Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Wish I Knew How To Quit You (But Not Really)

About a month ago I read a post on this blog, which I commented on. Read it. I'll wait.

To be honest, I had forgotten all about it until the blogger's friend Brenda (referred to in the post) sent me an email asking if she could be my Facebook friend. Because my identity on this blog and my real identity (the one I use on Facebook) are not the same and because I do not really know Brenda, I am declining that request for the time being, but may change my mind later.

Anyway, in reviewing the original post and my comment, I noticed the other party referred to in the post (James; real name: Jeffrey, apparently) had responded after my comment.

If you just read the original post and its comments, you see that Jeffrey (bonevoce) has said, "The questions[sic] remains how can one...sustain and give tithe[sic] to leaders who say their child is 'unnatrual',[sic] say that homosexuality is a choice, can be changed AND at the same time completely support their gay child or loved one? They can't. 'I love you, but you're an abomination?' Come on.

"...Brenda isn't saving gay youth by sustaing[sic] her leaders only perpetuating hate and misinformation..."

As I said in my comment, I think Jeffrey has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and he probably has due cause to feel that way, but I think his question also has validity, and it's a question that troubles me.

Anybody who reads my blog knows that in spite of the fact that I'm not even a member of the LDS Church anymore (on record, at least) that I still hold a great deal of love and yes, even loyalty, to said church. In spite of the fact that in some areas of my life I'm living in a way that is contrary to church teachings, and in spite of the fact that I have some disagreements over how the LDS Church has handled the issue of homosexuality, I have still come to the defense of the LDS Church on many occasions.

I probably have just cause to feel the way Jeffrey does; that someone who sustains church leaders or pays tithes to the LDS Church are not fully supporting their gay friends or family members. But I don't.

Look, do I think Church leaders have always handled the issue of homosexuality in the best or most informed way? Certainly not. Do I think words have been said in church meetings or over the pulpit that have caused great damage to those whose lives this issue affects? Most definitely. But do I think my mom or my siblings or in-laws do not support me and Jonah because they choose to glean to a religion they believe in?; do I think I am an enemy of the gay-rights crowd because I still hold firmly to many of the tenets of a faith that has shaped many of my best qualities and which has and still continues to give me instruction and a spiritual connection to my Heavenly Father? I don't. Sorry if that bothers some people, and believe me, I understand why it might. But I don't swing that way.

Does Mormonism have its problems and faults? I think it would be naive to say that it doesn't. I think it would be naive to believe any religion doesn't have problems or challenges that accompany it. My relationship with Jonah gives me great, great happiness and joy. Being out of the closet and being in this relationship have made me happy beyond anything I ever once thought possible. But there are also aspects of Mormonism that give me a great satisfaction, joy, and insight. Yes, the excommunicated member is testifying about the good Mormonism has brought to my life and the lives of others.

My family has been nothing but supportive of me, my coming out, and my relationship with Jonah. They treat Jonah as they do any of my in-laws. I feel no judgment or distaste from any of them regarding any of the choices I have made in reference to my sexuality. They know I am happy, and they are happy I am happy. I know there are many gay people whose families have not been so kind or loving or accepting, but mine has been.

They respect my free agency. They respect who I am. Likewise, I respect who they are and what they choose. Mormonism brings many of my family members great joy. I do not for one moment feel that their religious convictions diminish me in any way. I don't feel that my holding on to my Mormon roots is somehow a betrayal of my gay brothers and sisters.

So the troubling question is, are those who support or sustain leaders that teach things that may cause damage to those who deal with homosexuality in their own lives or in the lives of loved ones, somehow complicit in hurting our "gay youth," as Jeffrey says. Are they complicit in the spreading of "hate and misinformation?"

The fact of the matter is, I think there are members of the church and even leaders of the church who are troubled by this issue. I don't think this issue has always been handled well, but I believe in the innate goodness of people, including church leaders. Have there been missteps? Yes. Has there been ignorance and misinformation among both leaders and members? Yes. Will the LDS Church ever change its position on homosexuality? I honestly don't know. Does the church and many of its members still have much progress to make as far as the issue of homosexuality is concerned? Definitely. Is Jeffrey absolutely justified in feeling the ways he feels? Probably so. But I don't believe these men are evil or hateful nor do I think those that choose to follow them are malicious or evil. We're all human, and we're all searching for that which makes us happy. I can't deny anyone's right to pursue happiness however they see fit. I wouldn't want anyone to do that to me.

I just can't subscribe to the fact that if my family members (or even myself) still find value in Mormonism that we're somehow responsible for the deaths and destruction of our gay youth. I was one of those youths once. If anyone has a reason to be bitter and angry at the LDS Church or feel justified in abandoning it, I could very well be on the list. But I'm not. I'm just not. Mormonism has given me much and has given my family much, and still does. It may seem like the LDS Church has turned its back on its gay members, and perhaps in many cases it has; but I cannot turn my back on it.


Neal said...

I think people are getting out of control blaming the Church for things. There was no intent to harm on the part of the Church. Ultimately people are responsible for their own actions. We're becoming a nation of endless "victims", with no personal responsibility.

Corey said...

I find this post, and EJ's post, very intriguing. Thank you for sharing. I am also an ex-LDS member, but my crrent views of the church differ greatly from yours. I am not active, and I do not fully believe in it anymore. I would like to believe in eternal families, and the opportunity to become gods, and a lot of the stuff that is taught, but i guess i have a chip on my shoulder now, as you say.

I do, however, very respectfully support everyones opinion of the matter. The fact is, that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And, although I feel mine to be different and to me, more correct, I simply don't know. I am judging by instincts here, and guess we will all just find out when we get upstairs. :)

Thanks for sharing...I have a lot to say on the matter, but I think I probably have bored you already :) But, I am going to become a follower of your blog, if that is okay with you :)

Gay LDS Actor said...

I agree the leaders of the Church are well-intentioned, but I also think there does need to be more sensitivity and accountability for things they say over the pulpit that may cause unintentional harm. And they can't expect that their influence as far as homosexuality is concerned isn't going to go unchallenged if they're actions and words are inadvertently causing harm to those who deal with homosexuality in their lives.

That being said, I agree that there are many in the nation that do "play the victim" and that there is a tendency to blame others for their wrongs when sometimes it is a matter of personal responsibility. But I do think in the case of the LDS Church, it bears some responsibility as well.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for your comments, Corey. Your opinion is just as valid as anybody's and I agree that we should respect opinions that may or may not differ from our own. We all come from various life experiences, and that will certainly shape our opinions and attitudes.

Believe me, I do understand why there are many who have left the church who do "have a chip on [their shoulder]. I was actually having a discussion about this with my partner yesterday. There are many who feel the words and actions of leaders and members (and often in their view, by association, God) have made their lives worse, and they feel a sense of anger, bitterness, and betrayal by how they have been treated. And they may very well be justified in feeling that. So I get it. I understand why people lose faith or stop believing in certain things. I'm not sure how it all works out, either. Like you say, I guess we will find out "when we get upstairs."

As for following my blog, of course you can. I'm always flattered when anybody is even interested enough in my thoughts or opinions to consider following. Welcome!