Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The God I Believe In

I happened to run across this short gay/Mormon-themed film called The Blessing on YouTube last night, and it typifies the Father and Supreme Being I personally know and believe in. It's in two parts here, but will only take about 15 or so minutes to watch.

I'll wait while you watch it, and then I'll make some points. And do watch it before you read the rest of this post because you're about to get a bunch of spoilers.

At the beginning of the movie, it says it is based on a true story, and although I know there are people in the LDS Church who would absolutely insist that something like this could never happen and would insist that God is "straight down the line" in his dealings and would allow no exceptions, I believe in a Father who would allow the kind of exception that is portrayed in this movie. I do not believe an incident like this could ever be the norm in the LDS Church, but I like to think that Heavenly Father was using this as a teaching example for all involved. I believe it shows His love for ALL of His children.

It was important to the father that the gay son be involved; I think it was important for the gay son to maybe learn some humility and also perhaps rekindle a connection to something he had lost; it was important for the Bishop to learn to follow inspiration even if it means going against the grain; it was important for the other family members to learn humility and to accept their sibling/son as Christ would have. And notice that Heavenly Father didn't inspire anyone to let the gay son give the blessing, but to just be a part of it. And notice that the supposedly more worthy son did not end up taking part in the blessing (a moment that kind of reminded me of the LDS Church-produced movie, The Prodigal Son, a modern retelling of the Bible story where the "good" son, who remained true to his father, resents the prodigal son, who has wandered, but has now repented; and the wife of the son who remained true helps him realize that he has his own sins to repent of; that none of us are truly worthy without the atonement of Jesus Christ).

I also liked how sympathetically the Bishop in the movie is portrayed. He's kind of like many Bishops I have dealt with myself who understand when the letter of the law and when the spirit of the law need to be applied.

I know there are some who think that an unworthy Priesthood holder (or one who didn't even hold the Priesthood) would never be allowed in the circle, but I think about people who appear on the outside to be very worthy Priesthood holders who give blessings unworthily, and I don't believe in a Heavenly Father who would deny a faithful blessing receiver a blessing simply because the giver of it was unworthy. After all, it's God's power that ultimately supplies the blessing, not the words or power of the actual people involved (although I certainly think the faith of the people involved can be instrumental to the outcome; but I also know I once received a very great and profound blessing at a time when I was both unworthy and faithless, so even then God's power overrides all, in my opinion).

Anyway, the movie really illustrated a point I made in my last post about possible exceptions God might make. And I do believe they are exceptions. It comes back, however, to a point that was made to me by my Stake President shortly before I was excommunicated and a point that was illustrated in a one-man show I saw recently which talked about a gay man's experience with Mormonism and his homosexuality in that I think that Heavenly Father is bigger than the Church or the human beings who are in it. Men are fallible. Heavenly Father is not. Men have limited sight. Heavenly Father sees all. Men are judgmental. Heavenly Father has perfect judgment.

The Being that I feel I know and love is the kind of being that would allow for what occurred in this film. It would be the exception, but He would allow it.

I also saw another short film on YouTube as well called Voicings by the same writer/director. I enjoyed that one, too, but The Blessing is the one that really illustrated the point I wanted to make about how I view our Father's compassion and mercy.


Rob said...

I love this short film too and agree with many of your points. What irks me is that we even have to think of situations like this as an "exception" to a "rule" at all. Seems to me that with so many "exceptions" running around, maybe we should ask if what we think is "the rule" might be incomplete.

Beck said...

Wow! Very touching. I am touched by the compassion.

Thank you for bringing to my attention. It gives me pause to reflect on our compassionate Father.

MoHoHawaii said...

This film upset me a lot. I found it very painful to watch. I wish my reaction to it were better. Maybe it hits too close to home. It could be that the family's rejection of David in the film is overplayed for effect, but if I were in his situation, I'd see my father and my sister at my house and avoid the brothers and stepmother entirely. I probably need to work on my attitude. So you guys didn't react strongly to the family's overall hostile reception?

Gay LDS Actor said...


Probably because my family has been so cool about my coming out, those thoughts didn't really dawn on me as much, but I certainly can see how that could be a sore spot for various viewers of the film. But the way I looked at it was maybe this was early in David's coming out period, and his family still hasn't adjusted yet. And I guess part of my point was maybe it was an experience like this that teaches the family to be more compassionate and accepting and loving. I'd like to think that if we were to see the aftermath of the movie, maybe at least some of the family members softened their hearts. Who knows what the relationship is like, say, a year from the events in the movie? I'd like to believe it's better. Plus, I feel a lot of sides were represented: a hostile stepmother and brother, a kind of lukewarm brother, a father who is "straight down the line," but still compassionate, a sister who is on the gay son's side, an empathetic bishop, the gay son.

I'm sorry it was painful for you to watch. I guess I found it more hopeful than painful myself, but I also think our life experiences can certainly shape the various reactions we have to a story, so I can certainly understand why it might affect a person in a more negative or painful way.

MoHoHawaii said...

I did like the bishop. I thought he was an accurate portrayal of a kind person who follows the handbook but is not entirely inflexible. I've known LDS bishops like this and am grateful they exist.

Also, I thought the short was emotionally believable, and I definitely felt the dramatic tension, so in that sense it did its job. (If any of the filmmakers read this, yes, I thought you made a fine film, even if it did make me want to run screaming from the room.)

I've noticed that as I get older I am less able to witness depictions of cruelty. I find them really upsetting.

In any case, I appreciate your equanimity. I do think it's something I need to work on.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I think it's good that cruelty upsets you. And I suppose we all have things to work on. That's what makes us human. ;-)

Yeah, I really liked the Bishop, too. I, fortunately, have known many like him. I know others who haven't been so lucky.

LCannon said...

I know I must have seen this film and read your post within the last couple of years - but I suppose I saw it through new eyes this time.
I was crying a lot because of the many events that you have attended but have not been able to fully participate - though I have never felt that way as a girl seeking permission to stand in the circle . . .
I too saw the prodigal son - I have taken on the personality of the brother far too much in my lifetime. I now understand the difference between being active in the gospel and being active in the Church. For a while I had taken on a Harriet Oleson/Pharisee attitude because I was active in church - but not necessarily in the gospel. You have become more active in the gospel since finding Jonah - and that's a wonderful thing!

Thank you for sharing so much of your insight and honesty.