Invictus Pilgrim formerly blogged at invictuspilgrim.blogspot.com. For personal reasons, he has taken that blog private and has started at new blog at mohosapiens.blogspot.com. The following was his initial post on his new blog.
A little over 15 months ago, I was prompted (not in the Mormon sense, but in the common-usage sense) to start blogging about what I was going through. A few weeks before, I had been blasted out of the closet upon hearing a talk which soon became infamous that was delivered by the President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles the second most-senior apostle, the man who was and is a heart beat away from becoming the Lords mouthpiece on the earth.
During the course of the next 13 months, I blogged extensively about my thoughts and experiences as a gay man who had finally come to terms with his true identity after over 20 years of marriage and activity in the LDS Church.
Two months ago, I reached a decision to take that blog private and to take a break from blogging. Like other men who were (closeted) gay, married and Mormon and who blogged about their coming out experience, I reached a point where I wondered whether there was anything left to write. Furthermore, I am definitely not the same man I was when I began my blog in October 2010, and my life is very different today than it was a year ago and even six months ago. My head, so to speak, is in a very different place.
I debated for a time whether to revive my former blog. Frankly, I didnt know whether I wanted to bother with it anymore. But when I read what Elder Packer recently said during a broadcast which two of my children probably saw, I decided the time had come to take up my pen. I do so, however, in a new blog, having ultimately reached the decision to permanently close my former blog.
I dont claim to have anything earth-shattering to say about Elder Packers seminary address; others have written eloquently about what was said that night. But I wanted to add my voice to theirs and share a few thoughts about the following passage from Packers talk:
We know that gender was set in the pre-mortal world. The spirit and the body are the soul of man. The matter of gender is of great concern to the brethren, as are all matters of morality. A few of you may have felt, or have been told that you were born with troubled feelings and youre not guilty if you act upon these temptations. Doctrinally, we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased. And that cannot happen. You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live morally pure and chaste, one filled with virtue.
Points to ponder:
Gender was set in the pre-mortal world.
As I recently tried to explain to someone who knew absolutely nothing about Mormonism, Mormons believe that we humans are made up of an immortal spirit housed in a mortal body. This spirit is the offspring of deity and has existed for countless ages with a gender, either female or male. What President Packer believes but doesnt explicitly state is that gender and sexual orientation are basically one and the same, i.e., male (gender) = wants to love and have sex with females (sexual orientation). He apparently cannot conceive of this equation: male (gender) = wants to love and have sex with males (sexual orientation). Because of this unspoken belief, he believes that we were programmed as heterosexuals in the pre-mortal world and that homosexuality in this mortal world is an aberration that defies logic and Heavenly Fathers plan for his children. Thus, the infamous line, Why would Heavenly Father do that?
The matter of gender is of great concern to the brethren, as are all matters of morality.
Gender is a moral issue? This is where we really start to get into what I call Boyd-Speak. Elder Packer doesnt come right out and say that believing yourself to be gay is immoral, but he certainly implies it. Hes doing here the same thing he did in the October 2010 conference address. He couches his language in innocuous-sounding words and phrases that most (straight) members of the Church believe to be perfectly defensible (“he was talking about pornography, not homosexuality”), while sending a message straight to the hearts (like a dagger) to gay members of the Church.
A few of you may have felt, or have been told that you were born with troubled feelings ”
This phrase reminds me of Elder Packers infamous 1978 BYU multi-stake fireside, To the One, in which he devoted an entire address to speaking to the one among 100 who might be suffering from troubled feelings of homosexuality. As if a young man or woman wouldnt feel isolated enough, hes going to make sure they and others know that only a tiny minority of Church members is plagued by such troubled feelings.
And just in case you believe the propaganda that you were born with the inclination to be homosexual, Packers belief and thinly-veiled assertion is that such beliefs are hogwash, pure and simple.
Troubled feelings. I think this is the segue to NARTH and the unspoken invitation to see a good reparative therapist.
troubled feelings act upon these temptations.
Notice again the Boyd-Speak. Is he saying that if you have troubled feelings that you may be gay (a) you are suffering from a temptation to actually believe that youre gay, or (b) that you will automatically suffer from temptations to go have sex with a guy (or gal, as the case may be)? I think hes saying both at least this is the message that I believe all the gay kids suffering from troubled feelings will hear him say. Both assertions are, of course, unfounded, unsound and just plain ridiculous. But he will have made his point through nuanced language that camouflages his message.
Doctrinally, we know that if that were true, your agency would have been erased.
What exactly is he saying here? The impression is given that hes saying that if youre born with troubled feelings you automatically feel that you have to act upon those feelings. He seems to be saying that this is where agency gets erased. That if youre born gay, you have to have sex, and that you can justify it by saying that you were born that way.
Are you kind of getting a whiff of a stereotype of gays as sex-crazed animals who only care about sex? If you havent already smelled it, this is born out by his next sentence: You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live morally pure and chaste, one filled with virtue.
Another alternative interpretation that is perfectly plausible, given his personal beliefs, is that hes saying that it would be a violation of agency for you to have innate, authentic feelings of attraction to persons of the same sex. In his view, this would be a violation of agency because he believes that such feelings are a choice, not innate.
Which brings me to my final point.
You always have a choice to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost and live morally pure and chaste, one filled with virtue
The unspoken, Boyd-Speak, message is that one cannot have even feelings of attraction toward persons of ones own gender and be morally pure and chaste, and certainly not filled with virtue. This line is reminiscent of his October 2010 line in which he labeled such feelings impure and unnatural. The message to young members of the Church is clear.
So why do I bother blogging about this? Because I know that Packers words influence impressionable young men and women in the Church. And that impression is negative. They drive like daggers into the hearts of souls of all those youth who struggle with troubled feelings, and they put arrows into the quivers of ignorance, self-righteousness, intolerance and bigotry that other youth in the Church, along with their parents and leaders, carry around with them. I feel a personal obligation to not let those words go unchallenged.
To be clear, I am not saying that Elder Packer doesn’t have the right to preach about the law of chastity. Obviously, this is a key teaching of the Church. But it could hardly be said that he reached out (in his seminary address) with love, compassion and understanding to young members of the Church struggling with feelings of same-gender attraction, which both hurts these youth and enables the un-Christlike attitudes of other members of the Church toward homosexuality.