Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 2)

The enticement that Lehi described is a curious thing. Sometimes, before we are in the midst of trial, it's easy to just think, "Well, choose the right when a choice is placed before you," but the reality is that, with many choices, both sides have valid arguments. And choosing the right then means being able to see through the mist of darkness and know the will of God. Otherwise making choices would be easy.

Same-sex attraction is no exception. Following are two comments I recently received; I post them here because they represent, in my mind, two of the common thought processes surrounding same-gender attraction... and two of the ideologies that I see perpetuated in others.

First Comment:

Hmm, while you are living your life celibate and doing everything in your power to control your same sex attractions that you weren't apparently born with, I will be spending my life with a man that I love and enjoying what life has to offer while still believing in God. A different God I might add. I feel sorry for you that you think you are doing the right thing and remaining celibate and faithful to church. There is so much more to life, and if you honestly believe that these homosexual thoughts and feelings are immoral and wrong, you my friend are in for a life of loneliness. Sure you'll have your friends, your familys, those that support you, etc. BUT, you know why they support you and remain around you? Because you chose to stay within the church, but just for that reason. Do you think those same people would really give you the same love and friendship if you chose to be an acting homosexual? No. I wish you could just see the bigger picture. And you know what? You can say the exact same things to me and thats just it...Theres nothing I can really say that you can't turn back around. I will leave you with this, you're not a bad person for chosing to embrace your the gay life-style per say being with a man. Everyone deserves to be with someone they are IN love with. It's how life was designed. If God put you on this earth to go through feeling what you do know to be rewarded in the after-life or to overcome these tempations and reign forever, you're mistaken. Getting married to a woman, fasting, praying, therapy, none of that will work in the case of being made whole and getting married. Take a stepouside of the box and see what happens.

Second Comment:

I find that you are a bit off base here. I really respect you for choosing your own path in life... but the situation you write about with the women talking about how they don't want to marry a gay man is real. I have lived it first hand. Trust me that what these women (and all women, especially in the church) are saying here, is not that they think less of you because you are gay, but that they know that deep down you could not make the connection THEY need. 

Love is a two way street, and both ends have to have interest and physical chemistry. Don't overlook sexual attraction in defining love, it's the cornerstone. 

I tried to live a life you are seeking. I got married to a wonderful woman that loved me back, we had so much in common, lived the gospel, tried EVERYTHING, and it didn't work. Deep down, a gay man is a gay man, doesn't matter how hard he tries to not act on those "feelings", it is who you are. And a women can tell, a women needs to see you desire her in your eyes and touch, if not it will feel fake and empty to her, like going through the motions.

Just don't shut out the arguments from "the other side", we're not all out to get you. I truly hope you can find peace with who you are someday, and know that you are loved for you.

The truth of the matter is that both of these experiences are real. Both men wrote to me with the hope that they could influence me to avoid pain that they themselves felt, and find peace that they've found. 

On the one hand, I could be like the first commenter - fall in love with a guy, choose to believe that is the will of God (a different God), and in that belief find pleasure in life, meaning, reconciliation, and companionship. Men have found that.

On the other hand, I could be like the second commenter, and try to do everything right, try to stay strong in the Church, and still fail - even after marriage - and experience extreme heartache and disaster, ripping apart families and leaving chaos in its wake. It happened to him.

Be gay, or be unhappy.

And, in the minds of many of the men I've met, those are the only two options. Stay completely and fully faithful in the Church and be miserable and full of self-loathing, or appeal to "spirituality," claim that the Church isn't true (or at least its teaching on homosexuality), and live an open, self-loving, and free life.

Faced with only those two choices, it's not striking why many men choose to trade the Church's stringent and clear teachings on chastity, faith, and perseverance for something else. 

I found myself choosing between those two choices just a few years ago.

I was doing everything right. I had gone to Seminary, learned my scripture masteries, served a faithful mission, and done everything according to the plan. I read my scriptures, paid my tithing, attended the temple, prayed, and I thought that was enough. So when life gave me only pain and sorrow, I found myself forced to choose between two options. Either the gospel and the Church doesn't really have the power to bring me happiness (and I should choose to follow commenter 1), or I'm simply not good enough and even if I try, I will fail (and my life will be like commenter 2). 

I turned to God for help, and realized that there is a third choice - one that promises far more than any other, but entails a whole lot more work and time as well. In my darkest hours, I learned that if the gospel is not working for me, it is because I'm not using it right - not because I'm not good enough or because God or His teachings are incapable of bringing me peace.

The reality is that Christ came to save all men, and that God has given all men the power to overcome their trials and find true happiness, joy, and peace through living according to His will.

But what does that mean? For me, it meant that I was going to need a whole lot more than 100 memorized scripture masteries and some cliche phrases from the mission. I was going to need much more faith than I was getting from my prayers, and far more guidance than what I was finding in the scriptures. And that makes sense. The Lord gives each of us, if we are righteous, Abrahamic trials - obstacles so massive that they require us to rise to the same level of faith that Abraham did. And he definitely didn't just have two years of mission experience and call it good.

And I'll be honest. For years, I saw only pain in my future. I knew that I was doing the right thing, but nothing seemed to work.

And I don't know exactly when it happened, or when the process began... but my frustration and despair slowly turned into perspective and faith... and today, I can truthfully say that I live a happy life. Yes, I'm nowhere near perfect. But I can see the light shining, and it is finally reflecting in my soul. And I have everything I could want. Fully a part of the Church, fully acceptant of who I am and what faces me here in life, and fully in control of what happens in my life. Life is amazing... and I wouldn't change anything, except to keep going.

Would I love to be married and have a family? Definitely! My goal is to fall in love with a woman, be physically attracted to her (read that last statement again - some people seem to not get it: be physically attracted to her), get married in the temple, raise a family, and work together to make our home and lives a part of heaven on earth. But I've met so many people and had so many experiences that I wouldn't have had if I were married. Maybe there's more that the Lord wants me to do. And in the meantime, the Lord is able to fill my needs - He is omnipotent, after all. It just took me a while to really believe it and learn how to benefit from that power.

So that's the decision I face. Work harder than I ever have, rely on God's grace, and determine how to use the Lord's omnipotent power to bring about happiness and salvation... or give up on reconciling Church standards with my attractions... or try really hard and give up when, after 10, 20, 40 years later, I feel like I'm still failing.

The beautiful promise of the gospel is that no matter who I am, there is a way to make it work for me. The gospel works. If it's not working for me, I'm not using it right. For everyone that seeketh shall find, and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened. The Lord God is no respecter of persons, which means that if His gospel can bring peace, hope, and joy to anyone who learns to use it in their lives, it can bring those same blessings to me.

And that's the option I choose.
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