Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mormonism in my situation

I think everyone's spiritual experience is different, and to say I'm Mormon isn't really saying much at all considering the wide spectrum of thought, observance, and spirituality that can be associated with it. So this entry is to clarify what I believe, and why, and the reasons those beliefs combined with my sexuality are problematic.

I believe, and I always have, that there's more to life than we see. I'm not talking about spirituality in the amorphous, everybody has their own, kind of way. I'm talking about the factual state of the universe that we just plain don't get because of our mental and physical limitations. I've come to believe that the purpose of life is one of those things--something of substance, something real--that we don't fully understand. God tells us bits and pieces that give us guidance about how to get ourselves to the point where we can learn and know more, but the fact that they are so sketchy makes it hard to "buy in" all the time.

Some of those bits and pieces that I happen to believe are that there was life before and will be life after mortality. The conditions of that life are described in terms that I believe are a mix of fact and metaphor so that we can understand them--we were with a family, we will continue to be in families, and relationships will endure. The emphasis on connections with other people make it clear that we need to have as much love for others as possible. Further, happiness is desirable--but only a certain brand of happiness, the kind that doesn't distract from a larger, as yet incomprehensible, destiny.

Part of me is happy when my body tells me I'm happy. Putting a physiologic spin on it, the pleasure centers of the brain make you happy when you obey your body. Drink when you're thirsty, succeed in a high-pressure situation, have sex. But the body's feedback is limited and I have to rely on higher brain functions to discern whether what makes me feel good is really helpful. Quenching thirst is important when you're thirsty, unless it's quenched with anti-freeze. Endorphin release in a high-stress situation is good, unless it's from a drug addiction that will ultimately kill you. And sex is good when it draws you closer to a person in love and/or results in the responsible creation of another human life. But sex can be selfish and destructive too.

I see several roads to happiness based on my life right now, but none that I find satisfactory. To break it down as simply as possible, the two opposing things that make me happy are my family (my wife, son, and extended family) and gay sex and/or affection. I see no obvious way to reconcile the two and have them both (which I so much want!), so I have to decide what to do. Pursue the greater happiness--which will go irrevocably in one direction or the other--or turn to something as uncertain as my faith and trust that I'll be best off with a particular course of action regardless of the consequences to my happiness.

This post is already way too long, so I guess I'll have to make it a serial story... more later!

4 comments:

Foxx said...

The things that bring me more than just a temporary happiness can be grouped into three categories: integrity, relationships, and service.

I think it is important to understand that when we're striving to discover true happiness (or joy, as you may want to call it), we're not looking merely for things that feel good. My young friend Adam has the philosophy of "if it feels good, do it," and I don't necessarily agree. What you have to look at are the needs those "feel good" activities are trying to fill.

For example, you may turn to alcohol to forget your problems or to relax your inhibitions. Do you feel better when your problems disappear? Sure. Do you feel better when you are not limited by your own fears? Yeah. These are not, however, permanent solutions, and can therefore only provide a temporary happiness.

If you want to learn how to relax your inhibitions, there are other, more productive things you could be doing. You could audition for a play at the community theater, or volunteer your time at the old folk's home and talk to the lonely folk. These (arguably) more enriching activities have the ability to affect a more permanent change and add to your self-worth, although it is a longer process and takes more effort than downing a few glasses.

I guess it just requires looking objectively at your actions and determining what is most important to you.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Thanks for this post.

For myself, I've come to believe that happiness -- true eternal joy -- and homosexuality, including the full embrace of gay life are by no means incompatible.

I think that's about all I have to say at this point.

Dave Walter said...

L,

I have several acquaintances who were married, came out to their wives, got divorced -- and then remained good friends with their wives. I interviewed one guy who had a happy marriage (with three young daughters), as well as a boyfriend; the situation was acceptable to all.

I don't know whether your relationship with your wife could be compatible in some way with your being actively gay. But it's not necessarily an impossibility.

-L- said...

Yeah, Dave, I had considered that. The way to have my cake and eat it too--an arrangement in which my wife and I are domestic partners but sexually free to do whatever we want. (Damn that sounds good right now.) She might even buy in, but the point of this post (that I haven't gotten around to making all that clear yet) is that happiness, even "eternal joy" isn't really the most important thing. More later...