Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just Imagine

Matt here.

Imagine you’re in the back yard at your parents’ house. Well, my parents’ house. There’s a patio, two lawns, and a long deep blue cold pool. Wind, sunshine, sculpted concrete. You’ve just finished weeding the flowerbeds around the ancient splintering fence. Probably that’s the beginning of a sunburn on your neck, you notice as you lean back on your heels and wipe the sweat off your face.

“It’s good to see you again.”

Ice, fire, a tiny earthquake up your spine. You turn around and see him there, white stubble, t-shirt, cargo shorts, barefoot, and that smile you remember in your soul.

You scramble out of the dirt and hug him, crying. “You're back!” you mumble into his shoulder, in the sun. The wind. On the sod you laid fifteen years ago, grown into itchy green puffs.

The man is God. He proceeds to tell you that the Mormon church is his, and he wants you to never be with a man again. (Be with a man, anyway.) He would like you to marry a woman or be celibate, whichever you like best.


Could you do it? If all doubts about the Mormon church, being gay, and God’s will were removed beyond a doubt, if you knew, could you do Mormonism?

This is a useful question, I think. You know I am often not impressed with the gay community’s attitudes and arguments. Blog posts and articles like baby vomit, dribbling out at more or less regular intervals, saying “We can’t be expected to do that. That’s too hard. We’re not strong enough.” I hate these posts, I hate how they limit us, how they imply we're not enough on our own, that we need boyfriends, husbands, or partners to be happy, successful, and vibrant.

Our worth is not dependent on binding ourselves to another person.

Yet, even though I believe that firmly, I don't know if I could do it, be a gay celibate Mormon.

When I drafted this a couple of weeks ago I thought I could, but I've noticed something about myself over the past long while: I go through phases. Happy phases, sad phases, dedicated phases, procrastinating phases, believing phases, cynical phases, asexual phases and homosexual phases and sometimes the barest flutter of a heterosexual phase. A couple of weeks ago I was willing to believe, focused on the good bits of Mormon theologythe happiness, the expansive vision, the family, the inclusion.

Then I volunteered serving food at a community event, and I flirted with a fellow server, and I started focusing on the bad bitsthe uncertainty, the dystopia, the solitude. And in that phase, which is ongoing as I publish this, I don't know if I'm strong enough to do Mormonism.

I figured that if I didn't have doubts about the church, there'd be nothing to it but throwing myself into the church and its activities. I'd serve a mission, which I am in fact still young enough to do. I would at least date women, a thing I haven't done since I was a teenager, and maybe marry one. Even if I didn't, I'd lead a full life, heavily investing myself in the church community, improving it and being improved by it. And they would love me! I would be adored and celebrated, showered with love like the prodigal son.

But, knowing myself, knowing about my waves, how long would it take me to discredit what I'd seen, or rationalize it away, or find some kind of loophole? Especially since the lovely active excellent life I would be leading would not erase the phantom ache of my absent other half, which, with all my doubts and worries, I found unbearable before. I have a feeling that in some years, a decade or two at the outside, I would be back to miserable indecision. Maybe I'd get other witnesses to boost me up and keep me believing, but wouldn't I have gotten those before, if they were forthcoming? I feel somehow that those continuing witnesses are less realistic hypotheticals than a visit from God.


The realization that maybe I couldn't do Mormonism does not, of course, answer the question of whether or not I should try.


I wonder how this would turn out if all his shareholders were Mormon.

"We are also driven by meaningful work, by others' acknowledgement and by the amount of effort we've put in: the harder the task is, the prouder we are."


  1. This is a truly fascinating hypothetical. I, like you, don't know if I could put all my "gay" habits on the shelf if God unequivocally asked me to. It would be easy at first, but at the first sign of hardship, what would I want? A companion to snuggle me and hold me and kiss me.

    Thanks for pointing out the inherent weakness in such a statement. We are stronger than that, aren't we? It's hard to remember sometimes, but we are.

  2. I, like you, agree that the rhetoric of love and "we need boyfriends, husbands, or partners to be happy, successful, and vibrant" is not one I'm quick to employ. And so far, it hasn't been too successful in religious spaces. Let's focus on a rhetoric of love but not in romantic relationships, but love for those who are unemployed, homeless, or downtrodden in any way because of their non-heterosexual sexuality.

    But what I'll take most from this post? "Our worth is not dependent on binding ourselves to another person." <3

  3. Here is a slightly different perspective due to age. I am guessing my guy and I are around 30 years older than you. We have both had very successful lives filled with community service, travel, nice incomes, and loving friends and families. Neither one of us felt like we HAD to have a man for our lives to be full. Our lives, however, are more complete now that we have each other.

  4. GMP, I wonder if I really am that strong. I like to think I am, but really? Not sure. But I think it could be worth finding out. At the very least, thinking about it is a good mental exercise.

    Ryan, do you know of any examples of men who have been able to exemplify generalized love without romantic love?

    Dean, that's a good thing to remember. "You'd be happier with a partner" isn't the same as "you can't be happy without a partner."

    1. Does "any examples of men who have been able to exemplify generalized love without romantic love" include Jesus? =P

    2. I was hoping for someone sliiiightly more contemporary, but I guess he would count, yeah. :) Although I understand many people believe he and Mary were married, or something? I dunno.