As a Mormon bisexual man I live in the "other circumstances" mentioned in The Family: A Proclamation to the World where "Death, disability or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."
When our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty what, if any, were their concerns about the variety of people that citizens of such a nation might choose to love?
We are now engaged in an epic debate testing whether this nation will strive and succeed in providing equal protection under the law to all of its citizens.
What can we learn from the brave men and women, living and dead, who have struggled toward this ideal? How can we now dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work which they thus far have so nobly advanced?
Cold but not too cold. Colorful. A time of transition. Fewer thoughts about lawn mowing. More thoughts about snow shoveling. And of course the nearly constant desire to hold and be held, to love and be loved.
Is the main purpose of The Family: A Proclamation to the World to define marriage as between a man and a woman? Why would the church knowingly exclude tens of thousands of good men and women who fall outside that ideal? If only 1% of LDS church members are gay, that's still 144,413 gay Mormons based on the church's 2011 stats. That would fill to overflowing two facilities the size of LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Yes, the proclamation supports strong families, but not just one kind of strong family. Yes, it says "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God..." but it does not say that other unions are invalid.
For example we've been taught that some marriages between one man and multiple women are also viable on the other side of the veil. The proclamation does not appear to invalidate polygamous marriages made prior to 1890 or the present-day serial polygamist who is sealed to one wife, and then upon her death is sealed to a second, resulting an eternal polygamist marriage.
The Proclamation on the Family speaks of many ideals. Yes, it certainly is ideal for straight men and women to marry and rear children. No argument there. But it clearly and directly acknowledges that this ideal is not always attained because of a variety of reasons:
"Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."
This sentence, which is 510 words into the 605 word document, doesn't say that other circumstances may cause problems but there's nothing that can be done. It says other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. That powerful, inclusive sentence can be seen as a loving acknowlegement that the ideals set forth in the proclamation are sometimes unavoidably unavailable to real people in real life.
In 1922 when my grandmother was widowed as a young mother, her parents forbid her to date after the death of my grandfather. They may have believed that dating would violate her Temple covenants with her eternal companion. Today she would not be so tightly constrained. Today she would be encouraged to marry a second worthy husband in the Temple, but for time and not eternity. The doctrine hasn't changed, but the intrepretation of it has. It didn't even require a revelation, just a change in attitude and, perhaps, church policy.
After the 1978 revelation opening the priesthood to worthy black members of the church, Bruce R. McConkie was questioned about his many strident statements against "the Negro." In a speech entitled All Are Alike unto God he said, "Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more."
Elder McConkie thus affirmed the Ninth Article of Faith: "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."
Fortunately we won't have to forget or set aside anything in the Proclamation on the Family if and when it is revealed that in addition to traditional marriage being ordained of God, "other circumstances" require individual and church-wide adaptation, and should be handled with as much love, accomodation and support as death or disability. Could it be that one day future church leaders will also acknowledge that some of the disintegration of gay Mormon families was based on limited understanding and that those who abused their fellow saints are also accountable for their action or inaction?
I hope that one day we will all sing with great fervor and thanksgiving Carol Lynn Pearson and Reid N. Nibley's prophetic Primary song I'll Walk with You:
If you don't walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won't! I won't!
If you don't talk as most people do
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won't! I won't!
I'll walk with you,
I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev'ryone.
So I will! I will!
Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said,
"Come, follow me."
And I will! I will! I will! I will!
I'll walk with you,
I'll talk with you.
That's how I'll show my love for you.
(This is an updated version on an earlier blog I published in 2010.
I need to get out of the inversion. Follow the good example of those who have escaped even for a few minutes to higher ground. Meanwhile I've found that by combining ascending and descending alphabets, I can generate a somewhat nonsensical but nonetheless personally meaningful list of things I'm seeking or am thankful for or merely find to be a notion of interest.
I know a bit more about you now than I did then. How could that be? How could I know more about someone I don't know? We'll it's really quite simple. Since you are, at this point, an imaginary person, I know more about your potentially endearing qualities. If we should ever meet and you actually have these qualities, well then I'll just be that much closer to knowing you're the one.
So what are these qualities?
Fit is one of them. Fit. Yes as in physically fit. You'll have a certain buff quality. Not that you'll necessarily have a six pack, but you'll feel great to hug. And there are other qualities of fit. Somehow my hands and your hands will fit together. And when we're walking, there will be something about your stride and my stride that fits together.
Another is your scent. You'll smell good to me whether you're freshly showered or in desperate need of a shower. There will be a certain quality in your breath that is both familiar and alluring. I guess what I'm saying here is that there will be a certain chemistry between us. Without even touching, I'll know and you'll know that we're a good match.
Your eyes could be sky blue, or steel gray, coffee brown or sage green or any of dozens of variations in color. It won't be the color of your eyes. It will be the kindness I feel when we're talking, or not talking. Somehow, even if there is a great conversation we're engaged in, I'll also feel another connection looking into your eyes, and you will feel it too.
Then, of course, there's your voice. I'm fairly certain you will be soft spoken. I suppose it's possible you'll have a naturally booming voice that you've learned to moderate into an almost whispering quality, but its more likely you'll have a clear but rather quiet approach to all your speaking. Of course you'll sometimes need to speak loudly to be heard in a crowded room. You'll have no trouble doing that. But for the most part your voice will be soothing.
Could it be that you will have none of these qualities? Yes. It's possible we won't fit, that you'll stink, that your eyes will be nothing special and your voice will remind me of fingernails on a chalkboard. But if so and yet there's some sure connection we both feel, then none of those things will matter.
If you somehow remind me of a young Marlon Brando from Streetcar Named Desire, well that will be nice. But it's possible you'll be more like Brando in The Godfather or Last Tango in Paris. Or entirely different from anything I've described or imagined and still be as close to a perfect match as anyone could find in this imperfect world full of imperfect but sometimes entirely lovable human beings.
So, RIDK, those are some of the possibilities I see in our possible bromance. What about you? Do my specifics bring to mind any of the qualities you're seeking in a friend you haven't yet met?
As a bisexual man, married to a woman, and fairly active in the Mormon church, I certainly have mixed feelings about the church and its approach to sexuality.
Last Sunday one of our Sacrament meeting speakers talked of those among us who may be suffering in silence. He mentioned those who feel they can not be their authentic selves because others would not understand.
He noted that one-size-fits-all platitudes may not bring relief to those who suffer. He mentioned torn and tattered packages with content that just spills out. I don’t know if he was talking about worn out platitudes, worn out faith or worn out individuals. Maybe all of the above.
Then he asked, “What about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who are seeking loving relationships?” His voice caught a bit when he asked that question. It was the spoken equivalent of shedding a tear.
After the meeting, many of my fellow ward members approached the stand to talk to this man who spoke truths not usually heard in church. I also wanted to thank him, but didn’t want to stand in line.
So later, after Sunday school class and before Priesthood I simply told him that I appreciated his talk and that when he wanted to cry, I wanted to cry, too. He kindly said thanks and I thought perhaps someday we’ll talk again.
Meanwhile I continue to be a man in a mixed-orientation marriage with mixed feelings about faith and doubt, transparency and tradition, change and the lack of it.