude with in us. The waterfall humbles us and therefore makes us qualify it as “sublime,” rather than just pretty.

I think that is crucially important for us to rely upon the spirit in our lives because we need it ever so much in these the latter days. There was a time when we, as creatures of our LORD lacked the gift of the Holy Ghost, the comforter left to us by Christ. In that day when all we had was the light of Christ to guide us we were forced to turn out hearts to righteous men who voiced the words of the spirit as they interpreted the Spirit to prompt them. There are hundreds of examples of the need to turn to the words of the prophet, of him with the power of the Spirit in the day and age of the Bible, but one particular example sticks in my mind because a friend of mine brought it up recently.
While the Children of Israel were wandering lost in the wilderness, there came upon them a swarm of snakes that were biting the people. The Lord through the Prophet Moses commanded them that all they needed to do to cure themselves was to lift up their eyes and look to the prophet. Many people died because they were too focused on trying the temporal solutions to the snake bites and protecting themselves from the snakes that they would not hearken unto the prophets voice. My friend used this example to illustrate that when a Prophet calls us to action we need to follow immediately whereas my view was that we needed to pray about the words that the prophet gave us to know the truth of them after having studied it out in our minds. She told me this story to illustrate the fact that as someone called to listen to a prophets voice, the logical answer would be to focus on the snakes and not on the words of the prophet. I understood her point, but later realized the one crucial difference between the Children of Israel and the Members of the Church. The Children of Israel did not have the gift of the Holy Ghost in their lives and so any attempt made by them that wasn’t hearkening unto the prophets would be in vain, whereas if we as latter-day saints follow the counsel in D&C 30 we will turn our hearts and our n=minds away from the teachings of men and draw closer to the teachings of the spirit.

This is the key difference between the people in the bible and us today. They had not the Holy Ghost as their constant companion. And so they were forced to rely on the lesser law of strict obedience to every jot and tittle of the Law of Moses.

When Christ came, he taught the Higher law, the law by which every jot and tittle of the Law of Moses was contained and fulfilled in the Lord’s two great commandments. Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. “On these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets” The Lord Jesus Christ taught us the fulfilled gospel which included following the spirit, not the teachings and rituals of men. He taught us a gospel of Love and understanding and he left with us the comforter so that “we might have his spirit to be with us.”

I can only assume that one of the reasons that we have the spirit is to personally guide us to the truth. The spirit is a speaker of truth and it can not testify things unto us that are false, but I believe that the Spirit speaks to us not in words, but it speaks to our spirit through the language of the heart rather that the muddied languages of men that have been confounded since the tower of Babel. I believe that in the action of placing words to that which has touched your spirit muddies the spirit with the language of men. That “no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls” (3 Nephi 17:17)

Should we try to vocalize the things of the spirit they are often passed through a series of filters that are present in our life. The spirit’s voice passes through our mind following similar tacks to which our mind is accustomed to going. The vocalizing of the Spirit is thus passes through our own experiences leaving their mark on the vocalization of the Spirit. Most people who have given a blessing will tell you that they often receive the impressions of feelings and vocalize them as best they can and only rarely have the exact phrasing come to their minds. Scott has a great post concerning this in relation to Patriarchal Blessings that can be found here.

I think that it goes farther than just blessings that the vocalization of the spirit is filtered through our own prejudices. I believe that when the Spirit teaches us it touches upon our hearts and our minds and teaches us on a level far greater than this pithy set of languages that our tongues manipulate. There is an example that I would like to share with you concerning this lack of completeness that our language possesses. It is in the use of the word Adieu in Jacob 7. Critics often claim this to be proof positive that the Book of Mormon was composed by Joseph Smith but if you look beyond the flippancy of the argument you see that “and it came to pass” wasn’t on the plates either. The Book of Mormon is a translation of ancient scripture and thus the word Adieu is the word that best fit the inscription left by Jacob and was the best word that Joseph could have used to express the symbol on the plates. Just as the Book of Mormon is a translation of the Gold Plates, our vocalization of the spirit is a translation from that which we feel to that which we can tangibly speak. The word Adieu wasn’t on the plates, but it is the word that best describes the meaning that Jacob was trying to get across, similarly, the Spirit is hampered by our own limitations of our language.

I personally see the effects of these filters often in my life. Anytime I redo an action such as re-read a book or re-watch a movie I see things that I didn’t notice before, or something will hit me that I had not experienced before because I didn’t have a filter through which its meaning could pass. The story in each case remains the same, but my ability to understand it grew. That is why it is important to read the Book of Mormon over again, so that we can relate the stories to our current lives. I believe that this is true of the Spirit as well. The Lord is the same yesterday today and tomorrow and yet we have had many changes and reforms to the gospel throughout the course of recorded history. The most recent was the opening up of the Priesthood to all worthy males. This, I believe, was not God changing his mind on something, but a result of President Kimball sitting down with an open and soft heart, removing the filters that would have tipped his mind one way or another and opening himself unto the spirit which pored forth the blessings and revelation unto him. I believe that as we soften our hearts, we will be given more of the word even unto the knowing of the mysteries of God. (Alma 12:10)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that principle in these words: “If you teach the word of truth—now note, you’re saying what is true, every thing you say is accurate and right—by some other way than the Spirit, it is not of God. Now what is the other way to teach than by the Spirit? Well, obviously, it is by the power of the intellect. Suppose I came here tonight and delivered a great message on teaching, and I did it by the power of the intellect without any of the Spirit of God attending. Suppose that every word that I said was true, no error whatever, but it was an intellectual presentation. This revelation says: ‘If it be by some other way it is not of God’ (D&C 50:18). That is, God did not present the message through me because I used the power of the intellect instead of the power of the Spirit. Intellectual things—reason and logic—can do some good, and they can prepare the way, and they can get the mind ready to receive the Spirit under certain circumstances. But conversion comes and the truth sinks into the hearts of people only when it is taught by the power of the Spirit”

This quote by Elder McConkie is one of my new favorites because it shows that we can not be content with the simple action of following what we have been taught in our minds to follow the words of the Prophet, if they are not taught unto us by the power of the Spirit than they are not of God. It is thus vitally important for us to follow the teachings of the Prophet insomuch as they are confirmed to us by the power of the spirit by which all truth is known. Not to simply follow blindly, but to follow because we have been taught the truth by the spirit.

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Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

So I heard this song the other day and realized how similar to our lives as Moho’s it was. At least in my own personal journey So I decided to interpret the lyrics.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

Used to be the EQP or the Gospel Doctrine Teacher, the Good Mormon Boy, King off it all. Now we sit in church alone, devoid of what we used to have

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

I used to have it all, everything in Mormon culture going for me. I would join in with the crowd in singing the sinful nature of gays

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

One day I had everything and the next I lost it all. I discovered that my faith now stood upon pillars of salt (Sodom Reference) and a foundation of sand.

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

I hear the church choir singing and the prophets words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong

For some reason I can’t explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

For some reason I can’t explain once you find yourself you are never the same. You want it all back when you used to rule the world.

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

It was a wicked and wild wind blew down the doors of my closet, shattered beliefs and the sound of hate People couldn’t believe what I had “chose”

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

The church leaders wait for my spirit on a silver plate.
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want EQP

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

I hear the church choir singing and the prophet’s words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong

For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

For some reason I can’t explain I know the Savior won’t call my name For I never spoke an honest word when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear the church choir singing and the prophet’s words ringing demanding that I become a sacrifice for the church that tells me I am wrong
For some reason I can’t explain I know the Savior will name my name For I serve a better life than when I ruled the world.

Living in Opposition or living through it?

We believe that there is opposition in all things. That in opposition to joy is misery, in opposition to life there is death. When you look at these things you can clearly see that Joy is superior to misery, that Life is superior to death. However are these things that are opposition are not inferior, they provide the ability to both enjoy & appreciate life, and they each have their time and place.
If Christ had not experienced the misery of the bitter cup then He could not have found Joy, and neither can we find and appreciate Joy without having tasted the misery that is found in sin. Is death really a bad thing? Without death then we wouldn’t be able to have eternal life. Think what art would be without the dichotomy of light and shadow and that balance and equilibrium.
Could then our dilemma be a brief moment in misery that will translate to a greater Joy in the life beyond? Could our trials preclude us to receive greater Joy depending on how we bear them? Will we drink from the bitter cup or let it pass from us? What will you do?

Game Theory, John Nash, and the MoHo Dilemma.

My plans:
I am gay. I am a Child of God. He loves me. His son atoned for my sins, pains and sufferings. HE wants me to be happy and return to him. I have to do that by following the Spirit which tells me to start a family and raise children with a loving Husband. IF the Church isn’t true then MY testimony in it and God is shaken and thus my spiritual experience to live with a husband isn’t true. But then What does it matter. If I look at this like a game theory problem then I have the choices to Cooperate with the Church, or defect from it, those are my options. The Church’s option is to be true or not. Looking at this as for a Nash Equilibrium point of view I come up with the following possible outcomes:
1. If I cooperate and the Church is true, then I have obeyed the teachings of the Church but not the Spirit and will achieve the blessings promised simply through the sheer will power, but will be without help-meet or children and thus will have missed many opportunities for human and spiritual development.
2. If I cooperate and the Church isn’t true, then I have wasted my entire life following that which is untrue, being completely alone and leaving no posterity. I would have lived a moral life, but to what outcome, Where would I fall in the Hierarchy of Heaven or the levels of Hell.
3. If I defect and the Church is true, then I will have been following the spirit and will be blessed with obedience to the spirit and thus will be blessed in the afterlife. I will have had the opportunity to be a father and husband and learn to love ad the Father loves.
4. If I defect and the Church isn’t true then I will not have spent my life following that which isn’t true, and then I will have had the ability to love as a father and as a husband but where my place in the eternities lies is still up in the air.

In laying out the possible choices and options and actions and outcomes then I am left with the best possible choice for both me and the group as having me defect. It is the best way for me to be a productive member of society, It makes me the happiest and teaches me important life and spiritual lessons and I will have been following the spirit. This is my decision, and I wish I could make it now, but instead I must wait until after the Middle school musical is over (people irrationally fear that I am a pedophile) I might also wait until my mother is on stronger ground with herself emotionally and in her marriage, I don’t want to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. So I am set to come out Either March 8th (my birthday) or on May 6th after I finish with my finals.

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All or Nothing Principle

Both Alan and Austin have recently discussed their take on the “All or Nothing” teaching that states that if the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith was a prophet and all prophets since him were prophets and thus we have this compulsion to believe everything that is said out of the mouths of the Prophets because thy are the Mouthpieces of God.

I have had difficulty with this doctrine in the past both before and after I came out to myself. Before I never really had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but I believed the words of the Prophets were inspired by God and that we should follow them. Recently the reverse had been true, I believed that the Book of Mormon was true but I had misgivings about the leaders and the revelatory nature of their teachings. While I was having the second round of attack by the “all or nothing” doctrine two things hit me that taught me the absurdity of the doctrine. The first comes from Star Wars Episode III the Revenge of the Sith and while I know that it is cheesy, the line does serve the discussion well.

“Anakin Skywalker: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Now I will admit I am slightly nerdish and often relate Star Wars to principles of the Gospel, but not as much as some. (My brother-in-law has FHE lessons that describe the gospel principles taught by Star Wars) When I heard this line in the Movie theatre I was thinking; “George, How did you know that was what I needed to hear?” Granted I do know that the line itself is an absolute statement and that it does fall under the principle of “false dilemma,” but it still has worth for the purposes of this discussion.

I often feel that the “corridor” is trying to shove the line down my throat that you are either with us or against us, that if you aren’t following every little facet of the unwritten order of things, or the “Law of Packer” as I have heard it described, then you are apostatizing. I feel that this can be best compared to the Law of Moses and those that tried to uphold it over the doctrine of the Church. The people who held so tightly to the unwritten practices began to loose sight of the Lord, and the reason for their actions. That reason is communion with God. And thus a new culture is born, a culture that is focused on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it. I often see that those whose focus is on the cultural aspects of the Church and not the doctrinal ones most tightly hold the all or nothing principle and brandish it at all others.

The other experience that taught me some clarification on this principle was during my discussion with a student of Arabic and Middle Eastern studies about the similarities between Islam and the Church. I am talking about the doctrinal similarities not any radicalizations, and I am in no ways trying to say that the Church is breeding suicide bombers. I found that the five pillars of Islam are contained in the Doctrine of the Church. The five pillars and their Church counterparts are as follows.
1. Shahadat is professing one-ness of Allah and accepting Prophet Muhammad as his messenger to humanity. – This is akin to both taking the Lord’s name upon us and in bearing our testimony of our belief in God and his prophets.
2. á¹¢alāt the Islamic prayer. – Prayer
3. Zakaat or alms-giving, is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. – Tithing anyone?
4. Sawm during Ramadan – Fasting
5. The Hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the holy city of Mecca, and derives from an ancient Arab practice. – Visiting the Temple
Even Jihad as defined by Arabic as Struggle, their are several types of Jihad and all but the most commonly thought of yet least often discussed in the holy writ talk about controlling the natural man.

So I was having this discussion with my friend who was studying Arabic and she started to talk to me about the Hadith. If we look at the Quran as a similar book of script to the Book of Mormon, then the Hadith is like the D&C. It is a collection of everything the Prophet Mohammad said, did or didn’t say or do. The difference between the Hadith and the D&C is that in the D&C only revelation is present and in the Hadith there are myriad of simple actions or inactions that were taken as doctrine of the Divine. This is where the thought hit me to compare this to the All or Nothing theory.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was taught that there was a hierarchy in the teachings of prophets and what weight we should give them. This Hierarchy states that Scriptures trump words of the Prophets unless those words are elevated to scripture, that the words of current prophets were greater than those of past prophets. While I was re-taught this at BYU my freshman year, my great religion professor told us that not everything that the prophets said was prophecy, that they were men and lots of the things expressed over the pulpit were the opinions of great and learned men, but were not revelation unless stated so.

His perfect example of this was the Bible Dictionary and the Topical Guide and Footnotes. A council was formed to provide a set of study tools that every latter day saint could use to help them further their knowledge of the gospel. The majority of the footnotes and most of the bible dictionary are based off of the personal notations of Bruce R. McConkie. These were not revelation but instead were scholarly discoveries. If you doubt this then go and read the introduction to the Bible dictionary.

So I saw the every movement of the Prophet Mohammed being taken as doctrine that is one step removed from the Quran as a similarity to the words of the Twelve as revelation when often they are not revelatory in nature. Most latter day saints don’t see the difference and instead see the need to follow every jot and tittle that is put forth in front of them.

Austin you say “In a nutshell the “All or Nothing Theory” is that either Mormonism is all true, or Joseph Smith was a false prophet and anything that has come from him was not inspired by God (not necessarily saying it is not good).” What is often needed to be distinguished here, as I have tried to do, is that there is a difference between Mormonism, and the Doctrine of the Church. I do believe in the All or Nothing principle in that if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then all of the truth of the gospel is true. To that extend I believe in the all or nothing principle, however when you have material that claims to be doctrine but isn’t, that that does not need to be followed or believed in order for the truth of the gospel to be true. For example, when you went to church did you ever see anyone who was dressed in a non-white shirt or wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes. Think back to that and try to remember what your feelings about it were when you were inundated with the Mormon culture. I know my reaction, it even happened last week but I caught myself and realized what I was doing. I sat there thinking that person was not being righteous, and that I might be more righteous than them. I don’t know how you might have felt I don’t pretend to know, but for me that was a real clear example of the separation between Gospel and Culture.

The only other point that I might try to make concerning this is what Elder Oaks said in a CES fireside almost 4 years ago about the case of exceptions to the general rule, and how that was meant to be worked out between you and the Lord. I believe that there is a theory of all or nothing when it comes to following Christ, but that it comes to the following of Christ not the Culture of the Church.

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Follow up thoughts and an Idea for the Future

So through the random connections that abound in this Interweb I came to this post from Austin about the Church being an all or nothing religion. Now I am sure that I don’t quite agree on that (saving for a latter post) and that is one of the reasons why my meeting with Elder Clayton made me feel so horrible I think. In that meeting I was basically told that the Church is a mold and if you don’t fit you are at fault and need to change, even if the Lord has told you otherwise, because that is Satan not the Lord. So while I was reading Austins post I came across Abelard’s comment that referenced Don Holsinger’s article concerning a CES fireside talk given by Elder Oaks. So I emailed Abelard and got a copy of the article that I have provided to you (if the link didn’t work then email me and I will send it to you.) So I read the article in which Elder Oaks gives us counsel that contradicts the counsel given to me from Elder Clayton, the counsel that the Lord will never give me any personal revelation that goes against the Brethren. Elder Oaks states that should any member feel that he is an exception to anything said that that is a matter NOT for the General Authorities or the twelve, but for you and the Lord. As soon as I read this I knew the truth of it, I knew that of course I can not change the doctrine of the Church, if the Lord desired the entire doctrine to be changed He wouldn’t use me, but his chosen mouthpieces instead. I realized that both Elder Clayton and I could be right, that Elder Clayton could be right in that the Lord would never tell me any revelation that should tell the Brethren what to do, which was one of the main thoughts going through my head at the start of the meeting, but that I am still right in that the Lord will give me personal revelation to guide my major decisions in life.
So now I know that I am supposed to continue living the church standards and the church principles for they are true, but that I am meant to marry a husband that I love, and adopt children that we can raise, that can be raised up in a better environment then they would have otherwise. The only thing that comes into question now is the timing and what I should do until I am ready to settle down and get ready. This was starting to percolate in my mind when a friend sent me this message;

“You figure out what is right for you, whether that be leaving the church and dating men, or going on a mission, or staying in the church and being celibate, you go for it.”

Now I had heard these and similar words before, but the juxtaposition of them with the question of timing in my mind, combined with another friend’s concerns against going against what the church says about getting married now or waiting until his future wife goes on a mission gave me a great idea. I know what the long term goal for my life is; find a husband and have kids, but in the mean time what should I do? Why should I not go on a mission? It has been something that I have always wanted to do even though for the wrong reasons, but now that I really do have a testimony of the truth of the atonement, of the power that the church is in many people’s lives, and the testimony and feeling that came to me when I first KNEW that the Lord lived was that I wanted to shout, to sing, to proclaim this truth out to everyone, I was so happy that my boss said that I was radiating happiness when I got back to the office. I have felt the worth of this gospel in my life, and in the lives of others and I want to share it.
My Patriarchal Blessing states;

“You will be a positive influence to many and have opportunity to testify as a full time missionary. There will be those who will bless your name because they will hear the truths of the gospel from your mouth. There is nothing you could do in these two years that would benefit you more, even in a material sense. If you had to choose between a mission and a college degree, the mission would be of greater benefit.”

As I reread those my blessing I felt how words that didn’t make much sense to me before, or that I disbelieved due to me being gay were relevent all along from the new perspective that I gained when I trust in what I have felt from the Lord. So now, with my mind contemplating a mission, I plan on seeking out the answer of whether or not I should serve a mission and when. On whether I should go to the temple and enter into sacred covenents that I know I will break in order to follow what the Lord has told me. I will try to find the answers to these and other questions just as I have this past round of doubt and anguish, by turning to the scriptures, the temple, prayer, fasting and all around communion with Christ my personal Savior.
Now that I have a knowledge of what I should do, of where my life lies in the distant future, I am happy. I know where I need to end up and I plan to get there. My mission is something that is less important than that and if it needs to be furloughed then I will do it, but it is not something that will consume me, not somehting that will leave me exhausted with stress and late nights of reading.
Here is to a great new year, and the peace that comes with a vision of the future.

Elder Clayton Meet #1

So like I promised last post, I did get to meet with Elder L. Whitney Clayton, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. I stated off the day at the Temple doing baptisms and let me just say how much I love the temple. If I leave the church, that is the one thing that I will miss the most.
So I went into the meeting with full intention of discussing the nuances of my sexual identity and the scriptural evidence that doesn’t condemn homosexuality. When I got up to his office, I had this feeling, based not on the spirit but on my brain picking up on subtle clues that I don’t even know what they are fully, that I shouldn’t tell him about my preference for men. So to those of you who were hoping for a discussion from him concerning homosexuality I am sorry…for now (more on that later)
I instead approached Elder Clayton with my concerns over what I should do when the Spirit prompts me one way, and the Church tells me the opposite. This is very much what I have felt like in recent weeks, where the spirit has confirmed to me my need for a loving family with children who are adopted and a husband that I can love more than myself. I am sure that this feeling comes from the very same source that my testimony in God, and the Atonement come from and that is why I am having so much difficulty with this line of questioning.
Elder Clayton had these words to tell me. He told me that the Lord would never give me a spirit that went against the words of the Brethren. That the members of the church will not be given promptings to correct the Brethren. That any feelings that I had that were contrary to the Church originate from Satan. He also told me that Satan does have the power to trick us into feeling the same spirit that the Lord sends.
This really frustrated me because I know that both my believe in God and my believe in my plan for a temporal family originate at the same source and so I am left with a large existential crisis. If I believe the words of Elder Clayton that the Lord will never tell me to go against the Brethren then one of two things must happen.
1. Assuming that my second testimony comes from Satan, then the first testimony is like unto it and comes also from Satan, which leaves me confused as to why Satan would give me a testimony about the Existence of God and so that is a large pill to swallow unless you take into account the following.
2. Satan Does have the Power to trick us into believing that his words are the Lords, and that he is able to perfectly recreate the same feelings of spirit, the very same ones, that come from the Lord. If this is true then how do I trust anything that I have been taught, or anything that I have been told others felt with the spirit, how do I know that the entire set of revelations that create the D&C are not the revelations given from Satan, how do I know that the line “The Lord will never allow His prophets to lead the people astray” isn’t from Satan. If I believe this part, or any part of Elder Clayton’s words, they lead me to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. I however cannot see that my testimony, the immense burning in my heart that told me God exists is simple wish-fulfilment. It might be, but once I start down that path, forever will it dominate my destiny. I can not believe that, even though it is a possibility, I can not bring myself to face that because I don’t think I have the strength to continue on if I disbelieve in the existence of God. So this leaves me with the third possibility.
3. Elder Clayton is wrong and the Lord will give counsel the differs from the teachings of the Church because we each have a different mission to fulfill and until the church is perfected in Christ during His millenial reign, He will elad us to do what is right for ourselves.
This is my conclusion so far however I had the idea to talk to my Stake President, A personal spiritual giant whose oppinion I highly value. My idea was to get a blessing from him and so yesterday I sat down with him, who knows all about my past transgressions and my present inclinations, and reported on my meeting with Elder Clayton and how I felt about it and my conclusions that I came to after I left Elder Clayton’s office. He had the insightful idea to continue my disscussion with Elder Clayton and himself after giving Elder Clayton full knowledge of my inclinations and So with my blessing, my Stake President is discussing the more intimate details of my life with Elder Clayton and the two of them and I are going to meet again hopefuly before the end of the month. So I look forward to posting more information about my future meetings once they happen.

Justification for Working with a Wild tree

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Job 13:18 Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.

I believe that my work (as defined by aiding others, raising righteous children, spreading my love for the principles of the Gospel) will demonstrate my faith to the Lord, and that through that work, my faith will be made perfect and then my works can justify me just as Job was justified.

I believe that regardless of what others think, Though I might be tried, I can not deny my story, though the ends of the earth shall hate me, and though some might try to harm me, to take my life, I will never be ashamed of what I know. I know that I am meant to raise a family in righteousness, that I was designed to be who I am for a reason, that I have a lesson to be learned, and that that lesson is how to love for I feel myself faking my emotions, my love with everyone around me, I must learn how to truly love someone far more that I love myself. I know this with the same feeling that I know that the Lord lived and that he lives, and that he suffered for my sins, lived through my pains, and experienced my sorrows.

And so like Job, I feel justified. Justified in being a sinner who brings forth good fruit. I am as the wild olive tree with tame branches grafted in, and by my fruits, not by anything else shall the Lord know and judge me. And so I am determined to bring forth good fruit even if I myself might be wild. I know that it can not happen alone, and that it will take effort on my part and a partnership with the lord, but I plan on striving to bring forth good works.