Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I Stay

Why do I still attend and consider myself a member of a church whose position is that I'm a bad person? It's something that I've been thinking about off and on for awhile.  I took the following stupid internet quiz and got this result:

You are 23% Mormon
You have some of the Mormon values, but overall you're far more normal than most Utahns. You realize life is out there to enjoy, family is important, and there are better ways to spend a Sunday than at church!

Should You Stay Mormon?
Take More Quizzes

I also took the Belief-O-Matic Quiz on (probably a bit more reliable) and got the following:

1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (83%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (74%)
4. Orthodox Quaker (72%)
5. Baha'i Faith (71%)
6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (69%) 

So, why do I stay? Especially since, in its simplest form, I've made a conscious decision to disregard some of the teachings of the church and rely on God's mercy but understanding his justice? To be honest, I'm not quite sure.  Part of it is probably just inertia, I've gone my whole life attending church on Sundays, and so it's just part of the routine.  Second is probably family pressure:  my whole family are strong, conservative Mormons, and I don't really want to rock the boat.  Third, I want my kids raised in the church.  I attend with them on Sundays since their mom doesn't go much anymore. 

But fourth, it's because I believe in most of what the church teaches.  I believe in God the Father and that he created us and is the father of our spirits.  I believe Jesus is the son of God and gave his life for us so that we can be forgiven of our sins and return to God's presence.  I believe the Holy Ghost can help guide us and influence us.  Although it seems somewhat far-fetched that God would deliver his gospel to some insignificant desert tribe like the Hebrews, I guess he had to start somewhere.  So I believe the Bible to be the word of God, mostly. It's gone through the hands of many different people with many different agendas, so it's definitely not God's literal word.

So far, so good. I'm at least Christian.

I believe in the restoration of the gospel.  At least, I believe things got pretty screwed up after Jesus died.  Studying the early Christian church is fascinating.  Tons of bloodshed, kidnappings, greed, blackmail, bribery, and everything else in the name of God.  Since I believe in a God that loves us, I believe he would do something to get things back on track.  I believe in the Joseph Smith story, and I believe that God revealed the true gospel to him.  I find it pretty easy to believe in the Book of Mormon as well.  It just makes sense that God would talk to other people besides his insignificant tribe in the Middle East.  The stories of how Joseph Smith translated it are pretty fanciful, but I still believe its God's word without all the baggage the Bible has.  I also find it pretty easy to believe in continuing revelation.  Again, if God loves us, it doesn't really make sense that the would set things in motion, talk to a few prophets a long time ago, send his son to earth to die, and then disappear.  It makes sense that he would continue having prophets on the earth to guide his people.  It also makes sense that he would authorize people to act in his name, rather than letting anybody do it on his own.

So...I'm essentially Mormon.  I don't know of any other religion that believes in all that.

But then things get sort of hazy.  I'm sort of following the temple recommend questions here when I talk about what I believe.  Do I sustain the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators, and other leaders as called? Well, sort of. But I don't believe they are infallible. Look at some of the crazy things Brigham Young taught.  Heck, look at some of the crazy things Boyd K. Packer has said! Do I believe the LDS church is the only true church? Well...pretty much.  Like I said, I don't know of any other church that teaches everything we do. But at the same time, who's to say God doesn't have other prophets he communicates with? If I believe he had at least two communities in ancient times, why not now?

Do I live the law of chastity? Do I keep the covenants I have made? Am I a full tithe payer? Do I keep the word of wisdom? Well...this isn't going to turn into a confessional.  Let's just say I'm not a perfect person.  But I do believe in the reasons behind these rules.  And I hope to find a husband and live the law of chastity with him.  And that sentence pretty much answers the question about if I support any groups whose teachings are contrary to the church. (The last time the bishop asked me that question, though, I answered "yes, I'm a Democrat." He laughed.)

So rules/laws/ceremonies/rituals....I fail the Mormon test there.  Which is why I don't have a temple recommend, or feel right having one.  But what about the spirit of the law?

Is there anything in my conduct with my family that is out of harmony with the church? Absolutely not. My kids are my life, and my goal is to be the best damn dad possible.  Does being gay prevent me from being a good father? No way.  Am I honest in my dealings with my fellowmen? Absolutely.  That is something I take pride in.  Do I believe in the church's focus on families, service, kindness, etc? Yep.

So, I guess I stay because it's what I believe and I can't get it all anywhere else.  I see myself as being on the outskirts of things in relation to most members of the church, obviously.  If I had to label myself I would call myself a liberal Mormon, or postmodern Mormon, or something like that.  But still Mormon. 

(End note:  I absolutely respect others' beliefs.  I'm a relativist -- just because something works, or is right for me, doesn't make it right for someone else.  Truth can be very broad.  Many mohos and gay people have very different opinions about the church, and religion in general.  Many have been hurt pretty badly by the church.  Feel free to comment and give me feedback, or ask questions.  Respectfully.)


Michael said...

David, so many of us try to separate ourselves from Mormonism. It is hard because it is so much of who we are just as being gay is who we are. We are a different breed. We fit right in the middle of Mormons and Gays, we are different but we are different together. Love you buddy :) Keep your head up.

Anonymous said...

Hi David, first time posting a comment in your blog. I find it fascinating that gay men feel a need to get married to "fit in" with mainline society, or to please a religion. I haven't read through your blog yet, so please forgive me if I'm asking questions on a topic that you've already addressed in earlier posts. I'm sort of confused. You say you'd like to find a husband? But you have kids and you're trying to be the best dad you can be. Are you married to a woman? Or were you married? Does she know you're gay? What about your kids? Do they know they have a gay dad? And if yes, what's their reaction? If you'd prefer keeping the answers to my questions private, there's an email form in my blog which you can use. I'm sort of thinking about converting to Mormonism. But I want to be sure it's for the right reasons, and not just because I like guys, and there's a whole lot of hot Mormons! XD



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