It's possible that all of my blog readers also read many of the blogs that I have posted links to at the left. I don't know if all of the blogs that I have linked to even exist any more, because I haven't read any of them for so long. I blame Facebook because there I get a fast overview of how most of my blog friends are doing all in one place.
But one of my links goes to the blog of a lady who I met in person for the first time at the Mormon stories conference in November. Our chance to visit with each other was short but meaningful as I found out who she was and how much my blog and journey had meant to her.
She has gone through quite the journey of her own the past few years, and though her life and goals have changed drastically, she has maintained her testimony and finds peace in continuing to attend church meetings.
Recently she went through the experience of a church court and excommunication. In preparation for the event, she wrote a letter to read at the court so that she would be able to say exactly what she wanted to say. The letter was so beautiful, so heartfelt, do courageous and honest, so touching, that I asked for her permission for me to share it here on my blog as well.
When I was informed a counsel was to be held concerning me, I spoke to others who have been through a similar experience due to similar actions. A common piece of advice, though importantly noted is that it was not the only piece of advice, was that I not attend this counsel as the end result would be the same regardless. Yet I want to sit before you, as your sister, someone you have known and loved for more than eight years. I could not allow this issue to be presented to you as an empty chair. It’s far more important, and far more personal, than that.
So here I sit before you because I have sexual relations with a woman. I have been having sexual intimacy with a woman since September of 2010 – 18 months ago – after ten years of consistent celibacy. This did not become counsel worthy until my current girlfriend, my second in this 18 months, happens to be married. We’ve been seeing each other for four months, and this relationship has become sexual. She is separated from her husband and is not yet divorced because they could not afford the fee to have the judge place his final stamp on the paperwork already under way. This is not a typical affair with a married woman as it is not in secret. In fact, not only is her husband completely aware of our relationship and the nature of it, but he is one of the biggest supporters of it. He has seen his wife, whom he loves deeply, struggle for 18 years, and sees her now finding happiness, joy, and fulfillment she could never accept from him. He celebrates and supports her happiness and fulfillment. So am I committing adultery? Maybe in part according to the dictionary. But would this outcome be any different if we waited until she is truly divorced, once the judge gives his final stamp? I’d still be having sexual relations with a woman. Because I do not have the luxury of waiting until she and I are married.
It would be so simple to make this an issue about sex, but I’m here, in part, to explain to you that it is much more than that. Many would like to make this an issue of selfishness, of base desires, of merely physical behaviors. Yet that is not what I seek in my relationships with others. I seek the same thing anyone else seeks: Love, companionship, connection, intimacy on a deep and spiritual level. And for some reason unknown to science and man, who will likely argue about cause forever more, I find these human needs met by women. Completely and utterly by women. Not because I desire to sin, not because I’m all about sex, not because I’m carnal and devilish. And absolutely not because I’m an abomination. Because that is how Sister Mack’s heart and soul work. After more than 25 years of trying to change it, modify it, manage it, and ignore it – through faith, prayer, fasting, temple attendance, and perfect obedience to every principle, through therapy, blessings, and support – all of the above and sheer will – nothing has changed what speaks to my heart and soul. Nothing has changed the fact that I feel compete, full, joyful, and yes, closer to the Lord and my true self, when I am having a close, complete, and intimate relationship with a woman. Though I never chose this, and find it utterly ridiculous to consider choosing such a difficult and dichotomous journey, I am gay, and despite my own best efforts and my greatest efforts in turning this over to the Lord, this isn’t changing. God is not removing my homosexuality from me.
The bishop asked when we last met if I thought I was somehow exempt from the laws of God. Tough question to answer because I in fact do not feel I am any more special than anyone else. In the least. And yet, that law of chastity, which applies to all of the Lord’s children, has a special part for me and the thousands like me who are homosexual. We are not required to wait until marriage like our straight brothers and sisters. We are asked to refrain for our entire lives. And not to only refrain from sexual contact, but the mere feelings. Read carefully and find that any homosexual behavior is an abomination. Any. I cannot flirt, date, hold hands, kiss. Because to do even the most basic of these human connection behaviors is not only a sin, but an abomination. So am I any different than my straight brothers and sisters? Absolutely. Am I more special? Given more tools? More strength? A ram in the thicket? Absolutely not. Yet, more is required of me. Of me, who has the same needs and desires, me who loves the Lord and the gospel. Am I exempt? No. Am I more special? No. And why then is more required of me? Perhaps just the very gravity of the difficulty need be considered. Perhaps just the utter impossibility of the position I am thus placed in need be truly considered. Because here I sit before you in a counsel and the outcome places me in a position of choosing my religion or choosing my need for human connection and meaningful relationship. Either decision leaves me with half a life. I cannot imagine my life without the full blessings of the gospel, living half a life. I cannot picture living my life once again impossibly celibate, empty, and deeply alone, living half a life.
When will these restrictions end for someone like me? When I choose to be empty and deeply alone? And when will that be okay with my soul? Will I then be free to participate in the gospel? When I’m unfulfilled and lonely? Because I don’t see that happening. Do you realize then that these restrictions placed on me are more or less permanent? I will never again take the sacrament, never again see the inside of a temple, never again serve the Lord in a calling. It’s not like you’re disciplining a straight person who can eventually marry the person they’re sinning with, keep having this amazing and sexual relationship, and suddenly be allowed back into full fellowship. From this seat it appears I will never have those blessings ever again. Because I have lived 45 years empty and lonely and I’m now making a choice for happiness and peace.
Yet the bishop said I need to be held accountable for my choices. I agree. Hold me accountable for my years of faithfulness, my faithfully fulfilling every calling that came my way, my intense and deep love of the Lord. Hold me accountable for obeying and applying each and every principle in my life – until recently excepting this one. Hold me accountable for sitting through a sacrament meeting where I am called a villain repeatedly from the pulpit and then staying with the church when so many leave. Hold me accountable for keeping my sensitive son active and returning when he hears in young mens that his mother is disgusting because she’s homosexual – and this from a respected and revered former bishop of this ward. Hold me accountable for teaching my children to love a church which does not accept me unless I ignore a huge part of who I am. Hold me accountable for encouraging my children to speak to their bishop about issues that may need some repenting, hoping and praying fervently that they are never treated the way I have been treated in the past. Hold me accountable for my living and breathing testimony of this gospel, which will never waiver, regardless of how I am treated, and regardless of the outcome of this counsel. Gays and lesbians are leaving this church in droves, feeling abused and rejected – because they indeed are abused and rejected. I continue and always will. Hold me accountable for that. And for the fact that I take my covenant and promise to not speak ill of the Lord’s anointed seriously, and I don’t and never will speak ill of this church or its leaders. Hold me accountable. And keep in mind that I am the one who came to you. I am the one who confessed my sins without being compelled to do so, because that is who I am. Hold me accountable. I am a good, honest, and deeply spiritual woman who loves the Lord with all my heart.
And yes, I mean spiritual. Last visit with the bishop he heard me share a spiritual experience with him and his response to me was, “You mean to tell me that you are committing adultery and having spiritual experiences?” as if to say I am now no longer granted spiritual experiences. I give a resounding “Absolutely” to the bishop’s question. This seems to fly in the face of what we’re taught all our lives. We sin, we lose the spirit. But I testify to you that I indeed feel the spirit, and often. I feel a burning in my bosom, I feel guided and directed in ways that are without question from the Lord. What does this mean? One of three things. 1) We’re taught wrong that sin will make the spirit depart. Doesn’t seem likely. 2) I am not committing sin, which I imagine you cannot accept. Or 3) the Lord is more merciful, kind, and loving to his gay and lesbian children in his gospel because he knows the impossible position in which we are placed. It’s that mercy, kindness, and love I pray you’ll be able to tap into. Perhaps I still feel the spirit because I am not making these choices because I am rebellious and proud. I am not being willfully disobedient, but merely so tired of my only path of righteousness leading to such emptiness.
You sit here before me with a decision to make. I’ve been called here because you fear I am falling away from the Lord and from His teachings. If that is indeed true, tell me the sense it makes to remove from me – likely permanently – the very tools I need to return to him, to stay close to him. If I am to remain close to him, I would likely need the sacrament, the priesthood, the temple, my garments, and opportunities to serve – in abundance. The Lord and Savior I love and cling to does not shun me and he does not push me away. Ever. He is ever near me, ever guiding me, ever loving me.
I love this gospel. I love the Lord. I love and know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was a prophet of God. I know President Monson is a true prophet of God. I love the priesthood, know it is the power of God, and I honor it. And nothing will change this knowledge or belief. Know that without question, regardless of the outcome of this counsel, I will continue, as I always have, to endeavor to live my life by what I understand my Savior’s will for me to be.
I say all of this to you in the name of my Lord, Savior, and Brother, Jesus Christ, who I know loves me and accepts me without question.
Amen, friend. Amen. God bless you. Thank you for letting your light shine and sharing your testimony and courage with the world.
6 days ago