I have been thinking of writing this post for a while now, but have held off. I have mostly been afraid of offending or making people uncomfortable. Before I begin, Iwant to say that the story I am sharing is very public and this is my response. I mean no offense. The decisions that were made were personal and I respect that we all have the ability to choose. I simply want to address why I would not choose to do as was done below. (WARNING: This post is a bit longer than usual.)
Some of you might remember Benji Schwimmer. He won the 2006 season of So You Think You Can Dance. He received some mild popularity within the LDS community because he was a member of the church. He served a mission and talked about his dedication to the gospel. And not long ago he came out as gay.
I started to see some posts on twitter and I was interested to hear what Benji had to say. So I watched the interview. It is six hours long, and I had to watch it in segments, but I did watch it. And he had a very interesting story. But I will just tell you the end. Basically after much struggling (previously he was fully active, served a mission, had not acted on his feelings until just a year or two before this interview) Benji just could not believe that Heavenly Father would ask this of him. He finally felt that there are just some people who are not required to live within the church. That some people are to live a different life and that it will be acceptable to God. So he decided that he would go live a gay lifestyle and would not live as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
After listening to this interview, I remember feeling very conflicted. Being attracted to men myself, I understood his conflict and struggle to know what Heavenly Father wants for us. I knew though, that while part of myself understood his reasoning, that it was not right. I did not feel comfortable. The spirit did not bring peace to my soul. So I immediately said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me know His will for me. I asked Him to guide me to something that would answer my questions and ease my troubled thoughts.
I remember feeling peace about one thing specifically right away. Benji had spoken about feeling like he had “done enough” to please Heavenly Father. He said that he had suffered all he had to suffer and that the grace of the Savior would make up for the rest and that he did not have to do any more.
My first thought? No. You have NOT done enough Benji. None of us have. In the second chapter of Mosiah, King Benjamin teaches us that we are forever indebted to our Father in Heaven, and that all he asks of us is to keep his commandments and we will prosper in the land. The path that Benji was choosing was not enduring to the end. His path would not involve keeping the commandments. It does not include the ability to take the sacrament and renew covenants for the remission of sins. It does not include temple attendance, or even the ability to do so.
That was my first thought. If I ever do anything to not be able to take the sacrament and be truly forgiven of my sins, them I am not qualifying for eternal life. And then I thought of the Savior. Jesus Christ suffered so much more than Benji has, or I have, or you have. We cannot comprehend the level of pain and misery He had to endure. And yet, He still did it. And He did not at ANY point just give up. He asked the Father that the cup of bitterness pass from Him, but then submitted His will to the Father, saying “Thy will be done.” Not until He was truly finished did He give up His spirit. We have no place to say when our suffering is done. We must simply pray and ask the Lord for the strength to carry on.
After these thoughts I decided to read a talk that I had been thinking about quite a bit for the previous week. It was a CES broadcast given last September by Elder Oaks and I remember loving it at the time. I looked it up online and found my answer in short order:
“It is well to worry about our moral foundation. We live in a world where more and more persons of influence are teaching and acting out a belief that there is no absolute right and wrong, that all authority and all rules of behavior are man-made choices that can prevail over the commandments of God. Many even question whether there is a God.
The philosophy of moral relativism, which holds that each person is free to choose for himself what is right and wrong, is becoming the unofficial creed for many in America and other western nations. At the extreme level, evil acts that used to be localized and covered up like a boil are now legalized and paraded like a banner. Persuaded by this philosophy, many of the rising generation—youth and young adults—are caught up in self-serving pleasures, pagan painting and piercing of body parts, foul language, revealing attire, pornography, dishonesty, and degrading sexual indulgence.”
BAM. That was all I could think. After watching the interview I had been worried and confused. I had understood Benjie’s thoughts, and that scared me. But I prayed in faith and my prayer was answered. There is no group of people who are exempt from living any part of the gospel. The truth is absolute and universal. It applies to all people.
In the end I was left with this thought. As I said in a previous post, we have to live the gospel all the way. There is no picking and choosing. Benji said that he still loves the church and wants to be as active as possible, but he has to live the gospel differently. I do not wish to disrespect him in any way. He simply shared his opinion and I wish to do the same.
That opinion is this: if the gospel is true, it is ALL true. Not bits and pieces. If you do indeed believe that Joseph Smith saw Our Heavenly Father and His Son, the Savior Jesus Christ, and was led to restoring the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Priesthood Keys to the Earth, then you will know that it was inspired of God and that He leads our church today. It is ridiculous to think, “God has revealed himself to man and leads us today, but the church is wrong about the following, and I choose not to follow these specific rules….the rest is good though.”
In Mosiah Chapter 4, King Benjamin taught: “And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.”
Jesus Christ’s way is the only way. There are no exceptions. There are no options. The Church is not “just wrong.” And yet at Elder Oaks says in the above talk, the world would have us think so. Many people are speaking out and spreading untruth. Many of them mean well, but are sadly misleading others. They are not being quiet. And we should not be either.
We have been told time and time again to open our mouths. I know I do not reach many, but to those I DO reach, remember this message. And do not be afraid to share it! This applies to more than just people who struggle with feelings of attraction to the same gender. We all have our favorite doctrines or little bits we like to excuse. We have to help teach the world that there IS absolute truth and that we cannot make excuses. In the words of Joseph Smith, “We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure.” Please, do not be afraid to speak up and defend truth.
Please, comment and give me your thoughts. Share as you feel appropriate.