This is a guest post by Nicholas Applegate.
I am a gay man married to a wonderful wife, and I openly support The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its doctrines, and its leaders. As a result, I support the BYU honor code and their decision to require their students to keep the law of chastity (see link at bottom). This is because I have a testimony that this church is truly Christ’s church and that its leaders are called of God and divinely inspired.
However, at the core of myself, I am not a gay man; I am a child of God, a priesthood holder, a husband, and a father. I am not denying my true self by living the tenets of the Church. I would be denying my true self by not living the Gospel and leaving the Church to life a gay lifestyle.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a man we believe to be an apostle of God, spoke to BYU faculty a couple days ago (see link at bottom) reaffirming our beliefs in the sacred nature of marriage between a man and a woman, the right of BYU as a private, church school to support and institute doctrinal policies, and the need of disciples of Christ to defend and support our church leaders and the doctrine we believe in. I have seen lots of posts and messages opposing Elder Holland’s remarks, and while I respect their right to share their thoughts and while I also have some reservations about Elder Holland’s choice of words, I believe that he is a divinely inspired apostle of Jesus Christ and that his message is true. He asked for more to defend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to be a voice in its support, so I have decided to do just that. Being a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage, I think I am in a unique position to share my thoughts on the matter.
I have known from a young age that I was attracted to men. It was an emotional roller-coaster, something I mentioned to almost no one before I became an adult, and which still was told to very few individuals after. It made me feel different, gross, and mostly embarrassed, and it was hard for me to talk about. It took years for me to process this and accept myself for who I was. However, unlike many that I have heard about in my situation, I had little doubt about my future standing in the Church.
The Church has always been clear, in my lifetime anyway, that it is not attraction to men that is sinful, but acting on those desires. I always understood that if I chose to either live a celibate or a heterosexual life, my standing within the Church would never be in question. I decided essentially as soon as I realized I was gay that I would follow the law of chastity and not engage in a relationship with a man.
As I grew older and started to understand better how influential sexual and physical feelings and desires are in relationships, I started to worry and doubt my decision. I struggled with feeling out of place in the Church as I went to singles’ wards with lots of talk about dating and marriage. I started to doubt my decision to date women and one day marry a woman, and was worried whether that was really possible for me. For the first time, I found myself genuinely questioning whether I would be able to stay an active and worthy church member for the rest of my life.
After many painful personal experiences that I don’t want to share publicly, I came to understand and truly believe in the truth I had always known- that the only source of true joy in life is Jesus Christ, and that the only way I could fully experience that joy was to live the gospel as I had been taught it in the restored Church of Jesus Christ (including the law of chastity) and to have a celestial marriage with a worthy daughter of God. I saw in my life that as difficult as it might be to be a gay man not living a gay life, it would be more difficult to live a gay life that did not include active and worthy membership in Christ’s church. Many gay individuals claim that the Church asking us to live a celibate or heterosexual life is not letting us be true to ourselves.
To clarify- if anyone can have compassion for others in the LDS LGBTQ+ community, it is me. I understand how hard it is, and how deep sexual feelings run. It is not easy, and while I disagree with those who choose to leave or oppose the Church, I understand them, and I love them. I am friends with several such individuals and they know that is how I feel.
However, while I respect their right to share their opinions, I feel the need to do the same. I have seen so much opposition to Elder Holland’s remarks, and for years before I have seen so much opposition to church doctrines and policies surrounding same-sex attraction. I want to just add a voice in support of the Church and its doctrines. I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so much and I am so grateful for all the blessings they have given me, including the gifts of the scriptures, access to divine guidance through personal revelation and modern-day prophets, and all the gifts associated with being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am especially grateful for my wife, my baby boy, and the chance I have to be a part of a loving, eternal marriage and family, an opportunity I was not sure I would have in this life. I don’t endorse mixed-orientation marriages for everyone who deals with same-sex attraction, but for me it has given me more joy and peace than I thought possible. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can see clearly how much happier I am now than I was before I got married, and how much happier I am than I could possibly be in any lifestyle that was not in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I can’t count the number of blessings in my life I would have missed had I gone down another path. I can’t imagine a life without Jordan and our soon-to-be-born baby boy.
Brigham Young University, the school I have attended for three years and absolutely love, is a private school run and funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such it has a right to require its students to live by its tenets. One of its tenets is that we follow the law of chastity, which requires that we engage in no sexual relations or behaviors except those between a man and a woman, legally and lawfully married. While I recognize it is a complicated issue and the enforcement still needs to be discussed and possibly improved upon, BYU wouldn’t be BYU without its honor code requiring its students to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am very open to answering questions and explaining more about my experiences and beliefs if people are genuinely curious and want to understand more, but I ask for the same respect and consideration for my beliefs that I extend to those who disagree with me, and that all should be extended. I love you all, and I respect your life choices and opinions, but I have waited to share my own long enough. I cannot be silent in my support for our prophet, the apostles, and the inspired and divine nature of their counsel.