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Women, Gays, and other marginalized Mormons

May 4, 2012

I haven’t been so great at posting since my article last week about what every faithful same-sex attracted member of the church must know. There are a couple of reasons for this…one of which has nothing to do with the blog and one of which has everything to do with the blog.

  1. There has been some drama with a roommate in my apartment. I have revealed certain details of what happened across certain venues, but in other venues, I have remained coy about particular details. The take-away point is that the experience has forced me to devote more of my resources to protecting me and my stuff first. The side effect is that blogging seems inconsequential.
  2. After that post, which was really well-received, and was shared and re-shared, linked and re-linked across several sources, I actually felt like everything was over. That there didn’t need to be anything else said. That post seemed (and still seems) like the magnum opus of what could be said on the issue of Mormonism and homosexuality. Like, where do you go from there? But it’s not my move anymore. It’s not members’ moves anymore (even though members certainly continue to move. And because the media either chooses not to or is unable to recognize the distinction between members and institution, people on both sides of the belief aisle are confused about what these members’ actions says about the church’s position. As I predicted).

It’s the LDS church’s move.

(I’ll go in more detail on that second point, after the cut)

I don’t want to gloss over how I felt after I had completed that post. Really, I thought I was done. I thought: there really is no more point for Irresistible (Dis)Grace. But the funny thing was that across many of the venues wherein the post was shared, people commented saying that I didn’t go far enough.

A friend on Facebook posed the following questions to me:

what comes next?

When the friend had asked me this question, I was still thinking the post was the sum of everything I could say. So I asked, “What do you mean, what comes next? In an eternal scheme? For the church?”

She replied:

well, for example, LDS who are gay… your point was sort of “what’s the point?” i mean, the celibacy/chastity thing, etc.
it all makes a lot of sense.
so where do we go?
as a church?
because i do fit very nicely into the plan and the gospel, and the have a family thing
but i also believe very strongly in the doctrines of the gospel.
so where do you fit into it, as a gay man?
if you were to write a part 2 to that article, wherein you discuss the ideas of “where do we go from here?” what would you say.

And I have tried to think of the “what next?” But I’m conflicted on this as well. From a blog standpoint, I think, I don’t want to pigeonhole this blog as being a single-issue kind of blog. (Let’s just ignore the fact that a blog about Mormonism from a non-believing perspective is, by definition, a “single-issue kind of blog”.) And when I think of trying to come up with some sort of solution, I think…I haven’t done nearly the amount of research I should do to place the puzzle pieces together. I want to say: “Here, just check out the Mormon Matters podcast episode on whether Mormon theology can affirm homosexual relationships.”

But I feel that there are a few puzzle pieces to add and to the mix. I just…feel like I would need time. Time to research. Time to study everything out. Time to do justice to the issue.

I worry that in the end, I would come up with something that would sound right to me, but would come off as “fringe” or “weird” to others. Heck, we’re already turning to the past to re-appropriate things for the present’s needs.

But I had a greater fear. That I would come off as “naive.” Who am I kidding? I don’t have any experience with this marriage and relationship stuff.

So, this post is not going to be providing any solutions…instead, it’ll get to a couple of posts I’ve read recently that I’ve connected back to these thoughts.

More on Gays

Jared C had a post at LDS & Evangelical Conversations relating to the BYU USGA “It Gets Better” video. A selection from his post:

 The fact of natural homosexuality requires institutional change if either group is to remain followers of Jesus.  It’s hard for me to see how either group provides a satisfying answer to the person who feels God in and through their experiences of sexuality AND openly embraces a “alternative lifestyle”.   Which means, no matter how spiritually compelling either Mormonism or Evangelicalism is, they are going to appear to be very limited or broken for anybody who understands that God wants some people to be gay AND close to Him.   Just as they have to tweak their theology to account for the unfathomable size and complexity of the universe, they are going to have to change in order to get in line with this reality.  Of course this very sort of change may cause foundations to crumble.

The thing is…I just don’t get it. I think the perplexing part is that Jared has this ideal of what it means to be a “follower of Jesus” that is separate from what institutional Christianity (e.g., various evangelical denominations, Mormonism, etc.,) posits it to mean.  That comes out even more in what he says after that part:

I never quite saw this fact before this video. Hearing and seeing the human problem is necessary to make non-gay realize it.  My guess is that more open, honest and loving discussions of homosexuality within Mormonism and Evangelicalism will mean dramatic changes within both, or simply a larger exodus from a faith that has lost touch with the real world.

At this point, if my child was gay, I would actively try to de-convert them from both Evangelicalism and Mormonism because, at least to this child, neither seem to be carrying the torch of Christian love and understanding.

Emphasis added.

He has the idea of what the “carrying the torch of Christian love and understanding” should entail, but I’m not so sure what that entails, especially without relating it to historical or contemporary Christian denominations. This is summed up by another commenter’s comment: “How did Jesus advocate homosexuals be treated?” People can say that Jesus didn’t really say much at all about gay people, but that doesn’t mean we can impute him accepting gay relationships. On the contrary, I see other messages consistently throughout Christian heritage and history. The same is true for Mormonism.

So, at some point, I feel that what Jared calls the appearance of Mormonism or Evangelicalism being “very limited” for those who understand that “God wants some people to be gay AND close to Him”…that’s not a bug; it’s a feature. If your understanding is that God wants some people to be gay AND close to Him, you aren’t really going to be Mormon or Evangelical.

(That’s me at my most cynical.)

On Women

One thing about which I’ve thought since the post is the extent to which there are also other issues for Mormons. Someone responded to my comment on the Well-Behaved Woman blog thusly:

“At best, they must bide their time in this life, waiting until the end of this mortality with but the hope and faith that in the next life, all will be made well and whole.”

Exactly.

You could put this comment after a post that talks about the doctrine of bearing children, for a woman/man who is infertile.

You could put this comment after a post about marriage, for a woman like my Great Aunt who is an extremely faithful member of the Church who has never been married (and probably never will be – she is in her 80s and in failing health).

But I would change it to this: “We must bide our time in this life, waiting until the end of this mortality with the hope and faith that in the next life, all will be made well and whole.”

Hope and faith are not trivial things, my friend, hope and faith are the most powerful tools we have. It is by faith and hope that God makes all things possible for us.

We all face challenges in this life. We should all love one another and accept one another with open arms.

I could address the second part (about hope and faith being the “most powerful tools we have”), but that would be a different post. Rather, what I was thinking about was the extent to which I really COULD have written a post titled, “What ever single woman in the church MUST know” or “What every childless woman in the church MUST know.” But that only makes things even more sad. It’s not that it makes gay members less marginalized, but it shows how the nuances of LDS policies on gender, gender roles, families, and relationships ends up affecting many more people.

Or to put it in Jared’s words, it shows that things are even more “limited.”

This post, “About a Mother,” destroyed me:

…I think it’s time that I admit, really admit that there may not be a baby. Not ever. Because, if I don’t admit it – if I don’t admit it to the world – then I will keep continuing this pattern. I can’t face heartbreak over and over again like so many women have. I have to let go of my dream so that I can at least pretend that it doesn’t consume me. I can at least pretend that seeing your babies on facebook and in person doesn’t make me want to run and cry, while at the same time making me want to hold them and take in as much of their sweetness as I can because I might never have the chance for myself.

I see your baby bellies, your announcements, your children. I see your happy families, and your not-so happy families. I see accidental pregnancies and women that try forever and then succeed. I see unwed women, highschoolers, women addicted to drugs, and women in abusive relationships. All these women. Pregnant.

Why not us?

And, do you want to know the very best part? The part that makes me the saddest and the most ashamed?

I have been asked, for the third year in a row, to speak at church on Mother’s Day. I wanted to say, “Why don’t you ask someone who has successfully had a child?” But I didn’t, and I wont. There is obviously something for me to learn here. I don’t think any of the people who have asked me to speak have a clue about any of this, but how do I write a talk about being a mother when I’m trying to help myself realize that it may never happen for me?

I want her to give that blog post as a talk for Mother’s Day. As is. Let’s ponder that on Mother’s Day.

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3 Comments
  1. FireTag permalink

    The CofChrist, as you know, is now in the process of deciding whether you can be both actively gay and close to Christ within, at least, the first world portions of the liberal branch of Mormonism.

  2. FireTag,

    Something about the way you phrased “deciding whether you can be both actively gay and close to Christ” kinda unsettles me about restoration denominations in specific and some Christian ways of looking at discipleship in general.

    I mean, Christians talk about grace, but they are so careful not to espouse “cheap grace.” But they don’t want to say that works are essential!

    And so they have this weird place, where they have to create these no true Scotsman…if you are REALLY close to Christ, then you will not be actively gay. If you are actively gay, that’s the proof in the pudding that you are not really close to Christ/saved/etc.,

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  1. What happens when Mormonism ceases to be relevant? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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