conversation on rights and religion

earlier this week I posted "i'm passionate about a lot of things" both on here and on facebook. my dear uncle, bless his heart, was so concerned and needed to voice his opinion in a way that made me so dang frustrated. regardless I wanted to post his comments and mine... Enjoy the read.

Nathan Eggleston
I'm passionate about many things. I'm passionate about equality. i don't like to call it gay rights just because I happen to be gay. I don't eat gay breakfast or go to gay university... Why then would I call my basic civil rights, "gay rights"? I'm passionate about equal rights and you should be too.

Rich Eggleston
No matter how many times or how loudly you choose to toot that horn it won't change the truth for God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Jodi Willers-Turner
‎@Rich I hope what you're saying to Nathan is something along the lines of "My God is loving and loves all creatures, especially the ones He made. So no matter what your sexual orientation God loves you; yesterday, today & tomorrow he loves you." However, I don't think Nathan is speaking about God or religion. It's nice that, as a majority group, we get up everyday and our culture embraces who we are and we get ourselves because we embody a certain stereotype. Minority groups , like people who are gay, do not have that simple luxury. I can't imagine what it's like to told I can't marry the person I love.(side note: If I lived in 1965 I couldn't have married my husband because interracial marriage was outlawed in most states until 1967.) Love and acceptance should be easy to give if you believe in God.
Luke 6:37
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;"

Nathan Eggleston
and what if we've misunderstood everything that god has said. what if being homosexual has nothing to do with the sex. because it's the sex - the law of chastity - that is the problem according to christianity. what if homosexuality is about the heart and the mind and the spirit? what is being gay is a blessing and a gift from god and not the terrible challenge that so many in christianity believe it is. what if i am more blessed than you because i have this gift. what if your attitude of "oh, poor nathan, he's so mislead and doesn't understand the gospel." is incorrect and in fact i understand things on a much higher plain because i do understand this gift. it is a gift for me. i feel blessed and privileged to be what the world calls "gay." i don't call it that i call it a gift. and for any society to deny one person a right that is freely granted to all others is hatred and that is not of god it is of satan. it is not my place to decide who is worthy and who is not. i am not placed before society as a judge therefore i shall not judge. and shame on any person that will place themselves before others and unjustly judge them.

Rich Eggleston
Nathan, I don't think we have to worry about whether or not we have misunderstood everything God has said. He has made his word very clear to everyone who truly seeks understanding. I believe you have brought up some very good points in your previous comment. If I understand you correctly, you make a valid point about the relationship between how we feel and how we act. Let me preface my response with this statement by the Prophet of God from A Proclamation To The World, "...marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children. All human beings---male and female---are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." God has been very clear about gender and marriage issues. He further states in Moses 1:39, "For this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." There is nothing of greater import or about which our heavenly Father is more passionate than that of providing every possible and plausible means for the bringing to pass your immortality and your eternal life, which is your eternal life with God. You refer to same gender attraction as a "gift", allow me to share with you some of my feelings on this matter. We know that God's Eternal Plan of Happiness requires us to gain experiences in mortality that will prepare us for eternal life. We know that agency is essential to that plan and that the choices we make as we exercise our agency and our acceptance of the Atonement of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ will effect our eternal happiness. Because of His great love for each of us with all our short-comings and imperfections, and because of His endless grace, I believe he has given each of us certain "gifts" which have the power to invoke in us the humility necessary to attain to that immortality and eternal life that He has prepared for each of us. Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated that, "Everyone is tested. One might think it is unfair to be singled out and subjected to a particular temptation, but this is the purpose of mortal life---to be tested. And the answer is the same for everyone: we must, and we can, resist temptations of any kind." I believe that these "gifts" as you have called them or temptations as referred to by Elder Packer, include addictions of every kind whether they be chemical, like drugs and alcohol, or behavioral like pornography, sex, and eating disorders, and yes even same sex attraction. The Apostle Paul had a "thorn in his side" that he asked the Lord repeatedly to take away until he understood that it was a "gift" to him that would, if patiently and faithfully endured, help him to attain to eternal life in the Kingdom of God. There is not more shame in one than the other and though it may seem unfair, we must and we can resist the temptation to practice our addiction or to indulge in activities in relationship to our feelings, whatever they may be, that are contrary to the will of Heavenly Father to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life, an eternal life of happiness with Him. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but GOD IS FAITHFUL, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Nathan Eggleston
it boils down to this singular point: as marriage pertains to government interpretation this IS NOT a religious issue. we DO NOT live in a theocracy. we MUST NOT allow theology to dictate principles of right and wrong, fairness and justice. this is an issue of fair and equitable treatment to all free-thinking, consenting, citizens within this nation. religion has no place in this argument just as religion had no place in the argument of racial segregation when this nation finally came to its senses on that issue. just like religion had no place in the rights of marriage between individuals of different races. just like religion has no place to dictate the principles of government action. just like religion has no place in taxation. if you and I as religious individuals hold "these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," then we must, may i re-iterate, MUST support equality for all free-thinking, consenting, adult, citizens within our borders. or we threaten the very liberty that allows us to worship as we choose and we threaten the very equality that allows us to speak, believe, and act according the our own consciousness.

and i resent that you assume that my being who I am is in its entirety a temptation. That is the flaw of the LDS faith and the thorn in the side of members today. SO many in the Church presume that a person is only as strong as their greatest weakness and that they are defined by that "temptation." I am far greater than that and refuse to be defined by what you call an "addiction." You simply choose not to understand. That my dear uncle is the key to true charity and that is what this Church is lacking and why I want nothing to do with it at this time. I am so glad that others in my generation are a raging tide against the oppression that older generations bring upon this Church and I cannot wait to see the progress and great sweeping evolution in the Spirit of the Church as young people who are growing up in an age of greater acceptance and love take the reigns of this Church and finally allow the core beliefs and principles to overtake the culture of judgement and exclusion that plagues the Church today. I'm not talking about changing doctrine but changing the way in which people speak and act toward those around them. i'm talking about removing the LDS culture from the pulpit and living the gospel not the lore.

Nathan Eggleston
and rich you don't understand. you don't know what it means to be me and you will never fully comprehend what it means to be me, that's the nature of individuality. it is not a bad thing. it is not something that i am using against you but it is simply fact. by the same token i will never fully understand your experiences and what has made you you. you will not understand the experiences that have made me who I am today. you will not and cannot understand how i perceive my otherness, my sexuality, my gender because even among those that you may lump along side me my perspective is foreign and misconstrued.
i have studied multiple faiths, belief systems, and read many books on the issue of gender and sexuality. my own experiences in the LDS temple and as a temple worker (though ever brief) have also formed my opinions. and as i said before, who i am is not about sex. i cannot make that fact more clear. so many in the world automatically presume that being what the world calls gay, same-gender attracted, homosexual, whatever you choose to call it involves nothing more than sex and sexual acts. that is 100% false. there is something far more profound than what happens below the belt in what i call my gift, my otherness. and to those that refuse to accept that i say they are uneducated and uninformed and are unaware of their own person and lack the self-awareness to even think beyond the dogma that fills their perception. rich i have been drawn to humanity as a whole in ways that i don't see in others. i have felt compassion and caring, empathy and emotion in ways that are feel are very unique. i have been called tender-hearted, open, welcoming, kind, benevolent, charitable, commiserative, forbearing and much more. these are only some of the gifts that come with my otherness. i have been attracted to those of the same gender in the same way that you might be drawn to a brother or even your father. i have been similarly attracted to those of the opposite sex. it was a source of great confusion in my younger years. it was only amplified as society made this such an ugly and terrible "temptation" and nothing more than a ruse of satan to steer good and noble youth from the straight and narrow.
as i grew up i began to see how i was able to connect with others and to understand them on a deeply emotional and personal level. as i experienced more i saw what it meant to feel real pain and to be truly challenged and to truly struggle. i saw these difficulties in people on both an inward and outward level. i was able to understand them and feel a great empathy despite my young age. i was and continue to be intrinsically connected to humanity in a unique way.
at one particularly difficult point in my life the message came to me as clear as the voice over the radio, "this life is not your own. you will live a life of service. and all will be restored in the next life." at the moment i didn't fully comprehend but i do now. i haven't married, i don't intend to. i have no children to call my own, i will not bear children in this life. i have worked in non-profit and humanitarian circles my entire life. i continue to volunteer and serve in every capacity. i am an advocate for those who cannot defend themselves. i speak up and fight for what i feel is right and good and i give all of myself. this life is not my own, and i will continue to give of myself at every opportunity.
i find comfort in my current life. i am brought a great sense of fulfillment and happiness as i continue to serve others. i do everything that i can to connect with others on a level that goes beyond the superficial. i seek to inspire someone each and everyday and lift them to a higher plane. i see these same qualities in countless young men and women who are similarly labeled as "same-gender-attracted," gay, homosexual, a waste, poor lost souls, shameful and are forced to the outer edges of modern society. i see these people as some of the greatest gifts in our contemporary time. and this society is throwing them away.
many aboriginal societies including the Native Americans call those who have these traits the third gender, the berdache. They are among the most sought after advisers and wise men/women. They are healers, counselors, men and women of great spirituality and strength. They are revered and are often the center of those cultures' spirituality. where did christianity lose sight of this? i believe that Paul was one of these great souls and his solitude was in fact a disservice to those of his time. I only wish that he would have spoke more openly and plainly about his "thorn" so that the rest of us could have benefited.
rich, it's not about the sex and the LDS Church and so much of the rest of christianity has it wrong in my book. these people, these men and women of great strength are a resource and not a scourge. granted even the "gay community" has lost sight of their gifts and are still lost trying to find a greater definition for who they are. What would happen if the Church took on a far greater eternal perspective and looked to their own doctrine to learn how to show appreciation for and acceptance for those among their ranks that seek only to live a life of great impact filled with goodness but who at this time are shunned? That's where I am coming from rich, now you have a glimpse of why this is so important to me.
i have always appreciated your counsel and your faith you have done great things... I would ask that you look beyond what is right in front of you and come to understand this issue in a different light and make change and impact in the lives o those around you. Change the dialogue. Change the culture. Change the perspective and do good with it. Thanks for hearing me out.

nathan - signature 001

1 comment:

Doug said...

It is a shame that he doesn't remember 1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Love doesn't care about gender.