John, after doubting for years the very existence of God, or at least a loving god, has been actively attending church with a renewed testimony for several years now while remaining excommunicated due to his long-time marriage with his husband. In this first part of the conversation with him, he shares some of that journey.
After having a powerful spiritual experience in 2005 and wrestling with the Spirit for most of a year, he followed inspiration to go back to Church and found profound spiritual experiences re-reading the Book of Mormon as it spoke very directly and personally to him and his situation as a gay man. He didn’t know for sure what returning to the Church would mean for his family. Having to choose between full fellowship in the Church and staying married to his husband has been hard on both of them. And John has still had to wrestle with questions, but he says it boils down to one main question: do I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God? He loves the members of his ward, who he says are true latter-day saints, and he says his return seems easier for them to understand than for many of his friends in the gay community.
He recognizes that others struggle to understand his situation and choices but believes truth comes as we are capable of receiving it, and we don’t know what the future holds. While speaking at an Affirmation conference in the Kirtland Temple, John was keenly aware of a vision of a time when he and his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters would be fully reunited with the Church. God accepts us as His children, he says, so it’s not a matter of being accepted in that ultimate sense, but of being present and accepted as part of the body of the Church.
by Jay Jacobsen
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(The views expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the producers of Far Between but are reflective of some aspects of what it means to be homosexual and Mormon today.)