Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quest for Mormon Values in a Gay World

Okay, so on Friday Justin and Tyler answered a few questions. The one that I'm most interested in right now is "Lots of us lose the faith, but what do we replace it with, if anything?"
Tyler said: "From what I have observed both in my life and in the experiences of others, many who lose the faith and seem to distance themselves from spiritual relationships will opt to throw their energy into less spiritual and possibly unhealthy bonds with others. For example, it makes sense that one may feel that their sexual energy and freedom is stifled due to their religious beliefs, and they may immediately seek instant and frequent sexual satisfaction in order to "make up for lost time." After years of devotion to developing strong and healthy spiritual lives and relationships, it makes sense that those who lose the faith would pursue just the opposite."

I feel like I'm on a quest. I'm trying to find some good Mormon-type values in the realm of gays (but mostly lesbians) and it seems really hard. I don't feel at all successful in my searching. Perhaps what Tyler said is true. People lose faith. They lose faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in mercy, forgiveness, love, salvation, redemption. And when they lose faith in humanity and in themselves they turn to what the world has to offer. Sex. Drugs. Alcohol. I've noticed that a lot of gay and lesbian Mormons tend to pursue the opposite of what their religion advocates.

I'm not trying to point fingers. I admit. I've tried it. I went off the deep end and disregarded everything that I once stood for. A large part of it was curiosity. I'd never gone against the teachings of my church. I didn't know what it was really like. I soon found out that it is everything all my church leaders and fellow members said it would be. Degrading. Disastrous. Destructive. It didn't make me happy.

But, how do I embrace every aspect of myself and feel happy? If I adopt every little piece of my religion down to the stuff about homosexuality being evil, then how do I love myself? And if I deny my religion to the point of never opening my scriptures again or never falling on my knees, then how do I live with myself?

For a long time it seemed to me that if I couldn't get married then what did it mean for me to follow the rule about abstinence until marriage? Would I then have to be single and celibate for my entire life? Maybe that wouldn't be so bad. People live those kinds of lives all the time. Monks and Catholic nuns, for example. I thought about becoming a Catholic nun once. I decided I didn't want to be married to Jesus, so a friend of mine suggested I become a Mormon nun. If there were Mormon convents then maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But the truth is, the LDS church only knows how to talk about two things. Marriage, and children. If you don't have these two things then you are either too young for that step in life or you're doing something wrong and you need to get yourself an opposite-sex partner quick so you can make babies asap. There's really no place in the church for gays and lesbians, and that's tough.

I don't want to feel like I have to throw my values away because I'm lesbian. I know that it's important to not be physically intimate with someone until after marrying that someone. I know that alcohol is not good for the body, neither for the spirit or the mind. I know the value of having faith in a loving God and maintaining a close relationship with that same loving God. Can I not have those things with another woman?

Maybe I can't.

So, what I have to do now is live my life according to my own standards. I have to make a place for myself.
I will stick to my personal standards and not lower them for any reason or anyone.


8 comments:

  1. I totally understand where you're coming from. It can be a very difficult thing to try and maintain you spirituality while allowing yourself to be who you feel you need to be.

    I think what all of us eventually need to realize is that just as our LGBT feelings are a part of us, so are our spiritual and religious feelings. And while it may be difficult to reconcile those both at once, I think it's the only way to find deeper happiness.

    I love John Gustav-Wrathall's ebook "Why Theology Can't Save Us," which can be found on amazon. He is a married gay man who feels a very strong spiritual pull to be active in the church. His book expresses that experience, as well as discussing principles of spirituality that are vital for every person, gay or straight. Reading that book over the last few weeks has allowed me to reconnect with my deeper spirituality and helped me to gain more peace than I've had in a long time. I highly recommend it.

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  2. Fantastic post. Thank you.

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  3. I've struggled with this as well and I think we all need to come to our own place of comfort and growth - wherever that is.

    The only thing I fear for you is that you've set up impossible parameters. When you can't marry in a particular society but yet you say to yourself that you will withold intimacy until you are married is essentially saying you'll be celibate and I don't see the spiritual high road in that.

    For me, I've come to realize that neither traditional "Mormon values" nor promiscuous "gay values" resonate with me. I accept neither end of the spectrum fully. They are both extreme and unhealthy in my opinion. I think it's funny how my former Mormon friends used to use the following phrase, "moderation in all things" to introduce the topic of self-control and living a life of values. But then they'd go on to espouse abstinence in almost everything. Abstinence is not moderation. It's just extremism to the other degree.

    Sexual intimacy can still be reserved for a committed relationship without the common promiscuity but also without the expectation of a marriage that can't happen.

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  4. Good post. It really is very hard to balance the two, and sometimes I'm not even sure if it's possible or not. For my part, I feel happiest inside the church, but it is definitely hard to be single in the Mormon church at times. I think that members of the church accidentally give or get the idea that the church is for families and married couples, but that's unfortunate because the church is really supposed to be for everybody, regardless of gender, age, marital status, etc. As a single in the church, it can be hard to have a sense of purpose and belonging, but I hope that members can learn that singles (whether gay, lesbian, or straight, etc.) don't belong in the church any less than married couples or families. We all have individual characteristics, experiences, and talents to share, and singles can contribute just as much to the church as married members can. It helps me to remember that sometimes, but it still isn't easy, and I think that married members could learn to be more understanding towards singles in the church--whether they're straight, gay, lesbian, queer, bi, or anything else. As a church, we should all be in this together.

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  5. I love this post, and I love this blog. As hard as it is for us to talk about these issues, I think that we need to so that we CAN create a place in the church for those who are LGBT. Many of us who are straight want to ignore these issues, but thr truth is, we can't. Thank you for writing this blog and helping us to face them and to understand what you are going through. You've helped me to learn to be more accepting, and I'm sure you help many others who you will never know.

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  6. Dad's primal Scream, marriage is legal in 7 states now...And I think I've come to a point where I fully accept a loving, committed relationship as marriage. I do not think the parameters I've set for myself are at all impossible. :)

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  7. L Fauset, I agree completely. There is a place in the church (or ought to be) for everyone. But it is a hard place to be in if you are gay or if you are single and of whatever sexual orientation. I think we all need to find what's best for ourselves and go with it. :)

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  8. Tasha, thanks for reading. It's so good to know that we can help even a few people with this blog. My hope is that we all come to understand and love each other more and more through the little things even if we have to face the hard issues. :)

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