Same-sex attraction can be very Mormon.
More than most faith traditions, Christianity claims that the created world is good. God says so in Genesis. God himself became part of the created world in Jesus Christ. Mormonism takes this aspect of Christianity and turns it up to 11. When it comes to matter and flesh, Christianity is Bruce Banner, whereas MORMONISM SMASH!
Of course, we do live in a fallen world. Creation, matter, and existence may be good, but that does not mean the hemorrhoids, mosquitoes, or dandelions are. While these things may try us and make us better, they are not good in themselves.
Consequently, the temptation is to assume that everything frustrating about reality is fallen.
That temptation must be resisted. Some frustrating aspects of fleshly existence cannot be fallen. They are inherent in the idea of matter itself.
I am not a philosopher, so I will do my best to communicate what I mean in the vague and unsatisfactory language of a layman. Be patient.
Matter is definite. Matter has defined physical properties. Lead sinks. It can’t wish that away. Flesh is flesh. Even in its resurrected state–especially in its resurrected state–it is not and cannot be a strawberry-flavored desert.
Matter is located. Matter is here, and not there. I cannot be physically present in two locations at once, let alone in all locations.
Matter can only act and change through the medium of time. If I choose to sleep tonight, I cannot watch the stars at the same time. If I sleep instead of stargazing, I cannot undo it. The moving finger writes, and having written moves on, nor all your piety nor wit, shall lure it back to cancel half a line.
Matter is subject to outside forces. Matter has limits on how and in what ways it can control its interactions with the outside world.
In other words, matter is inherently about limitation.
That doesn’t sound so hot. Why is matter so good if its a limitation?
The answer is another principle that Mormons exalt to the heavens (literally). That principle is agency.
I had an epiphany today so unique and mindblowing that I’m sure only 95% of my fellow Saints have known it since childhood. But I had it today. My epiphany is that matter and agency are inseparably connected. The limitations of matter and the flesh make choice possible. They make meaningful choice possible. My choice to be here, typing this, is a real choice because I had to eliminate all the alternatives to do it. Because I am here typing, I am not out on the sidewalk eating an icecream cone, at home praying, or in an adult bookstore furtiving.
The bonds of matter are our liberation.
Now let us consider same-sex attraction, in one Mormon man’s story:
One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen. But with homosexuality, the choices seem to be a little bit more mutually exclusive. If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner. If you choose a same-sex partner, you are sacrificing the ability to have a biological family with the one you love. And so on. No matter what path you choose, if you are gay you are giving up something basic, and sometimes various things that are very basic. I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me. The things I wasn’t willing to part with were the following:
1. I believe the doctrine of the Mormon Church is true. One of the key doctrines of the church is that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Another is that “children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” These are things I personally believe. I also believe, and my experience has shown me time and time again, that when I follow the teachings that I know to be true my life is blessed and I find immense joy and peace. I feel that this joy and peace is a direct result of my connection to God’s spirit as a result of living in a way He approves of.
Deciding not to give this up–these profound spiritual beliefs that I feel in the deepest parts of my soul to be true–in favor of my sexual orientation required a great deal of faith, but I can honestly say that, for me, it has been completely worth it. I have not regretted the decision one day of my life. My life is filled with so much genuine, real, vibrant joy that I would be remiss if I didn’t thank God for blessing me for my obedience and adherence to His guidelines as I understand them. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as the Mormon Church, which I consider to be His restored organizational unit. I did not want to give that up.
2. I am a traditionalist at heart. I wanted a wife. I wanted to raise children that were biologically the product of me and the one I love. Thankfully, Lolly was willing to marry me, and we found ourselves able to conceive children. I have three incredible daughters. Every moment with them is true joy. Sometimes as I wrestle in the living room with them, or watch them eat cookies with chocolatey mouths and lots of giggles, or read them stories before tucking them into their beds, I’m filled with a sense of such joy that I almost feel bad to have such an incredibly fulfilling life. I often find myself in awe at how amazing my life is, and how lucky I am. And in my opinion, it was more than luck. I believe my joy stems from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and trusting God and his plan for me even when it was really hard and scary.
3. I love Lolly Shea. (In my mind, she will always be Lolly Shea, the girl that I’ve known since I was three years old.) I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I want to grow old by her side. I wouldn’t trade her for any human on earth, male or female. She is my best friend, my lover, and my greatest gift. I love her with a love that is undeniable, and anyone that knows us can attest to the fact that our love is real, vibrant and very apparent. Besides my relationship with God himself, she is my everything and nothing that I ever do or receive in my life will ever compare to her and her love for me.
His marriage has a meaning that mine cannot. Why would a loving God let someone be gay? I think I now have a testimony of the answer. I think I now see how being gay can be Mormon.