It’s Sunday, so it’s time for a “whatever I’m thinking about” post. I admit that I’m nervous about this one, not because I haven’t thought about it much, but because I’ve thought about it a lot over the course of years and I know it is a very divisive topic. I want to stress right now that the views and ideas expressed in this blog are my own and are not representative of any other person or group to which I may belong. This is just me, talking about what I think and how I feel.
Why all the disclaimers? Because I want to talk about something that has been bothering me for a long time. Something close to my heart. I want to share with all of you my personal views and beliefs regarding homosexuality, or same-sex attraction. But first let me give you some background about me, where I come from, and my experiences with homosexuality.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We call ourselves LDS, but because of our belief in The Book of Mormon as a companion scripture to the Holy Bible we’re also called Mormons. Mormons hold many of the same beliefs that Christian churches have, Jesus Christ is our Savior and the Only Begotten of the Father, and only through him can we be saved in the kingdom of heaven, but we also believe that there are prophets on the earth today who continue to guide us as the prophets in the scriptures did. If you want more information about the LDS church and our beliefs, you can visit mormon.org.
I was born and raised in Utah Valley, Utah County, Utah. Yep, happy valley Utah. But from a very young age I was exposed to cultures and people from all around the world. My parents stressed tolerance and love. We were encouraged to be understanding of everyone, and to seek for peace and friendship. My best friend my junior year in high school was a boy who confessed to me over the phone one night that he was gay, and was so afraid. He thought he was a monster. He thought his parents would disown him. I spent most of the night on the phone with him reassuring him that we were still best friends and that he wasn’t a monster or evil or anything, and that I loved him. We lived in a small town and he was afraid of getting bullied or beat up, so I was his beard until he graduated. I was fine with that, although I wished he didn’t have to worry about how people would accept him.
Since high school I’ve had several friends who’ve been attracted to people of the same gender. I love them all very much. I don't believe being homosexual is something you choose. It's something you're born as and wired to be, just as much as anyone else. Second, being a homosexual or being attracted to someone of the same sex does not make you evil, bad, or condemned to hell. It doesn't make you anything, it's just a part of who you are. Third, I do believe in an afterlife and in a just and merciful Father in Heaven. And none of those things in my mind are contradictory.
Before I go on, I'd like you to read this blog post. If you've read it before, just skip through it as a refresher because I want to refer to specific things in it. http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club-unicorn-in-which-i-come-out-of.html
Okay, so here's what I believe. This life is supposed to be a test, and it's supposed to be a test that's difficult enough to put us through a refiner's fire. And we're supposed to go through a refiner's fire because the life after this one is filled with such endless possibilities and eternities that we need to be prepared to handle bigger consequences and receive bigger blessings. Being homosexual is hard, because no matter what lifestyle you choose, you're sacrificing something huge. If you decide to follow your passion and marry someone of your same gender, you're giving up the possibility of having a biological child that's made of both of you. That's enormous. And tragic. In many ways I'm still mourning my inability to have more children, and that's only a shadow of what it would feel like to not be able to have any.
If you decide to follow religious or societal conventions and marry someone of the opposite sex, you're giving up an integral part of the romantic relationship. Again, that's something that's such a huge sacrifice it's hard to contemplate. And whatever any individual decides to choose for themselves is their own business and I will give them nothing but love. They're already giving up enough. They don’t need me giving them a hard time about it and it wouldn’t be my place to judge them anyway. They live their lives as best they can. Who am I to think I would know better?
From a larger perspective, though, it isn't more than some other people are expected to give up. Not everyone's trials, not even half everyone's trials will be as difficult or as visible. But some people are born without the ability to have children. Some people are born, like me, with a myriad of genetic and autoimmune problems that will make life progressively harder. Some people, like other friends of mine, are born fine but then through circumstances beyond their control become incapable of having romantic relationships because of abuse and the betrayal of trust. Are we broken or evil for the way we were born, just because it’s different that the norm and will limit our choices?
From an eternal perspective, the perspective that The Book of Mormon is true and everything that goes along with that, there is the strong knowledge that families can be sealed in the temple to be together forever. My worst fear is losing one of my sons. Imagine how much more tightly then I hold that forever families belief now that I have children.
And as part of the gospel, there is the Second Coming and the Resurrection when everyone who dies gets to live again and all the pain and afflictions we've suffered are past. I'll be able to walk and run and write and play with my sons and my husband forever, never have to say goodbye again. If that's real and that's available for everyone, how can I encourage people to make choices that will jeopardize that? Now this is an important distinction I want to be clear about- I will never judge or condemn someone for choices that they make. I will assume that everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have been given and love them as individuals. If I overheard someone disparaging or demeaning homosexual individuals for their choices I would step in and make it stop. And I have before, even gotten punched in the face once doing it. But when what I believe, personally, for me, is that gay marriage can jeopardize the happiness and eternal progression of each individual, from a religious standpoint, how can I vote for it?
If the government steps in and mandates legal marriage between same sex partners, that's fine. I would not oppose it and I would openly welcome any life partners and their children to our neighborhood and our community. Personally I think they wouldn't make any better or worse parents than any other, and possibly be a lot more understanding to their children. I think they have the right to make their own choices and live their lives any way they want without anything from me but friendship, love, and understanding. And not passively. We would have them over for dinner, have play dates with their kids, and make sure they felt welcome.
But if the government says, "You vote what you believe to be right," then they are asking me to directly and personally take a stand for or against a principle. I wish they wouldn't. I think the question of marriage is a religious question, and I wish that those who choose that lifestyle would pull it under that umbrella, because then the government couldn't intervene. They would have to support religious freedom, and that doesn't mean they have to believe in God, they just have to believe in something. The first amendment would protect their right and they (the government) would stop harassing me about standing for or against something that makes me mix my church and state.
And maybe that makes me a coward, but I am tired of the catch 22 we’re being placed in. We are asked, as a people, to vote for or against legalizing same gender marriage, and then when we vote, we are made into villains for doing exactly what they asked us to do. Come out and vote for what you think would be best. And if you don’t agree with what we want, then you’re evil and narrow minded and we hate you.
I’ve heard of Mormons who vote for changing the definition of marriage, who march in gay rights parades, and who speak out about civil rights infringement. On the one hand, I totally get that. I think it’s unfair that the government would ever inhibit the rights of one group and not another. And I hate, I HATE seeing those who have committed no crime but existing as themselves being put down or shunted aside or being made to feel somehow lesser. That should not happen. But on the other hand I think that these Latter-Day Saints are being hypocritical. We have the promise that if we follow the commandments and believe in the words of the prophets, both in ancient and in latter days, that we can receive eternal blessings. And that everyone will be judged fairly.
And not by me. It is my job in this world to live my life as best I can. When I encounter someone who is suffering, I try to make it better. When I meet someone living a different lifestyle than mine, I love it. I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends who challenge me and help me to see the world in a broader way. The only things I will not stand are deliberate ignorance or violence.
Does this make sense? Am I rambling? All I want you to understand is that I think being homosexual means having to sacrifice something huge no matter which way you choose and I have a lot of sympathy and respect for that, and that since I believe in the Second Coming and in Jesus Christ I believe that the fire and trials and pains of this world are worth it. For me, I have to. I can't stand the thought of losing my boys or my husband, and the days when my autoimmune stuff is so bad that it's painfully hard to even get out of bed I have to believe there's a reason for all the suffering. But I also can't stand the thought of people believing that I'm stupid or bigoted or blindly following the path someone else laid out for me. I am not a villain and I am not a victim.
I am a person with problems who is doing my best to get through life the best way I can, and trying to help others along the way. Judge me for who I am, not who you think I am. Because the rhetoric of bigotry and hate has to end between us. We have politicians for that.