Our Special Mission
I am even more convinced now than ever, of what I believe are the special missions that gays and lesbians have in this existence. At its core is learning to live the law of "to thine own self be true" and teaching this law to others.
I was especially struck by the thought that perhaps, just perhaps we, gays and lesbians, simply because we exist, are the embodiment of a powerful set of lessons that Eugene England pointed out, of learning and teaching true Christ-like love. The debate over homosexuality in this country and in the Church brings out some of the worst anger, hatred, and vicious sides of human nature I have ever witnessed, second only to the massacres and cleansings that have taken place throughout history in the name of God. People are angry and people are afraid on all sides of the equation - and this anger promotes some of the most destructive darkness in human souls I have ever witnessed in my young life. This I believe, is true evil - NOT of God. The essence of carnal, human nature.
I cannot describe to you the anger I feel and get a sense by some of the hateful emails I get, comments I hear about others and comments directed at me, that here, in America, I should be afraid for my safety simply because I exist.
Because the topic of homosexuality evokes so much anger and hatred, I truly believe God has a mission for us — of peacemaker and of teacher. Gays and Lesbians are the embodiment of this anger and hatred, a true testament to the ungodliness that still exists among those who most profess their godliness. For it is not the gays that jeopardize this society, we are merely the objects — it is the fear, the hatred, bigotry, the racism, the injustices, the hate crimes, and the anger that people have towards gays and lesbians that has become common among so many that is the true jeopardy. It is a hatred and anger towards a very peaceful people for the most part, towards a group of people where so many have careers of service, of fellowship, where self-support and mutual aid associations abound, a community that continually pulls together, a community that begs to be accepted, a community that loves the Arts, Poetry and literature. It is a sensitive community in which nonviolence, love and compassion are abundant.
If we talk about missions and God's plan in the context of this atmosphere of hatred, then it becomes more clear to me of the mission of gays and lesbians in the Church.
One of the most important obstacles we, as a society and the human race face (and I am talking about higher laws here), is that of learning to love ourselves, forgive ourselves and our enemies and ultimately to love our enemies. This is where I believe Gays and Lesbians have a critical role in the Church - an active role in the Church, a special mission in the Plan of Exaltation.
Could it be that this special mission we have is one of teacher, peacemaker, and messengers of the Light?
This must occur on several levels:
Once we begin to live a life where we are truly in touch with ourselves, through the help of our Savior and God, we can decide to live our lives accordingly. No one has the right to judge or condemn that individual's decision, this decision must be left up to each of us. Whatever we choose, WE MUST carry out our lives with honor, with honesty, with malice toward none, and with compassion. As others learn to honor our decisions, be compassionate, have malice toward none, and seek a society where all peaceful people can co-exist.
- First - learning to love ourselves: Before we can love our enemies, we must learn to love ourselves. This I see is the single most significant problem among Gays and Lesbians, the self hatred and self-loathing we each carry around with us, as Del Thornton discussed in his and Laurie's workshop on internalized Homophobia. Many of us will go through our entire lifetime hating ourselves. It is this self-hatred that is at the basis of the self-destruction that is so common in our community.
- Forgiving those who hate and despise us: This includes our parents, family, friends, the wider society, and those in the Church. This too is a tall order, and many of us will go through our entire lives hating, despising, and being bitter - in the same manner we are hated and despised. This, as Eugene points out, is part of our natural human state, and we must rise above this.
- Learning to love those who hate us: This again is a tall order but absolutely necessary if we are to achieve the first two goals. This means staying in touch with the Church, not shunning those who hate us, giving others the opportunity to get to know you, asking questions, and serving as an example to dispell the myths and stereotypes that abound about gays.
- and finally, as we are beginning to achieve the above goals, we are in a position to assess how we will carry out our lives here on this earth: Whether to remain celibate or to join in a loving committed partnership.
If, and I say if, we can achieve being true to ourselves in this lifetime, then HOW we choose to carry out our lives as homosexuals will become self-evident, the choice will be clear - and our Heavenly Parents will pour out their love and support accordingly. I also believe that this choice is a sacred covenant between each individual and God - despite the current teachings of the Church.
I also believe that fidelity, commitment and true love for another adult human being, as God intended between two adults, is necessary for humans to truly learn to live a celestial life. Whether this includes Gays and Lesbians, is ultimately between God and each individual.
I also believe, that "our cross" to bear, contrary to how some others believe, is NOT the "celibacy question" or shall I say, how to remain faithful to the current teachings of the Gospel. This implies that being "gay" is a physical deformity, a "condition," an addiction, or by some, a spiritual deformity - and to discourage having a loving caring relationship with another adult simply doesn't wash. Carrying each of these charges out to their logical conclusion simply doesn't add up - no matter how you look at it.
We don't discourage persons with disabilities not to having loving caring relationships with other adults - even those with mental or emotional handicaps. Even individuals with Down's Syndrome have healthy relationships. In fact, persons with disabilities seek out, and are encouraged by health professionals to have such relationships... People with sexual addictions aren't told to "stop" having intimate relationships - no, they are coached to work through issues towards a meaningful and healthy relationship with another adult that involves sexual intimacy - not celibacy.
Therefore, I reject the notion that I am disabled in some way, or a freak, or a spiritual deviant - I don't accept that as a logical or rational conclusion. After much soul searching and personal prayer, I have concluded that this simply is not true.
What I do believe "our cross" encompasses is how I must come to terms with this reality of myself - figure out how I am to conduct my life in accordance with what I know in my heart to be true, to be obedient to that truth, and to live my life honorably as an example and light to those around me.
Additionally - I believe that gays and lesbians must recognize the special role we have in this society. We have a special mission to teach peace and justice to our fellow humans who are often hostile, and carry unprecedented anger and hatred towards us. A very, very tall order indeed. And this is why I also believe that among "us" are the most valiant of God's creations - because He knew far in advance what was in store.
You may call me delusional, but I think not. Look around you. What I see are remarkable souls, brave, strong and courageous souls who have and are seeking the truth through prayer and sharing. I see souls who do not have the Church and its rules and sanctions to hide behind - who have not blindly followed their leaders, who, as Peter, Paul and Moses, are seeking the truth for themselves, are acting upon those truths they find, and accept the challenge to teach the message of justice and true Christ-like love to others.
I see among us the peacemakers of this earth. I see so much concern for justice, and for service — individuals in our fold who are quietly serving the poor, those in need, of serving in their communities and bringing light to so many individuals.
I see valiant souls struggling, but always seeking ways to make life just a little easier for those around them.
In conclusion, there are many things I do not understand, the Church's position on gays and lesbians being one of them. While I intellectually understand WHY it is, I have come to realize that it does me no good to continually be frustrated, to be angry or bitter. I must accept that this is the Church's position, while at the same time knowing that I must be true to myself - that there is a purpose to this also.
What I have come to realize is this:
The most important things in my life stem around HOW I choose to conduct my personal life, how I live and treat my partner day to day, how I try to honor her, to love her, to make sacrifices for her, to find patience and support her in all she does, to honor the commitments we are making towards one another, how I try to overcome my selfish nature and learn selflessness, how I maintain my family ties, how I speak out against injustice when I can, how I reach out and help those in need, how I listen to a troubled heart, how I come to my Heavenly Parents every night - bare my soul, and say, please forgive me of my shortcomings, I tried again today, please give me strength tomorrow, how I try to live according to the principles I grew up with, and how I struggle each day to say to myself and others in need, God loves you, peace be unto you, you have so much to live for, you have so little to die for.
Peace be unto all of us - for this IS the struggle - I want to shout as Alma did so long ago: People, "this discourse IS THE STRUGGLE - can you all not see this?" This discourse is the foundation of so many, many lessons we are here to learn.