Sunday, September 12

A destiny that none of us wanted


"But you see, just because we've been ... dealt a certain hand ... it doesn't mean that we can't choose to rise above -- to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted." - Edward Cullen, Twilight

Growing up I never understood why there wasn't more said in the scriptures on homosexuality. I believe it is something of an experience that we all share finding we are not alone in the world -- of finding our first blog or seeing In Quiet Desperation on the shelves of Deseret Book or finding another young person who we somehow discover shares our secret. If there is one common experience among gay Mormons, it is the sense of being absolutely alone in the struggle -- to be one of the few ("the very few" as Elder Packer puts it) that have these unwanted emotions and desires.

But the homosexual experience is not a singular one.

For thousands of years and almost as many pages, God has asked similar things of all His people. To walk the lonely road to salvation, to endure misunderstanding and persecution, to be peculiar, to obey without understanding, to walk a different path, to sacrifice dreams, to offer a broken heart, to fail, to give up everything, to waste and wear out our lives, to have prayers unanswered, to feel utterly alone and unwanted, to walk in darkness.

He asks his most favored to spend nights in Liberty Jail, in Gethsemane, in Hans Mill, in Roman prisons, in Pharaoh's court, in the desert, in the snow and often in a lonely wilderness.

Christ tells us that salvation is not a cheap experience--everything we have is required and is still not enough. He has asked for the last mite, the best part, the farthest journey, the remaining meal and drink, the only son.

The road is similar for each of us: we pass not only through the waters of Mormon (where we promise not to fail each other) but the rocks of Moriah (where we prove to God that He is worth every sacrifice). It is a road that each of us shrink from, where we turn around more than once hoping for an easier way. There are parts which we pass through on dry ground and parts which we pass through the snow with bloodied feet.

And yet, the journey is different for everyone--for Lehi, it was away from God's temple and the priesthood; for Elijah, it was alone in the wilderness; for Abinadi, it was a martyrs' flames; for Isaiah, it was to help show fallen Israel greater truth.

It is a journey none of would choose, but that we can still choose to conquer.

10 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say but thank you!

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  3. Absurd. A group is not singled out and given differing commandments. Due to our faith we so badly want to believe that our lives dont have to be different, that Mormonism can still hold much truth. That we can keep our religion, that it "not wanting" us could maybe just be a test from "God." Yet there comes a point when we must look around and realize that the Church's current position and rhetoric is absolutely intolerable. It isnt just misguided, it is detrimental and repugnant. We do have a trail like those of past, who were asked far too much. Our trail is to stand up against our "brothers" and "sisters" and to point out the inhumanity of current teachings. It is one thing to stand up to your enemies, it is a far braver thing to stand up to your friends. May God give us that strength.

    "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  4. Your post reminds me why I still struggle to maintain some kind of Church activity, despite the fact that the Church itself makes that more difficult than less.

    Yes, in the Waters of Mormon we vow to support each other, but that promise doesn't seem to extend to gay members. We are encouraged to deal with our identity quietly, and not make our fellow "brothers and sisters" feel uncomfortable by expecting from them any actual support. When was the last time in General Conference, or any other meeting big or small, did you hear faithful gay members given any words of encouragement? When from those same pulpits have you heard members called to repentance for the widespread homophobia that currently exists even in the hearts of some of the Lord's most faithful Saints? Just a little of that kind of show of support would make our loads lighter.

    The Church continues to lose scores of gay members every year, who turn away feeling utterly rejected and unwanted. I'm waiting for someone to say that kind of loss is tragic and unacceptable. How long must I wait?

    Wow... I'm sorry. I didn't set out to write such an angry rant. I do enjoy your posts, and its good to know there are a few gay member's who still have testimonies.

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  5. This was incredibly moving. Thank you for it.

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  6. You have an incredible way with words and I think there is a lot of truth in what you said.

    But I also feel that the church needs to be more honest in its position & doctrine with respect to homosexuality.

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  7. Thanks for your writings.

    Would you like to guest post the below?

    Thank you,

    Brad Carmack
    2011 JD/MPA Candidate

    Title: Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective

    1) President Packer’s general conference talk
    2) The recent rash of suicides by gay teens across the country, accompanying “It Gets Better Project,” and current suffering of my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters
    3) My coauthor, from whom I have received much help and inspiration, wants it out sooner than later
    These are the reasons why I am releasing my book now. I preferred to wait until Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective was groomed and edited further; however, it is not my book alone. Heavenly Father helped me write it, and I believe He would have me release it rather than keep it on my hard drive while I spend months making minor improvements. This book is destined to relieve some of the suffering of my homosexual brothers and sisters, though I don’t yet know by how much. Stuart Matis, shortly before committing suicide on the steps of an LDS chapel on February 25, 2000 in Los Altos, California, wrote to his family: “Perhaps my death ... might become the catalyst for much good. I'm sure that you will now be strengthened in your resolve to teach the members and the leaders regarding the true nature of homosexuality. My life was actually killed many years ago. Your actions might help to save many young people's lives."

    So here it is- my 165-page magnum opus to date, in raw .docx and .pdf form (google doc: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B1u3K43P-3JoYTUzNjYwMGEtNzNmYi00ODkwLTllMzYtNjRlOTVlMWUwYTM2&hl=en
    Non gmail users, in .pdf only:
    http://rapidshare.com/files/426861209/Homosexuality_A_Straight_BYU_Student_s_Perspective_Draft_2.pdf). I invite your feedback as I’m still in the later editing stage. Summary of the book below.

    My promise to the open-minded reader is that you will be touched, you will learn things you had never considered, and your views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality in the LDS church will likely change voluntarily.

    -Bradley Carmack

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  8. Summary: The book has two parts: 1) homosexuality (chapters 1-3) and 2) same-sex marriage (chapters 4-7).

    In chapter 1, I argue that church members should have great compassion for homosexually oriented members of the church because of the personal difficulties they experience as a result of their orientation and how the Mormon community typically responds to that orientation. I quote a number of studies and give voice to the experiences of many LDS homosexually oriented people.

    In chapter 2, I explore causation, detailing both the religious voice and the scientific consensus. Elder Oaks noted how appropriate this type of an inquiry is: "The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on." I detail 60 statements by church leaders on what causes homosexuality. On the scientific side, I discuss 32 separate subjects to juxtapose two opposing hypotheses for the causation of homosexual orientation: 1) biological factors such as genes and pre-natal hormones, and 2) factors such as infection, molestation, and choice. Some examples of the evidence addressed: homosexual men have, on average, measurably and significantly different ratios of the second to fourth digit of their hands than their heterosexual counterparts. The anterior commissure of their brains is gender shifted away from the heterosexual male norm and toward the heterosexual female norm. Their limb:trunk ratio is similarly gender-shifted, as is their performance on visio-spatial tasks, third interstitial nucleus (a region of the brain thought to be directive of male-type sexual behavior) size and density, left:right brain hemisphere ratio, brain response to sex pheromones, cochlear sound production, thalamic response to female faces, verbal abilities, physical aggressiveness, expressiveness, and childhood gender conformity to name just a few.

    In chapter 3 I examine how changeable sexual orientation is by considering relevant church doctrines and looking at the empirical evidence on both sides.

    In chapter 4 I show why homosexuals can reproduce, contrary to popular belief, and note that they are no different from inherently infertile heterosexual couples as to their reproductive capacity.

    In chapter 5 I argue why, assuming for a moment that homosexual behavior is not sinful, it makes a lot of moral sense to support LDS same-sex marriage. For instance, I show how important family is to mortal experience and point out that celibacy does not provide a family experience, while same-sex marriage does.

    Chapter 6 contains rebuttals to common anti- same-sex marriage arguments, many of which are deeply flawed.

    Chapter 7 applies Elder Oaks's recent speech on the Constitution. Many church members have said that Judge Walker should not have heard the Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Prop 8) case, but instead should have let the voice of the people of California decide the matter. I show why this view is antithetical to our constitutional system of governance.

    In closing, I explain my motivations for writing and make invitations to the reader.

    ____________________________________________________

    Bio:
    Brad Carmack is in his last year of the JD/MPA program at BYU. He majored in Biology, performed clerk assignments for Justice Joel Horton of the Idaho Supreme Court, and is currently a teacher’s assistant for Human Resources Law and Bioethics. Brad also regularly participates in USGA [Understanding Same Gender Attraction], an unsponsored BYU student talk group.

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  9. I couldn't have said it better myself. It is refreshing to hear another voice that believes that homosexuality is not a singular experience. I understand this is a sensitive topic. I myself experience homosexual feelings. However, the more I understand, the more I become grateful for a trial (or path, or life, or whatever you want to call it) that humbles me enough to teach me true reliance on the Savior.

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