Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What do I Mean to You?

     I want to talk about something today, something that has been run through the news and media, been the topic of political decisions, had lots of attention in the courts, and been a subject of conversation among certain people, and it is the subject of same-sex (gay) marriage. I want to talk about it today because it has been ever present in the world around me, and today I've decided to take a different approach on it. This post will be controversial, this post will be direct and from my heart. I will do my best to be kind, careful, and aware of others' needs and feelings, but I can't make any promises.

     I wanted to write somewhat in the form of a letter. A letter addressed to everyone (as everyone is affected in some way by this topic) but most especially to people of authority over others, people who advocate or are on the fence about advocating for gay marriage, and anyone and everyone else it may concern.

     Dear sons and daughters of God,

     I have something on my mind I need to get out and explain from my own personal standpoint and experience. Over and over I hear gay marriage brought up all over the news, all over public and social forums and communities, and strewn over various other media and social situations and sources. It is something that, despite my stance on it, does still affect me greatly.

     How, you may ask? Or perhaps you know how. It affects me because whether you realize it or not, you have an influence on me, but even more important to know, you have a big influence and impact on every single person who hears about it, and especially those who deal with SSA or who know someone directly who deals with it. You may not realize it, but your decision to advocate for or against marriage equality may greatly affect someone's choice to advocate for it themselves, or even affect their life choices. Maybe your choices and actions were the driving hit that sank the wedge into their decision regarding it, for good or bad.

     Now do people still have free agency? Of course! And God recognizes that. Blame for another persons actions can not be pressed in full against you. Everyone, no matter who or in what circumstances, has free agency and will. However, outside forces, including and especially peers and authoritative figures can have a great impact on one's thoughts and choices.

     What I want you to know is that if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or even if you're not, and you advocate for marriage equality, you affect me, you hurt me. The sad thing is that many LDS advocators for marriage equality are in direct contact with someone who has SSA, and as a result, they have a strong influence on how said person thinks and feels. Again, I emphasize free agency, but there can always be influence to choice.

     One thing I've learned in life is that there is a difference between enabling love, and true love. Enabling love is when you care more about how someone feels about you, or how you perceive they will feel, than who they are as a person and what they actually deserve. It means you put the way they treat you above their own well-being. For example, I learned about this in my treatment center. There were drug addicts there who talked about their "friends" who would sell them drugs, and that in that way, their "friends" "loved" them. Selling drugs to an addict is not love, it is enabling them to pain, suffering, destruction, and in some cases death. If someone asked you to go against what you know to be right in order to show them that you "love" them, would you? Or would you realize your salvation, as well as theirs is more important than worldly respect or "love"?

     True love, on the other hand, means that you love someone enough that you put their well-being above all else. My parents, for example, loved me so much that they sent me to inpatient treatment. It was a very hard decision for them, and a very very hard thing for me, but my parents did it to keep me safe. They did it because even though I was very upset with them, they knew it would help me and save me.

     Christ is the ultimate example of true love and real friendship. True friends to not let you continue in bad behavior, they do not enable you. Christ does not enable anyone to make bad decisions. No, He does not take our free agency, but He shows us the way and teaches us to improve our lives and choices.

     Anyway, I'm getting a little off topic. Back to my letter. 

     I want to emphasize as well the devastating effect you can have if you aggressively and cruelly oppose gay marriage. I personally oppose it, and I myself have SSA. What I mean, however, are the people who dehumanize, demonize, and attack gays and lesbians because of it. I personally have been hurt by ignorant comments from people towards gays. Making fun of someone is never ok. Being cruel and needlessly angry and offensive/defensive is not a good choice either. Be cautious of your words and actions, but don't let caution override truth. Do not deny the truth in a moment of fear or pressure. 

     As is the story of Peter the apostle in Matthew 26, "69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came into him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out to the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for the speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crew, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."

     I know I have been guilty before of denying truth. Denying what God has given me, and my faith in Him because I feared the judgement of others. Luckily that isn't often the case for me anymore. I've been able to find confidence in standing as a witness of Christ and His teachings.

     I recognize that everyone has free agency, that what I say/write may have little to no affect on you or your choices and beliefs. What I hope to accomplish in this post is to open eyes to the affect you can have on others even if you don't realize it. We all have a responsibility to love those around us, not with enabling or conditional love, but with true and righteous love turning always to the Savior. Christ's law WILL NOT change, and allowing people to more freely break His eternal law is not right, is not love, and is not fair to those you influence. 

     True love; pointing others to truth and righteousness, is what we should be showing to everyone we come in contact with.

     I'm definitely far from perfect, but I'm trying to improve and learn. I'm trying each day to be more Christlike. 

     With love, prayers, and hope; a young son of God who hopes to influence others for better,

          -Mitchell C.

Just one more thing I want to note: while I appose gay marriage, I do not hate those who advocate for it, nor do I hate or show disrespect to people in same-sex relationships. I love them as fellow sons and daughters of God, and I mourn for them in their trials and pray that they may find happiness and truth.

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