Monday, October 6, 2008


I decided to listen to Elder Nelson's General Conference address on marriage.

I plan on listening to other conference talks, but I wanted to hear what the Church felt necessary to emphasize in regards to marriage. Appropriately, the emphasis was: Heterosexual marriage through the New and Everlasting Covenant is each individual to gain the greatest eternal salvation.

As I ponder this, I am reminded of my many years as a babysitter -- I've babysat ever since I was twelve years old... possibly eleven. As I started out, I used rewards basically as bribes (if you do [x], then you'll get [y]!). Such a tactic works, and most kids will do [x] in order to get [y].

However, there are a couple of snags: 1) There is a problem when a child has no desire for [y] -- a major problem when all one has is [y]; and 2) It's not the most effective means to motivate children to do [x].

I think it's rather obvious how this bribing method doesn't work too well when a child has no desire for [x]. This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons, in my opinion, why many homosexuals don't stick around with the Church: a life of eternal heterosexual-ism simply isn't appealing/desirable -- unless, perhaps, you're out just to get the gold. To many homosexuals, the definition of "the greatest joy" simply does not equate with being married to someone of the opposite sex... ever... especially if that marriage is forever and ever... and ever.

Oftentimes, the threat, "You won't gain eternal salvation if you act on your homosexuality!" only creates an "Oh no... I won't get what I don't want... how will I ever live..." response.

Simply put, bribing doesn't always work.

Of course, as a babysitter, I could custom tailor my rewards. For those who love to watch movies, the reward would be a movie. For those who love kicking the ball around, the reward would be kicking the ball around. Etc.

But then I started to notice something that motivated the kids to actually want to do what was needed (instead of wanting the reward): they loved me. They were loved by me. They felt safe around me. I attended to their needs. They trusted me. I trusted them. They were happy around me -- and when they were sad, they knew I was sad with them; we were sad together. And so on.

And simply because it was I who was asking, they did it -- because they knew I could be trusted to guide them to happiness and safety. Bribes became unneeded -- in fact, I never use bribes anymore, especially when babysitting children (granted, I never get asked anymore... but that's beside the point) -- instead, I build up relationships of trust, love, and compassion.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't any sort of rewards... it's just that the rewards are more of a consequence of the loving, trusting, compassionate atmosphere instead of being any sort of focus. That is, I watch movies with those who enjoy watching movies because I know they enjoy it (doubly so if it's with Uncle Andrew) not because they promised to go to bed on time. And they go to bed on time because they love me, and I have asked (and explained that it's the healthiest choice).

Such I believe is the case with God and eternal salvation. Eternal heterosexual unions are made eternal, not because it is the focus of life, but because God loves His heterosexual children and blesses them with an eternal tie. I believe it will one day be revealed to be the same with God's homosexual children.

True children of God obey His commandments because they love Him, and He has asked (and explained that it's the healthiest choice). Pertaining specifically to the homosexual child of God, the commandments may not be the same as prescribed by other children of God, but the commandments prescribed through a personal relationship with God (such is the case of many children of God... the LDS story of Nephi killing Laban is an example of such).

Anyway, the moral of this post is that true obedience is a consequence of love, compassion, and trust. True rewards are consequences of love, compassion, and trust.

Therefore, I say we shed this insistent, "You must obey [x] in order to get reward [y]" and take upon ourselves, "We must create an atmosphere of love, compassion, and trust." The former holds within itself nothing but selfishness -- "I want [x], so I'll give you something you want, [y], to get what I want..." "I want [y], so I'll do what you want [x], so I can get what I want..." The latter holds within itself nothing but selflessness -- "You are precious to me, you are dear to me, I love you... here, let me give you this so that you might be happy..." "You are precious to me, you are dear to me, I love you... here, let me do this for you so that you might be happy..."

If Christ is the Christ I have read about in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, then I believe this, the latter, is how He operates. And when it comes to eternal joy and salvation, I can imagine no other statement coming from Christ's lips to a homosexual couple than "You are precious to me, you are dear to me, I love you... I have seen what great joy your union has brought not just to you but to your children and to your children's children and to all those who are a part of their lives... here, let me bless you that you may retain this joy for ever..."

And from the homosexual couple's lips to Christ: "You are precious to us, you are dear to us, we love you... here, let us raise our children to love Thee as we love Thee... let us raise our children to love all Thy children... let us, ourselves, love all Thy children and hold no animosity, anger, hatred, prejudice, malice towards anyone... let us be yet another physical personification of Thy love here on Earth..."

This is my testimony of the heart and motivations of Christ.


  1. What a beautiful post!

    It echoes what I have come to believe as I've studied the Gospel and listened to my heart over the last few months as I've come to terms with my own homosexuality.

    Interestingly, the "if you do [x] you will get [y]" mindset is the basis of the law of Moses that was fulfilled with Christ's sacrifice. The new law is Christ's law: love God, and love thy neighbor. I was reflecting on this as I attended the temple a week or two ago, wondering how the many "saving ordinances" that the Church teaches are required for exaltation really fit with the higher spiritual law that Christ brought to replace the law of Moses.

    I don't think I'm ready to discard a lifetime of belief and say that it's all superfluous, but I feel good about the idea that things aren't as black and white as they are often made out to be, and that there's a lot more room for mercy and a lot less emphasis on justice in our Heavenly Father's plan than we are often led to believe in the Church.

  2. Wow, Andrew.

    That really struck a chord with me. I am sure some will debate a couple of the arguments brought to the table, but I really did feel touched by what you wrote. Some interesting points were made, and the true meaning under it all is clear: We have a loving God who cares about us and we must love him too.

  3. Nice post.

    You've touched on what it has taken me many years to realize: salvation is not a state, it is a relationship with God.

    And God's highest desire for us is to have joy. And joy is the attainment of our highest, best, righteous desires. But it is the attainment of our righteous desires. And I think the beauty of creation, the beauty of how we are spirit children in the image of our Heavenly Parents, is that each of us are unique. What I most desire may be different from what others desire...

    God is not waiting to punish me for wanting something different. God is encouraging me to strive to be the very best I am, in all my uniqueness...

  4. (granted, I never get asked anymore... but that's beside the point)

    Can you babysit my kids this Friday night?

  5. Thank you, Chedner. You have calmed my anxiety tonight as I read your post. (And before I read it, Dichotomy referred to it to help me work through a crying spell that resulted from reading more articles about the church's involvement in prop 8.)

    "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?" I keep forgetting how I feel spiritually about the issue, and try instead to reconcile the "follow the prophet" concept with what I am thinking, which is resulting in horrible anxiety!

  6. Thanks for all your comments -- you've all added some extremely poignant insights to what I believe God is all about.

    Can you babysit my kids this Friday night?

    I'm actually going to be packing all night Friday -- I'm moving into my new apartment on Saturday. If you wanted to drop them off to help, I think I could live with that, though...