I’ve been spending many of my idle moments thinking about a controversial subject, and I’m about to say something that may earn me a lot of criticism from many people:
I believe “being gay” is a choice.
Now, before the torches and pitchforks come out or the ACLU calls, let me clarify my position. I fully believe that there is a difference between “being gay” and “experiencing homosexual impulses.” I believe one can experience homosexual impulses and not be gay. One cannot choose what impulses they experience, but one can choose how one acts upon those impulses.
That being said, I believe that people are born with a predisposition to experience homosexual impulses (aaaand, here come the torches and pitchforks from the OTHER side…). I believe it’s similar to having a predisposition for alcoholism, or sugar addiction, or weight gain. Anyone who has watched The Biggest Loser or has conquered addictions or seen loved ones conquer addictions know that genetic predispositions don’t have to control lives! It’s all about the CHOICES.
So it is with homosexuality. There is someone in my life to whom I am very close who has experienced same-gender attraction. He has made conscious choices to avoid giving in to the impulses he has experienced, most likely, for his entire life. I would not for a second classify him as “gay.” He experiences same-gender attraction, yes, but he does not engage in same-gender relationships. In fact, he will most likely be getting married to a woman in the next couple of years and will have a loving, fulfilling relationship with her.
In a different thread, I was born with the predisposition to be attracted to males. Does this mean I HAD to form a lasting relationship with a man? No. Sometimes I think there would be many advantages to being in a relationship with a woman (for instance, it would be really nice to have a second set of knockers for nursing the babies…just sayin’) rather than a man. I could have chosen that route, but I didn’t. For someone to say that their choices are completely determined by their genetics undermines our ability as humans and as children of God to use reason and agency.
Now, any choice made by my friend or myself isn’t necessarily the solution that will work for everyone. However, it’s not my place to judge what choices anyone else makes because it is impossible for me to fully understand the situations of others. The only Person qualified to make those judgments has much more power, compassion, and knowledge than I do. All I can do is try my best to be kind to all of God’s children, regardless of their sexual orientation or choices.
I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the issue of gay marriage. I know the leaders of the Church have encouraged us as members to support constitutional amendments that define marriage as being between one man and one woman, but I don’t think I would be a good member of the Church if I didn’t think and pray and figure out what Heavenly Father would want me to do. I trust that the leadership of the Church receives revelation from God, but I also know that I can receive personal revelation for myself. That being said, I do know that marriage is sacred and should be between one man and one woman, and this knowledge comes not only from statements from the Church but also from my own personal experiences and dialogue with Heavenly Father.
Now, on the other hand, I believe that every person in this country, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to be happy with whomever they choose. It is none of my business whom my neighbor chooses to spend his/her life with—that choice does not infringe on any of my rights, so I have no right to deny him/her that choice. Advocates of same-sex marriage say that marriage is a civil right; and I agree.
How can one person have two opposing views? How can I be for the preservation of traditional marriage and for same-sex marriage? Now you understand why I’ve spent so much time thinking about these subjects. I’ve felt a lot of turmoil and confusion. I’ve alternated between feeling like a bigot and a bad Mormon. I’ve read and thought about countless solutions that would put my mind at ease, but I know it’s only going to get uglier. The Church has said that they would not prevent legislation from passing that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, so that’s one possibility. Of course, then we’re faced with the issue of two things being “separate but equal”, which, let’s face it, was a huge bust when it was tried before. I’ve read people suggesting that since our country is such an advocate of “separation of church and state” that we take it one step further and completely separate the civil and religious aspects of marriage—in other words, require all people, regardless of the orientation of the marriage, to have a civil ceremony performed separate from any religious ceremony. There are so many countries around the world that already do that (The United Kingdom, for example), and even though it would be more of a hassle for people who would desire a religious ceremony (a sealing in the temple for Church members, for example) I think it would be a viable solution. The country would only recognize the civil unions performed of both heterosexual and homosexual couples (which would eliminate the “separate but equal” problem, since they would literally be the exact same thing), and churches could continue to perform marriages only for those whom they deem appropriate (allowing the Church and other denominations to preserve their definition of marriage being between a man and a woman). I’m sure this isn’t a perfect solution, but knowing that there IS a potential solution puts my mind at ease.
Ultimately, the most important thing for me to do is simply have faith that everything will turn out fair in the end. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but this concept brings me peace. There is so much turmoil and strife in the world right now, and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on. My knowledge that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He loves all of His children regardless of the choices they make, helps me remember that this life is but a small moment in the timeline of my life, and all I can do is be the best person I can be. Everything else will figure itself out.