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, November 5, 2012

The reach to Normalcy

There are a few givens in my life:

1 - I'll never marry a woman (well, I suppose I could if I could transcend to a different level of love like Josh Weed...but, um....yeah).

2 - The Church will not ever change its position (and this is not even a point of contention for me).

3 - God the Father is real and He lives and is as Joseph Smith described (this has major implications).

4 - I am physically attracted to men.

With these givens, the associated cognitive dissonance, I'm attempting to carve a place in the margins, a place that acknowledges my failure to live up to the norms of the church, but also a place that celebrates my failure and allows me to articulate a new vision of "normal."

I had breakfast with a friend a few days ago, she's a stellar and well known Mormon scholar, as we collaborated about a project on Decolonizing Mormonism and collecting essays from Mormon scholars of color from the global south and from the margins of the north, we talked about the meaning of activity in the church. What it came down was a lot of hand waving and "details," the idea here was, it is not for leadership or others to judge my relationship to God and to Mormonism; rather that is for me to self-identify. I felt edified after this visit.

Second, a friend of mine, who I adore, honor, and look up to as a shining example of faith, courage and righteousness (defined as rightness with God), stay over with me Saturday night. Sunday morning, he told me his story. He is having a child with a woman he barely met. I've sat in Institute with this man. What was striking was two things: 1) my notion of "normal" in the church was disrupted, and 2) I was not disappointed, but rather my love for him deepened in a meaningful way.

I saw my friend as this stellar example of faith, I projected on to him, all the elements of righteousness and even tried to imitate his life in hopes of gaining proximity to heaven. But his story was different from the template of righteousness I had been using to judge, assess, and love this man: my notion of normal. Yet, his story disrupted that. As a result of his honesty and intimacy and his courage, I found myself loving him more deeply. I told him before I dropped him off that I love him as I do my own brother!

Experiences of this sort enable me to see that there may be notions of success in Mormonism yet to be articulated within the givens I outlines above and that is hopeful.


  1. I am intrigued by your decision that number 3 has implications that you feel touch on you.

    As a life-long Mormon, I am trying to imagine what you mean by that, because your juxoposition of that idea with number 1 seems to have significance, though I'm not sure that I understand you. Spiritual creation is not at all hindered by our physical issues. For instance, God (Jesus) and Adam -- 2 men-- created a woman, using nothing but a flesh sample. There is no other revelation that really defines limits on what is possible in the spiritual realm, to my knowledge.

  2. I appreciate the allusion to Petrey's emerging post-mormon theology around gender and sexuality. While I do recognize the elasticity of the doctrine itself, and that does provide some degree of hope and comfort, at least theologically, that personal recognition does not necessarily provide access to the institutions of the church, that for me are important. And it is the access to the institutions that remains a point of concern. Those institutions are defined, arranged and controlled by extant authority figures and it is this that raises a series of questions and perhaps heartache as well.