Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Holy Ghost

I've never been very good at seeking answers to prayers. When I pray to make a specific decision, I usually don't feel a confirmation one way or the other, so I end up telling God that I'm going to do such and such and to let me know somehow if that is the wrong thing to do.

But I do (or I did) know what the holy ghost feels like. I have had some strong spiritual experiences where I have felt like the spirit was testifying something to me, and I was just sure of it.

Such was the case two years ago when I prayed to reconcile my personal gut feeling on gay marriage with what the church teaches. It took a while, but the answer finally came loud and clear. I'm not sure how to explain this, but I didn't get the answer as to whether gay marriage is really okay in the eyes of God, but I did feel that it was His will that I support it so that I could truly understand and empathize with the struggles of gay members of the church.

And so I've stuck to that answer and cannot deny that it is truly what my Heavenly Father wanted me to feel.

But some individuals do not believe it is possible for me to have received that revelation. They believe that I have mistaken the answer somehow and that it must be coming instead from the adversary. One of the talks in a recent stake conference was on personal revelation, and the speaker emphasized the idea from Elder Oaks's recent talk in general conference that personal revelation cannot contradict what the leaders of the church are saying.

Today in relief society the lesson was on the holy ghost. The question was asked by the teacher, how do you know when you are feeling the holy ghost? I do not even attempt to voice my opinion in relief society any more. But especially on this subject I must take a back seat. I thought I knew what the holy ghost felt like, but if revelation I've received on gay issues is from Satan rather than from God, then I must have absolutely no idea what the holy ghost feels like or how to receive personal revelation.

So why even bother trying anymore? That's what I think. Everything I've ever felt or believed with all my heart to be true could just be a lie.

But I don't think it is. I'm pretty darn sure that God lives, that Christ lives and died for me, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Mormons is true.

But I am also sure of the position I am to take with regards to gay issues, and that I have a responsibility that I need to continue to pursue with the gay community.

And that makes church attendance and faith in the teachings of my leaders as hard as ever. I still wonder what the future will bring. Will I leave the church eventually? Will I come back in full force and truly "see the light" and believe every word? Or will I continue to stay agonizingly in the middle, unable to deny any of the things that I believe that the holy ghost has told me are true. Things that many believe are in direct conflict with each other.

No idea. But it makes me blah, that's for sure.

9 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

I wonder if your local leaders are more conservative than most. Many, many LDS people are not on board with Prop 8 and related issues and have not been censured.

For example, William Bradshaw (BYU biology professor) has a gay son and did campaign work against Prop 8 (the amazing interview with him at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YRF0Ep9lWE). Carol Lynn Pearson has great support from her local leaders. Both of these folks are, from what I can tell, 100% faithful LDS members. Neither has had run ins with their leaders.

We've also had anecdotal reports from Elder Holland to the effect that the Church requires no position on Prop 8 from its members. I just think your leaders just didn't get the memo.

Anyway, please know that many of us know what you're going through on this issue and admire you greatly. You are making a difference in people's lives.

Sarah said...

MohoH:

It's not that they have specifically told me I am deceived, it's just that they harp so much on following what the apostles and prophet says with exactness, without question, that I think they think I am deceived when I say I received personal revelation on the subject. For the record, I do not include my bishop with "them". He is awesome and I think he understands why I have the position I do.

BigRedHammer said...

Being in the middle is a difficult situation. The Church tells me that I can't be actively gay and have a testimony too. Gays at large tell me the same thing from the other side.

My heart tells me otherwise.

recover and thrive said...

those are some tough calls, and I realy hope that you never eventually leave the church, even though I know that it must be in the back of a lot of people's minds when they are questioning truth. I feel like as an individual daughter of God you know when he is speaking to you - you know when the holy ghost is really touching your heart..and really I believe it can be contradictory to gospel teachings - look at when Nephi was instructed to kill Laban -thats definately contradictory, yet in that moment that was his message from God. I know that in certain moments the Holy Ghost tells us what we need to hear so that we can progess the most at that moment or stage in our life - a stake president once told me to never forget that God does not lie - so if you felt the holy ghost - that was not a lie, it was truth for that moment particularlyy for you - at least thats my take on it...yay for personal prayer and revelation -nobody can take that away from us- except ourselves...

Romulus said...

I've had some issues with this as well. I felt like I had received an answer to my prayers about something, and that if I did a certain something, something else would happen. Well, I did the certain something, but the result didn't happen. People could babble on about how I'm not "righteous" anymore, but I really felt betrayed.

El Genio said...

"Will I leave the church eventually? Will I come back in full force and truly "see the light" and believe every word? Or will I continue to stay agonizingly in the middle..."

Or will the church finally correct its course, and align itself with so much of the individual revelations that gay members are receiving? I think it's only a matter of time, but that time may be based on the prayers and actions of many individuals.

Jeff in Colorado said...

Sarah,

I'm in a similar place as you with respect to this. My own personal revelation stands in contrast to what the leaders are saying. But, I remind myself, that even the leaders have been contradicting themselves on this subject.

You said: "...but I did feel that it was His will that I support it so that I could truly understand and empathize with the struggles of gay members of the church."

That line reminded me of a blog post that I think you will not only agree with but find very helpful. It has been for me. Here's the link:
http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/10/14/what-i-wish-i-had-said/

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I completely understand where you're coming from. I 'thought' I knew that I had confirmation by the Holy Ghost to marry my husband. In the time leading up to the wedding, things started getting weird. Still, had confirmation. Time and time again in the beginning I would ask. Still confirmation. I learned he was gay. Confirmation to stay for the time being. And then as things got worse I started to question if I actually hadn't ever felt the Holy Ghost, not once. Was it my own stubbornness and inability to see that it wasn't going to work out that kept me believing it was through revelation, I decided xyz? Then I would pray to know, and I'd have peace. I started to thing myself absolutely crazy. Towards the very end, I had a blessing from a counsellor in the stake presidency. I was in for a temple recommend interview. The day before I signed a lease on an apartment, I was leaving my ex- in a month. I don't remember what we were talking about, but it caused me to break down crying (probably could have been anything, really). He asked if he could give me a blessing. In the blessing it said that I should know that the Lord knows I've made every decision with him, and followed his counsel and he was pleased that I'd done so even though it didn't make sense. I really respect this guy, and believe in priesthood blessings, so I had to believe in what was said.

So yeah, I think there are cases where people need to be guided in a way that is against what seems "right" or "accepted" or "in line with broader teachings" (however you want to define those words, you know what I mean ...) in order to allow bigger things to happen. Reading your statement as to why you believe you had the personal revelation you did (to empathize, etc.), I have no doubt that it could be real.

Look at how many people follow your blog, straight spouses, gay people, and how you've helped them. You can't see it, but I know you've touched many many hearts and souls. And who knows how their lives have been changed, and what they've gone on and positively impacted as well.

Maybe I'm totally out-to-lunch, but your strength is a beacon to others. So don't doubt yourself.

Kim Nordyke said...

Sometimes I pray and get a non-traditional answer and then just pray He'll redirect me clearly if I need it. Sometimes that redirection comes, sometimes it doesn't.

Trust your heart. It knows goodness and peace.