Since I have begun to discuss being gay and Mormon publicly about two years ago, the question that I hear most often is, “Why do you stay with a church that does not allow you to be true to who you are?” When facing this question, and its many variations, I pause to consider who I am, both as a physical creation and a spiritual being. To understand how to reconcile the distinct pulls from each of these, I immerse myself in developing an understanding of God’s plan of happiness. This provides me a paradigm through which I can make sense of these seemingly competing instincts.
I have a testimony that I am not a creature of this earth only, but that I existed prior to birth, was known by my Heavenly Father, volunteered to come to earth to be tried, tested, and developed, and that I will not cease to exist when I die. I love the word of God found in holy scripture, how the Book of Mormon neatly ties into the Savior’s teachings in the Bible. I have read and re-read each of the standard works and felt the joy and peace that comes from God’s word. I understand that I’m not just a physical creation, not just an intellectual person, but an eternal son of God and a spiritual being. Each of these things informs me as each is a deliberate, purposeful part of this life. And while some find these sources contradictory, I find harmony and balance. I see my physical self through the eyes of my spiritual self. Thus, to the question of being true to myself, I must answer that with a fully integrated sense of self, not from a single dimension.
I continue to move along the path from discomfort and ambiguity of my youth to resolution and comfort in my understanding of God’s plan. I had long held the belief that I was outside of the reach of the atonement of Jesus Christ. My narrow view of this doctrine led me to believe that it was only there to offer a forgiveness of sin. While I had sincerely repented for the sins I had committed, I remained attracted to men. My pleadings with the Lord to remove this burden by way of the atonement did not lead to a removal as I envisioned it. Thus, the atonement didn’t work for me. So I thought. I have since learned that each condition of this mortal existence is here by design. Paul wrote to the Hebrews that “God provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without their sufferings they could not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:40, JST) To Joseph Smith He instructed, “…all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7)
Reconciling being gay and Mormon was a problem that I could not solve on my own. While my fallback strategy for problem-solving has always been logic-based, I couldn’t logic this one out. This has required me to go to the Lord and seek out His understanding and His will. I needed to move away from my questions, “why am I this way” and “will you please remove this from me?” He taught me to ask, “What would you have me do?” The atonement of Jesus Christ solves problems that seem otherwise unsolvable.
I feel comfort despite not having all of the answers. Again from Paul, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). I am here on this earth to gain experience, to be tried and tested to see if I’m willing to obey all of God’s commandments. If this is my trial, it’s also my blessing. Through this, the Lord has blessed me with an enormous capacity for love and patience in others and in me. Perhaps the greatest miracle in my life has been brought about because of the atonement of Christ: I experience comfort within myself, happiness and deep satisfaction in my marriage, joy in raising my children beside their mother, and peace that comes with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is being true to my whole self and why I stay true to Him.