Saturday, June 9, 2012

What Love Isn't

In the wake of a failed marriage and two of the most loving children I could ask for, I have had reason to think about love, what it is . . . and what it isn't. I have heard a great deal of rhetoric on love lately, not restricted to but certainly a part of one side of the debate on homosexual marriage.

The recent participation of many members of the Church, some of whom are my friends and acquaintances, in a Salt Lake City Gay Pride march has given me even more reason to think over this eternally debated and perplexing topic. While I sympathize with the efforts these members are trying to make, and also want to communicate somehow to those with a different ideological stance than mine that I care for them as people, though I fear for the consequences of their choices, I have some thoughts that will be uncomfortable for many.

I do not apologize for them, as they are based on experience and wisdom gained through a great deal of personal loss and sacrifice. Before you continue reading, I will remind you now that while disagreeing points of view are tolerated and even welcome on this blog, insults and other forms of denigration are not. I have many more important things going on in my life than your sensibilities, and while I generally try to be patient and understanding, I don't have the emotional resources or the time to deal with immaturity right now.

There are places in the internet for you, this is not one of them.
The argument that love is without judgment or condemnation is false. Increasingly, LDS members (Mormons) and other religious people buy into the diabolical argument that freedom of choice trumps consequence for choice. The most important principle, they argue, is that people choose whatever makes them happy. Others have no right to warn about consequence, or choose to no longer associate with someone who is making choices antithetical to their own. They ignore half of agency (accountability) in favor of the other half (choice) and forget that God's way includes both.

I will say this now. It doesn't make one iota of difference if every person on this earth stops warning about the consequence of choices which are against what the Lord has asked us to do. The consequences will be the same.

Jesus was not the anything-goes, comfortable sort of God that so many of you think He was. He judged, He condemned. He is the great Mediator and Judge of Israel. He never told a person in sin to do whatever made them comfortable. He invited them to forsake their sins and come to Him.

This has not changed, nor can it change.

Of all the friends I have gathered in my lifetime, those with the courage to tell me when I am wrong are more beloved to me than any. I have never LIKED that judgment when they delivered it, but it has never failed to bring me greater joy and understanding. I will love and support people who find themselves immersed in behavior which is not in alignment with heavenly principles, as I have been loved and supported by my friends. True love is the ability to say hard things because you care more about the person than about yourself.

Because I love them, I will tell those I cherish if I feel they are participating in behavior which will harm them. It is easy to be the kind of friend who never speaks up, never risks losing the love and friendship of another. It is much more difficult to be honest, to trust yourself and your friend enough to know that sharing your perspective and feelings will not mean the destruction of the friendship. I would hope that all my loved ones and friends would trust me and love me like that.

Like the Savior does, who said "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame . . . ." Revelations 3:19-21


  1. SilverRain: I have struggled over the weekend after encountering your post. It has troubled me. With some of your ideas I agree, but with many, I am troubled about how you would actually handle a one-on-one friendship with, for example, a young man or young women who is gay. You seem to have taken on the task of actually being the judge in such a friendship. Even though I agree that honesty makes a good foundation for a friendship, I think everyone struggles with how to balance how far and how strongly to word that honesty. I feel that you are not acknowledging that there is a dissonance inside a gay person, especially a young, gay person, about what he or she can expect in this life if he/she remains a member of the LDS Church. I think you're avoiding one of the big problems that that dissonance has created for many, and we see evidence of it in the several suicides directly attributed to young, gay people in the church. What would you tell them directly and honestly that wouldn't also contribute to their problem?

  2. I don't think there is any way to give a good answer to that question. You are asking me to make a broad general statement to a fictional, personal, specific friend. What I would say would vary greatly depending on my relationship with them, what I sensed their true needs were, the circumstances of the discussion, and before everything, what I was inspired by the Spirit to say.

    I understand that there is dissonance for a member of the Church who finds her- or himself in such a situation. I have similar dissonance as a divorced mother with no real desire to marry again. When I have a friend who approaches me, I hope that they would feel my love, and desire for their happiness.

    But I utterly reject that marching in a Gay Pride parade "loves" the individuals, or that it has power to stop suicides. Do you really think that a suicidal gay person would think, "well, since a large group of Mormons I don't really know marched in a parade, I suppose I won't kill myself?" It is not "dissonance" that creates suicides. It is a lack of personal support of the person, NOT of the behavior. Marching in a parade hands a weapon over to those who would deny the direction of God in the Church more than it will ever comfort those who need comfort.

    No one can tell anybody "what [they] can expect" in this life as a disciple of Christ, unless they are telling them to expect difficulty, trial, pain beyond imagining, all constructive towards their exaltation. Whether that difficulty/trial/pain comes from being gay, or from a host of other situations that cause individual dissonance, a pull between natural desires and heavenly ones, is immaterial.

    I reject that being gay is so utterly unique to the human experience that it deserves special status. I reject that my love is accepted ONLY if it comes by accepting things which I know will cause destructive—not constructive—misery. Love and acceptance are not so simple. They should not be used as a cudgel to force homogenization of morality. Such blurring may bring suffering individuals temporary relief, but it will never bring happiness.

  3. Thank you for your reply. I appreciate a respectful discussion. I don't really know if marching in a parade would prevent a suicide, either. I think it might, in a circumstance such as possibly my own child being gay and I marching in support of them and they being there with me. I don't agree with your second to the last paragraph, though. The Lord told us what to expect and strive for in this life, and that is joy. I'm not advocating for special status for gays, I'm rejecting the idea that I KNOW what will and will not cause misery, in spite of having a firm testimony of some things in the Mormon gospel. It seems your usage of the word cudgel is just what I felt you were doing, using a weapon to "beat" someone who is gay into your way of thinking.

  4. Except I never told anyone who was gay they had to think the way I do in order to be an acceptable person, not filled with hate.

    There is a huge difference between taking a stand on my turf, and invading someone else's. A subtlety that seems largely lost on most people today.

  5. Kevin, if you are still reading this, just what would you say to a gay friend who is a member of the church? Can you tell them that homosexual acts are not a sin? Can you tell them that God will pass on any homosexual acts because they are those temptations are too difficult to overcome?

    Yes, "man is that he might have joy," but there are those to whom joy may be fleeting or even non-existent in this life. There are millions of people who are born, live, and die in miserable, horrible circumstances.

    There are people who suffer from debilitating mental/emotional trauma that does not allow them joy in this life and whose only hope is the freedom that will come through the resurrection.

    I have a stepson who is gay and was a member of the church. He has decided that it is more important that he attain his measure of happiness here in this life and he says he will be content with a lesser kingdom in the next life.

    We have a great relationship, or had one until he became angry at his mother for something that she had no control over. But that is another story. The main thing is that I explained my understanding of the Gospel and teachings on homosexual acts, but have not used those teachings to condemn him. That is not my place. But I also cannot tell him that all will be well with him in the next life either.
    So what d you tell them?


  6. I wouldn't say anything to a gay friend who is a member of the Church, as he or she will already know what the "sin" is. Heaven knows that's obviously where the problem is coming from, too many who think that they have to say it one more time, "what you're doing is a sin."

  7. People commit suicide because they are depressed. Treat the depression and they will be less inclined to take their own life. If you know someone who is suicidal take it seriously. It is too easy to look at the biggest thing you can see and assume you know what is going on in a persons mind, odds are you don't.

  8. Silver Rain--this was so well said. I appreciate your loving civility. I have felt the healing power of the Atonement in my life (not relating to homosexuality) and would say to anyone struggling that they too can feel it. Jesus said ". . .will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." (3 Ne. 9:13, 14)

  9. I love your final quote - we come to him. He does not offer to alter his plan to fit our every circumstance, to come to us when we hide from him, accuse him, or belittle him. He offers help if *we come to him* and that's a pretty significant difference.


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