In a comment on another thread, Robert asked a question that I wanted to respond to. As I started thinking about a response, however, the subject seemed to warrant it’s own post. It’s a theme that I’ve been chewing in my mind for some time.

Stating that he perceives my “calling to be alone, celibate and dedicated to God in your Church”—something that he is “certain you have arrived at…through prayer and meditation”—Robert then asks: “Do you believe that every gay person should be subject to this calling, even if it brings profound unhappiness? Is there no choice in the matter?”

I think this is a fair question. The following is my poor attempt at an answer, as I understood the question.

First, I want to clarify what I understand my “calling” to be. At one point when I was wresting to understand my place in the Church, discouraged about the prospect of fulfilling marriage and a “normal” life in the LDS community, I had a clear and powerful spiritual communication that whether I married in this life or the next was less important, and that I was simply to live my life in commitment to gospel/Church teachings, taking things one day at a time. As I recommitted myself to the gospel, I did so with the expectation that I would NOT marry in this life and that I would live a life of celibacy. I felt a huge relief, especially given that I was still attending a student ward in Provo at the time and the barrage of marriage and dating talks proved to be more than a little discouraging. But, as I became ever more determined that I would not marry in this life, I was one day rebuked by the Spirit. It was communicated to me that if I were to have genuine faith in the Lord, it was not my decision to make that I would not marry in this life. Rather, I was to actively prepare myself spiritually and emotionally for the opportunity of marriage, seeking to follow the will of the Lord daily in my life, and then to trust in Him that I would be blessed with that opportunity “according to the Lord’s own will and pleasure” (Mosiah 7:33)—again, whether that be in this life or the next.

Any time I have ever spoken on this issue, I have never stated that I’m striving to live as a “celibate gay.” Those are ideas that are projected onto me. As a matter of sincere faith in the Lord, trusting that He knows me better than I know myself and will lead me aright, I firmly reject the idea that commitment to gospel teachings is to be equated with living a lonely, celibate, monastic-like life. I certainly experience times that are lonely—I would suggest that even all married or coupled people do—but I have no concept that those times are any more or less than anyone else who is human. All in all, I feel my life is extremely rich and blessed, and I feel deeply grateful for the connection and intimacy I experience on multiple levels with many other men and women, family and friends. “Lonely” or “celibate” is in no way how I view or experience my reality. Sexual abstinence until I marry is obviously a commitment, but even if marriage happens to be in the next life, I don’t view my choice as “celibacy” in the same way as those who would sensationalize the Church’s strictures on sexual behavior to make it seem as though same-sex attracted men and women are being unfairly and cruelly deprived of all that brings true joy and fulfillment.

Second, and concerning the heart of this post, do I believe that every “gay” person should be subject to this “calling,” even if it brings profound unhappiness, and that there is no choice in the matter?

No. Partly because I don’t believe anyone is “subject” to anything except unchanging, eternal law—and partly because there is always choice. We are agentic creatures, and I’m gaining a deeper appreciation for the truth that not only do we have power to choose our behaviors, but also to choose our attitudes in any given situation, including our happiness. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl writes,

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of?human freedoms?to choose one?s attitude in any given set of circumstances, [and] to choose one?s own way [of life]” (p. 104)

My belief is that the Church of Jesus Christ has one concern: to witness of eternal realities and celestial possibilities and to invite the children of God to come unto Christ and to partake of those realities and possibilities—specifically, the truth that it is God’s work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39). If people do not want to strive toward a celestial light and life, then they need have no concern for Mormonism. Period. The Church’s responsibility/mission, as I understand it, is to teach what *is* concerning pre- and post-earth cosmology, and to teach and prepare those who desire to live according to celestial law—with particular emphasis on preparing God’s children who desire to realize the exalted fullness of that law.

Apostle John A. Widtsoe wrote the following:

Now the concern of the Church is to bring all men into the celestial kingdom. It has no interest in the other, lower kingdoms. Every doctrine, principle, and item of organization within the Church pertains to the celestial glory. The manner of entrance into this the highest kingdom, is therefore made clear. Any person who wishes to enter it must have faith and repent from his sins. Then he must be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by one who has divine authority to perform such ordinances. There are principles and ordinances which in their entirety belong peculiarly to the higher kingdom.

After having laid the foundation for his claim to celestial membership and association, he must, to receive all available blessings of this kingdom, comply with the many requirements of life within the Church. He belongs to “those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind should take the opposite course.” All this having been done, he is qualified to enter the celestial kingdom. Indeed, he is then, even on earth, in the celestial kingdom of God” (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 200-01).

So, again, should everyone be “subject” to this calling? No. But it is the eternal offering to all those who desire it—who are willing to exercise the faith necessary to live for it. For those who don’t desire it, there will be kingdoms and glories equal to the light and law they are willing to live according to—be it the honorable and noble of the terrestrial or the base of the telestial. I can only assume there will plenty of “gays” and “straights” in both, though the men and women of these glories will no longer be “gays” or “straights,” but “remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever” (D&C 132:17).

I’m not convinced that those in same-sex relationships who seek to live decent honest lives, but who have little or no interest in living according to a celestial law, will be any different in the next world than those of opposite-sex relationships who are the same. The honorable men and women of the earth, those who receive “the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father,” and those who are not valiant in their testimonies of Jesus (see D&C 76:75-79), these will all receive a lesser glory in the afterlife, according to the light they are willing to live according to. President Brigham Young taught,

“The kingdoms that God has prepared are innumerable. Each and every intelligent being will be judged according to the deeds done in the body, according to his works, faith, desires, and honesty or dishonesty before God; every trait of his character will receive its just merit or demerit, and he will be judged according to the law of heaven as revealed; and God has prepared places suited to every class? How many kingdoms there are has not been told to us: they are innumerable. The disciples of Jesus were to dwell with him. Where will the rest go? Into kingdoms prepared for them, where they will live and endure” (JD, 8:154).

For those who come unto Christ and who are no longer under Christ but who receive with Him all that the Father hath—who are declared to be “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him” (Romans 8:17)—the gateway covenants and ordinances are those associated with eternal marriage. It is only through this gate that men and women can reach their ultimate eternal potential. It is here that men and women become gods. Elder Erastus Snow taught that

“there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female” (JD, 19:270-71).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds the divine commission to teach these eternal truths and to invite men and women to come unto Christ so they can become efficacious in their lives. But that realization must be strictly according to the agency of the individuals involved. As the hymn goes,

Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be,
For this eternal truth is given
That God will force no man to heav’n.

He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

(“Know This, That Every Soul Is Free” Hymns, no. 90.)

Again, one last time, do I believe that every “gay” person should be subject to this calling, even if it brings profound unhappiness, and that there no choice in the matter? Absolutely not. Not if they don’t desire it. To recognize an eternal law and degree of light and truth and to state that one does not want that, or isn’t willing to pursue it because they do not believe they will find happiness there, is one thing. Counter-claims concerning ideas about truth as relative and that one man’s truth is just as good as the next is something I flatly reject. To say, “That may be true, but I do not want it” is one thing, and entirely valid. To say, “That isn’t true,” or “It may be true for you but not for me,” is something else.

We can only seek to know the Truth, and then own our desires to receive or reject that Truth.

Leave a Reply

10 comments

  1. avatar
  2. avatar

    Robert

    To say, ?That may be true, but I do not want it? is one thing, and entirely valid. To say, ?That isn?t true,? or ?It may be true for you but not for me,? is something else.

    Yes, there are some disturbing things in this post; although I am not surprised by the position you have taken.

    I am not surprised that you would say the last two statements in the above recitation are saying the same thing. Even though, they are not. “That isn’t true” is a statement of absolute knowing. “It may be true for you but not for me” is a statement of unknowing/uncertainty. They are very different indeed. Not the same. Not even close to the same in intent or meaning.

    It is your perception of truth that has created this blind spot which allows you to think that these two statements have the same meaning. In fact to say, “that may be true, but I don’t want it” is not the same as saying “that is true, but I don’t want it”. Very, very different. For me, the entire sermon falls apart at the end because of these statements. They just don’t make sense.

    You speak in absolutes based on your faith. That is all. I have been on the planet considerably longer than you have. I have not come to any conclusions on anything quite yet AND I see no hurry to do so. You seem to have everything figured out down to the minuscule details of life after death.

    First of all, you are free to believe whatever you like. But it is just that. It is a belief and nothing more or less. No matter how many scriptures you quote (which were written by other men) or how many doctrines you site (which were written by other men), you still have no absolute truth other than your own. The fact you share this faith with others means nothing more than “some agree with you”.

    I called you a Priest as a compliment. I think that Priests require the ability to suspend questioning in order to pray fervently for others (not themselves, by the way). They rest easy with their own cognitive dissonance accepting faith as the most important aspect of their beings. I sort of saw you this way. I have heard you described by others as the “king of gay Mormons”. Certainly, not your own words. But some people do tend to look to you as a role model of sorts. I cannot judge whether this is good or bad. I just think it exists for some. I would expect that many seek your counsel… You reject this idea, and that is fine with me.

    I also gladly accept that I may be in a different place than you in the afterlife. I can live with that and I am certain others can as well. So you have responded to the statement as you needed to do. I think this statement toward the end, sums up your understanding: Counter-claims concerning ideas about truth as relative and that one man?s truth is just as good as the next is something I flatly reject. You simply omitted two simple words at the end: “for myself”. You flatly reject it for everyone, and That is the Truth to you.

  3. avatar

    Socal

    Wow Ty!! That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. There is profound truth in what you just said.

  4. avatar

    mom of 2

    Thank you so much for this. I have been searching and searching for things that make sense in all of this. There is so much confusion when it comes to SSA especially when you have to deal with it in your own family and mormon. You have expained it in such a beautiful way, I appreciate so much this website and how much it has helped me and I am sure so many others.

  5. avatar

    Robert,

    A couple points:

    First, I pounded this out in one session. It?s not an essay that I spent a great deal of refining, so if you want to point out holes, please do it without making assumptions or judgments about what I believe that is not explicit. I always appreciate constructive feedback and criticism, but I?m simply not willing to engage those who are combative and just like to argue. That?s often the feel I get from much of what you comment.

    Second, there?s a degree of finality in what I?ve posted here concerning degrees of glory in the eternities according to the light and law we are willing to live according to. That?s not to say all thing are fleshed out now in a world where we ?see through a glass darkly? (1 Cor. 13:12). You make the assumption that I see myself as having all things fleshed out to the ?minuscule details of life after death.? I?ve never claimed this. I do, however, have deep conviction that there are some larger truths and themes that God has revealed through modern prophets. These are some of the things I?ve presented. If you do not subscribe to that assumption, that?s fine. I can honor that. But know that you are posting on a forum where that is an underlying premise. If you can?t at least be respectful to that premise, what is your intention with your involvement in this conversation?

    I?m quite aware that even things I believe to be True, I receive through the filters of my own limited experience. That?s a human given. I try to have grace for that in others as much as in myself. I generally try to be cautious and tentative in some of the things that I a say that I sense are merely my perception. I?m also quite aware that each of us is in process. While this post, again, has something of a tone of finality concerning the larger plan, I don?t pretend for a second to claim who, on a personal level, will go where. We are all learning and growing. I believe that those who are honest seekers of light and truth will all end up in same place, according to their desires and the amount of light and truth they wish to receive. Many who are believing Latter-day Saints may at some point reject Church teachings, while others who are critical of the Church and the restored gospel?or who are unaware of it?will receive it now or in the next life and receive all those blessings. I freely and heartedly surrender that judgment to the Almighty.

    Finally, I certainly accept that there is a difference between the last two statements in the portion of my post that you quote (i.e., ?To say, ?That isn?t true,? or ?It may be true for you but not for me,? is something else.?). Again, I was kind of shooting from the hip as I tried to articulate this, even though some of the larger themes are something I?ve been pondering over the last few weeks.

  6. avatar

    mom of 2, thank you very much for your comments! There is a lot of confusion; I hope you’ll stick around with us and continue to share from some of your own experience.

  7. avatar

    mom of 2

    This website has been a great answer to prayer for me, I just thank you so much. I just found that I have been struggling with this issue as I have seen a family member struggle so much with the church after confronting his SSA. Even if he does not want to accept the church any longer it is a blessing to me and my family to read this website and realize that the Lord does not want our family members to suffer and live a lonely, sad life. He does want us to be happy and to find Joy. We deal with so many things in this world, but I have found SSA to be I am sure one of the most difficult trials that can be faced in and out of this church. I have seen so many with deep depression who dont understand why they would have to go through this when they love the church so much. I am so grateful of your example and how you have trusted in the Lord to carry you to where you need to be. That is what we all need to learn during difficult experiences and life trials. Thank you so much for having the strength to blog your experiences and to put yourself out there and be vulnerable to everyone. I just hope that this is how we members in the church will start to approach this topic in our own meetings. That we can have more open discussion and open ideas to this major subject and not be fearful to open our mouths and realize that there are so many in our presence that need support, love, and compassion. I know that I have shocked some during my talks with the youth and the adults, but I no longer think that we can assume that we dont know anyone with SSA. We have to assume that there are many in our circles that either are dealing with it themselves or in their families and help strengthen them and help lead them to the truths. THe Lord loves them so much and does not want them to be unhappy, and He doesnt want them to think either that they are horrible or “cursed”. I am going on and on, sorry, I just appreciate so much what you are doing. Thanks again!

  8. avatar

    GFB

    Ty Ray,

    You have written a great post. I am not sure I believe I agree with everything you have to say, but you have done a great job of articulating your position.

  9. avatar

    RealNeal

    WOW! Stunning piece of work, Ty!

  10. avatar

    mark

    Ty, I appreciate your comments on this topic. I think I went through a similar process as I considered my role as a single man. I used to get so distraught over what I perceived to be my inevitable celibacy as an LDS SSA man. And then somehow I resigned myself to that fact and agreed to share my burden with the Lord. I began to feel an immense sense of peace even though my future had not changed. I believe that this may have been because rather than feeling anxious about whether I could please the expectations of family or society (or even myself), I chose to have faith in the Lord and trust that he would be pleased with me, so long as I lived his commandments.

    Surprising to me, it was not long after that change of heart (and contented resignment to bachelorhood), that got engaged and then married. I think that many people perceive gospel commitment as self-inflicted punishment (particularly when it comes to SSA). Although it may involve suffering, it can be a good suffering that strengthens. To expect to “deserve it all” is an attitude that leads to unhappiness. That is not a gospel perspective, but one of Satan.