Last Sunday I had an interesting meeting with my bishop. It’s the first time since I moved into the ward last August that he has visited with me. All in all, he was kind and supportive. If tears are any sign, he shed more than a few as I shared the story of my life. He also admitted candidly that he had no conception of the hell I must have navigated to remain married to a good woman, raise five children who each served missions, graduated from BYU and were married in the temple, while myself serving faithfully for so long.
He even expressed empathy for the difficult position in which I now find myself—a man who desires to maintain some connection with the Church while at the same time remaining committed to finding a partner of my gender with whom I can ultimately marry and spend my life.
This bishop was sensitive about my position but direct in its implications. If I choose to continue coming to church, he said, I will be excommunicated. If I just fade into the neighborhood with no overt affiliation with the ward, my church membership will remain intact.
That is my conundrum. I find spiritual strength attending my meetings, serving with my neighbors, and feeling the support that comes with Gospel interaction. I read my New Testament lessons and find that Christ was specific that his Gospel was meant for all God’s children, not just the righteous. He condemned the Pharisees as hypocrites for refusing to worship with those who were sinners.
On the other hand, according to my bishop, if I leave quietly, my membership will stand and the implications of that membership as it affects my former wife, my children and my grandchildren will remain in full force.
Many of you have been clear with regard to what I should do. Based on your own experience, which admittedly is often much more extensive than my own, you see my current position as merely a temporary resting place, that true peace of conscience will never be achieved until I break free of the bonds with which I am bound to a bigoted and homophobic organization, that my relationship with Christ is what matters rather than a tie, no matter how nebulous, to a patriarchy dominated by men who have little experience, knowledge or understanding of the trials we endure.
But I value my church membership. I value being part of the community of Christ. If my membership can remain intact as an inactive Latter-day Saint, why must I be excommunicated if I choose to attend my Sunday meetings and fellowship with the Saints?
How odd this all is. How upside down. Is this really what Christ would want?