In the last 6 months I have been to almost a dozen countries presenting at conferences or attending valuable workshops. One of the most interesting presentations I was asked by Fred and Marilyn Matis to give was at a meeting (called a “fireside”) that is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who either struggle with same-sex attraction or have friends/family that do.
In previous blog entries I talked a little about what it was like growing up a Mormon, and later answered some questions in a blog entry on what do Mormons believe, and so this whole topic is one that is interesting and important to me.
At the Matis event, I was asked to speak for about an hour on a a fun topic – some of life’s greatest lessons that I learned from a friend and mentor, a retired Air Force fighter pilot – who was an inspiring example of how God can definitely work with and through people that are imperfect (which always gives hope to me).
I know that homosexuality in the context of Christianity is a sensitive topic, and there is a lot of tension and misunderstanding on all sides of the issue. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things I have learned:
• I am convinced that in most instances, same-sex attraction is not a choice. In our society, why would anyone choose it?
• As the Matis’ point out – instead of worrying about a “cause” or “cure” – both of which we might never find – we should focus more energy on “care”. How can we learn to care more about people around us regardless of how they are different from us? And not just caring about them but also learning from them – because quite often they are inspiring!
• Most of these individuals are not a threat to anyone – but have actually spent a good portion of their lives beating themselves up about something they did not choose, wishing they were different, and trying to hide it from others. In trying to hide anything, it seems to magnify it out of proportion. When any of us begins to focus on some thing(s) that we don’t like about ourselves, we often miss seeing how much good there is in who we are.
• The way our society, media, etc… deals with matters of sex and sexuality are usually based more on image, indulgence, anxiousness, lust, fear, and unrealizable expectations instead of on principles of real love, thinking of others more than ourselves, and respect. This makes it difficult to understand or discuss these matters.
• When there is a judgmental culture, it influences people to hide anything about themselves which others might potentially look down on. That often limits their ability to feel truly accepted and loved/lovable.
• This does not mean that “anything goes and is equally OK” – or that we can have no basis for choosing personal standards because that might mean that it seems we are also placing a judgment on others. Just letting anyone do whatever they feel like never has led people to be more more wise or happy. Rather, it means that we do always seek and strive for those things which really do unlock the greatest potential in ourselves, others, and society as a whole – while at the same time having more patience and compassion for others (and ourselves) in the process.
• At our core, what we all want more than anything (regardless of who we are) is to be loved and accepted. One great thing about these meetings is that it allows people to be honest about themselves (in some cases for the first time), to recognize they are not alone, and especially to realize that there is nothing about who they are that needs to keep them from being truly loved and accepted (especially things which were not a choice). We all have our own difficulties and differences (whatever they may be), yet innately want to be close to God and others.
Those are some of the things I have been learning, as I am trying to make sense of homosexuality in light of Christianity.
Do you agree/disagree on any of these points?
Does anyone have anything additional to add?