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, October 17, 2012


I fed the missionaries two days ago. Good, upstanding young men. One had posed the question on whether I was happy and content before I "came out." I paused and reflected on that question before I answered. Truth is I'm not entirely sure. This raises and perhaps even begs a larger question about the nature of happiness itself. I told the missionary, who seemed quite genuine in his query, (as I have a tendency to call missionaries out when deferring to robotic or routinized interaction) that the nature of what I feel is quite different.

To wit, when I was "struggling" to remain faithful and honor my covenants, my relationship with God and the Savior was conditioned on how well I lived up to both the putative (or self-imagined) and real cultural and social expectation of my family, the church community, and my limited understanding of God and the nature of things Divine. Under these conditions, my happiness was inherently tied to fulfilling imagined expectation of myself and others about our place before God. Thus, I'm not certain if I ever felt happiness in the measure it was intended. Sure, there were times I felt happy, because I fulfilled this or that expectation. But it was not lasting. Yet, I was more or less technically obedient.

In the last year, I've experienced love and happiness in ways I've never thought I could. I can say confidently that I am happy now, I feel content, I feel a sense of relief, a freedom from expectations that once determined my level of happiness. I am now happy in spite of those expectations. I feel a measure of God's love for the first time, as it has been shown to me through my parents.

And this is question that is both raised and begged: What is the nature of happiness?

I've asked this question before, more specifically what is the qualitative difference between "Mormon happiness" and "non-Mormon happiness"?

Recently, as I've started dating, this answer to this question is beginning to make some sense. As I've been able to get some long-term traction with my addiction, I've been able to think a bit more clearly. This clarity has been conditioned by the two guys I'm dating.

The first, I call him B is from the south. He is 26 years old and an undergrad. B and I have set some very clear boundaries for physical intimacy. We have not done anything, nor do we intend to until we both feel that this dating thing has potential. This has allowed me to experience dating and to develop healthy intimacy. For example, this weekend we went out for dinner, drove around, and then played with his hair. During this time we simply talked, laughed, and genuinely had a good time getting to know each other. I've been on three dates with him and after each on feel fulfilled, there is no desire to engage my addiction. This is healthy. I feel content and happy when I'm with him.

The second, I call him J is also from the south. He is 33 years old and also an undergrad. J, I sense is taking things very slow, I really appreciate that. I met him for date one last Friday, as we had dinner we just got to know each other and laughed. There is something deep about him. After dinner, I thought it was over, but he grabbed me and wanted to have frozen yogurt with me, so I followed and spent another hour with him just talking. At the end of the night, he asked if we could do it again. Since then we have been texting, we have date 2 scheduled for next Wednesday. Again with J, after I left I felt fulfilled, there was no desire to engage in my addiction. After each text I feel fulfilled. This is healthy intimacy.

In both of these situations, I sense I'm not as lonely as I think I am. Yet, as I've thought seriously about both of these men and a future with them, I reflected on R74 or the same-sex marriage vote in Washington. I then started to ask myself if I could actually envision myself marrying a man. I've tried hard, but there is something that continues to haunt or perhaps quicken my moral senses. It is here, that I realized there is a hierarchy of moral norms connected to happiness. At the very top of this hierarchy connected to a pure form of happiness is honesty and complete submission to God as the highest norm, and that includes total fidelity to all covenants. And then down the hierarchy. It is this hierarchy that I know exists independent of my own rationalizing, and reasoning. This hierarchy is eternal. And it is the empirical and spiritual reality of that hierarchy that haunts my dreams and brings a measure of discomfort at the idea of marrying a man.

Yet, that places me in yet another pickle. I recognize that the queer theorist in me will simply attribute what I'm feeling to internalized homophobia and that by not talking a decisive stand, I'm simply reproducing it.

But at this point, I will continue dating and keep interrogating the significance of happiness and how I might live that life without having to necessarily sacrifice a life of companionship. Perhaps that is inevitable. Perhaps what I ought to be seeking is simply resignation to the inevitability of being alone, but not necessarily lonely.

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