It Came Not Into His Heart

In Jeremiah 7:31, the Lord is giving a specific example of idolatrous behavior in ancient Israel, when it had fallen away from the covenants of the temple and such.  At the end of the verse, the Lord makes a very interesting statement about that behavior:

"...which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart."

As though to leave them without excuse in their sinfulness, Christ made sure to say that He had no part whatsoever in their sinfulness.  This also exposed, at His word, the entire burden of accountability resting on ancient Israel, due to the misuse of their agency.  James offered the same commentary, with further expounding:

"13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 Do not err, my beloved brethren."  (James 1:13-16)

So...how does this relate to same-sex attraction and being a Latter-Day Saint?  Or, being an ally of, priesthood leader over, or family to LGBT+ individuals in the Church?  Everything.  You see, I have wanted to post about this subject for quite some time now, in a very direct but also respectful way.  And, at the direction of the Spirit, it would seem that this is the best topic for me to write to my readers about at this time.  

Some LGBT+ Mormon members are entertaining a notion that, if rooted and grounded in truthful reality, would be immensely easier than the present path we are called to tread, as faithful disciples of Christ.  To clarify, there are those among us who suppose that they are given leave by God to transgress the commandments - to enter into a romantic relationship with/marry someone of the same sex, or to have sexual relations with the same.  This can also apply to lusting after those of the same sex, indulging in vulgar language and behavior with other LGBT+ individuals, and so forth.  Now, before I delve into the meat of this post, let me clarify:  I am not judging, condemning, criticizing, or otherwise targeting such individuals, or their families, friends, or priesthood leaders.  Far from it.  I am merely making observations of doctrine and true principles, as supported by the constituted General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and most importantly, the word of God itself.  I make it a point to support my posts via authoritative sources, rather than emotional rambling, personal bias, or inconclusive speculation.  And, I also make it a point to write out my posts in a spirit of love, through the direction of the Holy Spirit.  That being cleared out of the way, then...

I'd like to begin the "meat" of my post with a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Twelve, from a 2010 October General Conference address entitled, "Two Lines of Communication":  

"We cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line. The Lord has declared that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). Unfortunately, it is common for persons who are violating God’s commandments or disobedient to the counsel of their priesthood leaders to declare that God has revealed to them that they are excused from obeying some commandment or from following some counsel. Such persons may be receiving revelation or inspiration, but it is not from the source they suppose. The devil is the father of lies, and he is ever anxious to frustrate the work of God by his clever imitations."

What truths and doctrine does this teach?  First, it teaches that God has called priesthood leaders for a sacred purpose, one of which is to foresee spiritual danger and communicate that to us in the form of revelation, warnings against sin and error, and other ways.  Through the Holy Priesthood, they can quite literally view the future, and give us direction that keeps us safe.  Furthermore, regarding such counsel that the Brethren and other servants of the Lord consistently preach, I have always seen that counsel being rooted in the word of God.  It testifies of and backs up what all these servants of God are preaching and teaching to us.  We have more than two or three witnesses whereby "everything may be established", as Isaiah taught.  

We have dozens of witnesses, all of whom are filled with the love of God, seeking only our eternal welfare as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and Mother.  Second, this teaching from an apostle of the Lord shows us that, in order to have reliable personal revelation, we must obey the commandments of God and the counsel of our constituted priesthood leaders.  Third, if we are disobedient, this teachings manifests the danger in doing so, because it can lead to false revelation from Satan.  It may offend some, but as Jacob taught in 2nd Nephi 9:40, "I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken."  If we are truly striving to be open to the Spirit, with a commitment to follow through with its direction, we will not fear the truth and so avoid it.

And so, when it comes to refraining from same-sex dating and courtship, same-sex marriage, sexual relations with the same sex, and so forth, we can choose to self-justify by claiming to have "spiritual experiences" or by citing the misguidance of a well-intending priesthood leader.  That is one choice.  Or, we can choose the blessed assurance of peace only the Spirit can bring, as we strive to be obedient and humble ourselves before God, to accept His counsel through priesthood leaders and to be obedient to His commandments.  Getting caught up in the so-called "impossible standards of the Church", twisting the history of the Church to justify false personal revelation, and so on does not serve any of us.  

Sometimes, we require added perspective or an entire perspective shift.  For example, if your concern is lifelong celibacy, perhaps you should reframe your concern to ask if there is another viable way your emotional and sexual needs can be met, in abundance.  I can attest to the power of emotional intimacy with men to manage both sexual and emotional needs for intimacy with guys.  I find this is a pretty universal solution, if you open up to trying it for a lengthy period of time, to validate if it works for you or not.  As for having a companion, that is what having a circle of very close friends is for.  Surprisingly, if you study where romance and friendship share common ground, you'll discover that they share almost all ground together, except for a few key differences.

What else can you discover, in giving up this false form of personal revelation that doesn't serve you? You can relinquish sinful behavior, and instead embrace virtuous behavior.  This, in turn, will open up other blessings, such as the sacrament, access to the temple, ability to exercise the priesthood, power to influence others by your goodness, and more.  You will, in other words, utilize your agency to where God can give you strength when you're not getting your emotional and sexual needs met sufficiently.  And, you won't have to feel out of place, filled with shame, awkward, or whatever other negative feeling you feel as you are drawing closer in your relationship with Christ.  

You will find Him embracing you where you are now in your journey with your sexuality, and with that love will come an openness to His counsel.  The Lord will guide you into building up a life where you can experience joy in keeping His commandments as taught by His servants, and simultaneous authenticity in embracing your sexual orientation.  Christ knows EVERYTHING you feel, experience, think, do, and otherwise undergo.  He knows, because He suffered the Atonement on your behalf personally.  Alma taught, "he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12)  This means that Christ knows, in the context of having a physical body with its appetites, desires, and passions, how to run to our aid (succor us) and thereby offer us perspective, comfort, and healing.  

Image result for stunning Christmas tree with icicles

Giving heed to this false form of personal revelation, to use a Christmas analogy for the season, is like having an ugly, bent over, gnarled, and gross tree, like one that has bird poop, nests, tree sap, feathers, etc all over in it.  Yet, somehow we insist that this is what we want - that there is a certain "rustic" appeal to having such a repulsive tree.  Our vision, somehow, has been corrupted by personal bias and outside persuasion, perhaps.  Yet, Christ stands right by you, offering an absolutely STUNNING Christmas tree - one frosted over with real icicles, covered artfully in gold glitter, draped with tinsel and glimmering snowflakes, and perfectly decorated with all manner of bejeweled, shimmering ornaments.  

It would capture the admiration of any passerby, yet He offers it to you, freely for your taking.  No conditions, no terms, nothing.  Just a gorgeous tree for you to take, while He takes your ragged, disgusting one away from you.  Then, as though you've never seen a real Christmas tree in your life, you take it in admiring wonder and the blessings before mentioned become yours, in time. You absolutely cannot fix your tree you have, which represents your fallen mortal nature and your futile efforts to be "true to you" in the context of an earthly label of sexuality.  But your Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, can give you the real deal, the joy only He can offer, which comes by hearkening to His words over enough time to "prove (Him) herewith, if (He) will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10)

I testify of our Savior's infinite power to change us, by empowering us through His infinitely resilient grace to reach within and start living in His higher way.  I testify that His Atonement is specific to YOU as His son or daughter, and that if you were the only one who needed that Atonement, He would have been bled in Gethsemane, been whipped by Roman soldiers, allowed Himself to be crowned with thorns, permitted the Roman soldiers to nail Him to a cross, carried it for miles to Calvary, died after hours of suffering there, and been resurrected the 3rd day.  Just for you, I know He would have done that, were it necessary.  And, because He suffered intensely beyond mortal comprehension for you personally and individually as His son or daughter, He knows how to show you how to live the gospel, through personal revelation that comes via the Holy Spirit.  I love you, dear friends.  Until next time... 

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