Back in 2012, I wrote about Josh Weed, an openly gay Mormon man who was married to a woman, and the father of several children. Here’s the thing: they married with her having full knowledge of his homosexuality. They lived a heterosexual life, in the sense that he was faithful to her within the bounds of a heterosexual marriage. From my 2012 post, this excerpt quotes Mrs. Weed explaining why she chose to marry a man who had told her that he’s gay:

Months passed and I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine. I said to her, “I can find someone else like Josh, right? Someone else to love like I love him?” She said, “You could find someone else to love, sure. But you will never have what you and Josh have with someone else. Because no one else is Josh.” When she said that, and I thought of loving someone else, I knew the answer to his question “Am I worth it?”

I knew that I loved Josh. I loved All of him. I wanted to marry him. I wanted to marry Josh Weed because I loved the man that he was. I loved everything that made him him. I didn’t want anyone else. I knew that we had the kind of relationship that could work through hard trials and circumstances. I had faith in him and I had faith in our love. I did not choose to marry someone who is gay. I chose to marry Josh Weed, the man that I love, and to accept all of him. I have never regretted it.

This 2012 quote is from Josh Weed himself:

I find that when I think of what alternative lifestyles could offer me, they pale in comparison to the full, joyous, bounteous life I live. Thus, I believe that to live my life this way is being true to myself, and to go down any other path would be egregiously inauthentic and self-deceptive.

About two years ago, I saw a psychologist to get medication for my ADHD-I. She was a lesbian, and when I told her that I was a gay man in a heterosexual marriage, she spent an entire session hammering me with questions about my situation in a genuine effort to make sure I was happy. I didn’t love that she did this, but as a clinician myself, I understood where she was coming from.

During our conversation, she told me about her life with her partner. She spoke of a girl, whom she considered her daughter, who is the biological child of her ex-lover, with whom she lived for only three years. She told me of how much she loved her daughter, but how infrequently she got to see her. And eventually, when talking about my sex life, she said “well, that’s good you enjoy sex with your wife, but I think it’s sad that you have to settle for something that is counterfeit.”

I was a little taken aback by this idea—I don’t consider my sex-life to be counterfeit. In response, I jokingly said “and I’m sorry that you have to settle for a counterfeit family.” She immediately saw my point and apologized for that comment. Obviously, I don’t actually think a family with non-biological members is counterfeit in any way. I also don’t feel that my sex-life is counterfeit. They are both examples of something that is different than the ideal. I made that joke to illustrate a point. If you are gay, you will have to choose to fill in the gaps somewhere. She chose to have a family in a way that is different than the ideal. I choose to enjoy sex in a way that is different than the ideal for a gay man. It all comes down to what you choose and why, and knowing what you want for yourself and why you want it. That’s basically what life is all about.

Well, times have changed, and so have the Weeds, who just announced that they are divorcing. Excerpts:

1. Okay, wait. So what happened? I thought things were going so well…

So did we. And really, things were going so well.

Our marriage was absolutely beautiful as we described above. Yet it contained an undercurrent of pain that we were not able to see clearly or acknowledge for many years, which made continuing in it impossible.

Thus, the answer to this question is impossible to describe in linear fashion. Instead, I can tell you that there were three main sub-currents or tributaries that fed into where we are today, all of which culminated “coincidentally” on the day of my last blog post, as it turns out: the Fall Equinox—the day in which my denial crumbled, and the internal defenses allowing me to live my life as a gay man in a straight marriage shattered, mercifully and irretrievably.

I’ll share those three tributaries.

He writes a lot, but basically, it’s that he likes men and was miserable being married to a woman. A lot of it is this kind of rhetoric: “This is what the church’s current stance does to LGBTQIA people. It actually kills them. It fills them with self-loathing and internalized homophobia, and then provides little to no help when the psychosomatic symptoms set in…”. I have no doubt that the church (here he’s talking about the LDS Church, but I’m speaking in general) ought to do a much, much better job of dealing with the issues around homosexuality, but there is simply no way to reconcile what Josh Weed believes with any kind of Christian orthodoxy. Blaming the Church per se for killing people is rhetorically vicious. I know it’s common, but that doesn’t make it true or fair.

Here’s what Lolly Weed, his wife, says:

I am asking everyone who knows us to please, please not blame Josh for our marriage ending. I deserve love and so does Josh! This decision was just as much for me as it was for him. While our marriage was beautiful and full of so many wonderful things, it also contained a lot of heartbreak for both of us. The one thing we have learned in the last five years is that no one should be asked to live a life without romantic attachment. All this talk of “love” is actually talk of the basic human need for attachment. It is inhumane. We need it, or at least we need the hope of being able to find it eventually, in order to be healthy.
Being in a marriage where both of us thought we would live a life without ever having romantic connection was getting unbearable. Yet, we could not imagine our lives without each other because we do love each other so deeply. That was hell. Feeling like no matter what we did, we would be suffering. If we stayed together, our souls would be missing a huge part of the human experience. If we separated, our souls would still ache for our best friend. That is why the only thought that brought us peace was the thought of ending our marriage, but still remaining a family. Still raising our kids together.

I love Josh so very much. I do not regret the 15 years we were married. If I had to do it over again, I would not change a thing. I am a better person because he is in my life and he will ALWAYS be in my life. In the Weed family, no one gets kicked out for being who they are, and everyone is allowed to find the kind of attachment they were made for. Josh. Me. Our children. Hopefully our grandchildren. Everyone is of equal worth, no matter who they were born to love, and they will always, always have a place at our table, and I know they will also have a place at the table of Christ. And the way Josh and I are moving forward, together, is the greatest example we can set of those truths.

Know what they’re going to do now? Read on:

The night Lolly and I realized that the only way to heal the things that had been broken in us by being married, and the thing God was asking us to do, was to separate, we were lying on the couch downstairs, holding each other, sobbing. It was one of the most heartbreaking conversations I’ve ever had. At first, the thought of separation was absolutely anathema—my mind couldn’t even consider the possibility as being viable. As we talked and wept, and looked in horror at what such a decision would mean we were losing, Lolly had a memory come to her. “What about our homestead?” she asked.

When we were in California last year giving a talk together, I had given her a priesthood blessing in which we were told that soon we would acquire a homestead. And that was the word that came—homestead. We had both been intrigued by this. We have wanted to buy a home for many years, and each time we have thought to do so, when we prayed about it, we both got the same answer: wait. This had been the case for over a decade. And now, this blessing had finally indicated that we would buy not only a home, but a homestead where our family could gather for decades to come.

When she said this I was confused for a moment. Yes, what did that mean? Did that mean we weren’t supposed to separate after all? And then, the realization hit me: a homestead is 160 acres! It is not a house, per se, but a property where families can live together, side by side. “Oh my gosh, it said homestead, Loll. Maybe we don’t have to live apart! Maybe we don’t have to break our family up…. ever, and just add future partners to it when the time comes!” The thought was so powerful, so sweet, so right. “I cannot imagine my life without you,” I said. She hugged me as we wept in relief, and said, “Neither can I.” And it was in that moment that I realized we, coincidentally, were positioned the exact same way—lying together on a couch in the living room holding one another—as we were the night in 2002 when I heard a voice in my head say “ask her to marry you,” and I did.

So, this is our plan. We are in no hurry. But we will be acquiring a property that will accommodate our family, and the addition of future partners if that time comes. (Because remember, the thing that is most cruel to religious LGBTQIA folks is not the lack of partners, but the lack of hope for a partner—that is the thing that makes them want to die. Not the loneliness, per se, but the decades and decades before them with no hope of attachment. It is for this reason that comparisons of gay people to simply single people who have not married yet are so woefully lacking in nuance. I once heard the difference between these groups stated this way and it’s always stuck with me: single Mormons go to bed every night pleading with the Lord that they will fall in love with someone tomorrow; gay Mormons go to bed every night pleading with the Lord that they will never fall in love with someone.)

The pair goes on in their post to apologize for the “internalized homophobia” that led them to say the things they used to say, back in 2012. Read the whole thing.

Seriously, I hope you do. The intense pain this couple has been in is so very palpable. It was incredibly foolish for them to have married, given that both of them knew he was attracted to men. She says that she doesn’t regret a thing about the last 15 years. Well, you now have three children who are watching their parents divorce, and will now live with the prospect that daddy will have a husband — this, because the two of you made a reckless choice to marry. A couple of years ago, I met a Christian activist — a woman who came to realize inside her heterosexual marriage that she is sexually attracted to women — who works to try to keep marriages like hers together and healthy. I would love to know what she has to say about what the Weeds have done.

Still, I think it’s important for religious conservatives like me to read this account to get a better idea of the suffering that same-sex attracted Christians trying to live a faithful orthodox life endure. Yes, the Weeds have settled on a set of LGBT movement talking points, but I don’t see how anybody with a heart can read their long testimony and fail to be moved by the pain it reveals. I do not believe they have chosen the right way to deal with it, and I think they are deceiving themselves in important ways (as they have been from the beginning). That said, these two and people like them are human beings who are hurting, with no easy way out of it. You don’t have to believe they have done the right thing, or believe the right things, to feel for them in their agony. It’s why I wrote this in The Benedict Option:

All unmarried Christians are called to live celibately, but at least heterosexuals have the possibility of marriage. Gay Christians do not, which makes their struggle even more intense.

Worse, too many gay Christians face rejection from the very people they should be able to count on: the church. The angry vehemence with which many gay activists condemn Christianity is rooted in large part in the cultural memory of rejection and hatred by the church. Christians need to own up to our past in this regard and to repent of it.

But that does not mean—and it cannot mean—that we should abandon clear, binding biblical teaching on homosexuality. Gay Christians, like all unmarried Christians, are called to a life of chastity. This is a heavy cross to bear, but one that cannot in obedience be refused.

Our gay brothers and sisters in Christ should not have to carry it alone. In recent years, several same-sex-attracted Christians living in fidelity to orthodox teaching have found their voice in the Spiritual Friendship movement. It is based on the writings of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, a twelfth-century abbot. “Aelred helped me to see that obedience to Christ offered more to me than just the denial of sex and romance,” writes Ron Belgau, one of the movement’s founders. “Christ-centered chaste friendships offered a positive and fulfilling—albeit at times challenging—path to holiness.”

That’s an important point, for gay and single Christians alike. Too often chastity is presented only as saying no to sex. Though we can’t deny the real and painful sacrifice the Christian ethic requires of unmarried believers, we should not neglect to teach and explore the good that may come from surrendering one’s sexuality. Though monasticism had not yet developed when the New Testament was written, Jesus said that some are called by God to be chaste singles (“eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven”).

This is a steep path to holiness, an especially treacherous one in our thoroughly eroticized culture, but a path to holiness it is for some. We have that on Christ’s authority. It is hard for single Christians to stay on that path, but at least straight Christians have the prospect of marriage to comfort them. Not so for our gay brothers and sisters. Christians—individually, within families, and within parish churches—must give honor, respect, and friendship to gay Christians who have embraced celibacy.

Moreover, gay Christians who reject traditional teaching must still be treated with love, because they too are image-bearers of Christ. Love wins, though not in the way the LGBT movement says. But it still wins. Christians don’t dare forget it.

 

I don’t expect someone like Josh Weed, who unjustly blames Christians who will not be gay-affirming for complicity in mass murder, will ever be able to sit in peace with people like me. But that does not give me and Christians like me the liberty to hate him, or to make light of his agony. In my view, the Weeds have accepted something that is untrue to make the pain go away. Believe me, I know heterosexual couples who have done similar things to escape chronic suffering within their marriage. Life is hard, and suffering is unavoidable. And, it has not escaped my notice that Catholics could say the same thing about me leaving the Catholic Church in the wake of the abuse scandal. I think they’re wrong, mostly, but they’re not 100 percent wrong. So I find it not as difficult to have mercy on the misguided Weeds as you might think. For what that’s worth.

UPDATE: The more I think about this, the less respect I have for the adult Weeds. Narcissists. Those poor kids.