Friday, December 16, 2016

Chapter Two of the Big Gay Mormon Book

Picking teams  
or Are gay people the good guys or the bad guys? 

This is chapter two of  "They That Be With Us - Understanding the link between Gay and Mormon"  Please leave any notes or questions or write me at calvinthompson.cal@gmail.com

Calvin: King Benjamin, the sons of Mosiah, and Ammon and his many, many arms have become a huge source of inspiration for me. In fact, I was the one who wrote the very first “Book of Mormon Musical” when I was ten, and I played Nephi, Zorom and the all the Laman-knights.

Not indecently, King Benjamin’s talk is where I learned that as a gay young man I was an enemy to God.

There were other things I learned in my teen-aged years that were not nearly as painful as being considered God’s enemy. For example, I learned any one of my sisters would not hesitate to sell me out for a Charleston Chew. I learned that Lady Blakney, our cow, turned out to be the answer to that age old question “what’s for dinner” and that dad had a good reason when he told us not to flush Tupperware lids down the toilet. 

As horrible as it was for me to learn during my thirtieth summer that mothers didn’t last forever, even that was more palatable to me than having been put in the same ugly category with those who lived counter to Heavenly Father and his purpose.

“For Calvin Thompson, who is only a sort-of-man (being gay and not as clever or cool as he doth think in his heart to be), is an enemy to God, and has been ever since he found gay pornography in a rest room and hid it in his violin case.” -The Book of Cal

When I looked in the mirror I didn’t see an enemy of God. I saw myself as one who was “On the Lord's Side, Who…”.  I went to Church, I was really good at scripture chase, I could lead the singing and use the words “thee” and “thine” correctly in prayer. I memorized all the routes for passing the sacrament, wore a white shirt fresh from the dryer and tied a brilliant full Windsor knot. Surely those considered “On the Lords Side, Who...” were guys like me that combed their hair and tried not to watch TV on Sundays. 

“For the natural man is an enemy to God,” Mosiah 3:19

Was Benjamin talking about my inclination towards men?  The opinions I heard expressed at church was that there was nothing more unnatural than desiring ones same gender. I heard that scripture supported sentiment in Sunday school class, in priesthood and again in the foyer from people who didn’t know anyone was listening -- a terrific way to check any groups practical pulse. 

However my feelings toward men seemed as natural and effortless as rearranging the living room furniture or color coordinating my sock drawer. I didn’t go out and hunt for these feelings; I didn’t raise my hand, volunteer or pick gay from a catalog.

And suddenly there was some ridiculous and arbitrary line drawn in the sand and it was right at my feet. Those on the other side were straight and could choose to go to heaven. Those on my side of the line were not going anywhere near heaven and apparently there was no choice involved -- no agency whatsoever. The whole thing sounded so… Old Testament

This was not the Heavenly Father that I knew, who I had learned about in primary and who I considered my loving and caring Heavenly Father. This was a fire and brimstone, B-movie Zeus with bad effects.

The whole thing freaked me out. I was now the bad guy - the guy in the black hat. 

The iron rod had somehow split in two. It had to have. I was off in a different direction and I had never let go of the dang thing. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In my natural form with God given talents, abilities and inclinations I was God’s enemy.
  
Well, I didn’t want to be his enemy. I wanted to be his son. I wanted his love and admiration. I wanted his trust. I wanted to be on His side and to be counted among His. I wanted the white hat, the girl everyone said I should I should want, the sunset and all else that went with it.

Maybe I was so freaked out by what I first read at age thirteen that I was too worked up to hear anything else. I should have kept reading.

“…and will be (an enemy), forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a  saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a  child submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (The rest of the Mosiah 3:19)

Directly from the Guide to the Scriptures on LDS.org, the natural man is "A person who chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Such a person can comprehend physical things but not spiritual things. All people are carnal, or mortal, because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Each person must be born again through the atonement of Jesus Christ to cease being a natural man."

Combining our collective wisdom - King Benjamin’s and mine - to remain “On The Lords Side, Who…” meant to follow His commandments, submit to His will and trust that I would never be tempted past my ability to withstand or overcome.

When I follow the commandments I move past what the normal, natural guy does regardless of his sexual orientation. At that point I am “On the Lords Side, Who…”, and heir to His glory  - willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon (me).

Calvin’s Quick Tangent Alert (Thus the tangerine-orange color). My dictionary says “inflict” means to exact, impose, or cause. Could that mean that homosexuality, then; is something caused by the Lord? That it has been exacted, or measured out and given to me?
I am not learned enough to know. But I do believe that any actions we take or behaviors we choose are our own. Does Heavenly Father place a few roadblocks in our path for us to overcome? Could His question for me be, “Will you obey me even if you are gay?”

In my observation, the natural “heterosexual” man doesn’t seem to any closer to God than the natural “homosexual” man. Perhaps ones sexual inclination is truly personal and individual as each human being is. Perhaps both are men who have been asked by the Lord to obey the commandments He set out for us, and in doing so we overcome “the natural man”. The commandments are for all men, and God, to my understanding, has made no distinction between peoples.

Julie: I’m not sure I get what you are saying. Are you telling me that because I have the natural temptation to lie, that it’s somehow because God made me that way?

Calvin: No. And when you put it that way, something seems wrong. I would never equate feelings of same gender attraction with sin. I do not believe they are sinful. Acting in a way contrary to laws of morality for any gender regardless of sexual attraction is the problem. If we use lying as a simile, then we would have to state it like this: The act of lying is a wrong.  However, the feelings behind the lie may not be.
Do you feel vulnerable? That’s not wrong. 
Do you feel the need to protect? Not wrong.
Is your untruth-telling filling a need to be better, or an attempt to build up a fragile ego? Those feelings are not wrong, and they may lead to great self-discovery. The lie itself is the wrong part.

Julie: I get that. We are talking about the motivations and feelings versus our choices and actions. I completely agree with that.

Calvin:  It doesn’t seem like the difference is all that critical.  Unless you are the one assigned a black hat.

Again with the good guy or bad guy thing

Julie:  So, in this story here, does being gay make you the good guy or the bad guy?

Calvin:  Neither. I am neither the good guy nor the bad guy based on my sexuality. Innate, enhanced or acquired sexuality is not the deciding factor for hero or villain status.
Here is the issue described plainly:

Simply being attracted to someone of the same gender is not a sin. There are many members of the Church who may have some manifestation of that attraction. They honor their covenants, they keep the commandments, they are worthy. They can receive the blessings of the temple and they can serve in the Church. It is when we act on the inclination or the attraction—that's when it becomes a sin. -  Elder David A. Bednar


God is no respecter of persons and sexual preference does not, in and of itself, connote spirituality or lack thereof. Homosexual feelings are simply feelings. Regardless of my sexuality, I can be the guy who’s on the Lords side. I can be the one the Lord can count on when He calls for men and women to stand for Him. Good people, regardless of sexual designation or orientation will stand for what the Savior stands for. Consider this scripture from Moroni.

11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.  
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for everything which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. 
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
Understanding what the Lord asks of us and then making a choice to do that very thing is good. A choice to be disobedient is bad. Enough bad choices and that’s where the black hat comes in. The consequences are inherent.  Whether or not I am an enemy to God depends on my actions and the efforts I make.  I do have a say in the matter.
I like having a say.

Those who are “on the Lord’s side, who?” are those who follow His commandments, who invite others to do good, and who persuade others to believe in Christ. Those not on His side are those who persuade others to disallow the commandments - those who have had a clear understanding of Him and have believed in Him and then deny Him (one must believe in a thing to deny it).

Julie: I don’t want my son, or anyone’s child thinking they are the bad guys because of their sexuality. We all have challenges at one time or another. Heavenly Father loves us, and struggling with temptations is par for the course he has created for us. I want to help our children understand that they can be gay and still wear the white hat.  I want my gay son to know that.

Calvin: Then this chapter was a good thing.




2 comments:

  1. What IS "the natural man?" I have never really understood this. Even though I am a believing member of His Church, I have had feelings for my fellow MEN for most of my life! I have tried to fight against them, I have also "given in to them" at times. I am ashamed of who I am! I don't think this is what God has in mind for many of his children. I am still troubled by this question!

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    Replies
    1. It's a good question. Directly from the Guide to the Scriptures on LDS.org, the natural man is "A person who chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Such a person can comprehend physical things but not spiritual things. All people are carnal, or mortal, because of the fall of Adam and Eve. Each person must be born again through the atonement of Jesus Christ to cease being a natural man."

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