I'm autistic, bipolar, and attracted to other guys (gay/SSA/whatever). More importantly, I'm a son of God and faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). My life is usually amazing. This is my story of hope, happiness, and faith.
I got this comment last night and it has been making me think. I thought that I would just share my thoughts, inline.
Hey. I have been reading your posts and I thought you could help me with problems I am having. I hope you read all of this, I have tried to put my heart and soul into it. Also, if anything here is offensive to you, i am not deliberately trying to do so. I grew up in a strong and stable Mormon family. All my life I have had anxiety issues and depression issues. I realized early on that I was attracted to guys. I always was taught that it was wrong and evil, so I denied it and covered it up. my teenage years were full of depression, I didnt like myself, i thought that God didnt like me either. I still dont know if he does.
I spent a long time wondering about that. It seemed like a dichotomy - if God really loved me, why would He curse me? Had I done something horribly wrong to merit suffering and feeling so incredibly alone? I don't know all the answers, but I do know one thing: no matter who you are or what has happened in your life, God loves you. In my darkest moments, when im curled up in the shower hyperventilating (i have severe panic attacks) i cant say that i felt the holy ghost comforting me. I can also relate to your being depressed and wanting to commit suicide, but not going through with it because it was also wrong. I have many problems with the church, some of them being about church culture and how everything is run, but i want to get your perspective and ideas on what it means to be gay and mormon, specifically in my situation.
I will be very quick to point out that the Church is different from church culture. The Church is the power of the Priesthood, the blessings of the temple, the scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, personal relationships with God. Church culture is everything else, and is created by the people who profess to be a part of the Church. It even happened in the Book of Mormon. Either way, the Church is not the people, nor the people the Church. One of my issues is one of shame. I know that if i went into my sacrament meeting and told everyone there that i was attracted to other guys, i would be whispered about in the halls of the meeting house and that i would be called into the bishops office. I would probably also hear from my parents (i am away at an lds school) resulting in long arguments and probably a disowning.
Dont you think that due to the social atmosphere of the church and the taboo that the church sets on "same sex attraction" is what leads to teen suicides?
I was a teenager, too. And while the pain of isolation, loneliness, and feeling worthless and taboo can all be factors, we can only judge our personal actions - not the intents or actions of others. I can only tell my own experience. When I struggled most, it wasn't because I felt unloved. Love is preached from the pulpit every day in the Church. The reason I struggled was because I hadn't yet learned to turn to God for my support... and because I hadn't found that support and understanding anywhere else. If someone had written a blog like this and I had read it, it may have changed my life. Hence why I'm writing now. But I didn't take my life as a teen... and it was the doctrines of the Church and the Plan of Salvation that kept me safe. Those same doctrines enabled me to counsel a dozen friends who had decided to end their lives... and, thankfully, help them come closer to Christ and regain a desire to live.
Dont you think that church members should show more respect and love to others, in following with jesus' teachings?
Of course I do. So do the Brethren. And every single priesthood leader or parent in the Church. Anyone who claims that imperfect Saints should be complacent, saying, "All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth..." can read the Book of Mormon for perspective on that part of the pride cycle. And so we should do that. At the same time, our actions shouldn't be based on the choices of others. If everyone in the Church went apostate, should that influence my testimony or my actions? What if people in the Church go apostate... and stay inside the Church? What if they make mistakes or grievous errors or purposeful sins? Ultimately, my choices and my actions and my destiny is my own... not someone else's to decide. I know that the common excuse is that "the church is perfect, but the members arent" but i think by now that is kind of a cop-out. I think that if more of the church was geared to teach kindness and love and respect that there would be more understanding and dialogue on these issues, instead of resulting in people becoming inactive or running away or killing one's self.
The focus on repenting is not "them." It is me. Talking about others and how they should improve doesn't ever actually improve the situation. Yes, the world is full of sinners. But I can't repent for someone else or change his heart. I can only change my own heart, and reach out to touch the people within my circle of influence. If I am more willing to be kind, show love, and respect, then I can make a difference, and inspire others to make a difference... and from that, change the world. The scriptures talk about acting, and not being acted upon. As much effort and pain and whatever else it requires, I take responsibility for my life, my actions, and my destiny. I know that in my case, whenever confronted with questions about why i hang out with girls a lot but never date any of them or why i would rather watch "what not to wear", i would always make up excuses. I would always avoid and kick up dust to end the conversation asap. I wish that i could tell them, but i know that if i do that they will never look at me the same again. i know that my mother takes a very strong stance on homosexuality (a very negative stance) and i have had a friend kicked out of her house because she told her parents. Another issue i have is that many members think that they have a monopoly on goodness. I hate how when members that i know express disgust, hatred, pity or have a feeling of superiority when they see people of other cultures or of different faiths. Shouldnt we be a self actualized church? shouldnt we, in about 180 years of "progress" have learned that hate and fear and intolerance are unacceptable?
I used to love people less because they didn't love people as much or as freely as I did. Then I realized how incredibly ironic my feelings were. I was judging the people around me because they were judging others, and refusing to tolerate them because they were intolerant. That sounds like circular logic. I looked inside myself and realized that I, like they, needed to simply love people - even the people who didn't love me or tolerate me and who judged me without context - and help them to make good decisions. But, no matter what choices others eventually made, I still needed to love them. The Church is made of millions of people who are constantly changing. While the Church has lived 180 years, none of its members has, and so every generation has to learn the same principles. The best way to teach them... is to be an example... to love them and make a difference one person at a time. In the early years of the church we were on the receiving end of hate and fear and intolerance. Shoulnt we have learned from the past by now? my mother always tells me that my ancestors were lynched and murdered for their beliefs, and now we are doing the same to others. it brings me to tears thinking about all the other people that have gone through what you and i have gone through. i wish that every time i was in the pit of despair (so to speak) that i could feel the spirit comforting me. i wish that living on my parents borrowed light had ignited a fire in me. i wish that i could share my situation with more people, without judgement and looks of disgust. I cant see the way forward. I dont know what i want. I dont know what i should do. Please help Sincerely, lost
The fire is still within you, brother. It's within each of us. You light the fire by doing the simple things. Reading the scriptures. Praying to God each day. Keeping the commandments. Showing love to others. And sharing the light that you've been given.
You've already begun sharing your story with the world. But your story doesn't have to ostracize you. It's the testimony that you share in Sacrament meeting, telling about your personal relationship with God. It's doing your home teaching and helping someone feel the power of the Spirit. And, as time goes on, the Lord will enable you to touch the lives of the people who need you, sometimes without your even knowing.
The way that I moved forward was by turning to God. I wish I could answer all your questions, solve all your problems, and fight all your fears, brother. But there is One who can, and who is there to help you live each passing day, no matter what the people around you do or say. Know that I am praying for you.