A couple weeks ago, I re-read the scripture from Moses 1:18:
For the Lord called his people Zion, for they were of one heart, and one mind, and there were no poor among them.
For years, I had always interpreted this scripture as a description of a group’s
characteristics, but this most recent time, I was inspired to read it as the statement about the nature of the individuals within that group. In other words, the citizens of Zion were men and women who were whole: each individual’s heart was focused on a singular desire; each citizen’s mind was unified and complete. There was no internal division or struggle or turmoil. Each one was “one.”
Of course, this is obvious, right? I mean, aside from a Steve Martin 80s flick I saw as a youth, I’m pretty sure that a person only has one heart and one mind (see “All of Me” if interested). Yet, I also know from personal experience that my own heart and mind were divided for years.
This division is not uncommon, especially for latter-day saints who experience same-sex attraction. Part of their nature yearns for a gay relationship, and another part holds to the testimony of the prophets and the promises of the commandments. For much of my young adult life, I felt torn between these forces. I was not one, not whole. And I frequently dealt with a deep sadness since I could not resolve the schism within my heart. As Jesus warns, “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt 6:24). My use of various online monikers was an ironic representation of my split personality: I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted.
Gay members of the Church are not unique in this respect. All children of God are subject to the reality of temptation that confuses our hearts and our minds. Sexual attraction is one of many forces we experience in our mortal lives.
The people of Zion were not only aligned with God, and with one another, but their were internally aligned. They had found peace within their souls; they had resolved their conflicting desires; they had each become one. That one-ness comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He provides the example, the strength, and the wisdom we need to resolve our intrapersonal conflicts. As a disciple of Christ, we can work towards greater unity among our aspirations. It is the pursuit of countless spiritual students throughout time and across the globe whether they be disciples of Christ, or pupils of other spiritual guides such as Buddha. They all seek to become one within themselves so that they can become one with one another. That path to complete one-ness lies in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
When I was a missionary, I remember hearing the mission president refer to a local Church leader, a man whom the mission president admired, as transparent. He explained that by refering to this fellow as transparent, he hope to explain how this man’s hopes, intents, and thoughts were completely apparent to those around him. His honesty was so complete that there was no secrecy or deception in his actions. The intent of his words was so apparent that no one questioned his motives. This was a groundbreaking concept for me. Although, at the time, I still had not come to terms with my feelings of same sex attraction, I had spent numerous years keeping them a secret from everyone I knew. At that moment, I could not even fathom how I could ever reach such a point that I could be considered a transparent person.
In the years since, I have hear the concept of transparency discussed in slightly different ways. Some acquaintances in the LDS-SSA realm have used the term “authentic” to describe an ideal in which a person is true to his own feelings and experiences. However, I like the idea of transparency far more. It’s not just about being “true to oneself” in the pop-society sense of the phrase, but, rather, my understanding of transparency is a personal wholeness and peace that emanates from a humble, happy desire to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The world derides the term transparency and treats it as a failing: “Oh he’s so transparent. I could see right through him.” Such a statement suggests that a person is weak because others know, and can easily take advantage of, that person’s intentions. Yet, when we aspire to become disciples of Christ, making our intentions clear is not a weakness that can be exploited; it is a means to creating stability and peace in our relationships with others. People know who we are and what we live for. There is no need for deception or competition. Our one-ness serves as a catalyst for unity within our family and community.
It’s an ongoing journey. I’m still working at clearing off the opaque patches on my heart and in my mind. At this point, there may be more obscure parts than clear ones, but I’m making progress, and I think it’s beginning to make a huge difference, not only in my person happiness, but also in my ability to cooperate and love others.
And from now on, when I read that scripture in Moses, I will remind myself that in order for the people to be of one heart and one mind, all individuals needed to train their own hearts and minds to achieve internal unity in order for the shared unity to exist.