Invictus Pilgrim posted an essay today that has left me troubled. While I appreciate much of what he wrote and find that many of his thoughts ring true, what to me is a core issue was assaulted and left me empty. Hence, this post of my own.
First, let me say that Invictus Pilgrim has become a dear friend, someone who I have only recently come to know, and yet already love and admire. His quiet company and thoughtful perceptivity are comforting. His wisdom and intellect, stimulating. His openness and honesty offer candid insight into the heart of a good man trying to find his way from the dark to the light. Much of what he says and writes rings true at the deepest level.
Despite the similarities of our journey and the beginnings of a friendship that in the end, I'm sure, will be lasting, he and I have one fundamental difference.
The difference boils down to a matter of faith.
At the risk of over-simplification, we middle-aged Mormon gays seem to come in two flavors.
There are those of us who choose to remain in difficult marriages because of our covenants, commitments, and honest love for our wives and children. This route all too often results in loneliness, isolation, and a life devoid of intimacy. We credit the anger and heartache we daily endure as a sacrament of suffering and the cost of someday receiving "eternal happiness."
The second flavor involves those of us who finally hit the wall. We realize that living a life of duplicity and artifice not only begets unhappiness and sorrow, but is the antithesis of the joy that Heavenly Father actually wants for each of us.
As we hit the wall, our lives actually shatter. The individuals we thought we were no longer exist. We are left in pieces, attempting to find order, stability, and hope in a world that is new and at once beguiling. The thrill of feeling utter freedom for the first time and the relief derived from honesty and clarity are overwhelming.
And yet in this new state, we seem to harbor a sense of betrayal. The teachings and principles that have guided our lives, albeit unsuccessfully, are not only called into question, but are all too often rejected, annihilated, and ultimately vilified, frequently with pleasure and even pride.
The result is that there are few openly gay men who choose to remain active in the LDS Church.
I believe there is a third way.
Let me first say that regardless of the choices I make in my life and the appropriateness of these choices from an orthodox Mormon perspective, I know--yes, know--that the GOSPEL is true. Joseph Smith restored principles dealing with the eternal questions of man's origins, mission, and future home that transcend mortal manufacture. I have felt the hand of God and have heard his voice. I continue to seek his guidance and receive it.
My primary disagreement with Invictus is the same disagreement that I have with most who follow the second way. To me, the GOSPEL and the Church are not synonymous. While I am reticent, because of covenant, to speak ill of the Lord's anointed, I recognize that they are men, men with the same challenges, foibles and weaknesses as I. They receive guidance and revelation for the Church in the same way that I receive guidance and revelation for me and my family--to the degree that I am willing to accept it.
That is why it is incumbent on me to learn for myself through spiritual channels the truth of what they speak. As George Albert Smith taught, to do otherwise would undermine agency, the first principle of heaven.
The fact that a member of the Twelve can stand in General Conference and preach what is recognized through intellect and Spirit as false doctrine emphasizes this truth. The fact that he would be publicly corrected should reaffirm, not undermine the devotion of the faithful.
A second concern I have with Invictus' post is that while he believes that the doctrine of the restoration "ultimately boils down to the union of a penis and a vagina," I believe the lynch pin of the gospel is Heavenly Father's desire for all his children to "ultimately" find joy (2 Nephi 2:25).
Recognizing that we are all different, "joy" in a mortal and eternal sense means different things to each of us. Heavenly Father, who knows and loves us individually, has acknowledged that. Of all his children he has said, "they shall return again to their own place, to enJOY that which they are willing to receive (D&C 88:32)."
For many, the opportunity to unite with a woman in love to create worlds and enjoy eternal increase will bring that bliss that eternity affords.
For those of us who were created by God to love a person of our same gender, our joy will be found in different paths.
And that to me is the beauty of the restoration. It is a recognition that although we are all God's children, God ultimately recognizes our differences and through his love, still desires for us happiness. He has created for his children no eternal hell, no place of eternal suffering, but only a place where each of us can find joy.
While because of my nature and my choices I may not desire exaltation (just as I neither desire great wealth nor national prominence), I have testimony built on faith that when I stand before Christ and account for my stewardship, I will feel his arms around me and receive a fullness of joy intended only for me through his infinite love and universal grace.
That to me is the fundamental truth of the restoration. It is the knowledge that in the end, all will be well and I will be at peace.
With that in mind, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to do as so many of us gay men searching, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.