Friday, April 06, 2012

So it turns out I can relate to the Mormon gays

It's been a while since my last post but I just had to share this video from BYU's "It Gets Better" edition. There are things on here I never really thought about and that really touched me as I watched it. If you haven't seen it I encourage you to now:

In some ways I can relate. When I left the church after going through the temple I really did not want to tell my parents. I felt this heavy burden of keeping it from them so I wouldn't upset them or make them sad. How could I confess that I did not want to be a part of the church because of my questions about changes in doctrine, the sanitization and PR changes to church history, obvious historical faux pas (blacks and the priesthood, trading polygamy for statehood, women no longer able to heal the sick or perform laying on of hands) the confusing modern messages to both men and women that don't fit with modern times.

And now here is this video and this amazing openness and the safety in which gay BYU students feel comfortable confessing their same sex attraction. I didn't realize what gay Mormons must go through when all the other kids like the opposite gender and they like the same. I just didn't think about it until now. The part where the kid prays and tells God he's gay and asks if that is okay and then God makes him feel accepted for just the way he is as a gay man is something to think about. In a church that teaches that marriage is only between a man and a woman and where the family unit is sacred and gayness is not acceptable...how do you reconcile that if you both believe the doctrine AND find yourself to be gay AND find that God accepts that part of you? How can the church be true if God is okay with them living the gay lifestyle? How can one have such strong experiences within a church that teaches being gay (acting on being gay) is unacceptable and then have God tell them that they are acceptable? And don't feed me that bullshit about being gay but just not acting on it. That kid in the video got a confirmation from God that his lifestyle is okay, that everything about him is okay.

I have had some very strong experiences in the LDS church. Sacred experiences. These experiences used to make me believe it, all of it. How could I not? But there's so much to question. So many holes. I don't have an answer to any of it. I don't know where I stand or if I'm going to heaven. I just try to be a good person and hope God is okay with me, too.

3 comments:

George Marie said...

Sarah, there is something very wrong with the Church. It's the whole notion of the double bind concept. When a person receives two or more conflicting messages, whatever favorable response they give to one message will be mitigated by whatever other message they failed to respond to correctly.

I feel that people who are gay often find themselves in this position. Those that choose not to act on their natural tendencies are constantly reminded that they can never find happiness because they are made that way. Those that do act on those feelings, because they are natural, face the fact that they may be expelled from a community. What kind of religion puts a person in that position?

I think that we all have our own double bind. The missionary that baptized me realized that he was attracted to members of his own sex. He came out in a note on Facebook saying that he couldn't try and marry a woman, because he wasn't made that way. He also said that he had the right to be happy, and I totally support him.

I had a lot of good experiences in the Church. If I hadn't joined the Church, I would not be in a Ph.D. program at the U. where I am liked, respected, and admired by my colleagues. On the other hand, I've had some really horrible experiences that occasionally make me wish I had never come across the Church at all.

We should never be put in a situation where we feel as if we are "damned if we do, damned if we don't." I've been there, too. I have a five year-old daughter who lives back in Iowa with her mom. In my short duration in the Church, I never shared her with but only a few people, because I felt as if I would be judged. What kind of community makes a person feel like that? I'm a good person. It took me leaving the Church to realize that the problem was not necessarily with me.

Another thing about the double bind dilemma is that it makes a person believes in absolutes. If a person is in situation x, it must be because they committed action y. Where does it stop? I used to believe all of it, too.

Sarah Buhr said...

George...the thing is...do you wonder what happens after we die? Do you wonder if you are doing the right thing? If you will go to heaven? If you will be with your family? This does weigh on me. I think about what it is I truly believe and what is real all the time. I am conflicted. I have had experiences that would make it seem the church is true and yet I have been witness to some totally loopy paradoxes too. Last night I had this scary thought - what if all of it is in my head and my imagination, my mind really is that powerful? What if nothing happens when we die? It was terrifying...and it wouldn't explain my own experiences. And yet there is so much I don't agree with. How can I ever make sense of it?

Uncle Phatty said...

Sarah, I hope it is okay that I comment on here. It's Patrick Lee. We met last year during the legislative session in Utah and I was reminded of your company recently, which led me to your blog. I really appreciate your openness in sharing the conflicts you feel about your sacred experiences within the LDS church vs doubts about the doctrine and changes over time.

I have also struggled with having very strong spiritual experiences as a member of the LDS church, but I have felt conflicted about certain things, as well, and continue to feel that way at times. For the last four years, I simply did not go to church and decided to just live life the best way I could.

Last year, I dated a girl that was not LDS and the experience led me to think about what I want to teach my children, if I ever have them. I broke up with her because I felt that I was unsure what I wanted to teach my children and I needed to figure that out. She had no interest in the church whatsoever and was very opposed to some aspects, and I understood her feelings why. Recently, I dated a very active LDS girl who broke things off due to "uncertainty" about me and the church (I have been going through the church disciplinary process).

It is difficult to know how to feel about both experiences. Sometimes, I feel caught in the middle, as if I must make a decision or maybe I'll left in a purgatory of indecision for the rest of my life. I will likely keep on the path I am following, but now the question arises for me, will any "good" Mormon girl ever accept me with the "mistakes" that I have made after going through the temple, serving a mission, etc. etc. In a sense, I am "tainted goods" to an LDS girl, but to a girl who is not LDS, I am just a good man with decent morals who loves his family and wants to treat others in the best way possible.

Well, the only thing I know to do is just what you said--try to be a good person and hope God is okay with me too. Thanks again for sharing, Sarah. I truly appreciate your insights.