OF SELF-IDENTIFIED "GAY MORMONS" ON THE TOPIC OF
HOMOSEXUALITY & THE GOSPEL
One of two essays on the topic by Steve S.
read the literature of modern "gay Mormon"
groups, it would seem that the only Christian thing to do
would be to love people who have chosen to live out their
apparently inborn homosexual feelings and to view their
choice as acceptable and good. But when we have
testimonies of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ led by
the Lord's prophets and we know they teach that there is
a higher path that leads to a deeper joy, our desire is
to encourage our brothers and sisters to seek the
greatest happiness and to avoid falling for the Satanic
substitutes that, at times, seem so logical or natural.
This essay will explain attitudes and perspectives that are commonly found among those people who have not been able to trust Gospel teachings on sexuality, who have embraced their homosexuality, and who subsequently found their spiritual foundation shaken. We will see some of the fruits of people's choices that clearly lead them away from a close relationship with the Saviour and the solutions to the real issues.
The experience at a typical Affirmation conference and overall impressions from years of observation of various "gay Mormon" groups are shared here.
The companion essay (linked at the end of this one) describes the efforts of many Latter-day Saints to deal with same-gender attraction challenges in a faithful manner and will show that there is hope for fulfillment and happiness for Latter-day Saints who remain faithful to Gospel principles while dealing appropriately with their same-sex attractions.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I have been keeping my eye for some time now on two opposing forces battling for the hearts of Latter-day Saints who experience homosexual feelings, and I would now like to share with you some things I have learned in the sincere hope that it can bless your life and that of others you may know and help to bring you lasting happiness.
There are, of course, many varied experiences with and attitudes toward the homosexuality some of us experience in this life, but generally there are two main camps: those who tend to accept and embrace all the teachings of the restored Gospel regarding sexuality, and those who tend to reject and criticize them because they don't accept the prophets' teaching on this particular subject. This essay is one in a set of two essays addressing these two philosophies.
If you or someone you know is not quite sure what to think about these two opposing philosophies or if you think the good parts from both can somehow be blended together, these reports are especially meant to help you. Please note that these two essays are not meant to cover the entire subject, but rather have been written to share some of my observations of the fruits of each kind of philosophy.
|This report will speak of those people who believe the prophets are wrong (or are misunderstood) on this subject and who gravitate to groups like Affirmation, Family Fellowship, Reconciliation, Gamofites, GALA, the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, PFLAG, GLSEN, the various "gay Mormon" youth groups, and the many "gay Mormon" groups online. Most of these people (and their non-homosexual supporters) end up leaving the Gospel way and many of them become bitter against the Church. I will explain why I think this happens in my comments to follow.|
MY CONCLUSION (AFTER MUCH OBSERVATION)
I am going to admit right here at the beginning that I have already come to a conclusion: that more happiness comes from striving for the ideals of eternal family, self-improvement, and reliance on the Saviour as taught in the Church than by striving to "be true to oneself" in the way promoted by the pro-gay groups. (In reality, it's more a question of which self we are wanting to be true to...our mortal self or our eternal self, the natural man or the covenant, spiritual man.) But despite the conclusions I have reached so far in this journey, I will attempt here to make my comments below as fair and as objective as humanly possible while sticking firmly to the truth. I am a witness to what I describe below.
I also want to make clear at the beginning that my efforts at trying to understand both sides are based on my desire to love every human being in a Christ-like way. This love is an active kind of love that allows people their freedom to choose but that certainly tries to teach good principles as I understand them and to encourage people to seek better ways. If a person truly loves another, he will not only accept his friend as he is, he will also encourage his friend to investigate and to pray about what could be a better way and then to do what he knows to be right. I try to help people with homosexual challenges to regain and to grow their spirituality. But because I believe that there is a profound wisdom in the teachings of the Lord's prophets about eternal family relationships and the sacred use of sexuality, some "gay Mormon" activists mistakenly conclude that I am expressing some kind of hate rather than my love and caring for them.
|Just a word or two about
the identifying terms used in these essays... I believe it is
important in this topic to attempt to clearly say what is
meant and to avoid misunderstandings with terms that can
mean different things to different people. Sometimes this
can be quite a challenge, especially when dealing with
mouthfuls such as "Latter-day Saints who desire to
resolve the issues underlying their same-gender
attractions in a manner consistent with Gospel
principles." In fact, I still don't have a nice,
easy way to describe those people repeatedly in longer
compositions. But those people from an LDS background who
have decided that they should order their lives around
their homosexual feelings have come up with a short name
for themselves: "gay Mormons" or "gay LDS
(sometimes abbreviated GLDS) people." So in
deference to these conveniently brief self-descriptions,
I have adopted these terms, although, in view of Gospel
teachings against their basic choices, I do place them
within quotation marks because I consider something like
"gay Mormon" to be an oxymoron of sorts. The
General Authorities of the Church have also carefully
chosen their wording in this subject in order to
explicitly avoid encouraging anybody to self-identify as
Although some people see this as just an issue of semantics that doesn't really matter too much, I believe it is in fact important how we see ourselves. If faithful Latter-day Saints use an adjective like "gay" to describe themselves, they and others can begin to identify with uses of the word that are directly related to concepts that are in diametrical opposition to revealed Gospel truths. I have no trouble talking about my homosexual feelings, but I have never considered myself a gay person. There is a big difference in my mind. The fact that this question comes up frequently in our discussions indicates its significance, I believe.
If you are a person who wants to affirm people in their homosexuality, I plea for you to give me the benefit of the doubt. Please believe that I truly care and that that is the reason I have taken the time to delve deeply into this topic and to write about my observations. Please understand that I am an intelligent, logically thinking person who desires to love you and not to judge you for your choices. There is some truth in what I say. If you will look for it, it can bless your life. I pray that this may be so.
IS DIALOGUE POSSIBLE?
Is dialogue possible between faithful and formerly faithful Latter-day Saints who see the whole topic of homosexuality so differently? Although both groups tend to see every issue through the filters of their own philosophies, I believe there are sincere people on all sides who see the antagonistic divide between them as something that is unfortunate and undesirable. Many people want to find ways to handle the homosexual experience that don't destroy spirituality or the love between brothers and sisters. I believe communication and progress are possible, if some people can be convinced to try to understand both philosophies and if love and caring are the primary focus. And this will also require more open-mindedness and true caring and compassion from those who consider themselves true Latter-day Saints.
Other than direct
conversations with friends and family members we know and love,
one important place where dialogue is happening is Bridges Across.
An LDS-oriented discussion group with a similar purpose is Family Reconciliation.
After participating and observing in online "gay Mormon" groups for years, I attended an annual conference of Affirmation Gay & Lesbian Mormons, the largest "gay Mormon" organization, in Las Vegas. In other years, their conferences have been held in places like Salt Lake City, Palm Springs, and San Francisco. Most of what I experienced there confirmed the conclusions that I had reached by participating previously in e-mail discussion groups and by visiting a local gay-supportive group. Let me share with you some of my experiences and the truth that I have discovered about this philosophical bent...
WHAT "GAY MORMONS" SAY ABOUT THEIR OWN FOCUS
I should quote some basic statements from Affirmation's website at the outset:
|"We affirm that homosexuality
and homosexual relationships can be consistent with and
supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ." "As
members and friends of the gay and lesbian community, it
is our intention to work for the understanding and
acceptance of gays and lesbians as full, equal and worthy
persons within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints ('the Church') and society, and to help them
realize and affirm self-worth."
"Affirmation is a fellowship of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, their family and friends who share the common bond of the Mormon experience. Its purpose is to provide a supportive environment for relieving the needless fear, guilt, self-oppression, and isolation that LDS gays and lesbians can experience in an era where willful ignorance about human sexuality is too often a reality. We believe that a same-gender orientation and same-gender relationships can be consistent with and supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We affirm that we are children of Heavenly Parents who love us the way they created us and will judge us, as they do all, based on what we make of our lives here and how we have treated our sisters and brothers.
[Note that my experience shows that, with time, many members of Affirmation and similar groups no longer believe in many of the teachings of the Church. Some hope that the Church's teachings on sexuality will change some day, comparing their challenges to the historical situation of blacks and the Priesthood. Many of them attend other churches that will affirm that homosexuality is OK, or they don't participate in any church at all. Some have developed their own philosophies about spirituality, and others are now complete atheists or bitter haters of God.]
|"Our goal of understanding and
acceptance of gays and lesbians as full and equal members
of society and church is furthered by:
spirituality, prayer and Christ-like behavior among all
people, and affirming the inherent dignity of all God's
children, regardless of sexual orientation.
In the report that follows, it will become clear, I believe, that some of these nice-sounding goals are not being realized at all in the real lives of many Affirmation people.
A few things in the report that follows contain descriptions of statements and actions that sensitive and spiritual souls may feel are quite offensive (although the detail I use is not pornographic). I describe these experiences only so you will truly understand the stark reality of what has really happened to the spirit of many of these people because of the worldly philosophies they are substituting for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The reading of this essay may indeed give you the experience of understanding just what kind of sadness God has often felt because of our poor choices.
And to the reader who identifies with the ideas of the "gay Mormons" that I claim are hurtful, I want to admit that I do have a tendency to make my judgments quickly based on the knowledge and experience I have and I may not have discussed the entire topic here completely or in the best manner. But it is not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings or to make myself appear superior in any way. I understand the confusion and the difficulties associated with these challenges, because they are my challenges, too. But I will state the truth in the best way I can.
I feel a bit like Ether when he said:
we write, we behold our weakness, and stumble because of
the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles
shall mock at our words.
A TYPICAL "GAY MORMON" CONFERENCE
The Affirmation conference I attended was held in a hotel around the corner from many of the bars, bookstores, and discos in the "gay district" of Las Vegas. When I walked in, I was handed a packet of information that included a map to many of the major casinos and gay businesses in Las Vegas, including the locations of the local pornography shops, cruising bars, and gay baths. Gay nightlife is always promoted in the cities where Affirmation conferences are held. In the reception area, there were local gay magazines with half-naked men on the covers and advertisements from people looking for sex with no commitments; advertisements for sex shops, including one owned by one of the workshop presenters where pornographic videos are rented; information about "gay Mormon" youth groups where people up to about age 30 are invited and the lower age limit is fuzzy but includes teenagers; and discount coupons designed to get people into the casinos for gambling. So from the start, it is clear that this group does not promote LDS standards of behavior. When a person comes to believe that the prophet can be wrong about something as fundamental as sexuality, he can also easily start to believe that the prophet is wrong about many other things. The last suggestion on their list of fun things to do in Las Vegas is "Gamble! Gamble! Gamble!" Having lived in Las Vegas and seen the many problems caused by greed and false hope, I know how foolish and destructive that can be.
The theme of the conference was taken from the national gay movement: "We Are Family." I came to realize that what was meant was that former Latter-day Saints who rejected the ideals of their families and their church (and who were sometimes then cut off by their families and their church) could choose new "families," made up of other gay people. Unfortunately, in the group of perhaps 130 people, I found very few people who still tried to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ very much, so I found it odd that they referred to themselves as "Mormons" -- even some who are now very bitter and opposed to what the Church stands for hang onto their LDS background and identity. Even they amaze themselves sometimes and blame it on the "cultic brainwashing" of their upbringing in the Church. They used LDS themes (such as "Charity Never Faileth") for their own purposes and even twisted the original meaning of sacred hymns to suit their desires.
A LACK OF RESPECT
During the Affirmation conference, frequent jokes, mocking, and criticism were expressed against the Church and against those people who try sincerely to live the Gospel (including those of us who are striving to deal with our homosexual feelings in a manner consistent with Gospel teachings). They made jokes about people who sincerely fasted and prayed about something important in their lives. One joke went like this: An LDS therapist supposedly tells his patient that masturbation leads to homosexuality. And the patient asks innocently, "But wouldn't all people be gay then?" The audience really laughed at that one. They also laughed when someone talked about offering sex to another man when he was still married. And when someone claimed that "gaydar" is better than the Priesthood. This group, as a whole, seems to have lost all sense of propriety or seriousness regarding sacred things. Undoubtedly, there are some individuals among them who would not be so disrespectful if the peer pressure in the gay community didn't place certain expectations on them. And I know of some people who, although they believe they must accept their "gayness," also desire to live Christ-like lives. But the doctrines of gay-affirmative philosophies determine in many cases what formerly faithful Latter-day Saints who have accepted their homosexuality will believe on many topics.
Unfortunately, I'm not just referring to the outspoken pro-gay activists among them. A lot of otherwise nice people laughed and applauded the ridicule of those people who can truly be called Latter-day Saints and their spiritual principles. It made me very sad. They spoke repeatedly of diversity and acceptance and tolerance, but I got the feeling I was almost the only person there who cared about spiritual things and drawing close to the Lord, and if anyone else was offended by the crude and mean and thoughtless behavior, the pressure to toe the pro-gay party line was too strong for them to stand up for what is right. Everyone (or nearly everyone) laughed at the slightest nuance of a joke about the Church or Evergreen or reparative therapy, etc. And when certain people were mentioned (such as Dr. Laura Schlesinger or Pres. Boyd K. Packer) who are supposed to be "anti-gay," according to the leaders of the "gay Mormon" movement, people in the audience would actually begin hissing. Speakers spoke of loving everyone -- even those poor souls who don't understand them -- but they didn't show much love toward people who are trying to live the Gospel. They complained over and over again about the "hate" they were forced to endure because of Church teachings, but having been among both camps (and knowing that hugging and acceptance of those who think like you is common in both Affirmation and Evergreen), I can clearly see a difference. The pro-gay ex-Mormons definitely harbor more hate in their hearts as a whole, although they claim it is the faithful, religious people who hate and persecute them.
A past director of Affirmation wisely noted that insensitivity can produce discrimination out of diversity, but although people kept saying that there were people present with all different levels of activity in the Church, they did and said many, many things that were insensitive towards the feelings of those of us who believe in Gospel principles like moral decency, submission to the Lord, and the exercising of faith.
PRO-GAY = ANTI-MORMON
Many of these people speak of an oppression they sense in the Church, and they try to align themselves with other groups in the Church that supposedly experience discrimination from the Church, such as non-whites, women, and intellectuals. They believe that the influence of the Church makes people believe that sex is bad (although the many discourses by General Authorities about sex state just the opposite). They believe that Latter-day Saints have a Victorian attitude and experience shame regarding sexual issues. In reality, these people frequently have a libertarian attitude about sex and who so easily give up their values and begin justifying all kinds of damaging and dangerous sexual behaviors.
So many people at the Affirmation conference seemed to want to violate all of the standards they previously held dear just to prove (in a very immature way, in my opinion) that they could do so as individuals who could choose their own paths. A lot of these formerly devoted Latter-day Saints now swear and drink coffee and abuse alcohol with some pride, for example, activities that are not necessary but that are seen as rebellious and independent. And when one conference speaker mentioned all of the things that they were now "free" from having to do, everyone clapped and cheered, especially when it was mentioned that they no longer had to wear "Mormon underwear." One lesbian sister was proudly unzipping her pants in public and showing passersby her underwear. They sounded just like non-members who don't have a clue about spiritual things rather than people who had previously gladly worn the temple garment and considered it to be a blessing. It is so hard for me to comprehend that people who had dedicated their lives to teaching deep Gospel principles to good people around the world now ridicule those same teachings (even though we do have examples of that in the Scriptures). I wish they could follow their conference coordinator's counsel to "have respect for people whose [beliefs] are different from our own." But then he goes on to say that they should appreciate what queer culture can hold up to mainstream society, even if it is mocking, provocative, or outrageous. There was great applause in the room when someone said we should have "a place for spirituality in our bedrooms, baths, and dance clubs." I know one gay ex-Mormon who has effectively turned lusting over naked go-go boys and late-night dancing in gay clubs into his new religion while piously stating that he gets his highs without alcohol or drugs. He actually believes those activities to be spiritual, somehow. It is so sad that these people have forgotten what spirituality really means and have ceased for the most part to seek closeness with the Lord.
The activities on the first evening of the conference were a mixture of entertainment, gay politics, and church-bashing. Steve Benson, a cartoonist who is a grandson of Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, along with a former Christian missionary who is now an atheist and the founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, shared some biting cartoons lampooning various churches and conservative people along with music with altered lyrics. These two men are both sharp-witted and talented people who think they know better than the Lord's anointed servants. Bro. Benson said some particularly horrible things about his grandfather, the prophet. Neither one is gay (although one night after the conference sessions were over it was reported by his wife that Bro. Benson went out with some conference attendees to a drag show and gay striptease one evening during the conference and behaved in what most people would consider a very outlandish and immoral manner.) There were various non-gay presenters at this conference; the one thing they had in common was they had all basically apostatized from the Church.
After the derisive cartoons and songs, there was some more enjoyable music from a gay & lesbian chorus, singing songs from the musical "Oklahoma" (although with lyrics changed to make all the characters gay). One guy was wearing pants so tight they were indecent, and another guy made a show of leaning over and staring at the crotch of a third man. Why that should be necessary for entertainment is beyond me, but it seems clear that "gay Mormons" are very much like gay society in general in that they give sex an inordinate amount of their attention and they often don't hold it to be anything sacred or even private. It seems that even most long-term gay relationships include sex with people outside of the relationship, and many gay people accept polyamory, anonymous sexual "fun," and perverted sexual behaviors as OK between consenting partners.
Here is a listing of the workshops that were held on the second morning of the conference:
"Yes, I Am Strong; I Am
Womyn" (presented by an in-your-face lesbian activist who
apparently prefers spelling "womyn" the lesbian way by
"What Gay Men Want: Dating in a New Century" (everything from quick sex to LTRs [long-term relationships = a few years or more])
"United We Stand, Divided We Fall" (trying to unify gay men and lesbian women even in areas having nothing to do with sexuality)
"Out & Proud through the Internet" (how to find gay websites and chat rooms)
"Next-Generation Mormons" ("gay Mormon" youth groups, a very popular workshop for young and old)
"I Am What I Am" (transgendered and intersexed people, a subject area which we faithful Latter-day Saints admittedly haven't addressed well)
"Charity Never Faileth: Encouraging Insights on Long-Term Relationships" (actually some good ideas for trying to maintain long-term relationships, presented by two lovers who had been a couple for 7 years)
"Living the Beautiful Life" (ideas for adding nice little things to life)
"GAY MORMON" ACTIVISTS
I was quite depressed by reading the bios of the various presenters and leaders of the movement and by hearing about their life stories. They started out so well with service and sensitivity and spirituality, and then it was common to hear of willful divorce and abandonment of children and sinful choices and excommunication and estrangement from families. And the saddest thing was that they tried to claim that they were now happy and not trying to regain these blessings. Here are some examples of what these people have chosen to do in their lives:
(To be fair, many of these former Latter-day Saints have been involved in their kind of service to humanity, but I am just emphasizing here some things that made me sad in their life histories and especially in their conscious choices.)
Steve Benson's self-description shows the kind of attitude that is strongly promoted in the anti-Gospel gay philosophy: "I was ostensibly an ideal Mormon -- going to church, paying my tithing, and doing my duty. In the eyes of my family and ecclesiastical leaders, I was a golden boy. Everything I was encouraged to touch (or, for that matter, to avoid) was designed to turn me into a better Mormon. And eventually into a god. Through the years, I served in many church capacities, from Boy Scout leader and Sunday School teacher to bishop's executive secretary and church high councilman. I devoted myself to being a scripture-reading, special underwear-wearing, church-attending, hymn-singing, prayer-offering, faith-promoting, tithe-paying member of the flock. I was on track to eternal Mormon stardom, reserved especially for faithful men in a church run by men... The ashes of my faith have prepared the ground for the planting of seeds that have produced new forms of truth, morality, and meaning on my own terms." The Scriptures warn us about the dangers of inventing our own religions instead of following God's word. Remember that scripture about "itching ears"? Steve's wife and children have also left the Church and they have ruined relationships with other family members...all precipitated by a libertine philosophy that is very similar to that of many active homosexual people.
Bro. Benson in his "comedic" presentation was offensive to spiritual sensibilities and disrespectful of his grandfather, the prophet. Even announcements of other conferences he has participated in have warned spiritually sensitive people against attending his presentations. He misused LDS terms in crude descriptions of his genitalia. He claimed that the Church and the Boy Scouts hate gays and atheists. This is a common refrain among "gay Mormons," who seem to totally miss the fact that standing up for a certain moral standard is not hate. They often seem to have a persecution complex, because it seems to justify their choices somehow. Another claim that was presented in order to make whatever we do OK was that there is no such thing as sin or that sin is OK. (Boy, the Scriptures warn us about that lie, also!) These people take great pains to point out the sins of religious people (especially divorce) and claim that religious people are the ones who are judgmental. They twist the truth wherever they can to make a point. For example, the claim was made that Catholic apologists say that all sexual crimes are committed by gays. The truth is that church leaders point out that most sexual crimes committed by priests are committed by priests who are homosexually oriented on boys and young men who look up to them, and that is a fact the pro-gay people don't want to hear. These people equate theocracy with hypocrisy, but they are being extremely hypocritical by talking so much about love and tolerance and diversity and nonjudgment and then being so intolerant, truly hateful, and judgmental toward good Christian people who only desire to live their lives the way God leads them to do.
Now, some of the vocal gay activists are going to call me judgmental even for writing this. But in German, there are terms for describing the two kinds of judgment that exist. One is judgmental criticism, and the other is righteous discernment. I am doing the best I can to simply state the truth with truthful conclusions here. I am going into some detail so you can come to your own conclusions from the larger picture. I urge the reader to seek confirmation of the truth from God, who is definitely willing to guide us if we are willing to be guided.
These gay former Mormons try desperately to justify themselves, I believe, by trying to make Church teachings seem wrong, evil, or just ridiculous. They use every method possible: "satire," the "authority" of their own experiences and former positions, anti-Mormon arguments, etc. They try to equate LDS theology with a certain kind of politics, and a comment was even made that attempted to equate the GOP with the KKK. Their sense of persecution is so strong that they often see religious and conservative people as communists, Nazis, or Klan members. Some "Gay Mormons" have invented derisive nicknames for Church leaders, such as Boyd KKK Packer. (They even came up with a name for me once in their e-mail discussion group: the SSSnake!) Of course, there are varying levels of decency from person to person, but most of what I describe in this essay is, sadly, not uncommon behavior among these formerly faithful Latter-day Saints.
LOWER STANDARDS AND WORLDLY PRINCIPLES
Many outspoken "gay Mormons" share nasty jokes and use graphic innuendos about sex. They seem to have lost their understanding about the specialness and sacredness of sexuality. So many of them now believe that it's just a form of recreation. They just don't want anyone making any rules or restricting their sexual expression in any way. "Do your own thing" and "Leave me alone" are repeated mantras.
In the workshop about gay dating, there were some good ideas about trying to find good people and develop a relationship that is not all about sex all the time, but not once did anyone mention the Gospel, testimony, or Christ in relationship to the topic. They did say that you might have to be tolerant of your partner's spirituality and negotiate about how to raise children. Nobody suggested that partners in a relationship could pray and find guidance from God.
These were some of the good ideas mentioned regarding developing good relationships:
These should be obvious, though, and more important principles (such as chastity before marriage and purity after) were ignored. This was very worldly advice with no comprehension of the true value of eternal families. A good suggestion for finding a good partner was to get involved in service in areas for which you are passionate. But the fact that sex is always a major factor in gay dating was reflected in the way the presenter encouraged us to be the right kind of person for a potential partner. His statement was, "I'd do me," (which has a very sexual connotation). Note that he didn't say, "I'd enjoy being with me" or "I'd enjoy sharing life with me." Monogamy was not promoted as the ideal, just as one acceptable choice among many. So-called "open relationships" were discussed as another acceptable alternative. It was said that our boundaries and standards change with time and that that is OK. The main purpose of sex was represented to be pleasure. Many people expressed the idea that they were now so happy to be free from Gospel restraints that limited the pleasures in their lives. There was some indirect expression of a preference for avoiding extreme sexual addictions, but nobody specifically advised against any choice one might make.
Two main reasons were listed for divorce in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships: 1.) a lack of communication, and 2.) a violation of personal boundaries.
THE POLITICIZATION OF SAD SITUATIONS
Instead of talking to family and friends in a sincere manner about their concerns about the suicide rate among Latter-day Saints who face challenges of homosexuality in their lives, they do things like stand in front of a church or a temple with stark signs reading "NO MORE HATE." But I don't think that is teaching anyone to be more loving. And when I heard them list the 25 or so names of people from their group who had died by their own hands, I was aghast. They claim that "failed theories" like reparative therapy and Church teachings cause many suicides, but I only know of a few people who were depressed enough to commit suicide if they accepted Gospel teachings and strove to follow them. The rest must have been people who could not find true happiness in the gay world.
A NEW SOURCE FOR "TRUTH"
Many people who consider themselves to be "gay Mormons" now believe that nobody can speak for God and that each person can find his own "truth" and that all ways of living are correct. Someone noted that the meaning of the hymn, "Oh, Say, What is Truth?" changes for them from time to time. They call the General Authorities of the Church "the generals" and see them as old men who don't understand but who desire to control people. They say that Church teachings deviously try to exercise mind control over people (in order to get rich from members' tithing). According to them, we should free ourselves from Church control and become who we really are. At one point in the Sunday "devotional," a particular book of modern philosophy was recommended to be placed next to our beds and on top of our Scriptures.
They taught that people should help people to rid their lives of the doctrines of the Church. We can ignore anything that other people say about our choices. We will find our own truth. (Stated by someone whose children have also left the Church.) According to this philosophy, we should avoid self-judgment and self-abuse. (Masturbation is NOT meant here; that practice was promoted throughout the conference.) People always spoke of the "authentic self" as if their previous sincere living of the Gospel had not been authentic. "Don't do what you don't want to do, and do do what you do want to do" is the motto.
"Gay Mormon" activists are definitely allied with anti-Mormon forces, generally. They share many of the same beliefs. There is even a group of them that meets every six months after General Conference to critique what the General Authorities preach, thinking they are learned and wise. Others claim that General Conference talks are so boring, depressing, or rage-inducing that they don't watch them. Since any reasonable person can see that the teachings of the General Authorities are full of sincere love and genuine wisdom and that it is foolishness to reject them all because of doubts about some points, I think it is clear that accepting these pro-gay philosophies is very detrimental to a person's spirit. The person who calls General Conference a "hatefest" is surely blind to the truth. These "gay Mormons," in their online forums, pretty much daily find things to criticize about the Church, such as the prophet taking time in his Christmas message to warn about the moral decay of Sodom and Gomorrah, a former member of the General Relief Society Presidency expressing her sadness at children being raised in homes led by gay people, and the LDS governor of Massachusetts working to maintain the traditional definition of marriage in the law. It's obvious that "gay Mormons" and true Latter-day Saints are on tracks going in diametrically opposite directions, but even though the "gay Mormons" are leaving the Church at break-neck speed, they just can't leave it alone.
A NEW VISION OF SELF
The pro-gay ex-Mormons believe that their identity revolves around their sexuality. One speaker expressed his thinking about his sexual identity by explaining that he knew he was gay when he had a sexual response when he looked at some gay pornography. It seems to me that many people have lost their true gender identity in that males refer to themselves and other gays with feminine terms (which is even more pronounced in Hispanic gay culture), and some people take it so far as to make the attempt to physically and psychologically change their gender. There were a few people at the conference who are intersexed, meaning they were born with mixed or incomplete sexual organs, and their situations do seem to be very confusing sometimes, but most of the effeminate males and butch females seem to exaggerate existing mixed feelings and have a choice about how they will live. The "gay Mormon" community encourages people to ignore the warnings of Church leaders about tampering with their gender.
INDECENCY AND IMMORALITY
I believe it's a good thing that men in these groups have learned to show affection towards others with hugging and kissing and so forth. Men need to learn healthy intimacy. Unfortunately, these people often make it too sexual by kissing near-strangers on the lips and grabbing derrières and constantly touching each other. They don't limit sexual expression only to their committed partners.
When I went to the workshop about "gay Mormon youth," the room was quite full. When the Affirmation leader introduced the founders of some support groups for young people, he commented that they "definitely are a draw," referring to the commonly known trait of many gay men to seek out young, sexy people (although they try to deny this). One of the few people who spoke in this conference who made an obvious effort to not offend spiritually sensitive people was one of the presenters in the workshop about youth issues, and I appreciated that. So much of the conference was difficult for me to sit through because of the constant berating and mocking of sincere people who desire a deeper spirituality.
They explained that the youth groups focus on the age range from teenagers through the early 30s because these are people who experience a lot of expectations from people around them about marriage, family, children, etc. Most of the people leading these "gay Mormon" youth groups seem to be very nice people, and their groups -- at least from the description -- seem to be more open and accepting of people with differing and unique perspectives on the topic. However, I have heard that GLYA, the main such organization, stopped organizing new groups for a while because of a lot of "craziness" in their groups -- whatever that means -- and at least one of the groups was disbanded.
A TENDENCY TOWARD ANTAGONISM
Noting that the "gay" youth (and those who have been involved in gay groups for a shorter period of time) tend to be more tolerant and the older people less so, I conclude that, the further someone gets from his Gospel roots, the less he is conscious of pure Gospel principles like tolerance. Because of the damage I am describing here that has been caused in the lives of some very good people, I am very concerned about groups like these that often offer themselves as a substitute for parents and Church leaders in encouraging young, inexperienced people to "be true to themselves" and not to worry about the teachings of their parents and Church leaders about sexuality. A disturbing comment was made in the workshop about youth issues that a relationship that lasted 6-8 months "is good, for our age." The activities of these youth groups don't emphasize sexual relationships, but they don't exclude them, either. They do state that abstinence is the best prevention of STDs, but they also pass out condoms in a discreet manner to the young people who desire them. Unfortunately, condoms are not wanted or used by many sexually active gay men. A main goal for these youth groups is the prevention of suicide, but they seem to believe that suicide is best prevented by eliminating any worries about a person's behavior choices rather than giving people hope and showing them the way out of these problems.
A SAD, SAD LIFE AS "ENTERTAINMENT"
A one-man play by Steven Fales (which has played in New York City and in other cities) was advertised as one of the main attractions of the Affirmation conference that year. Looking at the marketing poster for the play in which the gay version of Elder Fales is naked and covering his privates with a copy of the Book of Mormon, it was clear that this former missionary, husband, and father has lost all sense of decency. And apparently, many "gay Mormons" have, also, because the audience gave him an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of the play. In contrast to their enthusiasm for his work, I was so horrified that I bolted out of the theater while the applause was still continuing. And I am not easily shocked.
This play was basically a sarcastic, sacrilegious telling of Bro. Fales' tragic life with an unconvincing assertion at the end that, despite it all, he was happy. He started the play dressed like a missionary with white shirt and tie and ended it having taken off his shirt and unzipped his pants for an erotic dancer routine that was pretty much as close to nakedness as the county library would permit and went on for quite a few minutes (obviously something to draw the paying audiences of worldly gay men). He played some recordings of him singing some songs when he was an innocent child, including an actual recording of him singing at the funeral of his cousin who drowned. We hear the little boy singing a nice song and then breaking down and sobbing. What kind of insensitive brute would make money by playing a real recording of a young boy weeping at his cousin's funeral?? There were many such things that shocked and offended me in his play. He unfortunately married the daughter of Carol Lynn Pearson, whose husband left her and the Church and died of AIDS, thus causing a second tragedy in that family. He talked about having therapy with the president of NARTH, about meeting a man who really attracted him in a New York theater, about destroying the phone number and promising to be true to his wife and children. But very soon thereafter, he called all hotels in a certain chain in Manhattan to find this person and decided to leave his wife and children. When he told his stake president that he had determined that the Church was a fraud, the audience erupted in great applause. When he mentioned his "court of love" with a sarcastic voice, the audience broke out in defensive laughter. There were a couple of times when he got very quiet and it seemed he was really remorseful for some of the awful decisions he made in his life, but then I had to remember that he is just a good actor.
Other stories of these pro-gay ex-Mormons have been equally sad. Someone talked about seeing another "gay Mormon" for the last time during a previous Affirmation conference in Reno at a bar passed out on the floor. Now he is dead. Someone else was murdered. Another one of these people died in a hotel room fire surrounded by drug paraphernelia. A well-known case was that of a man who committed suicide in front of an LDS church. Suicide and AIDS are only two of the most common causes of early death among these people. Supposedly, accepting yourself and finding true love in a gay relationship solves these problems, but it seems clear that those people who trust in God and try to live faithfully the Gospel principles they know to be true have far fewer tragic problems of this type. I have even met some people who have had to struggle with terrible sexual addictions who still kept going on the path to living the Gospel because of the hope their faith gave them. And those who don't give up in the struggle eventually find success in the Lord.
"GAY LDS" SPIRITUALITY
I hoped to find some shred of spirituality remaining in these people in the Sunday devotional, but it was not to be. Although one guy wrote in the e-mail group later that he didn't normally like churchy things but that he was very much uplifted by what was said in this meeting, I didn't find much that was good or spiritual in it. Once again, they changed the lyrics to beloved hymns to something that is gay-affirming. I decided that these pro-gay groups don't affirm the whole, real person, just the gay parts of a person.
Here is the altered verse of "Come, Come, Ye Saints" as sung in their devotional:
Come, come, ye gays and lesbians,
Join in song; hearts will tell.
We stand as one and raise a mighty voice;
In the light, we shall dwell.
As we share with pride this message true:
We're God's gay children and we're loved, too.
Affirm this truth, and spirits swell -- All is well! All is well!
Sunday events of "gay Mormon" groups frequently include activities that do not promote or remember the sacredness of the Lord's Day. Things like movies and sports and patronizing open businesses. And if there is some kind of spiritual devotional, it is full of gay theology and the philosophies of men. Nobody seems to strive to understand God's will for our lives.
At the conference in Las Vegas, about the nicest thing that was shared in the Sunday "devotional" was encouragement that, when they felt thrown away by others, they should not throw themselves away. They were encouraged to do good and to be careful with what they choose for their lives. These were thoughts shared by one particular lady (but not reflected in the lives of many of the "gay Mormons" I know). And then she told the sad story of how she had lost the relationship with her mother because of her apostasy and her total lack of acceptance of Church teachings. Her mother felt that she could no longer speak to her daughter, that she no longer had anything in common with her...she had changed so much. They tell these stories in a way that makes you think that it's the mind-control Church that causes families to break apart. They never admit that their own choices and their insistence that there families must hate them if they don't support their choices are the real causes of estrangement. It was mentioned that most of them had chosen at one time in their lives to follow Christ (in contrast to Evergreen-type people, who have following Christ as a constant goal).
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE?
It was mentioned that Affirmation started as a group for gays and lesbians but now supports the entire spectrum of LGBTQI (lesbian - gay - bisexual - transsexual - questioning - intersexed) people. They support people who use the odd political term "queer" to describe themselves. A major "gay Mormon" group is called Queer Saints. I must say that I would much rather be a Disciple, Too than a Queer Saint. The thought came to me that they should simply describe themselves as a group for all people who are opposed to Gospel teachings about sexuality. Quite a few of these "gay Mormons" are also members of other anti-Mormon groups. (What a negative raison d'être!) Even one of the non-gay speakers explained that she believed in a more open sexual lifestyle now that she had left the Church.
I ran into several friends at this conference, and it was good to see them again, although I wished I hadn't seen them there. I was sorry to see some of them laughing at and applauding those things I have previously mentioned that are on a lower standard of behavior. A beloved friend from my years in Hawai`i who didn't seem to really be happy and who avoided me for a while. A couple of former members of Disciples who wanted to know if my "status" had changed. The mother of a gay son whose first question to me was, "Are you happy now? Have you accepted yourself now?" I told her that I am and I have, but not in the way she meant it. It is clear that the people who have accepted the anti-Gospel gay philosophy can't believe that we who are still working on living the Gospel better can be happy or successful. I also ran into an "enemy" or two, people who said awful and mean things to me when I expressed my pro-Gospel opinions in their e-mail discussion group. One of them used to seem to be like a playground bully in his personality, but yet he said some very kind-hearted and well-thought-out things in one of the workshops. I did not introduce myself to him, however, because I know how such people might treat me because of my beliefs.
One of the basic problems among the pro-gay people is that they often equate their sexual feelings with a part of their identities instead of realizing that homosexual feelings are just one more thing about which we can make choices. They don't seem to understand that some choices are indeed better than others and that not every choice is acceptable or good.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED FROM "GAY MORMON" GROUPS IN THE FUTURE
Well, someone talked about how Affirmation had developed its philosophy over two decades. The philosophy will not change, but their arguments will be refined. An attendee at the Affirmation confirmation put it like this: "If we're all going to Hell, I want to make my reservation the right way. If we're going to do this, then all the way!"
Many of the pro-gay ex-Mormons feel hurt by the teaching that their sexual sins are nearly equivalent in seriousness to murder. They all too often equate disagreement with their philosophies and encouragement toward a better way with discrimination and hate. They believe that we who are seeking solutions in the Gospel are really just experiencing self-loathing. They seem to become offended easily, and I think those of us who desire to show them a happier way need to find a way to truly understand how they feel and perceive things. Most of them at one time earnestly hoped that they could find the way to resolve their homoemotional feelings and find happiness in the Gospel. We need to find ways to help them restore their hope. It will depend a great deal on their ability to develop faith again.
HAVING IT BOTH WAYS
Some people reading this will still believe in the Gospel and desire to stay close to the Saviour but may be beginning to question the teachings of the prophets about sexuality. You may have read this report with shock or disgust and told yourself that you will never become what many rebellious "gay Mormons" have become. You want to follow your natural sexual feelings and be true to yourself while being true to your testimony, also. You may think that you can do it better than these people have done, that you can be pro-gay AND pro-Gospel.
And what about the kind, loving people who seek goodness within homosexual relationships? Aren't there some gay lovers who have been together for many years? Aren't there some who have adopted children and raised them in a very loving way, teaching them many good principles? Aren't there some who believe in monogamy and faithfulness to their lovers? Aren't there some who are active in service in the Lord's Church and who still have some testimony of the restored Gospel? Yes, there are some, and I commend them for not giving in to the pressure and false teachings of the majority gay culture and for seeking something on a higher plane. But I believe they are missing some of the most significant teachings and blessings of the life of a dedicated disciple of Christ...basic but profound principles such as faith and hope and obedience and testimony.
This is all I will say about that: the people who have lost all sense of decency, let alone their testimonies, started out in many cases with testimonies of the truth and a desire to live the Gospel they loved so much. But when you don't accept a major teaching of the prophets of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, you soon find yourself doubting and rejecting many of their significant teachings. And then you "find yourself" and "free yourself" and do anything you want (in other words, give in to the carnal man). Then the Spirit of God cannot dwell with you. Then you lose your faith and begin to believe that God just doesn't exist or care about us or perhaps that He approves of things you want to do. It's a progressive spiritual malady. But it is not possible to seek homosexual love, thus abandoning God's plans for our greatest happiness, and maintain the kind of spirituality that can allow the Lord to save us from all of our human weaknesses.
|If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy in the "gay Mormon" movement, you really have to seek after it to find it. The best aspect of that group of God's children is that they usually try to help each other feel accepted in a world where they have often felt rejected.|
Have some people seen the damage caused by this philosophy and changed their lives and returned to the Gospel and found answers for the same-sex attraction challenges in their lives? Yes, they have. I have seen it myself. But it is a small percentage of those who at some point accepted a pro-gay philosophy, perhaps because these homoemotional feelings are so confusing and the pro-gay philosophies appeal so much to the natural man in us. So I would say that, if you have not given in to this way of thinking yet, avoid it like the plague. And if you have and you desire escape, you will find love and realistic encouragement among those of us who are striving to fulfill the potential that God has for us while remaining true to the Gospel of Christ, our Saviour.
WHO I AM
I want to say a few words about who I am and why anyone should listen to my opinions about these things. I want to first make it clear that I am by no means a person who can judge others from on high. I have my own weaknesses and have made many mistakes in my life, including sinful behavior in homosexuality and mistaken attempts to find some happiness in homosexual relationships. But I am trying to improve myself and am having success to the degree that I place my trust in the Saviour and depend on Him. He is clearly working in my life now, and now that He is, it is becoming more and more obvious to me just why we humans need a Saviour.
Although I haven't always done what is right, I do have a good sense for what is right and what is wrong. I do have the ability to discern what our Heavenly Father would have us do when faced with homosexual feelings. Pro-gay people frequently complain that LDS people are self-righteous and always pointing out their faults, but actually I point out my own faults just as much as anyone else's. Just because we are not perfect doesn't mean we can't see right and wrong.
I have a lot more to say about homosexuality and faithfulness to the Saviour. With time, I will share more reasons why I hold fast to my testimony and the experiences I have had with the Saviour. But for now, I want to get these two essays out about the fruits of the two opposing philosophical approaches, so they can begin to open people's eyes.
A TRUE FRIEND
A caring friend will encourage someone to change, not just accept everything he does. I have made the significant effort to write and publish this report because I truly care about people who face these issues in their lives, not because I take any pleasure in judging others. I just believe that the fruits of the "gay Mormon" movement have produced much evidence that the prophets are right when they teach us how to find real and lasting happiness in our lives. I invite all sincere people to pray, to be willing to do whatever the Spirit teaches, and to be true saints in these latter days, for it will bring them great and lasting happiness.
Steven Cramer, in his wonderful book, Draw Near Unto Me, testifies that "Christ is less concerned with the mistakes we make than He is with having things made right with Him." Indeed,
sent not his son into the world to condemn
but that the world through him might be saved.
May God bless each sincere
person with the understanding and wisdom that lead to the
greatest happiness. And may we all be willing to allow the
Saviour to transform our hearts into something truly beautiful
that transcends our human limitations.
Click here to read a similar essay about the pro-Gospel SSA philosophy.
Click here to read about some of the Gospel principles that are important for dealing with these issues.
I would be happy to receive your
comments and suggestions regarding these essays at LDS_SSA@GeoCities.Com.
I will try to respond personally to your correspondence, but time limitations may not always permit that.
If you desire to share any part of these essays with others, please contact me for written permission.