Am I rotten?
One struggle that I think many of us Latter-day Saints who experience SSA have is grappling with the question of the nature and source of these feelings. Am I attracted to men because God made me so? If so, why did He create something that feels so right but is so wrong according to our doctrine? I guess the question is one of degree. No one is perfect. We each experience those aspects of our personality that we may not like as well as temptations that we cannot seem to ignore. It just feels that with SSA, something is fundamentally wrong with me. It's as though while the rest of the world needs to breathe oxygen, I need nitrogen.
The mental struggle to find purpose in having SSA (why did God give this to me?) is further excaserbated by Church leaders who teach that it is not something we are born with, but a choice. I think recent statements by Church leaders have eased up on that position, recognizing that personality or genes might have something to do with it. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I remember from a young age feeling different than other guys and craving a close physical and emotional relationship with another man. Now, that is not to say that choice has not played a role in my SSA. I have made choices that have augmented these same-sex attractions and made my life more confusing.
I have not told my church leaders about my SSA because I don't see that there is much, if anything, they can do for me. It seems somewhat arbitrary whether a bishop would be helpful or harmful because the church doesn't seem to have much in the way of instruction on this issue. Even if I felt my bishop would not stop loving me and would seek to help, I doubt he could change anything for me. This SSA feels like a private matter that I have to resolve with God directly, not through his servants. However, this feeling may be skewed by my own desire to protect my own. Sometimes bishops aren't as discrete as they should be. I shouldn't judge beforehand, but if something slipped, SSA can be terribly damaging to one's reputation. I don't want that embarrasment for me or my family.
So, maybe I'm selfish, like porn too much, or want to keep my sins secret, or maybe I'm just scared, lonely, and in doubt that anyone can help me. I'm not sure on my true feelings. Maybe all of the above is true. Whatever the truth of my feelings, I feel that at some place within my soul, I have a rot and my hope is minimal that it can ever be cleansed.
I think my feelings of doubt have been encouraged by my lack of self-control and my lack of faith. I try to learn at Church and through personal scripture study. I just don't get much out of these activities anymore. We, as a Church, have interpreted the parable of the ten virgins to represent our efforts at preparing for the second coming. If so, I feel like a virgin whose lamp has a hole in it. No matter what I do to fill the lamp, the oil leaks out--ineffectual spiritual preparation. I need a spiritual reboot, but I don't know what will accomplish it. I find little meaning anymore in scripture, temple attendance or church attendance. Only daily prayer gives me some succor. However, I still love the people at Church. I still feel like Church is a good thing. I still remember some great spiritual experiences from my youth and from my mission. I might not be able to say that I know with every fiber of my being that this Church is true, but I know it is a good thing that teaches correct principles. I just don't know anymore if it is the only way.
This is a brief description of how I'm feeling right now. This post was precipitated by a dream I had last night. In that dream, I had an incredibly physically and emotionally intimate encounter with a friend that was not sexual. I woke up with a feeling of peace from that dream experience mixed with terrible angst of guilt because such an experience in real life, I think, would become sexual--a violation of my temple covenants, my marriage, and my friend's trust. I wish that my dream experience could be real, but I realize it is forbidden. Thus my angst between what God and the Church tells me is something terrible with the beauty I see could be had between two men. Have I strayed so far from the path that I cannot see SSA as something evil, to be avoided at all costs?
In any event, I affirm the choices I've made so far in my life to not be with another man. I remain committed to my wife and children. I hope to develop a better relationship with God so that I can be at peace with all aspects of who I am. The path to obtaining that relationship is still unclear to me. I pray I can find the way soon.
Love, Simon - Well, hey gang! How's everybody doing? It's been a long, long time since I posted. My sister was telling me the other day she wished I would blog again, so...
4 weeks ago