Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why One Gay Mormon Stays in the LDS Church

Michael wrote a beautiful comment on a post about why people who struggle in some way remain in the LDS Church.  The original post was by Silver Rain, entitled "Why I Still Belong to the LDS Church" (to which I linked earlier on this blog) - but Michael's comment was in a thread where Clean Cut quoted Silver Rain's post.  The link to that post is here.

I have not had the same experience Michael has had (and I usually enjoy church a lot in my current ward), but I love the insight his comment gives about those who struggle in some way with a burden that constitutes a need to labor from being heavy laden - especially since his burdens within the Church are FAR heavier than mine

God bless you, friend. 

Michael's comment, with my own highlighting:

I dread the boring meetings (aka "revelatory experiences"). I abhor the dreadful art and the bland hymn singing. I can barely tolerate the mundane, careless and insulting people. And, as a gay convert, my acceptance in the Church has never been the most welcoming other than in a superficial, pitying kind of way. 
However, when I feel all hope is lost and I am ready to return to my Catholic roots, I feel the beauty of the Holy Ghost and I hear the sweet whisperings of my Saviour telling me how much he loves me and I find myself deeply nourished by the words of the Book of Mormon and the revelations of the Prophet Joseph and I remember the incredible peace of the Celestial Room and I find the strength to survive another week of Church. 


Clean Cut said...

I wish Michael was in my ward--I love him for his honesty and for his testimony--but I'd like to know him as a person so he could feel respected rather than pity. I wouldn't rest until he felt welcomed, loved, and respected as an individual. I understand this church can still be a tough place for a gay person, but this needs to change. I hope it changes sooner than later.

ji said...

Sometimes I wish our hymn-singing was a little more vigorous, but I still enjoy our worship meetings even if the singing is a little slow that day.

Maybe Michael misses an important point -- the Church is all about people -- to love the feelings of the spirit while "dread[ing] the boring meetings . . . [and] abhor[ing] the dreadful art and the bland hymn singing . . . [and] barely tolerat[ing] the mundane, careless and insulting people" he meets at Church meetings seems to be to be very selfish. To me, it sounds something like, "I love the spirit but I much dislike all of you."

The Church is not God -- the Church is the people. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, warts and all. To love the Church, one must love the people of the Church. When one loves the people of the Church, and attends worship meetings because he or she loves being with fellow believers and wants to strengthen them, then he or she is approaching holiness.

Clean Cut said...

John (ji), I think Michael used that language only because of the context of the original post. I actually think you two might agree more on condition of our meetings than you might think. For example, on my "Improving Our Sacrament Meetings" post, you expressed the following:

"It is sad to say, but I have been in a few (?) sacrament meetings where the name of Jesus Christ is mentioned only in the ordinance of the sacrament and at the end of the talks. Many of our talks are academic or didactic; few are worshipful or testimonial. We would do better with more worshipful and testimonial sacrament meeting talks."

Right after your comment, Michael expressed something very similar:

"If we focused more on adoration during our Sunday services we would end up talking much more about Christ and his life. We would offer greater praise and more discussion on His role as Redeemer, Saviour, and Comforter."

I think that was actually the focus of his comment above about staying in the Church--that even though our meetings can be sub-par and people can be offensive, there are greater spiritual reasons that keep us all going. And yes, you're right, we are to have charity for all--even to those ward members who test our patience.

I don't think Michael would stick around long if he didn't already actually have love towards his fellow brothers and sisters--it's just that it doesn't always come easy when his patience is always being tested. One reason I take inspiration from his comment is that it sounds like his love for the gospel is stronger than the voice that says it would be easier to just give up.

Anonymous said...

Yeah,but the art is bad,isn't it?

I love the people,even more when I visit teach them and come to understand them in context,but we can nevertheless experience each other as insensitive,most especially around the issues that are sorest to us.

Challenging to love one another.I can forgive anyone for a momentary venting of frustration.

I get my art fix elsewhere though.

ji said...

Clean Cut,

You wrote, "One reason I take inspiration from his comment is that it sounds like his love for the gospel is stronger than the voice that says it would be easier to just give up." A good point...

I have been thinking for other reasons lately about the people -- worship is not supposed to be a solitary experience, me and God -- rather, it is supposed to be communal -- we gather together at the house of prayer each week for worship, rather than worshipping by ourselves or with our families at home. My sanctification comes as I support (and receive support from) everyone else.

I also wonder about adjectives. I generally prefer to see others as fellow Saints, brothers or sisters in the Gospel, rather than having to handle their adjectives, like gay Mormon or conservative Mormon or liberal Mormon or multi-generation Mormon or convert Mormon or Utah Mormon or feminist Mormon or _____ Mormon. The adjectives can get in the way.

Papa D said...

I have been traveling today and unable to check in. Just a few thoughts - not in order of the comments.

1) I also don't like adjectives that categorize, generally speaking. In this case, I only used "gay Mormon" to highlight an issue that is very real and powerful in the Church at this time - that there is a subset of members who often face tremendous difficulty in the Church. (There are more than one such subset, and much of it depends on the local units, but for members who are homosexual it is particularly tough.)

2) It is easy to dismiss or make light of how hard it is for some people in the Church, until I put myself in their shoes to the best of my ability and suddenly realize how often I am denegrated and insulted when I wear those shoes. For example, I would be flabbergasted if someone said to me, "Don't worry. Just stop having any form of intimacy with your wife. It's OK. You'll be gay in the next life."

I'm not arguing against the Church's definition of the Law of Chastity in saying that; I'm just saying that we say some things sometimes that, when reflected back on us, we would reject outright - and probably scorn in the process.

3) I wish BADLY that we recognized and enacted the difference between a standard of worthiness for "simple membership" and for "temple attendance" - and that we treated everyone the exact same way with regard to church attendance and membership. This is not the post to go into detail, but there is a deep and unconscious double standard that is widespread in the Church when it comes to what we require of non-members and some members - especially gay members.

Richard Alger said...


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