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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seeing through a Glass Darkly

I don't really know what or where I'm going anymore. Deep down there's a conviction that burns, but not hot enough, to bring me a sense of purpose. I realized the other day that I'm afraid and angry with God.

Why? In part because I know what I am doing is wrong, but I feel no power to stop. I'm angry because I can't sense His power in helping me stop. I'm angry with Him, because I feel abandoned by God. I can't seem to align my will with His. Yet, I continually try to find relief and respite in the haven of theorizing and thought experiments, as if intellectualizing the foundational elements of the ontology of Heaven I can tell God how to make room for His gay children in the Heavenly order. What presumption! What arrogance! What fear of surrender!

I decided I would re-start a practice I have since long abandoned. When I was missionary I picked up a habit that persisted for several years after the mission, despite the turmoil I went through. I read the Book of Mormon 12 times as a missionary, in my study, I would ask myself, "How does this bring me closer to the Savior?" after each verse. I would ponder on that question until I could make the connection between each verse or passage. Somehow this brought me intellectually to the knees of my Creator.

I continue to resist surrender. But I hope this small steps signify at least willingness to be a part of the economy of heaven.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reflexive Thinking

So I've taken to thinking deeply about why homosexuality itself is sinful. It seems that much of the discourse pivots and rests on the one-dimensional issue of sex. As I've thought about how mortality is to (some measure) reflect the eternities, it seems to me that homosexuality is sinful not because of the act of sex, but rather because that type of relationship deviates from the assumption that celestial marriage and deification rests on a norm of heterosexuality. If that is the case, then we must assume that Heavenly Father and Mother are in a heterosexual marriage and further that they must procreate in the same manner as mortals do. While this is certainly pure speculation, it does beg a number of questions. Perhaps one day when I'm not terribly busy writing my dissertation I can attempt to address them in some meaningful way.

I met a guy the other day. He's religious gay Jew - incredibly bright, kind and articulate. We talked about G-d and the foundational commandments in Genesis and he shared with me the midrash or technique of studying the Torah (or the first five books of Moses). It's amazing how much talking with people in similar crisis of identity and faith brings one a sense of hope! He recommended a book, so I'm now reading "Wrestling with God and Men" by Steven Greenberg - so far I'm digging it. More so for helping me to expand my lexicon for talking about homosexuality and more importantly for helping to quell the internal burning questions, or at least put them at ease.

I've been sober now for several weeks. And I feel great. I hope it continues. The guy I met, while attractive and bright, is merely a friend. It's nice being able to talk with people not in the church at deep and meaningful levels where conversation is not bounded by normative injunctions of appropriateness. Being able to explore the spectrum of a single question is wonderful.

Reading this literature and having conversations is a way for me "study it out in my mind..." In all of this I am simply humbled by the expressions of God's love. I read in the Book of Mormon daily, and today I read of how Nephi "persuades the Lord" to cause a famine in the land. The famine came but affected the righteous and "wicked," yet that famine was also a mechanism or expression of God's love. The famine was to persuade those to see God, or rather to see how hopeless their lives were and to seek a Higher Power that could save them physically and spiritually.

The more I read in the discourse on sexuality and religion and talk with gifted friends (like my gay Jewish friend), the more I realize how little I know. He is coming to sense the same, as a result we come to find ourselves stretched in prayer seeking guidance to make sense of our lives and live in way that comports with Heaven.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Becoming my father

I received an email from my dad the other day. It is clearly evident he loves me. I have kept him apprised of my situation and progress (or lack thereof). His note was compassionate and caring, but also firm. I think for the first time I am having a real conversation with my dad about me, speaking undiluted truth from me to him - it's a little scary, but it feels good. I implicitly trust him; he is careful in what he says. He measures his words, thinks before he speaks, and speaks truth sharply but with great love. I've seen that repeated over and over with my brothers and sisters, with extended family who come to him for counsel and with others who approach him for advice.

I love my father and hope one day to be like him. He is intelligent, hard working, kind, loving, compassionate, creative, tender, gentle, firm, faithful, a sharp critical thinker, and empathetic. When I think of a person who is righteous, I think of my father. He has trials but pushes through them with a remarkable child-like faith in God, while still maintaining a critical eye of the institutions that shape human behavior. I admire him, love him, and miss him. I feel like I'm coming to know him (like my Father in Heaven) for the first time. For years, while I repressed my feelings and tried to live up to the normative expectations (including the heterosexual injunctions), I failed to connect to my father on a deeply personal level.

Now that I've been able to be open with him and show complete vulnerability. I am able to share with him my deficits in faith and my myopia in seeing own eternal worth and value. While he aches for me in the pain I feel, he desires that I be happy in the eternal sense of the term, though he does understand that at times getting at that perspective often requires some to wade through the mud before they realize it only makes them dirty.

He was incredibly sensitive to the extreme difficulty in the de facto path for me to remain in the church: celibacy. He simply observed that it's a difficult path for anyone to be called to live, that it takes more than simple prayer, scripture study and attending church and a superficial connection to the Atonement. Rather he noted that doing so would be an incredibly difficult daily experience knowing that I could never have what my heart desires, and knowing how difficult it is to maintain that hope in the resurrection, but that each day will be difficult, but that through consistent sincere fasting and surrender to God daily, enabled by kind people of faith who empathize with that difficulty, then perhaps I might be able to honor my covenants.

I love my father, even more now than I ever have. When I grow up I would like to be like him.