Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Bishop's Guide: Same-Sex Attraction

The Bishop's Guide: Same-Sex Attraction is out. Sort of. I can find a cashed version only, so I think it has been retracted for reasons unknown, which is too bad -- unless they are re-vamping it. Revamping it may be a positive thing.

As a gay man in the church, I and I mean, really, really in, I found an area or two that I would adjust -- if I were to be asked. 

I consider logging on to this blog my being asked, so here goes.

Protecting every member of our camp
I can’t go through and tell you what I liked about it. I can encourage you to look it up and read for yourself. There was/is/was too much to like and I would have to cut and paste quote it too often.

I will quote this: “Recognize that same-sex attraction is a mortal experience,not an eternal identity”. This is something that I have always believed through and through.

The few things I might adjust, if I had the charge to do so?

First, the resource steers clear of calling a ham a ham. There is no use of the word gay for instance. We in the church insist on using our own language instead of the words homosexuals use for themselves/ourselves. I don‘t use the wording “same sex” anything when speaking to a fellow gay man because it is offensive. Making up your own label and refusing to acknowledge common usage for my sexual orientation seems arrogant, regardless of intent -- and I am a full on, card carrying, tithe paying, primary teaching member.

Second: I have never heard that I may be gay because I am lonely, an idea from the directive. I will have to research that. Frankly, (and slightly sarcastically) I thought I was gay because I sexually prefer my own gender.

The directive encourages homosexuals to avoid same-sex sexual fantasies. I would take issue with this except that, not only does it make sense in a spiritual setting, it is something asked of straight members alike. Letting virtue garnish our thoughts is something advised to everyone. ("We still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts").

We shall overcome. I generally appreciate the thought that, if I continue to try hard, to endure, I will have victory. That I will win my battle, that I can someday be healed. But frankly, it may be up to know one but me and the Lord what I am battling against. I am not battling what most -- even what I feel -- are god given (or at least allowed) sexual feelings. Today I am battling getting a better job.

While battling, however, I have to look at the role of the church, which is to bring us closer to the savior and to get us back to the presence of God. If this is their, the leaders of the LDS church’s job, (acknowledging that I believe they have the authority to speak for the savior), I may want to involve them in decisions I make -- like any straight man would do as well. Being gay does not absolve me from thoughts, feelings and actions.

Also included is reference to this notion: Homosexuality is a challenge or an obstacle, or worse, and that homosexuals could be healed if they wanted healing, or if they tried harder, or were more faithful. The lord allows us our experiences for a reason, and that reason may not be known to man.

"…(We) urge you to distance yourself from those who see nothing wrong with same-sex attraction. Avoid places frequented by those who are involved in this lifestyle…” Again, this would be offensive if it weren’t standard procedure for everyone in the church.

The assumption that homosexuality is wrong, mistaken, or an error is where the concern is for me, and not the advise in how to control it (like straight guys are asked to control their behaviors, BTW) Comparing sexual attraction to lying, theft, word of wisdom infractions, gambling, etc. is still problematic. At the very least, what happened to the recent behavior -vs.- feelings or inclinations? We were doing so well.

"I know some people who struggle with same-sex attraction experience the burden being lifted entirely; they’re able to overcome it. That’s not the case for me. I still struggle with emotions or thoughts from time to time, and it takes strength and energy to manage them. I also know people who may not have the blessing of having it somewhat alleviated, as I have. I don’t know why people face challenges—this one or any other—with such different outcomes, but I do know that our God is not a cruel god. And I know that obedience brings peace."

This is bound to raise hackles, but I gotta say, and because I gotta I’m gonna, It doesn’t with me. I mostly tend to agree with this quotations - as long as the person involved sees it as something to be cured or eliminated.

But these people who are claimed to be “cured” are a small minority. Very small. I, and I consider myself on the front of the gay Mormon world, do not know one person who would even claim to have been cured, though I do know several guys who are in a opposite sex marriage, and most will not speak of their relationship in public. There is nothing to be won for these men in the current environment by talking about their sex lives out loud, and it is usually painful for our wives regardless of how “spiritual” they are.

"'Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip into such practices again…” There are LDS cads who have married a woman knowing that they had no intention of being faithful. I don’t feel that this is the rule. Most men go into marriage with every intention of keeping convents. I did. All I can say is that I have a temple recommend and I am worthy to use it.

Lastly, as with many religions, the thought process expressed here is that if we just get through life we will be rewarded. I am not doubting or condemning this thought. But I am not going to wait until I die to be happy, and I do not believe that it should be required for anyone to postpone their happiness until the next life and “just get through somehow.”

"… the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven makes provision for individuals who seek to keep His commandments but who, through no fault of their own, do not have an eternal marriage in mortal life. As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy…"

So this is my advise to gays reading this opinion and the directive to bishops. who want to stay in the church: don’t knock yourselves off to get to a better life. That is not the point of this directive from your leaders. Please don’t deprive us of your presence because you will be happier in the after life.

According to LDS doctrine, all of us will be happier in the after life. Live with us, and enjoy your life. The after will come after. Life.

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