Sunday, September 11, 2016

For Same-Sex Attracted Latter-day Saints Who Are Struggling

I've had some thoughts in my mind for quite a while that I have wanted to share for quite some time. I am a ponderer, and love to give myself to in-depth analyses of various topics. Very seldom, however, do I have the opportunity or the appropriate platform in which to share my perspectives.

Until now, that is.

As I have progressed in my comprehension of the meaning and implications of same-sex attraction, especially in regards to discipleship and the Gospel, there has been an ongoing conversation within my head. Whereas there are many positive stories of those who manage to find harmony between their convictions in the restored Church and their differing sexual orientation, they are so often drowned out by the masses who have had less-than-savory experiences as they have come to terms with inherent personal traits: celebrities who use their musical talents to degrade the Church and show disdain for the covenants they have made; those who have made public demonstrations of their disapproval of Church policy, and their consequent dissolution from the Church; members turned atheist, who believe that all religion is a hoax, designed to make its participants miserable.

Then there are the many who silently struggle somewhere in the gray medium of the spectrum.

It is this last group I hope to address. Although I in no way represent an authority figure--I am a twenty-something guy who hasn't even acknowledged the nature of his own attractions for a full year now. However, I think there is some worth in what I have to say.

To the other gay Latter-day Saints out there, I want to say this:

We need you.

In a society that has embraced the scandal of the many who have left their faith and their covenants to find a boyfriend, we have forgotten what it is like to hear of the faithful, who have found the intersection of the Gospel and unusual sexual desires. Perhaps I should rephrase that: we don't know what it's like to hear of those who have chosen the harder right of the two diverging paths.

What can it do for the member sitting next to you in Sacrament meeting, the one whose personal vicissitudes have caused him or her to doubt, to hear that you, subject to one of the most divisive and universally misunderstood experiences of our day, remain true to the faith because you know that the grass truly is greener on this side of the fence?

Really, if we were to compare the beauty of the landscapes of the Gospel as opposed to those of the great and spacious building, we stand on a lawn of grass that is evergreen, whose vividness never fades with the time or season. When measured against the feigned splendor of the green turf of the world, whose attractiveness relies on the warehouses of spray paint at their disposal, with the vapor of smoke and fabricated illusions, there truly is no equal. The immense joy of the fruit of the tree of life, which is whiter and more pure to exceed that of all whiteness and purity, is contrasted with the fruit of worldly indulgence, which has all the savor of the plastic apples in your grandmother's front room.

But how can our fellow brothers and sisters in the Gospel understand that if we reserve for ourselves the nature of our condition? How can they comprehend the depth of our conversion that allows us to forsake lasciviousness if we walk away from the rock that is Christ?

I promise you that there is nothing so sweet as the fullness of the Gospel. You are more than welcome to eat your fill of the sand that comes in so many exotic flavors and brilliant packaging, but I already have a feast before me, the garb of a welcome guest, and the invitation of the Bridegroom.

Additionally, there are few things more satisfying than to be the means of dispelling darkness, misunderstanding, and ignorance. How many are there who cannot love their (insert the word "gay" or any of its synonyms here) neighbors because they lack the understanding sufficient to walk a mile in our shoes? Can they be numbered? Can they grasp the depth of our love toward the Savior and our fellow men? Have we given them the opportunity to see us as living, breathing examples of the law of consecration in action as we lay all of our desires, passions, and appetites, especially the sexual ones, upon the altar of God? Do they understand that we do these things, not so we can be relieved of our inconvenient sexual orientation, or be worthy of God's love in spite of inclinations that some deviants regard as an abomination, but so we can prove our love and our loyalty toward the Lord?

Perhaps there is a man or a woman out there with warring desires concerning coffee or tobacco, a little vice they can't seem to kick. Maybe they simply need to hear what you are actively sacrificing, denying a very real part of you that may very well be with you forever, in this life and the next, in some form or the other, before they can muster the willpower to commit to the higher law.

The Lord in His wisdom would not expose any of His children--and especially His disciples--to desires like that of same-sex attraction, were there not some purpose to be filled, some rare, unique opportunity to minister to those around us.

We are in the Church to minister to those who silently suffer with misunderstanding and conflicting emotions.

We are in the Church to be a light of hope to those in the darkness of despair, questioning, perhaps, if there is a place in the restored Gospel for them, wondering if they can ever hope to have love and companionship in the most consecrated of forms.

We are in the Church to soften the hearts of those who have listened to the misconceptions of the world and have been deceived. "All homosexuals are abominations before the Lord and must be treated as such", they might think, or "if you're gay, you leave the Church and find yourself a boyfriend. That's all there is to it", or any other variation or reflection of the world's diverse foolish doctrines.

The body of the Church needs to hear our experiences--the good ones, the uncomfortable ones, the painful ones. They need to hear our testimonies. They need to see us magnify our callings and serving others. They need to witness what consecration entails, even in the face of the inconvenient, the "impossible".

We are a light upon a hill.

Shine brightly.

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