By Mister Curie
A couple of acquaintances have suggested that my church disaffection and discovery of my homosexuality are so closely tied together that perhaps I would be better served by focusing on one before the other, suggesting that my struggles with the church are inhibiting my acceptance of homosexuality. Invariably they have suggested that I focus on my church disaffection first and that once I work through that, I will be better positioned to accept my homosexuality.
I think I have pretty well worked through my disaffection. Although I still attend church, I do not believe in its doctrinal foundations. I do not believe Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet, that there was a Divine Restoration, that the Book of Mormon is a historical document translated by the power of God, or that we are led by a Prophet today. That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? Perhaps not quite - I don't believe that Christ was the literal Son of God, that he founded a church, that he atoned for our sins, or that he was resurrected. I'm still on the fence about God, I'm still trying to decide if I think there is substantial physical evidence that God does not exist or that God's non-existence cannot be proved by physical evidence. But I do not believe in an anthropomorphic God who lives on/near Kolob with plural wives and gazillions of kids. I do not believe in a God that intervenes in the world to help me find my car keys so I'm not inconvenienced, but allows immense pain and suffering in the world. The world makes much more sense when I stop trying to superimpose Mormon theology on it. So what more is there to work through? When you stop believing entirely in the church, there just isn't much left.
Or is there? There is one aspect of my disaffection that I have not worked through, and it is intricately tied in with my discovery of my homosexuality. My wife hinted at this aspect of my disaffection in her recent post about feminism and choice. We are taught that free agency is the greatest gift God has given us and that we must use it wisely (in fact that was yesterday's Priesthood lesson in my ward), but I feel that psychologically the church trapped me into making the choices it dictated. Madame Curie wrote about how women don't really have a choice in whether to be stay-at-home moms because they are taught that it is a divine requirement. For the true believer, the choice is whether to please God or disappoint Him. In the church, it is all very black and white.
I have not yet intellectually plumbed the depths to which the church controlled my life and dictated my decisions. The church dictated to me as a true believer how to spend countless hours of my week, what food to eat, clothes to wear, words to use, entertainment to watch, music to listen to, who to spend time with, etc. You can argue there was a choice and that I chose what the church said, but to me there was no choice other than to please God or to choose misery.
My life's path was largely dictated by the church: go to BYU, go on a mission, get married, have a kid. I was following "God's plan for me". I admit that I was too dependent on the church, too quick to succeed my agency to what it dictated was right. I'm afraid to confront how much of my life was chosen based on what the church said, rather than on what I really wanted.
The same pattern was repeated with my mission. I think back fondly on my two years as a servant of the Lord (and not just when I remember my cute companions). The church told me my mission should be the best two years of my life up to that point, and so it was in my mind. A review of my mission journal tells a different story. Most days I was miserable. My introverted nature was not designed for engaging strangers in gospel discussions. I worked hard, but failed to become an effective proselytizing missionary. But my role as a missionary was to do God' will (as determined and dictated by the church) and to go and do what the Lord wanted me to do.
Unfortunately, prayer isn't very helpful in this struggle because I have already proven to myself that the answers I have received to prayer in the past are largely manifestations of the complex psychological interplay between what I want and what I believe God wants (typically the church's stance), and typically the church's stance won out. But that is how the church teaches it should be. In the Bible Dictionary we learn that "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God. . . Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." Now that I no longer believe the church has insight into God's will for me, I'm not sure where to turn to determine the best path for me.
So what is it that I actually want and how do I get my life on that path? Or am I already on that path?