26 November 2007

Ripe for the Harvest

I just had a thought: what if I approach the idea of marriage like I approached a mission: I wanted it, even though it did not fit my personality type exactly, and I approached it WITH mission, with purpose, understanding it was not "for everyone" to serve a mission but that I was fully capable of facing the challenges that were to be presented, and that I would have strength added to my own to fulfill whatever command I was confident the Lord gave.

Yet even now, remembering this and believing that I am, in fact, fully capable of "handling" the challenges of marriage and carrying through with that "call", I am still not sure how genuine it would be to do so. I mean, obviously it's the ideal according to LDS doctrine and culture. I just am not sure it is what I want, or what I even believe to be best. I'm not sure marriage really is the Lord's call to me, but I feel some draw, right now, to it.

I desire the fulfillment and happiness I felt in the one or two sort of romantic relationships I've experienced with male friends mixed with the depth of communication and connection I've felt with some non-romantic friends (male or female). Just that small taste of what it might be like to be coupled with a great guy, and that "completeness" of attraction, left me wanting more and made life in a romantic relationship with a woman seem totally bland and bleak in comparison.

Yet right now, after reading what would normally seem a thoroughly and irritatingly preachy e-mail response to my "coming out" to an old roommate who is now married, in which he proclaimed some simple (even simplistic) principles of the gospel and the joy marriage has brought him...I'm in a strange, almost ethereal mood, in a sort of peacefully familiar, although somewhat nebulous, perspective. I have a strange feeling that I can, in fact, navigate successfully through a marriage with a woman, and a faint glimmer of a desire to try it. That I could do it honestly. And that I would feel an abiding peace in doing so, even if I would have to give up the thrillingly romantic feelings I long so much to allow myself to feel.

But I remain, as of yet, extremely wary and will wait this out. Perhaps there is a war going on for my soul right now, heteroangels against homodemons duking it out to win this tortured soul, each with their own brand of healing.

Maybe his fervent--even if overly simplistic--e-mail has actually been just what was required to prick my heart with the Spirit at the right moment.

Maybe I'm on the rebound in the aftermath of a semi-romantic relationship from which I've painfully distanced myself and am now grasping for the next most comfortable thing, and the only thing I feel I'm actually allowed and could feasibly achieve (a sort of consolation prize that doesn't seem half bad after facing the reality of the loss of a more desirable prize), the familiarity of a good old-fashioned marriage and family. It feels like home, but it also feels a little like a lobotomy, like there's a vague sense that a piece of me is missing, but the part of my brain that recognizes the missing piece has been neatly disabled, so I'm blandly complacent.

Maybe it will pass.

Maybe I'll abandon my "testimony" as a lost cause and go after what I "want" with less regard to established doctrines of which I am not sure and may never be again.

Maybe I'll determine my "testimony" was a nice story I told myself for a long time and which helped me through a lot, and now the training wheels are to come off, and I am to embark on a lonelier (yet less divisive), more down-to-earth journey in a starker reality towards new depths of understanding.

Maybe my "testimony" will be rekindled in time, with a little effort on my part and help from friends and family, and I will find the strength to do things I am "scared" to do or am just not sure of at this moment.

I just don't know right now, but even now, in my dreamlike acceptance of the potential joy and peace of marriage and children, I'm sort of blandly, emotionally open to any of the scenarios above.

This, no doubt, is worrisome to many of you: that I'm dangerously, spiritually apathetic and open to a path that can only lead to distance from God, eternal damnation (loss of progress), denial of my divine worth and potential, and moral degradation. Loneliness in the eternities when I am separated not only from my earthly companion but from my friends and family who, presumably, will have made it to the Celestial Kingdom without me.

Others of you may be worried in another way: that I'm perched precariously on a downslide into the self-deceptive entrapment of tangled, man-made practices and doctrines that can lead only to a diminished and robotic, Stepford-style existence, seeking the praise of those who would be moral arbiters in exchange for the liveliness of my soul and needlessly giving up my true self in a self-loathing gesture of resignation.

Maybe I'm ripe for the picking? Nearing readiness to be sifted or tempered, perhaps?

Or I'm just in a mood and writing about it in the moment, and in an hour, I'll be back to the daily grind.

15 comments:

The Impossible K said...

Hmmm, quite an insightful analogy...
Useful, in some respects, though it _can_ be dangerous to follow if it's done with eyes wide shut. Not that you'd do that...
I found the latter portion of your post more than a bit disconcerting. I'm hoping that I was merely misunderstanding your intent.
Although I know I can't entirely understand what you're going through (who can?) I'm always surprised to see how much I can relate... albeit in a skewed sorta way.
I hope you can keep your "testimony" true enough to be sensitive to the Spirit's promptings toward such matters, should they arise... I pray for that myself.

playasinmar said...

Maybe you'll find some nice daughter of eve and torture her until you're both dead and "healed."

Please, forgive the acidic tone. I know it works out for some gay guys. But still... what did she do to deserve that?

Socal said...

Playa,

Dude...that's uncalled for. While I completely recognize that marriage should not be viewed as a to cure something or just to be endured until this life ends, how are you qualified to make such a blanket-value statement like that?

I have many friends who are married that are not only making it work but are thriving and happy. It is possible and their wives do not feel like they have been conned into something that they don't want to be in. Why don't you let the couples involved make those informed decisions for themselves and stop making so many judgement statements related to mixed-orientation relationships just because it is not something that you want for yourself.

Socal

Original Mohomie said...

Playa, I understand the hesitation and resistence to marriage, and I have a good friend who has a close female friend who married a gay guy who doesn't openly deal with or acknowledge his attractions, but she knows about them now, and she has had a really, really hard time with it, and her self-esteem in the marriage, so my good friend also has a very negative perspective on the whole marriage thing too.

I also think too many men talk nice and get involved with women, only to fall short of their talk when the reality of married life sets in. Of course, that goes for all people. Though this is, in my opinion, not your run-of-the-mill marriage issue.

But to say that all or most women who marry gay guys are just hapless victims being tortured really does a disservice to the women. They're adults who are perfectly capable of looking at what they're getting into and making a decision for themselves. Do you have the same sense of victimhood for men who marry same-sex-attracted women?

There's no way I'd go into a serious relationship without her knowing about me. How could you possibly hold back that much? It would be selfish to do so. For those of you who didn't tell your wives, please know I don't fully blame you for that without knowing your own personal situation. I mean, I didn't fully realize/accept that this wasn't a phase I'd grow out of until my mid-twenties.

I know a couple of people who have been in previous marriages before marrying their same-sex-attracted spouse and therefore have ample perspective going into and through the marriage, and they find their marriage fully satisfying.

Are there going to be concerns as to whether they're "attractive" to their spouse? Probably. Same goes for women whose men ogle Playboy models. Or men whose men ogle Abercrombie models. :-) But at least in those cases, the people being ogled are the same gender. But unattractive is unattractive. I'm not sure the "why" matters much to the person who feels unattractive. Wrong sized boobs? Too short? Too skinny? No penis? Not sure it really matters...but I might be wrong.

But I think many spouses of same-sex-attracted individuals will tell you that, of all of the built-in "problems" to have in a marriage, they'd take this one over a LOT of other options. I've heard many say that, even while acknowledging that it does present a somewhat unique set of challenges. Every marriage does.

I remember you leaving a fairly biting remark previously, too, playa, when I talked about marriage. You seem to have some very strong feelings against it. Please know that in my analyses, I'm not insisting, at all, that those who choose not to marry a member of the opposite sex have failed some test of faithfulness. I hope that's not how it has come across.

playasinmar said...

Socal: I know it works out for some gay guys.

Omo: "They're adults who are perfectly capable of looking at what they're getting into and making a decision for themselves."

No. They aren't.

There are no books for this. No classes. No training. When society tells a little girl to get married they give her a Barbie and Ken not a Barbie and Liberace.

The church doesn't even support the idea of gays and straights intermarrying.

So how can they possibly be "perfectly capable of looking at what they're getting into?"

Original Mohomie said...

Playa, notice I didn't say "They know exactly how it's all going to turn out and fully comprehend every nuance of a relationship with a gay man." But nobody fully knows what they're getting into in a relationship, as far as I can tell. When you meet someone, and you make each other happy and fulfill each other in beautiful ways, I can understand taking risks.

Where do you think training, books, or classes come from? Everything starts somewhere. Every path begins with a few initial steps into the unknown. I'm grateful some people dare to live outside the lines and report on what they find. Yes, it's sometimes at amazing risk, but what's a life without risk?

You and I are hardly living conventional, textbook lives, either. Gay mormons don't have much to go on, so I should've gone gay slut or closeted ultraconservative long ago by existing standards.

Are you seriously bound by such social conventions as Barbie and Ken? I don't know you personally, but from what I've read, I'm surprised to see you bringing established social convention and traditional gender roles into this discussion this way. Am I just overlooking some devil's advocate sarcasm?

As for the church's support of "gays and straights" marrying, there is no counsel proscribing it, though there is counsel against considering it some kind of "cure" for homosexuality.

I'm not talking, here, about people who get married merely to satisfy a cultural tradition or to "play it straight" to save face, or marrying without genuinely deep and abiding affection and attraction. I'm talking about people who maturely approach a relationship with true love and devotion and sincerity. That's something I can comprehend, and I fully acknowledge that the idea of "being with" someone of the opposite sex may feel so foreign to some gay people that I would not push them in that direction.

I am still trying to decide, nevertheless, what I will do with it all.

I actually posted this on a whim, in the middle of a strange emotional experience, not to open a debate, but I suppose it's a hot topic, so it should be expected.

playasinmar said...

Barbie and Ken are a symbol.

Every girl is raised with the expectation she'll be married. To this end nearly every social interaction is geared to relationships with boys.

There are a myriad of dynamics to every straight relationship (and no one can ever enter one anticipating everything) but gay men add things that are so far outside the norm as to be unfathomable. Sexual dynamics are an overused but apt example.

Socal said...

Playa, that's where I'd have to disagree with you. You seem to say that any gay man should automatically disqualify himself from marriage to a woman because "it's not fair to her." While you acknowledge that some guys make it work, you don't seem to be open to the possibility that some mature men and women and are able to or should make the decision for themselves to build a happy life together inspite of the challenges associated with same-sex attraction.

All of my friends who are in this boat are all mature adults. They are all in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. They have not gone into their marriages with blind eyes living in some sort of mormon fantasy land thinking that if they get married all of their troubles will go away. In fact, the women I know in these relationships are some of the most mature and supportive women I have met in my life. They know that their husbands have their bad days and they support them in a willing manner because they love their husbands and their husbands love them. There are no regrets to these marriages and the women are not little girls who have brainwashed in a Barbie and Ken (or Liberace as you put it) marriage because that is what is expected of them.

One of my friends has actually been married to a straight man before. He passed away and then got remarried to her current husband who has SSA. They went into the marriage with wide-open eyes and they are happy. They support each other. They give each other space and they know they each have needs that can be met by each other but also have needs that are met through friends. To insinuate that these couples are going into these marriages blindly is an insult.

You can't paint these couples or these marriages with a broad brush stroke and suggest that these marriages, while some of them may work, are not right. That is for the couples involved and for the Spirit to direct. I certainly would never suggest that someone get married to prove that they can be straight or as some sort of cure for SSA and I know some guys should not marry because it is not possible in a healthy manner for them, but I definitely would not infer that marriage should never be an option for everyone. That is an individual matter and I think it is sad that you have such a dismal view on these types of marriages that you feel the need to belittle everyone who is in such a marriage or is considering such a marriage.

Neal said...

Geesh Playa!! Maybe you should change your on-line name to "Pit Viper".

"Every girl is raised with the expectation she'll be married. To this end nearly every social interaction is geared to relationships with boys."

The last time I checked, gay guys WERE boys!

People can and do have meaningful mixed orientation marriages. Sorry if that blows away your pre-concieved notion of the MoHo world. If you don't believe it, see the new post by Ben on the Northern Lights main page.

Here's the Church policy on mixed orientation marriage:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

"We are sometimes asked about whether marriage is a remedy for these feelings that we have been talking about. President Hinckley, faced with the fact that apparently some had believed it to be a remedy, and perhaps that some Church leaders had even counseled marriage as the remedy for these feelings, made this statement: “Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.” To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate."

The Impossible K said...

Thanks socal. And omo :)
Playa,
What makes you think every girl so blindly follows that expectation? Even if culture tries to press a "straight" lifestyle (including marriage) on us, not everyone falls into it... come on, you should know.
As a girl, I feel like I have to throw in my two cents... Assuming every girl grows up looking for a "conventional" relationship with boys is bunk. Clearly, not all boys are going to approach relationship in the same way. Why should girls? I really feel like your comments are discrediting a number of strong, capable women.
Yes, the "challenges" of SSA may be unique- but so what? Every relationship is unique. Every person is unique. And the only way any eternal marriage CAN work is with the Lord's help. Do you think anything is too hard for the Lord?

Original Mohomie said...

Neal, I appreciate your input, but I will not approve such comments in the future unless round-about name-calling is removed. Playa has come across as a bit "acidic", as he words it, but I don't think referring to him as "Pit Viper" is constructive at all.

This is an oft-heated topic, so debate is understandable, but everyone please mind your tone.

I'm kind of identifying, now, with bloggers who have lamented that their personal feelings have become the catalysts of lengthy arguments. Nevertheless, I'm interested in this topic (obviously, judging from my recent posts), and I'm interested in the varying perspectives on it, so discussion is welcome.

Neal said...

Original,

You're right. My apologies for egging things on. I guess I just got over-acidified there for a moment.


Neal

playasinmar said...

Again, I know it works for some gay guys. I know this because I know gay guys for whom it is working.

I can't make that much clearer.

My concern is that this situation is patently unfair to Women.

Obviously there are some women who do great in these relationships. Women who enjoy the gay men they married, thrive spiritually, and will never experience the soul-shattering marriage-implosion that so commonly ends things.

"Commonly" is the key word. Exceptions are exceptions, after all.

Neal said...

"Obviously there are some women who do great in these relationships. Women who enjoy the gay men they married, thrive spiritually, and will never experience the soul-shattering marriage-implosion that so commonly ends things."

These "marriage implosions" do indeed occur. I've seen them myself. Not sure if I would label mixed orientation marriages as "patently unfair" just because they fail. More than 50% of all marriages fail, and many diastrously so (that figure isn't really accurate, and is probably higher, because the marriage rate has also dropped substatially. We don't have statistics about people who just live together and then break up).

I think the question to ask here is this: Are the "marriage-implosions" occurring in the relationships where the spouse did NOT know about their partner's SSA before hand, or are they occurring in the relationships where they DID have that knowledge? Or both?

Reiterating what Elder Oaks said:

"To me that means that we are not going to stand still to put at risk daughters of God who would enter into such marriages under false pretenses or under a cloud unknown to them. Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate."

Full disclosure before marriage is the counsel we're being given. My sense is that the marriages that were entered into with full disclosure do not have the incidence of "marriage implosion" that the "closeted" marriages have. I don't have a study to back that up, but that seems to be the case based on the discussions I've had with married MoHos. Perhaps someone else out there has some hard data on this issue.

Regards,

Neal

The Impossible K said...

I know this comment is belated and not at all related to the argument carried in previous comments, but I just remembered you talking to me about giving up music for your mission. Not sure how analogous that is, but as a music-lover myself, I know that's a sacrifice... but looking back, was the sacrifice worth it?
I have a nagging suspicion that any righteous effort or sacrifice made on our part will be more than made up in the eternal scheme of things... :)