Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Relief Society Lesson

So on Sunday, August 3, the lesson in Relief Society (as chosen and taught by the R.S. Presidency) was on families. Quotes were passed around to read and I took one. It just so happened that my quote came first because it is at the beginning of the proclamation on the family. I began to read….I began to get nervous…I kind of stuttered as I hit the words “…marriage between a man and a woman in ordained of God…” I had only known that my husband is gay for 23 days, but I had already had enough time to read “No More Goodbyes”, time to think and to talk to Scott extensively and time to recognize my own feelings on the topic of same-sex marriage. Immediately I recognized a bit of a conflict between my own feelings and the words I was reading that I had previously believed to be the word of God.

*****

By the way, just a few days ago, Scott and I were discussing this conflict with the proclamation yet again, and he explained his view. I then had an amazing feeling of happiness and peace as I realized that my feelings did not have to conflict with this revelation. The proclamation does not say that ONLY marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. I can agree with the sentence as it is with no modification as I wonder if marriage between two members of the same gender could also be ordained of God, but is just not mentioned in this publication.

*****

Anyway, back to my story. So I read the quote, then I sat there nervously awaiting possible comments. I hoped they would not come, but come they did. One lady talked about how Satan is working so hard to make a mockery of the family and trying to change the distinction that marriage is between a man and a woman. Another sister spoke of an article she read that outlined all of the legal implications and results on governments of making same-sex marriage legal, literally leading to the downfall of society at the government level. Then the instructor commented about how horrible it was that some of these people not only want to marry, but want to adopt children into their homes.

I was crushed. All three of these sisters are ones that I associate with closely. I love and admire all of them. They are good people with good and kind hearts, so willing to serve others. I was incredibly tense. I literally wanted to scream, but I held it in. I don’t remember much of the rest of the lesson (only a small portion at the beginning focused on the gay thing) because I was not able to listen. It was all I could do to sit there quietly and not walk out.

When I got to the car after the meeting, I sobbed. I was consumed with anger and confusion throughout the afternoon. When night came, I could not sleep…I started writing a letter in my head. Finally, I got up and literally typed out a letter on my computer.

After running the letter past a couple of people (thank you Scott and Beck), I mailed it anonymously to these three ladies. It was a heartfelt and kind plea to these sisters to learn more about the topic they spoke of (I recommended they read No More Goodbyes). I told them that my own view had been like theirs only a short time ago, but was changed by someone close to me telling me that they are gay, and by my subsequent research on the topic.

The next Sunday was interesting as I saw two of the ladies conversing closely and quietly, and later as Scott overheard the R.S. president discussing it in the foyer with her husband (in the bishopric) and another lady (not one who got a letter from me). They were not discussing the content as much as trying to determine the sender, I think.

Anyway, Scott and I figure the whole bishopric most certainly knows about it.

This afternoon the bishop called and wants to meet with us Thursday night. Now I am nervous. Have they figured out the identity of the sender of the letter? Or am I being paranoid and will find out that it is just a new calling or something? Regardless, I hate talking to my current bishop and I am not ready for a different calling.

Only 46 hours to find out, I suppose.

Addendum: For archive purposes, I have decided to include the actual text of the letter I sent:

August 4, 2008

Dear Sister,

I am another sister in your ward whom you love, and I want you to know that I love and value you as well. However, I feel a need to let you know that some of the things you said in Relief Society on Sunday hurt me. Actually, things you said are things I might have said or thought a month ago, but my perspective has changed.

Someone very close to me has recently come out of the closet and told me that they are gay. In response to that revelation, I have been researching the topic extensively during the past 3 weeks. I never thought that something would make me question church revelation like this has. Don’t get me wrong—I know that the gospel is true, that Jesus Christ lives, that he died for me and has restored his gospel to the Earth. I know that there are living prophets on the Earth today that lead the church, but I also know that those men are human, and that their words of inspiration are mixed with their own beliefs, thoughts, feelings and experiences. Realizing this is the only thing that is keeping me active at the moment, because I have come to believe that marriage between two people of the same gender might not be wrong. I have come to learn tolerance and love for a group of people I have not understood, a group that is chastised for trying to ruin the world with their choice to love someone of the same sex. I now know and understand that these people were born gay, just like they are born left or right-handed, and that they love and want to be loved. They want to know the satisfaction of loving and serving their significant other, and even raising children, though it is biologically impossible for them to create them on their own. I have read story after story of gay and lesbian Mormons who feel guilty and hate who they are because they love God and they have testimonies of the gospel, but there is no place for them or tolerance for them in this church. Quite a few of them commit suicide. Many of them leave the church. It is so sad that they cannot be happy with who they are and feel welcome to worship God with the rest of their fellow saints.

I know you are an intelligent woman with Christ-like love. I have seen that love and charity. I have been a recipient of it. What I ask for now is that you open your mind to learn more about something you do not understand. I have included one article, one story. I would encourage you to learn more by reading a book titled “No More Goodbyes” by Carol Lynn Pearson. She is an LDS poet, author of “My Turn on Earth” and the primary song “I’ll Walk with You.” She was married to a gay man for a time who died of AIDS in 1984. The book was just published last year.

You are entitled to your own opinions, your own revelation regarding knowing the truthfulness of the statement that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not asking you to change that. I am not asking you to question the words of prophets that you have complete faith in. I am only asking you to learn more so that you can be more tolerant and loving toward a group of people that you do not fully understand. I know you don’t understand them, because I didn’t either just a short time ago, but now my life is intertwined with one of them.

I hope to continue to drag myself to more church meetings and pray that I will not have to endure much more of what I went through today, or that I will be strong enough to bear it. I feel I have a mission of sorts to help educate and perpetuate Christ-like love on this matter. I just hope that my testimony will stay strong in the process. Maybe someday I can continue to spread this information without feeling the need to stay anonymous. If I told you who I am, I have no doubt that it would influence you to learn more about this matter. But if I tell you who I am, I am afraid you will not be such a close friend anymore. I cannot bear to lose your friendship.

My love and prayers are with you. I hope you will be open to my suggestion of gaining greater knowledge.

Love,
Your sister in the gospel of Jesus Christ

2 comments:

Damon In CO said...

From reading Dichotomy's post it sounds like the Bishopric knows. I wonder how they figured it out.

I wouldn't worry or be nervous. First of all, neither you nor Dichotomy has done anything wrong. I would imagine, if it is regarding this issue, that your Bishop is meeting to confirm and offer loving support. I would also imagine that he wants to make sure there are no hurt feelings and to ensure you that no offense was intended.

If it the Bishop has something a bit stronger in mind (I can't, at this moment imagine what that could be) for the meeting then I think you and Dichotomy are well grounded enough to handle and present yourselves well.

I think it might be a great opportunity for Dichotomy to share his story of recognizing his sexuality. Maybe you should bring a cop of "No More Goodyes" to share with the Bishop. It would also be such a good opportunity for you to share your feelings and the decisions you've both made together.

My best to both of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

The Church needs you Serendipity! It needs your husband too. I know wihthout a doubt that it does. It needs your example as individuals and as a couple.

Attitudes will not change, charity towards homosexuals will not fill members hearts until they have their own personal experiences with loved ones...friends and family members who are gay. Then, change will happen.

I cannot imagine things would go poorly tonight. Let me know how it goes.

Serendipity said...

Damon, thank you for your comforting words and advice, and especially for your prayers. I have felt an amazing strength today. One of my co-workers (who I shared the saga with) said I was glowing.

As you might have read on Dichotomy's blog , I tried the "No More Goodbyes" thing without much luck.

Oh, well.

Tomorrow is another day with another adventure. (Hopefully no adventures quite this tiresome for a while.)