I find topics like these philosophically interesting. I'm most comfortable fitting in the Agnostic box. While I sometimes contemplate and can relate to spiritual ideas, my life doesn't revolve around having anywhere near a perfect understanding. There are times I feel like God could exist and other times that it really doesn't add up. Either way, it doesn't matter. God or no God doesn't change who I am and what makes me happy. It doesn't make me someone "devil-ish" or without any sense of what is right and wrong. In fact, I find it liberating to know that what I believe and how I choose to live my life is all based on what I feel is good and right. It is no longer based on what is supposed to be right and wrong as written in books. With that background here are some thoughts:
I love Jeff's response. I share a very similar belief. If we delve into some of the most commonly accepted beliefs in Christianity we will see that the greatest commandment is love. Notice that it isn't "strict obedience" it is "love."
You hear on talk radio shows and other therapeutic geared media that you can't truly love others until you learn to love yourself. How can you love yourself when you feel that "enduring" and "burying" your feelings is the only way to be accepted by God? Where is there love in unacceptance?
The part of me that accepts that there could be a God sees a being that isn't entirely foreign to the LDS faith. Through refining my thoughts and relating to my own life I sift away many of the "Hellfire and damnation" views of a vengeful God. I am a gay father. My marriage ended 3 years ago. I have two amazing boys that have taught me more about what a God should be than anything else I ever learned.
I have felt many ranges of emotions as a father. I have felt fear, anger, embarrassment (of my lack of ability), heartache, worry, contentment, and joy. Most of all I have felt love.
We have this strange concept in life of what is wrong and what is right. Everything has to be black or white. We somehow picture this book in heaven that judges each move in life as either sin or its righteousness. We either get a check in the naughty or nice column. Our hope is that we get enough "nice" checks to get into heaven. I don't know many Earthly fathers that live that way in everyday life. How many of us have watched our children make mistakes? Do we judge everything they do as right or wrong and worthy of praise or punishment. How many of us have watched our kids build something with legos or blocks knowing that the laws of nature will never allow it to stand on its own. Do we have to rush in and command that they alter their course and do things "right" or do we just make a mental note for punishment later? I don't and believe that most fathers don't as well.
Being gay is no different than being straight in that we all will have our own opportunities to learn and grow. These may be strictly my own morals, but I don't see "sowing my wild oats" as inherently sinful or something that God has noted for later punishment. Just like the legos, its a life experience for me. It is my chance to see what will stand on its own and what will not. While I have greatly slowed my sowing, I can't deny what I have learned and the value that came from such supposedly damning behavior. I have found contentment in being single, but there is always that part looking for love. In my sowing I have found a greater understanding for what love is.
Back on track with fatherhood. My love for my sons is not contingent on them making all the choices I want them to make. I know we are taught that God loves us all no matter what. There is a HUGE BUT (no pun intended) in LDS teachings though. He loves us BUT if we don't heed everything he COMMANDS of us, we have no place in his house. Really?? I can not fathom the day that I would bar my own children from everything I have. I cannot imagine not allowing them to stand in my presence, let alone not always feeling the desire to hold them and show them all the love I have for them. If that is true with me, why not a more perfect Father in Heaven?
The only expectation I really have for my sons is that they not willingly injury another either emotionally or physically. Even then, they would never be banned from my presence. I may want them to be a doctor, or lawyer, or great politician, but if they find joy in working at McDonald's so be it. I may have things I'd like them to do in life, but all I really want is for them to find happiness, joy, and love (in one form or another). If I feel this way about my children, why can't God?
I can't imagine the sorrow I would feel if I found out that my son endured years and years of Medical school "enduring" to be a doctor, because he thought it would make me happy, only to find that he didn't enjoy it and would rather have been a garbage man. I don't have those expectations of my sons and I would never want them to put their happiness on "hold" in order to live up to some ideal they think I have for them. As Jeff stated above, what if our "test" wasn't to endure? What if it was to love? Why deny the amazing man (who loves other men) that God created? Why not be authentic, real, and happy in this life? How can that translate into damnation in the next?
I feel that I have more to contribute to society as an openly gay, authentic, self-loving man than I ever did as a closet case "enduring."
I can't believe such a God exists that expects us to deny the greatest commandment of love and replace it with enduring. Enduring is not fair for me as a gay man in a hetero marriage, and it is not fair for the woman that has to endure as well. Would any one of us want to be in a marriage to someone who was "enduring" rather than "loving" us?
If love is the greatest commandment, we should live it.