Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Freedom and Compliance to Authority

One of the great paradoxes of Mormonism is the tension between freedom of belief and action (moral agency) and compliance to ecclesiastical authority.  Joseph Smith broke with so many existing conventions of Christianity that it is overwhelming to consider them all.  He cherished freedom of thought and believe and viewed as a key element of his mission the breaking of restrictive and intolerant religious codes.  He taught that each person should find out for himself what God wanted him to do and then live true to that knowledge.  

Thus in the early days of the Church each member was encouraged to be his or her own prophet to find their own way to God.   Said he, "I teach correct principles and they govern themselves" and "we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising the free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts".  

With this belief in individual autonomy you would think that Mormonism would shy away from the dogma of constrained belief and subjection to church hierarchy.  It is ironic that Mormonism is one of the most centralized and authoritarian of churches. 

Early on, Joseph recognized that chaos would rein if each member used to a full extent the freedom of believe and practice that he advocated.  Individual freedom was tempered by the teaching of priesthood authority and keys, which established a framework for offices and authority to pronounce doctrine.  On occasion, this system of authority has been used beyond its boundaries to silence unpleasant dissent and enforce standardization.  

Brigham Young, perhaps the most authoritarian of all LDS leaders, established the pattern for using priesthood authority to dictate in matters far beyond basic gospel principles.  However, even Brigham stated, "I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him.  I am fearful that they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God."

One author created titles for Mormons.  He called those who find comfort and safety in complete reliance upon institutions and authoritative oracles as "Iron Rod Mormons", and those who suscribe to a gospel of individual freedom of worship and revelation as "Liahona Mormons".  I like this analogy.  

The collision between individual autonomy and freedom and compliance to ecclesiastical authority is inevitable and will likely continue to increase, particularly for intellectuals and artists.   As the Church population grows in diversity, control and regimentation will increasingly spawn pools of independent thought.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Luis Fonsi

Luis Fonsi cracked the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in September 2008 with his song "No Me Doy Por Vencido". It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks.  On December 11, 2009, Fonsi performed in Oslo, Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert honoring winner President Barack Obama.

I have to confess I have the hots for several pop Latin vocalists.  Not to mention, I like their music.


Most people don't know that the LDS Church actually has no official position regarding evolution.  Because many church leaders have made strong statements against evolution in the past, folks assume that this represents the Church's official position.  It does not.  Actually, there are a lot of examples of evolution in LDS believe, the most obvious is the teaching that we may evolve to become Gods.  

There are also a lot of misconceptions among church members that LDS teachings don't evolve over time.  Some even teach that because they are "true" they never change.  This is also false.  There are probably more LDS "truths" that have changed over time than those that have remained constant.  You can search this out on your own.  In my opinion, it does not change the veracity of earlier ideas but rather represents a growth and expansion of the LDS vision of truth.  

I may post some examples in the future but here is one small example of changed teachings.  There was a time when LDS leaders pretty clearly taught that parents were responsible for the "wickedness" of their children.  Obviously, this has evolved to the recognition that each person is unique and ultimately makes their own choices.  I've sometimes wondered if this change came about when Church leaders discovered that their own children where not what they wanted them to be and this teaching pointed the guilty finger at them.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

breast cancer

I have not had much enthusiasm for posting in the last few weeks -- sorry about that.  My courageous best friend, my wife, was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer during the first week of January.  We've spent a lot of time in doctor's offices and at the hospital having her analyzed, poked, biopsied, and counseled.  Our whole world has been turned upside down, again.  We've been through a lot together, including both of us coming to terms with my gayness.  

I told her that I've always been better in a supporting role than in trying to figure out my own mixed up life - so I can do this (support her) and do it well.  She began chemo last Friday and will continue for probably months.  Since I love hats and love to shop (so gay), I found her some cute ones for when she loses her hair.  I also bought her an ipad for some fun during her long down times.  Today, we bought a new leather sofa so she has something comfortable to lay down on without needing to be in bed.  

In some strange way this has brought us closer together.  She has given up so much for me over the years and probably missed out on a lot of happiness that she deserved because of my weirdness that I need to... and want to... stand by her in this illness and see her safely recovered. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

new sheets

Now that my wife knows about me we have developed a new openness.  We've done a few kinda crazy things that we would not have considered doing before.  Today we bought leopard pattern sheets for our bed.  Not too crazy, but pretty far out there for Mormons...

nothing much

I like these....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Church today

I enjoyed taking the sacrament today and feeling the spirit acknowledge again to me that the fundamentals of the gospel are true and that I'm on the right path and OK with God.

We have a lot of elderly and sick members in our ward right now and as you would expect there were several prayers asking the Lord's blessing on them.  I too hope and pray for their recovery and God's will to happen in their life.  

It makes me sad that we can so easily pray in public for those who have "worthy" or politically acceptable challenges.  It's definably not OK to pray publicly (at least not in my ward) for those who have been alienated by church leaders that lied to them and caused so much pain and years of anguish.  

I vacillate between loving God, the Savior, and the gospel and feeling a loathing for the church bureaucracy that pigeonholes me as fundamentally wrong, sexually deviant, evil, and lacking self control.  

I don't know the general authorities personally and I'm sure many of them have had difficult personal struggles, but I don't think they know the first thing about what "enduring to the end" means for me.  Part of what it means for me is continuing to participate in and donate money to an organization that fundamentally hates me and would prefer that I did not exist.

So on days like today, I embrace the truths that I know and feel, both the gospel principles that I know are true and what I know about myself, and I try to just let the rest of the junk fall by the wayside.  Not always easy, but then I guess "enduring to the end" is never that way.  I know that God loves and accepts me, even if the Church still has a long way to go in that regard.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to a new year!  What will it bring??

2010 was good in many ways and a challenge in a few.  Good things were finishing my Master's Degree, enjoying more time with family, and coming out to my wife.  

Maybe 2011 will be even better - I'm sure it will be in some respects.  Maybe it will be more difficult in some respects.  Anyway its coming and nothing I can do will stop it -- so on with it!!