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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loss of Faith in Jesus Christ

I realized today, or rather finally admitted to myself that I've lost faith in Jesus Christ. While I do not doubt His existence, nor do I not disbelieve in His Divine Sonship, I've lost faith in His healing power.

This is hard to admit, and more difficult to write about. I've spent the last two years convincing myself that because I had an experience that produced the spiritual knowledge in me that God lives, that Jesus is His Son, that that somehow compensated and produced the sufficient salvific knowledge.

This morning I read "Fundamental Premises of Our Faith" by Elder Oaks, there was a section in there that gave me more than a moments pause; rather it has consumed my day. Speaking on the purpose of mortal life, Elder Oaks explains, "Our theology begins with the assurance that we lived as spirits before we came to this earth. It affirms that this mortal life has a purpose. And it teaches that our highest aspiration is to become like our Heavenly Parents, which will empower us to perpetuate our family relationships throughout eternity."

The section I bolded that gave me pause. I realized then how far my desires and actions have drifted from purpose of mortal life. I do research in organizational behavior and realized that mission drift or mission creep often leads to inefficiencies in organizational performance. Drawing on that idea, the mission of God, and one that I sustained in the pre-earth life, is to work together with God, toward my immortality and eternal life. Implicit in that "mission" is the aspiration to become like Father.

I realized on the bus to campus that I've drifted from that purpose, and that I try to adapt to my surroundings and call that independence and freedom. The reality is as I've consciously chosen to stop praying, and reading the scriptures, that the aspiration of becoming like Father has weakened. As a result of it weakening, I've come to not see the purpose of a Savior (at least in my life). While I don't disbelieve in Jesus, I've simply lost faith in His ability to make me like Him and Father.

It's a thing of pride, I continue to try to convey (however much a pretense it is) to others that I am "abiding" in my covenants, buttressed there by faith in Jesus. The reality is I am not abiding in Christ. Rather, I've come to revel somewhat in the loss of faith, as it has enabled me to position myself in such a way as to keep His influence at bay. By that I mean, I control fully and often willfully His presence in my life. The loss of faith in His abilities positions me to think more critically (or I suppose) about my condition, my life, and my future in the "Kingdom." Yet, when I'm truthful, the power of His influence is stronger than my own willful desires to keep Him away.

I don't know what healing looks like, but I do know that God the Father is real; I do know that He loves me. Given that I've lost sight of the goal - that I've drifted from the mission of Heaven - I seek to re-establish that aspiration to become like Father. And today I realized that I cannot do that on my own. John 15:5 makes that evidently clear, " I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." I might add, "for without me ye can become nothing."

A sobering thought. As I come to re-appreciate the Christ in my life, perhaps my faculties will awake and arouse to the reality of my aspirations, that I do seek to become like Father. I sure hope that it can be re-kindled, because right now, that is no desire of mine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Queering Mormonism?

My place in the church is always a topic that consumes much of my thinking. I was recently reflecting, with a friend, about failure. The idea of being a spectacular failure is exciting to me! As a previous post indicated, there are logics of success implicit in the church culture and its doctrine. I certainly have no problem interrogating either of those logics, but still maintain a high degree of deference for the logic of success as articulated by the doctrine. Now the logic of success connected to the church culture is a whole 'nother matter. I have no problem pushing back on this, critiquing it and even moving for changes in that logic.

Yet, that logic, which is simply this:
1. If you're obedient God blesses you.
2. You can know if God blesses you because you're happy.
3. You're happy because of blessing materialize as tangible things.
4. You're happy because your framework of viewing the world does not upset the white heterosexual norms.
5. The more material success you have, the blessings God has bestowed upon you. This material success is connected to succeeding in the capitalist framework.

In a nutshell, the logic goes like this if you strive for the image of a white upper-middle class person, you're most likely a person of faith, as you continue to shed any cultural values or traditions that threaten the white upper-middle class status you're viewed as a success, as you don't shed it, you're viewed as a failure.

Sadly, I see this operating within the culture of the church at so many different levels. If I wear a white shirt, cut my hair, shave my beard, come to three hour blocks of church, wear a tie, shine my shoes, then somehow that is an indication of closeness and proximity to God, and therefore faithfulness. Certainly there are other aspects that could come under scrutiny, but I'll stop there. I'm not entirely clear how any of this is systematically derived from the doctrinal framework. This certainly deserves critique, and most of my resentments and struggles with the church, stem from attempts to compare my "waivering" of faith from this norm, and not necessarily the norm established by the doctrine.

The logic of success connected to the doctrine is simple and beautiful!
1. Express a willingness to believe Jesus Christ and do His will.
2. Doing so makes a you success in the arena of Heaven.

What can I say about this? Certainly there are other aspects, but the logic connected to success in the gospel is contingent not necessarily on the actually doing, but on simply the willingness to believe and exerting whatever energies one possesses to act on that willingness. I think that's pretty amazing.

Yet, with both logics I often come up short and am considered a failure. In one it's easier to see that I'm a failure, while the other is much more difficult, given the expansive understanding God has of me and the many factors that shape my current thinking and actions.

I'm coming to think more and more that what one scholar noted, that the notion of queer "gets a critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than the heterosexual, and normal includes normal business... . " I like how this scholar implicitly defines queer as being against the normal. I think the norm in the church is the logic of success connected to church culture, while the "deviant" is the logic of success connected to the doctrine, where failure is hard to articulate and even identify.

Yet sadly, many members of the church tend to interpret the logic of the doctrine from the perspective of the logic of its culture, or rather they don't seem to see the difference.

I am queer (that is, not the norm), and am very pleased with that fact, I take some measure of pride in it. I've often never fit the norm, though there have been valiant attempts. Even relinquishing and coming to terms with the fact that I will never marry a woman (at least in mortality) is a may be considered successful.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


So I've slipped into a pattern; I act out on Saturday nights. I maintain sobriety and composure during the week, even on Friday night, but come Saturday night around 11pm I start to ruminate on the supposed emptiness of my life, and I start to yearn for something, for someone to fill that void. I grab my phone to start cruising grindr and craigslist and I eventually find someone. This leads to acting out, sometimes the guy wants help "filling his tank" and so I oblige. Other times, they just come and go.

I realized how the last two times I acted out on my need for connection, that I was simply being used: objectified, something was being taken from me, I was taking something from them.

Let me explain...As I struggle to find my place as a gay man in the Church, or rather as I struggle to define my relationship with the Church as a gay man, I hit on a tension - a seemingly irresolvable tension around being lonely for mortality or having a meaningful relationship. Of course, this is an old trope that causes such crisis in so many, as it revolves around the doctrine of family.

Anyhow, this struggle leaves me feeling isolated, angry, resentful, which then leads me to resolve finding a partner. But in the process of finding a partner, the truths that I've uncovered from my interactions with the divine, lead me away from finding a partner, and I'm left feeling angry and lonely, so then instead of finding a partner, I resort to a brief connection with some anonymous person. I use them to fill this void in me, they use me for their purposes.

Several weeks ago, as I was in the process of acting out with one of these guys, he asked me if he and his twin brother could come over the next day and do this again. After he asked this I said no and asked him to leave. What stung the most was the way he said this; it was the first time I felt a sense of my humanity being taken from me (it may have always been that way), and it hurt deeply. I felt used, I felt like an object whose sole purpose was to "pleasure" this man and his brother. I felt sick.

You'd think that experience was sufficient to bring me a moment of clarity and to bring me back to sanity - alas, the addicts mind is fucked up. And so that's how my mind works. I tried my best to get through Saturday night without acting out. A number of things triggered this last episode. One guy I had coffee/tea with, I realized was not interested in me. I felt rejected. So in an attempt to pre-empt acting out, I dropped my phone and laptop off with a friend Saturday night. It was terribly difficult to do, but I let it go and did not act out Saturday night. I woke Sunday morning sober. It was thrilling, then I went to church and it was all down-hill from there. What is about church that makes me feel so crappy, out of place, and lonely? I suppose that's a rhetorical question, I know what it is. But then I came home feeling lonely, and alienated, picked up my phone and laptop and then started cruising ads again to medicate my loneliness.

Sunday evening a guy responded and came over. I opened the door, he walked in, said nothing. I led him to bedroom and then he opened my pants and proceeded to give oral sex. After it was over, he got up, did not look at me and simply walked out. It was a horrible feeling - I felt more alone than before he showed up. He took from me what he was seeking, and I tried to take from him, but I took nothing. Rather I was left with nothing, I was left with a feeling of shitty-ness.

That night before bed, I dropped to my knees and simply blurted, "God, please help me; save me from myself..." It was a sincere pleading. I don't know exactly what kind of help God will give, but I'm getting closer to realizing that I do not have to control nor have expectations about the kind of help He will provide. My responsibility is to simply be grateful for every hour I'm sober and thank God for His help that hour.

Perhaps in that process I will come to resolve the seemingly irresolvable.