Tuesday, December 21

Another Very Dissenting Opinion

I'll sometimes get comments like this one on my blog - from people who believe, honestly, that I can't exist as a righteous, faithful, happy Mormon Guy who is also attracted to guys. They're normally also chock-full of 'objective' statements that go against the nature of (Gay) Mormon Guy, so I don't have the time or real desire to publish them. But this one, while definitely disparaging in nature, made me think... and want to respond. So here goes. His comments are in italics. My response is bold.

And please avoid personal, disparaging, or vague general remarks about the guy who made the comment, or people like him. You already know that I probably won't publish anything sarcastic, vindictive, or whatever, no matter who it comes from. I realize that some of you will strongly disagree with him, and you're welcome to share your ardent feelings with me, but I may not publish your comment. :)

I'm glad you have an outlet through this blog, as do many of your fans and followers. The reality is, just as your title exclaims, is a giant oxymoron. You can't have both worlds. I believe those who are homosexual cannot coexist happily with the gospel, nor can straight members coexist with homosexuals. The gospel, at least the LDS gospel, strictly forbids sexual choices, and you know there isn't the understanding that homosexuality isn't always a choice. That being the case, you will never be happy in the gospel, I will straight out tell you that right now. The more you try to reason the gospel into your life, the more you'll have men you'll be attracted to (in the church) that will call you "creep" or shun you because it is not accepted. Please, find the things that make you happy, the ideology, the teachings, and run with them if they make you happy. But the gospel in its entirety strictly forbids who you are, and so you will live a life that will, in essence, be hypocritical and oxymoronic, and always painful.

The only way I know how to respond to this is my own personal experience. The gospel, specifically the LDS gospel, is where I have found peace. The members of the Church, like everyone else in the world, are imperfect... and when I rely on them or on anyone else for my happiness, I agree - I won't find it in the end. But I also know that I am not an oxymoron... and while those who live with my struggle may not fit in your eyes, I fit in God's. And this is His Church. I've spoken with leaders of the Church on this subject, and, of all the things I have learned, is the true acceptance of who I am. I am a son of God, who is committed to living the gospel. Yeah, I'm attracted to guys. And there is nothing wrong with being attracted to them. I repeat - there is nothing wrong with being attracted to others. God gave us attraction as part of who we are. For normal guys, it's to help them find a wife. For me, it's an all-encompassing trial designed to help me be who He sees in me. If all extra-marital attraction were sin, we would have much bigger problems on our hands. The sin, and the choice that is not accepted in the gospel, is choosing to sexually act out those attractions... and that is as prohibited for me as it is for men attracted women.

I'm happy, anonymous. Really. I know you may not believe that... but I'd ask you to ask God - and I know that He can give you the same understanding He gave me.

We've known who you were, even those in your ward know who you are. They won't understand. Happiness is not in trying to be a part of something that shuns you out, while you try to hold onto the little good you know there is. Don't hurt yourself with the church. I know the 'priesthood leader' you professed about that called you a creep, and it's people like him that prove that there won't be acceptance, allowance, or tolerance. It goes against what the gospel states to have those things. I'd want to reason and believe as you do, but I know I'd be lying to myself. You will be happy. There are many like you and they've found solace in a world outside the church. You state about Him and how He loves you, of which, He does. But His love isn't how you state it. His love is because you are His. His gospel, however, (if you believe the LDS doctrine) is not the same love you are hoping for. If so, then His mouth pieces, the apostles, President Monson, do not speak truth and lie. If you believe they do speak the truth, then you can't twist or reason that what they say, what the scriptures say, can be warped into what you are. The 'truth' is you must repent and turn to Christ, the way that is outlined by the church. Repentance isn't about who you are, it's what you do. Why repent of what you are if it's not a choice? I don't know if you see where I'm going with this.

If I went to church on Sunday and everyone knew, and everyone judged me, I would still go, and I would do the same things I do now - reach out to others and try to be a good person. My membership and faith isn't dependent on being understood or accepted by others - it comes from being understood and accepted by God.

Maybe you do know him. But I choose to doubt that unless proven otherwise. I could be being incredibly trusting, but I believe in the goodness of people, even when they give me every reason to believe contrary. I'm not naive - I treat people as the best I see in them, and give them the chance to live up to that vision.

And, even if there were a thousand people who rejected and hated me for my circumstances, I've met with so many people who are accepting of who I am - most Church leaders - that I'll never believe that the gospel, or the Church, doesn't allow others to love, understand, and accept that I am attracted to guys. In fact, I know it's exactly contrary. When a member of my stake presidency gives a talk on the importance of forever families... and then looks at me and talks about the faith that comes in living true principles even when you don't understand, I can see in him more than just acceptance and tolerance... in his eyes is a profound admiration for being true to who I am in a trial he will never face and struggles to imagine. Knowing me, and seeing my faith, has made him a better person, and helped him on his journey of faith... and I know that because he has told me.

I believe that it is here that I find peace and joy. I know that what the prophets speak is true. I know, not only because I've compared and critiqued their every word, but because I've turned to God and learned the same truths at His hand. I've seen the same visions, received the same revelations, heard the same still, small voice... and from those experiences I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God... and that I'm on the right path.

Still, I'm saddened to see how sad you feel sometimes, both when I pass you by on Sundays or other days, and through this blog. If you want happiness, you need to not hurt yourself with the hope that things will change. The gospel doesn't change if it's true. Truth doesn't change. If you are who you are, you have no reason to change that part of you either. So the two can't blend together, but I'm sure you can coexist, separately. I'm sure you'll eventually figure out who I am, but that's irrelevant.

As far as figuring out who you are, passing you on Sundays, or constantly being sad, maybe you have the wrong guy. Here on (Gay) Mormon Guy I share only a small part of my life, and the only reason it's sometimes depressing is because this trial is sometimes depressing. But it's the only thing in my life that qualifies under that category... Everything else in my life easily qualifies as being incredibly blessed, and except for maybe a wife and family, I literally have everything that anyone could want. My life is awesome in almost every aspect.

Maintain the smiles you put on and push through each day. Just know you are in our thoughts, and you'll come out stronger in the end when you realize there's more to this life than being shunned out by that which you want to be a part of and parts that you want to believe. You are better than that, and that, I do believe with all my heart.

On this I agree with you, but with an application different than the one you had in mind. You believe that turning away from the Church, with its people and their potential prejudice, would give me happiness. Happiness doesn't come from people. It comes from God - and from living the principles of the gospel. True faith is giving to those that stand in need - and that is why we have the Church - not only to be buoyed up by others, but more to have a chance to serve and share and, by serving others, come closer to God.

Thanks for your comment. I know we believe different things, but I'm grateful that you care enough to write, to compose your thoughts for me. Merry Christmas!


  1. To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time believing that this person who is writing to you is even a member of the church, or that he attends your ward etc. It just sounds a little off. If you ask me it sounds like someone trying to scare you (as if they could) that they know you and want you to leave the church. I personally don't know any LDS person who would try to convince anyone to leave the gospel. If so than they are a very confused person IMO.

  2. Thank you for a very thoughtful response to an otherwise depressing comment.

  3. Wow. I will keep most of my thoughts to myself since they are unkind. I cannot believe some of the statements and claims this commenter made. Ridiculous. And, I'm sorry, but have so many still not ready "God loveth all his Children"? Just a though, but perhaps Anonymous should pick it up and read what the first presidency really has to say on the subject. Just a thought.

    That said, I think you handle it very well, which says a lot about the kind of person you are and are trying to be.

  4. I am so glad you chose to respond to this comment. I think that MANY members of the church also believe that SSA is the same as homosexuality and therefore, a sin. If you'll indulge me, I have a little story for you. One day I was at the store with my four rambunctious little ones and we had spills, screaming, whining, and fighting from the moment we set foot in the store. As we were FINALLY leaving and I had just loaded all my fussy kids into the van, I noticed that I hadn't put my three gallons of milk on the conveyer belt and paid for them. I did NOT want to unload everyone and go back into the sotre, stand in line and wait to pay for the milk. Besides, I was a loyal customer and they would surely not miss the six or so dollars after all the money I had spent there over the years. After a minute or so of deliberating, it hit me. I knew what I had to do. I unloaded my chickies and we went inside and paid for the milk. Later that evening, I was feeling SO guilty and pretty disturbed that I had been SO VERY tempted to take the milk without paying for it. I was kind of toruturing myself about it and feeling like a horrble person. As I prayed for forgiveness that night, the Spirit whispered something that has meant a lot to me in many instances since then: "Being tempted is not a sin. You chose not to sin. There is nothing that needs forgiven." I know that the temptations that you are experiencing are far greater than my little temptation about taking the milk, but I know that the principle is the same. I hope that other members of the church will someday understand that just because you (and many others)are tempted with SSA, it absolutely is NOT a sin. I admire your strength and resilience and I see an amazing person who is battling with grace, dignity and hononr to live as every latter saint should. You are my hero. I have different struggles than you, but your words have translated to those obstacles which I face and have helped me. Sorry for the long post. :)

  5. Wow, some people are so small minded. I wish I could rip that person a new one for you. I'm upset for you.
    My brother was gay and passed away from AIDS years ago. He turned away from the Church many years ago, and was never happy. He tired to have a relationship with God, but without living the Gospel, he was truly unhappy. I wish he had the strength you have to follow what is right. To do what is right.
    Like you said, being attracted to men isn't wrong, it's acting on those attractions that are wrong. You can be who you are and be happy in the true Gospel of Christ. It's people like that that can't truly be happy because they are too busy judging others and trying to push away people they believe aren't worthy to be the church. And that's so not how this Church works. We should be loving and accepting of everyone. No matter what. If some people have a people with that, then that is their burned and trial to bear.
    I truly hope that this person doesn't bring you down. They really aren't worth the thoughts. There are more people out there that love you and will help build you up then tear you down.
    Merry Christmas!

  6. “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    The issue is fairly complex. Just like this fellow challenges your choices, for those who have chosen something different than you, your blog indirectly challenges their decisions. Perhaps the most compassionate reaction is for each group to respond, "I don't agree that your choices will work for me, but I can accept that they work for you and make you happy. I support you in your pursuit of happiness,"

    What do you think?

  7. You amaze me with your patience and faith in the face of such a trial. I'm equally amazed that someone would honestly think you'd be happier outside the church. I have an openly gay brother who left the church to live the way he chose. He's probably the most unhappy person I know.
    To say that you don't 'fit' with the gospel is ridiculous. I agree with Brigitte. If this person is a member, they have a lot to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Keep doing what you're doing. You know it's right and that's all that matters.

  8. Ryan:

    I wish I could agree with you - that I could say that the most compassionate choice is also the easiest and the least likely to have potential backfire. But I can't. I believe that true compassion goes far beyond loving others regardless of their choices - it means doing everything we can to help them be happy. The tricky part is that compassion necessarily superimposes our moral values on others - when I decide to open a drug rehab clinic, I believe that overcoming a drug addiction will lead to greater happiness than otherwise. Many acts of compassion are pretty clear-cut, but some aren't... and where those morals differ... that's where it becomes difficult. Obviously choosing a favorite food or color doesn't enter here... But I feel that our responsibility is to help others understand, invite them to try, and love them no matter what they choose. I know that the gospel is true for all men, only because I have a personal relationship with God. It will work for everyone ... and the only way that I can honestly show compassion is by sharing that message in everything I do.

    Thanks for your comment.

  9. It seems to me that he feels the same way about people with SSA who are doing their best to abstain from those feelings as the man who invited Christ to eat dinner in his home and then mock Him for forgiving the woman who came to Him in full repentance-as though she is not worthy of his forgiveness or grace, ya know? IF what he said was true, than all of us should be 'shunned', in my opinion, seeings how we all have our private sins and temptations. Stay strong :)

  10. This post really saddened me. I think the sentence that hurt the most was this "people like him that prove that there won't be acceptance, allowance, or tolerance. It goes against what the gospel states to have those things."

    Maybe the commenter and I have different definitions of tolerance, and acceptance. Yes, church doctrine is against homosexuality, so "allowance" of what won't happen. But the church loves all of it's members. What we struggle with is just a different type of struggle, and everyone struggles in their own way. What we deal with is just harder, I think, and people get upset because they don't understand it. The church has said time and time again that feeling what we do is not a sin.

    Read Elder Hollands talk in the Ensign "http://lds.org/ensign/2007/10/helping-those-who-struggle-with-same-gender-attraction?lang=eng"

    Towards the end of the talk he says this: "I weep with admiration and respect at the faith and courage of such a man who is living with a challenge I have never faced. I love him and the thousands like him, male or female, who “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). I commend his attitude to all who struggle with—or who are helping others who struggle with—same-gender attraction."

    I think that if the commenter truly understood the gospel, they would have a different outlook.

  11. My first reaction was "wow." I'm shocked (appalled!) that someone would say that to you. I don't know that they've read your blog, really, if they wrote that sort of thing to you.

    Well meaning or not, this man(?) certainly has some issues to work through. For how vociferously he denounced and decried the feelings you have, I have to admit I worry for him.

    You are not alone. While I don't often come to your actual blog to read, you're on my reader. Thank you for being another point of gospel light in the Mohosphere.

  12. I am so grateful to have discovered your blog today. I am buioyed up and inspired by the knowlege that people like you exist in today's world - people that are grappling with incredible trials and clinging to to their faith in God in order to triumph over temptation.

    In the past year I have had both a cousin and a good friend come out of the closet and simultaneously leave the LDS church, despite the fact that they both still say they believe the Gospel is true. it has broken my heart to see two people I love so deeply abandon the refuge and comfort of the Holy Ghost to travel dark and dangerous paths.

    Because of our continued love for our gay friend & cousin, my husband and I have had many recent discussions on how we would feel if one of our young children developed a same-sex attraction someday. I know now that one of the first things I would do is direct them to your sweet, honest, faith-filled blog. I'm sure they would find comfort here, as I'm confident many others already have.

    You write as though this blog is mostly a place for you to express and sort out the difficult trials you face. But what you're doing here is an incredible gift to your readers and I want to deeply thank you for it.

    Keep it up and hang in there. The world needs more people just like you.

  13. "it means doing everything we can to help them be happy… compassion necessarily superimposes our moral values on others… love them no matter what they choose"

    This is confusing. We seem to agree, but maybe I'm misunderstanding you, or maybe you're misunderstanding me. I'm suggesting the most compassionate approach in my mind is me living with my set of beliefs, you living with yours, that guy over there living with his, and all of us supporting each other in pursuing our own beliefs (even though our beliefs differ). To me that sounds like "laying one thing over another so that both are still evident" (i.e., superimposing), but it seems like you disagree rather than agree with that point.

    This is significant because, when approached by people who make comments like the ones you posted here, we can get caught in the debate of each party trying to convince the other "I am right and you are wrong." I suggest that perhaps there doesn't need to be a debate. We can set aside our differences. I can respect your beliefs while not living by them, you can respect my beliefs while not living by them, and we can both support the beliefs of that guy over there who differs from us both.

    This quote expresses my thoughts better than I can: "If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No, I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way."

  14. several people have told me about your blog and i'm so glad I found it! It is such an honest and inspiring thing to read. Lately I have really come to appreciate people who have the courage to be honest because it gives me and other permission to be honest as well. Your example of giving your life to Christ is what I needed right now. Keep it up!!!

  15. Ryan:

    I guess the principle I wanted to focus on was the importance of trying to persuade others - the importance of sharing the knowledge and beliefs that I have with others. I don't think it's enough to simply assume that people know everything I know; I share the knowledge and beliefs I have and then encourage them to try it out. That's the difference - passive vs active - and I think that true compassion is always active. The comments that people make here, if they're honest and sincere, are compassionate - even those that are directly in opposition to what I believe... Because they believe that greater happiness comes from following the path they have chosen - just as I do.

    But, as you mentioned, true compassion usually involves persuasion. I can't force someone to believe and follow the principles of the gospel... and in most cases I shouldn't. Hence this blog - I can share my personal experience, and enable others to try... but I don't force them to share my beliefs.

  16. I was touched by your responses to this person. Many could learn from this post regardless of the trial or struggle they are dealing with. Yours just happens to be SSA. Even though that's not my struggle, I learned something from your post and my testimony was strengthened today. Thank you for that.

  17. Here's another comment on this post. It's probably too long to fit as one comment. You know the drill - italics are the comment, bold is my response. The guy's name is Rob.

    Most traditional Mormons, like most of your commenters, refuse to admit even a possibility of greater happiness outside the Church than inside.

    I agree, Rob... though many of my commenters ask for their comments to not be published, most of them honestly believe that the gospel is true, and that living gospel principles, as taught by the Church, will bring them greater happiness than not.

    That is unfortunate, because Mormons are taught that they should embrace truth no matter whence it comes.

    I think the fortune of that belief is completely dependent on its truth. If it's true, then it makes total and complete sense. If it isn't, then of course it doesn't... Which means that the ultimate question in their minds is whether the Church is true. If the Church is true, then the greatest happiness will come from living its principles... and I, and at least some of my readers, believe the Church is true. Church members seek for truth and use the truth they already believe as a gauge to find and understand new things.

    And the truth is that most gay Mormons leave the Church, and many of them find far greater happiness--real happiness, not the ersatz, self-deceiving kind most Mormons think--outside the Church and at peace with themselves and who they are and who they love.

    I think that if you qualify that statement, and say, "Most Mormons who 'come out' as gay and decide to live the gay lifestyle leave the Church," I can see your reasoning. But while there are many who have left, there are many who stay, who never tell anyone, and who stay active and faithful throughout their lives. Writing this blog has given me the unique opportunity to hear many of those stories - anonymous men and women who live happy, faithful lives inside the Church - some who have lived the gay life outside and believe that following the gospel is worth any cost.

    As far as gay people being truly happy, I don't disagree that life can be meaningful, amazing, true, and full of love no matter what choices I make. I also believe that greater happiness will ultimately follow those who live the gospel. It probably will not be as apparent in the short run, but I believe that living the gospel will enable me to be happier in eternity and throughout the course of my life, no matter what my circumstances. And, at least in my experience, my belief has proven true. Since most Mormons have a long view of happiness (eternity), that is what centers on their minds.

  18. I wouldn't presume to tell you what path to choose. That's your choice and I respect everyone's freedom to find their own.

    I will say that personally, I agree with the basic premise of the person you're responding to. Though there may be individuals within the Church who act in a very Christlike manner and are not personally bigoted or hateful or prejudiced, the doctrine of the institution as it currently stands simply cannot be reconciled with what every gay person knows about themselves.

    Ultimately, every gay Mormon must choose either to try to asphyxiate their desires for love and companionship or else recognize that there is no place for them in the Church and thus seek happiness elsewhere. I have tried it both ways, and in my experience the happiness found inside the Church (and I freely admit I had some) cannot compare with what I have now on another path.

    This is where I completely disagree, Rob... and where I disagreed with the original comment. I've studied the doctrine of the Church and spoken with official authorities on the subject, and I do not believe that LDS doctrine cannot be reconciled with what I know about my life. To the contrary... It's in understanding the gospel that I have found meaning in being attracted to guys. I also do not believe that I need to asphyxiate my desire for love and companionship - only that I need to trust God and trust that He will keep the promises that He has made, in His way, in His time. I don't know how it will work. It will probably take a miracle. But I believe in Him, and my experience, and that of some of my readers, prove that it's possible to be happy.

    I'm sad that so many Mormons will refuse to believe me and the countless others who say the same. But I understand that, because to admit we might be right is also to admit that some popular Mormon beliefs on this subject are wrong, and confessing error is not easy for anyone, especially in a church that so relentlessly stresses "knowing" over "believing" and stigmatizes any public expression of less than absolute certainty.

    I fully support your freedom to choose your path and hope you find happiness there. If you remain in the Church you will be in the statistical minority, and personally I believe you will have sacrificed much unnecessarily. But again, your choices are yours, and I hope you find the fulfillment you seek.

    Rob, I don't think that most members of the Church would say that you lack personal expression, realization, and authenticity. From a sociological perspective, saying that you've found a type of happiness is perfectly safe. What Mormons won't believe, from personal experience or divine revelation, is that the happiness you have is what they want. I would love to live a life free of pain, prejudice, and suffering. But not if it means valuing present happiness over my personal spiritual progression, and my ability to return to God having followed His commandments.

    Perhaps one of the things I have learned, that may not make a lot of sense if you have not had the same experience, is that godly sacrifice, or sacrifice that follows the commandments of God, is always something that I want to do. Every time God asks me to place something on the altar of sacrifice, and I do, He changes who I am, and returns to me far greater blessings than those I gave. In my mind, there are no unnecessary sacrifices, as the Prophet Joseph taught in Lectures on Faith - 

    "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation."

    Thanks for your comment, and for being a part of the conversation.

  19. Seriously, every time I stop by your blog, I come away feeling uplifted. Thank you. Your faith, your strength, your honesty and your goodness shine. If I knew you, I would wrap my arms around you and be your friend. :)

  20. Maybe this person is confusing you with someone else? He or she sounds seriously concerned and so you can tell they have "good intentions". However, they like so many people do not understand what you are saying. Confidence, self worth, comfort, relief, happiness DO NOT and never will come from people or come from the world. They can add to our happiness for sure or take away from it but that part of you that's deep inside, your spirit, longs to be good, longs for all things holy, longs to be close to God. "Wickedness never was happiness". We can not be close to our Savior if we are giving in to everything we are tempted with. I am married and I felt really guilty after I was married and finding that I thought so and so was cute but- I pushed away the thought every time and never acted on it. These thoughts have all but gone away! What relief that has been!! Would happiness have come to me had I decided, I have this thought, it must be who I am, it must mean I do not love my husband, and acted on it? The obvious answer is no! Did I have anything to really repent for? Not really, but I do ask Heavenly Father to bless me with strength to overcome my temptations. At the end of the day though, I do have a choice to act. That's who we really are, what we choose to be! Thanks for your blog! Great insights!

  21. I don't know you and I just found your site through a friend. But I want you to know that I admire you and I have no doubt you are a ginormouse inspiration to your Stake President. Just keep doing what you're doing. Following principles that you may not understand. That's all any of us can do.

  22. I know you may not publish this, but I'm going to write anyways. I don't understand how you can be happy in the LDS church, because I wasn't. Am not. That being said, I don't like what Anon said. If you have found peace in your life, I am glad for you. And I don't see how that is anyone's business but your own.

    I just found your blog, and I like reading about your search for peace. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  23. "But I also know that I am not an oxymoron... and while those who live with my struggle may not fit in your eyes, I fit in God's."

    Genius. Not to be lame and quote you to yourself. I'm thinking that next time you feel left out or lonely you should reread your own words. You might not fit in with certain people in your ward etc. but you fit where it counts.

    I think so many times we allow the world to define us and judge us and place us. We allow the world to prey on our imperfections and struggles and temptations and tell us that we don't fit. Although my struggles are not the same as yours, I am constantly allowing the world to put me in my place. Categorize me where I fit in. But the bottom line is I already fit where it matters, and so do you. Thanks for that.

  24. Whats really sad is that he actually believed what he said... he wrote it actually caring, or perhaps pretending to care. He actually thought he was doing you a favor. That's the saddest part. I'm not Mormon, but I like how Jesus said how when a person thinks there darkness is light, how great there darkness is.


Comment Rules:

(G)MG is how I write to you. Commenting is one way to write to me.

If you want your comment published: No swearing, graphic content, name-calling of any kind, or outbound links to anything but official Church sites.

In addition, comments must be 100% relevant, funny, uplifting, helpful, friendly... well-written, concise, and true. Disparaging comments often don't meet those standards. Comments on (G)MG are personal notes to me, not part of a comment war. You are not entitled to have your ideas hosted on my personal blog. There are a zillion places for that, and only one (G)MG.

And I'd suggest writing your comment in Word and pasting it. That way Blogger won't eat it if it's over the word limit.