Ok, I spoke to Bishop Ellsbury again today.
He said he had talked to the Stake President about my situation, and it looks like the Stake isn’t going to get involved. So that’s a relief- I don’t have to worry about sitting down and explaining myself to a perfect stranger.
That’s pretty much the end of the good news for today.
Bishop Ellsbury reiterated his recommendation that I not go through with the surrogacy. He’s worried about a few things: how it will affect my family (especially my children), and the ward as a whole (especially the primary children who I work with in my calling every week) and my relationships within our congregation. He mentioned the Proclamation on the Family and the undeniable fact that two men raising a baby contradicts it. He warned me that word is going to get out once I start showing and people are going to talk. They’re going to judge me. He was really sensitive about this subject- it’s wrong to judge, and hearing the whole story behind so many people’s struggles, he’s learned more as bishop than ever before how wrong it is to pass judgement on others. I know he’s also worried about people being forced, because of me, to face the issue of same-sex parenthood head on and possibly even discuss it with their children. And he’s worried that the judgements against me might damage my admittedly fragile testimony.
I know he’s right that my relationships with other Mormons will suffer when they find out about me being pregnant with a gay couple’s baby. And I have no idea what’s going on with my testimony, surrogacy or no. But I’m not worried about my family. I’ve already purchased And Tango Makes Three and The Kangaroo Pouch for Elspeth and Dean; I’ve used both books to introduce the ideas of same-sex parenthood and surrogacy, respectively. I know they’ll accept these ideas because Knox and I do, and they’re young enough to take what we say as law. But my wanting to open up discussion about these subjects with my children places me in a totally different category from almost every other Mormon parent. I don’t know how to tell Bishop Ellsbury that I don’t think it’s wrong to be gay. To say that would be to say that I don’t believe in The Proclamation and I don’t believe in the church’s ludicrous “don’t act – don’t tell” policy toward homosexuality. And to imply that I don’t believe in those things would imply that I don’t believe in anything. This is an absolute, all-or-nothing church. There’s no room for dissent or doubt. So I don’t even know how to tell the truth about what I think of these issues. And, to be honest, I wasn’t doing much telling in our discussion today anyway. I did tell the Bishop that I had thought and prayed about whether or not it’s right for me to be a gestational carrier for Urs and Ingmar, and that I hadn’t received a “no” answer from God. I told him I still feel good about this choice.
Another important part of the discussion: Bishop Ellsbury told me that if I choose to go through with this, we will probably need to have a Ward disciplinary council. I was really surprised by this development. I think of church courts as being reserved for sinners. Major sinners. I’m hurt by the idea that the gift I’m giving to Urs and Ingmar is a sin. This isn’t me falling into temptation. This is me making a careful, prayerful, personal decision. Bishop Ellsbury said that there’s no “punishment” in place for participating in surrogacy for a gay couple (after all, I may be the very first Mormon to ever do this) but that the council would be led by the spirit. As the spirit dictates, it’s possible that I could be placed on probation or disfellowshipped, but he assured me several times that I was not in danger of being excommunicated. He said it’s also possible that the council would rule that I only have to repent, and there wouldn’t be any formal action.
Repent? I’m not doing anything wrong! Our closing hymn in sacrament meeting was “Because I Have Been Given Much.” It’s one of our more modern hymns, and I love the text:
Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof’s safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.
Today I felt a real connection to this hymn, and I’m sure most LDS people would consider that connection a self-serving justification. But I really feel that as a gestational carrier I am giving of myself (literally) to those who are less fortunate. God blessed me with a healthy body that seems to have been designed to bear children. Why is it wrong for me to want to share that gift with a loving, committed couple who want to be parents more than anything?