By Jim Best
The rock upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established is continuing revelation or leadership and instruction by the Spirit or Holy Ghost also called the Comforter. After baptism, each member of the Church is circled by Priesthood bearers and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by which the recipient, the new member, may receive revelation, testimony of truth, guidance and comfort in building his life for service to God and man, returning to God and fulfilling the complete measure of his or her creation. For a heterosexual person all the structure of the Church from serving a mission to Temple marriage is designed to facilitate this personal fulfillment and return to the presence of God, even to becoming like God as the ultimate progenitor.
The assumption many people would make is that if a homosexual person cannot serve a mission or be sealed with his Eternal Companion in the Temple, that that person must not be led by the Holy Ghost. On the contrary, I have discovered a heightened awareness of the role of the Holy Spirit in my life since I acknowledged my true sexual orientation as a gay man. In fact I recognize a greater dependence on the Holy Ghost since being separated from the conventional fellowship of the Saints.
As a pioneer in my generation, I sense the intense presence of the Spirit in leading me to the truth of my creation and the revelation of peace and personal worthiness which are not generated by any worldly source. I credit the leadership of the Spirit for my very existence, the clarification of my purpose and conviction of the benevolent design of my Creator for my happiness, which would not have been possible had I continued to charade as a heterosexual person.
The fulfillment, comfort and peace I now know is the direct product of the powerful working of the Spirit in my life which has led me out of a life of gloom and despair and into the sunshine, warmth and loving acceptance of my Heavenly Father.
How has being true to the promptings of the Spirit made it possible for me to keep the Second Great Commandment: to love my neighbor as myself? Until I was obedient to the Spirit, I did not have the courage to accept myself in the eyes of a critical society. I do not deny the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I celebrate that gift. The Holy Spirit has indeed led me to truth, has set me free of self hatred, has made me whole and for the first time has led me to love myself and with that love to truly love my neighbor. I bear fervent and irrefutable witness of the Gift of the Holy Ghost in my life.
Without the Holy Spirit I could never be an equal partner to another gay man and would have been constrained by tradition and fear to perpetuate an unjust heterosexual relationship. Sadly, it took 30 years of denying the promptings of the Holy Ghost which was very unfair to myself and to my wife. Surely it will never be expected of another generation to perpetuate such a travesty. I know now that heterosexuals are given to marry heterosexuals and that homosexuals are given to marry homosexuals. It was unnatural and unseemly to pretend to what I was not. Here is wisdom and truth.
It has only been by heeding the patient instruction of the Holy Spirit that I have learned to embrace God with all my heart, mind and soul and to love my neighbor as myself. The Spirit continues to be my daily companion in this journey toward self discovery and self fulfillment leading me closer to my potential to love and be loved as a whole and precious and unique child of God.
I humbly bear witness of these truths in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen
Jim served the Mt. Airy Ward in the Winston-Salem, NC Stake from 1977 until the end of his Temple Marriage in 2004. Callings included ward mission leader, elders quorum teacher, stake music chairman, scoutmaster, stake missionary and first counselor in the bishopric.