Dear Sister C,
I congratulate you on the wedding of your daughter and wish them the the brightest of marriages: full of hope, much joy and laughter, and deep and thought-provoking moments in life! I can only hope for a long and happy life for the two of them and I only hope for a long and happy life for you, your husband, and your children and their spouses.
It is evident in your very words and actions the depth of your love for God and the LDS Church. In every word that you put forth and in deed, I can see and hear the measure of your faith and the desire to do what you feel is right. The warmth of that belief and your love for me as one of your missionaries is so clear. I thank you for that, Sister C, and express my love to you in return. You are a wonderful, wonderful woman.
My words last night must have been disappointing for you. I do believe you are right to say that you saw it coming. It is truly only a matter of time before I leave the Church. It is also quite likely that nothing will stop this decision now despite the fact that at least a year stands between me and that choice. I cannot provide words to soothe that disappointment or soften the small shock that you might be feeling concerning my departure from the organization that you love and found salvation in.
You knew me best as a missionary. You listened to my companion and I talk about people we were teaching, of baptisms, of Confirmations, and of new people we had met. I cannot help but wonder if it would have been best to have never kept up communication with you so that in some way your memory of me would have been preserved and remained unblemished from the taint of time and of reality. But it is too late to retroactively fix what has occurred and I certainly have no intention of submitting to what you think is right for me.
I love you most sincerely and still think of you as my "Mission Mom." But I am no longer a missionary and to a certain extent, no longer a child. What I am, I am not so certain of for I do no feel as though I can claim I am a man. One day I may at last find out what I am but that will only be after the test of time.
I know not if there is a God and cannot with even the slightest amount of hope express that I believe there is, nor do I wish to. The burden of pain and anger have negated such desire to do so. I did not express this situation with you because I felt that you were already having to deal with one reality (me leaving the Church) and didn't need to be thrown into the deep end just yet. I share it now so that my response to your comments will make sense to some extent.
Right and wrong. Good and evil. These are concepts that are not universal in application. Not all societies view the same things as evil and good or right and wrong. Not all individuals share the same values as you or I or our neighbors or even citizens of nations half a world away. I have never found any reason to find homosexuality to be morally wrong or evil. Look at me, Sister C, and tell me that I am evil for wanting to have a relationship with a man. For hoping to share a life with another man, raise children with another man, go on vacations with him, suffer his quirks and bouts of anger and frustration, take care of him when he is sick and be taken care of when I am sick, and to share private moments where only we know what the other is thinking at that moment. I ask you simply how that is evil? Demonstrate this for me, please.
Your concept and view of homosexuality as being evil is, in my view, limited and stripped of humanity. You view this "challenge" as something that must be mastered and controlled. I ask you this: can love be mastered and controlled? I submit that there are ways to temporarily divert the flow of such interest and caring but ultimately it cannot be controlled. To attempt to do so is to weaken the human spirit, crush feeling altogether, and empty the mind of anything profound or useful. Family is the most basic unit in society. Why? Because such units, when properly existing, are knit in love and support amidst differences and similarities. Men and women were never meant to be solitary creatures.
Let us put aside the fact that I do not believe in any God or gods or Goddess or goddesses for the moment and pretend that I do believe. It is my view that if God wishes to seek me out and feels that I am someone He wants, then he will do so and there is nothing that I can do to force his hand to do so. I can only act in this life as I think right and good. I cannot consciously decide to do what I think is evil or wrong. Denying my very soul, as you would have me do, is morally evil to me. So it is my opinion that I will let God, if he be there, inform me if I am wrong in my decision. Until such time, I will work to make my life and the lives of those around me better through work, service, friendship, and love.
Lastly, I wish to bring up your point on "happiness." Yes, you are correct that I am choosing to be happy and to seek after happiness. Is it not written that I have an inalienable right in the "pursuit of happiness"? Does not the vast majority of humanity try to do so? Those that join the Church, do they not do so out of a feeling of joy and of believing that it is right? Once those feelings occur within, does it not then fill them with happiness and that ultimately drives them forward? Was it not the prophet Lehi that stated to his son Jacob that "men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25)? For the purposes of this letter, I view the happiness that I speak of as joy and define this kind of happiness as that which weathers the storms of pain, stress, frustration, and loss and still remains there. I am happy! I have felt over the past year and half a joy and happiness that I have never felt before. It fills me up inside until I cannot help but shout out with all the energy inside of me and desire to share this happiness with others. I am smiling so much and I feel at peace. I am not at war with myself and have come to love and accept me for who I am and not what any institution or individual says that I am. You expressed that I am choosing my "happiness" and implied that it would be empty and hollow, replaced by misery and despair someday. I can only respond in one way to this: I will take that chance. If this happiness that I described previously is actually a hollow and shallow happiness and the "happiness" that I felt before (that of sorrow, suicidal thoughts, seeking escape through self-mutilation, loneliness, heartache, and longing) is true happiness, then I will take this empty and hollow one.
As stated before, I love you very dearly, Sister C. You shall always be to me my "Mission Mom." I shall always have fond memories of the fun times we missionaries had with your family on Preparation Day and when we celebrated our birthdays at your place. Thank you for your kindness and may it provide you with the joy that you seek and the testimony that you desire to have.
Formerly Elder _____
4 months ago