Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter from Alex

Alex is my little brother. He's serving his mission in Hamburg, Germany right now. He's one of the coolest, funniest kids you could ever meet. We were the closest in age of any of our siblings so we got along pretty well. We had the talk about me being gay before he went on his mission. He even knew I was dating a guy for a while and even wrote him.

Sometime I'll have to write a post about ordinary people in the church who are amazing examples to me of what a Christian can be. Suffice it to say, my little brother is one of them.

He sent me a letter this week that I'm trying to respond to. Maybe I'm not the best person to be responding. Let me know what you think. I'm going to send it sometime before his P-day on monday.

To me from Alex:

Hey bro,

Happy Birthday. I heard the family threw a party and the cardboard me was there. Thats cool that you guys have the cutout for family events and what not. Thanks for getting that made for me. Is there anything you want out here that I could send to you or maybe something that I could give you in a year?

I have a question. There is a guy here in the ward who came home from his mission a while ago. Just a little while after he got home, he removed his name from the records and he went inactive because he is gay. He comes to church every once in a while and he still obvoiusly has a testimony and what not. There are a lot of people here though who seem to have the wrong idea about gay people though and I imagine he gets crap about it. I was wondering if maybe I should talk to him or just not get involved in it altogether. Whats your advice?


This is what I've got down so far to send to him:

Hey Alex!

Birthday turned out to be a lot of fun. I went and hiked in the Tetons last weekend and then came back on my actual birthday and Lois made me a cool cake with strawberries and blueberries and we did dinner and presents and what not. Our family is pretty great sometimes.

Get me something you think is cool. Or just a bunch of German chocolate. Or both. :)

That cardboard cutout of you is now with us at everything. I really only expected to use it at John's wedding, but basically the whole family thinks its hilarious and now we don't take pictures without it. Its one of Dad's favorite things to talk about when people come over to the house, second only to Ron Paul.

About the guy in your ward: A lot of times missionaries that are gay are guys/gals that have this secret hope that if they just live life right and do everything Heavenly Father wants, (ie go on a mission, get married, be faithful at church, etc) then they won't be gay anymore or Heavenly Father will make their challenge easier. When they find out this isn't the case, which happens a lot after they get back from missions (though often it results from a failed marriage to the opposite sex or some other big thing) the fall is so hard that they are forced to reexamine their life and beliefs from top to bottom. Sometimes I think this is a good thing because often it is the first time someone is willing to deal with reality. They sort of throw off the model of how everyone tells them things are supposed to be and they figure out how life should be for them.Sometimes this means throwing out the church. I'd have to say that most of them have a lot less to do with the church, but some stay and a few even get married and and make it work.

You should definitely talk to this guy. Maybe just start out by introducing yourself. Ask him questions about how he feels about the church. Tell him you have a gay brother who is having his own issues with the church. Try to show that you are not judging but trying to understand and help if you can.

You should also give him a pamphlet called "God Loveth His Children" if he hasn't already seen it. It's a newer pamphlet that the first presidency produces that talks about gay issues and its pretty good. I'm not sure if you can get a hold of one in German there, but you should be able to from a Bishop or Stake President. If not, let me know and I can send you one in English and maybe someone can translate for him or something.

Hope that will help.

(Pinetree's name)

Let me know if you have any thoughts.

1 comment:

Silus Grok said...

That feels like the right thing to say… I hope he has a chance to talk to the young man. I hope the young man is receptive to the unconditional love of a minister of God.

In my ward and stake I've been asked on occasion to fellowship other gay members and to be a resource for full time elders in our stake when they have gay investigators. Though I've yet to go on a call with the elders, I have had the chance to talk to a handful of members in this capacity… and nearly every time, what I say is the same:

You're not broken — no more than any one else is. This isn't your burden. You have other things you need to tackle in this life… being more charitable, doing your home teaching, magnifying your calling… managing your anger, subduing other appetites. There's a life time of things to work on. Why focus on this? The gospel is engineered to bring us joy… let it.

Of course, there's much more to say than that. Platitudes don't get you through a long and lonely weekend, or through Mothers Day. And they can't nourish a neglected testimony. But to see the look in someone's eyes when they hear something so fundamentally different than what they've been telling themselves all these years… it's amazing. It reminds me of the story of Christ and the blind man (John 9).

I'm a little less hopeful of what I might do for those investigating the Church. But we'll see, I guess.

At any rate, please let us know of any news from your brother with this young man; I'll keep him in my prayers.