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Celebrating the Celibate

By Courtney Kendrick

A couple years ago my husband and I invited a friend of mine from Montreal over for dinner. She had come to BYU for the summer with a ward friend, John, who was also doing an internship at BYU. I asked my friend if John wanted to come to dinner as well.

“No, he doesn’t want to meet anyone here.” She told me over the phone.

I thought that statement was odd, so I pressed her when she came for dinner.

“The people here just see him as a thirty-something single guy and they try to set him up. He absolutely doesn’t want to be set up on any date.” She went on to explain that he had lived in Provo a previous summer and spent the better part of his free time turning down dates.

It was strange to me that an unmarried man would feel so uncomfortable in such circumstances. All the single men I knew would’ve loved to be in his position. Later it occured to me that John could perhaps be a homosexual Mormon, and coming to a marriage-happy culture might be overwhelming. I wondered what it would be like if John could just tell these well-intentioned people that he was gay. A gay, celibate, faithful Mormon who wasn’t interested in dating.

In the PBS documentary “The Mormons” Marlin K. Jensen is asked about homosexuality in the framework of our church:

“The thing that we have to ultimately say … is, yes, there’s nature; yes, there’s nurture; but there’s also agency. We all have the capacity and power to choose. If you’re going to live your life within the framework of the Gospel, within the framework of our doctrine, then you’ve got to choose to marry someone of the opposite sex, and if you can’t do that honestly, then your choice has to be to live a celibate life. That is a very difficult choice for the parents, for the young man, the young woman, for whoever’s making that choice, and my heart goes out to them. I think we’re asking a tremendous amount of them.”

Recently Provo’s Daily Herald featured an interview with a man who has chosen to live a celibate life. Christian also happens to be a family friend, and the first celibate, faithful, homosexual man that I’ve known personally. This is is his interview:

A Celibate Christian

When Christian Harrison came to Provo in 1993, his head was packed with stereotypical images about homosexuals — outlandish clothing, pedophilia — which is why he resisted acknowledging his own sexual orientation.

“I knew I liked guys at BYU but I said to myself, ‘I can’t be gay,’ ” he said.

Before his freshman year was over, however, Harrison said he had made the leap.

But he didn’t leap away from his faith. Even though his church and school condemned what he knew to be his intrinsic nature, Harrison said, he made “no conscientious decision” to abandon his Mormonism. He stuck with it.

“There are gay students at BYU going out clubbing and having sex,” Harrison said. “Outside of Provo, they are as gay as Liberace. Others are so deep in the closet that the only person who knows is Heavenly Father.”

In college he had been among the latter group, he said.

“I had a positive experience at BYU, but I didn’t exactly let people know I was gay,” he said. “I minded my p’s and q’s and didn’t get into trouble.” In fact, his only run-in was having a crush on his roommate and having to change apartments.

He dated lots of women, but mostly to disguise the truth. “Going out with girls was fun, but fun like going out with my sister,” he said. “The daughters of Zion deserve to be loved fully.”

Today, Harrison is a proud BYU alumnus and the clerk of his LDS ward in Salt Lake City. His homosexual orientation is on the table.

“I am an out gay man who’s an active Latter-day Saint. In my Salt Lake ward, my bishopric knows, my stake presidency knows, the Relief Society president knows. It’s not a secret,” Harrison said.

A returned missionary, Harrison says he accepts being subject to the same commandments as any other church member, namely the law of chastity — no sexual relations outside of marriage. Because the LDS Church recognizes marriage only between a man and a woman, he said, celibacy keeps his membership intact.

Harrison frequently dates other men, but “pre-mission” style, with strict obedience to the law of chastity. He declined to give more detail.

He also knows that he will never be called to serve with the young men of the church or Primary children. But he still isn’t leaving Mormonism.

“I’ve never considered leaving the church, ever,” he said. “The church is true. It’s inconvenient, but it’s true.”

Harrison knows that he is in the minority: “By and large, the majority of gay men in the church leave the church, and in no small way. They leave the church and everything else behind, which is a shame. It’s a terrible loss to the church and the kingdom of God.”

I love that Christian has been able to be honest with people in his ward. I love that he has a calling. Not long ago, we ran into him at downtown deli in Salt Lake. He filled us in on his life. He seemed so happy . . . I hoped he was.

Speaking on hope, in the PBS interview Elder Jensen also says:

“. . . some people argue sometimes, well, for the gay person or the lesbian person, we’re not asking more of them than we’re asking of the single woman who never marries. But I long ago found in talking to them that we do ask for something different: In the case of the gay person, they really have no hope. A single woman, a single man who is heterosexual in their thinking always has the hope, always has the expectation that tomorrow they’re going to meet someone and fall in love and that it can be sanctioned by the church. But a gay person who truly is committed to that way of life in his heart and mind doesn’t have that hope. And to live life without hope on such a core issue, I think, is a very difficult thing.”

Are we ready as a culture to accept those who choose to live the openly gay celibate life? Our ability to accept and love (and perhaps resist temptation to set them up on dates) maybe their only hope for happiness in this world. Though I am quite certain that their diligence will prove glorious in the next.

About Courtney Kendrick

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72 thoughts on “Celebrating the Celibate”

  1. Funny. Christian was my adorable home teacher while I was at BYU. And even though we knew he was gay, my brothers and I would personally request him as though if he weren't our home teacher, you might not see us at church. Because we loved him. So every month he came. Three interesting things about my friend Christian.
    1. He eats hot dogs raw.
    2. Best Sunday School teacher I ever had.
    3. Ask him what his cat's name is.
    And who called me this last October 24th to be the first one to wish me a happy birthday? My friend. Christian. A pretty good definition of integrity.

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  2. I think that the choice to remain celibate has to be one of the most difficult choices a human must face. I cannot imagine the soul searching that goes on inside a heart.

    I love my gay friends, although most of them have chosen to leave the church. I think that's not my business, it's my business to love them no matter what. I can't be fully living the gospel if I'm not extending love and fellowship.

    It would be exciting to me to meet someone who chose to be out, celibate, and actively a member. I would expect that kind of honesty to be refreshing and affirming. If we're going to preach it, we have to be able to live it. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that I always want to accept all kinds of people in my life.

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  3. The comment: "If we're going to preach it, we have to be able to live it" strikes me as rather odd, and frankly, unfair.

    Who among the governing body of the Church "ha(s) to be able to live it" except men who are almost 100 and have lost their wives? They're the ones who preach celibacy for others–not themselves!

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  4. Excellent post. I have been relieved to see in recent times that as a culture we are at least beginning to talk about this. I so much appreciated the reading the perspectives expressed in that article in the Herald.

    I love my gay friends too and have been deeply touched by the heartbreaking struggle I see played out for individuals and in families who deal with these issues. As many people my age might have, I grew up in a homophobic family and community (it is not exclusive to this community or this culture) and have tried hard to live my own life and teach my children otherwise.

    I also become more hopeful as I have seen members of my own congregation–even some of whom I would have least expected–embrace with open arms and love some who have chosen to leave the church and not be celibate. I hope we would extend that kind of love and fellowship to all and it could be accepted by all.

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  5. All I keep thinking is that the Lord asks hard things of us — all of us. We will all be asked to sacrifice and struggle. We just won't all be asked to do it in the same manner. The Lord has asked something difficult of Christian and others who struggle similarly, and He has asked something difficult of my neighbor, and my best friend, and my Home Teachers, and the guy in line at Target, and me.

    Some struggles are more public, some are very private. So, in that sense at least, the idea that if we preach it, we should live it, still applies.

    I think that's why it's just so important to stop judging each other's lives based upon our own. We have our own set of struggles that we wouldn't want dissected publicly. Poor Christian just gets to have this struggle publicly, under the watchful eye of many who are willing and ready to pounce.

    Are we willing to undergo the same scrutiny?

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  6. Sometimes, Justine, I wish all the struggles could just be out there, on display. I think we'd be kinder to one another, in a way I think it would be easier to show compassion. I'm always startled by the depth of the suffering that is asked of some, and when it's revealed how many people say, "me, too."

    In fact, I once heard an LDS therapist say, "same story, different verse," in reference to the issues she hears. We're all dealing with something, usually the somethings are very similar.

    My heart goes out to Christian, but more, he inspires me and I'm proud of his decision– a decision to stand up and be true in this moral-lacking day and age. And it makes me think: what am I willing to sacrifice in my life that makes me commit to my religion more fully?

    Let's just love one another. Let's love Christian and our neighbors and our friends and "the guy in line at Target." Not in spite of their trials, but because of them.

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  7. PS- my little "call to action" is mostly up there for myself. I daily struggle with wanting people to change and oft have to be reminded of that little free-agency thing– it was PART of the Plan… Oh, yeah.

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  8. Thanks for this one Courtney … I had just participated in a discussion with some co-workers about this very subject (being the only Mormon at my place of work I always get the "what do the Mormons think about this?" and I used the same logic that is discussed here and it was great to see the old rattle rattle head shake of it making sense to them :0) its important for us to embrace all those in 'the fold'.

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  9. This is excellent. Thanks for this kind compilation of sound (if temporally excruciating) doctrine, considerate observation, and finally an up-close example of someone who's making it through what might be the toughest of all mortal obstacle courses. All of my dear ones who struggle with this have so far chosen a more self-destructive path. I hope other voices like Christian's are raised to help others.

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  10. I appreciate that Elder Jensen acknowledges that they do ask something different of homosexuals. I've had to have this conversation countless times with friends, family, but most often with my in-laws. My brother is a returned missionary who has chosen to lead an openly homosexual lifestyle. He is a wonderful, talented young man and I love him. I'm torn between wanting him to have someone to love and wanting him to follow the prophet. The choices that he faces are so difficult, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I can't imagine the guilt and shame he's had to struggle with while making these choices. It's been a trial for my family as well, we have to make decisions about how we deal with his lifestyle and what we choose to support. I am often at a loss, I know that that the prophet speaks for the Lord but I have to be honest, sometimes I am confused. I do know for sure that I need to keep loving and praying for my brother.

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  11. I just loved reading this post and the comments as well. We need a LOT more of this dialogue in the church. I know an appallingly large number of lds people who are astonishingly homophobic and judgmental to the point of condemning others. To me it's all about love and understanding what it means to be truly Christlike. I am inspired by men and women like Christian. But regardless of the path ANYONE takes, it is only our job to love them.

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  12. I wish there were more people like Christian, who had that kind of strength. I hope he can give hope to those without it.

    Thanks, Courtney.

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  13. I have the privilege to know Christian as well. He is a very caring, open, honest, faithful LDS member.
    I am impressed by how honest he is to himself and to his faith.
    I see this trial like trials we all must go through. I must agree that it is different and there is a lack of hope.
    The light at the end of the tunnel is the Kingdom of God. That is what we are all striving for which means we must overcome whatever struggles we have here on earth. No matter what they are.
    I believe Christian will be very blessed in the life to come for his faithfulness and dedication to the gospel.
    I agree with Justine. Sometimes I wish all of our struggles were on display because we might understand each other better and realize how many people struggle with the same things. So many people are afraid to let people know because they are afraid of what they might think.
    What others think is not important, it is what our Heavenly Father thinks and knows that should be important.
    We should have open hearts and compassion to everyone in this world. Regardless of sexual orientation, religion, or other beliefs.
    I think it is a hypocrisy for LDS members to condemn and shun others. That is not what we're about.

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  14. While we're on the subject of accepting everyone and not judging, I would like to mention that I find the word "homophobic" a real slap in the face to people who may come from a more traditional value system, perhaps sheltered, but also deserving of respect. I don't think being mocked as "homophobic" really helps anyone along the path as they struggle with this complicated issue.

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  15. My brain and heart hurt when I try to wrap them around the struggles some are called to face. I wish there was more hope for those struggling with homosexuality other than a single, celibate life. I applaud that sacrifice and devotion…but is that honestly a long-term answer?

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  16. I don't know Christian. I have tremendous respect for the life he is choosing.

    I do know gay and lesbian people who have found they could not choose that life. And I feel like I can't judge the lives they do choose, because they are doing the very best they can. (And if they weren't, it wouldn't be up to me to say that!)

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  17. I have friends who are LDS, lesbian, gay, and also STRAIGHT and UNMARRIED!!! All three of those "life styles" make life dificulte for my friends. All of my friends also feel that they have not chosen to have the lif they do it just happened. The difference is that my straight single friends choose to stay celebate and active and not one of the homosexual ones has. I think we forget it is just as hard for a straight person to remain celibate and active as it is or the gays and lesbians, but for whatever reason they seem to do it on a larger percentage. I also have divorced friends in the church. The large percentage of women remain active and celibate when the men seem to need sex more thn God and they leave. My women friends are not happy to be celibate, but they want to be "good". They are unhappy but "faithful". The majority of my man frieds don't care, they "need" sex more.

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  18. As a side note, my grandmother is CONVINCED that the Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City is entirely staffed by paraders who have been flown in from other states.

    And I am glad that my trials are my trials, and that I don't have to deal with all of the other things out there (yet). I think that the thing to remember is that choosing the gospel over the temptations of the world is the most important choice. We should be trying to encourage people to keep a broad view of their earthly lives, and not being hung up on the individual earthly trials. It is just as sin-serious to be a straight man or woman living in adultery as it is to be a gay man or woman in a promiscuous lifestyle. Why are we not, as a people, more openly "disturbed" (for lack of a better term) at the former? So why can't we just encourage everyone?

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  19. Coming from a family with several gay people, I appreciate that others are admitting that the inclination to be homosexual is not always a decision, but is something of the pre-programming received with the body. I hate the argument that "God doesn't make mistakes," because, no, he doesn't, but he does let natural processes take place, which means variation in the gene pool. In the same way that some people are born with diabetes, blindness, or brown hair, some people are born predisposed to homosexuality.

    I also appreciate that it can be overwhelmingly hard for those people to feel right about themselves, when they are taught during their formative years that their inclinations are evil. We don't really hear about acting on gayness as a sin that's preventable, like fornication. We are taught that gay is evil, but you really shouldn't have sex before marriage. The terminology is different. People who are homosexual get bombarded with their evilness, and it's no wonder many leave the church.

    When Christ answered the question, "What manner of men ought ye to be," the answer was to be like him. To be a Christian is to love your neighbor. Love the gay and the straight, the adulterers and the faithful, the drunks and the sober, everyone. We, as a culture, need to be willing to accept the gay celibate, as well as the practicing gay. Loving people is sometimes the ONLY way to reach them. Loving does not compromise our beliefs, since we are commanded to love one another.

    If only someone had been able to tell my grandparents to love their son instead of shunning him.

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  20. Amen to Cardine! I too am over 30, single, straight and celibate. Not a lot of fun sometimes, but I too have made covenants, and respect and support those who have done likewise.

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  21. I am enjoying these comments and thanks to everyone for their input.

    I do want to say that it is my opinion that we might be more aware of/accepting of LDS homosexuals who leave the church than the celibate gay Mormons.I am hoping that we will see more covenant keeping (as difficult as that is) and less hopeless.

    I really hope that Christian's lifestyle will be the norm for people of this nature. I hope that we will accept that this is a new way of living in our LDS community.

    I am asking if a celibate homosexual would feel comfortable in our culture. How would your ward respond if a member was like Christian? What kind of dialog would you have with your children, or your youth, in explaining Brother So-and-So's life?

    I have to explain all the time why my husband and I are childless. I have about 2,000 responses prepared. The only one I'd like to say is "Heavenly Father has told us it isn't our time yet." But who really believes that? (Not many)I can't imagine someone having to explaining this lifestyle issue over and over again. So I have to wonder, we can talk about "loving others" until we are blue in the face, but honestly, are we ready?

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  22. Honestly, Court, I think part of this is a generational difference. So many people of our generation have friends or relatives who are gay. I deeply love some of my gay friends. Some of the kindest people I have ever met have been gay (then again, I've met some real jerks too; orientation is no predictor or guarantee in either direction.)

    However, I think because more of our friends and family have come out of the closet, we are more prepared to offer love and compassion rather than some of the knee-jerk reactions of decades past.

    What I'm saying is that I might be ready, but I doubt my 75 year old neighbor is.

    (Then again, maybe I'm judging my neighbor…)

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  23. I have obviously had to be ready for the conversation that I will ultimately have to have with my children someday about my brother. I am hopeful of how my ward members would react. As I have served in the church, whether on a mission or in a ward, I've come to see that the principles discussed and taught on Sunday are struggled with in practice at home.I would like to believe that because of our own burdens and struggles we, as in ward congregations, would be accepting of a celibate gay member and would welcome him/her as we would the rest of our ward family.

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  24. Will a straight person get nearer to God by being in a committed relationship than by being celibate?

    And likewise, will a gay person get nearer to God by being in a committed relationship than by being celibate?

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  25. The whole point of being celibate is to honor God's commandments—-of which sexual relationships with same gender are not included. By keeping covenants, keeping promises, you get closer to God, and become more like Him. So yes, a gay person will get closer to God by being celibate than by being married, or living with, someone.

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  26. I agree with Carina it is generational, and I know I still have relatives and friends who would probably be jerks. But Courtney, I have been amazed at how many people you would think could be horrible be absolutely wonderful to the people I mentioned previously (who grew up in our ward). Being a witness to this evolution has made me more hopeful that we as a culture can better practice what we preach.

    My children have regular interactions with this couple and although I feel my youngest are too young to understand, I do talk about it with my older boys. And I have been pleased to watch my kids treat them just like they would anyone else. My kids are not perfect. I sometimes hear them make ignorant comments as kids' their ages do. But you can bet they get a piece of my mind when they do.

    My hope is that because they have come to know and love these friends of mine, they could be mature and loving to anyone else they would meet and especially any of their own peers.

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  27. this is why i think that it would help if we knew people's true stories. i think, like dalene says, most people are really compassionate when they realize the heartache and trials that people deal with. when we truly KNOW each other, i think it is easier to love each other.

    i think people will surprise you, given the chance. i think most people want to love and want to serve. i think an openly gay member of my ward would have many friends.

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  28. Kristen, I just have to address your comment: "So yes, a gay person will get closer to God by being celibate than by being married, or living with, someone." I am a homosexual female, married in the temple to my spouse. I don't believe that being celibate would draw me closer to God in any way. And my marriage is wonderful because, of necessity, we MUST communicate in order to have a sexual relationship, given my orientation. Please be careful. Homosexual people can be found in all walks of life and in many different situations. Please don't tell us which path will bring us closer to God. Let us weigh the options, listen to the brethren, and then decide for ourselves.

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  29. The comments that really struck me were the ones about not having hope. Hope for what? What is it we should hope for in live? More money, nice house, righteous children, faithful spouse, homosexual partner??? None of those things are what we should hope for because if we hope for things of the world, we will reap disappointment. Our only hope should be in God. Moroni 7:41 "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise." No one should feel that there isn't hope. You just need to put your hope in the right place.

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  30. Diane, while I understand that all of us, regardless of our circumstances and family ties, must look to Christ, my faith in the Savior is very much entwined with being sealed to my husband and child. I have faith that His atonement will make it possible for us to be together.

    I'm not sure how someone who is all of these things:
    -gay
    -celibate
    -active in this family-oriented church
    and
    -looking to a Savior who presents a plan to us that also focuses a great deal on the family and eternal, heterosexual marriage
    could NOT feel hopeless sometimes.

    I'm not positing that it can't be done, but what self-mastery!

    The Savior's plan for each of us is so often not our own. But, somehow this seems different than that to me. Because when I was single, at least I wanted a heterosexual eternal relationship, which falls very nicely in line with doctrine.

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  31. I agree those differences must make life extremely difficult and feelings of sadness and loss are probably routine. But I believe those feelings can be overcome through hope in Christ. I myself have felt extreme despair over situations that had eternal consequences, but as I put my faith and hope in Christ, my heart has healed and sorrow that I felt could never be removed has been so. I believe Christ will heal ALL hearts that turn to him. Why would He not heal them like He has healed me or any other person that turns to Him? It is only us (earthly beings) that fear he can not heal us or take away our sorrow. I believe with all my heart that he is capable of healing all sorrow–even the sorrow and pain that comes from leading a celibate life without hope of children or eternal marriage. I am not saying it won't be a difficult journey–only don't give up hope.

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  32. Samantha,

    My apologies for offending you. I should have been a little more specific in my comments. I was referring to homosexuals in committed, sexual relationships with persons of the same gender. Your situation is not what I was referring to at all. If this clarification is still offensive to you, then apologies again, but I feel that a person can't get close to God by breaking covenants (having sex with someone of the same gender) Hopefully that helps you understand me better.

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  33. Kristin –

    If I correctly understand your point, would it be that the quality of a relationship is not nearly so important as the genders of the people involved in it?

    – Larry
    (You have to admit, that does appear to be your default assumption.)

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  34. Larry,

    No, that isn't my point. Blogging tends to generate misunderstanding since people typically leave short, incomplete responses. Apologies for offending you.

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  35. "I think we forget it is just as hard for a straight person to remain celibate and active as it is or the gays and lesbians, but for whatever reason they seem to do it on a larger percentage."

    Ana, as a straight, single, Mormon male approaching 30 I have to disagree. I disagree largely for the reasons provided by Elder Jensen for why we are asking so much more of those who are homosexual. Though I am single, I have hope that sometime in the future can be part of a relationship that is sanctioned by the Church. Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters really have no such hope. Further, there is such a cultural hatred by so many in the Church towards those who are gay that it is very hard to not accept the mindset that you are a sinner simply for your attractions and not for your actions. It is quite hard to balance being gay and being Mormon. Many people both gay and straight feel that it is impossible to be both. Those who struggle with same sex attraction have typically tried for years to not be gay, and failing such and believing it impossible to be both they then leave the Church.

    I think that continuing to say that it is just as hard for a straight person to stay celibate and active, or that the struggle is the same for homosexuals and unmarried heterosexuals makes it harder for homosexuals to embrace the choice to remain celibate and in the Church. I believe that the only way for more people to make the choice that Christian has made is to truly celebrate and acknowledge the difficulty of that choice.

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  36. Kristin –

    No offence taken here. I'm completely happy with this discussion. But it does appear to me that you are now denying that your point really is what I asked about; namely, that the genders in a relationship are more important than the quality of the relationship. No? Have I misunderstood your thinking? Could you clarify?

    Just to clarify my own thinking here, perhaps this example from the scriptures will illustrate:

    On a Sabbath morning, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. Those "in authority" were really upset about this, and accused him of breaking the Sabbath. He tried to get them to understand that this wasn't about the Sabbath. He asked them some questions to try to get them to understand that what this really was about was saving a life.

    In my participation here, what I've tried to do is to ask questions about what matters most about relationships – is the the genders? or the quality?

    Just so I will not be seen as hiding my biases, I'll say plainly that I believe quality trumps gender in relationships. Over the years, I've become acquainted with too many healthy, happy, productive, quality gay relationships to believe otherwise.

    Religious authorities can call it "sin, sin, sin" till the cows come home, and if that's what they feel they must do, I'm perfectly willing to let them. Still, I'm just not convinced that an unhealthy heterosexual relationship is superior to a healthy homosexual relationship. Or, to put it in simpler terms, it's not about WHO is in the relationship; it's about how they conduct their relationship. It's not about the Sabbath, it's not about sex; it's about living a healthy, happy, productive life.

    With all the tiny, incremental baby steps Mormonism has been making in their thinking and perceptions about homosexual issues, we may watch the Church going in remarkable directions in this respect. Over the past 20 years, thanks in part to greater understanding provided by scientific research, the Church has made some amazing reversals of position on this topic. And they haven't stopped yet. And I know from people who are personally acquainted with some of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Brethren are currently deeply divided in their opinions about all of this, so the issue is far from being finalized, appearances to the contrary.

    All this said, I hardly feel as certain of my own opinions as do so many LDS people I know.

    – Larry

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  37. Larry,

    Thanks for explaining your opinions more.

    The thoughts I previously stated were to underscore the belief I have about keeping covenants. Since (am I getting this wrong?) you are not LDS, maybe some of that did not make sense to you. If a person is an active LDS member, they cannot have have sex with someone of the same gender and simultaneously be abiding by temple covenants. That's what I meant when I said a person can't progress in their relationship with God if they are deliberately breaking covenants.

    If you are interested in what I feel about quality of relationships versus gender, I will say that I feel the latter. I feel that a relationship with God (one that entails living according to the principles He teaches us) triumphs in having a relationship with another human being. I do not deny that people are happy in homosexual relationships, . But I feel that a person must put their relationship with God first in their lives.You gave a great example of when Jesus is trying to help people live a higher law. I feel that that same reasoning is part of my thinking. The higher law in this case, to me, is allegiance to God.

    I am not the author of LDS theology on relationships—or sexuality—or whatever we want to define the topic(s) as. While as an organization the LDS church has made great strides forward in regard to cultural attitudes and treatment of homosexuals, there has not been any fundamental doctrinal changes occur. A homosexual person, just like anyone else in the Church, is presented with and expected to live the same set of doctrine and commandments that everyone else is.

    Hope this helps!! Thanks for the great discussion.

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  38. One thing I forgot to say—I dont' believe you have to be in an unhappy marriage. (homosexual married to opposite gender) That's why this discussion was about celibacy. Celibacy is what I'm talking about here when I say putting relationship with God before relationship with man.

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  39. I think it's weird that people are trying to say who has it harder: the celibate homosexual person or the celibate heterosexual person.

    I think that it depends on the person. Different trials are harder for different people. It so reasons that a celibate homosexual could have more hope than a celibate heterosexual because they are in charge of their own hope. I have certainly met celibate heterosexuals who have no hope for a better world.

    And, I think that all people are in need of compassion and understanding, not just those whose trials are obvious or the popular topic of the day.

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  40. Hello, Courtney.

    Nathan here. We know each other through the talented and ever faithful Heather, who directed me to your post. My sister also reads your blog and has commented several times on this very post.

    WOW!!! This post and the many reponses is a GREAT thing!!!

    I wanted to comment on this section of the interview:

    Harrison knows that he is in the minority: “By and large, the majority of gay men in the church leave the church, and in no small way. They leave the church and everything else behind, which is a shame. It’s a terrible loss to the church and the kingdom of God.”

    So, I am gay. I am Mormon. I am in a committed relationship with a man and not celibate. But, you know what, I still love and honor the Chruch of Jesus Christ very much. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how I understand it through my life as a member of the Church remains the central guiding idea of my life.
    I know many who have posted would take issue with this, as I have clearly made a choice to not maintain activity in the church, or to keep all my temple covenants (ie I am in a sexual relationship with a man). I am not immune to guilt or confusion. I struggle with it daily. In fact, I count this struggle as a blessing. I am grateful that everyday I have to ask these questions…

    It is not easy–but the struggle propells me forward as I am sure is the case with Christian. I want to let all of you know that I stand by Christian and support him in his choice. Leaving the church, if one can call it that, doesn't mean that one suddenly becomes antagonistic toward it or toward those in a similar situation who chose not to. Truthfully, I still love and support it. I yearn to be a part of it. I honor those who remain committed to it. I recognize that I may not be as honored in my choices, but that is another matter.

    I am reading Richard L Bushman's "Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling" and it is GREAT. Pick it up. In his introduction he talks about how much research about the Prophet is done by former Mormons who "have to justify their decision to leave". Now, I know very little about this field, but it made me ponder on how much my continued interest and research into the church, its doctrines and workings is not about justifying my decision to leave, but about understanding who I am. Understanding how to come closer to My Savior, because this is the spiritual language I know…

    I guess in the end, what I would like to say is this: Many gay people who have "left" the church, still love and honor it, still learn from it, and their choice to "leave" wasn't one that was or is easy or made because it was easier. It is very hard, as well.

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  41. Nathan –

    I loved your post. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts in this discussion. What you have written brings to mind something from Mormon doctrine that is dramatized in the Temple.

    After Eve has partaken of the forbidden fruit, she asks Adam to taste it also. At first, he won't; but when Eve uses her logic and intelligence to convince Adam that it would be better for him to be with her than to be a lone man in the Garden, he agrees, saying "I see that this must be so."

    So, Adam breaks his promise to God that he won't eat. He understands that he'll be giving up a more personal relationship with God, and will be expelled, with Eve, from the Garden. But that is what he chooses.

    Adam seems to be choosing a relationship over the Kingdom of God. But has he really?

    Things are not always what they seem, for in reality, the Kingdom of God WAS the relationship, and no LDS leaders I have ever heard of have found fault with Adam's choice. Living alone in the Garden – celibate – notwithstanding a very personal, obedient relationship with God, is what Adam rejected. But we praise him for his choice.

    You are rejected from the Kingdom (church) for the sake of a relationship. But perhaps you have found the true kingdom, though others condemn your choice.

    All people in committed relationships learn things like patience, forgiveness, conflict resolution, and unselfishnes that they really can't learn any other way quite as well. They learn these things whether they are a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. Successful relationships are demanding, they are work, they require commitment. They are a lifelong effort. But they bless us, and bring us nearer to God than we would get alone.

    That is why I think you have made a wise, courageous, healthy, unselfish choice.

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  42. Larry

    Thanks so much for your response and comments. They are helpful.

    To everyone, It is helpful and encouraging to know that there are others thinking about the issues in such a way. What I believe is needed and hope for, is a real dialogue and forum for people like me, like Christian, like Samantha, like Larry who are homosexual and still care about their relationship with the Savior and the Church. I think for many of us, opportunities to talk about it in all of our diversity are very rare.

    Larry, I agree with you about learning in my relationship. I have grown more in this relationship than any other….grown to be patient, forgiving, aware of my own weaknessess and my partner's strengths…and hopefully, through this I am growing closer to my Savior.

    Still, I wish I could say that I consistently feel that my choice is wise, courageous, healthy or unselfish….it's rewards and merits come and go daily.

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  43. Kudos to all for carrying on a conversation that has been remarkably consistent in politeness, consideration, and willingness to at least hear another's viewpoint. So often the discussions of these sensitive issues are not in this vein.

    Full disclosure — though I live at the opposite end of the country I am a close friend of Larry and tend to support his viewpoint on this topic generally, particularly his thoughts about the quality of relationships (of whatever kind) being fundamental to our human existence.

    It is interesting to me that no one has pointed out what Bruce R. McConkie had to say in Mormon Doctrine (admittedly never endorsed by the Church itself, but still the usual first resource for orthodox Mormons on doctrinal issues) on the topic of celibacy:

    "Some persons in some of the churches in the world are bound by vows of celibacy whereunder they agree to remain unmarried. Celibacy is not of God, whose law is that 'Marriage is honourable in all.' [Heb.13:4] and that men should 'Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.' [Gen.1:28]]

    “Many who practice celibacy do so out of an excessive religious devotion and with the idea in mind that they are serving their Maker. In reality they are forsaking some of the most important purposes of their creation for a man-made, uninspired system. Indeed, Paul says of this practice of celibacy that it consists in ‘giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’ ("1 Tim. 4:1"1 Tim. 4:2"1 Tim. 4:31 Tim. 4:1-3.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 119.)

    Now clearly McConkie is not talking specifically about the gay issue. But still his thought is, I believe, reflective of the deeper Mormon theology. Along with McConkie, I simply do not think that that it is compatible with Mormon theology to find celibacy to be an honorable or desirable status.

    To me the proposition becomes rather simple:

    1. Gay people, for whatever reason, are part of God's creation, and those in this condition generally are not subject to being changed.

    2. It makes no sense, and indeed causes great pain and anguish, as many church leaders have learned (or should have learned) to their chagrin, to have gay people marry straight people.

    3. People of whatever orientation are generally healthier, more productive, more blessed and more Christ-like when they live in a committed relationship.

    4. The prohibition on marriage between gay people is an artifact of old unenlightened prejudices and rank discrimination against a class of people.

    5. As a legal matter, the Church has every right to engage in this kind of outmoded thinking and prejudice (recall the issue of Blacks and the priesthood) if it chooses to define it as a matter of doctrine and to restrict its own members accordingly. Those who find the restriction too onerous are free to leave.

    6. In recent years, however, the Church has gone out of its way in a frenzy of uninspired poltical rhetoric to try to impose this particular religious doctine as a matter of law, even CONSTITUTIONAL law, on all people in the world whether they are believers or not.

    7. For me, such an institution cannot possibly be in harmony with God, or even with its own principles of free agency and separation of church and state.

    8. On the surface it may seem noble to sacrifice oneself for the sake of an institution or its ideas, but ultimately celibacy is counter-productive and self-destructive.

    9. For me the obvious and natural solution has been to separate myself totally and completely from this institution, even while holding many individuals in it in the highest regard.

    Larry is somewhat more optimistic than I about the pace of change within the Church on this issue. Nevertheless, I agree that it will eventually change — though not likely in my lifetime. And then we will look back on the discussions of today and wonder "What WERE we thinking??" Hopefully some who have participated in this particular discussion will find themselves leaning toward the future instead of toward the past, and indeed toward the obvious outcome of what Jesus would do.

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  44. The statement that celibacy is not of God is also found in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which is published or endorsed by the Church.

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  45. In re-reading my post in the cool light of a Sabbath morning I find that I may have overstated my case in one particular. Let me therefore clarify.

    Just as there are a percentage of people born into this world whose attraction is consistently toward members of the same sex, there are likewise some people who do not have a strong attraction toward deep relationships of any kind. In some cases this may simply be a physiological lack of libido; in other cases it may have to do with abuse or other extreme dysfunction in their families of origin. This is not common, but it is real — most of us can readily identify at least one such individual in our extended family.

    Some of these people may choose to remain celibate simply because that is what seems to work best for them. I did not mean to be critical of such people in my previous comments. My criticism, like McConkie's, is of people who would elect or recommend celibacy contrary to desire and in some supposed exercise of religious devotion. (If there are pathologies involved in a lack of interest in relationships, then this may be an appropriate subject for therapy by qualified professionals if the person so affected wants some form of treatment. My impression is, however, that this is a highly complex field of therapeutic intervention, fraught with much subjectivity.)

    If a person elects to remain celibate out of his/her own conscious choice or preference, not as a matter of supposed sacrifice and penance, then I find it neither worthy of special praise, nor of any condemnation. It just is. And just as I advocate respect for those who choose same-sex relationships, I advocate respect for those who may consciously choose of their own free will no relationship at all.

    Michael-Klein von K.

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  46. In my opinion answer to this debate is a rather simple one. I know we can look back to our first earthly parents Adam and Eve to know that Heavenly Father created two different sexes of humans on purspose and for specific purposes. Those purposes have been spelled out since the beginning of time and reiterated throughout time by prophets of God. Man can argue this point til they are blue in the face but it doesn't change the truth. It is what it is. Man can call white black, but it doesn't change the truth that white is in fact white.

    Every person born to this earth has a challenge in life to overcome. This life is hard. Sometimes extremely horribly hard. We all have a cross to bear and the only one that can truly help us bear that cross is Jesus Christ. I ask this question and pose this example. Is it fair that a member of our ward suffers from a birth defect of his brain that will prevent him in this life of having a committed relationship? He is attracted to women, he makes his desires known outwardly, but is unable or not allowed to act upon those desires because of his condition. He will have no opportunity for a committed or intimate relationship with anyone in this life. His companionship will be limited to that of his parents for the rest of his life, or that of a caretaker. Not fair. Yup. Not fair. Life isn't fair and hard to boot.

    I was struck 5 years ago with a disease that plagues my body with pain. When my body is in pain for weeks on end I feel like giving up and quitting. Most of my physical challenges are a private thing invisible to others, but none the less very very real to me and those with a close association to me. It is sometimes a hard thing to bear that my life may continue to get more difficult, but a cross I have to bear, as many blessings, fastings and prayers have not removed the disease from my body. What is my other choice? To quit going to church because it is hard and at this point people can't see the physical symptoms of my disease so they have a hard time understanding what I am going through. A choice would be to end my mortal life to free myself of pain and suffering? A grevious sin, but it is a choice. I have often wondered why the people I know who have same sex attraction think their lot in life is harder than everyone else's so they are justified in giving in to those powerful urges that result in sin. In reality it is Satan that makes your lot so hard. He knows how to push my buttons, so why wouldn't he know how to push yours. We don't get to chose our trials, but we do get to chose how we deal with our trials. Yes, the trial of same sex attraction is a hard one to bear, but just remember this, this life is the testing ground not the reward. We have hope in Christ of better times in the eternities for bearing our burdens in accordance with God's laws and it is my prayer that all will have strength to bear their burdens and draw that strength from our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

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  47. If some pain is good, maybe more is better. Maybe we could all just adopt a practice of whipping ourselves across our own backs for a few minutes each morning before we pray, and then our prayers would be ever so much more meaningful and we'd develop more faith as we prayed to have the strength to bear our burdens.

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  48. There is a lot that I don't understand about this matter despite my friendships and close associations with Mormons who live with same sex attraction and extensive reading suggested by said friends. I'll paraphrase Nephi's words as my guiding principles:

    1. I don't know the meaning of all things, but I know the Lord loves his children.

    2. The Lord doesn't give any commandments to us without making a way for us to keep those commandments.

    I'm not a philosopher and barely made it out of logic classes alive. But, at my core, I feel these two ideas are supposed to go together. Because the Lord loves his children he gives them commandments and helps them obey. Furthermore, these commandments are ultimately designed to result in greater agency and greater joy.

    Certainly, one of those commandments is certainly to love our neighbor as ourself. That can be a tricky one on both counts. But it seems that the posters here are really trying.

    Here's a question for you smart people: Love = Acceptance?

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  49. I have a 24 year old son who has a same sex attraction. He has been a joy in our family from the day he was born. He loved the church and wanted to go on a mission. At 16 he became aware of this attraction and it horrified him. He did not know how to handle these feelings and was scared to tell anyone. So he went into a gay chat room on the internet and met a 20 year old Danish guy who tried to help him accept himself. After my husband and I discovered what was happening we were in shock. But, we were glad to find out, as it explained why our son had been acting so differently. We did not understand why he had these feelings but we wanted him to know that nothing could change our love for him. We felt so bad that he had been beating himself up for having these feelings and thinking we would reject him if we found out. I started writing his Danish friend of my son and our 2 years of letter writing became a book called, 'Prayers For Johnathan.' My son, his Danish friend and I published it to help those on both sides of this issue find common ground and build bridges. You can read a preview to our story at http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/12053 It was truly a God intervention. I had the most powerful spiritual experience when I wrote the final ending to my book. The Lord told me to see my son as in the story of the blind man in the Bible. In Jesus day it was thought that blindness was caused by sin. Jesus said it was not the blind man's fault nor his parents but to show forth the glory of God. How we treat those that are different is part of the test. A Danish doctor who read my book and it changed his life, has asked me to unite with him to form a yahoo group called Family Reconcilation. It is for those who have been or are affliated with the lds church on both sides of this issue to have better understanding of one another. We welcome any of you to join. Thank you all for your comments. Bridget

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  50. Thanks to all for this discussion….I'm really happy that we are thinking and weighing this issue. I have respect for all.
    Please excuse my sarcasm up front…It’s the legacy my parents left me!

    I'm gay.

    I'm perplexed by this "God gives us all challenges" and we just have to accept what he gives us and eek out the best existence with what we’ve been dealt. Why would God give someone a challenge of "homosexuality" when He, according to general Mormon thinking, has set the commandment of marriage and creating offspring as the ONLY way to happiness and exaltation …All parties sealed together for time and all eternity by the proper authority in His holy temple? I know that many will espouse, "But you'll be NORMAL in the after-life and be able to gain ALL of the happiness and blessings you want then!.. Just not now, sweetie” (And often said with a placating, half-smile of something said that just doesn’t quite sit right because they can’t imagine it for themselves!)
    Why would God take away the chance, for a few of His select children, of enjoying the blessings of His most basic commandment required of man in this EARTHLY life? Why am I denied this basic blessing because I’m “gay”….Oh excuse me, “Same-Sex attracted”?
    Isn’t that the current recommendation of God’s anointed; To NOT marry if I’m gay?

    I don’t even want to get into the discussion of those who are disabled and in the same boat (Although on a different cruise ship without “QUEEN” painted on the side.)

    Switch gears.

    I do know that, within The Church, having a disability or struggling with a horrible disease does not keep ANYONE from enjoying acceptance in His “true” milieu.
    In fact, such individuals, of poor circumstance, are revered as extraordinarily Godly for what God has imposed upon them. "God allowed this, but they are still his “special” children…It's not God's mistake, it's just "unfortunate" that he chose to bestow this particular hindrance as an opportunity for growth”.

    My GAY "opportunity for growth" is not afforded the same outlook; And the following litany is generally agreed upon in “righteous” Mormon circles:

    GAY = A choice, and a wrong choice most likely taken because you were influenced by Satan and you just weren't strong enough…Or missed a day of Seminary.
    GAY = You’ll never be quite right in the eyes of the Lord or this Ward.
    GAY = An "I'm glad it's not me, you poor soul!" mentality.
    GAY = Celibacy sanctioned by God and by The Church…The only way it’s OK to be such (Never mind that The Church throws Nuns and Priests under the bus for the same lifestyle”.
    GAY = "You can't really be as happy as us heterosexuals because it goes against every grain of common sense and law instilled by God since the creation!"
    GAY = The final result of experimentation and excessive masturbation (And that's not a word we care to use or talk about in the most Mormon of families. I don’t expect the church will ever let go of its antiquated view of masturbation, even though the general medical population differs. That's a whole "nother" discussion).
    GAY = SEX (Another word best left to someone else to discuss….Certainly not found in the Mormon lexicon).

    I gave it all up….I refused to fight against the ideology that will ALWAYS exist amongst "The Saints" (at least the TRUE Saints). It will be a long time coming if this outlook changes.
    It took many years for the common teaching that “Blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence” to get weeded out of common Mormon talk. Therefore, I’m not holding my breath for the temple doors to fly open, welcoming gay marriage.

    I respect those who want to go down the road of celibacy within the church, but as for me and my house, I love being in a relationship with a MAN and enjoying all that can be between two individuals that love. LOVE.

    "Wickedness never was happiness."…Right? Isn't that how it goes?
    I got out and got happy. I've never been happier FOR ME. Somehow, my “wickedness” brought happiness…Go figure!?
    I know He understands. He led me out before the last bit of sanity was exhausted.

    Last Random thought:
    How can Utah have one of the highest usage of anti-depressants and abuse of prescription drugs?
    How can we have the highest suicide rate of young men in the nation?
    How is it that we are THAT unhappy in “Happy Valley”?

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  51. Marcus –

    I think you have a problem understanding, and can't comprehend or accept, that a person can be:

    1. Gay
    2. Completely OUT of The Church with ALL blessings "revoked"
    3. Happy

    This would be the "5th Path", although not sanctioned according to the "Gospel of Marcus".

    I'll consider myself righteously chastised and will pray not to be so "antagonistic"….That is if my prayers still count.

    Could I still be a "Disciple of Christ" on this 5th path?…Or is God only in your back pocket?

    P.S.
    Don't assume that EVERYONE is somehow associated with Affirmation, etc. I arrived at their own opinions without Affirmation's "false teachings", as you call them.

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  52. Marcus –

    I'm the Brian who posted. Whoever Brian B________ is, it's not me. Responses like yours remind me how thankful – how deeply thankful – I feel, to have let go of such an organization that nurtures such poisonously toxic attitudes as you have brought forth here. Do you intentionally drive people away from the Church? Or is it that you just can't help it?

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  53. I hope we can strive for a combination of true compassion and commitment to principal. I don't think they are mutually exclusive: compassion doesn't imply allowing sin, or redefining it out of existence, and commitment to principal doesn't imply that we don't deeply love those whose actions disappoint us.

    Those of you new to Segullah may not be aware of these two articles we published a while ago: "You Just Have To Love,"
    and an interview with the author, found here:

    The article is written by the mother of a gay son, and tells about how she learned to love him. I love it. What I admire about Elona, the author, is her humility as she learned to love and appreciate her son. She doesn't sugar coat her struggle, or make it seem like her son was the only one who needed to change. Both the article and the interview are worth reading.

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  54. Thanks, Emily, for your comments; we needed them very much just now.

    Although I'm a man, and this discussion group is intended to be for women, I'd like to share a story related to the topic at hand, if I may – a story that warms my heart.

    I have a good friend – we'll call him Joe – who came to a point in his life where he began to feel overwhelming dispair. His marriage of many years was deeply troubled and unhappy. Joe and his wife were considering divorce as a last option to at least not be so miserable. Joe was gay but had always kept his temple covenants.

    After Joe and his wife were divorced, Joe felt some degree of relief yet was not at all happy, and imagined that the only future he could look forward to would be a life of shame, lonliness, and grim endurance. He and his wife had five children, and Joe wondered if the children would ever be able to love him – much less respect him. Things seemed bleak.

    Then someone came into Joe's life – a man who, it turned out, truly loved Joe. Soon, Joe began to rediscover all the beauty, contentment, and excitement of life. His depression fled, his health and energy improved, and he began to excell in his profession; soon he was promoted to head up his department at work, where he accomplished important and lasting improvements to nearly everything he touched. His productivity was phenomenal, and he became admired by his colleagues.

    Because Joe had Canadian Citizenship, he and his man eventually became legally married. Joe's five children – and even his ex-wife – all became interested in spending time him; he was immensely happy, and he had an incredible sense of humor. Joe and his husband and his ex-wife organized numerous family events, and even sometimes vacationed together. Yes, I suppose that would seem wierd, but for this extended family, these family gatherings were happy times. I think they all must have sensed that they were seeing their father at his best.

    Joe's son was getting ready to go on his mission, and received his mission call to Belgium. The summer before he left for his mission, Joe's son and Joe's husband took on a major home improvement project together: they ripped out the entire kitchen in the family house and spent the summer together building all the new cabinets, drawers, and shelves. It turned out beautifully, and was a strong bonding experience for both of them. Then Joe junior left for his two years in Belgium, which Joe and Husband paid for.

    This is only one of many, many stories I could tell about my friend Joe and his family, but it suffices to say that Joe's children love their "step-father" nearly as much as they love their own, and he loves them back. He tells me getting married to Joe has been more wonderful, rewarding, and fulfilling than he ever could have imagined.

    A while back, I attended a surprise birthday party for Joe, organized and put on by Joe's husband, all five children, and Joe's former wife. The house was filled with people, including the Bishop and his wife; and under Joe's husband's direction, the five children put on a little show with skits, stories, and memories in honor of their father, who they will always, always love. It was a memorable, loving, family-values experience. Joe's former wife had a place of honor there, but preferred to enjoy the celebration without taking on a speaking part.

    When I think of "gay marriage," Joe is who I think of. When I hear my fellow Latter-day Saints extoll the virtues of celibacy for gay people, I think, "Perhaps if they had known Joe, they might feel somewhat inclined to examine their certainty a little more closely.

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  55. Larry

    What a great story about everyone involved learning to love and respect each other and thereby learning that things are not always what they seem. I, of course speak, of Joe himself for realizing that his life could be full, valuable and joyful when he had belived otherwise. It sounds like he chose to love and it sounds like his family chose to love despite the fact that things were difficult, painful and I am sure very confusing at times. I love this story because it illustrates, rather idyllically I might say, how powerful love can be when we let it guide our actions instead of our desire to be right or make sense of a situation using only what we know…or think we know. Love is the power, y'all. Love is the power. =) (Moroni 7)

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  56. Well, the story about Joe sounds lovely for Joe. Joe's ex-wife, on the other hand, is making the best of a lousy situation.

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  57. Though the story was clearly related with the objective of portraying a near perfect situation and may be a bit biased, Joe's ex-wife seems like a woman who has chosen to try to love and forgive. Though it's clear she has suffered enormously, I can't imagine that her chocie to love and forgive has not brought her blessings. She is an incredible example to me! Go Joe's Ex-Wife!!!! Thanks for your example!

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  58. Also, another woman in a similar-though arguably even more heart wrenching situation is portrayed in the documentary "The Smith Family" aired on PBS's POV series maybe 6 years ago. It is still available. It was directed by a Utah filmmaker, Tasha Oldham and can be obtained through http://www.smalltownproductions.com. It is AMAZING. It follows the story of Kim Smith, a suburban Salt Lake mormon housewife, who chooses to forgive and support her dying husband who contracted HIV by being unfaithful with men and then, unknowingly, transmitted it to Kim. It is an INCREDIBLY moving, painful, inspiring and I don't know….few films have moved me so deeply. Kim's example of Herculean strength and love is….its impossible to understand. She is amazing. If you ever have the opportunity to watch it, do.

    PS I'm amazed at how long this dialogue has gone on….

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  59. Larry, that was a moving story. I think we get different things from it, though: it sounds to me like your "lesson" is that Joe followed his heart, found a life partner better suited to him, and then the world rallied around him, and that's the ideal, the dream.

    It worked out well for Joe; it doesn't work so well for others. A dear friend of mine recently experienced a divorce after finding out her husband was gay. And she's been devastated. She's still healing, I think. It will take years for her to work through this. I can't fault her for not being a "Joe's wife." I tend to be more upset with her ex-husband, for not being honest with her, for lying to her when she asked him point-blank before they got married, if he was gay.

    I know it's hard to be LDS and gay; I realize that I don't begin to understand the challenges involved. I have to say, though, that being gay and LDS and suffering doesn't make it okay when you lie to those you're supposed to be most honest with. Some people like Kim and Joe's ex-wife can find it in them to forgive and heal, and I admire them. But their ability to forgive doesn't mean that they weren't deeply, profoundly wounded.

    On this topic, I've enjoyed the blogging at http://ldslights.org/. I like their commitment to the gospel combined with their desire to explore the real issues of same-gender attraction.

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  60. Emily! Thanks so much for providing that link. I just spent a few mintues reading and exploring and I am sure I will go back. Looks fantastic.

    I know that this conversation has often spiraled into a "who suffers" more debate–and I in no way want to continue that. I feel that suffering is just a big part of life and growth….end of story. To say whether the celiabte gay or the illness stricken woman or the wronged wife is the greatest sufferer is not only silly, but pointless.

    Far it be it for me to suggest to anyone how they should live, I make numerous mistakes DAILY, but if I had to sum up my whole opinion about this topic it would be very similar to Emily's idea–its this: Try to be honest. With yourself and others….because in the end, thats what you would want. Do unto others…… if you find yourself struggling with feelings like these-be honest–if you are going to get married, talk to your "potential spouse" and make sure she/he understands the risks and they are making a clear honest choice, if you honestly can't get married, then –and this brings us back to Christian–then maybe the most honest choice is to be celibate–I just think reducing suffering begins with honesty….to yourself and others. In the end, regardless, we will always have to suffer, a little, alot, more than others, less than others, who knows–who can honestly say….I love, LOVE this scripture from John: "In this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

    I am sorry if I've ever seemed insensitive to others suffering and have allowed mine to cloud my capacity to see it in others. I love that scripture because it is an amazingly simple and beautiful invitation to see each other as equals before the love of Christ and for all of us, universally, to lay down our burdens and come to Him.

    Thanks again for all the amazing conversations!

    Nathan

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  61. Nathan–I don't think you've seemed insensitive, and I didn't mean my comment to imply that. I just wanted to point out that Joe's happy-ending story is a little more complicated than originally rendered. I'm glad you enjoyed the link :).

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