Monthly Archives: August 2008

I Am A Child Of God…No, Really.

Hi Cliff,

I have a question for you related to this post. If you don’t want to respond here publicly, you can email me the response (or not if you don’t want to at all).

You mention that you reached a point where you felt like God, knowing your situation, would accept whatever decision you made and keep on loving you. From what I’ve learned by reading other people’s experiences regarding this issue, this is a somewhat common feeling amongst those faced with this choice. Even those who choose a different path claim that God stays with them as they are true to their best selves and I believe them.

What is your interpretation as to why there is such a difference between what the Church says will happen and what happens in reality? Do you think this is a situation in which the Church simply feels its doing what’s in the best interest of the group and leaves it up to individuals to receive personal revelation concerning their own lives? What are your personal beliefs of what will happen in the future with this issue?

That said, I do not ask these questions to get you to question your personal choice. I kind of take the C.L. Pearson approach, which is everyone makes their choice according to personal feelings and we wish them the best. I’m just curious as to your thoughts.


I had a bishop one time that was talking about one of his kids who was faced with the large decision of where they should attend college.  The daughter went to her father, the bishop, and asked him what she should do.  He gave her some pros and cons of the schools on her list, but she pressed him further asking specifically what school she should attend.  The father flatly refused.  He said that it was her decision, not his, and he wasn’t going to be blamed if she went to a school and hated it.  It was her decision.

I feel that the place that I came to with the Lord was similar.  I believe that He knew that whatever decision I made needed to be truly mine if it was going to stick at all.  He let me know the pros and the cons, but in the end the decision was mine and He wasn’t going to let me blame Him for my choices.  The decision was made and I truly felt that it was mine and was the right thing for me to do.

But what if my decision had been different?  What if I had decided to leave the Church behind and pursue romantic homosexual relationships?  Would God have still loved me?  Would He have still been with me?  I believe that, yes, He would have loved me and still been with me. Why?

Because He is my Father.

My earthly parents have never abandoned me or shunned me because of my decisions.  Even faced with the potential of me leaving the Church, they let me know that I was always welcome in their home, but there would be “ground rules” if I brought home a boyfriend.  God would have likely done the same thing.  I was still His son and was always welcome, but there would be some things that I would have to forfeit (most of which was Church-worthiness related).  He would “accept” my decision in the context that He would respect it as being my decision, but I also believe Him to strive to encourage me to live the best life I could framed in the decisions that I had made.  I don’t know that for a fact because my decision was the one thing and not the other.  All I know for sure, I guess, was that the Lord wanted me to make the decision for myself and whatever I chose He would love me as His son.  I don’t believe God to be the great abandoner that we sometimes make Him out to be.

As for the “what is your interpretation as to why there is such a difference between what the Church says will happen and what happens in reality?” question, I don’t think this is usually the case.  Often we try to make the doctrine as black and white as we can.  It makes sense.  An “if-you-do-this-then-this-would-happen” approach is a lot easier because it requires relatively little faith, just action.  What happens, though, when bad things happen to good people?  When “ask and ye shall receive” doesn’t seem to work?  When every time you read the scriptures, you feel bad instead of good?

Does it mean that the prophet/Church/scriptures are wrong?

Maybe.  But if the Church is actually true, if the prophet is really the Lord’s mouthpiece, and the scriptures are inspired, then maybe it just means that the world isn’t as black and white as we want it to be.  Maybe the Lord fully intended to teach correct principles and to have us govern ourselves.  Maybe he wanted us to be responsible for our own actions and act for ourselves even if we don’t get a push-button-feel-good response.  Such a world is scary.  It’s a world where making correct decisions can make our life harder/sadder/lonelier.  Where everything can be taken away and there is no guarantee of it being given back in this life.  How do we know if we are making the right decisions if we can’t always look at the consequences for proof?  That is a question that we have to answer for ourselves.  The only promise that we have is that at some point it will all be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that everything that sucks about this life/bodies/world will be fixed.  But it might not be until after this life.  God said that it would happen.  And I believe Him.

Almost all of the time.

What If It’s All Not True?

Today, the LA Times featured an article about former LDS film director, Richard Dutcher.  The article, which corresponds with the release of Dutcher’s latest film, Falling, talks about Dutcher’s leaving the LDS Church.  Disillusioned with the Church, he speaks of the moment in which he lost his faith:

“One day in prayer, all by myself, I asked myself the question: What if it’s all not true?” Dutcher recalled. “It was an earth-shaking moment of spiritual terror, such a profound experience. It was such a sense of loss. I felt my faith leaving me and never coming back.”

I found that paragraph interesting because it was the inverse of that question that started the growth of my own testimony.  I was sitting in the atrium of the MTC (I didn’t go to Provo) reading the Doctrine and Covenants and I had the thought, “what if it all is true?”  I then pondered the possibilities of a world in which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true Church of God on this earth and I had the feeling (which didn’t originate from within me) that it was in fact true.  That was the beginning of a testimony that has been strengthened by personal experiences, trials, and the exercising of faith.

That being said, I’ve shared Dutcher’s thought as well.  Usually when I am feeling very alone and my sexuality is very much an issue is when the thought comes, “what if it’s all not true?”  What if I’m condemning myself to a lifetime of loneliness for no reason?  What if all the frustration, pain, and doubt is for nothing?  I’ve had moments when I’ve felt my faith leave me…but it has never left completely.  I always felt it hanging on for dear life.  Because I don’t believe it’s a lie.  I don’t believe that the way I’ve chosen to live my life (however alone I may feel sometimes) is for nothing.  I don’t believe my faith is misplaced.

But even if it were….

Even if I come to the end of my life and the prophet of the Church stands up and says, “Sike!”  Even if it turns out that Joseph Smith found the Book of Mormon in a trashcan behind the local livery stable.  Even if it turns out that everything that I have believed in for my entire life turns out to be a fantasy, I will be proud in knowing that I stood by my faith.  I believed in something, truly believed in something, and I didn’t abandon it whenever things got really hard.  I didn’t put aside my faith because I was lonely, scared, or in pain.  I believed.

I don’t blame Dutcher for leaving the Church.  It can be maddening to be a part of the entertainment industry and LDS.  I don’t blame those gay Mormons who finally decided that they just can’t do it anymore and walk out of the ward doors for the last time.  I wish them happiness.  I really do.  But I’m still here.

I still believe.

Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From Sesame Street

Little Bear: We did it!

Telly: We did it!

Little Bear: We are the best firefly catchers ever!

Telly: I know!

Little Bear: Wow, look at him glowing in the jar!

Telly: Yeah!


Little Bear: Does he look like he is getting dimmer to you?

Telly: Yeah.  And he looks a little sad.

Little Bear: Why do you think he is sad?

Telly: I don’t know….

Leela: Hey guys, whatcha doing?

Telly: We caught a firefly.

Little Bear: But he isn’t as bright now and he looks sad.

Leela: Why do you suppose he’s sad?

Telly: We don’t know.

Leela: Why don’t you pretend to be him?  Then maybe you’ll know why he’s sad.

Little Bear: Pretend to be fireflies?

Leela: Sure!

Telly: Okay, here goes….

Little Bear: I am a firefly flying around!

Telly: Me too!  But wait…I’m trapped in a jar!

Little Bear: I don’t want to be trapped in a jar!

Telly: I need to fly free!

Little Bear: THAT’S IT!

Telly: What’s what?

Little: The firefly is sad because he is trapped in the jar!

Leela: I think you guys might be right!

Telly unscrews the lid.

Telly: There you go, little firefly.  Fly free!

The firefly’s light grows bright and flies away.

Little Bear: You know what, Telly?

Telly: What?

Little Bear: It’s a lot more fun to pretend to be fireflies than it is to catch them.

Telly: Hey, you’re right!

As Leela laughs, the two friends flap their arms, pretending to be fireflies.

– – – –

It’s amazing what incredibly obvious things we can learn when we fly around for a while in someone else’s Mason jar.

Loneliness and Peach Cobbler

Could you bring a dessert for dinner tomorrow night, if you can attend?  :-) We are going to grill out.
(text sent 8:49pm)

Can do.
(text sent 8:49pm)

You’re the best.
(text sent 8:50pm)

Well, yeah. :-)
(text sent 8:50pm)

I opened the door to my building and stepped outside into the humid August night.  The club next door was prepping for their guests for the evening and a few early arrivers could be heard laughing inside.

I was walking to the grocery store a few blocks away to buy peaches.  After a couple of quick Google searches, I decided I was going to make cobbler for the Sunday night dinner that my friends and I had almost every week.

I passed another club whose red and black theme looked like it must have been inspired by the Suicide Girls.  Again, a couple of people who had decided to start their bar-hopping early were laughing inside.  I thought about how different our evenings would be.  They would be surrounded by people.  Drinking.  Laughing.  My Saturday night would be spent alone making a peach cobbler from a internet recipe of questionable quality.

And I was cool with it.

Months ago, I realized that if I was going to live my life as a celibate gay Mormon, I was going to need to get comfortable with being alone.  The thought of spending a weekend night alone used to cause me anxiety and even depression.  What did it say about me?  What did it say about my friends?  Did I even have any friends?  Faced with romantic relationshiplessness, I knew that continuing with such attitudes would be impossible.  I decided that I wanted to be able to be comfortable with being alone.  Heck, I wanted to enjoy it.  Whenever I felt the anxiety or depression, which came when I was alone, instead of desperately grasping at something, anything to stave off those emotions, I stopped and allowed myself to feel them.  I stopped running from my loneliness and embraced it.  I felt my way though it, trying to discover the source of my feelings.  I then discovered something.

Loneliness is boring.

Once I stopped running from my loneliness and allowed myself to feel it and explore it, it became extremely dull.  I was then motivated to find things to do with my time that I enjoyed.  I started running and biking again.  I fixed my DVR and started recording crappy horror movies that aired on AMC on Friday nights.  I even decided to learn to cook, which is why I was walking the streets on a Saturday night in search of fresh peaches.

I passed the gay bar next to the grocery store.  They were apparently having an election-themed drag show based on the red, white, and blue balloon arch at the front door.

It was true that I was much more comfortable in my skin.  It was true that I no longer feared Saturday nights alone.  But I still felt lonely at times.  There were still times that I wanted someone to spend my life with.  Someone that I was attracted to.  Someone that was attracted to me.

I knew that I would never be able to rid myself of loneliness completely – nor did I want to.  If I completely killed my feelings of loneliness, then I was either suppressing my emotions (something that I already knew did more harm for me than good) or I had gotten at the point where I didn’t want to be around people at all (another situation that I didn’t want to be in).  Loneliness didn’t need to be omnipresent in my life, but it would never go away completely.

I bought the peaches and a couple of sticks of butter and started back home.  The next evening, I would be surrounded by good friends.  We would grill out, talk, maybe play video games, and generally have a good time.  Eventually, however, our lives would take different paths.  We would get different jobs, move away, they would get married, have kids.  We would always be friends, but life has a way of, well, getting in the way.  Whatever friends came into my life, whatever friends left, I knew that I was becoming someone that I didn’t mind spending time with.

I decided that the next Saturday evening I would make strawberry tarts.