Monday, March 08, 2010

So, where would you be?...

In Church yesterday, the question was asked: "So, where would you be if you didn't have the Gospel in your life?"

My immediate thought was: "Duh!...I'd be living with a gay partner somewhere in Europe without a doubt!!!"

The responses were typical from the class members, with one even trying to be funny: "I'd get a 10% raise and Sundays free!"

The teacher went on to discuss the blessings of the Gospel in our lives and that we are a happier and "better" people because of it and therefore we should share it with others - so why wouldn't we?

And I sat on the back row pondering: "Am I really better and happier? Is someone who is living in Europe with a gay partner any less happy or better?"

And then I thought that indeed, I would most likely be in Europe as my ancestors would not have joined the Church and immigrated to the United States. And if I am who I am, I most likely would be in a gay relationship and I would imagine it to be a committed one. I would like to think that it would be one full of love, but who knows - maybe I really would be miserable and a thug of some kind.

So, am I better? Am I happier?

I do know that this isn't a fair question. We can't play the "what if" games. I've done my share of that, and it goes nowhere very quickly. I can't second guess the choices made, or the choices of my parents and their parents who help to make me who I am. I can only go forward from where I am. And where I am is being a gay man who is a husband and father who believes in the gospel... and is happy and better for it.

And yet, I still wonder - where would I be without these blessings / struggles / conflicts / choices in my life?

So where would you be?


Rob said...

I'd be in different circumstances and just as prone to asking the same question. So I think you should stick with remembering that this is purely a theoretical academic exercise, created by Church curriculum writers in hopes of telling people that they would be worse off without the Church. We are what we are, we're where we are, and that's what we should deal with.

Kengo Biddles said...

I don't know that I'd be in a happier place if I didn't have the church in my life. I've always felt this yearning to have children, to be married/in a stable relationship - so I might well have been in a similar place as where I am now, senza vangelo.

I agree with Rob, too - "We are what we are, we're where we are, and that's what we should deal with."

Abelard Enigma said...

where would you be?

There is a very good possibility I'd be dead if I hadn't joined the LDS church back in college. That was before AIDS was recognized and diagnosed; and, there was no treatment whatsoever - a lot of gay men from that era died.

But, even with that - I can't help playing the "what if" game once in a while.

Beck said...

ROB: No, this lesson was not from the curriculum department. It was a lesson from the ward mission leader and his personal spin on getting everyone into being better about missionary work. Nothing sinister from the great and spacious building in downtown SLC.

Little did he realize where my mind went...

Beck said...

KENGO: I don't know if I'd be happier either, and yes, I, too, have always desired to be a father and have children. I know we can't play the "what if" game, but it was interesting where my mind went... ZING! :)

ABE: I hear you. I am grateful that you are not dead and that if finding the gospel and getting you to where you are "alive", then it is a better and happier place and I'm grateful that that happened!

robert said...

Had I not chosen to leave my family of origin and identify with my sexual orientation, I would very likely live in Texas in the suburbs of Dallas or Houston with a wife and children...most likely divorced by now and deeply unhappy with the course my life had taken, but deeply dedicated to my children...Their take on the situation, I am afraid to imagine.

Ned said...

BECK: What a great discussion! Asking "what if" questions can lead to such varied responses depending on circumstances and the mood of the moment.

Sometimes I smugly conclude, "I've made several fine decisions that have served me and my loved ones very well." (Not realizing that many of my blessings flow not from my actions but from those who built bridges I'm now crossing.)

Other times, more negatively I've said, "Oh, what coulda, shoulda, woulda been, if only..." (Which is a reality-denying rant that "I deserve more and I'm bitter that the Universe is giving me a raw deal.")

Sometimes the more sane and reality-appreciating me hopes to understand that "Life is almost always a mixed bag of joy and sorrow, and to complicate things, some of our greatest gifts are often wrapped in challenges."

As I've said before, I love Neal Maxwell's school day metaphor: "One’s life, therefore, is brevity compared to eternity—like being dropped off by a parent for a day at school. But what a day!"

So Beck, speaking of school days, thanks for making several of mine easier to handle.

Beck said...

ROBERT: You're right... when we play the "what if" game, we don't know that we would necessarily be better off or "divorced and deeply unhappy". The grass is not always greener on the other side of that proverbial fence.

NED: Life is a mixed bag. I'm not here to say otherwise. I just thought it was funny where my mind went when the question was asked.

As I've contemplated this question further, it is important to me to note that I AM WHO I AM because of the gospel, because of my beliefs, because of my choices I've made. I am currently not in a gay relationship because of the influence of the gospel and spirit in my life. I'm not saying that I wouldn't be happier or "better" had I chosen differently - I'm just saying that I am where I am for a big part because of the role the gospel, the church and its culture has influenced on me. It is what it is.

That said, I am grateful for these influences in my life, though others might think I'm just feeding my denial of accepting true happiness and betterment... something that I may never know... at least for this "school day".

Bror said...

I was asked a question similar to this the other day. Of course, I answered the same as you. I'm sure that I would be living with a boyfriend somewhere.
I have often wondered what my life would have been like with a boyfriend and without my wife and kids. I would have to say that my family means way more to me than any life I could have had with a boyfriend. But no matter how much they mean or how hard I try to change, deep down inside my heart, I will always want a boyfriend.
As far as what life would be more happier? The boyfriend life or the family life. I really can't answer that one. I only know the life I am living now. The family life.