This is from a former mission president:
The phone rang late one night. My wife answered it and shook me with some urgency, something about one of the elders really needs you. Rising from the fog of sleep and forcing myself to pass into consciousness I mumbled a groggy hello.
“President, it’s over. I can’t I just can’t …… I think you need to send me home”, he nearly yelled into the phone. His despair quite apparent.
“What’s wrong elder, what has happened”, I was suddenly very much awake.
“President, I’m GAY ok? I’m GAY! I thought Heavenly Father would fix me if I was a good missionary. I’ve done everything I can, but it’s just getting worse. Why am I like this? What did I do? It’s not fair. I need to go home”.
“Elder, bring your companion and catch the early express train. It get’s here about 9:00 AM. I’ll send your comp with one of my AP’s and we’ll go have breakfast. Don’t worry elder, don’t panic, it will be ok”, I said.
He started to cry and agreed to meet me. He was a great missionary, one of my best., and a wonderful person. My heart ached, I never fell back into sleep that night.
Over breakfast in a quiet European sidewalk café he told me he’d known from a very early age that he had an attraction to the same sex. He’d never acted on it, in fact had gone out of his way to date young women, and yet there it was. Constantly gnawing at his desire, men catching his attention. We talked into the afternoon. I helped him to understand that this was not something he had chosen, Neither was it punishment for some sin. It simply is the way it is. He did have a choice though, His choice was whom or what would have his allegiance. He could be true to himself, or he could be true to his religion. I didn’t see how he could do both. Although Mormonism has made some progress, it has not arrived at the point of embracing it’s sexually active homosexual members. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. I didn’t at the time know which choice was best. Both choices seemed to have their pros and cons. He began to sob, his body convulsing.
I put my arms around him and held him until he regained his composure. I told him I loved him. I felt his tears soak through the fabric of my shirt and onto my shoulder, the tenseness of his body ridged with pain. He cried and with each tear he seemed to release years of pain, of hiding, of shame and self loathing. He’d endured a lot to cover his secret. Why? It made me angry that he or anyone should have to endure such meaningless anguish. It was then and there at that very moment that I finally and forever understood bigotry and it’s power to destroy.
What kinds of gods do people create, so often full of hatred, anger and bigotry? Members of the LDS faith were once persecuted, hated and driven from their homes, in part by other religious zealots repulsed by unconventional “marriages.” Now, come full circle, the once-bullied have joined themselves with the bullies in the voice of bigotry as they battle their boogeymen.
American youths and innocent civilians continue to die in an unjustifiable war. Greed leads to gas prices climbing into the stratosphere. Millions of innocents die of still uncured viruses. Religion- and ethnic-induced hatreds rage worldwide. Poverty runs amok and the poor starve. Yet when the Mormon God speaks, he speaks out against two people who love each other and want to express that love in a committed formal way.
I imagine a day will come when the LDS Church will regret lending its support to a failed president and a failed constitutional amendment that did nothing more than divide a nation and rally bigoted and frightened people to the ballot box. The attempt to amend the constitution of the United States failed, Utah and it’s Mormon theocracy would still march forward, reaching out to hate someone. Mormon legislators in the Utah State Government continue even today in the crusade against the rights and pursuit of happiness of those they fear and misunderstand.
There is a parallel with the way the LDS Church today marginalizes the gay community much as it once marginalized the black community. To previous generations of Mormons, blacks were descendants of Cain and less valiant in their pre-mortal days, a lower class. I wonder what future prophet will become enlightened as to the fact that all are equal in the eyes of a just creator? Who or whatever that may be.
All the time I hear LDS church members dismissing homosexuals as “perverts” who are just dealing with a temptation to sin in a specific way. The reasoning is that the “natural man is an enemy to God” and that homosexuals just need to conquer their natural desires, and everything will be fine.
Frankly, the idea that there are two “yous” inside of you, the good spirit and the evil “natural man” of the flesh, is one of the most pernicious teachings of Mormonism. This doctrine puts people at war with themselves and forces them to deny their true selves. As the writer puts it, “He could be true to himself, or he could be true to his religion.” That’s a really awful choice to have to make.
Thomas Monson has often repeated Polonius’ advice to Laertes in Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” But Polonius, obsequious hypocrite that he was, didn’t really mean it. And neither do the Mormons.