Saturday, February 26

The Place of Attraction

There's a somewhat heated debate in the faithful & gay world as it relates to attraction in marriage. 

One extreme says that it is the most cruel, evil, dishonest, selfish, sadistic, and everything else thing I could ever do to marry a woman who doesn't take my breath away and make my heart skip a beat with a glance. Those who adhere to that extreme also sometimes use it as a reason why it would be better for me to leave the Church and "find a man."

The other side says, often with decades of experience, that sexual attraction between spouses isn't necessary for a happy, fulfilled, and successful relationship. Then they mention that those who think amazing sexual relations in marriage are crucially necessary for its survival obviously lack the maturity, commitment, and real love to stay married to a spouse who becomes quadriplegic, partially paralyzed, or simply ages poorly.

Since I've recently gotten heated comments from both sides, I thought I would share my viewpoint here.

I believe that the decision to marry, for me and others who live with same-sex attraction, is a personal one. Some men and women will make the righteous decision to live with lifelong celibacy - focusing on how they can help the world as a whole and believing in the promise that they'll find love in the end. Some won't. As far as the criteria for marriage, and how the Brethren feel about it, I agree with what the Brethren have said in an official statement when asked whether male Church members who are attracted to other guys should marry:

"Persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate."

So there are three criteria. 

1: "Have cleaned themselves of any transgression" - which extends beyond just repentance for an action; in my mind it means that I have overcome my temptations, have repented, and am living a truly clean life.

2: "Ability to... put the feelings in the background" - I think this shares a key component. The feelings may never completely go away. But deciding to marry is based on how well I can mitigate and act when the feelings are present - to take control of my life and define myself as a son of God even when temptation is there.

3: "Feel a great attraction for a daughter of God" - this is pretty self-explanatory, but, drawing from the statement, it needs to extend to wanting to be married, have children, and share eternity together. Obviously I would never marry someone that I didn't want to share eternity with.

All three components require miracles on the part of the Lord. The miracle of forgiveness, the miracle of strength and faith, and the miracle of falling in love.

So where do I stand? I've seen miracles in my life with forgiveness and change, and I've found strength in the gospel to face my trials. But I haven't felt the last one yet, and so that's what I'm waiting for. In my patriarchal blessing it talks about my future wife and me being completely and totally in love with each other - with nothing in the world able to come between us. I just haven't found the girl of my dreams so that I can become her guy yet. It'll happen eventually; until then, I keep loving, and looking, and living. I wonder what love language she'll have...


  1. I absolutely agree that marriage is a personal decision. Between you and your future spouse. And no one else.

    I do think its important to be really honest with her. If it were me, I'd want to know everything you could tell me about you.

    Good luck!

  2. I just have a question, though I wish I could pose it to The Brethren, and not simply voice it here.

    I too am a gay member of the church, and am staying in the church, only I am a woman. I've heard the quote you posted, and many similar to it, with the sentiment of loving a daughter of God. I just want to know why all of the comments to gay members of the church are focused on men dealing with this. There are many women who struggle with this, and I want The Brethren to acknowledge our struggle too.

    I realize that the quote applies to all of us dealing with this, but it makes me feel forgotten by the church that they don't acknowledge my struggle.

    1. It is posed mainly to men because the numbers of gay males is 4-5 times higher than gay females. Probably for the same reason they never (i've never heard it anyway) warn females about the perils of being abusive.

  3. Anonymous:

    The next time I have a chance to communicate... with them or the people who report to them... I'll send your thoughts on. It's the same thing when they talk about "women who will never have the chance to get married..." I feel like raising my hand and explaining that there are thousands of male members who are in the same boat and feel pressured from every side to marry - and want to marry - but have never found and fallen in love with someone. It's not because they forget us...

  4. I am new to the church and I have not had a patriarchal blessing, However every LDS guy that has told me their patriarchal blessing alway says two things:
    One: They are going on a mission.
    two: They are going to get married.
    I am still new, I have only been a member since last july, but I donot think you should keep Hope just because of a patriarchal blessing. I mean they all seem to say about the same thing. I am scared to get one because it might say I am going to get married to a girl and I know that is just never going to happened. I donot see why God would tell people like us that...
    sorry I am still New to everything.

  5. For me, love is about the person's personality meshing so perfectly with another person that nothing can come between them. Then again, I also find myself more attracted to a guy when I've gotten to know him and he has similar interests or sense of humor.

    So ultimately it will come down to each of us realizing that this is a person we can't survive eternity without, and acting accordingly ;)

  6. Levi:

    As much as I am grateful for your concern, I'm going to have to correct you on this one. Patriarchal blessings are not the same - and only sometimes even similar, from the ones I've read.

    Don't be afraid - most Patriarchal blessings don't explicitly outline what will happen in this life or the next (mine does, pretty clearly, but like I said - they're unique) and whatever it says is just a part of what the Lord has in store for you. Recent events in my life have pretty much assured me that I can find a wife. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. Keep the faith, Brother - and welcome to the best place in the world to work through life - what I affectionately call the Church...

  7. Hi Mormon Guy,

    Good luck in all you are setting out to achieve. Please be honest with the girl you do set your heart on. She deserves to make her decision knowing exactly what she is getting into. Twelve years of marriage and two kids later I strongly suspect my husband is gay. I would have made different decisions if I had known this.

    People who say sex doesn't matter are ususally people who aren't being denied it or who are withholiding it from their partners. If I sound bitter it's because I often am. I learning to suck it up though.

    Good luck to you. You seem like a kind and thoughful person. You deserve to be happy.

  8. Anonymous:

    I definitely plan to be completely honest with my future wife. Having an intimate emotional relationship is really important to me, and you can't really have that when you hold something back.

    I'm sorry that you sometimes feel bitter towards your current circumstances... but realize that, no matter the reason, there is definitely hope. If you turn to God and find ways to address the issues you see (and I mean address the issues - since their source could be anything) with your husband, both of you can draw together. The men and women I know who have overcome difficulties and differences in marriage have even greater lives than those who just fell in love and lived happily ever after.

    Thanks for your comment. Stay strong.

  9. your hope makes me cry! thank you for your testimony and for your honesty. I've often wondered what I would be like without my mortal trials and shortcomings... your faith strengthens mine. Particularly when you mentioned your Patriarchal Blessing, Heavenly Father has great and wonderful plans for each one of us!

  10. I'm totally "wow"ed again! another great post. I'm going to have to stay away from this blog when I'm in a time crunch. ;)

    PS I love your commment in the comment section... "The men and women I know who have overcome difficulties and differences in marriage have even greater lives than those who just fell in love and lived happily ever after." I think this pretty much sums up the reason God lets us all go through struggles. He loves us! :D

  11. I'll be honest, I don't often read your blog. But I just want to give you a word of hope. I've been married for less than a year, to a man who struggles with same gender attraction. I had full knowledge of that going into this. He made the same choice you have made, to stay in the Church, and to try to find a woman to be with. Despite what others may say, I want you to know that it can work. That for me and my husband it is working. And, at least for him, that desire to be with men is slowly dwindling. And he has a strong desire to be with me, in every way. Don't give up. Keep moving forward. You can have a family (I'm 3 months pregnant). You are doing well, and I am grateful for your example.

  12. C.S. Lewis talks about romantic love, which he terms eros to differentiate from other forms of love, in his book, The Four Loves. One of the things that charcterizes romantic love to him is its physical capriciousness. Lovers can physically desire each other while exchanging glances across a crowded room, and yet can also experience a lack of desire when situations seem ideal (alone together). It (sexual attraction) becomes even more undependable as a basis for a life-long relationship when you factor in changes to the physical body and all the differences and hang-ups that two people can have.
    I think it's important to recognize that sexuality is only one component of a successful relationship. My husband and I have dealt with issues relating to sexual desire because I suffered sexual abuse. Furthermore, pregnancy and childbirth have changed my body and made intimacy less desireable to me. My husband has struggles with depression that also affect our relationship. Yet both of us know that our personal struggles are not voluntary and are not a rejection of our loved one. We are doing all we can to nurture and love each other and I think our marriage is a true partnership. We are friends who laugh together, talk, share, comfort, support, and cherish each other. We love each other and love the Lord and love our children, and are committed to helping each other deal with the particular set of liabilities we have for mortality so that we can be together now and for eternity.
    Each person has their own challenges. Do not impose further challenges on yourself by having the unrealistic expectation of perfection in any area, including sex in marriage. Mine is sometimes mediocre, sometimes fantastic, and sometimes non-existent for a time--sort of like my singing voice. Most of us normal humans have to deal with normal bodies that only work the way we want them to sometimes. Why should sex be any different?

  13. Cathy:

    I am not delusional in thinking that my life will be perfect. You talk about a romantic life that has ups and downs - where attraction waxes and subsides over time. I've never experienced any type of physical attraction for a woman - never had the desire to hold her hand, put my arm around her, hold her close to me, kiss her, or run my fingers through her hair. While attraction waxes and wanes in normal circumstances, it is often due, as you indicated, to changes in the body, which effect global levels of desire. It's a whole different ball game when there are high levels of desire outside the relationship and absolutely nothing inside... and there never was.

    I will definitely stick with my original statement on this one. Until I have a deep attraction that extends to wanting to be married and have children, marriage will not be an option.

    Thanks for your comment.

  14. I agree with your decision. While relationships change, there does need to be attraction. Without that, I think marriage could be heartbreaking, and any resulting children would feel the emptiness. That could possibly be a far worse outcome than celibacy. We have to endure to the end, but after this life, those things which we endured well will have an end.

  15. My sister directed me to your blog because I personally believe gays will be allowed, and should be allowed, to be sealed in the temple to a person of their choosing. I admire you greatly and anyone who is willing to give up a physical aspect of their life for a higher power is truly virtuous. You speak of your P. blessing and that you will marry a woman. I have a gay friend and he is the most feminine person I have EVER met. Have you pondered the idea that the miracle of a body creating life can sometimes mess up and produce the wrong sex? I am not saying I am right nor am I forcing my views on you. I just want to know what you think of it.

  16. Anonymous:

    The femininity that you speak of is, in great part, a cultural norm - not an inborn trait that determines our destiny in life and eternity. We all have skills and predispositions, and then culture - others - decide to label us in some way to make sense of who we are and more easily deal with categories instead of individuals.

    I believe that gender is an essential component of premortal, mortal, and eternal existence. I've never met someone for whom their eternal identity as far as gender was a question, but in those cases - having far too many of different chromosomes, for example - I don't think the answer is as readily available in this life... and it's not something that I've asked the Lord for an explanation.

    Ultimately, the important question is, how does the gospel apply? The amazing truth is that, as I keep the commandments, no matter what circumstances I begin with in life, I will receive all blessings and gain all the happiness that eternity has to offer. The Church doesn't need to accept gay marriage to offer exaltation to all faithful members - in fact, doing so, and going against the guidance of the Lord, would remove its ability to save anyone. The gospel applies - in its family-centric, heterosexual, inspired way - in my life, and will bring me peace, hope, and salvation as much as the next person. And maybe even more. And those who realize that, and turn to the gospel, find (with a whole lot of work, humility, time, and faith) that the answers they needed, but didn't realize, were there in front of them the whole time.


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