02 November 2007

Iron-Clad Guarantee

a summary of my three favorite promises in all Mormondom

The Atonement Will Make You Straight.* And why not? Being gay is a sin. The Atonement cleanses sin from our lives. It makes sense. I just have to be faithful and diligent in my church responsibilities. If I ever fail I’ll be cast into hell so I better be as neurotic and vocal about my devotion as possible!

Marrying a Woman Will Make You Straight.* Not exactly
sure where this idea came from. My guess is Stake Presidents. Stake Presidents recommend marriage as the default solution to everything** so maybe it’s not a recommendation based on dangerous ignorance.

The Mission Will Make You Straight. A
unique promise because it’s not offered by the church but rather by young gay men to themselves. In a way it makes perfect sense: “If I dedicate two entire years of my life, a tithe on my very youth, in perfect service of God’s mighty work surely he’ll grant me this one thing.” And then, after two years of close, male-only contact and emotional bonding with companions who are usually nudists the gay teenager returns home a gay man. Disappointed and usually suicidal.

*It’s worth noting that, at this time, neither of the first two promises is officially offered. They’ve been replaced by: You’ll be Straight in the Next Life AKA You’ll be Straight Once You Finally Die.

**Gay? Get married! Depressed missionary? Get married! Tax evasion? Get Married!


good tune



Chedner said...

You’ll be Straight in the Next Life AKA You’ll be Straight Once You Finally Die.

Couple that with the current accompanying message, "And God wants you to be straight," and I think we know what we can finally do to please God!

playasinmar said...

I know! And don't forget we're not to do, say, nor associate with anything gay lest they have to see we're gay and nobody will know why we killed ourselves.

But as for the promise of "fixing" after death... I expanded a little on it on an older post.

Beck said...

As for the Atonement: I don't claim to know how it works, nor do I worry about it too much. Maybe I should, but I don't. I'm content to believe that we will be allowed to be who we want to be - for ultimately, the Lord seeks our happiness (joy). What that means is relative.

As for the marriage scene: I was told to marry, I was preached to marry, I was commanded to marry in my closing interview with my mission president. I was gay before I was married (though I didn't admit it to myself - even though anyone closely looking at my life could have figured it out, including my wife) and I got married. And I'm still gay. In fact, I feel more gay now than before. 26 years hasn't put a dent in it! But, though I'm not here to preach like my mission president, I must say that I do NOT regret marrying.

As for the mission: well, that's where it all started! The mission didn't cure me of being gay, it magnified my natural gay instincts. But, that's another story and this isn't my blog... :)

playasinmar said...

I think I speak for everyone when I say, "We want to hear that story, Beck."

Your comment makes me realize that this post is directed specifically to Mormon men who are aware they are gay.

As someone who found out only after years of marriage what promises did you come to find bizarre?

Mr. Fob said...

I have a friend whose bishop flat out promised him that if he served faithfully he would return home a straight man. Apparently he didn't serve faithfully.

playasinmar said...

Your friend is by no means alone in that experience.

J G-W said...

I don't know if anyone ever out-and-out promised me any of those things personally, though I certainly heard and read those beliefs expressed by church leaders, and I accepted them as part of my mental universe. And yes, I was a fervent believer in #1 and #3 for a long-time.

#2 just never made the least bit of sense to me, which is one reason I became suicidal when my BYU bishop told me I just needed to marry as soon as possible.

GeckoMan said...

I was a believer in 'promises' #1 and #2. I expected the payout to just happen, and when it didn't, I started looking for other explanations. Anyways, the journey has been good enough; I'm glad to have married, and the purposes of life have become satisfying for me, once I acknowledged that being gay was not synonymous being evil.

As for promise #3, no one ever told me about that (I joined the church at 18), and I was counting on my own family reward of my parent's conversion and me baptizing them when I got home. That didn't happen, either.

playasinmar said...

I don't believe the third promise was ever offered by the church. At least I've never come across an account of it being offered. I had never even heard of it until earlier this year.

It seems, however, that many gay young men hope for the mission itself to "fix" them. So maybe it's more of a bargain with God/demand of God than an actual promise.

Beck said...

Playa, some stories have to be told in person... I'm not sure I'm ready to write it down. But I will say that my mission was a crucial turning point in my life of finding out who I truly am attracted to. I promise to tell you when we finally meet, if you're still interested...

gentlefriend said...

I have probably lived longer than most of you and have been a member all my life. I have never heard or read of any LDS leader saying that the Atonement would cure SGA or that marriage or a mission were cures.

Where in the official literature of the Church are these found? I have read the Official Handbook for Church Leaders over the decades and it is not there. Another example of missinformation: I had a bishop tell me to never take off my garments during sex. Shortly thereafter I sat in a meeting with bishoprics where we were informed that that was not Church policy. The First Presidency had instructed to GA's to teach the local leaders not to give such counsel. I remember when some bishops were inquiring about oral sex and other practices of husbands and wives and again, the GA's instructed the bishops to keep their questions out of the marital bedroom. There was even a talk in General Conference Priesthood meeting where we were told not to ask "indelicate questions" in Temple interviews, etc.

My bishop, my stake president, and an Apostle knew of my SGA and no one promised me a cure. They just told me to live the gospel and sent me on my mission. (Beck, I guess sometime I should share what I learned on my mission about my feelings toward my brothers.)

Before my marriage I talked with my bishop about my SGA and he encouraged me to get married. I was able to talk to an Apostle about another matter and I brought up my SGA and he encouraged me to seek a wife. I have never regretted following their counsel.

Maybe I was lucky (or blessed) to not have any of the missinformation about SGA "cures" come my way. But if someone tries to tell me that I will sing, "It ain't necessarily so. The things you remember hearing from these members they ain't necessarily so." In fact I am a living example of their falsehood.

playasinmar said...

Gentlefriend, there isn't any official, official church doctrine that sets forth Promise One and Two. It's the made-up stuff (like no nudity during sex) that gay youth cling to because it's offered by their priesthood authorities.

As for "official" church doctrine... you really never read anything that said gay men just need faith in Christ and the Atonement to be cured? Just because it's not in the Standard Works doesn't mean it wasn't the church's operational theory for years and years.

And I've never said your straight-marriage is a bad idea. In fact, I've repeatedly said straight-marriage does work for some people.

MoHoHawaii said...

GF, The social benefits of passing as heterosexual can be substantial, especially inside orthodoxies like Mormonism. So I can see why a mixed-orientation marriage might be what a gay man seeks. On the other side, what possible benefit or advantage does a gay husband provide a woman over a straight husband?

As a parent I would never, ever advise my (heterosexual) daughter to marry anyone other than a fully heterosexual man who loved her in all the normal ways. Could you in good faith tell your own daughter otherwise?

Note that I have the utmost respect for you and am happy that you have been able to find comfort in your mixed-orientation marriage.

playasinmar said...

Well, I'm no expert but I'm sure there must be things a gay husband can provide a straight women.

Lack of sexual pressure might be one. As might a shared joy of life's more artistic hobbies.

MoHoHawaii said...

That may be, Playa, but seeing my bright and gregarious daughter face years of emotional distance and sexual rejection from her young husband is not something that I, as a parent, would want to witness.

If I appear strident, it is only because I have some first-hand knowledge of these problems and would do anything in my power to spare my daughter having to face them.

playasinmar said...

You'll get no argument from me, Hawaii. I just meant to illustrate there must be something a gay guy brings to a straight marriage.

gentlefriend said...

The thing that this guy brought to our mixed marrage is me. Not just my SGA, but it is certainly an important part of my whole being. It has influenced my emotional, social, and spiritual development. My wife and I both say that had we the chance to make the choice again, with all the challenges and adjustments, we would do it without question.

Hawaii, if I felt that my daughter could have what my wife and I have, I would recommend it. I have seen people in good and bad straight marriages and good and bad mixed marriages.

I agree that it takes a special chemistry to make it work, but that is true of all marriages.

You suggest that all the advantages go to the SGA husband. I think my wife got a few also.

playasinmar said...

I hope I don't sound combative saying this but would you share some of these advantages?

I'm trying to understand the dynamics of your type of marriage.

MoHoHawaii said...

I also want to make sure not to be at all combative on this point. It's great that your marriage is working. I have a lot of respect for you and the way you've been able to make things work.

I'm not one who believes we have to have the same opinions about every topic. My beliefs about the advisability of young people entering into sexually incompatible marriages are based on my own experience. Yours may differ and that's fine. I think the way I do because I've seen a tremendous amount of misery in a lot of lives from this issue.

gentlefriend said...

I, too, realize that there are unique challenges that mixed orientation marriages bring. I don't encourage couples to rush such a relationship. My message is that it can work for some couples. Or better said, some couples can make it work.

What are some of the advantages I see in our relationship? We knew from the beginning that this would be a challenge, but we were best of friends, we loved each other and decided to make it work. I have heard many straight couples say that sex is over rated. It is important, but there are more important variables. Our attraction (at least on my part) was not physical. I love her for who she is and how I am when I am with her. There is a trust in our relationship and a commitment to complete fidelity. My hunger for male intimacy sits unsatisfied on the back burner. Knowing that this is the only setting for sexual satisfaction we have we have tried to be creative and responsive to each other. At this point her hormones are shutting down and mine seem to be fully active, so I initiate most of our intimacy. In most instances we both are satisfied.

I don't know if I am responding to your questions, if not, ask more. I sense your respect and am not offended by your questions.

We hold hands in public, but seldom kiss or are physically affectionate. Even so we have people commenting on how much we love each other.

This has not been easy. I don't know what else to say.

playasinmar said...

I think you've spoken volumes, Gentlefriend. I think the most important thing you said (coincidentally also the thing I'm always saying) is, "some couples can make it work."

You're not pushing it as a catch-all for gay Mormons but offering it to the few it can work for. You are to be commended.