Could a man (or woman) have same-sex attraction and still remain faithfully married, raising a family and be a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or a Christian? The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. However, and regardless of the complexities such an individual would face, there are two men who have come out to express their SSA while maintaining happy and successful marriages. Impossible you think? Maybe these two stories will give the readers of Christian Authenticity a different perspective on homosexuality and being a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The first gentleman is Ty Mansfield. He compiled an anthology of essays and content for a book titled Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspective on Same-Gender Attraction – An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays. In a previous work, Ty Mansfield contributed a BYU paper in a published work titled In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenges of Same-Gender Attraction. Another gentleman, by the name of Joshua Weed, published a blog article about his struggle with SSA and how he and his wife have a deep and rich marriage. Both men have provided their own unique perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction and how important their faith in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps those live meaningful lives.
In addition to the two published works, Ty Mansfield and his wife were interviewed by LDS Living Magazine about their faith, testimony, and Mansfield’s struggle with SSA.
Both of these couples have provided unique perspectives in what it takes to not only live the principles of the Gospel, but it gives a testimony to how they are living rich and meaningful lives where they are married and raising a family.
Marriage in and of itself has its difficulties couples experience. It takes commitment and courage to work together in making a marriage work. It takes fearless and selfless attitudes to understand what compromise and sacrifice means. One cannot begin to imagine the difficulties Same-Gender Attraction brings to the marital relationship. Yet, the issue does not seem to rest on problematic symptoms in these marriages – meaning, infidelity in acting out the tendencies that come with SSA – because the perspectives offered show the willingness and commitment both men have to their wives and children.
In the LDS Living Article – Living with Same-sex Attraction: Our Story – Ty Mansfield provides insight into his own thoughts on marriage and whether or not he should seek out an eternal companion:
I had pretty much concluded that I probably wouldn’t marry in this life, and I had come to a place where I was okay with that. I had let go of any personal or cultural pressure to marry and was content to stay single. Then I had an experience in which I felt prompted to continue to prepare myself spiritually and emotionally for the blessing of marriage and leave the rest to the Lord. As much as I felt I wouldn’t marry, I tried to leave it an open question and trust in God. I felt good about that spiritually, but I continued to experience some emotional ups and downs.
Mansfield relates his experience at a recent general conference where he experienced the kind of deep and spiritual love that could only come from the Divine. This spiritual hunger and thirsting came about, as he explains, from being broken by not having the kind of relationship his desires were pulling him toward. He also recounts a teaching of President Boyd K. Packer (That All May Be Edified) where the principle of faith became a real part of Ty Mansfield’s own spiritual quest.
Having read this article in the LDS Living Magazine, and Joshua Weed’s blog posting, the one scripture that comes to my mind is that of Nephi where he talks about the power of our Heavenly Father’s protection over us when we truly commit to living the commandments and principles of the Gospel:
… But behold, I, Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance (See 1 Nephi 1:20).
We are also reminded of the constant theme within the pages of the Book of Mormon where there are parallel blessings and consequences for how we choose to live our lives.
And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and ye shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands (1 Nephi 2:20)
The ability to keep the commandments, to live by the principle teachings of the Restored Gospel is not just for us who are members of the Latter-day Saint faith, but also for those who are outside of our faith – we share the freedom and hope there is in this life when we walk in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, abiding by its precepts. Nephi himself declared this unto his father when he said:
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that they Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them (1 Nephi 3:7).
The ability for these two gentleman, and those who struggle with SSA and are faithfully married to their wives is a testimony to their devout faith in Heavenly Father, His plan of salvation, and the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ – albeit being a different struggle than that of many faithful Latter-day Saint Christians may experience.
However, the obvious question is – if a person identifies themselves as “Gay” or “Homosexual” or “Same Gender Attracted” how can they be married to a woman? Josh Weed answers this question from his own perspective:
This is a really good question and I can see how people can be confused about it. Some might assume that because I’m married to a woman, I must be bisexual. This would be true if sexual orientation was defined by sexual experience. Heck, if sexual orientation were defined by sexual experience, I would be as straight as the day is long even though I’ve never been turned on by a Victoria’s Secret commercial in my entire life. Sexual orientation is defined by attraction, not by experience. In my case, I am attracted sexually to men. Period. Yet, my marriage is wonderful, and … [we] … have an extremely healthy and robust sex life.
Josh Weed continues describing what people are really asking and he delves into how he discovered the answer for himself – how could he be sexually attracted to men and yet have a robust and intimate marriage with his wife. He shares that it came when he did research for graduate studies and discovered the answer to this provocative question:
I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school … I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. … but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing.
Josh continues the reality and the deepest foundations for true marriage and intimacy within marriage, one that we all can come to understand in our own lives:
Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection.
In today’s pop culture, the idea of marriage is a thing of the past. Many in our pop culture view marriage as a civil union and do not fully appreciate or comprehend the magnitude of a true and deeply meaningful commitment to one another.
From both, Ty Mansfield and Joshua Weed, many of us could use the understanding and principles of their perspectives in seeing where our current relationship is with our spouses, and come to reshape our own thinking and how we also desire the deep and meaningful intimacy these two men have with their own wives.
Both men also provide perspective in a sensitive and culturally biased issue on how they have come to have such a deep loving and intimate relationship with their wives and families. What is even more interesting is reading the perspective from their wives and hearing from them about what it is like and how they are living with SSA as well and how meaningful their marriages have become.
What, then, is it that we can learn from these two men? The eternal blessings of a celestial marriage in this life can truly be achieved if we so desire to follow the will and desire of our Heavenly Father and seek after Him in all things – too include living the principles of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please take the time to watch this video.