Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The First Presidency Letter

I believe that the work of God requires good order, which requires leaders, communal cooperation, harmony, and individual commitment that is able to transcend our individual agendas.

I believe that the leaders of the Church are called by God. I have a testimony of this, because I have benefited from the wisdom of these leaders when I have listened to and followed counsel that they've offered to the general membership of the Church. I love and pray daily for the leaders of the Church.

I do not believe in infallible leaders nor do I hold fatalistic views of community that suggest a community or a hierarchy is always and ever chosen by God no matter what it does or how it acts. I believe that just as individuals will be accountable for the choices they have made, so will communities. If individuals can make mistakes, so can communities.

Nevertheless, I believe that the good flowing from good order requires enduring commitment to community, even when there is not consensus within a community about how to solve specific problems, and even when mistakes are made. We remain committed to a community not because the community is perfect, but because perfection requires community.

I love the Church and have a testimony of it. And I believe it is no co-incidence that the same day I learned of the First Presidency letter to be sent out to California congregations this Sunday, I also learned how my testimony and actions one year ago have resulted in two individuals receiving testimonies of the gospel and joining the Church. The latter reminded me in a powerful, tangible, and personal way of my testimony and of the fundamental commitments of my life, despite my profound, personal disappointment about the former.

As regards my relationship with my partner, I know from personal experience the goodness, nurture, strength, and happiness that have flowed from this relationship. Our relationship has been and continues to be the context for the greatest, most profound, most meaningful spiritual experiences in my life. It has even provided the framework for spiritual growth that has enabled me to turn back to the Church.

I know from personal experience that God has blessed our relationship. God has answered my prayers for my partner and for our relationship. I have felt guided to deepen my commitment to our relationship in every way, and to strive for ever greater fidelity to that relationship, in deed, word and thought.

Marriage is powerful because it interweaves the highest individual, familial, communal, and spiritual commitments. We can have good lives and decent committed relationships without it. But it enriches and enhances our lives and our relationships when we enter into it, when we accept all the covenants of mutuality, commitment, and fidelity that come along with it. There is not the least hint of doubt in my heart, mind or soul that if my partner and I have an opportunity to make such a commitment, we should.

I feel guided by God to do so. Indeed, had God not answered our prayers to resolve our eight-year-long search for my partner's birth certificate, we would not be able to take advantage of the opportunity to marry legally in California -- which I also see as an answer to the prayers of many, many people, including my own.

I hold these things simultaneously: my love for and my commitment to the Church, and my love for and my commitment to my partner. Both forms of commitment have enhanced and perfected my life and brought me closer to God.

To others this seems like a contradiction.

To me, it just is.


Beck said...

Thank you for your witness to what things are.

A lot of things "just are". They may be conflicted and counter-intuitive, but they don't change the reality that they "just are".

Contradictions are part of this life. I, too, maybe in a different form, live a contradicted life that "just is".

Chedner said...

For me, this is why statements such as the one made recently are as difficult as they are. That is, I have a firm testimony that the leaders of the Church are men of God; I cannot and will not deny that. On the other hand, I cannot and will not deny the confirmations of the Spirit I have been receiving concerning my current decisions and views on homosexuality.

In my computer-programmer mind, there's this either/or-ness that wants to enforce itself... but I think I'm finally learning to sit back, have patience, be calm, and have faith in both God and humanity.

And I feel I'm really starting to feel that faith, not just in God and humanity in general, but in the leaders of the Church. I know I can trust them to eventually do the right thing. However, it's this 'patience' bit that really is tough for me, but I'm learning... I hope.

And you have played a very important role in this development of mine; I hope you are aware of the impact and greatness you have in this world!

J G-W said...

Beck - No, thank you for just being. If anyone can testify to the pain of being forced to live these kinds of contradictions, it is you.

Chedner - Thanks for the accolades, though I'd say none of us -- regardless of which path we have chosen to try to deal with this particular dilemma -- have had a particularly easy time of it. So there's plenty of "greatness" to go around.

But I agree that cultivating patience is really the only resolution we can get at the present moment. And, again, that is true regardless of where we sit on the spectrum of response to this issue.

Anonymous said...

This heinous homosexual sin is of the ages. Many cities and civilizations have gone out of existence because of it. It was present in Israel's wandering days, tolerated by the Greeks, and found in the baths of corrupt Rome. In Exodus, the law required death for the culprit who had sex play with animals, the deviate who committed incest, or the depraved one who had homosexual or other vicious practices.

This is a most unpleasant subject to dwell upon, but I am pressed to speak of it boldly so that no student in this University, nor youth in the Church, will ever have any question in his mind as to the illicit and diabolical nature of this perverse program. Again, Lucifer deceives and prompts logic and rationalization which will destroy men and make them servants of Satan forever.

[Lucifer] will use his logic to confuse and his rationalizations to destroy. He will shade meanings, open doors an inch at a time, and lead from purest white through all the shades of gray to the darkest black.
President Kimball is my hero....

MoHoHawaii said...

Dear Anonymous,

Oy vay! Where to begin?

First of all, your grandiose, faintly Victorian tone is straight out of See It and Say It in Pseudoarchaic (2nd ed.). If you want people to take your ideas seriously, you might want to drop the sermon-speak. It comes across as self-righteous.

Your credibility could also be improved if you would stand behind your words by getting a user ID and a blog of your own. Anonymous comments are in poor taste. Do you have things to say that others need to hear? Then stand up and say them on a blog. If you say things that make sense, you will develop a regular readership. Then, when you comment on the blogs of others, they can look up your blog and comment on your thoughts. If the tone remains respectful, there might even be worthwhile exchange of views. It would be great if people like you and people like me could someday converse instead of talk at each other.

Just my $0.02.

J G-W said...

Mohohawaii - I believe Anonymous is here quoting (without attribution) a statement by President Kimball in the 1980 New Era.

Anonymous - I too love and have a deep admiration for President Kimball. I love him, first of all, because he was a deeply loving individual who reached out to many that were marginalized in the Mormon community. I also love him because he was the one who was able to see past generations of hateful race prejudice, and seek a revelation from the Lord that eventually led to blacks receiving the priesthood.

I believe if President Kimball were alive today, he would eventually have come to regret the many hurtful and uninformed statements he made about homosexuality, that have caused so much needless pain to so many people. I believe he might eventually have retracted or at least moderated statements such as the one you've quoted here.

I believe it would be a shame for him only to be remembered for statements such as this.

And, by the way, I agree with Mohohawaii... If you want to make deliberately provocative statements on other people's blogs, it would make more of an impression if you had the decency to put your name or a blog address next to them.