Monday, June 18, 2007

Church Nerves

I went to church today for the first time in about a year. I'm back home with my mom for the summer while working out here in Utah. It felt weird. I was nervous for some reason, mostly, I think, because I knew people would ask what I'm up to and what my plans are now that I've graduated, and I guess I thought it would be a little awkward to tell them I'm planning on buying a house with my gay boyfriend and living with him permanently. And now that I'm back home I feel like church is the one place I can no longer be myself (at least the way I've allowed myself to be for the last year), and that's hard.

I have missed church a lot, but I was also reminded about the things I don't miss about it; for example, boring Priesthood lessons, putting on a facade, and how much the lessons (most likely inadvertently) often concentrate on God's judgement rather than His mercy. But I have missed many of these people as well as the positive messages of God's love. It was so great to see my Bishop. He is great leader as well as a good friend.

I guess the other reason I was nervous to go to church is because I've been putting off the inevitable; that I may have to face a disciplinary council eventually. I do not wish to be either excommunicated or disfellowshipped, but I also allow that one of those two things may be the natural consequence of my actions and choices. The fact is, I am in a gay relationship that I have no intention of walking away from. And while Jonah and I have not had sex yet, it is certainly my intention to do so in the coming future. I would imagine my unwillingness to follow the commandments the Lord has set through the Church would certainly be grounds for either disfellowship or excommunication. I just haven't wanted to deal with it.

I never even talked about these issues in my last ward (when I was going to school). My bishop in my home ward (the one I currently am attending) knows all about my issues as does the Stake President. These men are friends who I love and trust, and while I know that will make it harder if and when I have to face a disciplinary council, I also feel on some level it will make it easier that I won't be handing over my fate in the Church to a bunch of strangers who don't know me or my problems.

But because these are also men I have grown up with, I know it will be much more difficult on an emotional level to either be disfellowshipped or excommunicated.

I recently talked to my friend (you can read about him here). It was funny, he was on his way to Cedar City and I was on my way to Salt Lake City, so we agreed to meet wherever our paths crossed, and we met at some remote exit on I-15. It was just the two of us out in the middle of nowhere, and it was so good to see him after nearly a year. We've gone on similar paths in many ways, and we both just finished graduate school. We're both in serious relationships. Unlike me, he was married before he found his partner. Anyway, I asked him about his excommunication. He said he was very surprised how peaceful he felt after it had happened and how open and compassionate the men on his council were. He said he's very much in love with his partner, and things seem to be going well with him. He also had better closure recently with his ex-wife. Anyway, he said if and when I have to deal with a disciplinary council, he would be there to talk to if I needed it. I was very grateful for that. He's really a great guy. Never in a million years did either of us think we'd ever be where we are today, but I really feel like we're both happier people than we were.

It's so weird. I still maintain that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I don't think I could ever rescind that belief. I'd be scared to, quite frankly, based on what I know. But I also am absolutely sure that I am happier now than I was when I was active. Before I came out of the closet, life was just full of torment, loneliness, guilt. I'd wish I were dead and was convinced I would always be alone and unhappy. I lived life as a facade, never saying what I really felt. I was repressed and uptight. Now I have someone in my life who I love dearly, who loves me. I am free to be myself and feel like a great burden has been lifted from me. I am much more relaxed and others have noticed how much happier I seem to be. I do not feel any of the torment and hopelessness that I once did, and I rarely feel guilt about the way I have chosen to run my life. I am at peace and, furthermore, I feel I have a much better appreciation for God's love and a better relationship with Him in many ways than I previously did. I don't know what that all means or what the afterlife holds for me, but the point is, I'm okay with it, and I am truly happy. I guess I didn't expect that withdrawing from the Church would lead that way.

I again stress, as I often do, that the choices I am making now in life are right for me and me alone. I would never presume to dictate how anyone else should run their own life. In fact, I have great admiratiom for those of you who are still "sticking it out." I just realized I could no longer do it, and although there are some things I miss as a result, I also know I am far happier and more fulfilled than I once was. I also have an absolute dream of a man for my mate, and that has made an incredible difference in my life. Jonah is an absolute gem! An absolute gem! He is not perfect, nor am I, but we are, in many ways, perfect for each other. I simply do not believe it is coincidence. I believe we were meant to be with one another. As I have stated in past posts, I am doing the best I can under the circumstances life has dealt me, and I have confidence that it is enough.

I pray for all of you, in whatever choices and circumstances you find yourselves faced with, that you will find happiness in whatever you decide to do. For some of you that means staying true to your testimonies and not acting on your homosexual feelings. For others, it means finding other alternatives. I just pray we can all be wise in the choices we make. I can't even testify that my choices are wise or even righteous, but I certainly feel they are right for me at this time.


MoHoHawaii said...

I do not wish to be either excommunicated or disfellowshipped.

There is a third option. Resign. There are some legal rulings that have limited what the Church can do to you. The Church is pretty tight-lipped about this, but you actually have some rights (and they know it). You can avoid a Church court entirely (and prevent one from being held in your absence) by sending a resignation letter to Salt Lake. Read the link. (This is information to use if it comes to this point. I am not suggesting that you do this now. From what you've said, it sounds like letting sleeping dogs lie is a good strategy for now.)

I can't imagine why anyone would want to endure the psychological stress of a Church court. I have known people who have been devastated by them. I personally think it's an antiquated and abusive practice. And there's no point in going through it. You can stop it if you want to.

Best of luck to you.

Kengo Biddles said...

Cody, I love you man. I'm glad for the feelings you expressed in this post. You have value for me, and I'm glad I've "met" you.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate them.

Mohohawaii, I have no desire to resign. I also don't mind going through the church court process if that's what I am called to do. In fact, I would feel better about things doing it that way. I know there are people who have had very bad experiences with disciplinary courts, but I do not think I will be one of them. I certainly do appreciate your thoughts, though.

Kengo, thanks for the very sweet words. I feel the same about you.

Beck said...

I remember once being in a bishopric where the Bishop became aware of several gay members living in the ward. He wondered if he should round them all up and excommunicate the whole lot! Wisdom prevailed as he sought counsel and was led to believe that doing so would serve no purpose and certainly no good. He therefore, decided to let be the situation until at such time the individual desired some formal action taken.

There is no "directive" for the church leaders to actively pursue you into a disciplinary council. If the purpose is to help one through repentance, then the disciplinary council is only needed at that point. And that is between you and the Bishop. Since they "know" your situation, and love and respect you for who you are, I would hope that they would be seeking to do what you feel is best when you feel it should be done, if ever.

From what I know of your situation, in my opinion, you're doing what is best for you and I hope the best for you!

Elbow said...

What an amazing entry. I loved every word. I feel for you, and I'm very very happy that you are doing so well. You should be proud of yourself and all that you've accomplished. Having a boyfriend like that is no something that you give up, because without this experience you wouldn't be progressing the way that you have been. Thank you so much for sharing!