I don’t know, somehow I thought I would be able to avoid it; that I would somehow be able to walk both sides of the fence indefinitely; but it appears that the inevitable is looming: I think it is very likely that I will be excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints soon. To write that seems almost inconceivable. I have been a member of the LDS Church my entire life – nearly 38 years; and to suddenly know that this important part of my life will be removed on some level breaks my heart and I feel as though my stomach has sunk to my bowels. I almost feel nauseous at the thought. I thought I was prepared for this event, but I don’t know that I truly am. How can one be?
I met with my bishop last week to talk about my commitment ceremony and where I am in life right now. It was a good talk, but it was also clear that I wasn’t willing to repent of what I’ve done and that I would have to meet with my stake president. I actually thought that would happen today, so I was somewhat surprised that my bishop wished to meet with me again. Today’s meeting was much more difficult. My bishop basically made a last-ditch, heartfelt, earnest plea for me to turn back before it’s too late; that he was having an enormously difficult time watching me sacrifice my exaltation for a brief moment of happiness in mortality; and that he was giving me a last chance to change my mind. It was so hard to watch this wonderful man’s face as he realized I wasn’t going to give him the answer he wanted. I actually felt like I could see things from his point of view: watching someone you deeply love make a mistake that you feel they will eventually regret.
I didn’t know what to tell him. I wanted so badly to say, “You’re right. I’m making a huge mistake,” just to be able to relieve him of his anguish for the well-being of my soul. But I couldn’t.
Oh, it will break my heart to lose my membership in this church I so deeply love; but I don’t know how to do better than I’m doing and still maintain my sanity and emotional well-being. It is not as though I haven’t tried. I have done everything I was ever asked to do by my church leaders and counselors, to little avail. How much more praying and fasting and receiving Priesthood blessings and magnifying church callings and counseling and dating women and enduring to the end would I have to do to be able to do what has been asked of me? I can't go back to feeling miserable and unworthy and guilty and repressed and suicidal and depressed and sad and lonely, and I can't give up the wonderful relationship I have with Jonah. I just can't.
Am I making a huge mistake by choosing Jonah and being true to who I feel I am over my covenants with God through the Mormon Church? I can't say. It hasn’t felt like a mistake thus far. I still maintain that I am happier, more well-adjusted, and more fulfilled than I ever was when I was trying so hard to fit in the box that the LDS Church has asked me to fit into. Maybe exaltation just isn’t in my destiny.
In the afterlife I may regret the choices I have made in this life, but in my limited mortal perspective, I don’t regret them. They have brought me a happiness and well-being that I never thought I would attain, and hard as it may be for some to believe, I believe my meeting and falling in love with Jonah was divinely inspired. Being with him has brought me a joy I once thought was out of reach.
It’s not as though I am out killing people or selling drugs or stealing other people’s property or molesting children or raping women. There are far worse things I could be doing than what I am. My sin is that I am guilty of being in love with another man, and I still have a hard time comprehending why that is such a terrible thing. How can love be wrong?
I do not know what the future holds. I told my bishop that I would pray about what he has asked me to do, which I have; but I do not see how I can do better than I have already done. If excommunication is my consequence, than I have no choice but to accept that.
I guess we’ll see what happens. My neighbor wrote me a nice note. One thing she said was that although I can be excommunicated from the church, no one can excommunicate me from God. Jonah said essentially the same thing. He gave me a lot of great comfort when I told him about it and said I could use my church court as an opportunity to share a different kind of testimony with the brethren and show them the good that exists in gay couples like us. He made me feel so much better. I am so very lucky to have him. And like my mom said when I discussed it with her, “Well, it’s not as if you didn’t try, and you’re obviously happier now.” She’s right.
Still, it will leave a hole. I have written a statement I am going to share should a church court be held. I will not share it here because it is too personal, but I hope it creates a better awareness and understanding of the issues people like me face.
One thing I will say: no matter what happens, I still believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I found it ironic that today's Sunday School lesson talked about David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses. He was excommunicated and never rejoined the church, yet never denied his testimony. He was well-loved and well-respected. The LDS Church has made me as much who I am as my sexuality has. Some of my greatest values, attributes, and blessings have come as a result of my membership in this great religion. I will continue to defend and love my religion. As Jonah said (and I'm paraphrasing somewhat), "You may be excommunicated, but you will always be in a Mormon in your heart no matter what." He's right.