As I was going to sleep, I started thinking what tomorrow’s church would be like as I often do. This will be the “post-conference” week, so I imagine EQ/RS lessons will largely be discussions of which talks were are favorite, what impressions we had, and the importance of following the prophet.
I dread tomorrow.
This is the Sunday of the worst platitudes Mormonism has to offer. People will say they were so glad that Elder Holland talked about how all voices in God’s kingdom matter. Someone might say they liked Elder Renlund’s talk on sin because they felt he was talking to them and they needed to know that Christ felt past their sin. The class will probably make a joke about whether or not Elder Uchtdorf used a flying metaphor.
I started reflecting on why I dread tomorrow–four years ago, I’d be the one exclaiming how much I loved conference as well. And tonight as I thought about it, I realized it’s partly because it’s hard to talk about how ‘applicable’ conference is or how ‘it was as if the leaders knew me’ when that’s exactly the opposite of how I feel. At least in this moment, it’s hard to imagine that any of the Apostles or other leaders of the Church–maybe even my family and friends–understand how I feel.
I’m not talking about those general cliches of “Well, all of us feel lonely,” or “They know what disappointment feels like!”
I’m talking about particulars. This post is mostly a reflection of some particular feelings and thoughts that I, as a gay Mormon, feel and that makes me wonder: what would it mean to go to Church where my thoughts and feelings were actually addressed and considered? It’s probably incoherent at times and rambling at others. But, as is so often the case with feelings, I struggled putting them into words.
They may know what it feels like to move away from home and the pain of being away from family. But what about when that is compounded with your faith’s dictates of being prohibited from finding a companion to move with you? As an academic where so few jobs are available, I’m so subject to the whims of the market that I probably will never live near family or friends again. Yet, I’m told that it’s against the rules to find that special someone to bring with me as I move from place to place. Do they know what that feels like?
Do they know what it feels like to be forced to choose either being close to your brothers, sisters and parents or to a possible future family of your own? That choosing one of these options will likely result in the loss of the other?
All members know what it’s like to have a crush on someone–even those painful crushes that torment you at night. But do they know what it feels like to look in the mirror for years and question why you have to be plagued with “sinful desires”?
I know our Leaders and straight members probably know what it’s like to hold hands with that special someone for the first time. But do they know what it feels like to go home with the thoughts of how damned you are because you did it?
Do they know what it feels like to weigh an empty eternity on one hand and a life lived on the other?
I’ve heard members joke about being “ministering angels” and saying: “Man, I’d rather just not make it to the celestial kingdom if I’m just going to be one of those.” Turns out, that’s often what it feels like is in store for gay Mormons for their eternal future. And you’d rather not go to heaven for it.
Do you know what it feels like to be told by prophets its against God’s will to marry someone you love, but then when you plead with God to help you understand–he’s silent.
Or that time when you pray to know if you should start dating men and feel great about it, only to be confused when you remember that the prophets said same-sex marriages are apostate. Do you know what that feels like?
Do you know what it feels like to be told by your bishop or others in your ward that the personal revelations you received are actually from Satan?
Do you know what it feels like to be told by people that you are the antiChrist?
I wonder what Elder Cook’s talk would be about if he had some of these feelings. How would Sister Cordon respond when I told her the Lord was giving me directions that the Church disagreed with? Would talks on reactivation or missionary work, like Elder Costa’s or Elder Ballard’s, really want people to enter into a Church if these are the things they are feeling?
I wonder how Elder’s Quorum or Sunday School would change if they knew what it feels like.