Sunday, October 25, 2009

Questions answered

I've decided to answer Abelard's questions.

How did you get to where you are today?

It's really hard to answer this question because it's so multi-faceted. Life happened. One day I realized that I was attracted to a member of the same sex. I felt no guilt. Period. No guilt. I remained attracted to the opposite sex too, including my marital partner. And others. And then others of the same sex. No guilt, no shame. Why should I?

I understood that I am a sexual person. I never felt the need to self-identify as bisexual, although I have on occasion expressed the thought that others might say I am bisexual. I often said I had no doubts but for my belief in the church that I could easily live and love with a member of the same sex. I am not a young person.

I found it much more difficult to deal with a child coming out who actually wanted to have overtly gay and bisexual relationships. The church's involvement in proposition 8 exacerbated these problems for me and my family. Please note, however, that I don't disagree with the Church and or other member's rights to engage lawfully in the political process.

Are you happy with where you are? why or why not?

I wish that my loved ones were more firm in their testimonies. I am happy where I am with my testimony. I am happy with my sexuality and my sex life. I worry about my spouse's health and what living in old age will bring for us. I do still suffer post traumatic stress symptoms from a number of traumatic events in my life and regular stress from my challenging career. I take an anti-depressant, it helps me sleep and keeps the nightmares manageable.

I am both looking forward to and dreading the empty nest at the same time.

I feel blessed by the atonement and the promises of the endowment. I feel my savior's love. I fasted and prayed a lot for understanding, comfort, for my loved ones this past year. I had a great calling which caused me to really delve into the scriptures. I grew so much in my ability to love in faith. That has made all the difference in the world.

I discovered with gratitude that I don't have to bear all the burdens of this time (specifically the political chaos over gay marriage) and that I could in faith lay this burden at my Savior's feet. And I did.

So yes, I am overall very happy with where I am at now although fifteen months ago I was definitely very much in a crisis.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I hope to have the opportunity to be of significant service to people in developing nations before I die.

I hope I am prepared to pass on to the other side of the veil fully qualified for all the blessings of the celestial kingdom.

I would like to accelerate my spiritual growth in the second half of my life.

What roadblocks do you have and/or have overcome?

I failed, earlier in life, to understand that I was a child of God and just as good as anyone else in church. I learned, only recently, that there was so much more fulness of the gospel than I had been partaking of. I am now feasting.

What advice do you have for others following a similar path that you have?

Seek medical treatment where it is warranted and don't dismiss modern medications, there are many choices. Too many people are reluctant, embarassed or too prideful to admit that they might have a problem that is biological in origin.

Seek to deal with any post traumatic stress symptoms you may have.

Don't waste time looking for easy answers to difficult questions-there aren't any.

Don't engage in guilt where you have done nothing wrong.

Do fully partake of the opportunity to repent when you have sinned or wronged another.

Read the scriptures deeply to answer your own objections, learn to read in context of the times they were written in, pray and fast.

Cherish and develop friendships with both sexes within appropriate bounds. Become a person of warmth.

What advice do you have for family and friends?

Please be respectful of others sexuality. It is not fodder for humor or put downs. I especially do not like jokes about transpeople.

Testimonies are key, do everything you can to keep and grow yours.

Please choose to stay within the church even when you feel as though you are so different, the church is true and it is for everyone. The "details" such as they are can be sorted out in the millenium.

Friday, October 23, 2009


So, I have a problem. My problem is that I don't really follow the speculative line of reasoning that blames the LDS church for the suicides on the "list." While it is certainly true that some individuals on the list left notes or otherwise indicated their "relationship" with the church was part of the reason they committed suicide, doesn't this whole issue really require a little more introspection and honesty?

For example, let's get real and acknowledge the extraordinarily high incidence of the use of guns in suicides. The list doesn't provide enough information to determine how each individual took their lives, but I suspect it would not shake out too differently from the national statistics showing that guns are the primary way men commit suicide. Secondly, let's consider the very sad problem of men, society and clinicians not properly diagnosing and treating depression appropriately. When we have 40 names on the list spanning a 50 year time frame and they are nearly all male, shouldn't that be a part of the discussion as well? Is grief and loss a factor? Sure it is just like in the rest of the population. What about co-morbidities, the list offers little information about drug, alcohol and non-depression psychiatric disorders?

The one co-morbidity that does make a little sense in the course of the conversation is post-traumatic stress disorder. People with PTSD from any source are at a much higher risk of depression and suicide. So if one could actually link diagnosable PTSD with clear incidents or patterns of discrimination you might be able to make this claim, but if we are going to list folks whose PTSD may have to do with other stressful events (I don't consider getting picked up for cruising in public places to be discrimination), let's not find causation where it doesn't exist.

For more information on suicide please see this fact sheet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Look The Other Way

Unlike the "marriage" issue, I'm not at all conflicted about this policy-it is plain and simply, stupid. Some workplaces have lots of highly sexed and horny young people (others just have one oversexed old guy like the workplace at the David Letterman show) and it's up to the "adults" to keep them in line, but one type of sexual "activity" should not be condemned while others are winked at. Far better to require a higher standard of everyone and strive towards an environment of sexual safety and appropriateness for all.

Memo to all politicians and employers: Dump all the stupid look the other way policies while you are at it. Thank you for consideration in advance.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Porn -Wherein I Reveal Too Much

This post reflects a certain attitude within the church that the general authorities and other leaders positions on porn are too overstated. I wish I could agree with the author, but I can't. As a person who works in a helping occupation, I've seen the families and marriages destroyed by porn.

I've seen the poorly thought out myspace photo turned into child porn by unscrupulous lawyers. I've seen Judges, child protective services and others take a picture of a beautiful young sexy mother and turn her into a threat to her child, just because they are looking for an excuse and any excuse will do. I've seen a priesthood holder split hairs a la Bill Clinton and violate children spiritually in his own household via the use of pornography coupled with personal belongings of the child (perverted but not entirely criminal). I've seen the husband move on from the porn to another woman at the pain and financial expense of his partner. I've seen the wife who disposes of the husband because he no longers meets the cultural icons of porn as portrayed in multiple forms of media.

Elder Scott wisely reminded us of all the types of passion that interfere with the spirit. Political porn, (here and here) is almost as bad as sexual porn. I highly recommend Alec Baldwin's great essay on political porn. Gun porn has a lot to do with the availability and unfortunate use of weapons. Anger and the addictive lure of expressing righteous indignation also interferes with the spirit. I think he just might have a little more experience helping members with these issues than we want to admit.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Not Conflicted . . . and Not in Hiding (or marriage Part 2)

Now for the rest of the story-marriage within the church. I consider my marriage to be a non-conforming marriage within the church. What do I mean by that? I would define a conforming marriage as the Mormon ideal, married in the temple for time and eternity with both parties striving diligently, retaining their testimonies, and by all outward appearances headed straight to the celestial kingdom.

Here is my partial list of non-conforming Mormon Marriages as I've noted from my experience at church or online:

  • Married, both parties LDS and in good standing, but not in the temple for time and eternity.
  • Married, both parties LDS, one in good standing, one not or disaffected, could be either a temple marriage or a civil marriage.
  • Married, both parties LDS, both not in good standing or disaffected, could be either a temple marriage or a civil marriage.
  • Married, both parties LDS, both in good standing, wife previously sealed to another person in the temple and ineligible or doesn't desire sealing to present husband.
  • Married, one party LDS, one a non-member.
  • Married, one party LDS, one an excommunicated member not disaffected from the church.
  • Married, one party LDS, one an excommunicated or resigned member who is disaffected from the church
  • Divorced, not currently married, but still sealed to previous spouse
  • Married, previously divorced, both parties still sealed to previous spouse and not to each other
  • Married to a same sex partner, not in good standing but attends regularly and not disaffected.
  • Widowed, in any applicable configuration above.

Any sealing or temple marriage without the holy spirit of promise could also be nonconforming but would not be easily ascertainable by earthly means and may not even be something the parties are cognizant of in this lifetime.

Now add to that the fact that I am the product of that wider set of human interactions that produce children than what is contemplated above and can never in this life be sealed to the parent I want to be without being sealed to someone I don't want to be sealed to. I am endowed though, and, technically, I still have children who are sealed to me. But if one is keeping score based on the current inning and how the kids play the game, if I'm going to the celestial kingdom at all, I'm probably going alone or with part of my kids and part of my sibs and not to the highest glory.

While this is not optimal, it's beyond my control. And, because of the beauty of the atonement and the peace that comes with prayer, scripture study and concerted efforts to live the commandments both outwardly and inwardly, I feel joy and I'm not conflicted, ashamed, embarrased or feeling diminished in anyway about the character of my non-conforming "mormon" family situation as it is currently constituted. The gospel is for everyone, including me and my cup runneth over when I ponder both the current blessings I have received and the future blessings I will receive even as a lone person in the Celestial Kingdom.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Conflicted and . . . in hiding?

Today, I passed on a work opportunity I would have liked to pursue. Why? Because I'm not liberal enough in terms of my support (or lack thereof) of gay marriage. As I mentioned in a previous post, I blog elsewhere and I've mentioned that I don't support expanding marriage beyond the way it is currently configured in 45 states in America in one of those blogs.

I'm slightly ashamed to say that my take on this matter is not as predictable as one would think. I think the real threat to my church is all the other forms of alternative marriage beyond gay marriage. Yes, it's the "p" word. Polygamy is the major threat to the church from alternative marriage. I believe most folks in today's society, given a non-stigmatized response to it, would choose this configuration for marriage and not necessarily in the format previously practiced by the Mormons in the 1800's.

And that's not the half of it. Here is where I'm really jaundiced or cynical. Take your average brother and sister in the church and they are fascinated by Mormon celebrities be they people who are subjects of public acclaim or persons associated with men holding high ranking priesthood callings. Some people do want to be affiliated with certain families and it's my belief that you would see massive disruption among "lower tier" families when some of our dear sisters go shopping for a better model.

And if I want three wives and three husbands, is there anything that would really prohibit that from happening in the brave new world? This would be my ideal if we were simply talking about preferences without any boundaries. I could very, very easily be polyamorous. And yet, upon further reflection and weighing it against my decades of marriage, I'd have to say I'd be nuts to actually try it.

On the other hand, as long as my church and other churches have the right to solemnize only the types of marriages they believe they should, what do I really care how the next person chooses to be married? Perhaps the solution is to make marriage solely a civil function of the state. In the end, I just don't want to deal with the issue. And, I've decided that I'm not going to engage in the debate if it comes up locally.