Lessons From the Olive Tree-Part 2 of 2

Returning to the allegory of the olive tree, one can look at the verses and exchange the word "good" for "strength", and "evil" for "weakness" to gain some insights from them.  At first, it says, "..and if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow" (v. 64)  The grafts it speaks of can represent whatever we bring into our lives in order to live faithfully with same-sex attraction.  As that happens, the natural order of life will settle in and the spiritual, social, professional, and other areas of life will occur as God intended them to.  One will experience personal purity, temple worthiness, power in the priesthood, virtue in the Relief Society, healthy male/female friendships and physical affection, advances in career, etc.  For Church members who incorporate these things into their lives, it serves them to continue in that pathway so that other good things can come as well. 

When good works and circumstances begin rooting themselves into your life, this counsel applies:  "...as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the (strength) and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the (weakness) thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish."  Any areas of life which bring forth bitter, or strongly distasteful, results from same-sex attraction must be cleared out.  This could include forgiving someone, removing issues with codependency, healing from heartache, and so on.  However, as these verses indicate, one should not "clear away the (weakness) all at once".  This is because SSA deeply roots itself in the entire being of those who cope with it.  If someone with SSA tried to remove it all at once, the result would be disastrous because any progress would die out.  The proper way to go about it is thus:  "...wherefore ye shall clear away the (weakness) according as the (strength) shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the (weakness), and the (weakness) be hewn down and cast into the fire." (v.65)  In other words, as your strength in good works and circumstances grows in relation to your SSA, clear it out in the sense that it does not control you or define who you are.

Next, delving into the following verse, we can glean useful principles as well:  "And the branches of the natural tree will I graft in again into the natural tree; And the branches of the natural tree will I graft into the natural branches of the tree; and thus will I bring them together again, that they shall bring forth the natural fruit, and they shall be one."  Christ is the one who is bringing in these good things through His grace, tender mercies, compassion, and perfect love.  Earlier, He stated that "it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard", which is also the reason He gave for counseling us to let our strength grow in direct relation to our weakness.  From these two short statements, it becomes clear how intimately involved He is in the process of coming unto Him with such a difficult trial.  He loves us very personally and deeply and as such, I believe that His healing for us is equally such.  And whether that healing actually removes the SSA or simply gives us strength and perspective to endure it with joy into the next life, that is up to Him.  Our job, I believe, is to accept His will and keep moving forward in righteousness.  

As it continues, it states that natural branches will be grafted into natural branches.  To me, this alludes to human intimacy, and, depending on the individual, marriage and family.  Now, it does not necessarily refer to marriage and family, because it is not always God's will for everyone to get married in this life.  God will give everyone at chance at it, however, it is clear from the teachings of the prophets and apostles that it can occur in either this life or the next.  It is not essential to the Plan of Salvation for marriage to occur here, because it is binding as much in heaven as it is on earth, and also because it still satisfies the nature of God (mercy and justice) either way.  That being said, I believe that many individuals with SSA will enjoy very close, deep friendships and meaningful familial relationships, even ones that would mirror those described in scripture-like David and Jonathan, for instance.  Such individuals probably will not get married until later or not at all. As those connections form and intertwine with each other, though, natural branches are grafted into natural branches because the natural order from another person's life is mixing with that of an individual with SSA, thus making his/her life more natural.  This verse could also refer to people who find another person to marry and have a family with, which is self-explanatory in how natural branches are grafted into natural branches.  To summarize, such a grafting occurs because a different, more "traditional" sort of natural order is being instituted in that person's life.  

I testify to all my readers that God understands that we are indeed like trees, growing into the virtues that He desires us to.  Weaknesses, although not as undesirable as sins, still require a process for us to go through in order to open up the paths to nourishment and keep them that way.  And as we do so, we fulfill the promise given in Ether 12:27:  "...my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."  I know that our SSA can become an asset to us at the very least, and if it is God's will, He can remove it for us.  How marvelous and comforting it is to know that God allows us to have weaknesses so that they can become strengths, and glorify Him in so doing.  As we approach General Conference weekend, I pray that we may seek wisdom from God as to how we may become "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified."  Keep reading, my friends!!!

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