APPENDIX G: ON MARRIAGE (See Chapter 14).
No one in God’s kingdom will ever be forced to marry as a requirement to dwell with God. Every desirous disciple of Christ that eventually wants marriage has been promised that they and their companions will be perfect in the eternities—and that what God offers us will not simply satisfy us, it will fulfill us as a cup running over (this will include other close relationships. See Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:30, Doctrine & Covenants 130:2, Moses 7:63). If all glorified people are perfect, how could anyone have a less-than-perfect spouse (if a companion is desired) in the next life? Though marriage isn’t required for celestial glory, “The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation…. By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children,” (David A. Bednar, “Marriage is essential to His Eternal Plan,” Ensign, June 2006, 83-84. See epilogue.)
APPENDIX H: HELP WITH COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR
(See also On Meeting your God Need, Personal Guidance & Grace [above], and Key Points [below])
An addiction is a physiological and psychological process in which ANY substance or behavior becomes a source of relief through intense and immediate pleasure, which works in the short-term for a person but which in the long-term brings increasing personal harm…physiologically, psychologically and relationally…causing them to violate their values and vision for the person they really want to be AND which they cannot stop on their own, in spite of the painful consequences.
Emotional need can manifest as other kinds of desires. This is why healthful connection with others is essential to overcoming any complusion.
It is important to understand that the primary feature of any addiction is loss of personal agency. We end up doing things we don’t really want to do over and over again, using pleasure to try to avoid pain. The addictive behavior becomes our primary relationship in life and we will forsake all others for this one thing.
Intense and immediate pleasure releases high amounts of dopamine, a neuro transmitter that drives cravings, creating a state of disequilibrium in the brain and body that the body will automatically work to correct. Pleasure and pain are processed in the same area of the brain and there is a balance (think of a teeter totter) that the body and brain seek to maintain (this is called homeostasis). When the pleasure side of the teeter totter gets pressed down too often, too quickly and too intensely, the body and brain will automatically seek to correct it by shifting to the pain side of the teeter totter. The way the body and brain corrects for over-indulging in pleasure is to blunt our ability to feel pleasure in the normal things of life and require more and more intense forms of the addictive behavior (this is called dopamine tolerance…requiring more frequent, more intense forms of the behavior the longer the behavior endures to achieve the same degree of pleasure) and at the same time, the rebound to the pain side of the teeter totter it will increase our sensitivity to pain. This is a vicious cycle, where the addict feels bad, develops intense cravings to use their behavior of choice to find relief through pleasure then feels shame and self-contempt for doing so and must use again to feel better…which works in the short term but in the long-term makes them feel worse and brings increasing amounts of personal and relational disintegration and heartache.
The addictive behavior is not really the problem, however. It’s the solution. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is the pain we are seeking relief from. Be curious about what problems you are turning to addictive behaviors to solve. Your addiction is serving you in some ways or you wouldn’t do it. Be honest and make a list of all the ways acting out is helping you. These ways it’s helping you, you will see, are all good things. It’s just that your addiction is going about getting them in na unhealthy and self-defeating way. These ways of relief and pleasure your addiction is giving you are the real roots of your struggle, not the addictive behavior itself.
It also helps to be honest about the wreckage and debris your addictive behavior is causing in the long-term. How is it harming you? Your growth and maturity? Your identity? Your relationships? Be honest about the problems your use of intense pleasure to avoid pain is bringing into your life and the lives of those you love.
Very often, healing starts with a 30 day fast from your high-dopamine generating activity. The first two-weeks will be the hardest, as cravings seek to pull you back to using your addictive behavior. But, after four-weeks, many of the problems you’ve been experiencing from your addiction…shame, self-hatred, anxiety, feeling far from God and others…begin to self-correct. If they don’t, there are probably other underlying psychological factors that should be considered.
(Anna Lembke, Dopamine Nation: finding balance in the age of indulgence [New York: Dutton, 2021], https://www.annalembke.com/dopamine-nation.)
Some people try to quickly placate social needs via sex. Yet, sexual euphoria is (by nature) temporary and doesn’t meet true emotional need. No amount of pleading or self-denial will remove our need for food or God-given needs for healthful connection with others. But honesty with God and others can minimize compulsion and open paths of fulfilment.
When we confuse any kind of euphoria (temporary by nature) with love, we set ourselves up to be out of love in short order. The best way to achieve lasting union that satisfies (to the point of wanting for nothing) is to never confuse euphoria with love. When we cease chasing euphoria, we can find true union.
Art (imitating life) provides compelling examples. If you’ve read, or seen the film of, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, the main character is mesmerized by flirtations with a woman not his wife. Each time they see each other the excitement is palpable. Yet the message of the story is that fervor is not true bonding. The protagonists learn (after years of self-torture) that they were hooked on the thrill of pursuit; and that consummating their physical desires for each other wouldn’t have constituted real union (the letdown/crash from euphoria is real). What the protagonist had in his marriageemerged as exquisite and real—evidenced in the fact that (in spite of our hero’s criticism that his wife was oblivious to his flirtations) his wife was the only person who divined and appreciated what he, in the end, left off chasing. The 1945 British film, Brief Encounter, has similar themes. Anna Karenina is a tragedy—not because society created the consequences—but because the mistrust, neglect, depression, and jealousy were natural/organic consequences of infidelity.
Something else I’ve found helpful in regaining agency or avoiding compulsive behavior—though it might seemunrelated: discovering family history (see Malachi 4:5-6). My mom was an avid genealogist, but I wasn’t excited by the dry dates and places. One day I awoke with the impression to make family history my number one priority. At the time I was dating a woman and felt that getting married should be my top priority. Then a friend suggested that “number one” could mean first thing in the morning—rather than my biggest objective.
Since then, I’ve spent 5 - 50 minutes each morning researching my ancestors. These efforts coincide closely with my coming to a place where I felt, at last, chaste—not just sober or celibate. One of my early publishers asked me to write a nonfiction book about an immigrant child. I had an account of my great-great aunt who emigrated from Sweden as a child. Digging out that narrative changed my attitude about family history. I was captivated by this story of a girl facing a major challenge alone but with faith in her Heavenly Father. I discovered that her story intertwined with my great-grandmother’s conversion story, which I’d heard from my grandfather as a child. Piecing together the stories of my ancestors became a favorite daily activity—because the stories were so compelling (and discovering missing details from letters and journals was exciting—like solving mysteries).
No longer dry dates and place names, these people became eternal loved ones to me; I believe they are aware of me and my efforts to know them; I feel strongly that my current feelings of worthiness before God have come via my Savior and the influence and love of/for these ancestors. FamilySearch.org has the world’s largest collection of genealogical data (more than 1.5 billion names and growing) free to anyone.
I invite [you] to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah…. to…search out your ancestors (see: 1 Cor. 15:29, D&C 124:28–36)…. help other people identify their family histories.
As you respond…your hearts ‘shall turn’ to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts…. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary…. you will be safeguarded…throughout your lives,” David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign, Oct. 2011. “You'll find not only protection from the temptation and ills of this world, but you'll…find personal power…to change…to learn…to be sanctified, and…to turn the hearts of your family together and heal that which needs healing,”
(Dale G. Renlund, “Family History and Temple Blessings,” Ensign, Feb. 2017. I have experienced the fulfillment of these promises. See: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/family-history/video/the-promised-blessing-of-family-history?lang=eng.)
If you feel ongoing temptation despite sincere surrender/prayer and meeting emotional needs, it may be necessary to point your right hand to heaven (arm bent at a right angle) and cast Satan out “in the name of Jesus Christ.”
APPENDIX I. ON LASTING SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
Some refer to same-sex attraction as a superpower; for me it has brought me rich, rewarding, and lasting relationships. Regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, every person needs love and true union—including healthful connection with those of one’s own sex. I must meet my God needs with God, my guy needs with men, and my family needs with family.
I believe a change in what/how you seek could save you decades of frustration and heartbreak and fulfill you beyond your current expectations. Please note: avoiding heartache is not the priority; I genuinely believe my non-sexual relationships with men are superior to what I experienced while being sexual.
Try to find people who share your values and will respect your boundaries, people who will affirm you, talk and laugh with you without sex. It's the only way I know to find deep lasting connection with those of my own sex.
The following are musts for any successful friendship or relationship: Honesty, Accountability, Forgiveness, Love, Respect, Openness, Loyalty, Gentleness, Acceptance/Appreciation, Trust, Commitment, Patience, Recreation, Sensitivity, and Fascination. Of course, a person is most likely to find relationship happiness if they are already happy with self and with God. (For more insights on creating and fortifying deep connected bonds, see: Karl W. Beckstrand, The Joys of Male Connection [Midvale: Paths Press, Nov. 2024]).
RECOMMENDED READINGC. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (Boston, New York: Mariner Books, 2012)Meghan Decker, Tender Leaves of Hope: Finding Belonging as LGBTQ Latter-day Saint Women (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2022)Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (New York: Crown Business, 2013)Brad Wilcox, The Continuous Atonement (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009)Colleen Harrison, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage(Hyrum, UT: Windhaven, 2006)Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts (Winston-Salem: Northfield Publishing, 2014)Sexaholics Anonymous (Brentwood, TN: Sexaholics Anonymous, 1984)Juli Slattery, God, Sex, and Your Marriage (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2022)Karl W. Beckstrand, The Joys of Male Connection (Midvale, UT: Paths Press, November 2024)
National Suicide hotline: 988
Support for LGBTQIA people: https://www.northstarlds.org/;
BONUS APPENDIXES G - I (Help with compulsive behavior, on marriage, healthful relating)