Saturday, December 8, 2012

I love you and accept you, but…you must live your life alone, without love, companionship and intimacy.

In a previous post, I shared my belief that all too many members of the LDS Church claim to love their LGBT brothers and sisters, but often attach "but..." to that love. This conditional acceptance, while perhaps justified in the eyes of the orthodox, has consequences that are generally hurtful to gay members of the Mormon community and sometimes tragic. This series of posts deals with several of the most commonly used “but…” statements and the cost of those statements.

Now I would like to tackle a final "but..." statement. This is the statement that in my mind propagates more loneliness, isolation and depression than any of the others I've discussed. It is the isolation statement...

"I love you and accept you, but…you must live your life alone, without love, companionship and intimacy, something that is central to God’s plan for the rest of us."

Some time ago I received an email from Andy, a BYU student struggling to reconcile his faith and his nature.

Andy recounted a recent visit he had had with his elder's quorum president, his desire and commitment to do the right thing, and his overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness. Specifically, Andy told the EQP that he had confidence there were other gay men in the ward; he just wished he knew who they were so he could meet them, talk to them and perhaps enjoy their support.

The elder's quorum president responded that it was good for Andy to avoid other gay people, that forging his way alone was the right thing to do, and that he admired Andy for his strength to resist.

My heart broke for Andy. Just like so many well-meaning, but misguided Church members, Andy's EQP believed the best way to help Andy and other gay members of his quorum was to isolate them, keep them away from one another, ensure that they had no contact. This in his mind controls the contagion, keeps it from spreading, and maintains the moral integrity of the Church.

The tragedy is that Andy and others like him continue to feel disconnected, lonely, and different. Despite tremendous effort and commitment, they fail to discover their divine nature and instead wrestle futilely with their "unnatural" and "deviant" desires. Eventually, they all too often slip into despair and depression, their despair becomes hopelessness and they begin to wonder if their lives are worth the struggle.

I couldn't help but respond to Andy's post. I wrote:

"My heart breaks for you, Andy. I was once where you are and I know all too well the ache that grieves you. It does get better.

"I have come to realized that as a gay man I'm not broken. I'm not suffering from an illness like drug addiction or depression. My nature is not deviant nor are my desires unnatural.

"I am a child of God who is made in HIS image. He loves me because of who I am, not despite what I am. I am good and whole and at peace.

"Because God loves me, he has prepared a place for me where I might rise to my potential and ultimately find joy--both in this world and the next.

"And he doesn't mean for me to be alone. He doesn't intend for me to travel this world by myself, without a helpmeet.

"Elohim said,"It is not good for man to be alone." His prophet said that we are that we might have joy. As you only too clearly know, there is no joy in loneliness.

"It's a tragedy that so many straight people prefer us to remain alone--isolated from those who are like us, those who can best help us find our way.

"Whether it’s a partner or a friend, we need companionship to ultimately find peace in our lives. I'd encourage you to do just that--find companionship with good men who are like you and me.

"God bless you, my friend, on your journey.”

There are too many Andy's in the world struggling to find their way. They all need someone to take their hand and direct their footsteps. They need a friend, a guide, a support.

At the same time, there are too many people promoting and encouraging isolation. This is not good. This is not God's way.

The fact is, we were not made to live our lives alone. Despite what well meaning people might say, Heavenly Father is clear that it is a solitary and lonely life without companionship that is actually "deviant" and "unnatural."

Adapted from the keynote address given by Allen Miller at the 2012 Salt Lake City Circling the Wagons Conference.


  1. Thank you for posting this and sharing with I'm living, experiencing and struggling with in my closet.
    -The same anonymous

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I wish more people could understand what they are REALLY saying. They think they are showing empathy and compassion, but the truth is they have not even thought nor considered what it would be like if the roles were reversed... How accepted or loved would THEY feel if they were told their heterosexual love was unacceptable? How loved would they feel if they were told that they had to spend their entire lives completely alone? No family. No love. No sex. And so many other things that I haven't even thought of...

    I had a discussion last night with a woman who came right out and said she had never thought about those things, but everyone has a choice... easily dismissed thinking of the pain of another because HER life was okay. It makes me sad and angry.

    I don't want to change policies even... I just want people to think about things and have some REAL empathy instead of just pretend empathy.

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. They are appreciated.

  4. Yes, I believe this truly is 'the Zinger'. Great post Clive.

  5. Clive, I've had such a hard time over the Holidays. I'm surrounded by my family and yet continue to feel completely alone at times. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I often have to remind myself that it will get better. Reading your posts reminds me that it will get better. Thanks much!