In Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 8, there is an iron rod along a strait and narrow path that leads to the tree of life. Along the path there is a river, and on the other side of the river there is a great and spacious building. The iron rod is enshrouded in a mist of darkness. Lehi sees individuals who lose their way in the mist of darkness. Some of them drown in the river, and some of them make it to the great and spacious building. Others, who hold tight to the iron rod, make it through the mist of darkness and reach the tree of life. Those in the great and spacious building point fingers and mock and scorn those partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. Some who have partaken of the fruit feel ashamed due to the mocking and scorn, and fall away and are lost.
|Lehi's Dream, by Greg Olsen|
Just yesterday, a prominent voice in the gay Mormon community announced a significant change in their life and testimony. This individual was in a mixed-orientation marriage (meaning a marriage where spouses have different sexual orientations, such as a gay man married to a straight woman) that they decided to end. This normally wouldn't be much of an issue to me, aside from feeling genuinely sorry for them and those that their decision will affect. However, in the process of them announcing their decision for divorce, they also made very generalized and erroneous claims, and accused the church's stance on LGBT issues of literally killing people.
In their post, they claimed that because their marriage failed, all other mixed-orientation marriages were doomed to fail. That’s simply a logical fallacy. It would be like me claiming that, as a native English speaker, because I failed a Spanish class in high school, that everyone else who is a native English speaker will also fail that same class. I feel this claim is particularly assumptive as I know people within the gay Mormon community who have happy and loving mixed-orientation marriages. I also feel it’s dangerous and unnecessarily damaging to potential marriages in the future. For example, while I don’t currently see marriage being an option for me, if one day I honestly fall in love with a woman and want to marry, if she were to do a Google search about marrying a gay Mormon man, and she happened upon that post, would she reconsider or have serious doubts that would change her mind about potentially marrying me?
The individual who wrote the post has a very large following, and is well-known and quite influential. For this reason, I honestly fear for those who may be negatively affected or led astray due to this individual’s choice and decision to turn against the church. And it’s not just those who are LGBT members of the church. I have already seen others who have been influenced and swayed by this post, and by other factors. Members who I wish were my allies, who I wish supported me and believed the doctrines of the church they are members of, turning against the church because of the scorn and mocking from the great and spacious building.
It seems that when someone falls away from the iron rod, they have a good chance of taking others down with them. Especially when this is someone with influence and a large following. It makes it particularly damaging and confusing when they pull others away in the confusion of large issues such as LGBT matters. There are so many opposing voices on this topic, so many black and whites, so many shades of grey, that it can honestly be hard sometimes to decipher what is true and what is not. And that’s part of what makes this such a powerful topic, both for good and evil. I have found incredible strength in my testimony by pushing through the difficulties that come along with being a faithful member of the church while also being attracted to the same sex. And there are definitely difficulties. And then there are others who have been lost in the mists of darkness due to the complexities and difficulties surrounding this issue.
I will be honest, sometimes it is difficult to not occasionally feel ashamed or confused when the voices from the great and spacious building are so loud and disparaging. Sometimes I do wonder if it would be easier or better to just go join the masses. But then I remember why I’m here. Why I keep going. Why I am pushing forward despite the difficulty and pain that I go through. I keep going because I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. I’m here because I have worth that I can’t comprehend, and potential that I can’t currently realize. I’m pushing forward because I have a brother who loved me enough to pay for my sins, and die for me that I can live again. I’m here because I have a Heavenly Father who created this world, and put forth a plan wherein I can return to be with Him and with those that I love for eternity. I’m going on because God is loving, God is just, and God is merciful.
Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can honestly be incredibly difficult sometimes. I get lost in the complexities of life, and recently I’ve been realizing that it can be really good to return to the small and simple things. There’s a song that I like called “I Wanna Go Back” by David Dunn that has really touched me recently. Part of the lyrics are “I wanna go back to Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. I wanna go back to this little light gonna let it shine. I wanna go back.” I have been so lost in some of the complexities that I’ve been forgetting some of the simple things. Forgetting that Jesus loves me, forgetting to pray and read the scriptures, forgetting why I have a testimony. But recently I’ve been going back. Going back to believing that Jesus loves me, and there is a plan for me. And that’s what matters.
If you’re holding on to the iron rod, don’t let go. Those in the great and spacious building will continue to scoff, mock, and scorn. Difficulties will arise, things will be tough. But hold on. I believe that Jesus loves me. I believe that I have a place in the gospel. I believe that I can live a full life following the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I believe that God’s plan is possible for all of His children, that He loves all of them, and that there is a way back through Christ’s atonement. And I will keep holding to the iron rod and I'll press forward with faith.