And so the conversation continued. I had delved into mysteries because Fran would not have accepted platitudes about faith. I could tell part of her wanted to know more while part of her was resisting having this conversation she had initiated.
6—About being a gay Mormon Fundamentalist
2—The conversation moved on to me choosing to remain a Mormon when I am gay and on the existence of God.
Fran: It’s unusual for people to hold on to a religion like this. Were you born a Mormon?
Me: No, I wasn’t. I did convert when I was 19. My family weren’t Mormons and never became Mormons. In fact they didn’t believe in anything. It’s something that has always been with me, though, and that they couldn’t comprehend. So, my experience of religion is very different from a lot of other people’s who were raised in a religious home. I didn’t feel trapped or forced to follow that path. Embracing religion—and this religion in particular—was like an act of rebellion. It was me defining myself, finding my own path. I came to it by my own volition. So, it’s always been a very personal thing to me. And it’s a most fundamental part of me. I think that’s why religion ranks far ahead of any allegiance I might have to the LGBT community—which has led to quite a few strained relationships and friendships.
Religion ranks far ahead of any allegiance I might have to the LGBT community—which has led to strained relationships and friendships.
Fran: Perhaps they couldn’t understand why you’d want to commit to some system that doesn’t accept you for who you are.
Me: If you told me you were in a toxic relationship or have a best friend who didn’t accept the real you, I’d tell you to reconsider. I’d tell you to put yourself first. So, I can accept people’s concerns and understand where the remonstrances come from. However, if I’m 100% gay, being gay doesn’t make 100% of who I am. Being a Mormon is who I am. This is as much the real me as my sexual orientation. Because it’s not something I chose. It’s something that I believe to be true with all my being. Everything I’ve studied over the last 25 years keep point me to Mormonism. When I first looked into it everything fell into place. It was a revelation—a religion that was cut for me. Not only did it answer many questions but it was an affirmation of everything I’d got to believe so far.
And it challenged me to accept things I’d never considered, like an embodied God, for example. But I knew it was the Truth. I had studied, I had pondered and I had prayed about it. I believe I received a personal revelation I can never deny. So, I have been a Mormon for 25 years and cannot walk away—even if at times it would make life much easier.
Fran: But how can you be convinced this is the one true religion? I know Muslims who are convinced their religion is the true one as well. You can’t all be right!
Me: Some people are born into a religion and never question it. Some people then decide religion is not for them. Some do come to the conclusion their religion is the Truth. We are only human and we cannot know the whole story. We all are of limited intelligence. God may reveal Himself to us but how do we interpret Him? How many text messages do we misinterpret? We cannot escape putting our own twist to things. I believe most religions have a part of God’s Truth. Some more than others. And as convinced as I am that Mormonism is the true religion I may be completely wrong. I can accept that.
I may be convinced but I am not closed-minded. My beliefs have evolved and keep evolving, thanks to new information and new experiences. You make room for the new information or you discard old beliefs and replace them with it. I don’t want to remain static. There is so much to learn! And that is a very Mormon approach.
At the same time the core of it all does not change. Like I am not the person I was 25 years ago but in some ways I am and will always be the same. So I remain a Mormon.
There is so much pain, so many disasters in this world. But it makes me uneasy when people hold God responsible.
Fran: I don’t believe there is a God. If there was a God why doesn’t he show himself? And why would he let all these bad things happen in the world?
Me: I can accept that I may be completely wrong. There may not be a God at all! Maybe after this life there is nothing. That’s why I would never insist on anyone believing the way I do.
All I can say is that the God I believe in is not a dictator. He’s not a puppet master. He lets us be. And that’s the God I want, not a God who’s going to hold me by the hand at all times, and force me to do things—even if there are good things. I want to be my own person and make my own choices. Besides, how can I show if I’m a good person if I’m not free to be bad? To me, it all comes down to Freedom—the most precious gift of God.
He didn’t force Adam and Eve to act as He dictated. He gave them rules, informed them of the consequences but then told them they were free to choose and He let them be. Yes, in the Bible He does manifest Himself and He appears in a pillar of fire and splits the sea. So why not intervening when we need Him the most? But in the Bible He also often retreats, not to be seen or heard. Because that is how faith is supposed to work. If God showed Himself at all times it would take away much of our agency and it would remove our ability to exercise faith and to be proved. Also, when we reject God He doesn’t force Himself on us.
I can appreciate that this divine set-up is far from being divine to us. I appreciate that it can lead to horrible situations. I guess that’s the price we pay for Freedom. The choices we make have repercussions—good and bad—on ourselves and on others. There is so much pain, so many disasters in this world. But it makes me uneasy when people hold God responsible. I was reading an article about Ethiopia last week. Starving innocent children in the 80s. But it wasn’t God who was responsible. It was Communism and the USSR. If God had intervened it would have gone against the Master Plan.
Those who say, “If there was a God He would not let this happen!” forget that the Bible gives us so many examples when He did “let this happen.” Adam and Eve saw one of their sons murder his own brother. God didn’t step in. He let the first generation go down that path. And He lost a son too. His own son—the best man that ever lived—was put on a cross, to suffer the most unfair and agonising death. In the Bible God let that happen. And He did because the blood of the Son of God had to be be shed. It was Eternal Law. Jesus had to submit to it. The Father had to submit to it. Or He would cease to be God. That sounds strange but, to Mormons, He would. God would fall.
So, we have the respect of Free Will given to mankind, we have God upholding Eternal Law, with the design to help us learn and progress, but there’s something else: we need to remember that all we see is the here and now whereas God has an eternal perspective. So the horrific torture and execution of His innocent son is what Jesus’s contemporaries saw while believers across the centuries see it as the touchstone and successful completion of the Saviour’s mission.
Fran: It is a gruesome and a very masculine way of seeing God and the world. I think I have a problem with the patriarchy. And Mormons have more than one wife, don’t they? And again, how does being gay fit in in all this?
To Be Continued