Saturday, May 27, 2006

An explanation--and a testimony

A friend of mine who also knew me as his bishop told me yesterday that the hurt that people are feeling with my news stems from the fact that I seem to have abruptly abandoned my testimony. Just a little more than a year ago I was a bishop. Today, I no longer consider myself a Mormon. How is it possible for this to all happen overnight?

The answer is that it has, in fact, been a long time coming.

Faith and doubt co-existed in my mind for many years. When I came home from my mission, I went into a brief period of inactivity. It didn't last long, but I was able to come out of it in part because I discovered the world of Sunstone and Dialogue and connected to other Mormons who were willing to acknowledge their doubts and difficulties, but who were also able to stay commited and faithful to the Church. That's what I wanted, and that's what I was ultimately able to do.

The absence of big conversion moment didn't really bother me. I knew other people who also had never had that big moment. And I had had smaller moments that seemed to confirm for me the path that I was on. I felt God speak to me when my relationship with K turned romantic. I felt the Lord work through me when I was young men's president in Chicago. And K and I both felt drawn to Brooklyn after graduate school, and we quickly became deeply involved in church service when we moved there.

Indeed, one year after we arrived, I was called as bishop. And I know as much as I know anything that my call to serve as bishop came from God. I knew it was going to happen five weeks before I was asked to meet with the stake president. The Lord told me it was going to happen. He told me to prepare.

I needed that calling. It was an affirmation to me that I was loved of God. When the call came I was certain that my homosexuality was no longer an issue. There was nothing that I needed to repent of, and K and I had started our family and felt content with life. I was still aware of my attraction to men at that point--I certainly noticed attractive men wherever I went--but it seemed managable and being gay just didn't fit with the life I was building for myself.

I cherished my experience as bishop. I felt like I was able to help a lot of people, and that, in turn, helped me to stay focused on the things that seemed to matter most. I was able to set aside my "issues," which ranged from my struggles with my sexuality to various questions in Mormon history to doubts about the historicity of the Book of Mormon. None of that seemed to matter when I was actively engaged in service, and I was inspired by the study that being a good bishop demanded.

And still, I wasn't well. I blamed other things for my struggles--issues from my childhood and with my parents, job troubles, even sleep deprivation (by 2002, I had two small children). But really, I felt like I was living a lie each day--that by simply not acknowledging my struggles with identity and sexuality, I was living a life that was utterly lacking in integrity. It wore on me.

As the day of my release as bishop came last year, I was filled with dread. I didn't know how I would be able to go on with the life I had built for myself. I felt my faith slipping and the doubts taking over. And the biggest doubt was the defining one--homosexuality. I just didn't believe what the Church was teaching about what it was and how to deal with it. And I didn't believe it because it didn't match with the reality of my own experience. It didn't match with my own intimate, personal truth. As I spiraled downward, the faith that I knew began to unravel very quickly. Once I accepted a truth about who I was that conflicted with what the Chruch taught, I began to question just about everything else that had troubled me over the years.

Coming out to K was a profoundly spiritual experience. We connected in a way that I can only describe as divine. The Lord allowed us to understand each other in a way that was truly miraculous. And I began to feel the presence of God in my life in a way that I hadn't before. I began to feel affirmed and loved as I was and not as I had tried and failed to make myself be.

A defining moment came for me when I went with K to a church service at a Protestant church here in our hometown in December. During the course of worship I was moved to tears several times. I can't even remember now what the pastor said that brought me to tears, but I remember very distinctly the sense of unconditional love I felt from God as I sat through the service. For the first time in my life I sat through a church worship service and didn't berate myself for my failings, particularly the "failing" of my sexuality. I felt the Spirit of God wash over me in a way that it rarely had in my life and I felt the Spirit whisper to me, simply, "I love you as you are."

That was a turning point for me. It essentially solidified my decision to leave the LDS Church, because I knew that I would never get to a place of acceptance about my sexuality and identity if I returned. In that moment, I felt that my life was a gift from God, not a cross to bear.

Bishop J took me to task for abandoning my testimony. I understand why he sees it that way, and why so many who have known me over the years have seen it that way. But that's not what happened. My faith changed. As I got to know myself better and accept the reality of my sexual orientation, I heard God speak to me in a new and different way.

To my Mormon friends: I honor and respect your faith. Many of you have written to me and told me that I helped stengthen your faith and testimony. That makes me happy. That was what I genuinely trying to do when I was a bishop and a believing Mormon. I'm sorry if the path I have chosen now has upset some that knew me before. I really, truly am. But K and I have tried to stay close to God through all of this, and we believe that he has guided us through this difficult year and continues to guide us now.


17 comments:

ts said...

I've had several bishops during the coarse of my lifetime. H...you were by far the best. You were committed, loving, and inspired. And while you executed your service strictly ‘by the book,’ you were also able to open the ward umbrella for many good 'non-orthodox' members of the church. Your leadership and talents will be missed!

Beck said...

I can relate with your feelings of service in the Church. I know that I have been happiest and discovered more about myself and the expanded capabilities and capacities I had within me as I honestly gave my all to Church service (and have been able to easily put away my "other issues"). Church callings really do bring out the 'best of us'. Without Church callings, particularly those of the leadership kind, I revert back to my shell and hide. With Church callings, I blossom and find myself capable of amazing things that I would never do otherwise. I'm not saying that I'm amazing, but that the act of service to others with God's hand makes us amazing!

You obviously were an amazing Bishop! You obviously selflessly and honestly served and cared for your flock (as the comment above testifies). That is why so many care about you now. Even if that caring manifests itself in different ways of joy or hurt, it still testifies to the astounding affect you have had for good on so many lives.

As with you, my experiences and commitments and testimony of the Church has waned when I have not been in such callings of service. My homosexual issues have become greater and greater without such callings. My focus becomes unclear and my testimony becomes doubting.

I am fascinated with your life story as it terrifies and / or thrills me with what may be in store.

My prayers are with you. The spiritual blessings you've received from your service will always be a part of who you are and you will take those spiritual miracles of lifting others, of strengthening the flock, and continue to find new ways of serving!

A Troll At Sea said...

Hurricane:

as I've said before: the voice that leads you out of comfortable slavery into a wilderness of freedom is ALWAYS the voice of God. It's just sometimes very hard to recognize it, when it calls you to leave a church...

http://trollatsea.blogspot.com/2006/03/dont-be-down-come-out.html

Know that you are loved.
the
Troll

-L- said...

I appreciated this post. Thanks for telling your story.

Aaron said...

I have found your journal of your coming out inspiring, exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying. Although I come from a different denominational background, I see many parallels in my own experience, as I learn to accept myself as a gay man and as I increasingly question the dogma I have long accepted. Thanks so much for sharing these things. You are still an amazing bishop!

Anonymous said...

It’s been suggested here that anonymity on this blog is tantamount to intellectual dishonesty. If so, I apologize at the outset, but I still have a few things to say that some here might find useful. If not, ignore me, and I’ll go away. I am intellectually dishonest, after all.

So I don’t want to tell you who I am in real life, except that I am a practicing Mormon who has served in a bishopric, albeit not as bishop, and I have seen Hurricane’s experience repeated a number of times, including several times in my own family and circle of friends. I hesitate to use the cliché that “some of my best friends are gay,” blah blah blah, but since that happens to be the case, I don’t know any other way to say it, although I do hope the self-referential cynicism makes the bromide go down easier.

I have thought many times, actually, that I ought to be gay. Growing up, I fit most of the typical stereotypes – an outsider, an artist, a non-athlete, and, for many years, Seinfeldianly thin, single and neat – yet homosexuality is not something that has ever appeared on my radar screen. As I got older, and I saw several of my friends wrestling with this issue very painfully and, at times, very publicly, I became increasingly concerned with the Church and how it has handled homosexuality. Nobody truly seems to understand it, and most, if not all, of those close to me who have dealt with bear horrific emotional scars that convince me that few, if any, would choose such a burden.

So, if I grant that this is not a temptation that Hurricane actively sought, and that, indeed, the Church has been clumsy in how it has dealt with such a complex issue, what then? Where do Hurricane and other gay Mormons – or ex-Mormons - go from here?

I can’t speak from experience. I’ve never been there, and, hopefully, never will be. So all of my observations are second hand. But one of the things that I have seen time and time again is that acceding to homosexuality as the primary driving force of your identity is a spiritual dead end. Coming out and accepting “who you really are” ultimately destroys who you really are. It results in a desiccated, empty spiritual life.

Those who succumb to this initially rejoice in no longer “living a lie,” but they are furious when the self-loathing doesn’t go away. If anything, it intensifies and becomes anger and bitterness which extends outward – I’m miserable, dammit, and it’s everyone else’s fault. The Church gets most of the blame, but this feeling is not exclusive to gays of any faith or creed.

Indeed, this is not necessarily exclusive to homosexuals. Any individual who decides that their sexuality provides the central definition of who they are winds up in the same spiritual cul-de-sac. Whether or not you believe him, Christ wasn’t kidding around when he said that “no man can serve two masters.” Sexuality – homo, hetero, or whatever else you can imagine – is a jealous master. And so is Christ. No matter who you find attractive, you have to choose between one or the other.

I find it remarkable how quickly allegiances shift. Today, Hurricane insists that he has no desire to undermine anyone else’s faith, but at the same time, he announces he has abandoned all of the central tenets of his own. The message seems to be “The Bible, the Book of Mormon, other scriptures and prophets – they’re all bunk. Jesus? Who knows? Not sure about God, either. But hey, looks good on YOU, though. Whatever gets you through the night.” If you can’t believe in God, you can at least believe in John Lennon.

So as an acolyte of the Church of Me, I can applaud my own courage, and I can revel in my newfound “freedom,” but ultimately I find myself alone. When you trade God for sex and you’re left with nothing. Nothing but your libido. And your libido isn’t going to take you anywhere worth going.

Hurricane laments that he felt same-sex attraction immediately following his baptism – proof that God didn’t change him. I can’t identify with this directly, but I should confess that I have felt opposite-sex attraction umpteen times since my marriage to a wife I adore and still find incredibly sexy. In fact, I’m attracted to several other women several times a day. I’ve found myself attracted to several women in my own ward – even as I’ve served in the bishopric! Hypocrite! Am I not being “who I really am” when I squelch that attraction for the good of my family? Should I expect that attraction to go away? For God to change me? After all, if I act on that attraction in any way whatsoever, I put my family, my faith, and everything I “really am” at risk. Why does God allow me to continue to be tempted?

I don’t know. And I certainly don’t know why Hurricane has the temptation he has. But I do know that whether I approve, he approves, or any of his friends approve, there are natural consequences to sublimating spiritual commitments to physical desires. As much as Hurricane will try to say otherwise, these are ultimately not consequences that are the result of an intolerant Church or its imperfect members. God is merciful, but he is also just. And, like it or not, God isn’t going to go away if Hurricane doesn’t really believe in him anymore.

Hurricane, please do not misunderstand. God loves you, and he will never cease to love you. Nor will your true friends. I do not write by way of condemnation. What I have written are hard truths that, as the Book of Mormon says “cutteth them to the very center.” But since you no longer believe in that particular scripture, allow me to quote C.S. Lewis, who I consider to be an honorary Mormon. (So did Neal Maxwell, but I digress.)

Lewis wrote:

“We must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.”

Hurricane, whether or not you stay in the Church, you’re in for a rough time. The question is will it force you up or keep you out? It’s your decision, and it’s one that you seem to have definitively made. I respectfully – and anonymously - invite you to reconsider.

Dave Walter said...

Coming out and accepting “who you really are” ultimately destroys who you really are. It results in a desiccated, empty spiritual life.

RIdiculous.

Chris said...

anonymous:

I appreciate your candor and your thoughtful approach. I want to respond to several of the points you have made.

As I got older, and I saw several of my friends wrestling with this issue very painfully and, at times, very publicly, I became increasingly concerned with the Church and how it has handled homosexuality.

And yet, you seem to have very definite opinions about how homosexuals--particularly Mormon ones--should deal with this. What you seem to be suggesting by the end of this post is not so very different from what the "clumsy" Church suggests.

But one of the things that I have seen time and time again is that acceding to homosexuality as the primary driving force of your identity is a spiritual dead end. Coming out and accepting “who you really are” ultimately destroys who you really are. It results in a desiccated, empty spiritual life.

I'm assuming at this point that we don't know each other and that I either have not conveyed very well the spiritual nature of this journey or you have chosen not to see it.

For the first time in my life I feel as though I have true integrity, in the most literal sense of that word. The different parts of my being that make me who I am are connected as they never have been before. I still have work to do in this regard, but I no longer feel compartmentalized as I did for so long.

You and many others seem to have equated my rejection of Mormonism with a rejection of spirituality. I can assure you that this is not the case. And my expressions of uncertainty about things that Mormons are certain about should not be understood as walking away from God and faith altogether. I have rejected Mormonism, nothing more and nothing less. You seem to view that as a rejection of God. If you equate the LDS Church and God, then I can see why you have come to that conclusion. I, however, do not mistake the one for the other.

Those who succumb to this initially rejoice in no longer “living a lie,” but they are furious when the self-loathing doesn’t go away. If anything, it intensifies and becomes anger and bitterness which extends outward – I’m miserable, dammit, and it’s everyone else’s fault. The Church gets most of the blame, but this feeling is not exclusive to gays of any faith or creed.

Again, I can only conclude that you don't know me or, if you do, we haven't had an opportunity to speak about this journey. The church is what it is--a central part of my life experience. Some of that experience has blessed my life. Some of it has made it more difficult. I do not feel bitter. I have felt angry and hurt, and I have made a concerted effort to try to work through and past those feelings so that bitterness cannot take root in my soul.

It is a work in progress.

Indeed, this is not necessarily exclusive to homosexuals. Any individual who decides that their sexuality provides the central definition of who they are winds up in the same spiritual cul-de-sac.

It is true that I am now open about my sexuality and I have begun to adopt an identity that is gay, but being homosexual is only one part of my being. I am also a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a companion. I could go on. So I reject your characterization of my coming out as giving my sexuality central definition. That said, it informs how I love and want to be loved, and since I believe that loving and being loved are among the most important things we can do in this life, I have no desire to hide it or fight it anymore.

I find it remarkable how quickly allegiances shift. Today, Hurricane insists that he has no desire to undermine anyone else’s faith, but at the same time, he announces he has abandoned all of the central tenets of his own. The message seems to be “The Bible, the Book of Mormon, other scriptures and prophets – they’re all bunk. Jesus? Who knows? Not sure about God, either. But hey, looks good on YOU, though. Whatever gets you through the night.” If you can’t believe in God, you can at least believe in John Lennon.

Again, if you believe that my rejection of Mormonism is an abandonment of God, spirituality and morality, then we have little to discuss.

So as an acolyte of the Church of Me, I can applaud my own courage, and I can revel in my newfound “freedom,” but ultimately I find myself alone. When you trade God for sex and you’re left with nothing. Nothing but your libido. And your libido isn’t going to take you anywhere worth going.

And here we see what you really think. I'm being selfish, right? Isn't that the essence of this comment? I'm too weak to sublimate my sexual desires and attractions, so I have developed a self-serving belief system to justify myself. This is a well worn condemnation, one that homosexuals hear frequently.

I will not bother to try to disabuse you of this notion. I will simply say that I don't think it bears much resemblance to my own reality, and I think my wife and my family and closest friends would generally take a different view of my behavior than you have, and they are my primary concern.

Hurricane laments that he felt same-sex attraction immediately following his baptism – proof that God didn’t change him. I can’t identify with this directly, but I should confess that I have felt opposite-sex attraction umpteen times since my marriage to a wife I adore and still find incredibly sexy. In fact, I’m attracted to several other women several times a day. I’ve found myself attracted to several women in my own ward – even as I’ve served in the bishopric! Hypocrite! Am I not being “who I really am” when I squelch that attraction for the good of my family? Should I expect that attraction to go away? For God to change me? After all, if I act on that attraction in any way whatsoever, I put my family, my faith, and everything I “really am” at risk. Why does God allow me to continue to be tempted?

What you do here is belittle me. You expect that as a 16-year-old struggling with unwanted sexual attractions--attractions that I was told were wrong and could be changed--that I should have adopted a more mature attitude about the whole thing. Your attempt to show compassion by saying that you can't identify with this feeling directly falls short.

Your attractions to women have been validated all your life. Your desire to act on that attraction is celebrated. So while you may well be frequently attracted to women other than your wife, no one views that as paricularly abberant or unhealthy. In drawing a parallel between the need to curb your wandering eye with my homosexual orientation, you show that you fundametally do not understand the gay experience.

I don’t know. And I certainly don’t know why Hurricane has the temptation he has. But I do know that whether I approve, he approves, or any of his friends approve, there are natural consequences to sublimating spiritual commitments to physical desires. As much as Hurricane will try to say otherwise, these are ultimately not consequences that are the result of an intolerant Church or its imperfect members. God is merciful, but he is also just. And, like it or not, God isn’t going to go away if Hurricane doesn’t really believe in him anymore.

Again, my beef is not with God, my beef is with your God.

Hurricane, please do not misunderstand. God loves you, and he will never cease to love you. Nor will your true friends.

I have come to this realization on my own.

Lewis wrote:

“We must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along - illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation - he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.”


You seem to believe that I simply haven't tried hard enough. That I am weak. Perhaps you are right. But perhaps, my anonymous friend, you are profoundly wrong.

Hurricane, whether or not you stay in the Church, you’re in for a rough time. The question is will it force you up or keep you out? It’s your decision, and it’s one that you seem to have definitively made. I respectfully – and anonymously - invite you to reconsider.

You ask me to reconsider. What would you have me do?

The irony of telling someone who comes out at the age of 33 and after 10 years of marriage and two children that he is in for a rough time is rich. I learned long ago that life is not fair or easy and that pain and difficulty are an inevitable part of the human experience. Indeed, I'm having an extremely difficult time understanding how it is that you think leaving my marriage and the church I have given two decades of my life to could be anything but heartwrenching. So while I do not question your sincerity, I do question your understanding, no matter how many gay people you claim to know.

sea said...

My question is -

Have you found a faith that deals wtih homosexuality in a manner that you find pleasing? Are you looking for one?

Or is your spirituality solely going to be non denominational from now on?

An Anonymous Jerk said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Alas, I was certain that my words would completely transform you, make you see the error of your ways, and have you back doing your home teaching lickety split.

Actually, no, I didn’t. I’m not even sure why I took a stab at it, because I was fairly confident what the result would be. You’ve clearly thought this through, and I’m wildly presumptuous to even inject myself into the conversation. I readily concede that I don’t understand what it’s like to be a homosexual, and that my analogous experiences are crude and sloppy at best. I remember talking to a gay friend and using the careworn explanation that what the Church expects of homosexuals is no different from what it expects of single sisters who never marry etc., and his response was somewhat similar to yours.

You wrote:

Your attractions to women have been validated all your life. Your desire to act on that attraction is celebrated. So while you may well be frequently attracted to women other than your wife, no one views that as paricularly abberant or unhealthy.

His response was pithier and more glib, but the sentiment was somewhat consistent with yours. He said:

“At least the single sisters get pity.”

I’ve thought quite a bit about that over the years. The Church insists that temptation is no sin, yet there is a significant cultural stigma to someone who admits to homosexual temptations, whether or not they act on them. That doesn’t do anyone any good, and it encourages the kind of self-loathing and contempt that you describe so eloquently.

At the same time, you seem almost surprised that my position would be consistent with where the Church I with regard to homosexuality’s ultimate consequences. I recognize that I don’t speak from experience. Most of the Church does not have personal insight on this issue. So rather than rely on my experience, I’ll presume to extend my chutzpah and borrow from yours.

In your response to me, you wrote:

You and many others seem to have equated my rejection of Mormonism with a rejection of spirituality. I can assure you that this is not the case. And my expressions of uncertainty about things that Mormons are certain about should not be understood as walking away from God and faith altogether.

Agreed. I take you at your word, and you have been very clear on this point. You also describe yourself as a “work in progress,” and I’m trying to shed a little light on just where your progress is going.

Here are some other things you’ve stated, as quoted by your friend Bishop J:

I don't know if Jesus Christ is/was a real person.

I take the scriptures seriously, but not literally. My faith does not rest on the historicity of the Old Testament--which I believe is mostly metaphorical--or the New Testament descriptions of Christ's ministry--which I believe to be historically unreliable--or of the Book of Mormon--the historicity of which I have doubted for many years. As historical documents, they fail.

I believe in God-whatever he and/or she is,


You insist that your newfound faith is not “an abandonment of God, spirituality and morality,” but statements like these beg the question: what’s left? Now Jesus is unreliable and, perhaps, nonexistent. The Bible and the Book of Mormon are storybooks. Living prophets are bigots. Even God is subject to, as you put it,“a healthy dose of agnosticism.” This is not just “uncertainty about things that Mormons are certain about.” Now God him/herself is suspect. And this is where your journey has taken you thus far, in less than a year. Where do you think it will take you in five, ten, twenty years time?

Morality presupposes a standard that exists beyond your own personal preferences. The Mormon God – or the orthodox Christian, Jewish or Muslim God, for that matter – is many things, but He is not uninterested or uninvolved. He is kind and loving, yes, but he also expects things. He injects himself into your life. He’s intrusive. He makes demands. And seldom do they coincide with our own personal desires.

The God you posit now makes now demands beyond “be true to what you feel.” That’s probably not all that terrible if that’s your standard, as you, Hurricane, seem to be a decent, intelligent fellow. Yet would you be comfortable with everyone adopting a similar standard? Many people use such logic to justify cruelty and base conduct far worse than simple homosexuality. Once you reject an objective standard of morality, where do you stop? How can you then be said to hold any moral standards at all?

I’m trying to stay empirical rather than personal, only because, personally, I am unequipped to judge you. I wasn’t trying to call you selfish. I wasn’t trying to call down fire and brimstone. The long-term consequences of your choices will not be of my making. You can ignore me and forget I ever wrote anything. What I think doesn’t matter once stinking hill of beans. But what God thinks is everything. And his thinking doesn’t change when yours or mine does.

Chris said...

sea, I am now affiliated with a congregation of the United Church of Christ. (www.ucc.org)

Chris said...

Anonymous Jerk:

The self deprication is a nice touch. I haven't thought you a jerk for injecting yourself into the conversation.

Anyway...

At the same time, you seem almost surprised that my position would be consistent with where the Church I with regard to homosexuality’s ultimate consequences.

Surprised? Not really. I only thought it worth mentioning because you seem to see something deficient in the Church's approach, but your brought nothing new to the discussion of what a gay Mormon is to do with his lot in life. You left unanswered my question, "What would you have me do?" That's all.

You also describe yourself as a “work in progress,” and I’m trying to shed a little light on just where your progress is going.

I see. So your presumption extends not only to you injecting yourself into this conversation, but also to where my spiritual journey is taking me?

Now God him/herself is suspect.

Suspect? No, not suspect. I believe in the adage that man is made in God's image. As I have begun to get to know myself better, I am learning a lot about God. And there is much I do not know.

Where do you think it will take you in five, ten, twenty years time?

I can't be certain, but I am looking forward to the journey.

Morality presupposes a standard that exists beyond your own personal preferences. The Mormon God – or the orthodox Christian, Jewish or Muslim God, for that matter – is many things, but He is not uninterested or uninvolved. He is kind and loving, yes, but he also expects things. He injects himself into your life. He’s intrusive. He makes demands. And seldom do they coincide with our own personal desires.

You seem to be suggesting that I am advocating for some kind of unrestrained, anything goes lifestyle. I most certainly am not. In most respects, my values are little changed. I just happen to believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with being homosexual or with pursuing happiness and lasting and committed relationships within a homosexual context.

I would also suggest to you that God is not a requisite for morality. You said that it presupposes a standard beyond one's own personal preferences. That standard can be established without invoking the name of God. Indeed, human history would suggest that often the standard is established, and then the name of God is invoked to valildate it.

The God you posit now makes now demands beyond “be true to what you feel.”

You've read far more into the God I have posited than I have offered. You've put words in quotes that do not come from me.

One of the most appealing aspects of Mormonism to me has always been the idea of community. Being true to oneself must be balanced against obligations, commitments and covenants to others in the community. I have not abandoned my faith in communities, not have I abandoned my belief that communities play an essential role in supporting and nurturing individuals.

That’s probably not all that terrible if that’s your standard, as you, Hurricane, seem to be a decent, intelligent fellow. Yet would you be comfortable with everyone adopting a similar standard? Many people use such logic to justify cruelty and base conduct far worse than simple homosexuality. Once you reject an objective standard of morality, where do you stop? How can you then be said to hold any moral standards at all?

As I've just tried to explain, that's not my standard. Moreover, what you describe as an "objective" standard is anything but.

I’m trying to stay empirical rather than personal, only because, personally, I am unequipped to judge you.

But you're not staying empirical and you are judging. You are judging based on your faith, which is not empirical.

I wasn’t trying to call you selfish.

But that is the clear implication of much of what you have written.

The long-term consequences of your choices will not be of my making. You can ignore me and forget I ever wrote anything. What I think doesn’t matter once stinking hill of beans. But what God thinks is everything. And his thinking doesn’t change when yours or mine does.

But here's the rub--you seem quite certain that you know what God thinks. You seem quite certain that it is my thinking that needs to come into line with God's. I have felt the validation of God in my journey out of the closet. Does it surprise you that I'll take my own spiritual witness over yours?

sweet pea said...

This is a comment for the anonymous jerk. I have seen this situation happen to others as well, up close and personal. What happens is the Holy Ghost ceases to strive with them, and they are left "agents unto themselves." They will fight you tooth and nail, and never soften the heart long enough to hear what you are saying. It's very interesting how Hurricane's comments are literally identical to those I've listened to of others in similar situations, right down to the defensiveness. The Church is neither angry nor defensive, and never will be. That fact might make him even more angry over time, I don't know. This is Satan's way vs. Christ's way. You can talk until you're blue in the face, but they only see things myopically no matter what you say to the contrary, because they are now literally myopic. It's very sad, but they seem to be truly content with that perspective, and content without the companionship of the Holy Ghost. And that's the perspective they will probably be content with for an eternally long time to come. Love him, but let him be. This is all the life he wants.

natalienj said...

I have been catching up on this blog, after about a week of not reading it. I have been saddened and disappointed at some people's hateful, cruel, and pious comments. As a life-long member of the Mormon church, I have to say I am embarrassed by how "unChristlike" some responses have been. There is a difference between a genuine expression of concern and a mean-spirited and belittling barb.
I was in H's ward while he was bishop. He has always been one of the finest men I have known. As a bishop he was caring, compassionate and nonjudgemental. I know he is still the same person. I am very curious to know if I am aquainted with those people who have made these sad comments. I have to wonder why some people seem threatened and angry when someone doesn't believe their same ideas. Why not live and let live? If you can't do that, at least have some dignity in expressing your concern and difference in opinion. (There have certainly been those who have, like Jason Slatter.) I haven't felt my testimony to be threatened or shaken by H's life decision. It doesn't change anything for me.

KK said...

to Sweet Pea:

First, have you ever considered that the reason "Hurricane's comments are literally identical to those I've listened to of others in similar situations" is because they feel the same way about a church which marginalizes them?

Second, I find it interesting that you seem to have the ability to tell if someone else (someone you don't know, as far as we can tell, and someone with whom you have not even physically interacted) has the spirit of God with them. As far as my experience goes, only an individual knows if s/he is walking with the Holy Ghost.

to NatalieNJ:

As I said to you at dinner tonight, when confronted with the reality that Chris is gay, people either try to change their views about homosexuality to include the man they know and love, or they try to change the man they know and love to fit him into the boxed view of homosexuality they've been given by society and religion. I am grateful that you fit into the first category. You and your family are very important to us. Thank you!

Master Fob said...

Apologies for digging up old posts to comment on (though I'm not sure why I feel the need to apologize), but I just discovered this post and many elements hit close to home for me--the gradual change of faith you describe, and the questioning of others who see a sudden shift because they have not spent the last decade inside your head. I just wanted to say I appreciate you sharing this.

Chris said...

Thanks, Fob.