Friday, February 27, 2015

Who do I believe?

A reader brought up a decent point. He stated: "Believing that you are doing something that will affect eternity is powerful indeed. It doesn't even have to be true so powerful is it."

Well, that does present a real problem.  I don't want to be doing something simply because I have convinced myself it is the right thing to do. Recently I found out that I am diabetic. Who in their right mind would give up sugar and shoot up twice daily if it wasn't to get something better? -- in this case, the chance to live.

As a child like millions of others, I believed in Santa. The Easter Bunny always seemed ludicrous, but I got into the whole Santa thing. Even when I was older I still sooooo wanted to believe. I created my own little reality where Santa was a man that was so busy that he instructed parents around the world who then acted as his agents to make sure that worthy children received the gifts they rightly deserved. 

That lasted a year. By then puberty kicked in and I was too busy thinking about other things to worry about Santa. I had been so sure about the Santa thing. But I was mistaken.

So, what if we are putting our whole heart into religion, the Mormon church and the teachings of the gospel and it ends up that Jesus was/is just a good man who tried to keep us from killing ourselves?  

Let's say, for the sake of discussion, that we in the LDS church who are also, by definition members of the LGBT community (read - gay Mormons) are functioning under a premise that is mistaken -- our own little "If we are good then Santa will bring us gifts" premise.

The premise is this; if we live a good life we will go to heaven. (We will define good will be as following the commandments as stipulated by the prophets living and written.) How do we find out if we are being taken or not? 

For me there are two things I consider. First, what was in it for Christ to ask us to follow him. He was not political. There was nothing physically or monetarily for him to gain. He got nothing but grief and ended up dead. What would have been his motive if He wasn't who he said he was? What He asked us to do was be kind, be honest, and to focus on the needs of others. Doesn't seem super logical that it was some sort of scam.

Second, in order to know that I am not off on the wrong track, I would need to know the answers to the following questions; Do I believe in God?  Do I believe that He knows more than I do and that he has power that I do not have? Do I believe that He wants what is best for me?

Now that we have the questions established, who do we ask?  Who has the knowledge of things from the beginning of time?  Not John Dehlin. No one here on earth. 

Mormons believe that the third member of the Godhead is the Spirit, the Holy Ghost. He will testify to us when we ask with real intent. He will answer us. We do not need to go through anyone else for personal revelation. Not John Dehlin or anyone else here on earth.

  • I believe in God and that God has set standards.
  • I believe that the prophets speak for Him to instruct us while allowing us the freedom to choose for ourselves.
  • I believe that God is just and that he is in a position to judge.
  • I believe that God's knowledge is more than man's knowledge and that his power is more than man's power.

If I believe these things, and I do, then giving up something for something better in the long term is doable.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are gays asked to give up sex?

I received the following question/comment and I thought I would share part of it:

Is it realistic to ask anyone to remain celibate and alone their entire lives with no hope or chance of loving someone in every sense of the word? Even straight members who are single have the hope that they might meet someone to marry. Women who were single for a long time have even ended up marrying apostles! One could even marry a non-member and still remain an LDS Church member in good standing. The Church does not completely ban straight members from expressing physical love, it just asks that they wait until marriage. It even allows divorce and multiple marriages. Until the same kind of thing is fairly offered to gay LDS members (whether in the temple or not) the vast majority of LGBTQ members will separate from the Church.

First off, thank you for reading and feeling like you can comment on this blog. Regardless of the language or the point of view you are welcome here. I believe as this writer does, that there will be some who will leave the church, or will not choose to become part of the church because of this LGBTQ issue. (Is it me, or does the acronym appear to be growing?)

The thought was underlined for me during Sunday's ward conference when my friend the Bishop referenced the of the story of the young man who had everything and asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life. Jesus said…

19 Thou knowest the commandments,…

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, …

Interrupting the story. I love reading this, that Jesus acknowledged all the the young man had done already to follow the Savior.

21(Continued) …and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he (the young man) was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: 

The man turned and walked away. It doesn't say that he left the church, or that he stopped following the commandments. It doesn't state that he became bitter and started an anti Jesus web site. It doesn't say that he would not be welcomed into heaven. It simply says that he was sad and walked away. 

He appears to have been living a type of life where the Savior may have been calling him to a position. He was definitely being offered something more than what he had -- something of great value that the world wouldn't consider a step up.

This young man at the time of the story decided that what was being asked was too much for what he thought he would get in return.  Today, we have the same decisions to make -- if we believe what the Church teaches -- and I do.

So, the question is, would I be a modern version of the Young Man? Would I give up something important to me because I had been promised something I felt was better? Would I give it up simply because I was asked to by someone I respect and revere? 

To bring this home -- right to my house -- I think that I would.  I know that I have chosen to follow the commandments concerning sexuality. I am doing what has been asked of me, as Calvin Thompson. I am a gay man and I am choosing not to have sex with men. I am married to a woman and I am faithful. I am giving up something valuable for something even more so.

President Joseph F. Smith said: No man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it”.

President Smith also taught: “… if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment of God’s purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things of the world".

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The future of the Mormon church -- Not what you think.

Just working a comparison to see if it makes sense without oversimplifying. I tend to simplify.  It's the primary teacher in me.  

If the Catholic Church says it is not right to speak ill of ones neighbor, and is outspoken about it in the media, are they taking away any one's agency to gossip? I think most would say no. The pontiff may not be happy with your blog on Brenda's bad hair color, but it is your choice just the same.

Do the Catholics still have the right to speak out against speaking ill towards ones neighbors?  Do they have the right to say no to that on principal?

How about the gossipers or one who reserves the right to say what he wants about Brenda's hair color. Do they have the right to protest the churches stance on gossiping? 

This isn't really working, is it?  It's to simplistic. Of course I am trying to make the comparison to the LDS church and their stance against Gay marriage in the church.

Right off the bat one could say that no one is trying to affect laws that would dis-allow gossip. It is considered free speech -- free speech that some would not take part in -- but free speech all the same. In a similar fashion the LDS church is not currently pursuing any same sex marriage legislation after prop 8.  

From what I saw, once the courts disallowed the vote based on constitutional right, the church followed article of faith nine and accepted the law of the land.

The LDS church says that they don't believe that gays should be allowed to marry. 

  • They have the right to speak out. 
  • Others have the right to protest their opinion. 
  • Mormons have the right to not allow gays full fellowship in their organization. 
  • Others have the right to choose their religion and there are many that don't even have full fellowship in their vernacular. 
LGBT people can be Mormon and be in full fellowship by following the standards of the church. Lately, it seems, LGBT people who do not adhere to the standards of the church can more and more retain their membership depending often on the covenants they have made in the temple -- covenants to remain morally clean. 

It seems to me that there are few possible scenarios for the future.

1) The LDS church changes its doctrine and allows gays to marry in the temple. This would involve instruction from the Head of the Church. The real Head of the Church. Mormons believe in revelation from the Lord. For a doctrinal change the line of authority would be followed. This would be monumental.

2) New knowledge would be received and taught to the church leaders and then directly to the general membership that would make plain current doctrine . Mormons believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Is there more information available concerning gay marriage? 

3) The LDS church is forced by US law to allow gay marriages. This seems to be the doomsday church leaders reasonable foresee - the reason I believe that there is a push for religious rights to be acknowledged and maintained.  But before this scenario could happen, members would be required to marry civilly and later get sealed in the temple. Hanging by a thread, anyone?

Article of Faith 11: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stake President: in the hospital corridor: hit to the nards.

In the past several days I have been occupied as a mostly-human pin cushion at a Timpanogos Regional Medical Center. While I lay there trying to override my fear of enclosed spaces by mulling over my daughter's thought process in loaning me her stuffed ninja turtle, I thought about a lot of things.

Here is a short list of things I didn't think about while I was in the ICU for a few days.

I didn't think about the press release by the LDS church about religious rights. Didn't consider how many are up in arms trying to ensure that Mormons don't have a say in their marriage, or how Mormons are trying to protect their temple sealing

I didn't think about John Dehlin and his excommunication.

As gay as I am, I didn't think about LGBT rights or changes in how we write these rights down.

I did think of my bills and wondered how on earth I was going to get them paid. I thought of my daughter who is moving back in with two kids and a husband who disappears for a day or two and reappears as if all were normal.

I thought about the weather and it it was warm enough to re-paint the house and how I was going to lead the choir for ward conference in a hospital gown.

I barely thought about why BYU sports can be so brilliant one minute and then loose to a team like the Contra Costa Community Brown Rice the next.

Most of all I thought about my family and how my ailment would effect them. I thought of my wife who wouldn't get any sleep. And then I re-thought the bills thing.

I thought of my marriage and how my wife had threatened to kick our stake president in the nards if I died before he finished getting our temple sealing approved.

Now that I am back on the other side of the river, I will look up what happened to Brother Dehlin and see what new outrageous things was said from the extreme left or the extreme right about it. I will probably have a say.  In the meantime I have bills to pay and a wife to treat to a late Valentines day.

Who says that MarMoHos can't have a good life?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Married Mormon Homo

I print something like this every three months or so because I want people to know exactly where I stand...and exactly where I do not.

I am a Married Mormon Homosexual man. A MarMoHo. I have to hold my breath after saying those words. Someone usually makes a break for it or coughs up a lung.

I couldn't have mentioned my sexuality openly in the recent past without the women gathering their young-ones to their side or the men folk brandishing their muskets. The none-pioneer, modern day 3-D equivalent is just as bad: Distrust, Disdain, and Disinfectant.

And I am in the closet. The walk in to be exact. That is where my office is since I had my oldest daughter move back in with two and a half grand kids. Don't ask.

Add cottage cheese and pineapple
I have always been a homosexual Mormon man, though the specific age has varied – man child, young man, college man, taxpayer man, and now sorta old ma... never mind. By the same token, I have always been a Mormon of the “dyed in the wool, true blue, through and through” variety. 

So far, I can't be shaken (knock on wood or wood by-products). I was born into an LDS family and through pain, pride and prayer I have always come back to my Church - sometimes from a great distance, sometimes not.

I am so proud of my religion that I don’t care what others call it; Mormon, LDS, or Latter-day Saint, nor do I care about the popular misconceptions. I was once asked on my mission if I was embarrassed that the Spanish definition of the word "Mormon" was “a polygamous sect”.

No I wasn't embarrassed. I was a Mormon, I knew what it truly meant to be a Mormon, and I was proud of my heritage – regardless of what others thought. This made it easier to take when I was asked about my wives ( I rattled off some horribly ugly made up names until they laughed, and then I told them, to my companions disdain, what chores I had assigned them. I responded in a friendly way to "hey you J-dub", or “Hola CIA.”

Once I was asked if I would put 100 Lempira on Honduras in the World Cup -- like I had a special gringo bookie.

Call me anything these days – as long as you call, and I will tell you how vital to me my membership is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

By the same token, my homosexuality – like my religious beliefs, has never been a question for me. I am tall, I am a Mormon, I am slightly arrogant, I like tangy taffy and I am homosexual. My attraction, regardless of whatever popular semantic assigned it, has been such from the beginning.

I am proud of who I am. And yet, you may have noticed that I am writing this blog, and an upcoming book, anonymously. Why do I go by Calvin Thompson and not my real name?

It is true, I haven't gone to much length to keep my identity known, and anyone who wants to putting in the effort could figure it out in a hurry.

Frankly I am more than OK putting my name out as a MarMoHo but my wife is not, and while she does not, I will not do it. But I have been around the proverbial block and someone should benefit from all the millage.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Do Mormons have the right to discriminate?

I am sure you have heard by now. Several general authorities, who are leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for legislation that protects “vital religious freedoms”.

After you have read this, move over the site and see what was actually said. Don’t Google the fake news channels to see what someone thinks about what was said and why the church is wrong. That is like listening to a Ute fan describe the good points of BYU co-eds.

The LDS Church also said it would support legislation where it is being sought to provide protections in housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections Here are three key points from that press release.

1) The Church supports “fairness for all” including LGBT people while protecting key religious rights

2) People are being publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election. This is just as wrong as persecution or retaliation against LGBT people.
3) The church seeks a balanced approach between religious and gay rights.

The church also admitted that this is a highly polarized discussion and that neither side, politically, may get all that they want. As per the site “We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values". This seems very straight forward

It is crucial to point out that the LDS church was not calling for changes internally to the Law of Chastity, a requirement of the LDS church for full membership that discourages sex outside the bounds of marriage, nor were there changes to the status of gay marriage within the policies of the church. There was no shift in doctrine.

Some people are claiming that the LDS church is looking for special privileges and rights. I spent parts of two days arguing this on a Facebook site. The gentleman I spoke with was smarter than I and he used troglodyte in a sentence which was impressive.

Here is a statement made on social media sometimes in the last two days, and I will paraphrase:

"By extending special legal protections toward a group one can belong to by choice, (the Mormon church) society effectively allows anybody to choose to receive the benefit of the special status granted to that group."

If this statement is true, then what is the special status that will be allowed to Mormons or any other religious group if such a bill is passed?

The law would support the free exercise of religion, prohibit any infringement of freedom of speech, or infringement of our freedom of the press. It would also prohibit interfering with the right to peaceably assemble.

Sound familiar? It was adopted on December 15, 1791 as one of the ten amendments that constitute our Bill of Rights. Which brings us to these two thoughts.

1) So, why are we re-establishing the amendments?  
I'm not sure, but it is all the rage. Laws have been created that make crimes against certain groups worth more time in jail than the same crime against your standard Joe. Maybe we, as a society, need reiteration of current laws in order to have significance. If this is true, then that doesn't bother me. Lets re-ratify them all --  as long as it means that we are treating people with love and respect.

2) Why is there a loud contingent of social media that do not support the idea of religious rights as recently stated by the Mormon Church?  

I don't know this either, but me tell you what I think. "They" will not support anything that allows the church to publicly state standards that do not appeal to the majority or to their sensibility. 

There is a huge issue with tithing. There are people who do not want to be forced to pay it. Others are not OK with the law of chastity, and if the Mormons have that standard and they do not want to follow, they are opposed to it. Not allowing non recommend holders to witness temple ceremonies is another.

Then their are the big ticket items. Women not being allowed to hold the priesthood and subsequently not being allowed into many leadership roles. Huge. And gay people, sex, chastity and not being able to be actively gay and be in full membership. Huge issue.

Yes, this is over simplistic and is a generalization.   

So, Mormons hitching their issue to the gay rights star?  I don't have a problem with it. Rights for all, I say. At least someone is getting hitched.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Popular Questions, unpopular answers

Popular question:  Does the Mormon Church allow gay people full benefits of participating in their organization?

My answer:  Yes. I am gay and I have a temple recommend. To have "temple privileges," and full membership status, one needs to follow the law of chastity. They must also pay tithing (10 percent of their income) to the church, and must attend church regularly on whenever possible.

Many do not choose to qualify for temple privileges 
for whatever reason, and no one is going to put them down or consider them faulty or unbelieving. Mormons do not look down on anyone who is not interested in attending the temple. 

OK, there are a few people who do but they are, for lack of a better term, ignoramuses and one is not concerned about their opinion. These are often the same people who look down their noses at tattoos, the smell of cigarette smoke and tube tops. 

I have no problem with a tube top or a correctly punctuated tat.

Being able to enter a LDS temple is something most members of the LDS church look forward to and prepare for. The qualifications to enter the temple in question form are available on the internet. I tried to put a few of them here, but it just didn't feel right.

Know this: If you follow the rules regardless of color, race, sexual preference, or political persuasion (I am probably leaving somebody’s category out) then you can have a temple recommend. It’s that simple. 

It’s not simple at all, but it's that universal.

Is someone who chooses not to follow these rules discriminated against or subjected to unequal treatment? I say no. If I want a driver’s license, I know what rules I need to follow. If I want a Labrador, I know what hoops I need to jump through to get one responsibly and maintain the pet legally. It is not an injustice perpetuated toward me if I am not willing to do what it takes. 

If I do not follow the rules, should I have the license or the pet? I say no. 

A temple recommend is not a right.  Membership in the LDS church is not a right. It is an option, an opportunity and a privilege for those who value it.

Choosing to do or to do otherwise is a right.