There is a question with so many different answers: “Why am I attracted to the same sex?” Some find answers such as, “Because I’m gay. It’s the way God made me.” That may help them make sense of it all and reduce needless shame and self-blame.
Personally, I have found other answers with regard to same-sex attraction and “Why me?” Over the years, the answers have expanded in surprisingly glorious and Christlike ways. At this point in my life, I feel as though I have had such experiences that I may know how to succor certain people. I feel it has been a sacrifice I agreed to make premortally so that, in addition to helping with my own salvation and journey back Home, I would also be privileged to help others in a similar manner.
I do have a sense that “God made me that way.” By allowing me to experience same-sex attraction, He “made me” the type of person whose faith would be incredibly strengthened by sacrificing same sex relationships and by helping others who wish to do so.
It is a responsibility I hold sacred. I realize I am not always so good at it, but even as I seek to help, I find myself coming unto the Savior in more powerful ways. I suppose I should not be surprised to discover that my attempts at Christlike service help to make me more like Christ.
My same sex attraction and the Lord’s desire for me to be sealed to someone of the opposite sex for time and all eternity used to seem so dichotomous. Now, in retrospect, I see how those attractions have contributed so significantly to my spiritual growth and to my eternal marriage to a companion whom I dearly love. I cherish our relationship above all others, in addition to that of the Savior.
An Emphasis on Marriage and Family
I remember when it used to disturb me that there was so much emphasis on marriage and family within the LDS Church, especially when I was in lesbian relationships. when I left those relationships and returned to Church, the emphasis made more sense. Even though I was single and not attracted enough to men that I could marry one, I gained a strong testimony of its importance as I attended the temple on a regular basis. It was that very emphasis by the prophet and the apostles that helped to create a deep desire within me to marry a man and have a family—whether on earth or in heaven. I felt such desires long before I actually felt “attracted” to men. In other words, the desire was created spiritually within me before it was created temporally.
I know it doesn’t happen that way for everyone. A lack of desire for the opposite sex certainly does not mean someone isn’t trying hard enough. The Lord asks for our willingness and not always our ability. In my case, I provided the willingness and the Lord provided the ability.
I know that the emphasis on family and eternal marriage during this most recent conference was difficult for some people. I have felt that way in the past. However, this time I felt a surprising sense of strength, comfort and peace, rather than responding with resentment, criticism or doubt.
The last sentence of the North Star Values Statement is: “North Star testifies Jesus Christ has the power to reach and transform every life and every individual can find genuine peace and hope in the promises of His gospel.” Mission Statement
As we are obedient, as obedient as we can be at the time, the Lord transforms us in ways we may not expect. That does not mean marriage in this life is the only way a person can be truly obedient. Where we are currently in our journey is not nearly as important as the direction we are headed and whether or not we are doing all we can to be obedient.
Someone compulsively sexually acting out yet seeking to live the gospel, and working to improve, however fitfully and gradually, is welcome in North Star, so long as they can keep sexually appropriate with other North Star members. Whereas someone who isn’t acting out much at all, but seeking to justify what minor sins they have committed; or justifying their own disaffection by fault-finding with other members and Church leaders may be annoyed and frustrated by what we say and do at North Star.
The old argument, that I’ve heard for 30 years now and even used myself at one time, is that LDS people attracted to the same sex should at least be allowed to hold hands, kiss, everything “except for sex” just like members outside of marriage in heterosexual relationships. The HUGE difference between the two relationships is that one leads people away from the goal of eternal life while the other leads them toward it. Acting on same sex feelings in a romantic way, even though those may be the only attractions one has, is still a sin. Now, if a person has previously been sexual and is working their way out of those relationships, that’s a different story. Then it might be more of a “transitional” phase.
Is the heterosexual dating vs. homosexual dating thing fair? Of course not, from an earthly perspective. From an eternal perspective, all of the challenges we face in life are fair.
If the Church leaders’ emphasis on the importance of marriage between a man and a woman and the fact that the doctrine isn’t changing turns some people off to North Star because we support what the leaders say in General Conference, we regret the loss. Of course I hope they return. Or decide to live the gospel more fully. But for every person that gets turned off by our support of the prophet and Church leadership, I have no doubt there are several others who are able to strengthen their own resolve to turn away from same sex relationships. People may decide to let go of the hope that the Brethren will change their minds, and find hope in Christ instead.
I don’t think we do anyone any favors by promoting the talk of a “change in policy” when that is not the doctrine of the Church.
The Promise of Hope
I especially loved Elder Holland’s recent conference address about depression. I have suffered with depression much of my life—some of it was related to same sex attraction and there were other causes as well, including a chemical imbalance. It was refreshing to hear Elder Holland speak of a time when he was depressed too. I found great comfort in hearing an apostle of the Lord say that. He has some excellent advice:
“So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening: ‘That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.’ Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.” Holland
Confidence Waxing Strong As the prophet Joseph Smith stated in Lectures on Faith, one of the main components of faith is the knowledge that we are living the kind of life God wants us to live. I love that feeling, and it was further strengthened this past conference.
Having Church leaders remind us that the Lord does not want us to engage in inappropriate relationships also helps me rest assured that sacrificing lesbian relationships was one of the sacrifices the Lord truly required of me. I don’t have to worry that such a sacrifice would ever be for naught because God and his doctrines do not change.
“For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moroni 8:18)
I want everyone to come unto Christ. I want to come unto Christ in better ways today than I did yesterday. I say we can never go wrong, as a North Star organization, by following the counsel in General Conference. Otherwise, “to whom shall we go? [the Lord] hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)