Waiting for the ram in the thicket
Like most fiancées, I was pretty certain that our marriage would be everything that I wanted it to be. I knew we would have hard times and I knew that we would have disagreements, but I also had been promised that any two righteous people could make a good marriage happen. I knew we were both good people–anxious to accomplish the Lord’s will for us–and so, we could definitely make it work. The fact that my then-fiancé had disclosed that he was gay (at the time, he used the phrase “same-sex attracted”) just seemed a small hurdle, one that the Lord would surely help us to overcome. In fact, my very own stake president–who was aware of my husband’s attractions and sexual orientation–promised us that the Lord would not only help us, He would use us to do incredible things if only we stayed true to our faith. Bright-eyed and full of faith, we moved forward with our marriage plans and prepared to give everything to the Lord. We were full of promise that we would certainly have a wonderful marriage as nothing could shake our faith.
Until it could…
Years of wading through and struggling in a mixed-orientation marriage brought us to the point of doubting everything. If we could be promised such grand things in the name of following the Lord’s commandments, then why were those promises not being fulfilled? We had sacrificed everything we had to give upon the altar of our faith. When we married, my husband sacrificed a life of true love and compatibility, I sacrificed the opportunity for a return on the love and attraction I felt. We had children when we felt called upon to have them. We got degrees we felt God (and the church) sanctioned. We moved out of the country as we felt God direct us. We continued to serve and pay tithing as we were instructed. We gave our time and talents to our callings. We did all that we were supposed to in order to have the marriage we were promised upon our faithfulness, and yet the promise remained elusive.
As we sought out help from our leaders and requested to begin a support group for other couples in similar situations, we were denied the opportunity to do so. LDS Family Services had declared that support groups, firesides and other similar activities that congregated known LGBT persons together in one place should not be encouraged. As the tears flowed and I asked that our names please be passed along to other couples in similar situations who were looking for support, I was told that “most people want to keep these things private.” My request for love, support and guidance fell upon deaf ears and we were asked to go back into our closet of shame and isolation.
But I continued on because I had faith. I knew the Lord’s commandments, I knew the Truth.
Until I didn’t…
And then nothing made sense anymore. The faith that we worked so hard to keep alive and the marriage that was built upon that faith, all-too-quickly started to crumble. No longer did things make sense the way they once did. And so what before felt like waiting for a ram in the thicket suddenly became about waiting for Godot.
As I look back on the years of waiting and praying for the blessings we had been promised, contingent upon our faith, it occurred to me that we were not asked to sacrifice as Abraham, we were asked to sacrifice as Isaac. Like Isaac, we had not grown into full maturity before consenting to lay our lives upon the altar of “traditional marriage.” We did not realize that our happiness was being sacrificed upon the altar of tokenism and political battles.
Whenever we tell the story of Abraham and Isaac, we speak of Abraham’s great faith, of his close relationship with God, and for his willingness to sacrifice everything to uphold God’s commandments. However, we often miss the most disturbing and critical part of this story. This wasn’t about Abraham being willing to give up everything to God, this was about Abraham being willing to give up Isaac’s everything to God. It’s one thing to lay our own lives on the line to witness our obedience to God and commandments, it’s quite another to bargain another’s life to demonstrate that.
Perhaps we need to assess if it is God requiring these sacrifice after all…