For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, 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.

- Mosiah 3:19

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Creature?

This weekend I lost my sobriety, and the reality of the situation, not matter which angle I looked at it, pointed to the following paradox: I want to be a faithful member of the church, but also want to be in a relationship with a man. While this simple paradox is not new or novel in any way, I think way too many church leaders, like my Bishop, for example, fail to grasp the depth of that tension.

My Bishop, often simply provides a rote script when I confess or when I meet with him about my challenges. I hear the following refrains: “your problem is not different from other people,” “a lot of members don’t know what their place will be in the church in the future,” “just apply the atonement,” and so on.

As I talked to my Bishop about the anonymous encounter I had, each one of these came out in varying combinations. It’s getting a little old, and becoming increasingly unhelpful. I know my Bishop had a crisis of faith and was inactive for some time, yet, the counsel he gives comes from a placed disconnected from that experience. It’s like when I was a missionary. I had memorized all six lessons and all the associated scriptures. My companion and I were “teaching” one woman; as I was reciting from memory the lesson – she put her hand up and said, “Stop. Talk to me!” I was taken aback. From that moment I recognized the value of leading with one’s weakness – that is sharing what one knows, being present with that person, not relying a formal or informal script.
I want my Bishop to stop and talk to me from his experience. Yet, he continues to distance himself from it and simply repeats what General Authorities say. I can get that from the General Conference Edition of the Ensign.

Elder Holland in a stake conference address to 63 stakes in Washington and Alaska stated, “The gospel of Jesus Christ offers all the answers to life’s questions.” While I believe that, I’m coming to believe that the answers often don’t come the way we expect. For example, my Bishop, I think feels that if I simply read the scriptures, pray, attend church, and cease my behavior that all the questions the complicate my desires to remain in the church will cease. This is apparently the model, there are necessary inputs which enters the black box of the atonement (black box in the sense that we don’t know what happens), but then it pops out a new person.

Yet, the empirical reality, at least for me, suggests that while appealing, it’s so much more difficult. I’m not sure what I’m writing today. But the point is I’m trying to just accept the fact that my Bishop doesn’t get it and will simply exert my every strength to see the keys he holds.

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