Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reconciling the Heart and the Mind

This was written by Peter, a friend of a friend, to the San Fransisco Chronicle

As a twenty-something Bay Area resident and a Stanford graduate, I have struggled recently as church leaders I love and trust have encouraged my participation in the "Yes on 8" campaign. I have gay friends and colleagues and have long embraced a "to each his own" mentality on the issue of same-sex marriage. It has been very difficult for me to reconcile my faith and my socio-political philosophy on this issue. I have done it, though, and it's important that I lay out my logic for two reasons: I) so that those on the "No" side of this issue can see that, though my reasoning is founded in my belief in a loving God, many of us on the "Yes" side have thought and prayed deeply about this issue and we aren't just thoughtless, fanatical, religious bigots, and II) so that others struggling to reconcile these two aspects of their lives can know they can reconcile their minds and their hearts and be empowered to do what they feel is right on November 4th.

I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator who loves each of us and wants us to be happy. Operating from this premise, it is easy to conclude that this Creator knows us better than we know ourselves. Like the mother who tells her young child not to play in the street or not to touch the hot stove God knows what will bring us the most joy and how we can best avoid and overcome heartache and pain.

There are things that I'm sure I would find to be quite pleasurable if I were to indulge in them, but that God has asked me not to do. Though specifics vary for each individual, these vices exist for all of us. I have found that as I abstain from the things the Lord has guided me away from – even when I have inside of me a seemingly innate propensity to do them -- I have eventually found joy and peace in those decisions. It hasn't always been easy. In fact many times it's been excruciating, but I can honestly say that when I don't do things the Lord has counseled me to avoid, in the long-term I am happier than if I do them. Similarly, I can see the heartache and trials and stress and worry that going against God's counsel has brought into my life, and the lives of my friends who have chosen to partake of their personal forbidden fruit.

Homosexuality is not a temptation for me, but it is for some people – it's how they are wired. I'm not pretending to know how hard it must be to deal with the challenges of same-sex attraction, but just as one can choose to wait until marriage to have sex, those struggling with same-sex attraction can choose for themselves whether they want to walk the path that God has pointed to and keep their appetites within the bounds He has set, or if they want to blaze their own trail. I won't condemn anyone for either choice, but I will promise them that walking the path their loving Heavenly Father has prepared for them—though we might not understand exactly why or how just yet—will eventually lead to greater happiness.

The Lord's path is in many ways harder, in some ways easier, and in all ways the best. I truly believe that an all-knowing God knows where all the paths of life could lead us, and that he has pointed us down the one leading to joy, peace, and happiness -- because He loves us.

I ask everyone to avoid the temptation to stereotype and demean those whose views differ from their own—and encourage everyone to reflect on what they feel is right and then to act on that conviction. I have, and I will: "Yes on 8."

Thank you, Peter, for putting into such eloquent words exactly how many people feel, including myself.