I have a few rules with respect to this blog. One is that I don’t update it more than a two times a week. Posts generally take me an hour or two to write (including research, links, etc.). I don’t feel like devoting more time than that to writing about how I’m the sort of fellow that spends at least half an hour (more like 45 minutes) determining what cut of jeans he is going to buy at Target. Another rule is that I don’t write when I am emotionally down. When I write in a funk, my writing isn’t very funny and is often, well, depressing.
But today I am breaking that rule.
I’ve been down for a couple of days now. It started when I went to the temple. A lot of people enjoy going to the temple because they find it to be spiritually uplifting or at the very least get a since of service out of attendance. On my mission I was the same way, but then again, my mission was kind of a spiritual “Twilight Zone” that doesn’t seem to have a close relationship to my spiritual life in the real world. Point being, temple attendance since my mission has been problematic at best. Instead of feeling lifted up by going, I often left feeling depressed, miserable, and emotionally drained. The temple seemed to represent everything that had gone wrong in my life and intensified whatever emotional issue I was having at the moment. Faced with that every time I went, my frequency decreased until I hadn’t gone for quite a while.
But things change, right?
I decided to go to the temple again this week with my close friend. It had been a long time, but I had faced a lot of my emotional issues head on and felt I was ready to go again. Shortly after entering, however, I realized I was in for a rough evening. It was as if I was under constant spiritual attack – so much so that I was completely taken off guard. I had expected it to be difficult, of course, the level was almost unbearable. Compounding the situation was the number of people assuming that my friend (a woman and engaged to another friend of mine) and I were a couple. Someone spoke to me referring to her as my wife.
“We aren’t married,” I said.
“Ah, your girlfriend then,” he continued.
“No. Just friends,” I said quickly.
“Okay, you just look like a couple,” he said.
“Maybe something will blossom there,” a woman in the corner said.
Why wouldn’t they just shut up? No, we were not a couple. No, nothing would “blossom there”. I knew they didn’t mean anything by it and it wasn’t the first time this friend and I were confused for being a couple, but my anxiety was already high and caused me to become really distressed over the exchange.
As the session continued, I was flooded by all the anger, doubt, and worry that had plagued me on previous visits to the temple. I felt powerless against it. I sat there trying to keep myself from passing out because of the inundation of negative emotion. Even old self-disgust reared its ugly head again. “You’re sick,” came the thought, “You’re a perverted, sick freak.” I immediately knew the source and knew that it wasn’t me.
“Don’t you dare!” I yelled back in my mind, “DON’T YOU F****NG DARE! Don’t you even start with that bull***t! That is NOT TRUE!”
I said it was intense.
That line of thought immediately died, but the rest of the confusion and worry continued. Later as I sat praying much of the intensity had subsided, which left me exhausted. In a spark of thought I realized my worst fear. I realized that my worst fear wasn’t to live my life alone. While a life of general solitude wasn’t what I wanted, I realize what I was more scared that the Lord would tell me that I should get married…to a woman.
Afterward I was talking to my Mom on the phone while pacing around the temple grounds in tears.
“I don’t think He’ll require that of you,” she said.
“He’s done weirder things,” I replied.
“I guess this is like Brigham Young and polygamy,” she finally said.
I realized she was right. While my mind recoiled at the thought of the Lord asking me to pursue heterosexual marriage, it’s not like he hadn’t done something very similar before. When presented with “The Principle”, Brigham Young responded:
I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin. (Journal of Discourses, 3:266)
Plural marriage went against his very core, yet he had a desire to be obedient. He went from wishing for death at the very thought of marrying a second wife to eventually having more than fifty. The thought of me marrying a woman goes against my very core. The thought of me eventually even becoming a champion for mixed-orientation marriage I find deeply distasteful.
I don’t believe that I received a command from the Lord to pursue heterosexual relationships. I don’t see what I felt to even be a heads up that such a command is going to happen down the road. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. Whatever happens, the Lord made it clear that He requires that I be willing to give Him everything. Everything.
And that scares the hell out of me.