In emails, a few readers have mentioned a forum that happened last night at BYU-Provo. The BYU sociology department sponsored an open panel of 3 men and 1 woman who shared their experiences living in the Church with same-sex attraction.

One man shared the story of how he fell in love with his wife after serving a mission, got married, and eventually the physical attraction came as well. The second man explained that he is attracted to both men and women. And the two others - a man and a woman - both shared the desire to marry the same gender, but also actively attend Church.

Hearing about this panel makes me wonder. I knew a gay couple on my mission... and while they initially perhaps intended to be actively involved in the Church, being excommunicated for violation of temple covenants was far more difficult than they had expected. Never being asked to pray or speak or teach, not having the blessing of paying tithing, being accepted in the ward but without a calling, and not having the "light at the end of the tunnel" that comes to those who repent. After only a short time, they stopped coming to Church... then they stopped reading the scriptures... and members and missionaries alike had no idea what to do to help.

I remember being in their home, eating dinner and reading the Book of Mormon with them and asking why they didn't come to Church. I didn't know at the time that they were sexually active as homosexuals. I just knew that there was something vitally important missing from their lives - a pain that I could see in their eyes - along with the conviction that, whatever had happened to estrange them from the Church, they still believed. The answer they gave has haunted me ever since.

"We know the Church is true, Elders. We love the Book of Mormon and the prophet, and we know what they teach is true. We work hard to keep the commandments and even gave away a copy of the Book of Mormon at work a few weeks ago. But going to Church, where... everyone knows us... is too hard. We want to go, but it's just too hard."

Since that time, I realize that I've never met someone who has succeeded in his desire to be active in the Church (as active as you can be while excommunicated - attending meetings and activities, but without temple attendance or callings), completely honest with himself and others, and actively homosexual. Those who lie and cover their sins? Yeah. Those who are honest and stay clean? Yeah. And those who leave outright? Yes.

And, at its core, the belief is more than that - the belief is this: "I can be actively homosexual and active in the Church at the same time... and there will be no discord between the two." But that isn't true. The belief that I could pick from both worlds, while perhaps idyllic on the surface, doesn't fit with the Plan. And, ultimately, I, like everyone else in life, will come to the crossroads where I have to choose between the two masters.

No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

There are plenty of false teachings about homosexuality and happiness in the world, and even among some members of the Church:

The belief that getting married, while hard, will inevitably solve all my problems. Definitely false. In the case of same-sex attraction, marriage is only a choice if I fall head over heels in love with a girl. Otherwise, it is specifically discouraged by the Church.

The belief that if I'm faithful and "do everything right," the Lord will heal me and replace my attractions. The Lord doesn't take away everyone's burdens. He didn't in the past, and will not in the future. He will leave His children with diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, mental illness, and same-sex attraction along with every other trial they need to return to Him

The belief that I can never be happy in life if I'm not involved in romantic same-sex relationships. Also false. While relationships do bring happiness, it comes and stays when I keep the commandments of God. The Lord will always ensure my happiness if I do my part to let Him.

The belief that someday the Church will change, and romantic same-sex relationships and marriages will become accepted and part of Church doctrine. It takes very little honest research on this topic among the words of the prophets to realize that, while the organization of the Church is guided according to the will of God, the commandment against homosexuality will never change... because God will never change it. Someone asked me once what I would do if God commanded me to find a husband. I felt that I had read enough and felt enough that to even pretend that was possible was absurd. But he was adamant, so I did the one thing that anyone in that situation should do - ask God. Before, I had never really asked if homosexuality would always be a sin. It was obvious to me that it always had been and always would be. But faced with people who thought otherwise, I asked what I should do in that circumstance. The answer from the Lord, instead of "what I would do if God asked me to ...", was a simple truth He taught me. God will never ask me, or anyone, to engage in homosexual relations, and homosexual acts will always be sins. Hence, I can add my own personal witness to that of the Brethren - acting on homosexual attractions will not lead to eternal happiness, and that's not ever going to change.

I guess what alarms me is that people - even some of these BYU students who are currently committed to obeying the Honor Code - don't seem to see the danger in believing that they can straddle both worlds. And when they are finding pleasure and fulfillment in their relationships, yet the gospel doesn't seem to "work" for them as it did before, I'm afraid they'll discard it, when the real issue wasn't the gospel at all.

I am convinced that the only way to true and lasting happiness is through keeping the commandments of God. And that, as I do so, He will guide me, meet my unmet needs, and enable me to find peace, joy, and love according to the bounds that He has set for me and my life. And hopefully, as time goes on, the truth of that message will find those who need it most.
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