Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The Mormon myth: repent and you won't be gay!
A woman just discovered her husband had been viewing gay pornography (see post here).
In response to her request for advice, Jared91 left the following comment: "I just did a search of this post and comments. I noted the word 'repent' doesn't appear."
In response to Jared's post, I left the following:
Jared, it is your calloused and insensitive call to repentance that ultimately drives gay people and their families from the Church. As a former bishop and gay man, I can assure you that Sarah’s husband has spent his life trying to repent of feelings he can’t control and behaviors he has adopted to try and mitigate those feelings. To date repentance as you allude to has only left him feeling broken and rejected. As a result, lectures on the power of the atonement and repentance come across as self-righteous and downright ignorant. They don’t help Sarah’s husband deal with the process of understanding or managing what is actually an integral yet darkly secret part of who he is.
Most of us gay men readily recognize that we are different from our earliest years. We finally put a name to this difference when we reach puberty or early manhood. As Latter-day Saints, we have been taught that these feelings are perverse and unholy. As a result, the feelings are denied or repressed and we become angry and overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and unworthiness.
It isn't until we recognize that homosexual feelings are acceptable and good, that God created us as we are, and that he loves us not despite of who we are, but because of who we are, that real peace and self-acceptance begin to emerge.
The great myth that people like Jared propagate is that homosexuality is only about “carnal, sensual and devilish natures.” This myth destroys lives and drives people from God. The reality is that homosexuality is no more evil than heterosexuality and is no more unnatural.
If Sarah’s husband has anything to repent of, it is that he has failed to be honest with himself and has to this point forced himself to live a life that has left him increasingly unhappy.
Men are that they might have joy. When the Lord spoke those words through his prophet, he didn’t restrict joy to just straight people. He wants his gay sons and daughters to experience joy as well.
As Sarah’s husband faces the truth and has the courage to accept that truth, he will begin to heal, regardless of what path he eventually decides to take. The fact is, I have never met a man who once came out of the closet, wished he could go back in. Men who are out feel a sense of integrity and congruency that they miss and yearn for during their closeted lives.
When Sarah’s husband feels free to be who he truly is, he will finally feel the joy of Christ. As the Lord himself taught, it is truth that will ultimately make him free.