Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Life: Like a Rose (Beautiful Yet Prickly)

I have felt a need to do this for some time now. I may be young, but I feel that I have much to share here.

My name is Aaron Lakely. Or rather, that is the pseudonym that I go by here. I consider myself a servant of the Lord, first and foremost, and would feel greatly satisfied to know that He would also consider me as such. I am a holder of the office of an Elder in the Priesthood, or the authority of God delegated to man to act in His name, a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And I have an interesting story to tell.

Of late, I seem to have had a peculiar number of trials of faith. Physical trials that have made it difficult to pursue the career that I have literally been told by God Himself to initiate. A falling out from within my family by one who chose to make an issue of my career path.

And the one that has me writing this now.

I want to ask you a question--have you ever fallen in love?

Forgive me for the assumption, but for our purposes here, let's say your answer was yes. How did that make you feel? Did you feel this subtle warmth throughout your body, or better yet, within your soul? Do you feel like there are hands gently pressing around your heart, causing your breathing to change? Do you feel this almost electric sensation when you are around this other person, with a deep and abiding longing to be with them at all times? Do you wonder, if indeed within the context of similar religious beliefs as mine, whether or not you had some sort of connection to this person before the world was, something profound enough to warrant this sensation that rises from the very depths of your soul, of your existence?

Whatever your responses were to these questions, mine were "yes", every time.

I am very new to this in a number of ways. I am young, in my twenties. It was not long ago at all that I was serving as a full-time missionary, speaking the Celestial language (which is not English, by the way). I am single, and very much a prospective husband and father. I have been on a few dates with a few girls since I have been home. All of these have been pleasant, but none of them were responsible for giving birth to this undeniable love I have felt from the deepest recesses of my being.

You might be thinking, "That's great! That's fantastic! When do you plan to propose? Have you thought of the honeymoon?" Ad infinitum.

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. I am most certainly stricken, but...

He is one of my dearest friends.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am studying a language with what appears to be dozens of personal pronouns. I would not be so careless as to stumble with one of the very few English has.

You see, I experience same-sex attraction. It has been quite a ride, coming to terms with one of the most controversial of human experiences, especially of our day, one that instigates horrible name-calling, anger, hatred, and the collective bigotry of all the extreme conservatives our society has to offer.

And you know what? I am grateful for it.

You hear of many, seemingly cornered between the formidable Church ("formidable" being a fitting word for the church that truly belongs to Christ Himself) and apparently irreconcilable sexual desires and appetites. How many scores of people, how many thousands have thought that there was no solution between the two, or between homosexuality and religion in general, only to either reject and/or dig up their Providential moorings, or to take their own lives in order to seek reprieve?

My feelings are quite different, however.

I have every intention to dive into the various aspects of my background, of what I would dub "this many-splendored thing called life" in subsequent entries. May it suffice me to say, at least for this very moment, that I have come to acknowledge same-sex attraction as a God-given gift.

Now, you are probably trying to conjure up an image of me growing a third head, for the total oddness of what I just stated. Perhaps you are one who even experiences same-sex attraction for yourself; perhaps that was all but blasphemous to you, to consider a blessing the very thing that, in your case, may have been the cause of grievances untold, unnumbered.

We live in a society where good is derided as evil, and evil is praised as good. Solutions to the everlasting were never destined to come from those whose shutters they so determinedly glue shut before their very eyes, denouncing the light that waits on the other side.

I say, what a tremendous opportunity it is to shed light on those who are in darkness!

I am very strongly of the sentiment that same-sex attraction is so terribly misconstrued, misunderstood, misrepresented by the loud voices of the world. They tell us in so many words that such is an indicator that our ultimate destination is express the procreative powers of divine origin so imminent within each of us with the man of our choosing (or at least, that is the case as it would be for me).

In my view, that is a textbook example of the word "misunderstanding".

I do not know from what religious background you may come from, if stemming from one at all. But I'll have you know that there are few things of greater value than to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. An ancient American prophet once said, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." It has been by this power, in the course of my studying and pondering this subject, that I have been blessed with a great deal of enlightenment that far transcends my tender years and what little experience I have, as potent as that experience may be.

You see, I view same-sex attraction as a catalyst to developing deeper, more meaningful relationships in life. I have been denied, rejected, and betrayed so many times by the men in my life. In the rare event that I should have an experience that defies the traitorous track record that has faced me, finding a man or men that would not only be worthy of my trust but also reciprocate with their own, I would most certainly cherish that more than one who had not had a soul riddled with such deep wounds.

There is a term I came past once that I felt explained my desire at once: "emotionally intense platonic relationships." The kind of thing you would see back in the day, of men who would move heaven and earth to protect the bond of kinship between them, the ties that ran thicker and deeper than blood, the love that "exceeds the love of women".

Certainly there have been many such cases, and some in the not-so-distant past. I'm sure you can think of an example or two.

Were these men that were afraid of what big society would say?

Were these men whose relationship would take a sexual form behind closed doors?

Were these men gay as a result of loving each other more than life itself?

I can't speak of the instances you brought to mind, but in my mind, the answer to each of these questions was a resounding "no!".

And what of this? Has God ever at any time condemned mankind for charity and eternal bonds existing between men? Has He ever insinuated that He had anything less than such a divine, exalted relationship between Himself and the other men that have proven themselves worthy of entering into His presence?

As far as I know, all God asks of us is to reserve the divine power meant for creating human life to be used under His command. Considering that this, the most powerful of all things bestowed upon mortal humankind without mixture, has only such a simple commandment--"Use it as I say"--, I don't believe God is asking for too much at all. Perhaps what He would say to us is that men who are attracted to other men simply have much more of a need of such life-changing platonic bonds than your traditional homosapien.

However, I would be a fool to say that adhering to God's laws surrounding procreation is as simple or as easy as it is for those who are opposite-gender attracted. Sure, all such a man would have to do is fall in love with a girl and marry her to have God-sanctioned intimacy as a constantly available feature of life. However, for the same-gender attracted folk (or men, as the case is here), the questions are eventually raised: "When will I fall in love with a girl? How? Will I get a single date in with her once she finally comes up from Brazil, before she is engaged and married to another man? Will intimacy be awkward?"

And my favorite, "What happens when/if I fall in love with another man?"

Hence my point:  I may say that same-sex attraction is blessing and a gift as I perceive it, but that certainly doesn't mean it makes my life any easier. "面白い" is the word that would come to mind, as the Japanese would say.

Welcome to this crazy thing I call life!

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