Friday, May 25, 2012

First Things First

I'm continuing to notice what seems to be a rising interest in LGBT-friendly theology among Mormons. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like theology as much as the next guy. But there is, I believe, a far greater, far more urgent need for LGBT spirituality.

Some people will object: But gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people feel excluded from the Church. Until we have a theology of inclusion, we won't know how to have a spirituality.

But here's the thing. Theology is, by definition, man-made. At its best, it represents human efforts to clear away the debris of false reasoning, to better enable us to appreciate and receive God's revelation of himself. That's at its best. At its worst, it becomes a form of philosophical wishful thinking, and it adds to the debris more than it clears away. Speculative theology ought to be spurned by all thinking believers.

Theology is and always should be secondary. It should be the servant of doctrine and faith, never the master.

The way I would boil this down into really simple terms is this: If we aren't praying daily; if we aren't prayerfully studying the scriptures; if we're not striving to become better, more patient, more loving; if we're not doing something concrete to make the world a better place -- feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans, housing the homeless, defending the defenseless; if we're not actively seeking God; if we are not gathering and worshiping with other believers; if we don't have some sort of spiritual practice or discipline in our lives; we have no business doing theology. Or what theology we do do won't be worth a damn.

We desperately need a gay Mormon movement. And in order to have one that can actually accomplish anything of worth, we need gays who pray. We need an LGBT movement that is earnestly seeking God. God needs to be at the center of our lives, and love of God needs to be at the center of our movement. If we so order our lives and our efforts, we will be blessed.

Until we do, theology will just be an intellectual exercise and a distraction. It won't save us. It can't help us.

If we want inspiration from God -- revelation even -- to help us understand why we are gay, and how our gayness fits into God's scheme of things, we first have to have a relationship with God. And the only way to do that is the old fashioned way: through faith, hope, love, hard work and patience. We may have to wait a long time in faith before God will give us what we so long for theologically. But I trust that if we put first things first, when those understandings eventually come, it will be well worth the wait. And the work we've done will enable us to receive what is given.

12 comments:

Duck said...

I could not agree any more. Exactly.

Max said...

I'd like to add - one doesn't need to belong to a specific religion in order to be spiritual.

J G-W said...

Max - true enough to a point. However, I think there's a point where in order to grow spiritually, we need to be part of a spiritual community. In my experience, the most important things I have learned spiritually, I have learned through covenant and community.

gaymormonboy said...

Your post is so true, I think the reason many LGBT people lack spirituality is because their spiritual peers have told them that their homosexual feelings are wrong, and they find that not to be true they throw out their spirituality as well.Throwing the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.

alan said...

When I wrote my Dialogue essay, I knew full well that it was not my place as a Mormon-watcher to engage in speculative Mormon theology. The most I did was suggest that the next generation of Mormons will continue to have to grapple with queer kinship, as their notion of "family," theologically-speaking, doesn't match up to the diversity of American families.

Taylor Petrey's article does, however, speculate on how Mormon theology might indeed have room for queer kinship. As a Mormon, he's engaging in what you say: "human efforts to clear away the debris of false reasoning, to better enable us to appreciate and receive God's revelation of himself." And I believe his interest is for the Mormon community.

I guess it's not clear to me where your saying the "lack" is. These days, I would say there are plenty of spiritual LGBTs, but the Mormon Church is not a place where they look to worship because the theology still considers homosexuality a "abominable sin." I mean, I can understand why armchair theology could be a problem, but how can speculative theology to bridge the divide be anything but a good sign?

J G-W said...

We need to go to church.

Andrew S said...

I was liking the speculative theology (especially Petrey's, as Alan points out). It had me in a nice place for a little bit. Even a hopeful place.

But it didn't last.

I don't think an LDS church will help.

J G-W said...

Petrey's piece was good. It was the best I've seen of this nature.

alan said...

Andrew, I think the contingencies of Mormons marching for marriage equality this year in various Pride parades is definitely a sign of change. I'm not sure what theology these Mormons use to get to their positions of support. Perhaps as John notes, the theological part is not the most important anyhow.

If we're lucky, these Mormons will create a fervor big enough that the Church will have to acknowledge the debate within itself -- or else it would paint them as lost sheep. Most likely, it'll say nothing. We'll see if anything happens. My hope is that the media forces the Church's hand, lol.

J G-W said...

Coverage in Church-owned Deseret News -- if that's a sign of anything -- was quite positive.

See for yourself.

As for the "theology" used by the marchers... (at least as quoted in this D.N. article) It's... Love. Not much more complicated than that.

alan said...

Yes but John, if you'll notice, Deseret News folds those Mormons into the mantra of "The Divine Institution of Marriage" and "Love Your Neighbor." The SLC contingency did not actively support marriage equality. It's quite possible that a number of Mormons in the SLC contingency don't support same-marriage. The message of "love" is the same message the Church proffers in the phrase "love the sinner, not the sin." Yes, the Utah LGBT community was welcoming, but...

I'm looking forward to the Mormon contingencies later this month that will specifically be marching for marriage equality. I'm curious how Deseret News will cover them, if at all.

alan said...

To clarify, I'm sure a lot of those in the SLC contingency DO support same-sex marriage, but my point is, they had no explicit message different from the official positions of their Church. Their presence could and has been "spun." This won't be the case for the later contingencies.