Monday, February 02, 2009

What is one to do?

In reading the Standard Examiner's Sunday paper yesterday, I noted this editorial cartoon by Grondahl that says it all....

"You can't marry and... well, you must help us to pretend that you really don't exist."

There you go. There you have it in a nutshell... life of a Gay in Utah.

I've noted that the discussions on several blogs are centered on the double-speak of the church, particularly regarding the $2k vs. $190k revelation of church expenses for Prop 8. I mentioned on Abe's blog

"...If the Church steps in to prevent the same common laws for gay partners that were deemed acceptable by the Church in California, I think I'll begin to come apart at the seams. If they don't, and allow those same rights and privileges for Utah gays that were acceptable to California gays then I'll see more of an even-handedness in it all. To me, this will be the tipping point..."

My comment was then added to by Scott as follows:

"...The problem is that the Church's approach to the Common Ground measures in Utah so far has been to remain silent--and that silence will almost certainly not be interpreted by lawmakers as "allow[ing] those same rights and privileges" but rather as silent disapproval. I worry that nothing short of an outright declaration of support from the Church will sway legislators who allow the Church to be their "moral compass", and that that outright declaration of support will never come.

In other words, I don't think that it is, as Beck indicated, a choice between stepping in to prevent the laws from passing vs. letting them pass, but rather a choice between standing aside and watching them fail or stepping in to reaffirm support for [limited] equal rights. I'm afraid it's becoming more and more obvious which approach."

And then Alan added on his blog:

"...Beck said if the Church stepped in to block the Common Ground Initiative, he would start to come apart at the seams. Well, Beck, the Church didn't overtly step in. It knew exactly what it was doing. But it created the same result as if it had. So get out your fiberglass strapping tape Beck because you'll need it to hold yourself together.

You know, I've been an active, faithful Church member all my life. I served a mission, I've kept my temple covenants. But this kind of behavior by the Church is really really starting to get to me. Anybody else?

And subsequent response from others stating that they were finding it hard to stay in Utah and in the Church such as Sarah:

"...Definitely. I dare say I am pissed off. Between this, my "favorite" teacher in relief society, and the awesome feeling at the documentary interview, it is getting more and more difficult to find a reason to stay.

God bless us to know what is right and what is really wolves in sheep's clothing

And then my response:

"I have no problem in "staying" when it comes to doctrine and principles. I am firm in my beliefs, my convictions, my assurances, my testimony.

What I'm struggling with is my confidence in the leadership as they speak out of both sides of their mouths for political expediency. And I'm concerned this is the beginning of the unraveling of the seams. I'm not leaving Utah. I'm not leaving the Church. In fact, I encourage all of those who are considering leaving to contemplate the good that can be done by staying... we just need to find a good supply of strapping tape

So is now the time to run? Is now the time to be mad as hell and quit the fight?

You've got to be kidding? What good will that do? That is the point of the editorial cartoon... "they" want us to disappear. They want us to run and hide. They want us to leave Utah. They want us to quit the Church and the State and leave and never come back.

But what good will that do? What good will any of this do? What good am I in the fight? What can I do? What am I willing to do as I continue to hide?

My point is I still have my convictions. I still have my assurances of the Spirit. I have my testimony of doctrine and principles centered on Christ and His Plan for me that I cannot dismiss or dispute or deny. Where this is leading me is to doubt the Church leadership and their handling of things for political expediency and not for divine direction. The well articulated legal summation by Alan says it all. It is double speak and double action. It is deceitful and disingenuous. Is this what I want and expect from the Church? And as such, I find my seams coming undone and I need to find something to sew me up again and make me whole again. But I can't run. I can't come undone... or all is lost.

There was a time when the Church around Joseph was coming undone in Kirtland and Independence. His Zion Societies were failing. His closest associates and many key members were disgruntled by the economic losses and mishandling of funds, and the Zion's Camp debacle to restore Zion - and many left the Prophet for seeing him as dishonest and politically expedient.

There was a point where even the Lord pulled back and said (in so many words): "This ain't workin' Joseph!".

And yet the work went on, retrenched and reborn in Nauvoo and later in SLC. This isn't just an experiment, otherwise it would have failed so many times before as past experimental societies failed throughout history. But, it lived on and has become the prophetic "stone cut without hands".

So, am I to be a Missouri saint or Kirtland saint who has lost everything and been tarred and feathered and seen my family destroyed and walk away because I can't handle it anymore? Or am I to be faithful to the spirit that I know inside me to be undeniable, and hold to that voice and the love of the Savior in my life - recognizing that the Prophet (Joseph or otherwise) are imperfect, fallible men, who do the best with what they've been given just as I am asked to do with what I've been given, and to hang on for the long haul as the stone roles forth?

I don't know... This isn't easy. It never is. I've never seen the fallibility of the leadership so clearly as right now with the way they have politically managed and misled the members over this issue and now continue to be "silent" when a little nudge in the right direction (such as with the liquor laws) can go a long way to doing a lot of good. The two-sidedness and hypocrisy is hurtful indeed. And so I am hurting, and my convictions are hurting. I'm disappointed. But is it enough to make me run? Or am I going to stay and try to be a voice of reason, a voice of conviction?

In my world around me, the typical member doesn't have a clue. These issues don't affect them personally, and so they don't see it as any debate at all. They see that the Brethren are not dishonest or hypocritical or politically expedient over this issue. They are divinely inspired. And as long as they still feel that way, what will change? This certainly won't change until the masses of the membership see it for what it is. And will my leaving the state and leaving the Church do anything to shed light where now there is only secrecy and darkness? NO!

And how will any of this help me to do the best I can with what I've been given to help others be more Christlike? I don't have time to be bitter and angry. I need to see the bigger picture more clearly and have faith that this too will resolve itself in the Lord's way just as the trials and tribulations of the past did.

This is getting too long. Help me here. What is one like me, a closeted gay Mormon believer, supposed to do?

Instead of picking at my unraveling seams and making them worse, I need to go find some strapping tape...


Kengo Biddles said...

I had an interesting conversation with an Elder's Quorum President recently who made the comment to me that he thought it one of Satan's ultimate triumphs to get good members of the church to think that the only party that could represent their beliefs is the same party that leads to some of the most unchristian behavior in the political scene.

I wonder if we, as members are going through the same feelings as more enlightened members during the pre-1978 priesthood revelation era, where we know what's happening is wrong.

I know for me that I'm sticking with it, hoping that things will change will get better. I have a firm testimony of the veracity of the Gospel, but yes, my belief in the veracity of the Church's dealings in the political scene has DEFINITELY changed.

Bravone said...

My heart is heavy. I understand why my friends are offended. I too am wounded. I cannot afford to leave. I know the gospel to be true. The Church, imperfect as it may be, is helping me and my family understand and live the gospel.

Christopher said...

Well said, Beck, well said.

I agree we need to stick it out and let them know we are here. The church is still the church of Jesus Christ, and it will achieve its mission, but its leaders are still just some guys that Jesus has to work through. To give them credit, overall I would do a terrible job at leading this church, even if I handled gay issues with greater understanding.

One day they'll get it right, just like they did in 1830, 1890, and 1978. In the meantime, our Mormon gay lives might get stinky sometimes. But also, in the meantime, we still need to stick around and speak out, too, which may mean coming out of the closet, as I will have to do soon enough to get my point across.

Beck said...

Though the rewards eventually came to those who patiently waited, it certainly wasn't easy. And how many families were wrecked in the process. Why does it have to be so hard?

And yes, the veracity of faith is there, but the veracity of doubt regarding this current political scene is equally there.

The fear is in the possibility of allowing my doubt to overcome my faith.

Beck said...

BRAVONE: My heart is heavy, too, and yes, I do understand the offense taken. What bothers me is that I really had high hopes (some may call them false hopes) that the Brethren would have at least nodded in silence on being neutral, but nevertheless, okay with the initiatives to bring Utah in step with other states (particularly California) - and all it would take is a wink and a little head bobble - or maybe just one or the other - to make it happen without the Church being held personally responsible for such changes to these laws. I really thought they would be even handed knowing that everyone followed their words with exactness during the campaign. To not do so now, stabs me to the core. It makes me feel slapped and abused - and if it makes me feel this way - what must it do to those like Cog and others who are so much more personally impacted by this political expediency and disingenuousness of the Brethren. Where is the love and kindness that Pres. Monson is famous for? Where is the compassion and understanding? Why is this being treated so spitefully?

Maybe these aren't fair questions to ask as I certainly am the least informed here of what is really going on, but such questions are racing through my brain and I feel compromised, and confused and betrayed.

I know early saints felt that way of Joseph. I know disciples felt that way of Christ himself. Am I to leave them? Where will I go?

And so I stay. But the wound is there and it shakes my devotion to what I've always been devoted to. You know this. You know me. And I sit here quietly hiding in my closet - and there's nothing I can do.

Beck said...

CHRISTOPHER: Thank you for commenting on my blog. I just became familiar with yours and your story with your wife. It's quite incredible and I look forward to following the two of you as you continue to give voice and share what young MOMs are going through and how they are handling the joys of marriage.

And yes, to make a difference, we need to be out of the closet, or at least being willing to speak out for love of all mankind. Coming out is a very unique and individual matter and I don't advocate telling anyone how to do it (I certainly have my reasons for not and yet my desires to be more vocal) and finding that path is uniquely yours.

But we are in this together, even if we aren't exactly on a prescribed journey.

Best wishes for you and your dear young family!

Sarah said...

Eek, Beck, my comment on Alan's blog is kind of embarrassing, isn't it?

Just last night I was talking to my sister about the weekend, especially about people I met at the interview that have chosen to leave the church. I mentioned to her that it scared me that I might ever get to that point, but I couldn't ever see it happening. She quickly agreed that she could not see me ever doing something like that.

(Despite the fact that I am annoyed with one lady in my ward, I am overjoyed with the efforts that I see many others making to reach out to me with non-judgmental Christ-like love.)

Just last week, as a friend of mine from work (who has a gay brother) and I were planning for the interview, we were thinking of the worst possible ramifications for being in the documentary. We decided that the worst that could happen would be excommunication, and that seemed unlikely, but if it did happen, we would just keep going to church and doing the best we could until we were allowed to be full-fellowship members again.

Beck, you said:

The fear is in the possibility of allowing my doubt to overcome my faith.

That is my fear as well. As long as we keep having conversations like this one on our blogs, I think we will all keep each other from letting that happen.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and perspective!

Beck said...

SARAH: I wasn't calling you on the carpet. I was just calling out to everyone to recognize that even though it's painful to see such "behavior" from our leaders, do we really throw it all away or do we try to get the word out and increase knowledge from within?

I appreciate and honor you and know you are trying to follow the spirit - and far from me to tell you what to do - just asking for level heads to prevail over passion (and this from one who is much more passionate first and level-headed second).

Thanks for your comments.