Matthew 13: 30 "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
Doc & Cov 86: 3, 6-7 "...the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness. [...]
6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
7 Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned."
Sometimes, I feel like I am more inclined to try to engage more fully in church activity and settle into a ward to start developing friendships with ward members and serving in a focused way, through callings and home teaching. Then other times I think I'm being dishonest with myself and with other church members in engaging in such a way.
For example, when I hear someone report on Elder Scott's visit to California, and his assessment that gay marriage is one of the greatest evils Satan uses today to limit people from the opportunity of having an eternal family and uses that as a reason to encourage legislation banning it, I realize that I simply can't, in good conscience, faithfully and fully support the stance of the brethren on this issue in being involved so heavily in legislating morality of this kind. I'm not prepared to say they're flat-out wrong, but I cannot simply sit back and nod quietly and acknowledge that my reservations are subtle deceptions of the devil, despite the fact that I believe I understand that argument and recognize its feasibility. I stated my opinion on the subject some time ago on my blog, and it garnered some debate. My position remains the same. I consider the church's political activism regarding gay marriage to be very troublesome. My ideas, my interpretation of the role of government and legislation are being called devilish sophistry and false philosophy by the men whom I claim to support as prophets, seers, and revelators, simply because I disagree that the church should get involved in these political measures the way it is. I feel I am left with a choice:
a) Continue to quietly bear the chastisement and believe what I will, even though I disagree with the church's position on this, and either chalk it up to human error (on someone's part, whether mine or theirs) that someone will have to be forgiven for, even if it turns out to be me, and just keep my mouth shut to avoid disciplinary action and focus on the points of doctrine which are more harmonious with what I am more sure of.
b) Try to "humble myself" and "realize" the error of my thinking, which could happen over time and has in the past, for sure.
c) Decide that I am hopelessly at odds with the church on a matter they are making such a big deal out of that the only honest course of action for me, at this point, is to sign out until they or I change.
I'm bothered. Yes, this is one of those more rare "emotional" posts in which I do express some of my more rational analysis but focus more on what I'm feeling. I'm sometimes worn out by the ideological dissonance and occasionally lack the motivation to continue trying to reconcile everything when these debates (at church, among discussion groups, or among some of my closer friends) become front and center and serve as a constant reminder of my own apparent deviance from the one true course. Sometimes, I'd rather just wave it all away, dust myself off, and go about my life in ways I have more personal control over.
On one hand, I feel drawn to simply live a more open, live-and-let-live way. On the other hand, live-and-let-live sometimes amounts to devoid of principle and conviction, and I recognize that I have gone through other times when I've been at odds with authoritative declarations (religious, familial, or professional) that I later recognized as wisdom beyond what I saw from my perspective and was glad I "came around". On the other hand, there have been times I've complied and found no benefit in doing so and wished I hadn't compromised my principles to try to embrace something I knew I didn't really believe. So how do you know the difference? I guess this is where that whole "personal revelation" thing we learned about this week in elders' quorum comes in, but I must say that even to accept a revelation on the matter, I would have to turn a blind eye to the violation of principles I believe to be greatly important in the role and function of government and the abuse of "majority rule" in our country and principles upon which I believe the nation was founded. But then, I'm one of those deceived-by-Satan types, so the faithful should disregard what I say and recognize my apostasy as a misguided--even if "good"--person, especially with the help of the clarion calls from those members who claim to understand the gospel more fully than I do, at least regarding this issue.
I'm tired right now, and I'm sick of the debates and the rhetoric, and yes I'm very wary of the risk of lobotomizing myself to comply with an organization run by humans, inspired or not. I've been in the "100% obedient" camp, and while I felt an abiding peace for knowing I was "on the right side", I always felt a slight, nagging sense of sweeping too much under the rug to be cleaned up at some later time, maybe when my light and knowledge was more full, and not knowing if that would ever happen.
The fact is, I understand the attraction of wondering if someday the church might change its stance on gay partnerships or glossing over the teachings of the prophets over the years regarding the issue because the church is still growing in understanding, and who knows how far it will "progress" in time? But then I read people writing that even if we can love people in gay relationships, they're surely, undeniably damned by that choice in the sense that, doctrinally speaking, there ends their eternal progression, and I'm reminded: that's all there is to it! It's simply NOT in the picture, according to the proclamation on the family, or the general conference talks over the years (and I'm not talking about isolated statements but official, consistent declarations over decades), and official church policy is quite plain: man and woman complement each other and were created for each other to procreate and raise children in the gospel, creating a posterity for countless generations through all time and eternity, consecrating their whole lives to the kingdom of God.
And it's a simple and complex and beautiful picture of one huge eternal round and intricately interwoven family of God dedicated to so much more than themselves that the selfish desires of the flesh are swallowed up in the vastness of eternal glory and joy and...anything else is an unfortunate deviance or consequence of living in a fallen world. So I'd better just hunker down and start going to all the counseling and experiential weekends I can and focusing all of my energy on working towards finding a wife because otherwise, "the adversary" has already won by damning my progression by deceiving me into believing that's not what I want. So what in hell am I still doing loitering about the kingdom of God if I'm not in it to win it? I'm just baggage and a distraction and a detriment to the health and growth of the wheat, or I serve as an example of "don't let this happen to you", or I'm an "opportunity" for more faithful members to show forth their great love and charity towards my wandering soul in the hopes of helping me one day see the light more fully and join them on the path to eternal glory.
OK, so AGAIN I digressed. It's all related, I guess. It's just that this debate about the whole California gay marriage decision has brought to the forefront some ideas and reminders of my own reservations and conflicts. More than that, even if I were to be dating a hot girl and ready to marry, I just don't see my perspective on the church's political activism changing. And to be at odds with the brethren on one point is to descend down the slippery slope of the piece-mail gospel. If you don't support them in all things, you simply don't support them. It's a doctrinal fact, right?
So maybe this is what it feels like to be the tares, sifted from the wheat: to have doctrine thrust into my face with the forced realization that I'm simply not sure I buy it and certainly am not able to commit to it in good conscience. That I don't feel the need to pray until I believe it because someone told me it's so. Oh my stubbornness and stiff-neckedness and the foolishness viewed as wisdom, and the wisdom of God regarded as foolishness by those who are learned but not wise. Well, perhaps this is a warning realization, and I should focus on humbling myself more and being more teachable. (Thank-you in advance to those of you who will single out lines like this and quote them back to me with a comment like, "Yes, I think you know this is the right choice, deep down," but please save those kinds of comments for someone else who puts stock in them.) Or perhaps I shouldn't wait around among the wheat just to be bundled and burned at the harvest. Maybe I should pick myself up, gather my roots, whatever there may be, and get myself out to allow the wheat to grow as they need to without my hindrance and go wither in unbelief on my own without polluting the flock with my philosophies of men mingled with scripture.
To most latter-day saints, this is a much darker and more sinister confession than, "I often find men to be very attractive and women only occasionally, mildly so."
No, I'm not generally angry or sullen, so I'd suggest holding off with the reactions like, "See? He's not truly happy because he's questioning the brethren." But I just spent some time reading some of the rhetoric floating around out there about this, and I am sick of the debate, and it's the middle of the night, and I'm crabby. I'm not out to make enemies. I'm just stating how I feel sometimes. You're just getting a bit of O-Mo unfiltered. I know one or two of you who relish in that sort of thing, so here's to you. *wink*