Wednesday, April 01, 2015

My Latest Thoughts on LGBT Issues

In a word, I'm now a lot more agnostic about LGBT issues than I used to be. I have gone through phases where I've been opposed to gay marriage, but that ship has sailed.

I've never really had any secular case against gay marriage. I have made a religious case against it among fellow Mormons, but I've sort of lost interest in that now. I simply don't know what to think anymore. I really don't understand what God expects of those who feel the same way about their own sex as I do about the opposite.

I think legalizing gay marriage is a huge, complex experiment, and now I'm more of a spectator than anything. In fact, I don't even really follow the news on it anymore. I do still wonder sometimes what the long-term effects will be. Nobody knows.

As a Mormon, I think all kinds of casual sex are wrong, whether hetero or homo. I don't know about homo sex within a committed relationship—I'm now thinking it's simply not my issue or my business, so it's not a question I expect to have answered anytime soon, and I don't feel any pressing personal need to have it answered. I also no longer feel much, if any, need to shelter my kids from homosexual couple examples—that ship has already sailed, too.

So now my thought is: live and let live, good luck with your journey, I have no idea what the long-term results will be, and I don't understand what God realistically expects of gay people.

At the same time, I still don't think Mormonism should start performing eternal gay sealings in the temple without a specific, clear revelation. And if Mormonism did receive such a revelation, I would be confused because its entire theological system is based on eternal heterosexual coupling with endless spiritual progeny.

However, a Mormon bishop performing a gay civil union in a public LDS meetinghouse? Eh, whatever.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your Live and Let Live philosophy. We all have sins. Dealing with them is between an individual and God. My concern with this issue, however is the militant activist nature of some on the LGBT side. They are not content with my not caring if they marry or not. There are those who would like nothing more that to force me, as an LDS Bishop, to perform their wedding because they want it to be recognized by the faith of their families, in spite of the fact that they have clearly deviated from that faith themselves. This militant imposition of their desire to not just be left alone, but to force others to actually participate in their chosen lifestyle as if we didn't have a concern about it is evidenced by the fact that in spite of there being hundreds of bakers willing to put two grooms on a cake or thousands of photographers with no problem taking pictures of the bride kissing the bride, they want to force the one photographer or baker with a longstanding, sincerely held beliefs, to become an active participant in that wedding.

Anonymous said...

(respectively) I also happen to be serving as a Mormon Bishop, and must make a quick counter point to the post above. In my experience, any bishop who has taken even a small amount of time to understand people in the LGBT community on a personal level...also knows they would never turn their wedding into some sort of weapon, and "force" some poor Mormon baker or photographer to "become and active participant".
This kind of hateful and frankly dishonest excuse is just propaganda.

Anonymous said...

There are militants on all sides of this issue. What is unfortunate is the militants are considered to represent the majority for each group and not what they truly are, outliers.

Unknown said...

I"m really happy to read of your intellectual journey on this. You and I have known each other for 26 years now, since the grand days of Boston. I was the brand new convert. You were fascinated (at least to me) with your college studies.

I did my very best in marrying a woman (and being blessed with 3 fantastic children). We were sealed by Elder Nelson. Even with an apostolic blessing. Even got to teach at the Y for seven years. Alas, she told me that I "had to get real", that praying harder simply didn't work. 11 years ago, we split.

I stayed a Latter Day Jesuit for almost 7 years. Until one day, after feeding the missionaries for the upteenth time, it suddenly dawned on me that I was going to live a very lonely life. And so, after meeting Ben, an RM, someone who had taken a very different path those 25 years, we married (in CT). After I gained a totally unexpected vision about myself in the Sacred Grove - that has made perfect sense to several church leaders.

What I have learned is that, after all the drama, we are basically two very boring 50something men. Continuing to believe at the very core that the key to this mortal life is that service to our fellow beings is service to our God, that we are to be first class in all of our dealings with our fellow man, and that we are all to strive to make a difference in our small corners of the world. And most of all, to testify when called upon through words - or better - through actions - that Jesus is the Christ (not bad for a Jewish convert, during this Passover week, eh?!).

And that is what happened. Oh, and the baker of our wedding cake? They went on to have one of the finest shops in Jackson Hole. And the photographer? Well, he found his brokeback. And we get older. And hopefully, we gain wisdom (as not all of us gain temporal riches). Because I am finding that time is going faster and faster now.

Lisa Torcasso Downing said...

This isn't April Fools, huh?

This is a surprising turn-around. But Chris, you say if there were some sort of revelation that allowed LDS homosexuals to be sealed, it'd really challenge the idea of what the gospel is based on. The gospel is based on love and forgiveness, not compliance and sameness. Brother Bruce R. sent us down the path of seeing the first principle of the gospel as obedience. But he didn't have that entirely right. Jesus taught the love of God, followed by the love of our brothers and sisters, as the first and great commandment. And if such a revelation comes, it'll come with an understanding of how this all fits together. Many of us are being moved by the Holy Spirit to stay open, to keep learning, to improve our understanding so that such a revelation can come.

One thing (and pretty much only one thing) I'm sure of, is that our Heavenly Parents did not create us to exclude us. There must be a way. The current way advocated by the LDS Church is proving over and over to be false, to be toxic, to our LGBT brother's and sisters.

I love the way you've always been willing to put yourself out there and participate in discussion.

j0bi1 said...

Thanks so much for being open about this. As an LDS LGBT guy this issue has occupied almost the entirety of my adult life in one way or another. There's simply no way to escape it. Since I figured I was damaged goods, I asked to be healed, over and over again. I looked to the church for guidance.

Well, little by little I began to realize that the church couldn't help me. And although I've been miraculously healed of several physical maladies in my life, the Lord wouldn't make me straight for some reason. And then one day, after a humbling loss and several priesthood blessings, my heart was soft enough for the Lord to reveal to me my true identity. I wasn't damaged goods after all. I was just as the Lord intended me to be for my entire life. The spirit poured into my soul and I've since learned so many important things about life, love, and God.

Something to think about: What exactly does it mean for a God to have eternal increase? Does it mean the women will bear physical children? Or is there something else at work there? Further, if exalted beings are to all become one with God, is the family dynamic symbolic of something far more non linear that what we currently imagine. I feel like it is, and within that context there is a place of exaltation for all of God's children who love him, no matter their orientation in this life. Thanks again for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Would you like to talk about what helped you to start seeing my friends as actual people?

Christopher Bigelow said...

Here are some quick reasons for my change of stance:
• Some people I trust within Mormonism have really backed off this issue.
• I've been writing a memoir that includes several LGBT characters, and I've found myself unable to judge them.
• I started taking Prozac, which has made me more clearheaded and easygoing.

Darn It Janet said...

Try having your staunchly obedient LDS kid come out to you. That'll whip your gospel-centered head in another direction pretty fast.

If God allowed (we say "allowed") HER to be gay, maybe the same thing happened to a bunch of other wonderful people too. Maybe they're not evil for wanting fulfillment of the same basic human needs, and the governmental and religious recognition of their unions.

I now support gay marriage because I really doubt God wants these lovely people to have to just shack up.