Sunday, August 06, 2006

Perfect empathy

I’m fasting today. It’s nice. During the sacrament I shed a few tears when I thought about the Savior—about what He knows about me and how He is the perfect man.

When I posted a series on my beliefs, I never wrote about the Savior. I noticed it then, and I noticed again when I was putting together my blog index. I think I hesitated for multiple reasons, foremost among them that I had nothing to say that I considered to be particularly insightful. (Not that that’s stopped me most of the time!) It also seemed to be slightly inappropriate for some reason. But I’m not sure why.

In The Miracle of Forgiveness, President Kimball does not distinguish between same sex attraction and sin. I think this is why his writings there in particular have offended many men who struggle with this issue. I, personally, love President Kimball and his huge heart in encouraging us all to be repentant and receive the blessings of the atonement in our lives.

In that book though, he asks rhetorically if people can possibly believe Jesus was “that way”. He suggests it is abhorrent to even consider, but on a topic that is so important to me, I need to understand why. If, as subsequent church leaders have taught, the inclination itself is not a sin, then how do we know Jesus was not in fact inclined “that way”? I do not mean to be sacrilegious, but to contemplate whether those who agree with the brethren that the attraction itself is not a sin will find themselves balking at the suggestion that Jesus himself could have been sinless under just such circumstances. If you squirm, ask yourself, why? When the church can unflinchingly consider this, we will have grown remarkably in our tolerance, and there will be far less need for someone like me to be anonymous.


ABR (Anonymous, but relevant) said...

Thanks for your observations on the Savior today, L. I posted a comment earlier today on your "anonymous, honest..." piece. I'm out of town this week on business so didn't attend Church meetings, but I appreciated your observations about fasting and your feelings for the Savior. And I don't believe that it was sacreligous...whether the Savior was "that way" or not, I believe He understands our issues and has the perfect love and empathy for us that he has for all people. The Church is turning--ever so slowly--to have more understanding of this issue. The recent articles by Elder Oaks and others seem to express a much deeper understanding of gay Church members than "Miracle of Forgiveness" or "To the One," etc., have. I hear them saying, for the first time, statements like, "unwanted feelings" and that attractions are not sinful. I expect one day that they will drop the "hate the sin, love the sinner" bit, as it becomes more and more obvious that it is offensive and, well, wrong.

A whole new world has opened to me by finding your blog site. Thanks for all you do...know that somewhere, hiding in a small, dark closet, is a gay man longing to love and be loved...which is no different than the hopes and dreams of every living soul. Blessings.

Samantha said...

So, of course, a visit from the 2-cent queen...and if I had to pay people to listen to my opinions over the last few days, I would be SOOOOO in debt...

I'm going to start with semantics. I think if you think of Christ as the only sinless being to have walked the earth, well, I suppose it's not impossible that he felt attracted to other men. BUT, if you believe he was the only PERFECT man who lived, then, based on the definition of perfection that you provided me recently, well, no, he couldn't have those feelings.

HOWEVER...regardless of what his physical state actually was, I KNOW he felt the things you feel, and the he deeply understands all that you yearn for in the realms of your relationships with both genders. Oh yeah, and he loves you...probably more than anyone else. And he completely understands when we try to describe love within our marriages and he's grateful for people like you, who try to follow him under the most difficult circumstances.

Thanks for bringing him into the picture. He's my hero...among other things...

By the way, we get to study President Kimball next year in RS/PM. Enjoy!! (I don't love him as much as I love other prophets, so this will be good for me.)

-L- said...

Sam, while I believe SSA is inconsistent with a perfect, resurrected being, I don't see why that has any bearing on a mortal body capable of bleeding and pain. But I don't really know the specific manner in which Jesus was perfect and the specific manner in which he was subject to conditions of mortality. I suppose it's more to the point not to wonder whether or not it could be true but whether one's biases allow one to wonder at all.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Scot said...

I have to wonder how Matt 5:27,28 is interpreted then:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Jesus’ silence on homosexuality is striking for some (Even leading one Catholic theologian, IIRC, to claim the spirit of Jesus immolated every homosexual of the world just prior to His birth, leaving Him nothing to comment on), but an act of adultery is considered near a homosexual sex act for many I know in the LDS faith (laypeople). I have to wonder if and, if so, how homosexual desires are different than adulterous desires. Maybe the LDS position on homosexuality is more nuanced than I remember.

To get rid of the obvious emotional charge, wouldn’t it be similar to asking “Did Jesus ever want to steal?” My understanding of Jesus would result in a no to that, but, again, to the LDS faith is homosexuality in a different category? I don’t know, but would like to.

-L- said...

Same sex attraction isn't quite the same as lust or committing adultery in your heart. Attraction of one sort or another is inherent in every healthy person and has no culpability. It's, as you say, nuanced, I suppose.

Regardless, I'm not condoning a discussion in which we actually weigh the evidence for or against the Savior's sexual orientation... I'm just trying to point out that if it isn't a sin to be same-sex attracted, we should not find it so abhorrent to consider Jesus in that respect.

Or, more significantly, to accept any of our brothers and sisters who are so situated.

Anonymous said...

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

Heb 4:15

AttemptingThePath said...

you mentioned in the comments that you believe that SSA feelings wouldn't be apart of a perfected resurrected body...

but my question is how important are our sexual attractions in the eternities?

-L- said...

ATP, what do you think? I don't have any special knowledge on the topic. There are a lot of smart people out there that probably have it all figured out, but I don't know that I remember seeing anything written about it. Maybe I'll think through it a bit in another post.

Samantha said...

I was going to post this days ago, but got distracted...sorry.

I just wanted to bring everything back to the point of your post--which was that acceptance of people who are attracted to members of their own gender would be greater if people in the church could accept that those feelings are not least that's what I'm reading.

I just wanted to add one thing. I have a friend who had been married in the temple for 15 years. She has three children. Her husband, a former drug addict, returned to his addiction after those 15 years of marriage, told his wife that his need for drugs was greater than his need for his family, the marriage was dissolved, and he is still alone, abusing, and wretched.

My point? My feeling toward him, at first was, "WHAT AN IDIOT!!" He gave away his blessings for a fix. Who would do that? But the truth is, he was overpowered by his physical needs. He is one to be pitied, and loved. Someday, maybe, he will recover. He will need support and acceptance. I hope he will find it.

So as I judge him, out of my ignorance and lack of empathy, I realize that unrighteous judgment comes because I simply cannot comprehend his deepest needs. Now I'm not comparing SSA individuals to drug addicts (although, you know that's been done), but I'm saying that most people can't accept us because they simply cannot understand our physical or emotional yearnings--and those are, quite honestly, repugnant or even frightening to them.

You know all this. It's not new information. I guess I'm just trying to figure out how to bridge the gap. How do we increase understanding without becoming frustrated by its lack? Without being judgmental ourselves at the ignorance or our brothers and sisters? Without "us" becoming as "they" are. Can we be one under the auspices of Christ? I just don't know if it's possible.