Here's my problem: I see the passionate experiences of folks like John Galt and Enduring Eric and I want those experiences for myself. Here are married men who had extended affairs that were by all accounts highly enjoyable and now are in the process of returning to the church and receiving full forgiveness and all the blessings of the gospel. Their own blogs explain the details and all the obstacles and heart-wrenching repentance they have and are experiencing, but at the end of it all I keep thinking they've managed to have their cake and eat it too.
I want to love and be loved in the powerful way John describes. Gay or straight, I think few people find a soul mate as attractive and perfectly suited as John has. I wonder if the forbidden nature of an affair makes it that much more passionate. Actually, I'm sure of it. Regardless, that's the kind of passionate sexual connection I've never experienced. And I should be thankful, all things considered, but I find myself feeling cheated. Why shouldn't I experience it just like John did and then repent and go on with my family life?
Commence cognitive therapy.
The problem with my thought process on this subject is that, like many church members, I've tried to distill the atonement into some kind of spiritual arithmetic--the kind that always ends with dividing by zero and being forgiven of all debts. But the gospel of Jesus Christ isn't only about the tally of sins and the ability of the atonement to "cover" them like a credit limit, it's about becoming like God. And you don't become like God by milking the system. You can't become holy by planning your sins and delaying your repentance to get the maximum experience. Every sin contributes to Jesus' suffering. Every one. What kind of person has his sexual fling knowing that the cost is another person being hung from nails through his wrists? Not a divine person, to say the least.
When Elder Eyring says:
This is my warning to you today. It is a bad estimate of your personal costs to believe that a choice to commit sin is made so free by the power of the Atonement that we can have painless forgiveness... how much better to choose to be good and to do it early, a long way upstream from the terrible effects of sin.
I revert to my self-defeating mental exercise of rationalizing that I would be willing to endure a large amount of pain to have the intense experiences John describes. But, then I remind myself that it's not primarily about the happiness or pain involved. It's about becoming a divine person.
Elder Eyring also says:
If we stay at it long enough, perhaps for a lifetime, we will have for so long felt what the Savior feels, wanted what he wants, and done what he would have us do that we will have, through the Atonement, a new heart filled with charity. And we will have become like him. That promise also is in the Book of Mormon: "Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:47-48.)
I don't have to experience what seems like the most passionate and intense feelings in life. I don't need to "experiment" with my gay feelings to see what it's like... to know that, yes, I really am gay, and yes, I really will be missing out on that amazing sort of passion I desire in order to become who God wants me to become.