Monday, August 28, 2006

Following different paths

I came across a new blog this morning. A Glass Darkly is written by a gay married man here in the metro New York City area who has just been through his own hurricane. Reading his story stirred up so much emotion for me. We live in the same city. We are almost the same age. We both have children. We were both young high priests in the LDS church. I did not fall into the love affair that he did, but as Santorio commented on one his posts, "There but for the grace of God go I..."

But more than that, as I read his blog I started to feel for the first time that though I share so much in common with this man, and the many others who share the experience of being gay and married and Mormon, there is almost nothing I can write or say that will be of any help to him--or me, as I move on in my life. Indeed, I've started to feel that there is nothing I can say on any of the blogs of gay married LDS men who want to stay in the Church that will be helpful to those on the "other" side. -L- and I went a couple of rounds on this blog a couple of weeks ago, but I was able to convince myself that it was a beneficial discussion. That I understood him better and he understood me better after the discussion was through. But now, after reading this new blog and posts on some of the others that have shown up lately, I don't think I have anything to offer--or, perhaps more accurately, nothing I have to offer is wanted by those who still believe that Mormonism and marriage are the only paths that lead to real and lasting happiness.

So, brethren, I will be taking a break from commenting on your blogs. I welcome your continued readership here, and even your comments. In time, perhaps I'll return to your blogs as well. Regardless, I wish you all the best of luck.

17 comments:

Uncle D. said...

Don't go away Chris. Tell us about your new life, about the things you find fulfilling and gratifying about your new friends and community. I, for one, am interested...

-L- said...

Several months ago I felt quite outnumbered in this blog community. I thought all the comments on Elbow and GM and several other blogs were unfriendly toward the church and there was only an occasional voice other than my own speaking up for the church and making decisions based on faith in its veracity. I'm surprised to see now that it seems the opposite is true--voices like yours and Scot's are the minority. Frankly, I was very disappointed to see this post as I have learned so much from you (maybe not during the heated discussion here recently that had us both irritated, but, you know).

I wondered if you had read my post from today before posting this. I thought of you and your humanity and love as one case while I was writing it.

I look forward to continue reading about your rebuilding and how KK and the kids make it through. But I also will certainly miss having your comments. You know they are always welcome, if and when you want. [Wringing hands wondering if your comments will piss me off. ;-)]

Chris said...

D, I'm not going to stop writing on this blog. Not at all. I just need a break from reading and commenting on the other gay married LDS blogs. Lately I find myself drawn to harsh judgment--of myself and of others--when I read them. That's not good for anyone involved.

L, I did read your latest post before writing this, but it didn't really push me to this post. Rather, it was a cumulation of things, including your comments on the Pearson book, our recent back and forth, the Elder Oaks interview and now the appearnce of john galt and his blog. I see so much unneccesary pain in the LDS approach to homosexuality and I have realized that I am inflicting the pain on myself by continuing to engage in certain ways. This is compounded by the fact that I am going through a period of profound loss, as KK has decided to live in Utah with the girls while I will stay here in New York. I feel raw and vulnerable and reading other gay married LDS men supporting each other (and rightly and understandably so) for staying married and making "righteous" sacrifices is more than I can take sometimes.

I hope others can learn from my experience, but I think more and more I need to just write about that experience and let others draw their own conclusions rather than hop around the gay LDS bloggernacle popping off.

Uncle D. said...

Oh, Sorry, Chris, I misunderstood.

Scot said...

Chris,

I’ve been feeling the same sort of thing, for nearly the same reason. There’s a good deal of worry, also, that something will be taken dangerously wrong, when people are in such a difficult place.

It’s a very old habit that keeps me going at it, online and in the real world, over and over, even when it seems to simply be spinning of wheels. Still, I’ve seen good come of it in the past, and am sure you’ve been a help more than you know.

There’s at least a basketball team here of wildly different gay-with-LDS-background scenarios, and I think your input would be missed. Even if no minds are changed or lives fixed, it’s important for those from different paths to be merely and clearly present; it helps keep each side honest and that’s a help for everyone in itself.

Eh, this stranger’s $0.02, anyway.

Dave Walter said...

Chris,

What keeps me commenting on certain blogs of guys who hold views diametrically opposed to mine is not the desire to change their minds or win arguments, but instead to ensure that on-the-fence lurkers receive a contrary viewpoint. The more contrary viewpoints, the better, and when they come from you, the better still.

David

Elbow said...

Chris,
I'm sorry I'f I've been harsh toward you.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate your voice.
I love you so much.
Your story and the ways in which you've given me strength are really important to me.
Please, if you have anything you want to say on my blog, I welcome it with open arms.

Chris said...

Thanks, all, for your comments. (And Elbow, I've never thought you harsh toward me at all.)

santorio said...

when i first entered this part of the blogosphere, i wondered whether the recurrent themes would eventually wear themselves out. what more can be said about church authority, the intrinsic gay instinct, etc.? but the personal stories change and in them i look for new perspectives on my own conflicts. and of course, just putting things in writing [since the written word is by nature more logical than thoughts or speech], i gain new insights whether or not anyone reads or makes comments. there is a season for every purpose, i may be blogging a month from now, 5 years from now, maybe not, but as martha would say, it's a good thing.

Gay4Good said...

Chris, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. It's only understandable that you are feeling raw and vulnerable after learning KK has decided to move herself and your daughters thousands of miles away.

My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. I hope you are getting the support and love you need from your friends and family. If you feel comfortable with it, please don't hesitate to ask your friends in the blogosphere for support.

Please know that it was also painful for me to read Through A Glass Darkly's blog and I don't even share any of his experiences (other than being a gay man who was raised in the LDS faith). The fact that you share more in common with his experiences (having a family and wife, living in the same city, being close in age, and having a job where you travel a lot) surely stirred up a lot of emotions for you.

I totally support your decision to stop engaging in the gay LDS "mixed marriage" debate. You don't need to inflict any more pain on yourself. You have experienced enough pain already.

Marriage should never be a sacrifice for anyone. There is nothing righteous or healthy in that kind of sacrifice. And it sets a terrible example for the children in those kinds of marriages.

It's sadly ironic that "Through a Glass Darkly" has dubbed himself "John Galt" aka the hero of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" novel: a work that is essentially an argument against the idea that sacrifice is a noble value.

"In love, the self is celebrated, not denied, abandoned, or sacrificed."

- Nataniel Branden (Author and psychotherapist. A former associate of Ayn Rand, who broke with her movement after he realized a lot of her teachings were being presented in a way that lead people to deny their true selves.)

Again, my heart goes out to you Chris. You have been very brave and made some very difficult choices over the last year. They have been the right choices for you and your family, but also painful choices.

Continue to remember you have the right to be happy and deserve to truly love another man and be loved by him in return.

sara stratford said...

Gay4Good said:
Marriage should never be a sacrifice for anyone.

In my opinion, marriage is a sacrifice for EVERYONE. You give something up for a greater good. I believe that anything of value requires some amount of sacrifice. Right now I'm sacrificing time, sleep, money, leisure, a career, my body, and countless other things for my children. While I adore my children, it's still a sacrifice. Is it worth it? I think so.

Chris has essentially sacrificed his family (in the sense that he won't be living close to them, or live with them anymore) to save himself. John Galt believes that to save himself, he must sacrifice his male/male relationship. Everyone has to choose their own path and what they believe will bring them ultimate joy and contentment.

I'm not making a statement on whether a gay person should marry or not. It's up to each individual, but based on what I've observed lately if I had a gay friend considering a mixed marriage I'd advise against it. I just couldn't let a comment like "marriage should never be a sacrifice for anyone" slide by without comment, since I see many hetero marriages (including my own) full of sacrifice.

Chris said...

Thanks for your comment, Sara. I'm so glad I know you.

Chris said...

gay4good:

Thanks also for your supportive comments. While I agree with Sara's point--that all marriages/relationships require some sacrifice--I also agree with your point, as I understand it, that not all sacrifices are noble or good. Some sacrifices are ultimately destructive.

I take comfort in my low moments in my belief that the choices I have made over the past year about my marriage and the relationship I will have with KK going forward will ultimately make me a better father, friend and partner.

sara stratford said...

Ditto, Chris. Can't wait to see you soon!!

Gay4Good said...

In his book, "Honoring the Self, The Psychology of Confidence and Respect" Nathaniel Branden describes sacrifice as "the immolation of the higher in favor of the lower... Sacrifice means the surrender of a higher value in favor of a lower value or a nonvalue. If we give up that which we do not value in order to obtain that which we do value - or if we give up a lesser value in order to obtain a greater one - this is not a sacrifice but a gain."

So compromise in marriage and giving up things so your children can be provided for are not really sacrifices in my mind, but "a gain" as Branden explains it.

sara stratford I don't see Chris and "John Galt" as being morally equivalent as your post seems to imply, as you mention they have just sacrificed different things. Chris has not sacrificed anything, he has been honest with his wife and children about who he his and I believe that by honoring this truth Chris has benefitted everyone in his family and they have ultimately gained from his honesty. It may not be an easy situation but it is the healthiest most moral thing he could have done for everyone involved.

On the other hand I think "John Galt" is sacrificing himself to a belief system that lacks a morality based in reality. He and his family will suffer because of this, and suffer for no good reason.

Again, as Branden writes in his book:

"To sacrifice our happiness is to sacrifice our desires; to sacrifice our desires is to sacrifice our values; to sacrifice our values is to sacrifice our judgement; to sacrifice our judgement is to sacrifice our mind. Self-sacrifice means - and can only mean - mind sacrifice.... If compliance with and conformity to the norms of the 'group collective' are regarded as the cardinal good, the mind of the individual has to be an object of sacrifice... The person capable of principled moral reasoning needs to sacrifice his ability and his judgement to those who have not yet attained a 'postconventional' level of reasoning: the sacrifice of the higher to the lower."

In my opinion "John Galt's" belief in Mormon doctrine is not a higher value but very much a lower one.

D-Rock said...

I've been silently reading all of your blogs for many months now, but today I feel I need to make myself known and leave my own two cents. I rarely get involved with such discussions, but today I'm feeling like I can't keep quiet.

Just to preface, this comment actually has nothing to do with the people involved with this blog, homosexuality, marriage, LDS Faith or anything of that nature. It has solely to do with (in my eyes) the concept of sacrifice in a Biblical/Judeo-Christian context. It's my own opinion, and one that I've never seen or heard taught in Sunday School. It's also one that for the most part I have kept to myself, but will share when I choose. I've been called a heretic for this by some, and others have applauded my offering. I started thinking about this actually while serving an LDS Mission, and have never been able to shake it. This thought centers around the story of Abraham and Issac. Here I go:

When it comes to sharing a nice Biblical story regarding sacrifice, nothing bothers me more than the recounting of Abraham. I really don't respect Abraham all that much for his complete obedience of the order to sacrifice his son. After a lot of pain and anguish, Abraham decided that he would practice faith and take Issac to Moriah to be sacrificed. I've honestly asked myself the question of whether or not I could have done that myself. For me the answer is gratefully, no. Here's why. I can't help but be dumbfounded that Abraham was really willing to spare the life of his innocent son in order to show his creator that he was willing to be obedient. It has never sat well with me. Instead I think to myself, wouldn't the greater sacrifice have been to say, "This is what you can do with your blood order--stick it where the sun doesn't shine. I'll sacrifice my own salvation in order to save my own son's life. If this is what you call a test, then let me fail and let me fail proudly and firmly". Wouldn't Abraham have shown more 'sacrifice' (giving something up of upmost importance) by forfeiting his favor and promises with God, in order to honor his son, his own flesh and blood? Wouldn't that have been the 'greater sacrifice'? He was asked to surrender his son to test his faith, but what about surrendering his faith to ultimately honor his God and his child? This question doesn't sit well for most devout Christians, or devout anything, but one I feel should be asked.

So, what does it really mean to sacrifice? Sometimes it's taking that first step into the complete unknown without any "promises" or "blessings" in store. It's acting without the hope of the silver lining, but just doing what you know you got to do. Maybe it's going out on the limb without a net. That, my readers, is what sacrifice means to me.

Chris said...

d-rock, you rock.

Thanks for commenting, and amen. Very insightful.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.