By Luiz Correa
Translated by Joel McDonald
Among members of Affirmation and those who participate in Affirmation conferences and other activities are people who no longer associate with the LDS Church, others who are active members of the church, and others who are skeptical and prefer not to be involved with institutionalized religion. One of the values of Affirmation is to support everyone, no matter their thoughts about or their relationship with the church.
There are many people who have difficulty understanding why some choose to continue to be involved with a religion where they are not accepted and often suffer because the rejection they sometimes feel from the church and its members.
The reality is that many of us were born and grew up in the church. Many of us were missionaries. Some were leaders. Much of our lives were lived within and in service to the gospel and the church.
When we accept ourselves as LGBT people, it doesn’t mean we automatically give up or spirituality or the knowledge we have. However, for many reasons, many leave religiosity behind.
The word “religion” comes from the Latin “religare”, which means to “tie” or “bind.” In religion, we tie or bind ourselves to God or the divine through our worship. Over time, the meaning of the word “religion” has changed somewhat, being now more associated with institutionalized worship where the religious work within the rules of the institution, or the church. Today, when we say someone is religious, it is assumed that the person is linked to church and obeys the rules of the church and adheres to that church’s form of worship.
Spirituality, however, focuses more on taking care of the things of the spirit. It may involve several practices that are not necessarily linked to any formal religion.
With this contrast in mind, we can say that, yes, LGBT people can be spiritual, contrary to what some might think. We seek to take care of the spirit because we know that we are all children of the same father. Romans 8:16 reads, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
We can connect to the divine in many ways. We can attend church. We can pray. We can read the scriptures. We can try to connect with Him in our thoughts and actions. The most important thing is to do what you believe is needed to take care of your spirit. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and we should not judge others as they do the same.
If you are someone who likes to attend church, and it helps connect you to the divine and boosts your spirituality, do it! Often, being with others who have the same purpose can help. The important thing is that you feel it is right for you and meets your spiritual needs.
Most important of all, whether you’re seeking greater spirituality, or greater religious observance, or neither, is that you feel good about your choices as a child of God. Look for your own way of being happy with yourself and living in harmony with the society around you.
Religion can generate separateness while spirituality embraces diversity and promotes unity.