Since my husband and I co-founded Evangelicals for Mitt (EFM) with some friends back in 2006, we’ve been plunged into the center of the world of Mormonism. As a southern evangelical, I had little exposure to Mormonism prior to launching the website, so it was a very eye-opening experience.
At first, perhaps the only people who read us were LDS members who wanted to see what we were saying about them. Initially, they corrected us. (“Mormon,” we learned, is actually considered a slur. They prefer to be called “members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”) Then they began to argue with us about theology. Then, we received hundreds of heartfelt conversion stories. Then, slowly, they began to be our friends. Over the past few years, I can honestly say that my love and appreciation for the LDS church is embarrassingly vast. In fact, now, I’m a Mormonophile. I’ve toured a temple, can identify Minerva Teichert’s works, have walked through BYU, lamented when Kraft stopped making Postum, and have even stopped to offer Mormon missionaries a lift in the rain. Also, strangely, when things happen in the Mormon world, I know about it. I’m pulling for Jef in the Bachelor, though his Mormonism hasn’t been confirmed. I know that David Archuleta is on his mission, and I tweeted during General Assembly to my Mormon Twitter followers.
So, of course, I got pinged when this Mormon blogger came out of the closet on his tenth wedding anniversary.
Here’s the bottom line for those who don’t have the time to read his 6,000 word essay (though it’s very poignant, so I really suggest you do).
Basically, Utah resident and Mormon Josh Weed realized he was attracted to males at a young age and waited for his attraction to girls to kick in. It never did. When he told his religious parents, they were supportive and loving. Their love presumably enabled him to be faithful to his religion in spite of his temptation. Additionally, his best friend – who was a girl, natch, named Lolly – helped him struggle through how this information would affect his life. Gradually, he and Lolly realized they, in fact, were in love. Lolly explains why she decided to tie the knot with a gay man:
“When you get married, you are accepting a person as a package deal—the good, the bad, the hard, the amazing and the imperfect….I knew that I loved Josh. I loved All of him. I wanted to marry him. I wanted to marry Josh Weed because I loved the man that he was. I loved everything that made him him. I didn’t want anyone else. I knew that we had the kind of relationship that could work through hard trials and circumstances. I had faith in him and I had faith in our love. I did not choose to marry someone who is gay. I chose to marry Josh Weed, the man that I love, and to accept all of him. I have never regretted it.”
So, Josh is married to a woman with whom he has a great sex life. Josh explains that “sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation… when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting.”
So why isn’t he “true to himself” by being with a man? Because he believes Mormonism is true and chooses to live by its tenets. Here’s his message:
If you are gay and Mormon (or Christian), I want you to know how much love I feel for you, and how much I admire you. I know how hard it is to be where you are. I want you to do me a favor. I want you, right now, to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and accept yourself as you are in this very instant. You are you. And your attractions are part of you. And you are totally okay! I promise. I want you to stop battling with this part of you that you may have understood as being sinful. Being gay does not mean you are a sinner or that you are evil. Sin is in action, not in temptation or attraction. I feel this is a very important distinction. This is true for every single person. You don’t get to choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose what you do with them.
I want you to know that God loves you, and that even though you are attracted to people of the same gender, you are a completely legitimate individual, worthy of God’s love, your family’s love, and the love of your friends. You are no more broken than any other person you meet. You are not evil. You are a beautiful child of God. Please don’t be ashamed. Know that you can be forgiven for any mistakes you have made, and that God is not judging you. He loves you. Turn to him. He has a plan specifically for you. He wants you to be happy, and he will take you by the hand, and guide you step by step to where you need to be if you trust Him. He is not angry with you, and He knows you completely, every part, even the parts you wish you could keep hidden. He knows it all, and he still loves you!
This blog post has gone super viral. Gawker called Josh for an interview, his “coming out” post was featured at Slate, and apparently a major network asked him to go to New York and be on their show. Currently, the blog post has over 3,000 comments and counting. Andrew Sullivan – who says he is gay and Catholic – even endorsed Josh’s blog post. So, what is the lesson? Is it that the Mormon church – as Slate claims – is “evolving?” Or, is this simply the way church ought to work?
Josh’s message is resonating, but not because it is revolutionary. In fact, Jesus himself was tempted but decided not to sin. I’m not a Mormon, but my Presbyterian children learn these basic catechisms during fifth grade.
What effect did the sin of Adam have on all people?
We are all born guilty and sinful.
What does it mean to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”?
We are asking God to keep us from being tempted and to make us strong enough to resist when we are tempted.
So why has this blog gone viral? Perhaps because Josh’s honesty and love smashes the stereotype that liberals are all-too-willing to believe about religious people. Liberals, after all, believe that Mormons are so hateful to homosexuals that they aired this:
(Mormons were going to charge into a homosexual couple’s home, go through their underwear drawer, and rip up their marriage license?)
The Club Unicorn post is shocking to liberals precisely because their have a complete blindness to the true nature of faithful people in America. Whether this is their fault or ours, this mischaracterization has a chilling effect on real dialogue on this issue.
Thanks, Josh, for creating this conversation.
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