Tuesday, August 7, 2018

They That Be With Us - Chapter 6

This is the sixth chapter of  "They That Be WIth Us,"  which is my Big Gay Book.  How can I be a real Morman and write a Big Gay Book? Just like this...

Pulling back to See the Bigger Picture;
Expanding our View

A man came across 3 stone-cutters working in a quarry – each busily cutting a block of stone. Interested, he asked the first stone-cutter what he was doing. "I am cutting a block of stone!" the stone-cutter muttered.  Wanting more information, the man turned to the next stone-cutter and asked him the same question. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it is exact so that it will fit in its place in a wall." He said with a smile.  Still unclear, the man asked his question to the third stone-cutter who seemed to be the happiest of the three who replied: “I am building a cathedral.”

 hen I was 9 I used to pretend that I was an alien prince--left on this planet due to superior intelligence.  My task here on lowly Earth was to learn humility, to show my loyalty, and to earn my father -- the king’s -- respect.  In my little story I needed to experience what was needed in order to be a better ruler and then he would send his finest warriors to bring me back home where I would reign with wisdom and possibly a cape.
It was a silly story even then but it helped me to cope.

The real story is even better than I ever imagined, and because I know the real story I can cope and do so nicely.  And, I am not coming into the story in the middle of it.  I know the beginning, the middle – where I am now – and I have an idea about the end. In short, I understand the big picture. The little things, or the medium things - heck, even the huge bolder that drops on my path can be stepped around as long as I know the big picture. 

My first story wasn’t too far off. I was sent to earth by the Father to -- among other things – learn humility. And I will gain wisdom and show loyalty so that I can return to Him in honor.

Possibly with a cape.

Cal’s Quick Pre-existence Refresher

I have always known that our life as we know it here didn’t begin at birth. We are children of Heavenly parents and our father is God the King. That is the first part of the story.  Mormons know all about the pre-existence.

Much like the legendary Camelot, our pre-mortal home was a place of beauty, light, and love. Our purpose there was to learn as much as we could.  As lovely as things were there, some of us may have realized that we were ready to have more, to accomplish more, and to simply be more than we had been up to that point.
One day our Father gathered us in and gave us instruction. He presented a plan. (Every good ruler has a clear plan of action, and our Father certainly would). He shared details with us that, in our excitement and inexperience, we hadn't considered. The plan was this; We would leave His presence, get a body, and use our agency to choose to follow Him – or not to follow him. We would be challenged.

He asked us to sustain His plan.  We said yes, and we meant yes.

I may not have understood the particulars, like why there needed to be someone to take responsibility for us.  But I knew that Father in His perfect wisdom and intelligence knew all things. I trusted Him to know.  It was His job to know.

Out of love for us Jesus volunteered to be our Savior. He wanted to follow God’s plan, and was happy to let the glory remain with Heavenly Father. He would accept the punishment for the mistakes we’d on earth, making it possible for us to return home after we’d completed our assignments on earth. I so loved Him even before He stepped up, and that love doubled along with my respect.

Another volunteered also. Both of my elder brothers were strong and powerful. I looked up to and loved each of them. But Lucifer wanted Heavenly Father to change His plan. Lucifer proposed to save everyone by taking away our ability to choose right from wrong.  He guaranteed that none of us would be lost.  Lucifer also wanted the honor to go to him instead of Father.

Once it was explained, I knew who best represented me, who I wanted to serve and follow. Heavenly Father’s plan stood, and He chose Jesus to be our Savior. Lucifer was angry and rebelled.  It got bad quickly. Things were said that I’d never heard before, and there were emotions I’d never felt.  There were divisions in a family that had never been divided. Some of my brothers and sisters felt differently than I did. I tried to convince them – I can be very convincing. I may have told a joke to lighten the mood so we could focus on the truth of the matter. We all tried.

It was over for some of us then and there. I was saddened for my brothers and sisters who were cast out.  I am sad now thinking of them, but we moved on.

Jesus was in charge of us now. We may have met with Him one on one, I don't know. I don't remember, (though I truly am excited for the day when I do). He had individual plans of action for us. Every good ruler has a clear plan of action. We confirmed that, yes, what we wanted more than anything was to be like Father.

Our elder brother showed us how...

How It Was

Julie:  You can see that Cal had a background in theater and has a very creative imagination.  Still, his view is pretty close to what we know of the pre-existence from scriptures and prophetic revelation. God had a plan. Jesus volunteered to follow through, and Satan said his way was better. Utilizing our agency, we chose to follow God. The reason this is so important -- and the reason I let Cal wax-on -- is because we want everyone to remember what we were once a part of, and what our lineage is. Knowing who we were back then will assist us in knowing who we are now. We were the valiant and the righteous.  We were the ones who said no to force and yes to agency. We fought for the right to make our own choices, and we are still those brave and valiant spirits today.
Calvin: Reader, do you doubt it?  Find out for yourself. This is one of the perks of personal revelation, a gift graciously given through the Holy Ghost. The Lord wants us to know.  He is expecting us to ask.

I believe I had a PPI of sorts before I came to earth.  I believe that I agreed to come at a prescribed time and place, with talents and abilities. I may have been aware of the specifics, and I am speaking of SGA.  I believe that I agreed to take on the frailties, challenges, benefits, and abilities

Elder Spencer W Kimball said, “We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, pain and comforts, ease and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments; and we knew also that we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable… We were willing to come and take life as it came.”

Julie: Have you ever thought about how much we really understood before we came to earth? I wonder if we got to pick the trials we would face on earth or the weakness we would have to overcome, or the strengths we would be blessed with.

Calvin: I’m not sure, but I think with agency being such an issue for us, we may have had some sort of “say” in the matter of our progression.  How much “say” I don’t know.  I’m not sure a wise and loving God would just let us choose our own failings with limited knowledge and experience. How could we know at such a young stage of existence what trials or weaknesses would do us the greatest good?  At that point in our lives, we would simply have had no frame of reference.

I think we agreed to come to earth with some understanding of the risks involved, as much as we could understand about something we had yet to experience.  I can’t imagine that any contributions we made would have been monumental, but the idea that we had a say in the matter is crucial to me -- even if that say was, “Okay, I agree.”

We knew that God’s purpose for sending us to earth was to obtain knowledge of good and evil, and we knew that striving to be like Him, in conjunction with the Atonement, would give us the best shot.

“His purpose is to help us qualify for the blessing of living with Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, forever in glory and in families. To qualify for that gift we had to receive a mortal body. With that mortality, we understood that we would be tested by temptations and by difficulties. - Henry B. Eyring
I don't know what your personal plan of action was. I wasn’t present for your PPI. But I have a good idea.  I’m gaining a more clear understanding of mine daily.

Very Big Picture

Julie: The Lord has been decidedly vocal on who He is and what His intentions are.  In revelations given to Moses and others in the Old Testament, in talks presented to His disciples in the New Testament, in His appearances to the peoples of the Book of Mormon and to Joseph Smith, the Lord declared Himself and His purposes.  His aim is to bring all those who will follow Him to the blessing of eternal life or Gods life: Undying love, power, never-ending creativity, fellowship and eternal brotherhood.  Ceaseless, timeless, everlasting. Very big picture.

He has also been clear that no one can frustrate the works, designs, or purposes of God, nor bring them to naught. God does not walk in crooked paths. His ways are straight; He turns neither to the right nor left, and his course is one eternal round. He gives us instruction and exhorts us to follow His will.

The Lord is saying that if we stick close to Him, He can offer us protection.  As demonstrated by His actions and instruction, our Savior cares for us and wants us to be safe. 

Calvin:  By virtue of our birthright, all of us have the power to learn and grow in ways we can’t even imagine. Through our own innate abilities and by accessing the power of the atonement to enhance the individual traits that make us who we are, we can achieve and accomplish things beyond our own dreams.

With this capacity why do we doubt our own natural abilities and let cynicism call the shots?  Because we do not believe it. Because we forget about Gods plan and the big picture. We forget to step back or look up.

A Lesson in Sidewalk Observance

Julie:  A social experiment was conducted in a major city, to see how people would respond to a tree full of free money. They chose a tree that grew along a sidewalk on a busy thoroughfare and paper clipped one hundred, one dollar bills to the branches. Each bill carried a removable sticker that included messages such as, “Hey Free Money” or “Don’t Ask, Just Enjoy”. A hidden video was then used to record the reactions of those who passed by.

It was interesting to observe how many people walked by the tree aflutter with green dollar bills and didn’t even look at it. Other’s glanced over but refused to stop and investigate. 
However the gentleman I found most interesting was a guy riding by on a bike. One of the bills had been blown to the ground under the dollar filled tree. This man saw the cash on the sidewalk, stopped, picked it up and went on his way. He never raised his head to see the fifty or more free dollars that hung invitingly right above his head.

Too often, we are like the guy on the bike. There are rich blessings that our Heavenly Father wants to give us right within our reach but because we can’t or won’t look up and see them, we miss out on these good gifts. By staring at the ground of life, we might think that temporary fun is all there is, but if we raise our head and search higher we’ll be knocked out by what we’d find.

God loves each of us, regardless of our orientation, and He desires to bless us if we will trust Him and raise our eyes to higher goals.  However, for a good number of us, this entails some effort, the very least of which is looking up. 

Calvin: And that folks is how the big picture looks to me. And why, you ask, is all this pre-existence stuff in Cal Thompson's Big Gay Book? The answer is because that is where we started. Not the womb and the birth canal. Not with nature or nurture. In fact, as I I picture the whole shebang in my mind, I see us closer to the middle that the beginning. We have already been spiritually created, lived and loved and been loved.  We were part of a huge counsel, made lasting choices and survived a war.  Then we were born on earth and have made it this far. 

 President Boyd K. Packer, former President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “There is no way to make sense out of life without a knowledge of the doctrine of premortal life. … When we understand the doctrine of premortal life, then things fit together and make sense.” 1

If you knew that God the Father is your father, and that he has a plan for you, that he knows your desires, your pain and your joy -- would that change things things up for you? Would it make a difference in how you treat yourself, others, or how you expected others to treat you?

Does it make any difference for you concerning your sexual orientation? 

It does for me. 

1 Boyd K. Packer, “The Mystery of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 18.

Scripture references to the pre-existence:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Chapter Five of "They That Be With Us" - Finding a Connection Between Being Gay and Being Mormon

This is the next chapter in the Big Gay Book.

Title: Is there sufficient motivation for Mormon homosexuals to follow the law of chastity being that there is not an option for temple marriage for them? 

Alternate title: Give Me One Good Reason to Stay Motivated

Character is the ability to follow through on a resolution long after the emotion with which it was made has passed.    -Brian Tracy

Calvin: In my youth, there were times when I would be all fired up by a fireside and I felt as if I could conquer my feelings of homosexuality, stay morally clean, right the wrongs of life and fix Satan himself. I’d start exercising every morning. I’d read scriptures at night, and I’d quit saying flippn’ (an Idaho thing). 

The problem was that once the emotion of the moment was over and when the fireside became just a printed program in my scrapbook I lost the enthusiasm. At that point, I struggled to remember what it was that had stirred me to action. Why did I think those ideas were so exceptional, and what made me think the little round-to-it I was supposed to put in my pocket was so cool? 
I was good.  And when I was good I was very, very good. And then I tried to be better than good.  It lasted for a couple of months if I was lucky.

Julie: I had a round-to-it, and I know what you mean. It’s hard to keep the inspiration of Sunday bright when on Monday morning life comes at you again.

Calvin: Each decision we make, each goal we set and each road we travel is based on some type of motivation. What compels me to get out of the bed in the morning and try to be more Christ-like may not be an incentive for you. And what inspires you to pursue your aspirations may mean nothing to me.

Julie: There are a lot of things I do because I want to, like reading the scriptures and having tasty food in the house to eat when I’m hungry. But there are even more things I do because I know I should, even if I don’t want to do them. Scrubbing out the toilet in the boy’s bathroom is not something I enjoy, but it’s necessary to keep my family healthy and that’s something I want. Sometimes we have to push through and stay motivated to do something that’s difficult or painful because we are committed to the end result.

Calvin: That’s the mature thing. If having a clean and healthy family is your goal then you need to be willing to put up with scrubbing and disinfecting in order to achieve that. It’s cerebral. You have to decide what you really want.

Julie: In nature, it’s far less complicated. Some animals spend a great deal of time stalking and attacking their prey in order to satisfy their innate and instinctual motivation to hunt and to avoid the pain of hunger. However, the more evolved we become, the more we seek rewards that are higher than simply an extension of our momentary want or physical need; stalk the duck, have it for dinner.

Calvin: My children are motivated by money. It used to be that I could prod them along to do what I wanted by using hugs and loves. Those days are over. For today’s young mortals, money is the thing, or food, or X-Box time.  They are motivated by a reward that feeds their immediate appetites and has no natural connection to the actual goal. Example: Be nice to your Aunt Lynette, let her kiss you without making any faces and I will order pizza when she leaves.

I would prefer that my children were nice on their own and let her plant kisses on them because they love her and want to make her happy -- motivated not only by the natural extension of showing love (which is getting love back) but by an understanding that putting up with temporary and mushy discomfort will make Aunt Lynette really happy which in turn will make them feel happy. (Part of the problem could be that Aunt Lynette has fingernails sharper that Ginsu knives and wears perfume so strong that it killed our parakeet, which, ironically was named after her.)

Regardless, I want my children to be kind to Aunt Lynette, and if this means I have to put the pizza delivery guy through college, so be it.

We all have an Aunt Lynette in our lives who we are expected to hug at reunions or during the family bowling tournament.  Depending on how much we care about our relationship with her we may hug a lot or hide out in the backyard chicken coop when she visits. 
If your goal is to stay morally clean or to become morally clean, it is important to understand both the type and the quality of your motivation. When life gets difficult and stressful or when pressure and temptations come, it is the quality of motivation that determines how committed one is able to remain.
Let’s look at this idea using something we Mormons are very familiar with; Hugging.

Good Reason for Hugging – Because I want an anonymous or earthly reward (think pizza or x-box time or tens & twenties), or to avoid some kind of punishment (think of lifting weights in the Big House or being grounded for a week of no cell phone).
Better Reason for Hugging – Natural extension of action: Cause I hafta, duty to country and Father, or for an afterlife reward – if I make it through this life.
Best Reason for Hugging – I love everyone and I want it to show. I love Aunt Lynette, my parents, and the Lord. I show the Lord I love Him by serving others. Therefore I will hug Aunt Lynette no matter how painful it will be.
All of these reasons will motivate us to one degree or another. But when the pizza runs out or there is no authority figure there to punish us, or when we decide that the afterlife is just too far away to be real, the first two levels can fail us. It is only when we carry the motivation inside of us and when the commitment has become a part of who we are that we are able to consistently ignore the perfume, let Aunt Lynette do her worst and still make it through.

Getting Motivated to be Chaste

Julie:  However, we aren’t talking about hugging. We’re talking about dealing with the strong passions associated with sexuality --  specifically homosexuality. Cal, how did you stay motivated to keep your life on track and stay chaste?

Calvin: Let me first make it clear to you an unfortunate reality. I did not stay chaste. I was the living example of the man who built my life on the sand only to have everything wash away. I choose today to build my house and keep it in a different order than I did then. However, keeping clean and getting clean are based on the same principals.

Originally I found motivation in trying to be like everyone else. I didn’t want to be considered strange or odd.  I was also afraid what the church would do if they found out I had been sexually active with men. I was afraid of what my family and friends would think of me because Church and the rest of my life were so closely entwined.

Then there came a different concern. I was not at all thrilled with the prospect of AIDS.  I was not as concerned about dying as much as I was in contracting the disease and having everyone know what had caused my death. It scared me and kept me on the morally clean bandwagon. But not for long.  It became clear that my need for physical emotional contact was stronger than my fear of dying.

The motivation to change my behavior, -- my ultimate motivation to be morally clean -- happened when I finally figured out that what God was asking me to do was to obey  The message could not have been any clearer had it been posted on my Facebook page or danced around like the kid holding up the “two for one pizza deal” on the corner.

The ultimate motivation was a promise made to me in a blessing that Heavenly Father would make everything alright for me in the end if I would do His will. I don’t have a contract signed from Heavenly Father, so some say that I am a fool not to go after the physical/sexual here and now while I still have a body. But I do have the assurance of the heart that if I do as I have been asked to do things will go well for me in the end.

Some suggest that we are motivated to obey Heavenly Father because He has promised those who obey will have eternal rewards -- we choose to follow the commandments because we expect to be compensated for our efforts. I get this completely.  Compensation for my efforts is a huge motivation for me. It’s not a bad reason, but there are better.

We will feel more secure in our ability to do what is right when we are doing it for unselfish reasons. This, in turn, leads to finding pleasure and joy in our obedience We find pleasure in doing right -- which in turn gives us more strength in our commitments.
Elder Royden G. Derrick said,

“The Lord has promised us resurrection and immortality, but these are not a reward. According to Webster’s dictionary, a reward is “something that is given for some service or attainment.”… They are not a reward—they are a gift—for we have rendered no service nor attained any accomplishment to warrant these as a reward. The gift is from the Savior; it comes through His atoning sacrifice.”
Julie: In other words, eternal life is not a bribe as in, don't do that and you can win this. Eternal life is an extension of serving others and therefore the Lord. But in this world of minimum wage work days and saving up your money to buy a cooler car, most of us may not understand the idea of doing something with no expectation of a physical return. We are motivated by things, or fear, or desires for rewards and privilege, instant gratification or social acceptance.

Calvin: Yes, at least that’s how I understand it. It takes maturity and effort to raise our motivations from the simple and base to the more holy and Christ like.  As with every effort we make to be more like our Savior, Satan will attempt to trip us up and stop us at every turn.

Those who are still influenced entirely by pizza and x-box time, or “eternal damnation” will not understand.

Julie: So, you are saying there is something better than sex, and its obedience? However, straight people get to obey, be morally clean, and then marry and have all the pizza they want. How is that fair?

Calvin:  Well, that blows a hole right out of my buildup for my “Finding Something Better Than Pizza (SEX)” segment. I think I have an answer to that, but I want to be able to present it just right. Give me two pages for Ricky Reader and then I will tell you what I think about the fairness of marriage and then sex for straights, and chastity and then no sex for homosexuals.

Julie: Just don’t get sidetracked.

The Fractured Parable of Ricky Reader
Ricky can’t read and is flunking out of Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School. He has many school assignments that he is unable to complete due to his
Little Ricky Reader learns about Dick & Jane, Dr. Seuss, and eventually moves on to Hogwarts. His muggle parents give him a shilling a page to encourage him to keep reading. Ricky complies because he wants better marks at school, a social life and a ride on the Hogwarts Express during Christmas vacation.
He is a good kid who very much wants to make his parents proud and to get a truck with a roll-bar – though not necessarily in that order.
He practices his much-improved reading and comprehension skills on more challenging novels like those by Steven King, Dean Koonz, and Dan Brown. Richard Reader, (as he now prefers to be called) feeds his new-found hunger for knowledge and he is satisfied. Gosh darn it, he just loves to read!
Ricky gets hit by a truck. His last words are, “What do you think will happen if I ignore the flashing lights and cross here instead?” He dies in the street still clutching his Mary Higgins Clark mystery to his chest without ever knowing that there were better and thicker books he could have died holding. (Apologies to Sister Higgins Clark)  The End
Alternative, More Positive Ending at Both my Wife’s
& Julie's Insistence

Ricky, at the pleading of his girlfriend, crosses the walk at the intersection and all is well. He is then introduced to the works of William Shakespeare. He discovers all the clever insights and depth connected with classic literature and realizes that there is much more to learn than he ever had imagined.

Calvin:  I don’t know if I would have been able to come up with the idea on my own - the wider view that there is more out there to see and choose from than is sitting in front of me at the moment – if I hadn’t had teachers who knew when to yell warnings at me. They knew when to encourage me with tantalizing pieces of literature, or dangled a carrot (or a Twinkie) in front of me so I would look up and out and beyond.

There is more to read than Dr. Seuss – who books, by the way, I love dearly. There is more to eat than pizza. There is more to love than sex, and there is more to happiness than simply satisfying my own hunger and needs with the first thing I grab.

And maybe I have been staling a little because I don’t have an answer to Julie’s question!  I don’t know why straight people in the church can marry and have sex and fill all those physical/sexual/emotional desires, and gay people in the church cannot.

There were years when I felt that, due to homosexuality, my life would always be on hold because I couldn’t bridge homosexuality and Mormonism. Those that are both SGAttracted and Mormon often believe that the feelings they have now will always torment them and that the future holds only a dismal, empty world of loneliness and abstinence. Here is why; 

Mormons do not allow homosexuals to marry those of their own sex in the temple. Yet everything about the Mormon religion directs members to be worthy of a temple recommend so that temple marriage is a goal.

It seems unfair. And the idea that there is more to life than what we know today seems like an empty promise with no essence or enticement.

But I am obeying the commandment anyway.

Julie: I have felt that way, and I am not SGAttracted. I think everyone feels that way at different times in their lives. When we are going through challenges and trials it’s easy to forget that things will get better, often in ways we can’t even imagine.

Calvin: That we can’t imagine is a good point.  I can’t imagine with my natural senses how this can be resolved unless there is something going on that I can’t imagine, that I can’t comprehend, that has not been revealed remembering that there is much to be revealed. These cravings, urges, and hungers are God-given, inspired and exist to encourage us to yearn for something more, better and longer lasting than what we see in front of us now.

“How difficult it is to teach the natural man,” Brigham Young declared, “who comprehends nothing more than that which he sees with the natural eye! … Talk to him about angels, heavens, God, immortality, and eternal lives, and it is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal to his ears; it has no music to him; there is nothing in it that charms his senses, soothes his feelings, attracts his attention, or engages his affections...” 
Julie: Just being clear here, Calvin. You are saying that there is more to life than gay sex?  Because that’s not what gay people say. 

Calvin: I am trying to tell homosexuals who are also practicing Mormons and believe in eternal life that the Savior is telling us that there is something that we may not see or understand that will be worth the wait, worth the effort of staying morally clean, worth the effort of becoming morally clean.

And, surprisingly enough, we are still talking motivation here -- as in what could possibly motivate me to stay morally clean and active in the LDS Church while my friends who are gay and not in the Church are out having the time of their life – or so it seems. The answer is the Church and the teachings of Christ. Come follow me.  Do his will and you will be blessed more than your ability to receive blessings. If this appeals to you, the forfeiting sex in this life is worth it.

One last factor you may want to consider

It was the Spirit that confirmed the validity of that fireside of my youth. That was what touched my heart.  When I involved the Spirit in my goal setting, in my quest for self-betterment, I quickly tapped into the power of God. When I involve the Spirit, He will be there in those quiet moments when I am losing grasp of my motivation to do right.

The comforter will give comfort. He will also rekindle the fire that is our motivation.  When we rely on Him, we have the ultimate training partner. Involving the Spirit is our secret weapon.

Calvin:  I hate it when you have the last word.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.                                                                                                                                             Leonardo da Vinci - who was gay, BTW

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

In the news

Mormon church makes historic donation to LGBTQ support group Affirmation for suicide prevention training
By Kathy Stephenson
Published: 18 hours ago
Updated: 33 minutes ago

The LDS Foundation, the charitable division of the Mormon church, has donated $25,000 to an LGBTQ support group to pay for suicide prevention training.

The gift is being called historic by Affirmation members, who say it marks the first time The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked with the independent support group for gay Mormons.

“Over the past decade, we have really spent a lot of time building a productive relationship with the LDS Church to create a safe space for LGBTQ people,” Affirmation President Carson Tueller said in an interview.

Please see this article: