As a child, when I would wish to bare my testimony, my Mother or Father would kneel by my side at the podium at church and tell me what to say and I would repeat after them, “I’d like to bare my testimony, I know this church is true …” and it would continue from there. As I have lived my life, that has been the basis for my testimony. Serving two years proclaiming to the state of Michigan that I knew this church to be true was one of the greatest times of my life and I sit here as a 27 year old man, humbling myself as I clarify that I no longer believe that everything that goes on in the Mormon church to be true. Allow me, if you will, to bare my new testimony.
In my first blog post, I express that I knew from the beginning that there was something different with me. Even before the age of 8 I knew that I found boys cuter than girls and even though I didn’t know what the term “gay” meant, I felt I needed to keep that part of me a secret. I met with my bishop when I turned 8 years old and I prepared myself for baptism, as the majority of children do in the church when they come of age. My father is an amazing man and he would sit me down in our family room on our plaid couch with the television on mute (because there was always a game on) and he would ask me about Joseph Smith. He would take me into our front yard and teach me how to hold onto his arm as he would practice dunking me in the baptismal font. In the church, it is very apparent how “not okay” it is to be gay. You are suppose to grow up, get married to a woman, and have babies to multiply and replenish the earth. So naturally, when it came time for me to go through the temple before my mission, I continued with suppressing the truth and I
(for lack of a better term) lied in order to receive those blessings of the temple and to serve a mission.
Though my time spent lying about my sexuality has fortunately come to an end, I am still faced with a variety of matters that I often feel the need to bite my tongue with (I know it’s hard to think I bite my tongue .. but even I have my moments). When I came out, and even to this day, I have people tell me that they support me BUT they wouldn’t vote for me to have equal rights or they support me BUT they don’t think i should raise a family or that I should be able to get married. Allow me to say that if you support me, you support me getting married, having a family and you support my hypothetical children that I may or may not be having. If you support me, you understand that I deserve love and I deserve all the same rights that you and your spouse deserve. If you support me, you also agree that my hypothetical children deserve all the same blessings and experiences that your children will be able to partake in. If you do not support these things, please do not tell me that you support me for few things will boil my blood quicker.
With the news that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has decided to publish in it’s handbooks that anyone in a same-sex relationship is an apostate and that their posterity, whether adopted or biological, are not allowed the opportunity to be given a name and a blessing upon birth or to be baptized until the age of 18 (and only after disavowing their parents), I find myself at a substantial loss of understanding. Some have argued that this law has been around for years due to polygamist children and this is nothing new. My argument back is that the church’s own 2nd Article of Faith states that “Men shall be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.” Why would any child not be given an opportunity to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost simply because of their parents? The age of 8 is when a person becomes accountable, not when their parents “choices” are put on the chopping block.
I would never wish ill-will towards another person's child. I have supported my sister’s and their children as much as I possibly can and to think that someone would not do the same for me breaks my heart. Would my children (again hypothetical) be lesser than yours? I have heard many state that it is unfair to ask an 8 year old to understand the significance of having to disavow their family at such an early state. However, I recently asked an 8 year old if they even knew who Joseph Smith was the day before their baptism and they had no idea who I was talking about. Perhaps we should be questioning what all of these 8 year olds are aware of because quite frankly - they are taking on a covenant and let’s all agree that hardly any child or adult for that matter understands the full significance of a covenant with the Lord. Another question that baffles me is why would my child have to disavow me in order to receive the blessings of the church but my temple attending family members do not have to disavow me in order to keep their recommends? This particular point leads me to feel that the current leaders of this church are simply in fear that children growing up in LGBT homes may find “gay love” to be normal and one day when these children become the leaders of this church, laws and ordinances may change because they do not see the problem. I do not hesitate when I say that it is so very apparent how fearful the leaders of this church are in regards to the LGBT community and how they have such a lack of understanding towards them. Anyone who feels that the church is accepting needs to take a serious look at the issue.
I had always thought that when I have children of my own, I would want them to know the doctrine of the church. I would teach them myself or I would even suck up my pride and take them to church so that they may have those blessings. I am not even a parent and I can testify that once you have children, your life is no longer your own and you must do things and make sacrifices for your children. After this past weekend, I now would no longer take my children to church after what has taken place. What would the purpose be if they are not able to receive the blessings that were once bestowed upon me? I fear how many blind sheep are listening to the leaders of the church and just going along with this decision. When I was preparing for my mission, I remember my bishop telling me that I would obey my Mission President without question, even if he told me to go stand on my head in the corner. I disagreed immediately - for was this church not restored through Joseph Smith questioning his local leaders and asking God himself for truth? Is this church not founded upon personal revelation and seeking wisdom for one’s own soul? I recently heard a comedian who joked that Christians (in this particular joke he is referencing Mormons) should stop caring so much about what is “law of the land” vs. what is okay by the church and just let “the Gays” do their thing because even if we are given the same blessings in the church - we (the gays) aren’t getting in through those pearly white gates so you all get the last laugh. I found this humorous and actually thought it was a good point. Why do so many have such strong opinions against gays having rights? I have never for the life of me seen why anyone should not be treated equal no matter their skin color or their sexuality. All this is doing is giving me a big head that MY life impacts all of yours to such an extent. (Joke)
I bare my newly ‘updated’ testimony that I know my Father in Heaven loves me and is so aware of who I am. He did not make a mistake by making me gay and He knows I did not “choose” to be gay as well. He knows of the life I live and that I continue to strive to be a better man each day. I know that the Atonement of Christ covers all of our Father’s children and not just the straight people’s kids. As my own father sought to take me under his wing and teach me of the gospel of Christ, I know that I would do so with my own children. I know that my Savior died for my sins and that the price he paid was not only for those that believe in the LDS church but for all of God’s children, no matter what they believe. The atonement is not something to take lightly and I am so grateful for what Jesus Christ did for me on that cross. I know that whatever happens to me on this earth, I will account for in heaven and I hope that I will be able to say that I stood for what is right, no matter the cost. I was raised LDS and I believe that it is the most true church on the earth but I do not believe it has all the truth. I believe it is a church ran by men who make mistakes just as I do each and every day. I believe that one day, maybe not in this life, I will have answers to so many of my questions. Above all else, I believe that the day will come when my Father in Heaven opens his arms and holds me so very tightly. He will hold me to make up for all the times I felt alone or that I had no one to talk to. He will hold me for all the times I wished things were different or questioned 'Why' and had no answers. Today, I am so grateful for this opportunity to be gay. I am grateful for this blessing that has made me have an open mind and has taught me how to be compassionate towards my fellow men. I am grateful that I am still able to feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost and that I have had the opportunity to show so many how to open their eyes as well. I am so proud of how far some members of my family have come from the day I told them I am gay and I pray for those who seem to continue to feel I have a disease or for those who continue to not understand. I pray that all children, are given the same blessings from God no matter who their parents are or what “choices” their parents make. I know that my life is in God’s hands and that there is a reason that all of this is going on. I pray that those who are depressed or feel alone in this world know that they are among so many others who understand them. I testify of these things and I would urge each and everyone of you to look at your own testimonies and truly decide what you believe to be true as well. Maybe that doesn’t agree with what I believe and maybe it does but we could all use the refresher. That is my testimony, and that is what I now know is true. Amen.