So, having read many a blog and article about being gay and mormon I have come to recognize a very distinct voice among those commenters who belong to the mainstream opinion of the church. I read it at the bottom of blog posts, underneath youtube videos, on facebook pages, I hear it in BYU classrooms and in sunday school lessons. And honestly, it is really just starting to irritate me.
Basically the comment goes something along the lines of briefly (and usually insincerely) acknowledging the difficult and conflicted position of those of us who fancy our own gender, but then laying down the law, declaring that gay relationships are against the laws of God, they should not be tolerated, and further normalcy should never be given to gay relationships in society. And that's that.
But that's not that.
Not for me.
And not for millions like me.
Because when it comes right down to it, the members of the church who are so willing to become a martyr for this issue have no idea what they're talking about. They have never experienced these things. Most have never even spoken to a gay person about what it's like to be gay. Their only exposure to anything gay is what they see on television and what they hear in church meetings. And somehow they're suddenly experts on the subject?
The psychologist in me looks at the situation, especially at how firmly they deny anything other than the cut and dry, black and white positions handed to them from church pulpits and how quick they want to end the conversation, and says that really, the whole issue scares the hell out of them. They quote a scripture or an apostle then change the subject. They don't want to hear about my experiences, or the experiences of everyone else who suffers in silence. They are terrified of facing something that might actually arouse sympathy within them. They realize how absolutely insignificant their understanding of the topic is and the unknown scares the pants off them. But fear was never a good way of judging other people.
The fact of the matter is this: I have experienced this. I have studied myself for over a decade. I have researched the topic in my free time for years. I have looked at both sides of the situation judiciously because frankly, I am on both sides. I'm the one with the proverbial split personality. But because I have a dual perspective on this I believe that I hold greater authority on the subject than brother so-and-so who speaks as a self-proclaimed expert.
And from my experience, both in the church and as a gay man, I can tell you that the world is not so black and white as we may like to paint it! I'm sorry, but there are gay people who no longer want anything to do with the church who are more loving and Christian than members who go to church every week. Being gay is not a universal stamp of wickedness! It simply isn't!
But what bothers me the most is that while countless members are willing to stand up and become a martyr for heterosexuality and traditional marriage, not one of them has ever offered a solution for people like me. NOT ONE! All they can say is that it's evil and we shouldn't act on our attraction. But while that may bring some sense of closure for them, that still leaves me and hundreds of thousands of other members of the church without much direction. So if you don't have a decent solution, keep your mouth shut!
They need to understand that all of us gay and lesbian members know what the church teaches. We know the doctrine. We can probably quote the general authorities on the issue better than you can. And we have had our own internal battles for years. Your spouting of hell-fire and damnation doesn't do any good. Because while we know the doctrine and we have had those inner battles, fighting to keep the standards of the church, there was still something missing in our lives. We were still unsatisfied. It gets pretty difficult to fight to live according to a church that doesn't really want you anyway. At least, not all of you.
It seems as if the general attitude of the members of the church is that they'd rather we disappeared again, so that they don't have to acknowledge that we and our contradictory personalities exist. They don't want us to exist. They'd rather live in ignorance, pretending like all is well in Zion, than realize that their brothers and sisters are living with a very difficult paradox of a life. And that, my friends, is pretty darn selfish, and completely un-Christlike.
To all the members of the church, I'm sorry, but this isn't going away. The church can no longer ignore this. Because we're everywhere, in every ward, in every stake of the church. And I'm sorry, but the way the church approaches this needs to change. Not that they have to change their position on it. They have the right to believe and preach what they will. But the way they are approaching this issue is not working. Because the fact still remains that the majority of same-sex attracted members of the church will leave the church by age 40. If that's not proof enough that the current system isn't working, I don't know what is.
I'm not asking members of the church to abandon their apostles or deny their doctrine or beliefs. I'm asking them to have a bit of Christlike charity and love me, and accept me, even if you can't accept my orientation or my actions. I'm asking you to listen to me, and to take a good look at how things are from my point of view. I'm asking you not to see me as some awful abomination just because I grew up liking guys. I am a very complex being with incredible gifts and infinite potential, as are all other gay and lesbian people. But if all you can see is the one little part of us that you disagree with, then you miss out on some pretty incredible people. And you lose people who would enrich and beautify your lives.