This talk was given at the fourth Affirmation Argentina Conference on May 26, 2018.
By Eduardo Enrique Barón
Translated by Joel McDonald
In 2002, I was baptized into the church in Valencia, Venezuela. I attend for a time and returned to the church after moving to Buenos Aires. I met the man who is my husband today. He is not a member of the church, but he’s attended church with me several times in the ward where we live.
Diversity. We know that the world is diverse and that we all fit into this world. God, our Heavenly Father, created us in diversity, in all kingdoms, and in all species.
I give my talk today from the perspective of being married.
I wasn’t married when I was baptized. In meeting Chih_i, God blessed me with someone who was accepting of my beliefs. While we’re both Christians, we do not share all of my beliefs. I accept that. My husband belongs to the Presbyterian church, and it’s a big deal for me when he attends church with me.
We’ve been through a lot together. I’ve struggled through a lot of torment. When missionaries would visit, I didn’t know where to put my husband or how I should introduce him. Is he a friend? A cousin? It’s obvious though he isn’t related to me, as he’s Chinese and I’m of European descent. The missionaries wouldn’t believe me if I tried.
One time the missionaries visited me while Chih_i was at work. I’m an elementary school teacher, and we did not have school that day. I decided to accompany the missionaries. Everyone in the neighborhood knows me, and while we were out I was silently praying that Heavenly Father would not have us meet anyone who knew I was married. Why? Because I feared being discovered by the church, as I believe so many LGBT Mormons fear. However, no matter what others say, we know, our Heavenly Father knows, and our inner being tells us that we are OK.
We are a part of His creation. He created us, just as he created the animals, the plants, and everything in this world.
Gay marriage, at least in my case, can be lived without fear, without having to hide, because I have the hope that Heavenly Father will make the church accept us.
I was once asked if Affirmation sought to change the doctrine of the church.
No, we do not want to change the doctrine of the church. That wouldn’t make sense. We believe in the Book of Mormon, in the Bible, in the doctrine of the church. Because we believed these things, we have been baptized. We have faith in our church and we believe in our church. What I believe we seek, not only those of us in Affirmation but those from other church backgrounds, is that the leaders of our churches understand that we are part of the diversity of God’s creation and that we can have our relationships with our same-sex spouses while also maintaining our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
We can coexist with all of our differences. We can do so within our chapels and within other churches. I think we can all fit. We can bring with us the peace and harmony gained from our relationships with our Heavenly Father because He loves us all.
I am sure that God, our Heavenly Father, sent me my husband and has blessed me with a healthy marriage that is peaceful and harmonious.
Healthy, pure, and heartfelt love comes from our Heavenly Father and is accepted by Him.
As we are sons and daughters of God trying our best, we can be at peace with our Heavenly Father, and peace with our church. This is what I have found with my relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I have been a part of Affirmation for four years, but it’s not the time that matters. It’s taking advantage of this space. It has helped me a lot in my marriage. Thanks to Affirmation, I’ve had the courage to have Chih_i come to church with me twice.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. He loves you. He loves me. He loves us as His sons and daughters. He has allowed me to have a happy marriage.
I feel distant, but at the same time not, from the church. I feel far away in the physical sense, not knowing sometimes how to introduce my husband, but close because I am with my Heavenly Father, and being close to Him unites me with the church and unifies my marriage. Love can do everything. Love will never cease to exist. Love overcomes barriers. The love of Heavenly Father is ways present within our churches and within Affirmation.
We have to continue in our efforts because, at some future time, we will be able to celebrate equality and respect for the entire human condition.