Saturday, March 3

To Be (Gay) Or Not To Be (Happy)... That's The Wrong Question.

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 2)

The enticement that Lehi described is a curious thing. Sometimes, before we are in the midst of trial, it's easy to just think, "Well, choose the right when a choice is placed before you," but the reality is that, with many choices, both sides have valid arguments. And choosing the right then means being able to see through the mist of darkness and know the will of God. Otherwise making choices would be easy.

Same-sex attraction is no exception. Following are two comments I recently received; I post them here because they represent, in my mind, two of the common thought processes surrounding same-gender attraction... and two of the ideologies that I see perpetuated in others.

First Comment:

Hmm, while you are living your life celibate and doing everything in your power to control your same sex attractions that you weren't apparently born with, I will be spending my life with a man that I love and enjoying what life has to offer while still believing in God. A different God I might add. I feel sorry for you that you think you are doing the right thing and remaining celibate and faithful to church. There is so much more to life, and if you honestly believe that these homosexual thoughts and feelings are immoral and wrong, you my friend are in for a life of loneliness. Sure you'll have your friends, your familys, those that support you, etc. BUT, you know why they support you and remain around you? Because you chose to stay within the church, but just for that reason. Do you think those same people would really give you the same love and friendship if you chose to be an acting homosexual? No. I wish you could just see the bigger picture. And you know what? You can say the exact same things to me and thats just it...Theres nothing I can really say that you can't turn back around. I will leave you with this, you're not a bad person for chosing to embrace your the gay life-style per say being with a man. Everyone deserves to be with someone they are IN love with. It's how life was designed. If God put you on this earth to go through feeling what you do know to be rewarded in the after-life or to overcome these tempations and reign forever, you're mistaken. Getting married to a woman, fasting, praying, therapy, none of that will work in the case of being made whole and getting married. Take a stepouside of the box and see what happens.

Second Comment:

I find that you are a bit off base here. I really respect you for choosing your own path in life... but the situation you write about with the women talking about how they don't want to marry a gay man is real. I have lived it first hand. Trust me that what these women (and all women, especially in the church) are saying here, is not that they think less of you because you are gay, but that they know that deep down you could not make the connection THEY need. 

Love is a two way street, and both ends have to have interest and physical chemistry. Don't overlook sexual attraction in defining love, it's the cornerstone. 

I tried to live a life you are seeking. I got married to a wonderful woman that loved me back, we had so much in common, lived the gospel, tried EVERYTHING, and it didn't work. Deep down, a gay man is a gay man, doesn't matter how hard he tries to not act on those "feelings", it is who you are. And a women can tell, a women needs to see you desire her in your eyes and touch, if not it will feel fake and empty to her, like going through the motions.

Just don't shut out the arguments from "the other side", we're not all out to get you. I truly hope you can find peace with who you are someday, and know that you are loved for you.

The truth of the matter is that both of these experiences are real. Both men wrote to me with the hope that they could influence me to avoid pain that they themselves felt, and find peace that they've found. 

On the one hand, I could be like the first commenter - fall in love with a guy, choose to believe that is the will of God (a different God), and in that belief find pleasure in life, meaning, reconciliation, and companionship. Men have found that.

On the other hand, I could be like the second commenter, and try to do everything right, try to stay strong in the Church, and still fail - even after marriage - and experience extreme heartache and disaster, ripping apart families and leaving chaos in its wake. It happened to him.

Be gay, or be unhappy.

And, in the minds of many of the men I've met, those are the only two options. Stay completely and fully faithful in the Church and be miserable and full of self-loathing, or appeal to "spirituality," claim that the Church isn't true (or at least its teaching on homosexuality), and live an open, self-loving, and free life.

Faced with only those two choices, it's not striking why many men choose to trade the Church's stringent and clear teachings on chastity, faith, and perseverance for something else. 

I found myself choosing between those two choices just a few years ago.

I was doing everything right. I had gone to Seminary, learned my scripture masteries, served a faithful mission, and done everything according to the plan. I read my scriptures, paid my tithing, attended the temple, prayed, and I thought that was enough. So when life gave me only pain and sorrow, I found myself forced to choose between two options. Either the gospel and the Church doesn't really have the power to bring me happiness (and I should choose to follow commenter 1), or I'm simply not good enough and even if I try, I will fail (and my life will be like commenter 2). 

I turned to God for help, and realized that there is a third choice - one that promises far more than any other, but entails a whole lot more work and time as well. In my darkest hours, I learned that if the gospel is not working for me, it is because I'm not using it right - not because I'm not good enough or because God or His teachings are incapable of bringing me peace.

The reality is that Christ came to save all men, and that God has given all men the power to overcome their trials and find true happiness, joy, and peace through living according to His will.

But what does that mean? For me, it meant that I was going to need a whole lot more than 100 memorized scripture masteries and some cliche phrases from the mission. I was going to need much more faith than I was getting from my prayers, and far more guidance than what I was finding in the scriptures. And that makes sense. The Lord gives each of us, if we are righteous, Abrahamic trials - obstacles so massive that they require us to rise to the same level of faith that Abraham did. And he definitely didn't just have two years of mission experience and call it good.

And I'll be honest. For years, I saw only pain in my future. I knew that I was doing the right thing, but nothing seemed to work.

And I don't know exactly when it happened, or when the process began... but my frustration and despair slowly turned into perspective and faith... and today, I can truthfully say that I live a happy life. Yes, I'm nowhere near perfect. But I can see the light shining, and it is finally reflecting in my soul. And I have everything I could want. Fully a part of the Church, fully acceptant of who I am and what faces me here in life, and fully in control of what happens in my life. Life is amazing... and I wouldn't change anything, except to keep going.

Would I love to be married and have a family? Definitely! My goal is to fall in love with a woman, be physically attracted to her (read that last statement again - some people seem to not get it: be physically attracted to her), get married in the temple, raise a family, and work together to make our home and lives a part of heaven on earth. But I've met so many people and had so many experiences that I wouldn't have had if I were married. Maybe there's more that the Lord wants me to do. And in the meantime, the Lord is able to fill my needs - He is omnipotent, after all. It just took me a while to really believe it and learn how to benefit from that power.

So that's the decision I face. Work harder than I ever have, rely on God's grace, and determine how to use the Lord's omnipotent power to bring about happiness and salvation... or give up on reconciling Church standards with my attractions... or try really hard and give up when, after 10, 20, 40 years later, I feel like I'm still failing.

The beautiful promise of the gospel is that no matter who I am, there is a way to make it work for me. The gospel works. If it's not working for me, I'm not using it right. For everyone that seeketh shall find, and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened. The Lord God is no respecter of persons, which means that if His gospel can bring peace, hope, and joy to anyone who learns to use it in their lives, it can bring those same blessings to me.

And that's the option I choose.


  1. Oh. And I forgot to mention, in response to the comments: I have family members who choose to follow same-sex attraction and have partners. They're just as integrated into my family as anyone else, except that they don't come to the temple with us. My friends love me unconditionally - they wouldn't support me in sinning, but no truly good friend would. They'd still love me, though - I know because of experience. :)

    And I've met plenty of men and women who are in love and have made their marriage a success - even though same-sex attraction was an issue at the beginning.

    I believe, honestly, that the only way to find true and lasting happiness is through keeping the commandments of God... and, conversely, that if I am truly keeping them, then I will always find lasting happiness and peace.

  2. I am "commenter 2" from your post.
    I appreciate your explanation, and truly hope that you can achieve your dreams :)

    One thing I did want to add though. I don't think there is just one type of same-sex attraction. There are definitely many who are bisexual or fluid in their sexuality. Many of those men can end up having a full happy heterosexual marriage in life if they choose.

    Just wanted to say that in my experience, you have to look at yourself with an honest-to-god perspective. Think about where your eyes wander, who you noticed, who you fantasized about ever since puberty. If you are honest like I was, and cannot find instances about fantisizing or being attracted to women and girls, then you will have a hard or near-to-impossible time doing so later in life.

    Like I said, EVERYONE is different, that is the point to this huge diverse planet we live on. Just don't try to fit yourself into a mold, that is how people get hurt.

    That is all I wanted to express. Wish you all the luck in the world :)

  3. Anonymous:

    Thanks. And I agree - relying on just hormonal progression and my past experiences, I would have good reason to be hopeless. I've never really been attracted to women. And I fully understand that to hope for a powerful attraction is to hope for a miracle. God grants miracles all the time; even though our rudimentary understanding of the brain and psychology may lead to a belief that certain conditions are static, regardless, God can and has exercised His power to change people - physically, spiritually, and emotionally - to bring them closer to Him. The woman with the issue of blood, struggling all her life. The man born blind. Hannah, who wanted to have children. The widow of Zarapheth's son. Lazarus - talk about a permanent condition (3 days dead). It will take a miracle, which means I am wholly dependant on the Lord. But, whatever happens, He'll take care of me.

  4. I have never experienced same sex attraction and I can't imagine how hard that would be especially when you were "doing everything right." but I'm really proud of you! I know Heavenly Father is proud of you too! It takes a huge amount of faith to stand up for the church and what you believe in. You've been given a heavy load but I know you will be blessed for staying true to your faith!

  5. Hey, MG.

    I love that you've found door number three when the world seems to think there are only two. With God, NOTHING is impossible.
    I believe in miracles, too. With the path you're on right now, I think you'll get yours.


  6. I think you are one of those rare individuals that truly understand the gospel and I find your story very faith inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I think you are amazing and i wish there were more people like you in this world.

  7. I think you hit the nail on the head with the Abrahamic trial idea. I believe that sooner or later, all of us will have to pass through something as paradoxical as what you are experiencing to go on to our exaltation. As stated in the Lectures on Faith, the sacrifice of all things is the only way we will be able to develop the faith necessary to lay hold upon eternal life. Then after the trial, our sacrifice is returned to us with blessings 100-fold. I think it is crucial to take the Holy Spirit as our guide and get answers from heaven as to what we need to do. That is the only way these things can be navigated successfully.

  8. I saw this link on Facebook and am so glad I took the time to read. I have a family member who is gay and it was quite a shock to us all when she finally told us. I completely love your perspective and have felt the same way, though it seems that most people don't. We all have trials and challenges in life. We all have temptations to overcome. Each one of us handles these things differently, but we were sent here to overcome. And I believe that God will help us overcome these, in this life or the next, if we do the best we can here. Thanks again.

  9. Your experience and the kind of faith you have is Hebrew Ch 11 and 12 faith. Their maybe in the future a scripture that talks about overcoming SSA and maybe it will be you.

    Thank you for your righteous example of holding on to that iron rod regardless of who is saying what may take you off. Oh, I want you to succeed! I really do!

  10. oh, and I thought of this quote from Eliza R. Snow.

    "The Holy Ghost satisfies and fills up every longing of the human heart and fills up every vacuum."

  11. Bless you. I sometimes despair at all the people I know that have just given up. Because good people like you keep it private (for good and understandable reasons) I usually feel like there aren't any people out there fighting against this trial and I think it must be near impossible. It's encouraging to me to read that there are people out there fighting for truth and right. And I think, if you can handle this and find hope, I can find hope in just about any trial I'm faced with.

  12. I love reading your blog. I have so much respect for you! This was such a powerful post. I love that you are truly trying to understand and live the Gospel to the best of your ability. Your faith is inspiring! You are truly truly are a remarkable individual. You have my prayers! :)

  13. I find it strange that as a church society we find it easy to talk about some peoples trials and struggles but not others. It is somewhat refreshing change to read your blog.

    Ultimately we all face the same test, regardless of the trials in your path, the test is to be obedient. I have a brother-in-law who is in a same gender relationship, when I discussed it with his dad who struggles with it, I couldn't help but point out that it really was no different than his other son that lives with a girlfriend. The issue is the law of chastity not the gender you are attracted too. The only thought I have regarding your option 3 is you seem to desire to change your attraction from males to females and in some ways that is a sweeping generalisation. Its more about an individual level. Finding an individual you are attracted to? I find it interesting for example how people can be racist but have a friend of a different race. Its as if once you know the individual, in that relationship race is unimportant.
    I have enjoyed my visit will call again, thank you for your honesty, the world would be a better place if we could all be more open about our trials it would help us past the test.

  14. I am a man with same gender attraction myself. I really like your dream to find a woman that you are physically attracted to. I honestly hope that one day something like that may happen to me, although I also realize that it may not be a possibility in this life.

    In the past, and every so often now, I've defined my 'success' at wanting to live the commandments by whether I was involved in a relationship with a woman or not, either dating or marriage. Now, I realize that I was only looking at one piece of the gospel, and there are a lot of other commandments that I can still follow and live. My success is more defined by how well I'm living the gospel in my situation, and not whether I'm attracted to women or not.

    Thank you for your post!

  15. RJR:

    I agree with your comment on individuality; same-sex attraction may never go away during my life, and for the married men I've met, it has always been there in the background. But in the same breath, they each fell in love with one woman, and one was enough. I'm just hoping that I fall in love with one that will fall in love with me. ;)

  16. MG, you already know I agree with your conclusions because we have both chosen the same path. And though commenter #2 does make a valid point in his reply to this post (i.e. there are bisexual individuals), in my case by nature I was always attracted only to men. Yet I am a happily married man and my wife is the most important person in my life. Our over 25 year marriage has taken faith and commitment and endurance and work, but it continues to get richer and more rewarding -- and we still have many great years ahead of us. You summed it up when you said about God, "He is omnipotent after all." Miracles happen more often in people's lives than they realize.

    But, MG, I think you have to careful about one thing in your advice to others regarding this challenge. Yes it will take work and faith. Just as it takes work and faith to face any difficult challenge in life. However one does not have to be Hercules to face this challenge successfully. It is much more about turning your heart to God, instead of (when you get discouraged, as we all do at times) choosing to turn away from him. Deciding not to turn away is the critical choice. He is our source of true strength and power. After all, God loves us and wants us to succeed. His arms are outstretched to us. How often has he said he would gather us under his wings? All of the strength doesn't have to come from us. God has said the weak things of this world will confound the wise. So if you (anyone who is reading this) are struggling with the challenge of same gender attraction -- and believe me I know what a daunting and discouraging challenge it can be, because I sunk to the depths of despair for years before I discovered the source of my strength would never be just my own abilities or work -- then remember this promise: "..and my grace is sufficient for all men [and women] that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

    1. Thanks, Anonymous. I agree - none of us has to be Hercules. We just need to rely wholly on God.

  17. (Gay) Mormon Guy, do you ever feel like your trials are made bigger by society? Not in a way that suggests that your trial is not difficult to bear, but rather in comparison with what others face? Because in reading this post I realize that I have had similar experiences with the whole there is only an a. or a b. and then Heavenly Father shows me c. or c. happens and I know it’s as a result of prayer, but I want to downplay those experiences in relation to yours, which made me want to ask the following:
    It seems that for those of us not struggling with homosexuality, and wanting to be empathetic/sympathetic/loving/supportive etc. etc. we tend to view your challenges and how you overcome them as close to the epitome of all trials faced EVER ... and maybe it is because it seems to me open and civil discussion in homosexuality is still in its infancy ... but do you think it will ever be appropriate or not met with rage or scoffing for your trials to be compared to a trial of health, or a trial of self-worth, or a trial of loneliness not related to homosexuality, so on and so forth.
    Ideally trials need to be looked at in their own sphere of difficulty, but that is a hard thing to do for our brains -- they need reference points, and I find that often we can’t help but find our opinion of our lives affected by how we perceive others perceiving our lives. Have you already done a post (I have only been a reader for about a year) where you look at why circumstances like yours are trumped up so much (again, trumped used to indicate how your trial measures ‘in comparison,’ and not in a way that diminishes its difficulty) and how that effects how you view your situation and how people (LDS and not) view your situation?
    Also (and I think this paragraph is written from my perspective as one of the LDS faith, and thus when I say ‘people’ I am mostly referring to LDS people), people fear what they don’t understand, that’s a common sentiment, but I think a better way of saying it is people become defensive or shy away from what they cannot relate with (not as pithy unfortunately …) and my first inclination (and I think many others’, maybe?) is to consider the trials any homosexual faces (social, choosing how to live, making peace with themselves and those around them, etc.) having a corner on being totally unrelateable. Probably that is a function of years and years of people not wanting to relate for various reasons (some good-intentioned, some not, and all not right or productive), and the backlash from that, but I feel like as a new generation is growing up and seeing more clearly (not all, and not as clearly as would be ideal, obviously, but progressively clearer), people want to be able to relate to a trial like yours, they want to know how to offer comfort and support, to live what is taught: “Reach out with understanding and respect to people with same-gender attraction.”
    Have you thought about (or done) a post discussing this too? I don’t know about others, and I guess I am not quite the audience you are reaching out to (young adult, female, LDS, not having same-gender attraction), but you are my only connection to someone living the way you do, and working through the trials you are working through (that I am aware of) and if/when I meet others in a situation similar to yours I want to be legitimately someone who is reaching out to them, and not someone who keeps my head down because I do not know how to relate/understand.

  18. Your spiritual strength and personal wisdom are humbling to those of us outside the circle of your challenges. You describe well the process of gaining power to find peace through the Savior’s atonement. All of us have to use the same path. Our challenges are unique, at least the combination of them we experience, but the path to peace is the same. How carefully engineered these trials are – so well designed to maximize the effort required to surmount them. May you be blessed as you continue your journey. Thank you for your example.

  19. I'm a new follower to your blog, and being a member also, I LOVE everything you said. You have a lot more strength (and testimony) than most people I know, especially with what you are going through. I admire you deeply for the strength and courage and I agree, #3 is a great choice, and I'm glad to hear that you are taking that option versus the others. May heavenly father continue to bless you! take care! :)

  20. Hi--

    Loved your post. Really great to see a new perspective on this issue.
    I have always thought it was silly to set up your happiness with a partner based at all on sexual gratification. I mean who-- in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship- has every sexual fantasy and desire fulfilled all the time? NO ONE! That's how life is! Some sexual fantasies just aren't possible-- especially if one wants a happy life/family/relationship. Our society is trying to forget this concept. Just because I am in love and sexually attracted to my spouse does not mean every sexual desire I ever want gets fulfilled. But I am happier then I can say.
    Thanks for your honest thoughtful blog!

  21. You are wonderful. Just thought you should know.

  22. Wow. You are correct in all you said, but your blogging it has strengthened my own testimony and inspired me to be better and try harder. I'm not gay. I'm older, married, with kids (some grown, some still at home), and I so appreciate your blog. It makes me feel like I'm not alone. Like none of us are.

    In one of your posts, you stated that you had thought of trials as "rated' somehow - steps of the "trial latter". And your trials was the hardest. Something my brother taught me is that our trials are specifically chosen for us. That what you may consider an easy trial, might be the hardest trial of MY life. And vice-versa. So, while I don't have your same trial, I do have my trials, and they are just as hard in my mind, as you describe yours being in your mind. But to see HOW you handle your trials, is inspiring and comforting, and it makes me want to go out and be better tomorrow than I was today.

    All that entices to do good is from God. Thank you for enticing me to do good and be better. You are certainly from God.... a Son of God.

  23. In regards to the remark by commenter 1, my brother is homosexual and inactive in the Church, we don't know for sure whether or not he is practicing homosexual activities but we (my entire family) love him - so much! We all agree that if he ever did bring home a partner we would accept him (the boyfriend) because we still love the person my brother is. In my opinion it is far more important to love the person than to hate the act. He knows where we stand on the issue and that we would never waver from our convictions of the plan God has for marriage to be between a man and a woman but he knows we love him.

    Thank you for your thoughts and experiences with this trial you work through. I am always interested to hear others perspectives.

  24. Wow, you are a breath of fresh air. I'm kind of fed up with hearing about how sex is the most important thing in the world. I love my husband because of who he is. After finding out he was addicted to porn and overcoming it together, we got an entirely new perspective of sex. It was re-defined for us. Those basic feelings of attraction took their proper rung on the ladder of important marriage tenets.

    When I remembered Christopher Reeve's wife talk about the love that grew between them after her husband became a quadriplegic, I finally truly understood how that was possible. It's almost NECESSARY to transcend the physical attraction to realize the potential of true love.

    There's a love that comes from a mature view of one's self and one's needs. That comes from a mature view of another's worth and loveable qualities. That love is completely foreign to those people telling you the only way to find happiness is through sexual gratification.

    I'm not going to deny it, sex is like a nail file for marriage. It can help smooth out rough parts, easy as pie.

    But there are other ways to maintain your nails. I actually don't own a nail file, come to think of it. And I don't think it is absolutely necessary for marriage to work either. It's admirable that you hope to be attracted to a woman someday. But I think even if that physical aspect never happens, you have enough love in you to make a marriage thrive. It would be hard work. But I believe that hard work is what creates beautiful eternal love.

    Before I met my husband, I was in love with a guy that decided to choose a gay lifestyle. The longer I'm married, the more I learn about what sex means to me, the more I'm convinced that had he chosen to live the way you are, I could have been quite happy married to him.

    I don't doubt that someday you'll find her.


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