Sunday, October 14, 2007

MY PRIESTHOOD QUORUM DISCUSSION ABOUT SGA

Earlier I said that I would report back after I taught the priesthood lesson discussing concerns of LDS with SGA. I was ambivalent after Elder Oaks' strong remarks in priesthood about sticking with the Spencer W. Kimball text. I prayed about it and felt strongly impressed to proceed.

I began by asking them what they would say if a faithful, returned missionary son told him that he was homosexual. [One brother then got up and closed the door into the hall.] The first response was: "I would listen, listen, listen. I wouldn't preach or be critical. I would let him talk and then let him know how much I loved him." Next one said: "I would make sure that he knew the Church's position on homosexuality which I support and then tell him that I would respect his free agency. He would have to decide for himself what to do. He should know that whatever he decided, I am still his father and love him dearly." I asked "What is the Church's position?" Someone responded, "I think that as long as he doesn't get sexually involved and strives to be morally clean that he can go to the temple or do anything else in the Church." Someone said, "Well he can't go on a mission!" I said that each potiental missionary is handled individually and that I know a number of cases where they were called on missions after confessing and waiting for a time period if they had any transgressions. I know of a case where one missionary even transgressed on his mission. A general authority was his mission president and seeing his grief and thorough repentance didn't send him home, but let him repent and serve a successful mission.

Other comments were: "Tell him that there is far more to him than his SGA. He should focus on the goodness in his life and all of the goodness he can do in and through the Church. Satan only wants him to feel that he is a queer and feel like a second class citizen in the Church. This is not true." "We all struggle with sexual issues. He has his and I have mine. What matters is how we deal with them, and staying close to the Lord." I said that I would tell him that he must cope with a physical/emotional emptiness and hunger for intimate contact with a male if he stays in the Church. But if he pursues just the physical he will have to cope with a spiritual/emotional emptiness and hunger for the peace and fulfillment that comes from communication with God and the opportunity to serve in the Church. He has to make a choice. Even if you choose the gay path you still may not be able to satisfy all your sexual desires. One brother said, "Well, even we straight guys with happy marriages experience unfulfilled desires and have to cope with them." Another said, "Yes, especially as we get older and have physical problems."

I said, "What is your counsel about marrying a woman?" After no response from the class, I referred them to Elder Holland's article in the current Ensign. He leaves the door open for marriage, but realizes that for some that may not be a wise choice.

I then read a statement by one of our fellow bloggers expressing his love for his wife and children. He stated that he had no physical attraction for her but that they had developed a satisfying physical relationship. He then listed many of the things he did to show her he loved her, praising her, helping around the house, etc. One of the class members said, "He sounds like he is a better husband that I am!"

Following Elder Oaks' suggestion, I then turned to the Spencer W. Kimball manual page 182: "What is love? Many people think of it as mere physical attraction and they casually speak of “falling in love” and “love at first sight.”… One might become immediately attracted to another individual, but love is far more than physical attraction. It is deep, inclusive, and comprehensive. Physical attraction is only one of the many elements; there must be faith and confidence and understanding and partnership. There must be common ideals and standards. There must be great devotion and companionship. Love is cleanliness and progress and sacrifice and selflessness. This kind of love never tires or wanes, but lives through sickness and sorrow, poverty and privation, accomplishment and disappointment, time and eternity. For the love to continue, there must be an increase constantly of confidence and understanding, of frequent and sincere expression of appreciation and affection. There must be a forgetting of self and a constant concern for the other. Interests, hopes, objectives must be constantly focused into a single channel. …Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life, we must remember that life is not designed just for sex."

And page 194: “Soul mates” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price. …
Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage is not a legal coverall, but it means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all."

These apply to any couple. I told them that I knew many with SGA who had happy, fulfilling marriages.

Getting back to the initial comments about listening to and loving and our sons and daughters in spite of their chioces we read selected quotes from pp. 205, 207, 210, 212.

Time ran out. It seemed to go well. Only about one third of the class of about 25 brothers made comments. A few seemed embarrassed. Some spoke positively of neighbors and friends who were gay. One said that his gay neighbors were surprised that he and his wife who were Mormons would be so friendly and nice to them.

It seemed to go well. I felt the Spirit confirming our discussion.

6 comments:

Silus Grok said...

Wonderful!

If there's fall-out or follow-up, I hope you'll keep us informed.

: )

santorio said...

i also teach a ph class, but was out of town during the two sundays when this was a subject, but i'll look for another opportunity.

class comment: "We all struggle with sexual issues. He has his and I have mine." this brother seems to think that one can compare libido and orientation. others would argue that they are not so easily comparable. for example, libido can come and go, and can be manipulated by drugs and consciousness. orientation is a constant.

your comment: "But if he pursues just the physical he will have to cope with a spiritual/emotional emptiness and hunger for the peace and fulfillment that comes from communication with God and the opportunity to serve in the Church."
i don't think it's such an either/or. i think a gay mormon can have an intimate relationship with another man and still have peace and communication with God and even service to the church, though at this time limited.

GeckoMan said...

I think the class comments demonstrate that there can be great depth of understanding. We should not be so quick to jump to conclusions that we will always be misjudged or misunderstood. Even with comments that show bias or lack of understanding, it is our opportunity to teach and inform.

Thanks for sharing.

gentlefriend said...

Santorio: I believe that the commandments were given to us to help us to draw closer to God and to receive spiritual guidance from Him. But I agree that it is not black and white, there probably is a continuum. None of us live all of the commandments. Someone in a SGA relationship may be more righteous and more committed to listening to and following the Spirit in many respects than I, who is in a mixed gender marriage. I believe that God loves and guides all who come unto Him as much as we let Him. If someone tells me that he has peace and communion with God. I believe him. I am in no position to judge another's spirituality. But I do believe that the more we follow God's instructions, the more we can receive His promised results.
Thanks for your comments.

Silus: I will.

Geckoman: I always enjoy your support and insights.

Beck said...

I appreciate your efforts in teaching such a subject in the first place. Congrats!

I have found that church members are slowly understanding more as time goes on and within a generation it will be less of a "stigma" and more of a discussion of "matter of fact".

As I recently posted, my HP group was much more open to acceptance and tolerance and love - moreso that I ever would have given them credit for - we just never talk about these things in the open. I was overcome with emotion and the spirit that such brotherly love could exist with this "older generation" and it only gives me hope for the "future generation" in cranking up the tolerancea nd uncerstaing and love!

robert said...

"I said that I would tell him that he must cope with a physical/emotional emptiness and hunger for intimate contact with a male if he stays in the Church. But if he pursues just the physical he will have to cope with a spiritual/emotional emptiness and hunger for the peace and fulfillment that comes from communication with God..."

I truly wish you could think about this differently. Mormons seem so unwilling to accept that non Mormons can have healthy spiritual contact with God. Do you really believe the non Mormon planet is Godless?