Before I share this comment,
I want to explain that there are probably many people who have questions similar to this, and I want to express empathy and understanding. You can't know something until you know it, right? I mean, we all have blind spots--things that we just don't understand fully because our realm of experience hasn't been touched by such and such issue. I know I have them, and I might someday post a well-meaning question on a blog about some other topic that leaves the author of said blog so gobsmacked that he seriously wonders if the comment is a joke, and then is horrified to realize it's not. And if/when I do that, I hope that blog author is nice to me, and understands that I am coming from a genuine place of curiosity as he gives his answer, but I also hope the answer is pointed and direct. So, let's, likewise, be understanding of this person. At least she had the courage to ask the question which many people never get around to doing.
I sincerely hope she reads my answer. And internalizes it. And then tells all of her friends. Immediately.
Okay, here we go:
I have followed this blog for quite some time. I am a professional. I am a mother. I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. While I am impressed how you have lived your life in harmony with the Gospel teachings, and feel you are doing the best you can to live a "righteous" life, I have mixed feelings on your posts for a few reasons. I have served in many presidencies within the church & have worked very closely with the youth for many years. I admire your desire to choose the right, but I feel these posts that have come public is giving those with the same struggles and open door to live that life as if being "gay" is okay. I have read many of your posts, and I have also read many comments and I am concerned about how many church members are struggling with the same tendencies that now think it is okay, because of your posts.
Ultimately, I am not the judge...but why go publicly, why not be private about your personal affairs. The outcome of these posts may have a positive affect on peoples lives...but remember there are negative consequences as well. We are all entitled to our angency...but we have to be ready for the consequences involved. Im afraid for some youth that now will think its okay as long as they dont act upon it. I can have bad thoughts as long as I dont act on it - wrong! We will be responsible whether thought or action! Thoughts lead to actions.....may I remind you that Satan is very powerful and has strong hold of some of our stalwart youth. Take Care!
Okay, first of all, thanks for your comment and for opening this dialogue. I'll answer your question because I'd like to attempt to clear up some mis-understandings for you as well as for others who might have similar concerns. Let's get the personal question out of the way first, which I think funnels down to: why did you decide to share this information about yourself?
It's a valid question. While I do answer it in the original post (which if you haven't read it, please do--it explains a lot), I think I was able to answer it more clearly and retrospectively in this piece I wrote for The Washington Post entitled Why I came out as a gay Mormon. The basic, bottom line answer is: My wife and I got direct personal revelation that we were supposed to share this information on my blog. And we followed it. And then it went viral. And I don't think that was accidental. (If you're not LDS and that answer sounded strange, jump to the piece I linked to which explains what I mean in more detail.)
Having answered that, let's get to the real meat of your comment, and some crucial misunderstandings that I think are fueling your concerns. I want to specifically look at the following snippets:
I have read many of your posts, and I have also read many comments and I am concerned about how many church members are struggling with the same tendencies that now think it is okay, because of your posts.
Im afraid for some youth that now will think its okay as long as they dont act upon it. I can have bad thoughts as long as I dont act on it - wrong! We will be responsible whether thought or action! Thoughts lead to actions.....may I remind you that Satan is very powerful and has strong hold of some of our stalwart youth.
Okay... where do I even begin with this?
First, I want you to know that being sexually attracted to people of one's own gender is not a choice. I had no choice whatsoever in the matter. One day, at the onset of puberty, I started to find guys sexually attractive just like one day, probably at the onset of puberty, you (I assume) started to find guys sexually attractive. Humans do not get to choose whether or not they wish to be sexually attracted to other humans, and they do not get to choose the type of human beings their bodies are attracted to. In most cases, they are attracted to people of the opposite gender. In some cases, they are attracted to people of the same gender. There is no choice in the matter. It just is.
Second, I'm going to challenge you and say that sexual attraction of any type is not wrong, despite your assumptions on the matter. Human beings feel sexual attractions. Period. You should know this. You feel them too. People will feel them for their whole lives. It is part of the human experience. And every human being on this planet has the same exact option when they feel a sexual attraction: to act on it, or not to act on it. Sexual attractions are not "bad thoughts." Sexual attractions are instantaneous human responses to other human beings, and neither youth nor adults have any control whatsoever over whether or not they feel them. Every person feels attractions, and no person is culpable in any way for them. A person can control what they do with those attractions. Do they choose to entertain fantasies? Do they choose to act? But they have no control over having the initial attraction.
I am not alone in thinking this. The following comes from the pamphlet "God Loveth His Children" which you can find on the LDS Church's website.
"...Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction. The First Presidency stated, 'There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior.'”
Therefore, I completely challenge you and say you are wrong in feeling "afraid for some youth that now will think its okay [and here I assume you mean "to be gay"] as long as they dont act upon it."
You have nothing to fear if youth think this way. The truth is, a person can be temple-recommend worthy, within the confines of the LDS church, and homosexual as long as he or she doesn't act on his or her sexual attractions.
What is the alternative you are proposing? What is the alternative to "thinking it's okay to be gay as long as you don't act on it?" Is the alternative you propose eradicating the gayness from the person? Having it removed through "faith" or some form of therapy or another. Ironically, I guarantee you would find that nearly every gay LDS youth at one point or another would give anything to have that happen, and most have prayed and fasted and begged and pled, bloodying their knees in prayer and supplication, to have their attractions taken from them. However, I have never, in the literally thousands of individuals I have now encountered who are gay, met one single person who has had this occur. Not one. That's not to say it's never happened. But if it has, it must be extremely rare.
Sometimes Heavenly Father gives us life circumstances. Sometimes those circumstances are hard. And sometimes He doesn't remove those circumstances regardless of our faith and desire to have them gone. Have you ever known a righteous individual who died of cancer? Can God cure cancer? I believe He can and does. Does He cure every righteous person's cancer? No. How do you think they would feel if you said, "If you had just had enough faith, God would have taken that from you." (I am not comparing homosexuality to cancer, per se, but just examining the notion that God does not remove all things we ask Him to remove.)
I have made certain choices about my own sexual attractions. Those choices work for me, and I am thankful for their consequences every single day of my life. But life is very complex, and I will never ever judge or condemn the choices of another person, even if they look different than mine, because that is not my place in the slightest, and I will love and deeply empathize with any homosexual person I encounter, no matter what. I will champion them and love them and embrace them and support them. I believe Christ would do the same.
To believe that sharing my story is a threat to the youth of the church is both an insult to me and to the youth of the church. If there are youth who are gay, they are gay. And if they are not gay they are not gay. Reading a blog post about another guy who is gay is not going to change that fact in the slightest. If they do happen to be same sex attracted, they have some choices to make for their future. Being educated, getting good information from people who have traversed the same path, is recommendable. Hearing myriad stories and finding paths that resonate is advisable. Silence is abhorrent and leads to shame, confusion and darkness.
Sharing my story is not the problem when it comes to youth. When it comes to youth, a major problem, frankly, is people who--with the best of intentions--"protect" youth by not giving them information that will help them understand the world around them as they make grown-up decisions while still under the tutelage of parents and leaders. Shielding youth from information that fear-based adults find questionable is a disservice to the youth, and it leads to their shame and isolation, and in the end, to poor decision making. And that, I contend, is where Satan has his greatest hold upon the hearts of youth. I see it every day in counseling, especially among the sexually addicted. So, so, so many men and women saying "we were taught nothing about sex, and I had to find it all out on my own, and then [fill in tragic thing] happened."
In other words, your fears are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It's time to do some soul searching and ask yourself what you are really afraid of. What about my story makes you uncomfortable, and why? This isn't about youth. This is about you. I challenge you to dig deep and be real about what's bothering you. Are you worried that someone in your life might turn out to be gay? Are you afraid of what you'd do if that happened? Are you fearful of something else entirely? What is your own relationship to sexuality? Do you find sexuality to be a fear-inducing topic, or is it something that brings you joy within the context of your own marriage (if you are married)? If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Dig deep. Search your soul. Feel free to respond and I'll continue the dialogue here or privately. (You can email me at joshua dot weed at gmail dot com.)
It has been impressed upon me again and again that we need to talk about hard things. We need to talk about things that are uncomfortable. You can sweep an issue under the rug, but it's still going to be in the room with you. We don't protect ourselves or others by not talking about hard things. We protect ourselves and others by being vulnerable and real and authentic even as we face really hard truths, and by allowing others, even youth, especially the youth, to do the same.
Does anybody else have any thoughts?