This week I had the privilege of taking a newly baptized member of the Church along with my teenage son (who is actively questioning the validity of Joseph Smith) to Temple Square to see the Joseph Smith movie. My son and I had seen it before, but this was the first time for this new member. I hoped that the interaction of a newly excited member with my doubting son might spark some thoughts and eventually some action on his part to find out for himself whether this Joseph Smith story is just that - a fabulous, incredible story, fabricated by an ingenious youth or whether it was simply true and that was that.
I must admit that whenever I see a graphic visualization of such key indescribable events involving Divinity being portrayed in a cinematic manner - such as the First Vision, the visits from Moroni, or the restoration of the Priesthood from angelic messengers - I get wigged out. I don't like the representation, no matter how professional the images and media have become. It makes it feel fake, sacrilegious surreal, even hokey. (Is this just me, or do others feel this way?) Yet, the overall portrayal of the Prophet was spot on! The ending messages that "we don't need to see him to know he's a prophet" and "shall we not go on in so great a cause?" (D&C 128:22) are powerful enough to overcome any such shortcomings, and in the end the spirit was clearly there to retestify to me that he IS a prophet and that I should be going on in this great cause!
Yet, there I was somewhat nervous about my son's and the new member's reactions. Was this a wigged-out experience or a spiritual one testifying of truth? Was I feeling embarrassed or even apologetic for the incredibility of the story? Were my own doubts being made self-evident by even feeling such an overwhelming sensation that this WAS such an unbelievable story to swallow!
I was pleased to find that both my companions that night left reassured that this was more than just an incredible story. I asked the new member if it didn't seem too incredible to believe. The response was amazing: "The spirit has told me it is true. I don't need to worry about or doubt such things. I've made up my mind and now I don't need to constantly ask myself if I was right. I've chosen this path and that's all there is to it." My son was very struck by this commitment. Overall, it was a good experience for all.
My point? Well, I'm not sure that it's coming across very well... I guess it is this: I never ever doubted these things (the Church's origins and restoration) ever from when I was a child and first remember hearing them. I never doubted them through high school and seminary, nor as a missionary, nor as an adult leader in this Church. But, ever since my world was turned upside down and I came to terms with my attraction issues head on and all that came with that truth-seeking encounter so late in life of who I was and why I continue to have these feelings of attraction, I have exposed myself to doubting things that should have been resolved and put to bed long ago. Clarity, black-and-white, absolutes... they all have become much more fuzzy, grey, and theoretical.
Here I am still being the "good soldier", the "righteous father" and doing the "right thing". But "good" and "righteous" and "right" don't feel as "good" and "righteous" and "right" as they once did. Such words have lost their power and meaning. Why? What has changed?
I am reminded of Alma's question:
"And now, behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26).
Why can't my world be black-and-white clear and exact again as it once was? Will I ever have the unquestioning faith that I once had? Why have I allowed this "issue" to tear apart my world and beliefs of all things (not just things regarding being gay) and make me re-examine things that should have been resolved long ago? How many times do I have to have the Spirit remind me of what I've already learned in spiritual convictions of the past?
Don't get me wrong... Count me as a believer! The spirit has witnessed to me enough times to not doubt... and yet, it's still pretty stormy and grey out there...