Sunday, July 23, 2006
A BASIS OF COMPARISON
I remember having numerous discussions on my mission with my companions, particularly those who were recent converts, about how their perspective of the Gospel was different from my own - me being raised in the Church by an active family in the protection of Utah. Because they had different backgrounds, and many experiences living outside the Church and outside the commandments and guidelines of the Church teachings, their perspective and approach had a totally foreign angle or view to my own. Undoubtedly, such discussions of comparisons would lead to my companion saying either: 1) the superior attitude for having tasted the forbidden: "You just don't get it because you haven't experienced "the other side", or 2) the envious attitude with a twist: "I wish I were like you and didn't have to have gone through what I went through", or 3) the you-can't-really-be-a-good-mormon-from-Utah attitude: "You've had it too easy your whole life with the gospel around you, I'm sure you've taken it for granted."
Of course, at times, I would rebut with something like: 1) my superior attitude: "Well, I can feel the joy of worthy living", or 2) my trying-to-seem-not-so-perfect attitude: "Well, I've gone through some hard times, too!", or 3) my Utah-isn't-always-easier attitude: "Well, it's actually HARDER being a TRUE believer surrounded by the take-it-for-granted lifestyle". (I would get that a lot at BYU from the my-life-is-harder-than-yours crowd).
With people investigating the Gospel, the commandments would be taught and similar arguments would arise. I remember once teaching an 18 year old graduating high school student. He played the sax and loved the group "Chicago" and had posters of them all over his room. He was quite talented and quite a 'golden contact'. He was very interested and intrigued by what we taught. He was willing to accept everything, including the Word of Wisdom, tithing, Sabbath Day, etc. He was reading the Book of Mormon and following the spirit. But, when it came to the law of chastity, I remember vividly his response: "YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!" He was amazed that we (my companion and I) were still virgins. He challenged us that he would be baptized next Sunday if we could find ONE VIRGIN young man his age within the city (65,000 people). He was so convinced that he was right, that it was a pretty sure bet... and we were pretty well convinced that he was right. He couldn't relate with - no, he couldn't even comprehend our perspective and we had a hard time expressing that he was wrong not KNOWING what he knew about SEX, though we tried to show the MORAL SUPERIORITY that having been pure brings "blessing unmeasured". He couldn't see those blessings. His basis of comparison was so different that the discussion could not continue. Needless to say, we never found another 18 year old virgin, and he never got baptized.
In my last post, Sam wrote:
"It's interesting for me, because I know what I have, and I also know what I'm missing, the basis of comparison is available. You have only the knowledge of what you have, and the fantasy of what you think you're missing - a different basis of comparison.
"How I would love to be in your shoes. How I would love to have the opportunity to tell the Savior, "I wanted something, but I didn what you asked me to do, instead." I don't have that option anymore. Regret is an ugly master. Choice is a sacred gift."
This has made me think a lot this week about the choices I'm making. I know I have a different perspective on this internal struggle I'm facing, a different basis of comparison:
1. I'm coming 'out' to myself at a much older age.
2. I've never been sexually active with another man (though I've come close a couple of times).
3. I've always been the good-boy. I'm the 18 year old virgin.
4. I fantasize over what it would have been like, or what it may be like... regrets.
You see, I have regrets as well. Yes, I have the power of choice and have made "good choices" to date, but these fantasies and feelings, these desires and passions want to have some basis of comparison in reality - not just fantasy!!!
For some, this may be a sorrowful and silly debate - seeing what I have given up, not having tasted the fruit of same-sex passion, and missing out on the "joy". For others, an envious one, having tasted the fruit and experienced the lie or bitter results of that choice, and wishing never to have done it, never to have "known".
So which is better? Who has the upper hand? What perspective, or what basis-of-comparison is superior and ultimately worthy of pursuit of living my life?
I guess I'm glad (in a smug sort of way) that there is still a choice before me, and I'm sad (in a regretful sort of way) that I'm missing out.
I don't know...
There are many paths.
But, there is only one gate...