There are lots of people in the LDS faith suffering from same sex attraction (as the church calls it). It’s a difficult topic for sure. The people in charge are basically telling you that God says you are broken and in need of healing. This isn’t a new concept or policy in the faith, its just the way it is right now. Not unlike how it was for the black people a couple of generations ago.
If you are gay or lesbian, or a transgender Mormon you might be hoping that God will understand. You might yearn for God to tell his leaders you aren’t broken, or the enemy or some sort of deviant in need of help. Because deep down you simply feel misunderstood.
You might even be contemplating drastic action like so many in this same desperate situation have done. To all of you that don’t feel loved by the God you have been taught about since you were little. Please. Please hear the council of the Fridge and hearken to the word.
The LDS Leaders are wrong. You matter, you are valuable, you are worthy, you are fine as you are. If you needed a push, an understanding about these guys and how they really feel about you, just watch this video.
These aren’t people that care about your welfare. These are old men, stuck in their ways like the prophets 50 years ago. Stuck on the idea that black people had the curse of Cain. There may come a day when they admit their mistake, but it sure ain’t gonna happen while they are alive. Best case given the track record? Fifty years from now they might accept you.
History repeats itself. This just another example of too little happening too late right before you eyes, it follows if you are LGB or T you should leave the faith. Leave it now for your own safety and peace of mind. Don’t fret about where you will go. Thanks to the connectivity of this generation you will find your home quickly. Reach out to those that post on social media about their disillusion with the faith, you will find acceptance and love for who you are. Not for who some old fart wants you to be.
Save yourself my friends. Don’t let your life be wasted by old men so concerned about the insidious ‘gays’ that they totally screwed the pooch and missed the lesson on cyber security about not letting their secrets get leaked online. You will find love for who you are, it can save your life. Trust me on this one. Leave now. Please seek out the better life beyond the hand you have been dealt because it is waiting there for you. Reach out and grab it. Don’t worry about where you will go. There are sympathetic people waiting to catch you. Have faith to take the leap away from the church. You will find your place. I’m sure of it.
We bury her tomorrow. My mother. She had been sick for a while, but after a debilitating month she finally let go.
After the initial shock of her passing, I have to admit I felt only relief and release. Her torment, that she had both suffered and created, was finally over. The fear and apprehension I felt every time I spoke with her, her projection of guilt and shame over my ‘apostasy’, her deep-seated need for comforting lies about her as a mother … and overshadowing it all, her enduring abusive behavior. It all died with her and I finally felt free.
Yet now as the funeral approaches, I’m experiencing a growing sense of dread. In part because of the platitudes I expect to hear about my mother, ‘the angel’. In part because of the mormon service my family is planning. And in part because it will be held in the LDS chapel where I suffered so much as a child.
Buildings and Tearing Down
Attending her funeral in that chapel won’t be easy. Some may see it as a house of peace, but for me it was a house of pain. So many conflicts. So much torment. So many memories. It may seem strange to think how strongly they still affect on me 30 years later, but I suppose that’s why they call them formative years. It was traumatic at the time and it remains difficult to process today, especially at the thought of going back.
I have vivid memories of that chapel. So much of who I am was formed there during the bubbling cauldron of my adolescence.
That was where my father forced me to get baptized when I turned 8. I told him that I didn’t believe and didn’t want to make that commitment, but he said my testimony would come after my act of faith and he set the date. When it was over, I couldn’t stop crying from the font to the confirmation. Because I had just made lifelong covenants to a church I didn’t believe in, and I took that seriously.
So you see, that chapel was where I learned to doubt myself, where I learned that those who can’t feel a testimony of mormon truth must be blinded by sin or pride. And that if I couldn’t believe, then I must be sinful … my thoughts and feelings unreliable. And if so, I was better off trusting my leaders instead of myself, even when it didn’t make any sense.
That chapel was where I learned that only mormon kids were worthy of being friends with. That I was to live in the world, but not of the world. And to avoid the world, the people in it and their beliefs at all costs, associating only with mormons whenever possible … because mormons were safe and the world was dangerous.
– But ironically, that was where I was bullied and beat up by the ‘moral and worthy’ mormon boys at church. I was so excited to learn how to camp and earn merit badges with the scouts, but they only wanted to play sports on scouting night. I was asthmatic and didn’t know how to play, so they used me as a tackle dummy and laughed when I lay on the ground and couldn’t breathe. And when I tried to quit, I got in trouble for not being a team player.
– Where the bishop interrogated me in detail about my worthiness. And publicly humiliated me by not letting me pass the sacrament. Why? Because touching myself was the only way to get rid of my morning erections so I could get dressed for school. I tried everything … wearing tight clothes to bed, tying it off with rubber bands or string, self-inflicted pain, icy cold showers, scalding hot water … but nothing worked. The only way to get dressed was to ‘commit a sin’. I felt so horrible about myself that I even tried to follow the Bible’s advice and ‘cut off the hand that offended me’. But the attempt was so painful I couldn’t go through with it, leaving me feeling even more guilty about my lack of resolve as I cleaned up the bloody mess and painfully tried to heal. At church, the other boys laughed and joked about touching themselves, and obviously never told the bishop. I saw them rewarded for lying about something normal, while I was punished and shamed for being honest.
– Where I was forced to attend Youth Conference, where we were lectured about the evils of science, the lies of the world, the temptations of movies and music, and the sins of desire and sexual attraction. They taught us never to touch or fantasize about the opposite sex. And that god would judge us for eternity over every thought and feeling that crossed our adolescent minds.
– Where I was forced to attend church dances, even though looking at girls with desire was apparently a sin next to murder. And touching them with desire would lead to my damnation. But I found out the hard way that declining to attend dances (even with the pure intent of avoiding sin) was also wrong, and would get me in trouble with my parents and church leaders. I guess the only thing worse than touching a girl is acting like you don’t want to touch girls.
– Where I was taught about the blessings of eternal sex in the celestial kingdom. I remember the married man standing in front of the class, telling us all that sex was worth the wait and how he wanted to stay worthy and enjoy it in heaven forever. Which was in stark contrast to his declarations of the evils of masturbation, sex and fantasy from just a few moments before. I was literally being taught that even though sex was good and I should want it, that any desire for it would lead to my damnation.
After these experiences and many more, I grew to hate that building and the faith it represented. To hate the lies my church leaders taught me, the no-win situations they put me in, and the physical and emotional abuse they both inflicted on me and forced me to endure within its walls.
And now my family wants to celebrate my abusive mother’s life in that house of lies and pain.
Out of the Frying Pan
The closer I get to the funeral, the less I want to go. I don’t even want to get on the plane, much less step foot in that building. I feel sick, paralyzed. My wife had to buy the plane tickets, and I’ve been so upset I had to call in sick every day this week.
Some mormons would say my negative feelings prove that ‘apostates’ are filled with the spirit of the devil … or that a sinner has innate intolerance for the holy ghost … or that an ungrateful son will always be selfish toward his mother. But no, this is what happens after 27 years of abuse at the hands of a church.
To dismiss me as an ungrateful, angry apostate is to ignore the 20 years that I devoted to the LDS church after my baptism. Submitting myself to the mormon faith I had no testimony of. Believing that my thoughts must be wrong because everyone I loved and trusted told me so. Studying, fasting, praying … hoping for a long-awaited testimony with each act of faith. But receiving nothing in return but emotional and religious abuse, a near death experience from arsenic poisoning on my mission, and years of subsequent nerve pain that the LDS church covered up, blamed on imaginary sins, and threatened me to keep secret.
So when I say it will be difficult for me to sit through my mother’s funeral in that chapel, I’m not talking about a little boredom or discomfort.
I’m talking about going to dinner with your rapist and having to pick up the check. Or holding your child’s birthday party in your pedophile uncle’s back yard and having to smile and introduce him to all the kids. Or openly crossing enemy lines after escaping a POW camp where you were tortured and almost killed.
To go to my mother’s funeral, I will have to walk back into the house of pain where I suffered decades of emotional and religious abuse that I’ve worked so hard to leave behind.
Every faithful or once faithful member of their respective religion should be familiar with the idea of a “trial of faith”. When hardship and tragedy strike, we are told that God is testing us. We are expected to endure and remain faithful through our trials, and after… AFTER… we will be blessed. There are many explanations for why the troubling experiences we have supposedly bring us closer to God.
We are humbled.
We are given opportunities to be forgiving.
We learn compassion.
We learn how to ask for help.
Others are given opportunities to serve.
Mostly though, God just wants to see how much he can fuck with you before you give up on him.
Oh, struck a nerve there, didn’t I?
Well, isn’t that exactly what a “trial of faith” entails?
Take Abraham, for example. God kept him and his wife sterile until well into their elderly years. This, after promising that his prosperity would be as numerous as the grains of sand on a beach and the stars in the sky. Then, God allows his wife to become pregnant, but later asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Nevermind that He later reneges. The whole scenario was a “test” in which God wanted to see how far he could go, how much could he ask of his “servant”, would Abraham obey without question?
Probably the best Biblical example of this is Job. In this story, God made a bet with Satan, that Job would remain faithful and obedient despite having more and more taken from him. His wealth, his health, his friends, his home, his family… Bit by bit, piece by piece, Job lost one thing after another, experienced more and more hardship, but still Job was faithful, and God won his bet.
Sometimes, God even asks His followers to die for their faith. The ultimate test. The ultimate sacrifice. Someone demands you deny your faith or be killed. What do you do? Do you remain faithful and die, or do you deny your God and preserve your life? Religions glorify those who die for their faith, calling them heroes. Martyrs. And to deny God is the ultimate shame. In many denominations, it is believed that those who deny their God in these scenarios damn their eternal souls. And so, their lives seem a small loss in that grand scheme of eternity. A small sacrifice to prove one’s devotion.
Being raised with such stories, being told that God loves us with a love more profound than we can possibly understand, and reading that He does all these things for our good (Romans 8:28), leaves one thinking that these “tests” must serve a divine purpose that truly is good for us, even if we can’t understand how. And just like that, every bad thing that happens becomes part of God’s plan to spiritually strengthen us and prepare us for all that will be expected of us in eternity.
I used to believe that all the hard things I experienced were trials designed specifically for me. Meant to build my character and prepare me for future trials that would all eventually shape me into the person God intended me to be. So, I saw having an autistic younger brother as a trial meant to build my patience. I saw stumbling upon my mother’s suicide note she’d written for my father when I was twelve years old as a trial meant to help curb my temper and make me more compassionate. I saw my best friend’s mother dying of a heart-attack when we were fourteen as a trial meant to help me learn empathy. And all these things prepared me for one of the biggest trials of my life – marriage.
I was a late bloomer sexually. My interests didn’t start cropping up until my second year of college, and I was all messed up emotionally. Depressed, low self-esteem, desperate, sexually repressed… a perfect target. I met an abuser who quickly took advantage of my innocence and naivety. Within six months of dating, he practically had me wrapped around his finger, and when I became pregnant out of wedlock the church pushed us to begin our repentance process and to marry. Nobody suspected that he’d been emotionally and physically beating me into submission. I was pregnant. So their only thought was to hurry up and rush into a marriage. We could work out any problems in our visits with our bishop while we worked out our repentance for breaking the law of chastity.
Of course, in saying our “I do’s”, I’d effectively tightened the noose around my own neck. Things only got worse, and I kept questioning and blaming myself. I felt like an utter failure. I thought I was being punished for straying from the straight and narrow, and I thought I could fix it, if only I could pull myself out of my spiritual slump and rekindle my struggling faith.
Then, one night, my then husband woke with severe tooth pain. We had no means to get to a hospital in the middle of the night – no vehicle of our own, bus routes weren’t running, and no insurance to cover the cost of an ambulance ride. So, he took aspirin, hoping it would get him through the night and we could go in the morning, but the pain just wasn’t subsiding. He asked me to pray for him, so of course I did, but… nothing happened. I specifically prayed for the pain to be taken away, but it only seemed to be getting worse. After writhing for a couple hours, he was starting to get pissed. He suggested that God didn’t answer, because He didn’t care.
I “knew” that wasn’t true though. How could it be? I’d been raised to believe He loved and cherished ALL His children and that He ALWAYS answered prayers, but those answers would come in the way they were needed. Not necessarily what we wanted. I tentatively suggested that maybe God hadn’t taken the pain away, because we needed to go to the emergency room, and I immediately regretted it. My disagreement sent my then husband into a rage. He shouted at me, with spittle coming from his mouth, that God didn’t love him and insisted I “say it”. I thought right then that this was my trial of faith. This was my moment to prove myself to my God.
Knowing what would follow, I refused my husband’s demand, and he immediately started choking me. But I didn’t fight it. I was overcome with a sense of calm. If he killed me over this, I’d be a martyr, for I’d refused to deny my God. When things started to go black, he let go of my neck and as I gasped for air, he beat me upside the head, knocking me to the floor. He stood over me for a moment with a crazed look in his eyes, but then it dissipated and he collapsed in a puddle of remorse, apologizing and blaming his outburst on demonic possession. I’d heard it all before. It didn’t matter. I was convinced that I’d passed my trial and things would start getting better now.
It didn’t. Only when I took matters into my own hands, when my motherly protective instincts kicked in and I sought to defend my infant from the abusive hand of his father, did things finally start getting better. Still, I was a believer and I attributed my escape and recovery to divine intervention. It wasn’t until several years later that I finally started thinking: “What kind of God does that to His children?”
How is it “loving” to put your children in situations where they’ll be beaten, raped, and even murdered ON PURPOSE to “test” their devotion to you? Sure, we all allow our children to experience pain from their mistakes. It helps them learn. But letting a child fall and scrape their knees isn’t the same thing as letting a child get hit by a car. And letting a child experience the pain of their mistakes as a learning experience isn’t the same as pitting them against bullies and rewarding them afterwards if they obediently take it without complaint.
A God who does that isn’t loving. He’s abusive. The whole concept of a “trial of faith” is a form of control. It’s a God who fucks with you and rewards you for continuing to love him anyway. Like a dog owner who starves his dog in order to “master” it… a God who tests his children with such horrors is not worthy of worship any more than a man who chokes his wife is worthy of loyalty and love.