God is love.
Or so I'm told. I tend not to believe in any particular deity or supreme being, but I do not presume to know for sure that such an entity does not exist. My sense of "spirituality" has changed a lot over the past year, and I think it is finally settling. It is important to note that my evolving spirituality was stagnant while I maintained the facade of a straight Mormon man. It was difficult to really explore my own beliefs on the matter until I finally allowed myself to drop the pretense of believing something else.
God is so big that God's presence fills the universe, and so small that God resides in your heart.
My old Mormon self would have shied away from such abstract, noncommittal, contradictory, and arguably meaningless statements. Mormons have very concrete beliefs about God as an embodied being.
What do I believe about "God"?
I promised a while ago that I would elaborate on why being gay has further convinced me that Mormonism is not The One True Church, as it claims to be and as I once believed it to be. This is my reasoning, although it's less about Mormonism and more about God in general.
I've come to a point where I do not believe in God. However, I can still entertain the idea that a divine, benevolent creator exists. If some kindhearted, ever righteous and praiseworthy deity is my spiritual parent, then there are a few things which I feel must be true about this entity which I will call God.
God must embrace the truth completely. Truth cuts through falsehood like light cuts through darkness. God must embrace love. God encourages unconditional love. Or as Mormons often call it: "Christlike love." God loves everyone, and has a different purpose for each one. God loves you for being uniquely you. This is the only kind of Christian-esque God that I can fathom.
That doesn't necessarily mean that all expressions of love are okay with God.
Emotions and universal standards of behavior
If God communicates with you "in your mind and in your heart," as the Mormon scriptures claim, then that means emotions can at times be the most fundamental and crucial way that God conveys truth to you. But not all emotions are equal. So how do I know my "gay" emotions are from God-if-there-is-a-God? What makes me believe that homosexual attraction is okay? Where does God draw the line? And how am I supposed to know where the line is drawn? It makes it all the more difficult that I'm not even inclined to believe God exists. So you'd think that I would believe even less in a God-drawn line.
Not so. I believe there is a line. The line is dictated by truth, by goodness, by that which is right and leads to maximizing joy and love and inclusion, while minimizing pain and hatred and exclusion. Really, it's more of a topology or gradient, a good-better-best situation where we should seek to be as close to the "best" zone as possible. I believe it's there, that some choices are better than others according to some universal criteria. And so even though I don't believe in God per se, I do believe that God would draw the lines according to these principles of goodness. (Admittedly, this is actually a very Mormony belief to have: belief in a God that is only God because he walks the razor's edge of perfection, adhering to the highest laws of truth and right.)
With these premises, I must conclude that gay is okay
So to recap: if God exists, if God's fundamental way of communicating truth is through emotion, if God is full of truth and love, then I'm fairly certain that God wants me to be gay. God smiles upon my desire to marry someone of my own sex. God would encourage me to follow my dreams of adopting children, and would want those children to have two loving daddies. How can I know that? How can I presume to comprehend the inscrutable will of God? Because to me, God's will cannot be all that inscrutable. God cannot depart from truth and right.
And most of all, God could not allow my deepest, most sincere, most profound feelings to be false. God would not be so cruel as to give me such a powerful feeling of potential to love, but then restrict it to the "wrong" gender. I feel a well of goodness inside of me. It is connected to the source of empathy and caring that God would want me to express towards all people. But there is some certain potential for deepest connection, for truest love, for something so profound and eternal, that I know I can only feel for a man.
I tried for years to believe that my love could be directed towards a woman. I told myself that I simply hadn't matured yet. That any day now, I would find the right woman, and it would all just unlock. I tried to date women. Absolutely wonderful women. Some of the best I could have ever hoped to date. And it just didn't happen. But then everything changed.
A window of hope
It was my first time in a gay bar. I didn't go for alcohol. I didn't go for sex. I just wanted to talk. I just wanted to converse with someone that understood how I felt. After a very therapeutic conversation with a charming middle-aged lesbian couple, out of nowhere, I drew up the courage to sit down next to a cute guy. Let's call him Carson. We talked. And talked. And flirted a little bit. It was the most amazing sensation. I was dropping the facade, and discovering something true about myself. I felt like I could just be myself, an almost nostalgic feeling reminiscent of my carefree childhood. Carson touched my hands while talking about his upcoming vacation. I touched his hands in response. I was infatuated. We kissed, and it was like fireworks were going off. I kept muttering to Carson, "thank you, thank you." He hadn't done anything particularly special. But he happened to be the one that opened my eyes to what my soul was craving: a male companion. The soul of a man, connected forever with my own soul. A husband's embrace to comfort me.
It was like looking through a window. I could never find this window with women. But with Carson, I could see a future. I could see us growing old together. I could see myself loving him for a lifetime. Sure, I was feeling puppy love. And I was definitely attracted to him physically. But there was something deeper that I felt as well. Hope. The most profound sense of hope. The kind of hope I was waiting for years to feel with a woman, some "lovely young woman," as I was promised prophetically by my local Mormon patriarch.
Potential and responsibility
Falling in love is a sacred experience for me. Now, I've been over Carson for quite some time. Thinking critically about the compatibility of our personalities, the relationship probably wouldn't work. But that doesn't cheapen the hope I gained from the experience. I have two ex boyfriends now. I still love them deeply, in a way. I saw through the window of hope with each of them. Although I ultimately felt that those relationships weren't quite right, I still saw it, through them. That hope. That potential. Those relationships were spiritual experiences for me. Lenses through which I could inspect my own soul, and better understand myself.
Love is both an impulse, and a choice. I choose to love my exes now, but only as good friends. With each of them, the impulse of love again opened the window of hope, and it instilled in me a great sense of responsibility. I have a lot of love in my soul. The choice of whom to love completely is a very serious one to make. I will act in such a way that, if I must answer to God for the way I make this choice, I can answer with my head held high. I will be able to tell God that I sought the deepest place of truth within myself, that I strove to tap into my most sacred, divine feelings.
If emotions are to be trusted, if God is a being of truth, if the divine creator is worthy of praise, then there is only one conclusion I can draw about my homosexuality: it is of God. Either God wants me to marry a man, or God wants me to try. If God truly wants me to reach my full potential, to do the most good in this world, to fulfill the God-given purpose of my creation, then this is the only reasonable answer. My spiritual journey has led me to a greater understanding of those strange and deliberately ambiguous Christian statements that I used to roll my eyes at as a Mormon. I do not believe in God, but still, my deepest spiritual experiences can strongly endorse the old adage:
God is love.