Monday, February 27, 2012

We All Feel Excluded at Times

I had read Corey’s beautiful testimony which he posted on his blog.  Still not allowed to share it in Church – which is really too bad.  It is so powerful and does give insight into acceptance.

There were some comments made by a few whose names I hadn’t recognized.  They’d been following Corey’s blog for quite some time but had never made comment until Corey once again mentioned that he might stop blogging.
I had told him time and time again that he needed to continue – or needs to rather.  It’s not just my selfish desire to read his eloquent words – he has been making a difference for over six years now.  Followers have seen him struggle and grow and give advice – though he doesn’t mean it that way.  His words just come out so naturally that a reader can’t help but feel some sense of awe.
Until Corey’s blog had been pointed out to me – I hadn’t done much research on homosexuality – or same sex attraction rather.  Just because one has SSA does not mean that he or she may act upon it – hard as it may be.  You either remain celibate and true to your church or true to yourself at the expense of membership.  It’s hard.  It’s like you’ve been told to multiply and replenish the earth but you’ve also been told NOT to eat the apple.

There have been many who have become angry or hurt by the decisions of the church.  Recently I posted a comment on the website Mormons for Marriages.  My thought was that if missionaries teach an unwed heterosexual couple the gospel and have them commit to baptism, they expect the couple will get married first.  But what do they expect of a homosexual couple? Would they even bother teaching them?

Corey could have taken a tremendously different path than he did.  Between the time he graduated from high school and from the two year college he attended, Corey grew into a very bitter person.  I had little contact with the prick that he had become. It wasn’t because he thought he was a homosexual that put a strain on our relationship – it was just that he would invite Satan – or Satan seemed to hang around his life and I wasn’t thrilled to see his presence crossing over into my own life – denying the fact that with my failing relationship with Corey, he already had. 

Satan had interfered with the pretty awesome relationship that Corey and I had once had.  But because we were already at odds with one another when he announced his coming out – I realized then that I just didn’t care.  Somewhere between high school and his college graduation, I had stopped caring about Corey.  The Corey I had known had disappeared and a very dark and ugly personality had taken over.

Corey is the first to admit just how dark and ugly his life was.  He had been fighting a losing battle practically his entire life.  The Church had said, “You need to behave this way.  You need to think that way.  You need to repent if you are not in the Mormon Box” – okay – it wasn’t taught entirely with those exact words – but that is the message that was conveyed.  Still is at times.

We are taught to stay in the Mormon lines and yet there is a Mormonad – a youth poster – with a picture of a single daisy amongst several roses in a vase.  The caption reads: Dare to be Different.  Really?  Sometimes I feel chastised for some of the different emotions that I feel.  And it’s not just me.  It’s every feminist.  It’s everyone who has had feelings and desires toward a person who is not of the same faith that we are.  It’s every person who has experienced what many may call “failed” marriages.  It’s the person who lost custody because his or her spouse had a “smoother” attorney.

From what I understand (I don’t have hard evidence to back this up, so I could be wrong) there was a high suicide rate among the women in the Church in the 60s, unable to live up to all the expectations outlined for them.  For years and years those from a black race could join the Church, but could NOT hold the priesthood.  It appeared that they had been told, “You can join the Church but never reap all the benefits that we have to offer”

Those who have married a spouse who is not a member of the Church or have a spouse who is inactive or recently divorced may feel excluded with activities or topics of eternal marriage.  Even single people who have been looking for straight partners may not always be comfortable with the subject of eternal families and how we need to search for an eternal mate and blah, blah, blah . . . as if they’re not already searching. 

So many meeting will start with, “of course we want to include our single brothers and sisters . . .” when what they are really doing is just adding salt to the wounds that seem to become deeper with each “enduring” meeting.

I went from “single” resentment to a “budget” hang-up.  I understand the need of balancing a checkbook and prioritizing and doing without.  I get it.  Sitting through the umpteenth meeting with my given financial situation doesn’t change the economy or Roland’s greedy ex.  We’ve been behind with attorney fees (have actually lost attorneys) taxes and so forth.  We don’t even have anything tangible to show for where our money went.  It’s a problem.  Rubbing my nose in it isn’t going to change the situation.  It’s only going to make me hostile and feel more resentment.

And now leaders are advising those with same sex attraction NOT to act upon their feelings – to remain unhappy living the gospel.  Oh – they don’t say “Be unhappy” they actually advise the leopard to “change his spots – or remove them rather”  though there are a few that have come to understand that homosexuality is NOT a choice just as being born Hispanic or Asian or any other race is not a choice.  It’s in the genes. 

There are many of those who act upon their feelings to share their lives with one of the same sex – they may feel welcome to attend meetings and even feel the love of their fellow members.  But over time it becomes trite and mundane.  There are still many lessons and talks given that encourage staying within the Mormon lines. 

          I recall the day that Corey told us that he had decided that he would go on a mission.  Blew us away.  Where in the world did that even come from?  Was my brother back and the imposter of the last two years taken a permanent hike?  The transformation that had taken Corey from my beloved brother into the arrogant self-centered jerk he’d become was such a gradual one – so gradual that neither of us even saw it was there in the beginning.  But the transformation from egotistical angry soul was not.  It was like black and white, night and day – nothing gradual about it.  And he put in his papers.

          I think if Corey had remained the imposter slimeball he’d become, it would have led him on a path of destruction.  I would have seen gays in a very unpositive manner as so many people do due to some sleazy and corrupt lifestyles that so many gay people take – although there are just as many straight people who choose to lead the sleazy and corrupt life.  I would have continued believing that homosexuality is wrong. 

          I would have had a Pharisee attitude without researching.  I would have kept my eyes closed because I believed that the Church had told me to.  I wouldn’t have been open and welcoming to a new idea.  Well, new to me. 
I would have forgotten how it feels to be excluded due to culture, life experiences, being single, being poor . . . I suppose there are a great number of people in the Church who feel excluded for one reason or another.

Homosexuality has been around for thousands of years – it’s been only recently that we’ve become more vocal about it.  And yet there are thousands who still close their eyes and refuse to look at gays and lesbians as real people with real feelings.  Some choose to lead reprimanded lifestyles while others are really struggling to find their identity, to be happy, to be accepted.

          Corey came back.  He grew into an even better and more accepting human being. He has touched the lives of so many.  And he’s given me hope.  Given me a new perspective on life.  Homosexuality (or same sex attraction) is not a choice – though acting on one’s desires is.  The gay man can feel every bit as the straight.  He or she can love a partner just as much as a straight man or woman may love a partner.  Feelings are real.  We don’t often choose whether or not we would like to be attracted to someone.  The feelings are there.  They are real.

The Church offers guidelines on how to act and how to dress.  (Would Jesus really be offended to see a Snoopy tie on a deacon or 2nd counselor or chastise a woman for wearing a denim skirt or open toed shoes?) guidelines to be conservative and professional overpowering being casual and appearing uncaring.
Not all members are willing to overlook those who really don’t have the finances of showing up in their idea of “Sunday Best”. For some people the jeans that don’t have holes in them really are their best.  If we were to exclude members based on dress code, our ward would have even less youth than we already have.  And it isn’t because they’re too lazy to dress appropriately.  We just happen to live in a rather financially poor area.

          We need to be happy.  God’s kind of happy.  The Church offers guide lines, but for most of us I think we need to spread our wings.  We need to take the principles that we have learned and continue to soar – but for most of us we need to soar beyond the walls that were created by many members who are trying so hard to live the letter of the law that they are not willing to look at others with the same heart and compassion that God does. 

          God loves us completely.  He knows who we are and what we can accomplish.  He has given us trials to overcome.  He has created paths for us to endure.  God has.  Man hasn’t.  I think sometimes we lose sight of that.  We’re encouraged to pray for ourselves to know what’s right for us.  No one can take away our personal revelation. 

Imperfect members relate these guidelines in various ways.  We are encouraged to pray about the things we learn.  We need to understand and differentiate between the two.  We need to understand God’s will for us versus man’s will for God’s expectations. God is perfect.  His children are not.

There are still some races and cultures who still struggle with acceptance.  When those who have homosexual feelings are better accepted, mankind will look for a new group of people to be afraid of, to pick on, and to exclude. Too bad.

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