A Matter of “Principle”

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.

She paused.

“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.

10 thoughts on “A Matter of “Principle”

  1. Marlo

    hey you can always hope your experience is less the mentioned Brigham Young type and more the Abraham/Isaac type – as long as the Lord knows (or perhaps more importantly you know) that your heart is willing to follow wherever the Lord leads, He won’t actually require that “sacrifice” from you.
    Here’s hoping future temple trips are less draining and more fortifying.

  2. Dichotomy

    According to Elder Oaks, marriage to a woman is only “appropriate” if you “feel a great attraction to a daughter of God”.

    Right now you can’t imagine marrying a girl, but if you discovered one day that you actually feel a “great attraction” to a girl, would the idea of marrying her be so repugnant?

    I highly doubt that God is going to just up and tell you one day that it’s time to settle down and get married, so find a girl and get to the temple post haste. If it’s ever right for you to marry a girl, by the time you actually get the prompting that you should do so, you’ll already know her and have developed feelings for her.

    I dated my wife-to-be for most of our senior year of high school. We became best friends. We continued a semi-long-distance relationship while she went to college and I prepared for a mission, and we wrote each other while I was “in the field”.

    About 20 months in, she wrote to let me know that she was getting confused about what she was supposed to do, because she was casually dating and had become friends with a guy who wanted to be more than friends with her. I got the letter and totally freaked out! At the time, I didn’t realize (or wouldn’t admit to myself) that I was gay, but I think that I knew subconsciously that if she married someone else, my chance of ever finding someone I would even be able to consider marrying were slim-to-none.

    I don’t remember what I wrote her, but the way she tells it I practically proposed to her by mail. She was still single when I got home, and three months later we were married.

    I’ve wondered, since I “came out” to myself, if things would have gone differently if I had acknowledged my homosexuality before my mission. Would I have still gotten married? I’ll never know, but I know that my wife and I are right for each other, so either it would have happened anyway, or God kept me in the dark about my sexuality so that I would not pass up the chance to marry her.

    Anyway… I’m rambling, but don’t sweat the marriage thing. Either it will never happen, or you’ll be glad it did.

  3. M

    Hi Clint,

    I hope you’ll get out of your couple-day dump.

    A lot of your concerns are difficult to address in part because they are so common and not just to gay people, at least with respect to not feeling any particular uplift from the temple. For me, I started to just look at it as a kind of celestial bureaucracy of getting people’s paperwork into the right place. I don’t know if this is right to say, but I’m saying it anyway.

    As for the marriage issue: don’t fall into Mormon checklist mode, which is particularly acute with the RM population. You come out of the mission with your head full of lofty ideals, high expectations, and prospects that become a kind of subconscious checklist that, until it is all marked off, you can’t feel complete. I’m not saying lofty ideals and high expectations are a bad thing, but as President Hinckley said regarding single persons, don’t become obsessed.

    Just live your life and stay in tune with God. If he wants you to marry, the choice will be clear. His will will be clear.

    In any case, I don’t know who I am acting like Mr. Guru here.
    But take it for what it’s worth;
    And if it’s not much,
    You can throw it in the trash.

  4. JennVan

    Thank you for your amazing post. I’m grateful to you for sharing your intimate thoughts about this topic. It sounds like you are on a great spiritual journey that only God knows the end of and that we are blessed to be along for the ride. Please continue to post these really insightful thoughts even if you feel you should only be funny.
    FWIW, I’m not gay but am LDS. I am a marriage and family therapist and love watching people as they grow to understand who God wants them to be and the potential he sees in them. Not what I want them to be or others at church or even the prophet, but what God wants them to be and the path that he has prepared for them if they will choose to follow Him. Even if that means never marrying or marrying a woman or any number of other things in life God calls us to do. I love it and I’m so excited for you!

  5. Kengo Biddles

    I was a gibbering basket case at my wedding to Miki. We were having a civil ceremony performed in the Relief Society Room at her parent’s church, but I was terrified–terrified because she knew my every secret (and had for months), yet still wanted to marry me–terrified because I was afraid it wouldn’t work out, either because of me and my SSA/SGA, or because she couldn’t handle it.

    I should blog about this–but the point is, you seem to have the strength to do what the Lord requires. If he’s going to ask you to enter into a heterosexual marriage (which he may or may not), I believe he’ll give you a partner like my Miki that can support you as you go through it–someone who will know you, everything, and still love and support you.

    It may not be “easy”, but it is worth it.

    And on a personal note, Clint, this post was something I needed–I may explain why at some future time, but I needed your honesty here.

    Thank you.

  6. TheFaithfulDissident

    Dude, sounds like you’ve been visited by the Dementors too. (See my latest posting for what that means. :) I can sort of relate with your temple experience. When I got my endowments (when my brother was getting married) I lost it once I got to the Celestial room. Everyone around me probably thought I was just having a powerful spiritual experience, but the truth is I was scared and just plain sad. Scared because the session can be a bit freaky in some ways (which I was sort of prepared for), and sad because I felt like I wasn’t ready for this — especially not alone. I’m not really the crying type, but I shed a few tears at the sealing of my brother and his wife. It was only partially due to joy. The majority of it was sadness that it wasn’t me and guilt about marrying someone who can’t “take me to the temple.” And yet, I had to cast out those negative thoughts, just like you did, because deep down I know he was the right man for me and whether or not he ever joins is actually pretty irrelevant.

    I haven’t been to the temple in a long time. Not sure that I should. But your attitude and guts almost gives me the kick in the pants to go back. Wanna come to Europe? I’d go to a session or two with ya. :)

  7. TheFaithfulDissident

    And if it’s any consolation to you, my dad has probably broken your record at Target looking for the right jeans, plus has to make sure that no other store is selling them cheaper, which means a trip to Kohl’s, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, and wherever else he can drag my mom to until she says finally says “NO!” :)

  8. Clint Post author

    @TFD – Actually I will be in Europe. Next week I am leaving to visit Ireland, Portugal, and France. Wrong side of Europe, I realize, but and interesting coincidence all the same.

    @Kengo B. & @Dichotomy – I would never enter into a marriage unless I was comfortable with the idea and, as D. said, felt a “strong attraction” to the woman. What I guess worried me the most is the realization that the Lord sometimes does ask us to do things that are 180 degrees from what we want to do. This should come as no surprise to me, the fact that I have decided to stay in the church is sometimes extremely contrary to my personality, my desires, and sometimes even what I consider to be right. Having the Lord play the “I am God” card was unnerving just the same.

    @Marlo – True. Sometimes He doesn’t actually require the sacrifice, but He still requires us to raise the knife. On many levels, the effect is the same.

    @M – Don’t worry, I’m not easily offended. Comment anytime.

    @JennVan – Welcome. At least half of the people who read and comment on this blog are not gay. Don’t worry, some of my best friends are straight. ;-)

  9. T

    I just came across your blog and wanted to let you know what a strong person you are! This life throws us many challenges, and you are taking them on better than most. The temple is such an intimidating place, and I think it’s even harder when you are struggling. But you are there to make sacred covenants, and you are there because you have KEPT your covenants. Just remember it’s worth it!

  10. Gwennaëlle

    I am not where you are and I don’t think that I will ever be since my path of life is different but you wrote few things that rang a bell in me.

    My issue about marriage does not come from the same source at all but until not so long ago I could relate to your feelings about the subject. I am talking about panic attacks and disgust and cry and anger and rejection for something that was supposed to be a commandment and yet would produce such negative reaction. I am impressed by what you wrote and shared.
    I cannot give you any good advise because I don’t think there is any. Just know that I found your blog yesterday and came back today to post this words.

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