A few days ago I quoted Joseph F. Smith.
“It has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints, that a religion which has not the power to save the people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, and exalt them in the life to come”(quoted in L. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 1958, p. 425, n. 16).
I’d like to expound on how I feel about this principle.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has failed to make its gay members prosperous and happy and therefore cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually or to exalt them in the life to come. I realize that as a gut response to that cringe-causing thesis, many of you are going to tell me how happy you are as a gay Mormon. Please do. It’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s just that as a whole I see a lack of prosperity and happiness amongst homosexuals in the Church.
What is prosperity and happiness? Prosperity is physical success, growth, and health. Happiness includes a feeling of satisfaction about ones situation.
I’m not here to argue about the financial welfare of gay Mormons because I don’t think that is really important. When I talk about prospering in the Church, I’m talking about growth and health. It is true that gay Latter-day Saints grow a great deal from their afflictions. There are limits to their growth, however. A gay Latter-day Saint who is active in the Church cannot grow in sexual or romantic love, for example. If he heeds current advice and is celibate, he cannot grow in the priesthood as a Bishop or general authority (despite the enormous sacrifices he makes and the qualifications those sacrifices give him spiritually). Quite honestly he cannot even grow in an exalted state until (or unless) he is awarded with a spouse at the resurrection.
As an offshoot of the “growth” category, I am going to include family life in the concept of prosperity. I think most Latter-day Saints would agree that having a family is part of prospering. Mormons who aren’t attracted to the opposite gender, though, and who can’t function well in a mixed orientation setting, cannot have families. They cannot marry someone they love and raise children with him.
Then there is health. Gay Mormons don’t have a good history when it comes to mental health. Granted, not all are nut cases, but the vast majority have needed some sort of professional help to deal with feelings of self-loathing, failure, compulsive behavior, shame, rejection, loneliness, depression, anxiety, etc. Though the Church is not obligated to fix all of these problems, I feel it did indirectly cause them and is therefore responsible for them. The Church fosters an environment where being gay is bad and therefore youth who are gay feel bad. They are so afraid of being gay they give themselves complexes. I certainly don’t think the Church is the only thing to do this– American society has helped a lot, but the Church, being inspired of God, should have programs and policies that uplift youth and build their self-worth.
This leads us to happiness. The most satisfied gay people that I know are the ones that have left or plan to leave the Church. It’s hard to be satisfied in a situation where you must be romantically alone for the rest of your mortal life, never learning what it is like to fall in love. It’s hard to be satisfied when you are constantly being reminded about how you can’t act out your natural desires but aren’t being given anything that helps you to change your desires. It’s hard to be satisfied when you feel isolated and out of place at Church. It’s hard to be satisfied attending a church that puts so much emphasis on family living- a living that you can’t have until after you die. That doesn’t sound like a religion making one “happy here” on Earth.
There are so many wonderful blessings that the Church bestows upon its members. So many of those blessings, however, are withheld from its gay members. I just don’t believe that it allows them to prosper or be happy. I encourage all straight people who can benefit from Mormonism to take advantage of the amazing things it has to offer. But if you are gay, please know that it is not your fault that you aren’t getting those amazing things. You were not designed for Mormonism.
Well, those are the controversial feelings I have been having as of late. Let the hate mail flow.