Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking Back


The following was a letter I sent to my mom in July of 2008. It was an attempt to explain to her my rocky relationship with the church over the years. It's interesting to look back and see what I was working through during my moments of clarity, although, parts of it are aimless and incoherent. It is what it is and marks a milestone
in my path to thinking for myself. WARNING: It's long. But then I had a lot to say.


Well, I keep going back to the churches official statement on homos.

And it's continually laced with behavior this and behavior that.

OAKS: "The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear. It's no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. "

WICKMAN: "One of the great sophistries of our age, I think, is that merely because one has an inclination to do something, that therefore acting in accordance with that inclination is inevitable. That's contrary to our very nature as the Lord has revealed to us. We do have the power to control our behavior."

Remember about what I said regarding behavior that is unconscious.
They are not referring to that. It appears that they don't recognize it at all. What they are getting at is holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc. Behaviors that would get one kicked out of BYU if it was between the same sex. Those are visual, made by choice and are judged by them as sinful, disgusting, abominable, perverted etc. Between opposite sex it's expected and desired behavior.

Wickman is especially offensive when he refers to it as a lifestyle and that we are just simply "afflicted with same-gender attraction". His statement is basically why I have to get the fuck out of here. The reality is not that I'm afflicted with same-gender attraction, the reality is that I'm afflicted by other peoples ignorance and bigotry and fear. The semantics of the argument are to twist it into what amounts to as emotional blackmail.

Check out the section where he uses his handicapped daughter as a tool for manipulating his point. It has a place as an illustrative example but it is manipulative because to me it compares apples to asparagus.

I'm still trying to argue with these people in my mind. I feel the need to challenge these things because it's very clear to me that the truth is getting manipulated with semantics in order to misrepresent or demonized homosexuality as it exists within natural human behavior. It's frustrating to me because I don't know how to communicate what it is they are doing all of the time.

They just don't understand how hurtful it is to be marginalized especially in the very subtle ways they are doing it. It's hard to let go of. Right now I'm lacking any gay affirming influences because I'm so isolated out here. But that's just what they want me to avoid. As long as I can never accept who I really am they will be able to exhort a measure of control over me. I just don't know what to do right now.

Somehow I can't help but think that the truth of my existence has been used against me in order for the church to exhort some sort of control. But what is this control? Why do they want to control? That I don't understand. With control there is no agency. But they keep teaching agency but it's always associated with the teaching of consequences. But that is common sense. However it's tainted. It's loaded down with promises of things to come. I must have faith and I must make the right choice or I will not reap the benefits of the after life. If I fail to make the right choice I will be cut off. Promises and threats, to warn me of the right and wrong choice. And then a judgment on what is right and wrong. It's as if I'm not allowed to think for myself. But then if I don't make the choice I'm told to make, then the church cuts me off and says that I've cut myself off from god. I'm controlled or "forced" to pick the right choice. But what about the reward? Well if I didn't get the reward than I'm told I didn't choose "hard" enough. This sounds hyperbola. The explanation may seem contrived but the experience and the feelings are not.

This is madness. I come to the church for answers and put effort into it and they promise answers and all I get back are reasons why I'm not going to get answers. I get condemnation for something I didn't choose. Telling me (at least in the past) that it was something I did or created and that I didn't work hard enough to be rid of it or I really didn't want it to go away. Why did I put so much trust in the church? Because I was told that the church was [guided with] this mysterious thing called the spirit and that would give normal people knowledge beyond what the world could ever figure out on their own. I wanted this great spirit to give me knowledge and answers.

But those answered never came. Why? I was told that I didn't have enough faith. What was faith? I believed that I would get answers and was told that the reason I got nothing because I didn't have enough faith and if I wanted answers I had to work harder. I didn't know that believing and faith were the same thing. But whatever the case may be, I was lead to believe that what ever was lacking was my fault and I would have to figure out what the problem was on my own and if I asked god he would help though the spirit. In the mean time I invest time and even some money into this church and all I get back is someone telling me that I'm not doing it right.

But then what is the church for? The church is for the people. Then why do the people have to work so hard for the church? Why must I prove to the church my worthiness?

I'm told that I must repent of homosexual tendencies. Tendencies? So these are things that I can "stop doing" or swing back to heterosexual tendencies? That sounds laughable.

To do that, I have to rid myself of them. How? This is so inherent to my ingrained thinking I don't know how to think any other way. I have to destroy that part of me. How? I can only deny that part of me. I have to lie to myself. How can that create a stable personal identity? It doesn't. I should know. I tried it. But I still had no concept for heterosexual tendencies.

It bugs the shit out of me that the church only thinks of it in terms of erotic attraction. I can't even begin to explain how surreptitious that line of rationalization is. It's as if to admit that if it's anything other than sex then it would put it in danger of getting legitimized.

There seems to be this preoccupation with sex. It seems to be one of the most prominent tools used to control and manipulate in the church.

I have never known a time in this church when I never felt like I was being manipulated, controlled and punished. There was always something I wasn't doing right. And it didn't matter how small and mundane. It got to the point that everything in my life had a right and wrong answer. I couldn't trust my own judgment anymore. How could I? No matter what I thought, there was always someone else judging my decision as not in accordance with the "right" choice. I didn't really know what that the judgment of "right" was. I had the spirit but I couldn't figure it out. There was always some authority figures with the spirit who would always tell me my choices were "wrong".

They were always people in the church.

So the church is made out of men. Men who are constantly telling us that the lord directs the church. But then where is the lord on this issue? I guess it doesn't really matter that much. I don't really get the purpose of the lord in this plan anyway. But nonetheless, where is he? Where is the revelation that tells us what the deal is with gay people? No one has asked. The proclamation was never claimed to be revelation.

But what of this scripture:
2 Nephi 4:34-35

"34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. "

So the church is made of men whom I'm not to trust in. But the church says trust in the men as they "are led by god". And the men assure us that God would never allow the men of the church to lead us astray. But who is saying that? Well, God is, right? I go to him and ask him, as he should be the one that tells me what's going on. "
IF I ask not amiss." and then a string of appeasement? It is written as such but that would be silly for that to be what is meant.

But the men in the church want appeasement or I'm not righteous enough. They tell me that it's the reason why, when I went to pray for confirmation, I got a DIFFERENT answer than what they told me. They said it was because I asked amiss, that I was selfish and was denying the spirit. I had done it wrong.

I don't know how many times I've heard them tell me over the years to go back and pray about it until I got the answer that they said I should get.

Manipulation indeed.

Well the men are running this church right now. And because of that I can't continue on. Some times I feel like I'm betraying you(mom). Sometime I feel like I've actually fallen into the trappings of the devil. The men of the church warned me over and over again that the adversary would work really hard to do this and ensnare me to twist and corrupt the words to work in my favor.

Yet no matter what I read I see the words being open ended for anyone to twist and distort them to be used for what ever purpose they want them to be.

The men in the church use their standing as the authority to judge my views as sinful and my life as inherently flawed. And that this flaw is a burden I must carry the rest of my life. But they judge that this burden, as an internal struggle of same-sex attraction, is no different than someone's susceptibility to gambling, tobacco or alcohol? (Oaks says this stuff) His tactics, by using such conditions as examples of comparison, stand on their own merits as missing the point as far as I'm concerned. And I would pray that people would really examine the reality of the church's silly treatment of the gay issue in society and then just leave us alone. Stop trying to fix us. Stop trying to set us aside as perversions of nature who are a threat to children and the moral fabric of society.

I don't see same-sex attraction as the burden anymore. And I can't find compelling reason to even believe that homosexual sex is sinful. And I would be amiss to not realize that the men in the church make sure I understand that I've rationalized myself into this egregious apostasy and sinned against god and nature. After all, homosexual sex is one of the vilest acts of indecency the church has had the privilege to condemn.

But this isn't about sex. It's about love. If I can't accept the reality that I fall in love with other men than I can't possibly learn to accept myself and understand the concept of loving myself. A concept that has been utterly foreign to me all my life. How can I understand what it means to love god or neighbor if I can't even know the basic love of who I am.

No, the real burden is to go though life as a second class human being in the eyes of the church and much of society. Prone to discrimination and threat of life. To be hated by some for no other reason than to fulfill their need to hate someone.

The biggest lie is that this life is a test or exam. It's not a test. It's an experience. But just last Sunday that old line was fed again and again. "This life is a test to see what we will do. To test our willingness to make right choices. And as we make the right choices, God rewards us in heaven." blah blah blah. Right and wrong choices. There seems to be a problem when a group of people who have no knowledge or experience in another person's life has the authority to dictate what is the right and wrong choice for them. And then claims authority to dish out judgment and punishment if the "right" choice isn't made.

What am I still holding on to? I'm still holding out for some more answers. And admittedly I got my answers but they were just too hard to take. I have to give up things I'm not sure I can give up. I have to face head on fears that have followed me for years. It is hard. There are so many dehumanizing and demonizing beliefs that have been ingrained in me. And because of my self-realization, I know now that they must be lies. But the small shred of truth that I see in them feeds my doubts.

I recognize that the very thing the church warns of and fights against is the very thing they are responsible for creating. They fulfilled their own prophecy of the evils of homosexuals. It's that world they created I fear.

I feel like the church has managed to inflict me with severe emotional abuse.
And surely I have felt this religion as more hurtful than of healing. As many others have too. But the baggage that we all carry with us I'm afraid will prevent me from proving the church wrong.

No matter what I do it just turns out to be one big double bind for me.

1 comment :

  1. This is why I left the church. It's like M. Night Shyamalan's movie, "The Village." Keeping them (the members) afraid of the world beyond the walls of the church will not only "keep them safe" from the evils of the world, but keep control. When coming out I chose to go beyond the boarders of what Mormonism says is safe and I'm discovering an entirely new world full of wonders. There are monsters out there, but many of them are our own making.


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