Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A faith-building conundrum...



So, I have a new personal twist on the same ol' conundrum...

If my “personal revelation” of my previous post really did come from God, and wasn’t just a justification of current convictions based on my own opinions mixed with scripture and theological teachings, then what does that mean?

If from my “personal revelation” I conclude that:

1. I have always been this way, that the essence of who I am, which includes my thoughts and attractions , are coequal with God, that my pre-existent state, my current mortal state, and my post-mortal state will still include the fundamental essence of who I am…

2. This is not just a mortal “trial” to endure…

3. Enjoying my attractions for what they are (and even taking in the view) is inherently good and not immoral or evil…

4. God truly understands all this…

5. God has a sense of humor and is willing to chuckle with me, not at me, about the ironic situation I’m in and the juxtaposition of such thoughts flowing in my mind of wanting to consume a good looking guy while meditating about the temple film about the “forbidden fruit” (which in and of itself is a bit humorous) in His house…

6. God loves me precisely for who I am…

7. All this brings pure peace and quiet comfort to my soul… and finally answers a decades-long earnest and sincere prayer of arriving at some kind of self-acceptance and self-awareness…

If all of this is true, because it came personally and profoundly to me from Him…

Then how do I justify these self-evident truths with those that are professed by the Brethren to be polar opposite as the real truth, that…

1. My attractions are not eternal or immortal, but are just for this life…

2. This is just an earthly trial for me to struggle with or at least deal with…

3. Taking joy in anything related to my attractions is evil and wrong and should be overcome…

4. God understands but can never accept imperfection as perfection…

5. Such thoughts could not have come from inspiration from God, especially not in His house…

6. God loves me, it is true, but desires me to rise above this temporary situation…

7. Peace comes only from accepting Christ’s atonement in order to overcome this burden…

So, I know I’m slow here, but either one is right or the other is wrong, for both can’t be right as they are opposing views. If truth is eternal and there is only one truth… then which is it?

Am I allowing my thoughts of self-justification, and self-acceptance to get the best of me to the point that I’m willing to feel the need to package it all up in my religious beliefs and imagine such “personal revelation” as truly God-given to justify my “enjoying the view” and embracing my attractions? Have I allowed myself to be convinced of this through others’ misguided philosophies and now find a trial of faith upon me? Or is it the truth and witness of the spirit that whispers to my soul, to the point of audibly hearing the thoughts in my mind and feeling the impressions as being truth, just as I know truth has come to me through many other witnesses of faith and testimony of other Gospel Principles? Or is the opposing point of view, ummm – how shall I say this - not completely accurate?

I have no doubt that I felt the spirit, and the calmness that has lasted with me, with a sense that all will be well, and that God is on my side and is cheering me on, and laughing with me. I do not feel a need to lash out or be bitter or angry or frustrated with the Church. There is no “trial of my faith” going on here. I do not doubt my faith. Ironically, if anything, I feel a reassurance and increased abundance of faith.

17 comments:

j4k said...

Remember He sets the bounds. We will find people attractive.

Abelard Enigma said...

A conundrum indeed - and one that I personally relate to.

let me know when you get this all figured out . . .

Beck said...

J4K: Yes, I know of the bounds and what has been set. I have lived those bounds and found strength in them. But what I'm saying here is that my attractions are a joy and I am no longer going to be freaked out and angsty inside because I have them. I am going to "enjoy the view" and be grateful for who I am (who I have always been) and have confidence in my path forward. I'm not going to be angsty anymore about these desires and passions and attractions. I'm going to be okay with them, and accept them for what they are and I'm at peace as I feel the Lord's comfort and compassion.

ABE: Thanks for checking in... long time no hear. I miss your comments and support.

I do have it figured out! That's the point. I'm feeling really good about it. I don't feel the angst - I'm filled with peace and comfort and reassurance.

I'm not going to worry about things that I don't understand or can't control. Let the Brethren do what they have to do. I can compartmentalize that away and have faith that it will work out.

I'm okay. It's okay. He gets it. He loves me. He's laughing with me (not at me). It's going to be okay.

Crisco said...

Truth is complex. Maybe it takes a god to understand it all and we never will in this life. I'm not generally critical of the Bretheren or the Church, but our leaders are human and imperfect. They do not have all the truth, and neither do I. If you feel you have received revelation or inspired truth from God that is seemingly contradictory from what is taught over the pulpit, you should be at peace, just as you've said. "To thine own self be true." I think that's the only way we'll be able to face God at the last day.

J G-W said...

It is important to validate personal revelations. One important test is the "what-fruit-does-this-revelation-produce?" test. A revelation is just that... It is a view or a perspective that helps us figure out how to make sense of our lives. If a revelation helps you to move forward in peace and newness of live, if it gives you back your passion and joy, if it gives you strength to make a positive difference in the world around you and for those who matter most to you, that is usually a good sign that the revelation is from God.

If a personal revelation offers you a way forward, and gives you a sense of peace and perspective and understanding, but also seems to contradict Church teachings, that is a conundrum, especially if you have a testimony of the Church and its leaders -- as you and I both do.

In that case, I wouldn't jump to conclusions about what it means. You have contradictory data you have to evaluate. Not the first time in the history of the earth that a person has been faced with contradictory data that they have to make sense of. Move forward in faith and patience the best you can, knowing that eventually the contradictions will work themselves out.

Article 13: "...We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

Sean said...

I think that there is nothing wrong in noticing how attractive someone is; however, if you develop thoughts of lust and/or sexual thoughts about that person, then it becomes a problem.

Straight men look at women who are not their wife all the time. They compare attractiveness to other women and sometimes their wife. Do most people see a problem with this? No, they see it very typical. When a man says, "Oh, she's so hot." Nobody has a second thought that saying that is wrong. There isn't a double standard with gay men. You can look at people's beauty and it is perfectly fine, but if it starts to fall in the condition described above, it becomes a problem, at least this is my opinion.

robert said...

My perspective is that all of this revelation and introspection on your part is simply unpacking the baggage that you have used to define yourself for your entire life. My only question would be: Why stop there? Unpack all of it and look through it to see what rings as truth for you and what is simply delusion.

Beck said...

CRISCO: Truth is complex, but only because of our limited understanding. In reality, truth is simple. Sometimes I feel like I really don't know anything, but at that moment in the temple, it wasn't so much an intellectual knowledge as a feeling of love and acceptance. Like I said, I could be delusional as to really "knowing" what the truth is - but I do KNOW how I felt, and that is what has lasted with me.

Yes, we are imperfect and we manifest or self-evident truths imperfectly. But for me to have a moment free of angst, and full of love from God for me as a person that he knows from eternity, seems to be simple truth.

Beck said...

JGW: The fruits of this experience are that I am at peace and am calm. I feel an acceptance and understanding of myself and of God. I feel an increase faith in the future and hope for things to come. I'm not so worried about "the gay".

If those are good fruits, then so be it. I am not worried about what I don't know or what I can't control (inconsistencies with the church) and that's okay. I don't feel a need to fight or be angry - just to move forward.

I can't help but think of the inconsistencies in your life between your spiritual understandings and your reality. You are such an example of what to do when such assurances are in the face of what others tell you. Instead, you know what you know and there is a peace in that knowledge despite the incongruencies.

In this experience of mine, I understand more of myself, and despite seemingly "illogical" conflicts, I am at peace.

Thanks for being there for me and for your wisdom and example of faith.

Beck said...

SEAN: Never was there a justification or feeling of going beyond the bounds (I was never talking about "lust" or "sexual thoughts"). As I believe, "desires, appetites and passions are to be kept within the bounds the Lord has set". I am not disputing this or even imagining doing otherwise.

However, what's changed is that the "desires, appetites and passions" are eternal, have always been, and always will be. And I should celebrate that I am alive and feel and connect and love - and I shouldn't get angsty and self-loathing just because I feel so attracted.

Though I've been on the path of self-acceptance and self-awareness for 5 years now, it seems to be combined into a unifying experience of feeling and "spirit" that it's okay and to get on with enjoying the view...

ROBERT: In a non-religious sense, stripping away the baggage of religious trimmings, yes, this is a process of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I'm shedding the baggage and cleaning the closet. In a certain level, I can say it that way.

But, in my reality and in the situation it happened, it came with the trimmings (or trappings) of religion, and so I see it in those terms that I still firmly believe in.

J G-W said...

Beck - I think it is also worth pointing out that this "revelation," this shifting of perspective that has allowed you to find a profound peace... It has also given you a profounder connection to the Spirit.

The dynamic you described in the previous post -- of totally wrapped up in our own drama, not realizing that what we thought was a temptation or a distraction was actually part of the lesson God was trying to teach us! -- that happens so frequently. It is a fundamental dynamic in terms of how we as spiritual beings learn.

Our eros is not a burden, not an evil, not something we are supposed to be spiritual in spite of. It is an intimate part of our drive toward connection.

This clearly is not about acting impulsively -- I understood this from the beginning. It is, rather, about understanding our impulses, learning how they fit into the whole. It's about appreciating and achieving wholeness...

Ned said...

Beck, you wrote: "So, I know I’m slow here, but either one is right or the other is wrong, for both can’t be right as they are opposing views. If truth is eternal and there is only one truth… then which is it?"

This is like saying "light is good" and "darkness is bad" without know that both are needed for clear vision. In my opinion, a functioning world (and church for that matter) needs straight people and LGBT because the truth is that these variations are God-created. But back to dark and light for a moment. In the fast-shrinking world of the traditional chemistry-based darkroom, you must have darkness to process light-sensitive films. I think we need multiple sexualities to "process" family life.

As I have said many times before, the Proclamation on the Family contains a key sentence that unlocks the possibilities:
"Disability, death or other circumstances may require individual adaptation." In my opinion, your revelation is an affirmation that your "other circumstances" are not only understood but are fully accepted and your healthy, moral individual adaptation is encouraged.

Joe Conflict said...

"desires appetites and passions the lord has set" works great--when you are sure what God's settings really are..."

But unfortunately, To accept the Church's version is to say your attractions, (hence appetites and passions) are pointless and merely a problem.

Beck said...

JGW: I concur completely. I am expressing a new appreciation and understanding for being me! It is for connection, for achieving wholeness. Thank you for your eloquence. You've said it better than I.

JC: I agree there is the common belief that if one lives within the bounds the Church has interpreted to be God's bounds, then why even have such desires, appetites or passion, right? I here you.

Yet, I'm saying that I felt that these desires, appetites and passions are not something to be "pointless or merely a problem", but something to appreciate, celebrate, enjoy.

Are there still boundaries? Certainly. And what am I to do with these good desires, appetites and passions as a married man in a MOM and active in the church as a believing member? And why should I have such passions if I can't "use" them?

Those are questions that follow, but right now I feel there is a way for me to feel the peace that I am okay, that these feelings are good, that I shouldn't run from them, but learn to appreciate them and use them for "connections" with others, and learn how they fit into the complete package that is me (and you!).

I'm here to explore ways to make that happen as a positive influence in my life and in those around me, not as a burden or pointless baggage.

Are these feelings pointless if within my marriage they can be acted upon minimally? That's what I'm trying to figure out... there's got to be a purpose other than: give into the impulsive reactions to them, or resist them and refrain from even thinking about them and abstain from them completely. I'm believing there's got to be another way.

Damon said...

Hi Beck,

I know I'm rarely seen here anymore. I am around though! I just never have time to be as involved as I once was but I do read when I can.

Your realization is fantastic! A while back I read an article on Affirmations website that touches on some of the things you touched on.

The author believed that sexuality, including homosexuality, is essential to our eternal souls. He also believes that our sexuality will remain the same after this life and that it was so before this life.

I went out and found his article. If you'd like to read it, there it is.

http://www.affirmation.org/stories/plan_of_salvation.shtml

I think you might find it interesting. He focuses on the fact that there is a place in the plan of salvation for gay folks.

Best to you Beck!

~Damon in CO.

Beck said...

Damon:

Always nice to see you drop in every now and then.

Yes, I've watched the video before of Clark Pingree's address regarding his homosexuality and the Plan of Salvation. I am coming to very much the same conclusions that there is an eternal aspect to all of this and a reason for it - other than something to "struggle" with, to "overcome" or to "tolerate".

Thanks for the reminder.

Beck said...

NED: For some reason, your comment came up as spam... glad to find you here. I do see the need for both. I was being a bit extreme on my take on truth. Even when I use the word "truth" it is relative, because it is based on my perception at that moment in time. I accept that I don't know all, that the world isn't all black or all white, that the only way to appreciate what I see and feel is to have both. And this leaves for him to "yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God".

That said, I still know what I heard and what I felt and you can't take that away from me! :)