…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Tipping Balance Tips

And Having Tipped, Moves On

By Rex Goode


tippingI’ve seen a lot of people leave the Church, probably more than my share. I’ve known a lot of people with criticism for the Church over things that aren’t consistent with the person’s way of thinking. As the world changes, popular ways of thinking continue to diverge from the Church’s teachings. It seems that we will see more and more people leaving the Church over these things.

I don’t think anyone is completely immune to these pressures. I know that I struggle with my own perceptions that don’t entirely line up with at least the cultural aspects of what Mormons tend to be like and believe.

I’ve never wanted to base my faithfulness to the Church on blind conformity. In fact, being a nonconformist is a large part of what has kept me in the Church. That’s because my tendency to resist blending in has made me resist giving in to parts of my nature, as a Gay Mormon, that many say is the only path for someone like me to be truly happy. I’m just stubborn enough that when someone tells me that I can’t, I do it, just to prove that I don’t like being told what to do.

When someone says you can’t be faithful Mormon and gay too, or that you can’t be gay and have a happy marriage to a woman, or that you can’t have a testimony of the Church and see how the Church’s policies don’t fit the world’s idea of right, I feel compelled to prove them wrong.

I’m a social worker, a profession not known for have politically conservative ideals. I had a professor who told me that being a social worker and a political conservative weren’t consistent things to be. Well, that’s what I’m doing. I make it work.

It is true that some of these seemingly paradoxical things can throw a person off balance. One of my favorite things to do is to grab a broom, stand it upside-down in the palm of my hand, and walk around trying to keep it from falling. The secret is in adjusting your hand to stay under the vertical-ness of the broomstick. It’s just a fact that to balance something, you have to make adjustments on the fly, responding to what is happening. If a wind comes along, I have to adjust.

My wife doesn’t like it when I use the term “gay” to describe myself. I’m becoming more comfortable with it, as it becomes more prevalent in modern usage, especially as the Church tends to use it more as in their website, MormonsAndGays.org. I find it useful because when I say, “I am same-sex attracted,” people say, ‘Huh?” When I say that I’m gay, they know what I mean. If I had to explain it every time I said “same-sex attraction”, as I am doing now, it makes everything take more time to say.

It’s also a fact that if you are having to adjust too much, what you are balancing will react more quickly and you may no longer be able to keep up with all of the shifting of position. It will fall. Subtle movements work better.

In my way of thinking, it is healthy to question, even to push for change a little. At the same time, it is unhealthy to be so devoted to a certain change that you refuse to be open to the will of God and consider God to have failed you if he doesn’t go along with your ideas. The same goes for the Church.

What I so often see is that a person will become so adamant about a certain cause that it becomes the lump in the balance that tips them over. I think it’s always a wise policy to recognize that God rules the universe, not me. Yet, I must recognize that I must take care to not place everything on one side of the scale. We must keep things in balance.

I do this by three strict, personal policies, listed here in ascending order of importance:

1. Acceptance

I accept that there are things I cannot change. Sounds like the Serenity Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was something I practiced before I ever knew the prayer. I think it is an imperative spiritual tool to be able to relax and accept a reality that is not always subject to my whims and preferences.

I do this with my same-sex attraction and what seems to be a contradiction between those internal feelings and the requirements of the Law of Chastity. It is part of the natural man to want to bend or break that law. For most “natural” men, that desire expresses itself in a powerful heterosexuality. For some of us, like me, the desire expresses itself in a powerful homosexuality. Yet, both kinds of men, who are disciples of Christ, are expected to deal with those desires within the confines of a legal and lawful marriage, to a woman.

I’m not trying to say here that the heterosexual man has it easier. That is something that a lot of people do say, but I’ve never been in favor of comparing trials and saying mine is harder. I’ve long believed that the hardest thing for you to bear feels as difficult to you as the hardest thing I have to bear feels to me. The demands of compassion require me to have empathy and not “mourn or think [my] lot is hard[er].”

To be honest, over the years, as I have had occasion to be a support to some very heterosexual friends in their struggle to be faithful, I’ve felt my lot and load was much easier. I wouldn’t have that empathy if I thought that dealing with same-sex attraction was the worst thing a Latter-day Saint could experience. Beware a victim mentality. When you can’t accept your lot in life as the will of God, you constantly think of yourself as a victim and can be no real help to anyone else.

Though it is not wrong to want to change things, our efforts to change things should always start with changing ourselves. As a social worker, I know that my professional and human duty are to work for a better world. I take that responsibility very seriously. Yet, I do it with the understanding that I can’t see the world clearly and know what changes to make if the mote or beam is in my own eye.

2. Gratitude

So much that tips the balance is the weighty problem of envy. I have found that the best antidote to envy is gratitude for what I have. Isn’t envy the very heart of ingratitude? When we want something that others have, we are ignoring the blessings we have.

It isn’t wrong to strive to have more, to take advantage of blessings that others have, as long as we can accept the things as they are, the things that we cannot or should not change. I have often wished that the Serenity Prayer had included a desire to recognize also the things I should not change.

3. Faith

For me, the concepts of acceptance versus victimhood and gratitude versus envy are the things in the scales. Faith is more about the base of the scale. The point of a balance is to even things out between things on the left and things on the right. Acceptance is about balancing the things I can change and the things I can’t. Gratitude is the balance between appreciating what I have and striving to improve my lot in life.

Faith, especially faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is about anchoring the scales to a sure foundation, so that whatever ends up on either side of the scale, it doesn’t fall over. Set a balance scale on a flat and level surface. You can put anything on one side with any mass and fits on the balance and that side will lower. Make it heavy enough and it will fall to the ground. Make it too heavy and the whole thing will tip over, maybe even fall on you and squash you. From what I have seen in life, when the scale tips over for many people, they lose their desire to put it right.

But secure the base of the balance scale to the flat surface and make it strong enough to withstand anything and you can be safe. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is that spiritual anchor. It comes before everything and makes everything bearable.

For me, the first priority in any imbalance is my relationship with my Savior. When anything, any question, dilemma, complaint, or cause becomes more important than that, the scales will tip and the scales and I will fall. With that relationship full and healthy, no other problem seems overwhelming or even important by comparison. With him, I can endure any injustice, unfairness, or even any unsolvable paradox.


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