Sunday, April 20, 2014

Gay Marriage

    I've been noticing again in my life people arguing from different fronts on the subject of "accepting" gay marriage, particularly in regards to "active, faithful" members of the Church. The majority of the arguments have been people stating that they can claim full loyalty to God and the Church, and support gay marriage, and in some cases, get married to a same-sex partner themselves. With this, and knowing that it's still a big issue in the world today, I thought I would go through and give my thoughts on it.

     First off, I want to point out that obviously I deal with same-sex attraction (I.O.W. , I'm gay), second I love all of  God's children, and while I do so imperfectly, I'm constantly striving to do better, and last but not least, I am an active member of the LDS Church. I'm doing this post so I can make sure all my readers know my stance clearly so there is no question. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have a testimony of the truth of the Church, the truth of the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, and the truth that there is a God and that Christ is the Savior of the world.
     As an expansion of my testimony, I believe all of Christ's teachings, and all of the teachings of His Church, and the words of the scriptures. I believe in the Church's teachings in regards to homosexual marriage, and I will stick to those morals. I believe in the Church's teachings on sexual relationships, and that they are meant only to be between husband and wife lawfully married, I believe in the law of chastity. I do not support gay marriage, nor will I ever. I know that Christ's true gospel is forever unchanging, and that if the Church is true, it cannot support gay marriage.
     I also know that all people are children of our Heavenly Father, and that He loves everyone equally, and beyond measure or comprehension. I know that God expects me to love His children as close to the degree that He does as I can. I've realized that love is not the way the world portrays it. The world portrays love as having to sacrifice personal morals, accepting, even enabling someone's behavior and/or choices, and not ever expecting someone to change themselves or seek help. I've realized that the most true form of love you can show to someone is to encourage them to get to know their Father in Heaven, even if that means disagreeing outrightly with choices and actions they make.     
     It honestly hurts me to see people I know and love support and push for legalization of gay marriage. It communicates to me that they do not care enough about my relationship with God, my testimony of the Church, and the wellbeing of myself and my spiritual brothers and sisters. To me, it is like they are fighting against one of the most important missions in my life, to educate and be the difference. It's not just gay marriage either, it's immoral music, profanity, pornography, masturbation, and other addictions, anything that has greatly affected my life that I now fight against. I guess the persecution drives me even more, to see the corruption and lies spread by Satan, and to see it accepted so readily by society gives me and even stronger drive to fight and be the difference.
     I know one argument in regards to legalization of gay marriage has been that the Church has changed it's stance on marriage before, so can't they change it again? The thing is that yes, God has instructed the church to alter marriage in the past as He saw it necessary. Yes, polygamy was practiced by the church for a time as God found it necessary. Polygamy was even practiced in the bible, so it's not like it's just the LDS Church. Polygamy is no longer practiced by the Church. Even with the changes in marriage, homosexuality was never ordained of God. The changes God made to marriage were still within the bonds of man and woman, heterosexual relationships.
     Some may argue that polygamy meant many wives, so wouldn't that have some form of homosexuality? No, it did not. The polygamous families who followed God's commandments never broke the laws of chastity. Wives were not involved with each other, and the husband slept with one wife at a time. Point is, God ordained polygamy when it was necessary, but never has God ordained any homosexual marriage or sexual intimacy.
     I don't have all the answers. I don't know all the mysteries of God. There are certain things that I deal with, and others deal with that I do not understand, nor understand God's exact purpose in allowing those struggles in people's lives. What I do know, however, is that God loves everyone. God gives us struggles to strengthen us if we choose to let it, and bring us closer to Him. God's laws are eternal. I know that gay marriage, and sexual intimacy in any relationship, save husband and wife lawfully married, is destructive, dangerous, and seen as sinful in God's eyes. I love my Heavenly Father, and I love my brothers and sisters and want the best for them.
     I have learned through personal experience that living contrary to God's commandments may bring temporary happiness and fulfillment but in the end leave you dry and yearning for something more, having not experienced true joy, whereas living according to God's commandments, keeping Him in your life, though it will be challenging at times, will bring long-term, happiness, joy, and complete fulfillment. The true gospel of Christ is for everyone, young, old, white, black, heterosexual, homosexual, addict, sinner, saint, crippled, able, broken, whole, Christ performed the atonement for everyone, and turned no one away. Yet, while Christ loves and accepts all His children, He states "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;" (D&C 1:31). God has defined sin, has defined what draws us from Him, and when we are in the midst of sin, God cannot fully abide with us.
     Even with the truth that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, He follows up by saying "32. Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; 33. And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts." (D&C 1:32-33). Christ performed the atonement because God knew we would all sin, we would all male mistakes, and because He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, He gave us the atonement so we could repent and so that He could make the difference for us when we fall short, it's just our responsibility to do our best, trust in Him, love Him and our fellow beings, and follow all of His commandments.
     God is amazing, and I will follow Him to the end of my days even when the road gets hard. I will suffer persecutions if necessary, endure opposition, but I will stand for what I know regardless of the push of the world. God gives us commandments not to make us miserable, but because He knows what is best for us. It will not always be easy, but following Him will bring the greatest happiness and joy. Love you all!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Held In His Arms...

     It has been a while since I've posted, yet it feels like it has been forever. Life has been throwing me around in all different directions. Just last week, I was struggling with my faith and testimony so much I thought I would leave the Church, or at least stop going. This Sunday at Church, my ward had a lesson during priesthood and relief society (it was combined) that I felt was inappropriate for as a full block meeting, and so I said something during that meeting. Sharing my addictions and SSA was part of what I said in objection to the topic being taught, and my bishop waived my concerns, accompanied by sneers and hand gestures of distaste from my fellow ward members. I felt extremely unwelcomed in my own ward, and wanted nothing more than to leave the class right then, but didn't. Instead I waited until Church was through and left as promptly as I could feeling hurt and disrespected.
     I realized I hadn't been praying at all for almost 2 weeks straight, and I wasn't reading my scriptures either. I had a few relapses with my addictions, my depression hit hard, death seemed to be a constant topic of my thoughts, and meaning in life was minimal. Any potential love I could have felt for myself was completely void. My contact with God had practically ceased, and in my loneliness and hurt, I became angry and frustrated with God believing He had left me, and that it was His fault I was struggling. This only fed my separation from Him further, resulting in me pushing Him out of my life, while still ignorantly questioning why He was letting life become so hard and why I felt so abandoned.
      Then, a blessing God sent me over half a year ago who has been my best friend reminded me that God loved me, and that if I was going to be happy again, I'd need to let Him back into my life. I made a resolve earlier this week to get myself on my knees to pray to God, to read my scriptures, and to listen for that still small voice. It hasn't been easy by any means, and it has only been a couple days, but I can already see a difference.
     I've also decided to start a gratitude journal which, unlike the majority of my writing, will be for my eyes only unless I feel the need to share it with someone. I will share a few things that I am most thankful for. My best friend who has been by my side through some of the worst moments of my life, listened to my deepest heartaches, known of my biggest regrets, and through it all has loved me more than I thought any human could and has constantly turned me to God. My family, who I have constantly hurt and pushed away, yet they help me as I am trying to figure out life, and love me and invite me home to be with them even when I make mistakes. The pets I've had, both here and passed, and the impact they've had. A Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly, and forgives me even when I knowingly disobey Him, completely betray Him, and push Him away; who holds me and tells me He loves me even if sometimes I can't hear or feel. For the unique gifts God has given me, and the people in my life.
     I've realized that my favorite feeling in the entire world is being held by someone I love, to feel a close connection, not just physically, but spiritually, socially, and emotionally. When someone I love gives me a real, loving hug, runs their hands through my hair, rubs my shoulders, shows me affection, that's when I feel the best. Through the people in my life who love me, I am constantly reminded of the even more powerful and true love God has for me. Sometimes I look at the American culture and see how much it has misconstrued affection, particularly for men, and it saddens me to know most people in the US may never experience true and loving affection, but at the same time, in my case, it makes me even more thankful for the people in my life willing to disregard incorrect social norms and show me physical affection.
     It will definitely still be a journey to come close to God again, and to find true happiness, direction, success, and fulfilment in this life, but I know I can attain it because of my Savior Jesus Christ who loves me, forgives me, and atoned for me. I love God, I love the blessings He has given me, and I love the people He has put in my life. Life has a funny way to throw me into the deepest pits, chain me in the cruelest dungeons, and break me in a million ways, but God always shows me the way to climb back up again, break free of my bonds, see the sweet in the bitter, and help me attain true happiness. I know I've felt great happiness this week as I've turned back to Him. And when I am held in His arms, there is nothing I can't do.
     If anyone is struggling, if anyone reading this feels like there is no hope, that you don't know where you're going in life, you don't know how you can make it another day, or maybe you just don't feel as close to God as you would like, I promise you there is hope. I promise there is a God who loves you, and I promise no matter what you decide, no matter what you've done, He will always love you, and always want you back home with Him.