Sunday, August 14, 2011


Separation has been good to us. Scott and I have both grown and found happiness in so many ways by increasing the distance between us. Last night we went to dinner to celebrate our upcoming 16th wedding anniversary. It was pleasant as we enjoyed a wonderful meal together, chit chatting about miscellaneous things as well as updating each other on how our lives are going, especially on how everything is going financially as we have been working on getting new, separate accounts and dividing debts and bills.

I know that a lot of outside people looking in feel bad for me. Many of them blame Scott, from mild disappointment to outright "he is consumed by evil spirits" judgement. But the hard part has not been the change in my relationship with Scott--most of that actually happened last summer when he moved downstairs. (Our 15th anniversary was much more difficult for me than our 16th will be.) The hardest part is the change that has come over the past year with extended family. I gave the book "Gay Mormons?" to all of our siblings and to our parents for mother's day. One of my siblings (and spouse) told my parents that they did not plan to read it at all. That spurred on a conversation between them and me that ended with me saying that I didn't want to talk until they were willing to read and learn and talk about the elephant in the room. Things have obviously been very quiet and awkward between us ever since. Meanwhile, in Scott's family, some family members that were accepting at first have become unacceptable, some that have been quiet have remained quiet, and some that were making great efforts have now hit an impassible brick wall.

What is the impassible brick wall? Church "doctrine". Doctrines like the word of wisdom and the family proclamation, "scriptural" quotes like "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God." For a year or a bit more, since Scott started dating guys and drinking occasionally, he has been very uncomfortable hanging out around his family. They have treated him nicely and made every effort to appreciate and include him, so they don't understand why it isn't enough.

Two or three weeks ago he wrote them a letter telling them that he is done associating with them unless they are willing and able to make changes to how they act and feel about our situation. The straw that broke the camel's back was his brother's unwillingness to tell his daughters (ages 10 and 13) about "Uncle Scott". There was a family BBQ while this brother and his family were in town, and Scott refused to attend. I expressed to my in-laws that I did not want to have to answer everyone's "Where is Scott?" question. So the brother sat down with his girls and told them that Scott and I are separated and getting divorced, to which the girls asked why, and the parents lied and said, "We don't know exactly. Things like this happen sometimes."

Scott was livid, and thus he wrote a letter. (Maybe I will get his permission to post it, or ask him to put it on his blog.) He and I talked about it again last night over dinner, because I have been with his family enough to know how much they are hurting from missing him, and how helpless they feel. They are at such a loss for how to handle it and what to do. I've told them a lot of things about how Scott is feeling, but I really don't know how to help if they are convinced that the church is never wrong. And part of me wishes that he could just let their disappointment roll off his back and continue to associate with them anyway.

But he helped me last night to understand. I am not him and cannot personally feel the pain he is feeling, but if he says distance from his family is a necessity for him, how can I judge that? His comment to me about it last night was, "Until they agree that the church is wrong with the gay issue, I cannot be around them, because regardless of how much they say they love me, there will always be a "but..."

I still feel like church is the place for me to be. I have good friends there. I have opportunities to learn and grow from interactions (and help others to do the same.) But of course my feelings for the church and my place within it are up and down, and I have realized that there is no way I can predict where my church attendance and membership will end up. I sit through the lessons, occasionally touched by a sentence or a feeling here or there, but trying not to be hurt or offended by things that could easily hurt me, like the last few lessons on eternal marriage. (One of the teachers said she couldn't get me out of her mind while preparing her lesson and hoped that she had been able to teach it without it being too hard on me. The worst part was realizing that when she said "some of us marry goobers" that she was thinking of Scott as a "goober." I do not blame her for her good intentions, but I do get tired of people making Scott out to be the "bad guy.")

So there I was today, doing my best to recognize that the correlated lesson material comes from the church, quotes from church leaders etc., in which many members place their unquestioning faith. The lesson today was on the law of chastity, and the following quote was read:
Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual behavior is a serious sin. Latter-day prophets have spoken about the dangers of homosexual behavior and about the Church’s concern for people who may have such inclinations. President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“In the first place, we believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.
“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).
So, sitting through that bunk was hard enough, but then the first words out of the teacher's mouth after the quote was read was something having to do with following the prophet.

I got up and walked out. I was calm. But I knew if I stayed, I wouldn't stay calm, and I would either turn into a pile of mush, or I would say what was on my mind. Either option would not be pretty or appropriate for the meeting. Walking out was the better option. The Relief Society president followed me. She tried to hug me and said she was sorry that the lesson was hard on me. I responded that I could not deny support of my gay friends to marry. She shrugged and said something about church doctrine or teachings or something. I told her I was alright and just had to leave the situation for a bit. Then I left her and went outside and took a walk around the building. Then I came inside and took another walk around the inside air-conditioned building. I needed/wanted to go back, but I had to get it out of my system first. Should I call Scott? No... I know! I will post it on Facebook. That way people in the ward will even see it. Family will see it. And they will see where my loyalties lie: with love, with God, and with my friends.

Here is my post:
"I have to say what I couldn't say in Relief Society. (Instead I walked out.) In my heart I know that my gay friends' marriages are approved by God. I've been in attendance at them and the feeling of happiness and hope was similar to attending a temple marriage. I don't give a sh* what the effin prophets say."

With that post and resulting accolades from LGBTQ friends and allies, I was reminded of three years ago when my struggle was to understand God's position on gay rights. I kept praying and praying, and the answer finally came from my patriarchal blessing: "You have been given the talent to believe and accept truth." As I think of that again today, I feel confidently that God was and is telling me to trust my heart. If I believe that he approves of gay marriage, and I accept that belief, and I have a talent for accepting truth, then logically it must be truth.

I'm not sure this fits in this blog post, but another thing that occurred to me recently is that maybe leaders and general conference talks are pushing the topic of "Following the prophet. Follow your inspired leaders." because someday many church members may have a hard time following and agreeing with new church policies regarding homosexuals. Who knows? :)


Anonymous said...

"Following the prophet. Follow your inspired leaders." because someday many church members may have a hard time following and agreeing with new church policies regarding homosexuals. Who knows? :)

This was an interesting idea. I do fully agree with what the LDS Church teaches regarding homosexual behavior, i.e., it's a sin but you should still love all people. However, in response to your above quote, I'd have to say that if President Monson came out in the next Conference and said that gay marriage was suddenly approved by the Lord, I think what I'd feel is a bit of relief. It is becoming increasingly difficult to actually stand for something anymore, as more and more people - and even churches - are caving to what I believe to be a form of peer pressure, to deny that homosexual behavior is sinful. I don't think it's going to get any easier in the future. But if the Church were to change course and say gay marriage was OK, I think that would make being a Mormon easier. Of course, it's not about what's easy, but what is right. But my point is that I don't think Mormons are hateful towards so-called gays. Rather, I think we just believe that homosexual behavior is wrong, regardless of who engages in it.


Ryan said...

Also, it always strikes me as interesting when someone says that they have a brother, friend, etc., who engages in homosexual behavior and they love their brother, friend, etc., who they know to be a good person, so they believe homosexual behavior is not wrong and are in favor of gay marriage. It seems to suggest that because someone we love engages in a particular behavior, that behavior can't be sinful. One example was Steve Young's wife's comments about her brother during the Prop 8 debate. And your comments seemed to echo that idea, unless I'm misunderstanding them. This is an interesting concept because (1) you don't really ever hear people applying this type of logic to other behaviors considered sinful and (2) of course God loves all His children, yet denounces their sinful behaviors for what they are: sinful. And of course who loves more than God? So, it seems interesting to me to suggest that if we love the person engaging in the behavior then we can't think that the behavior is wrong. Please don't take this as criticism. Just an observation about which I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

This is all so complicated! This is the way I look at it. First, I think that if one wants to believe in God, then sex outside of marriage is a sin. Some may want to argue that point, but most Christian religions believe that marriage is the only appropriate place for sex. The problem is that by and large society doesn't give homosexuals the option of marriage. Since that is taken off the plate of living a chaste life, most gays express their sexuality outside the bonds of marriage. It's almost like we force people to sin, since we aren't giving them even the option of marriage. Some might say, "well, just don't have sex," to which I say, "you try it!"

This coming from a man with 5 kids who once lived in a gay relationship and is now married to a straight spouse. Crazy strange I know.

ChristyLove said...

For the sake of giving credit where it's due, I came across your blog today by way of "Ooh, that looks like an interesting link," *Click* *Repeat*, and the initial blog I started with is mormonchildbride(dot)blogspot(dot)com.

Okay, with that out of the way:

I don't want this to seem offensive, but I'm not really great at remaining PC while expressing what I'm thinking, so I sincerely apologize if this is rude in any way:

You may not want my admiration, but you have it. I'd like to think I would be a safe place for my husband to confide something so deep about his very soul to me, but I don't really know that I could act in love and grace towards him if it meant losing him as my life-mate. I would think being Mormon (because I'm not) it would feel worse, believing you're losing that whole eternal-life-together aspect? I try to picture not having Husband in my everyday, and I utterly fail.

I feel like I'm learning from your blog, so please never shut it down. :)

mandi said...

It makes me sad for Scott AND his family that they are at such an impasse. I've been following Kendall Wilcox's Empathy First Initiative (facebook and website) and love his philosophy and motivation. Until we can interact with empathy for others, loving without equivocation, we will not be able to fully feel the Spirit and thus, pure joy, in life. It is unfortunate that Scott is unwilling to extend to his family what he is demanding of them: unconditional love and acceptance regardless of their choices and feelings and treatment of/about him.
That is a really difficult choice to make: to forgive and move on and basically ignore the negative. But isn't that what Christ is asking of us? Isn't that really the point of our life here? Isn't that what we need to learn to be able to abide with Him again? To love regardless.
Hugs and love to you.

Scott N said...

It is unfortunate that Scott is unwilling to extend to his family what he is demanding of them: unconditional love and acceptance regardless of their choices and feelings and treatment of/about him.

What does this mean?

Of course I love my family (and I do honestly believe that they love me too). And I acknowledge and even celebrate their right to believe what they choose to believe—even when those beliefs directly impact their attitude or behavior toward me.

...But do unconditional love and acceptance obligate me to put myself in situations that are emotionally damaging? Or is it possible that it's sometimes better to love and accept from afar?

If emulation of Jesus is the point, then I see nothing wrong with calling people out when they're doing something that I believe is wrong, and disassociating myself from those whose attitudes and behaviors are harmful to me. Jesus didn't spend all of his time with the people who desired his death—he interacted with them when he had to, and called them to task for their hypocrisy and judgmentalism, and then spent most of his time with those who accepted him for who he was.