Thursday, November 1, 2018

Born Blind


Jesus Christ passed by a man who was blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9)

As usual, we all wonder sometimes about this fallen world and try to lay blame. Whose fault is it? Who caused all these trials, the disabilities, the injustice? Or in a similar way, we ask, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" Surely it must be someone's fault.

The question surrounding the man born blind reminds me of questions I have heard regarding same-sex attraction. In the debate regarding SSA, there is an oft repeated question: Is it nature, or nurture? Is it some inherent genetics of the individual, or was it the upbringing of the child, the social situation, etc.? Was it because of a distant father, or an overbearing mother? Was it because of abuse? Did this person choose to be gay?

As latter-day saints who understand that homosexuality is contrary to the plan, we sometimes focus on these questions, which all relate to the disciples' question of who "sinned," the individual or his parents.

Jesus Christ re-frames and revolutionizes the whole argument: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest."

Then Christ proceeds to do His miracle, healing the man with His own spit and a bit of clay.

I have seen some parents of a gay child who are full of guilt that they may have done something wrong. I have seen individuals, including myself at times, full of shame, blaming their same-sex attraction on themselves for not being good enough. Others resign themselves that this is just a part of life. There is no purpose for it at allbeing gay is just the random chances of a fallen worldand so they set themselves up to "white knuckle it" until they can somehow be "fixed" in the next life. 

But Jesus Christ doesn't see it this way. He gives purpose to our trials. They exist, purposefully, as a way to manifest the works of God in our lives.

"I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

Why do we need weakness? It seems like something I would rather do without.

However, who can appreciate sight more than the blind man? Likewise, who can appreciate Christ, the light of the world, more than the individual who has gone through spiritual darkness? The self-righteous Pharisees who had no interest or use for this miracle-workerthey could not understand him. The healed blind man, who explained repeatedly the miracle to the incredulous audience, was surprised at their lack of understanding, saying, "Herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes!" In other words, it takes a blind man to see who Christ is, while the Pharisees with their perfect little 20/20 eyeballs couldn't seem to see Him at all.

The works of God have been manifest in my life, and in the lives of many other gay latter-day saints, over and over. But what about healing? Are we ever really healed? What does healing look like for a gay latter-day saint?

Well, maybe not quite as you might think. Same-sex attraction is not removed, or "healed." Our sexual attractions tend to stay a part of who we are. Perhaps this is because being gay is not quite like blindness. Perhaps because SSA can actually be a kind of sight. For me, being gay has helped me to see things I otherwise could not see: my own suffering reflected in the struggles of others; and above all, to see more clearly the Savior, and how much I need Him. In my moments of blindness, same-sex attraction has given me eyes to see the light, which is Christ. Perhaps the miracle of healing is not about removing sexual attraction, but that through my faith in Christ spiritual sight can be restored.

As Christ said to the pharisees who continued to pooh-pooh Christ's miracles, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." Recognizing our own individual blindness, to be humble as explained in Ether 12:27, is the only way to see Christ properly.

Christ's process of healing has been as intimate an experience for me as feeling the Savior's spit and clay pressed onto my eyes. Though I still am required to walk by faith in this life, and not by sight, I know enough to believe that a perfect understanding of my trial awaits, in that day when I stand blinking in the sudden light of the resurrection. Then I will see Christ, my Savior, standing before me with absolute love and understanding. I will see that He really got his hands dirty with spit and clay for me this time, and that He really worked hard to heal me and to bring me home, ultimately giving His life to make me whole. 

I will see that He still has proof of it in His hands.