Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

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Syme
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Joined: 02 Nov 2016, 00:57

Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Syme » 05 Nov 2016, 20:28

Well maybe it isn't as simple as that.

I'm a student, up-coming grad, at BYU. I think I went because I didn't want bad roommates, or maybe because everyone in my family is a BYU grad. I'm not sure.
But I thought I had a testimony. It felt good to think about a loving, just God; someone who would make everything right. I'm naturally an emotional person so it wasn't hard to feel "the spirit" when I listened to inspirational quotes or beautiful hymns.

I can't say there was one day when "everything changed", but it was a process. As I got older I became less emotional and less sensitive. Church, hymns and talks didn't give me the same emotional feelings. Anything resembling the spirit I could counterfeit with listening to beautiful, non-religious music. These feelings resembled "the spirit" too closely for me.
I stopped going to church unless I was forced to be there. I was gaining nothing (spiritually speaking) from being at church.

I had always known I had same-sex attraction, but never really admitted it to myself until College. Thinking that I may never marry in this life bothered me, but it wasn't life changing. I thought "I'm already an introvert, I'm terrible with kids, so this is a blessing in disguise :) "

But what really bothered me is that God had allowed me to have these attractions. Why me? What purpose do they serve? Can I change? I can't say if this is true for everyone, but I strongly believe my same-sex attractions aren't equivalent to heterosexual love that other people feel. I don't want to get into the dirty details here, but they just didn't feel like how love should be. I still wasn't interested in forming a relationship with anyone, man or woman.

And also, the fact that the church hasn't offered any wisdom or enlightenment on this issue. I don't want the church to "change" its mind on same sex marriage (that would prove to me it was false anyway). It just seemed like every resource available was just saying the same thing:
"We love you. God loves you. But we don't have anything else to offer".
I already knew God would love me regardless of my orientation. I already knew the members would too, and also they are not representative of the church. But I was looking for truth and solutions, and I found none.

With a lack of any testimony about anything, and with attractions that had no answers, I prayed. At first I wanted to know everything, but had no answers. Then I simplified it down to: "God, I just want to know if you exist. That's all I'm asking".

Silence.

I prayed as sincerely as I could. I opened up my soul for many nights and never heard a thing.

Most of my family knows about my Faith Crisis. Suggestions usually include: read the scriptures, go to church, pray, have faith. The usual answers.

It didn't make sense to me. I have had faith for the past decade. I was definitely sincere and had good intentions. I'm not the best at reading my scriptures (who is?) but I wasn't trying to gain a testimony of them, I just wanted to know if God existed. I have my sins, I haven't led the cleanest life, but I had sworn to give up my indulgences if God had given me a reason to. I can honestly say I would have done anything God asked if I had a testimony.

I was literally like any other investigator. If there was ever a time to feel God's presence, it was then. But nothing happened.

So, right now I'm on my way out. Unless something changes, I'm going to be leaving after I graduate. If that happens I guess i'll be an "Ex-mo", but I don't relate to them at all. The community (the organized one, not ex-mos themselves) seem extremely bitter and angry. I hold no anger towards the church. I just couldn't be helped. If I'm angry at anyone, it's God (if he's there). I'm sure that will subside soon.

But there's also the possibility that I'm completely wrong and the church IS true. If so I guess I'm in a good place :)

It's hard to convey this over a keyboard but this is eating me up inside. I don't know if I'll ever be OK living in a world without a God. Nihilism is consuming my world, and it is really, really scary and dark.
I'm hoping to learn from some of you on this forum about how you manage the feelings of emptiness. Or maybe you have some insights about why I haven't received any witness of God.

Thanks for reading.

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Reuben
Posts: 393
Joined: 05 Nov 2016, 10:04

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Reuben » 06 Nov 2016, 09:18

Welcome! It sounds like you're in the right place. I'm also here partly because other organized communities seem too bitter and angry. I can't let it eat me up like that.
With a lack of any testimony about anything, and with attractions that had no answers, I prayed. At first I wanted to know everything, but had no answers. Then I simplified it down to: "God, I just want to know if you exist. That's all I'm asking".

Silence.

I prayed as sincerely as I could. I opened up my soul for many nights and never heard a thing.
I've been here. I'm still here.

I have no idea whether this will help, but I've been wondering this lately: if I no longer accept feelings as evidence, what do I accept?
It's hard to convey this over a keyboard but this is eating me up inside. I don't know if I'll ever be OK living in a world without a God. Nihilism is consuming my world, and it is really, really scary and dark.
A universe without God is definitely a scarier place.

Here's something I didn't expect: it wasn't so much the idea of there being nothing after death that scared me (whatever happens, it'll be just like before I was born - no big), but the idea of being forgotten.

Another thing I didn't expect was a more intense desire to do something about others' pain. I can't anymore just hand it off to God and expect him to make everything all better. Maybe I needed this for my personal growth.

Again, no idea whether any of this is helpful, just relating some experience that might intersect with yours.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

ydeve
Posts: 186
Joined: 30 May 2016, 21:38

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by ydeve » 06 Nov 2016, 14:38

Hey, another LGBTQ BYU student! My experience has been rather different than yours. I feel the same attraction to people without regards to their gender, and I've found that, for me, they are very much equivalent to what straight people experience. Do be aware that there are heterosexuals who feel dirty and unworthy about their sexual attraction, so that isn't unique to being LGBT. Culture and our own experiences affect our perceptions of sexual attraction. There is nothing inherently dirty about being attracted to people of the opposite gender.
Syme wrote:I thought "I'm already an introvert, I'm terrible with kids, so this is a blessing in disguise :) "
This I do get. It takes time for me to warm up to people. The idea of dating is rather scary. There's no need to rush into relationships with others, but life gets pretty dark when you're alone most of the time.

Yes, the church has no helpful resources for LGBTQ members. They mostly reinforce the unhealthy idea that we're given a terrible "trial" or mentally ill.
Syme wrote: With a lack of any testimony about anything, and with attractions that had no answers, I prayed. At first I wanted to know everything, but had no answers. Then I simplified it down to: "God, I just want to know if you exist. That's all I'm asking".

Silence.
Personally, I've found prayers about God's existence to be generally unhelpful. The spiritual experiences I've had can all be written off as powerful emotional experiences or coming to conclusions on my own, and it wouldn't be wrong. But it doesn't mean that they aren't meaningful or didn't affect me, since they did and were.

Best of luck on your journey. Live life authentically, wherever it takes you. Don't see yourself as dirty or unworthy, since you didn't start that way and don't need to live that way. And make sure not to confuse what is a good, natural, inherent part of you for something that is dirty and wrong.

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Nov 2016, 14:40

Welcome to the forum. I approved your post earlier today but didn't have time to reply then.

My heart goes out to you. While I like BYU and have children who have and are going there, I also recognize how very challenging it can be for someone in your situation. You have not only the SSA to deal with but a faith crisis as well. Fortunately you are close to graduating - hang in there and endure to the end! (until graduation that is)

I don't know why some of us have challenges that others don't. I think church policy regarding gays is wrong. I don't think this is how Christ would treat and act toward those in your situation. Alas, I can't change any of that, but I will weep with those that weep and mourn with those who mourn. And sometimes I will be like Job's friends and just sit there.

I have experienced that silence to which you refer. I have experienced it for years and continue to experience it. I know that feeling of really needing God's presence and getting nothing. It's heart breaking.

The idea that all ex-Mormons are bitter critics is a fallacy. In my experience most who leave do so quietly, without fanfare, and are never heard from again. They leave the church and they leave the church alone. Some simply stop coming and never come back, some more formally have their names removed. The tiny minority are bitter, loud mouthed antis.

I spent a long time being angry at God. My anger was misdirected and I finally figures that out and shifted my anger toward the church. But that anger was also misdirected. In the end I was angry that people in the church had led me astray by teaching me things that weren't true, but this was (and to some extent is) actually a collective of people who are not knowingly doing so with malice. You indeed may have more reason to be angry with God - but God didn't make no junk. I'd advise you to take a look at that idea - maybe you're not as "broken" as you and others think you are.
But there's also the possibility that I'm completely wrong and the church IS true. If so I guess I'm in a good place
:lol: Pascal's wager - I often think about this myself. I have nothing to lose by choosing to believe in God.

I don't know why some people get witnesses from God and some don't. I don't know why some people experience miracles and some don't. I one who experiences neither, and apparently so are you. I am sorry. I hope you find the peace you seek.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

ydeve
Posts: 186
Joined: 30 May 2016, 21:38

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by ydeve » 06 Nov 2016, 14:46

Also, if you're looking for a LGBT student support group, there's USGA at BYU. I haven't been myself, as I work during the time they hold meetings, but I've seen/heard good things.

Ann
Posts: 2551
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Ann » 07 Nov 2016, 01:05

Hi, Syme - I'm glad you're here and hope it's helpful to you, especially during the homestretch before graduation. :clap:
Syme wrote:But I thought I had a testimony. It felt good to think about a loving, just God; someone who would make everything right. I'm naturally an emotional person so it wasn't hard to feel "the spirit" when I listened to inspirational quotes or beautiful hymns.

I can't say there was one day when "everything changed", but it was a process. As I got older I became less emotional and less sensitive. Church, hymns and talks didn't give me the same emotional feelings. Anything resembling the spirit I could counterfeit with listening to beautiful, non-religious music. These feelings resembled "the spirit" too closely for me. I stopped going to church unless I was forced to be there. I was gaining nothing (spiritually speaking) from being at church.
I like to think that that was the spirit you were feeling. Beautiful words, music, art, ideas - I just assume it's not a counterfeit spirit that we feel when we experience those things. And by the same token, calling something religious doesn't make it beautiful. So, re. gaining nothing from church, I think it's because sometimes it's too religious and not enough beautiful and true.
I already knew God would love me regardless of my orientation. I already knew the members would too, and also they are not representative of the church. But I was looking for truth and solutions, and I found none.
I'm really happy to read that you feel secure with God (if he exists, I know....) and others.
It's hard to convey this over a keyboard but this is eating me up inside. I don't know if I'll ever be OK living in a world without a God. Nihilism is consuming my world, and it is really, really scary and dark.

I'm hoping to learn from some of you on this forum about how you manage the feelings of emptiness. Or maybe you have some insights about why I haven't received any witness of God.
If there isn't anyone in your LDS circle who you can talk with, I would read and connect with people outside of Mormonism, because this is the question for almost everyone at some point. Mother Theresa on down. And it's not just in Mormonism that people have trouble admitting to their doubt. But many/most Mormon discussions are about proving what God said and did this vis a vis this church (and this church only!), not about the very existence of God.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Syme
Posts: 7
Joined: 02 Nov 2016, 00:57

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Syme » 07 Nov 2016, 01:22

Reuben wrote:Welcome! It sounds like you're in the right place. I'm also here partly because other organized communities seem too bitter and angry. I can't let it eat me up like that.

I've been here. I'm still here.

I have no idea whether this will help, but I've been wondering this lately: if I no longer accept feelings as evidence, what do I accept?
Thanks, Reuben.
My only evidence I would accept would be feeling the spirit (if it was unmistakable), and miracles. There are too many coincidences in my opinion.
Reuben wrote: A universe without God is definitely a scarier place.

Here's something I didn't expect: it wasn't so much the idea of there being nothing after death that scared me (whatever happens, it'll be just like before I was born - no big), but the idea of being forgotten.

Another thing I didn't expect was a more intense desire to do something about others' pain. I can't anymore just hand it off to God and expect him to make everything all better. Maybe I needed this for my personal growth.

Again, no idea whether any of this is helpful, just relating some experience that might intersect with yours.
It was helpful. I don't experience the fear of being forgotten (maybe I haven't gotten over total annihilation yet) but I agree that helping make the world a better place is even more important. If we're right, then it's the only one we have :(


ydeve wrote:Hey, another LGBTQ BYU student! My experience has been rather different than yours. I feel the same attraction to people without regards to their gender, and I've found that, for me, they are very much equivalent to what straight people experience. Do be aware that there are heterosexuals who feel dirty and unworthy about their sexual attraction, so that isn't unique to being LGBT. Culture and our own experiences affect our perceptions of sexual attraction. There is nothing inherently dirty about being attracted to people of the opposite gender.
I think you may have misinterpreted my statement. I don't say "I believe my attraction is not equal to a heterosexual one" out of shame or self-loathing.
ydeve wrote: Yes, the church has no helpful resources for LGBTQ members. They mostly reinforce the unhealthy idea that we're given a terrible "trial" or mentally ill.
Yeah, true. I wouldn't mind it being a "trial", as long as they offered some wisdom about what it all means.
DarkJedi wrote:Welcome to the forum. I approved your post earlier today but didn't have time to reply then.

My heart goes out to you. While I like BYU and have children who have and are going there, I also recognize how very challenging it can be for someone in your situation. You have not only the SSA to deal with but a faith crisis as well. Fortunately you are close to graduating - hang in there and endure to the end! (until graduation that is)

I don't know why some of us have challenges that others don't. I think church policy regarding gays is wrong. I don't think this is how Christ would treat and act toward those in your situation. Alas, I can't change any of that, but I will weep with those that weep and mourn with those who mourn. And sometimes I will be like Job's friends and just sit there.
Thanks Mr. Jedi.
I think that revelation should (in theory) trump everything. But I haven't heard anyone claim "I have a testimony of the children of gay parents policy". Most people either are confused, or say they don't "need" a testimony of it, that they "know" it's divinely inspired anyway.
DarkJedi wrote: I have experienced that silence to which you refer. I have experienced it for years and continue to experience it. I know that feeling of really needing God's presence and getting nothing. It's heart breaking.

The idea that all ex-Mormons are bitter critics is a fallacy. In my experience most who leave do so quietly, without fanfare, and are never heard from again. They leave the church and they leave the church alone. Some simply stop coming and never come back, some more formally have their names removed. The tiny minority are bitter, loud mouthed antis.

I spent a long time being angry at God. My anger was misdirected and I finally figures that out and shifted my anger toward the church. But that anger was also misdirected. In the end I was angry that people in the church had led me astray by teaching me things that weren't true, but this was (and to some extent is) actually a collective of people who are not knowingly doing so with malice. You indeed may have more reason to be angry with God - but God didn't make no junk. I'd advise you to take a look at that idea - maybe you're not as "broken" as you and others think you are.
Your last sentence resonated with me. I think I've been spending too much time wondering why my "God receptors" are broken. But there's nothing I can do about it, so might as well leave it be.
:lol: Pascal's wager - I often think about this myself. I have nothing to lose by choosing to believe in God.
I don't know why some people get witnesses from God and some don't. I don't know why some people experience miracles and some don't. I one who experiences neither, and apparently so are you. I am sorry. I hope you find the peace you seek.
Praying doesn't require you to sit for 3 hours in a suit :) I think I would always keep praying for that reason.

Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Roy » 07 Nov 2016, 14:44

Welcome Syme,

I encourage you to not do anything rash until after graduation. Your degree is too important to let someone take it all away at this point.

For me, I see some benefits to Mormon community even if there was no God. However the amount of sacrifice that the church requires does not seem to match those earthly social benefits. I therefore have reduced my participation/sacrifice to more manageable and sustainable levels. This may or may not work for you.

I do believe in the scripture that says, "It is not good for man to be alone." I hope that you find and build lasting relationships that are meaningful to you.

Again welcome!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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SunbeltRed
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Joined: 20 Jun 2014, 11:07

Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by SunbeltRed » 13 Dec 2016, 08:35

Hi Syme -

I don't visit or post in here often anymore, but your story struck a chord with me.

When I was newly married I was in a spot where I needed some comfort about my place in the universe. I prayed, much like you, harder and more openly than I ever had...and silence. It scared me, seriously freaked me out.

10 years later, I consider myself agnostic, I don't really worry about whether there is a God or not. I figure if there is one, he loves us and will do right in the end, if there isn't, well then when I'm dead it won't matter anymore. Not exactly the most comforting thought probably, but my larger point is, right now the questions are consuming you, but it gets better. The existential angst may not leave entirely, but you will figure out a way to deal with it, make sense of it, work with it, and forge a new path forward.

That path may be in mormonism, it may not (mine is currently a path of disengagement), but either way, you will get to own it. Hang on until you graduate, and then if you feel you need to, take a sabbatical, explore some different religions, see how feel, reevaluate, and then move forward from there.

Best of luck,

SBRed

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Monkeymom
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Re: Same-Sex Attraction + No Testimony = Faith Crisis

Post by Monkeymom » 01 Jan 2017, 17:24

This is my first time posting so if totally inappropriate I apologize. But if I may offer a different approach. I'm heterosexual so I'm not going to pretend to understand but I do know a few things that have changed my life dramatically when it comes to God and life's experiences.

1- start looking at God from a different perspective, not just the LDS perspective.
2- look into eastern practices and perspectives of the universe. This helped form my opinion on God in unquic ways.
3-Emanuel Swedenborg- his writings or you tube videos "off the left eye" channel. His ideas on God, heaven, reason for life, reason for trials...wow his stuff made a ton more sense. I still don't agree with all of it and he might be crazy. But I still appreciate the change of perspective.
4- Gregg Braden has some books and ideas that have really helped my idea of who God is and why we experience what we do. Very interesting.

Maybe a crisis of faith means a new perspective is needed. Hopefully you'll find some helpful resources. At any rate I have nothing but serious respect for you and your journey.
- Let go of judging yourself and you'll finally be free to walk with God. -

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