September 26, 2015

What Church Could Be

I have a confession. I do not feel the spirit at church. I haven't, except on the rare occurrence that seems to be only once every two years. Instead, church seems to be a place of feeling inadequate and ostracized. I feel as though I am not welcomed in my authentic state. I often feel church has become a place for the faux perfect instead of the sinners and seekers of Christ's love. What could church be if it was a place of love and acceptance? (The kind of love and acceptance Christ gives not the kind your Bishop dishes out on account of worthiness.)

The State of the Church

As a gay Mormon, I sit in church worried and stressed about what others think about me. I am not afforded the time or comfort to focus. Church is not a place for me to feel the spirit, it is a pressure cooker of stress and negative feelings. It has become a place full of talks and lessons focused on not measuring up. A cacophony of insistent reminders of inadequacy. 

I sit in church often feeling alone, sad and sometimes angry. I see couples in my young single adult ward dating who hold hands. I see couples in long term relationships who scratch each others backs. I feel angry that I, who am also in a relationship, am not aloud to show the same affection for my boyfriend. I would be an affront to others feeling the spirit or erase the sanctity of the meeting.

I am afraid to share my true thoughts and feelings in church because it may cause others to feel uncomfortable. I am asked to dim my light of knowledge and experience in classes because it is not conducive to the spirit. As a gay man I am asked to hide who I am while at church and it's functions. I am told that what I am and who I love is not correct and should not be a part of my life. I wonder what church could be if it was a place for all to worship, as Christ intended.

A Good Example of What Church Could Be

I attended the 2015 Affirmation conference in Provo Utah last weekend with my boyfriend, David. We held hands, scratched each others back, nestled our heads on the others shoulder and even kissed. We had no need to fear the judgement or scorn of others for showing our love to each other. David and I both commented how wonderful it was we were able to show this affection and not be asked to stop. 

We were able to focus on the speakers instead of feeling self conscience during the conference. Instead of worrying about judgements from others, we felt the spirit. David even commented that he felt the spirit more at this conference than he has at church for years. That got me thinking. Because the conference was a place of acceptance and love, David was able to focus and feel his emotions. So much so, that the spirit spoke to him often. 

At the conference, we were all encouraged to share our stories. Many shared experiences and thoughts that go against the path taught in the church. We were asked not to judge but love one another. In the shining forth of our true individuality, I saw and felt the true love of Christ. People's life and choices different from my own taught me so much. There was no artificial standard everyone was expected to meet. There was celebration in diversity and uncommon opinions. 

I feel safe in saying everyone at the conference was a sinner. Vices abounded in that conference center. So many sins (and I use that word liberally and lightly) that the dear old lady in the everyday ward would faint. But it didn't matter. Everyone knew the other was an outcast in one form or another. We loved each other not despite our sins and vices but because of our sins and vices. 

A Loss of Full Luminosity

If church was a place for the sinner and not the fake perfectionist, I would feel comfortable being there with David. If church was a place of love, I would be welcomed with open arms without the need to shed my true thoughts and feelings. If church was a place of Christ's love, I would feel the spirit there. Instead, church is a burden. Church isn't what it should be.

The conference did not focus on attaining an ubber cleansed version of ourselves that would require a loss of all authenticity. The conference focus on celebrating the light within reminds me that each person has a unique opportunity to bring more light into this world. If any of us L, G, B or T hide our light, then we will never reach our full potential of luminosity. 

It is the same in the church. If we are asked to turn down our light, or extinguish it altogether, then the church is losing its full strength and brightness.

So why do I go? I love the hymns. I know the gospel is true. I feel welcomed there, even when I am not welcomed. What could church be if it was full of unconditional love? It would be a home to all God's children. It would be a home I yearn for. It would be a place that I can celebrate my light within.


  1. Thank you for your post, Trevor! It was great meeting David and chatting with you two. I agree, the spirit at Affirmation is so strong and opens my heart wider and wider each time I attend. God bless you and David, Trevor!

    1. Thank you Jonathan for your support and kind words! You are a good man!

  2. Hey- found your blog through the Twitter skewing of the meridian trash taken down this morning- and I resurrected what looks like my old married blog from before I came out! (Awesomeeeeeee). Sending you super queer Mormon love from NYC. Xoxo - Frankie