Saturday, November 10, 2007

Honestly, Marriage?

Just this evening I received a comment on an older post of mine about marrying a woman and why I (at this stage in life) will not marry a woman. The comment in full from Parallel Mormon reads:
My advice to you is dump the man and find yourself a woman. The resurrection will fix what went wrong in utero rendering us homosexual, thus you will never again desire a man, instead you will wish you had chosen a woman. Nephi said it and I know it's true, that the Lord will prepare a way for us to accomplish what He has commanded.

Also, no relationship with a man, however well-nurtured, will exist beyond death as anything more than "let's just be friends," which is, of course, what couples say when one dumps the other.

We can bridge our homosexuality and, being gay, find real passion for our wives. I now know this is true and real.

Parallel Mormon I think that, though your intentions are well meant, it is naive of you to assume that God wants me to marry a woman. In each instance where I could have gotten married in the past, I would have had to manipulate feelings and people to achieve something that the Church has told me I ought to do (in general). Furthermore, God never has told me to get married. I have NEVER once heard God's voice tell me to marry a woman. Even in those god-given friendships with some of the most wonderful and saintly women it always felt spiritually wrong to pursue a relationship that would advance into marriage.

So where you say that the Lord will prepare a way for us to accomplish that which he has commanded I agree. I just know he's never commanded me to get married.

Take it a step further, doesn't Alma 34:34 say "that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world." Do we know that our homosexual feelings will go away in the eternal world? Why is that important to know? Why would it be important for them to go away? Where in scripture is this backed up in correlation with what the modern prophets have said? I just don't know. But does it matter?

Whats more is that (as far as I am aware, I may be speaking ignorantly) nowhere, except the Bible, do LDS scriptures expressly condemn homosexuality. In fact they are silent on the matter. Joseph Smith is not known to have spoken on the matter. Even so, in the Old Testament where they condemn homosexuality, there are many practices that were condemned by death or stoning that now under the Gospel are not seen as unholy or sinful. So how are we to know that the modern prophets just don't know and are acting on limited information?

And lastly the Church does not necessarily encourage mixed-orientation marriage -emphasizing my point that perhaps it would be unwise for me to marry a woman.

President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.” To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.

President Hinckley said that marriage is not a therapeutic step to solve problems. (Click here for more)

So what is the Church's stance on mixed orientation marriage? By interpretation, I believe they do not encourage it, yet under the circumstances that a couple weighs the possibilities without false pretense and prayerfully decides to unite in marriage the Church does not discourage it.

I, however, have not felt a great attraction to a daughter of God in so far as to inspire me to pursue marriage. I want to make it clear that I am not saying that no one should enter a mixed orientation marriage. You state in your blog that you have attraction to your wife. Perhaps there is more bisexuality in your orientation than in mine. Parallel Mormon, your marriage may be exactly what God wants and intends for you and your family and it might not be. Perhaps it is irrelevant to God. But I have no place to tell you what will or will not work for you. I support your marriage. I hope that it works out for you. I believe that if it is right, absolutely God will sustain your marriage.

Your attractions to men obviously are a big enough deal in your life to cause you to blog about it and to share the reality of it with your wife. Thoughts of leaving your marriage were out-of-the-question for you... You cannot only think for yourself. You have children in addition to your wife.

It may be moot to say so, but you were not honest with your wife when you married her. She didn't know that you had attractions to men. Had the two of you discussed this and weighed all options out, perhaps your fledgling relationship may not have lasted. In your blog you mention that you didn't tell your wife for fourteen years. You obviously knew that you were attracted to men the whole time. Do you think that maybe you were marrying her in hopes that it would be a therapeutic step? But most importantly, what caused you to be dishonest with her in the first place? As for me, I could not enter such a marriage without being completely honest. I need to be clear that I am not saying that I will never marry a woman, but rather that I do not see it anywhere on my horizon. Essentially what works for one person might well not work for another. Where your marriage is working great for you, such a situation may not for me.

God has always given commandments in conflict for the betterment of his children.
  • Adam and Eve to procreate and yet not partake of the fruit that will make it possible.
  • Nephi to slay Laban that he might obtain the record of his people yet it was murder.
  • Abraham to offer Issac as a sacrifice yet Issac was to be the fulfillment of prophecy and the heritage of Abraham's lineage.
God may well tell you to get married to a woman and not me. When you decided to get married did God tell you to deceive your wife by not telling her about your attractions? If you could do it all over again would you have told your wife at the onset of your relationship that you had homosexual inclinations? What have you learned from all of this tremendous experience?

Thanks, Parallel Mormon, for your comment and allowing me to expand these ideas. For every answer there are a thousand more questions. May God bless you and your wife.

13 comments:

playasinmar said...

It’s interesting you bring up those examples of conflicts in God’s commands. Spiritual Brinksmanship is one of the most complicated subjects in the study of the scriptures. Whether or not I fully understand the individual conflicts you mentioned, I do know this: What’s asked of us isn’t always what’s asked of those around us.

J G-W said...

I have wondered about the Alma text in relation to the notion that our homosexual feelings will vanish at death. This concept doesn't make sense to me in relation to what Mormons believe about our spirits and their relationship to the next life.

This is why, for instance, we don't believe in death-bed repentance. Because, death-bed repentance is all fine and good, but we still have to make the changes that repentance requires, and according to the Mormon understanding of things, making such changes will be more, not less difficult in the next life than it is in this life.

But if that is the case, what does it mean that people can spend their whole lives trying to change their sexual orientation and experience no success. Now we're told this will be easier, not more difficult to change in the next life. In fact, not only will it be easier, it will be instantaneous. We won't have to work at it at all. Our homosexuality will just vanish. We'll die homo and wake hetero.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

JGW, thanks for your comment. Yes I understand your point. The scripture paints a picture seemingly so very black and white... You either have an evil spirit in you or you have the spirit of Christ. That doesn't allow much room for growth does it? It strikes me similar to the Protestant refrain, "Are you saved?" "Are you cleansed of that evil spirit?"
Furthermore, is it referencing to your soul not having gone through the transformation or is it referencing to you being owned by either the Devil or Christ?

I really believe that God intended me to have this orientation as a facet to my life. I don't see it as a bad thing and I don't believe God sees it as a bad thing. It is very much a part of who I am and it affects every other aspect of my character. I don't believe that God makes bad people. Being gay is more than just an interest or a hobby or even a vice like gambling or drinking. It is part of my character-make-up. I don't believe that God wants me to change my orientation (nor do I believe it is possible.) It took me 8-10 years of repairative therapy to learn that.
There are times when I really don't understand God, but I don't ever question his love for me. I have a firm belief that:
1) God is okay with me being Gay
2) God does not require the same for everyone. God made Penguins birds with feathered wings, but does not hold them accountable for not flying.
3) It is discovering the unknown and the process of learning that our current paradigm is limited that fulfills the purpose of life. As long as I am willing to admit that there is more to learn and that I may be wrong and am willing to learn, God will be the master teacher.
4)There is nothing that I can do in this life that God cannot undo and the things that God does in this life I cannot undo. I cannot change my race, my heritage, nor my orientation. However, God can always coach me how to live within the parameters he has set for me.
Again JGW, thanks for you comment.

Forester said...

I would agree with you. Marriage may not be for everyone in this life. For me personally it has been great. I don't think I would have married had I not been attracted both physically and spiritually to my wife. I do believe that if you wanted to get married, God would prepare a way. However, and this is a big however, if it just didn't work out, even after all your efforts, you shouldn't feel like you have failed in any way.

Brady said...

I think the example of people like Parallel Mormon goes to show that marriage is possible, even though it may be extremely difficult. I'm not saying you need to get married (I would never be so presumptuous as to think that I know what anyone in their unique situation should do). But I do know that developing a genuine attraction to a daughter of God is a lot less likely (perhaps impossible) without sincere effort and dating lots of people.

I don't want to sound critical. I'm just saying that none of us is likely to fall in love with a girl unless we get to know lots of them and seriously try for it. It will probably be a lot harder to find a girl you are attracted to than to find a guy you are attracted to, but it is probably still possible. We can't find our "one in a million" by trying dating just a few girls, especially when we're generally not attracted to girls in the first place.

Just my thoughts, take it for what it's worth.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Thanks for you comment Brady. I agree again that it is possible. And I know you would never be presumptuous enough to tell anyone how they ought to live their life. And thats the thing... I did go through a big phase where I dated lots of girls. I was dating all the time for 2 years... I even had a girlfriend for a whole year right after my mission. The truth of the matter is that, like I said before I have tried the other two options... I've dated a lot of girls and had several girlfriend relationships. One girl in particular I still think of often because I truly do love her. She is married now to this total idiot guy and it frustrates me to no end. And the other alternative is celibacy. My point is that, I don't think God wants me to spend my life alone regardless of whom I spend my life with and furthermore I don't want to spend the next decade of my life caught up in trying to find an amazing girl that is willing to marry me. I don't want to deal with the struggle of being a gay man who is hiding under the facade of a straight marriage because I really feel that that is exactly what it would be for me... a facade. I also don't want to take the risk of getting into a marriage where one day I wake up and I say, "I've had it! I want out of this!" and then dealing with the knowledge that I have hurt someone that I deeply care about. And what about children? Do I drag children into an unstable marriage? I would see myself white-knuckling my way through my marriage. And for what purpose? I don't think it would be mentally healthy for me nor do I believe it is what God intends for me. And again I know you weren't saying for me to start dating girls either... But I totally agree with what you said though... You aren't going to find a girl to marry if you don't make the effort. Thanks for your comment, Brady. Best of luck to you in all you do.
-Cas

elbow said...

I like the argument "Adam and Eve" not "Adam and Steve" but Steve isn't even a Bible name so of course there wouldn't be a Steve in the garden of eden. Maybe another name, but "Adam and Eve" still sounds better than "Adam and Gersham" even though Adam and Gersham together sounds pretty hot.

Parallel Mormon said...

Distinguishing Preoccupation:

Interesting comments there. Where do I start? First of all, in Alma 34: 34 it says that same spirit that inhabited our bodies shall have power to possess it in the next world. So, at this point it might be plausible to argue that if gay now, gay later.

But in Abraham 3: 22 don't we read that the Lord showed Abraham the intelligences that were organized before the foundation of the world? So would we argue "gay before, gay now, then gay later"? I suppose if any of us feels inclined to believe that homosexuality in encoded in our spirit, it should have been encoded before.

This is why I believe that as the spirit unites to the body at birth or prior, nevertheless a defect occured in utero a defect rendering our bodies, not our spirits, same sex oriented. We can train the body to submit to our spirit, or we can condition our spirit to concord with the body.

Your argumentation seems sincere, and I like that you read the scriptures and search for answers in them. We all need to do that, and what more can anybody ask?

But let me point something out. It seems to me that many MoHo brethren, not necessarily you, are, perhaps inadvertantly arguing in the following manner: "I do not want to marry. I refuse to do what the Church (really the Lord) has commanded. But, if He tells me too Himself, then I'll do it." I call this the principle of "justification equals the erosion of my testimony," meaning, many of us gay LDS are simply biding our time eroding our testimonies knowing full well that this will weaken our resolve to resist temptation and blend the distinctions between right and wrong. Then, once the testimony's gone, some MoHo brethren say, "I'm ready to experience intimacy with a man."

One last comment. The first commandment ever given was to marry, and it was man to woman: Genesis 2: 24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." As for waiting for the voice of the Father to personally reiterate it, D&C 58: 26 "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things;"

This was my point in saying that, as in 1 Nephi 3: 7, that the Lord will prepare a way for us to accomplish what He has commanded, and He did not say He would refuse to help His gay sons. He commanded marriage, not as a cure for homosexuality. The Church now realizes that this does not work, and neither am I advocating that. Sorry if my wording suggested that.

You are wiser than I was at your age by refusing to deceive a daughter of Zion by marrying her without having fully disclosed the details of the man she's getting. I will concede that, mainly because I already confessed this point to my beloved wife. I sought her forgiveness, she gave it freely, and she said she might have still married me had she known.

I deceived her by not saying that I was gay, believe me, not bisexual, heck, that would have been easier to deal with. But I did not deceive her in that I did, I have, and I do now love her dearly. I also deceived her by not wanting her first and foremost, rather I wanted children. But I confessed this too, and now she is, after the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, first in my life, then our beloved daughter.

I've experienced a change that let me be a real, a genuine husband to her and to experience tender love and (I might add) real, intense passion. But I'm still gay as heck, men tempt me, no other women do, but I no longer feel tempted to have sex with men, I just notice their beauty, I walk or turn away, and that's that--the same issue that I imagine our heterosexual brethren deal with.

DP, you're a good guy and you have a good way of thinking. Sorry I was brash. Thank you, also, for psychoanalyzing me and taking me to task. Dissenting views are valuable.

Parallel Mormon said...

DP:

I realize that I left unanswered some of your questions. So here goes.

1. Did God tell me to deceive my wife? No, He did not tell me to deceive her or anyone. But God did tell me to marry her. I saw her entering the MTC (she was a teacher there) and I felt a deep and powerful impression say "James, she is to be your wife." I fell in love with her and never stopped loving her. I sacrificed and have worked and toiled endlessly to provide for her to the best of my abilities, and I have always been faithful.

2. What induced me to do it? This is no justification, only a description. I was raised to believe, the point was driven in me, repeatedly, crudely, abusively, that the worst thing a man could do was be gay. This was a repudiation of his manhood, the worst mockery, a complete humiliation to the core, the declaration of one's worthlessness both before man and God. The world hated gays, and God, I was told, was the finisher, the author, of that hatred. So as I became aware that I was gay, (I now say gay but never did then), as I became aware that I was gay, I feared it, I fought it, I succombed in lesser ways (masturbation, occasional glimpses at gay porn, thoughts mostly, crushes on guys I could never act on), and felt immense and deep self-hatred and a lack of self-esteem. I could not bring myself to be honest with myself, let alone any other human being. When I finally told K that I was (am) gay, immense fear enveloped me, I was trembling, quaking, because I was certain she would break down into tears, be permanently heart-broken, devastated, hate me, and leave me. But I was also quaking uncontrolably because I was declaring the utter end of my self-worth, the worst most horrible and humiliating thing I could say of J, and I felt like I was committing suicide while doing it. Yet I did it out of love and principle--love for K, to try to help our marriage by at least establishing full and real honesty, and principle (believe it or not, I have them), that being that now that I was willing to acknowledge to myself the truth of being gay, no matter the consequences, I was obligated by a respect of K and truth itself to reveal this to her. And so I did.

3. Did you think marriage was a therapeutic step? Yes, I did. I thought that I would be able to gradually adapt, gradually become heterosexual at least with my wife, or at most with my wife. Until October 16, 2007, I failed miserably at this and was in a constant state of anger or rage over this.

4. Would this revelation have ended our fledgling relationship back in 1993? Perhaps. One cannot be certain. But K was as loving then as she is now, and there is a very real chance she might have agreed. The real fear I have in retrospect is whether I would have been spiritually mature enough to submit my own desires to hers, whether I would have put her love and happiness above mine, because that is what I feel was the key that let the Lord into me to make a change just sufficient enough to make this gay son of His genuine and true to his wife.

5. What have I learned? That K is my saviour on Mt. Zion, and that Zion must be redeemd by power. I also learned that we must help each other through this mortal existence, we cannot make it through successfully alone. And, truth is the best policy.

I have not come out personally to anyone since, save in such a manner as now, because I do not wish to bear the burden of the ostracism or "management" of the revelation. I suspect that being out has eroded many a gay brother's testimony. I am already a "minority," dark-complected, I'll say that much, and I paid a dear price for that in Utah and among expatriate Utahns and, to be fair, others, most egregiously among priesthood leaders. I weathered that, so I could weather the backlash or "wierdness" of being out, but right now I want the time to build up my family. Also, at least for the time being, I have a certain degree of credibility among those who know me, so I lobby for greater understanding and compassion thereby.

Am I deceiving? In this case, no one asked, so I don't regret not telling. Am I a coward? Well, probably. It's been hard enough, it really has been. Things are finally better and I want to experience the improvement and finally rectify the pain I acquired up to this point, and the pain I inflicted.

gentlefriend said...

Joseph Smith said that what would not be God's will in one situation may be God's will in another. We are all unique. The key is: What does God want YOU to do. That answer will only come to YOU through the Spirit.

Anyway, I am going to be a VERY MAD DUDE in the Spirit World if I don't "die homo and wake hetero"!!

J G-W said...

I sort of dropped out of this thread a while ago, because it looked like it was getting kind of preachy. But I really, really liked the last two posts by Parallel Mormon. Thank you for your honesty and sensitivity.

I want to add to this conversation, though, that I don't think it is helpful to make assumptions about other people's experiences, feelings, or process for coming to terms with this. PM suggested that other Mohos rebelliously decided that they just did not want to obey the commandments or get married, and that this caused their testimonies to erode and led them down false paths.

I can't speak for others, but I can say that for myself, that's just plain wrong... If I decided anything, it was that I would marry, I would obey every commandment. There was never any "decision" to avoid marriage, there was the dawning realization that I simply could not marry and honor my future wife the way she deserved to be honored or honor myself.

I dated a number of women at BYU. There was one woman I dated seriously in particular, with the hope that I might be able to marry her. But I literally could not imagine us together. Every attempt to visualize our future relationship seemed like sheer nonsense and make-believe and a travesty.

I certainly never had a moment when I saw or met a particular woman, and the Spirit clearly said to me, "That's the woman you are going to marry." It sounds like some guys in mixed-orientation-marriages have had that, or something like that, and I'm sure that's a major reason why they married.

Perhaps if I had had a similar experience, I might have married as well. But I had the opposite experience. Everything in me, from the molecular level up said, "Don't do this. Don't marry. Don't involve this woman in this. If you do, you will regret it, she will regret it, and there will be much heartache and anguish and sorrow."

I am incredibly grateful that I listened to that.

Our Heavenly Father does not abandon us, does not under any circumstances hate us, does not withdraw his Spirit from us, so long as we honestly turn to Him and seek to listen to him. At every major turning point in my life, I have felt guided by the Spirit, and to the extent I have listened to the Spirit, I have felt strengthened and have experienced greater and greater joy and love in my life. This includes the guidance I have received to be true to my same-sex partner of 15 years.

PM described very well the depth of the homophobia and homo-hatred that we faced, that I certainly faced as I was coming of age. Isn't there some possibility that present attitudes toward homosexuality are still tinged by this? Is it possible that God is trying to move us toward a better understanding, but that we are too blinded by our prejudice and misconceptions to hear what the Spirit is telling us?

I honestly believe that if a brother has chosen to cast his lot with a woman, if he has married her and is faithful to her, and has spent his whole life building his life around love for that woman, I cannot but believe that this will shape our destiny in the next life. I believe that all the blessings these men believe in and hope for and have laid their lives on the line for, will be theirs in the next life. If they are not, I personally will be pounding on the pearly gates, asking for explanations.

But I also honestly believe that this is NOT the calling and destiny for ALL of us. I can't explain why. It is painful that I don't know all the answers. I wish I did. But I know that the course I am in is the course I need to be in. I have received too many undeniable confirmations from my Heavenly Father that I am in the path I need to be in.

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Parallel Mormon, again, thanks for your comments. You really bring to light some valid points in honesty regarding your personal situation. For you, it sounds like coming out to your wife was an incredibly therapeutic step in your relationship. It allowed a new level of interpersonal intimacy, honesty, and trust that your relationship had previously been lacking. In being honest with my family in regards to my orientation I also found that it brought me closer to them and closed a gap that had estranged my life from them.

As for your reason for marrying, you heard the voice of God tell you to marry K. If you had never heard that command, do you think you would probably have had your doubts about the "rightness" of marriage to K? I also believe that God does not command in all things and that He leaves much of it up to our own findings. He teaches a principle and then leaves us to govern ourselves. However, all church leadership tells us to pray over those whom we might marry and that God will help us make "the most important decision." I refuse to believe that God will abandon us on this issue because we are gay. We are just as entitled to the revelation as for whom to marry as our straight brethren. God didn't leave you high and dry on that issue, nor many others. He told you to marry. Others, he did not, and they proceeded to marry anyway and later have it end in divorce. Then there are those that he has told to marry and they end in divorce anyway... Therefore, I make it explicitly clear that God needs to leave no question as to the marriage issue if he intends me to pursue marriage. It would only be a fair expectation. Wouldn't it make God an unfair and unloving God to expect something difficult and unnatural of you, not command you to do so, and then hold you accountable to it?
I also appreciate your last comments J-G-W, I agree with your argument in regards to homophobia.
"Isn't there some possibility that present attitudes toward homosexuality are still tinged by this? Is it possible that God is trying to move us toward a better understanding, but that we are too blinded by our prejudice and misconceptions to hear what the Spirit is telling us?"
I know that was definitely a big reason why I went through 8-10 years of repairatve therapy. I was so ashamed to be gay and felt that God was ashamed of me too. The moment I learned about God's true nature and love for me, my attitudes toward my own human nature changed, and consequently I was able to look at my homosexuality in a different light. I had never considered even the possibility of a homosexual relationship up to that point. Last fall when I started my blog I thought to myself, "I will either marry a woman, or be celibate." I was angry at God for making me choose between the two and literally giving me NO revelation nor direction for the road ahead. I remember my BYU counselor asking me, "I know several same-sex couples who are very happy and well rounded in their lives. What makes you so sure that such a relationship would be unsuitable for you?" I used to think that same-sex relationships were lesser in society and not valuable or real. I can honestly say that it was a false paradigm.

To all, Thanks for making these comments sensitive and respectful of chosen paths. I won't deny that I was slightly put off by PM's original comment which spurred the whole post and subsequent discussion, but since hearing more of his situation, beliefs, and opinions, I have gained a profound respect for his choices. Also J-G-W for his added wisdom and experience.

Parallel Mormon said...

DP:

Thank you for your comments. You have helped me very much by prompting greater self-examination.

J GW:

Your response was tender, human and sincere. I believe that marriage to a woman is truly the ultimate path, but our situations are varied as are our experiences. I do not judge you, and I want the best for you. You are a handsome man with a beautiful soul--I wish you success. Your posting helped me remember that we're all on different points in our progression, like on a graph, different points along a line, but it's the same line, just diferent points.