What is a choice?
Choice is a politically-loaded word (Witness this brilliance by Samantha Bee from The Daily Show at the Republican National Convention in 2008). Choice in Mormon circles is usually called "agency" or the older form "free agency." But the word "choice" is used in the LDS church's Young Women Theme. For more about this, and other things pink, take a look here--if you dare.
There are those in positions of power and influence who seem to feel compelled and even entitled to determine what is and what is not a choice for their fellow human beings, without much regard for the humanity of those to whom they dictate.
The battle over whether sexual orientation is a lifestyle choice or something determined by our biology misses the point about what choice really means, and it oversimplifies what it means to be human. Whether you fall on the nature side or the nurture side of the divide, a person's innate sense of who they are and their search for happiness in life is just a bit more important than the need to categorize. It is most certainly more important than efforts to marginalize, demonize and engage in fear-mongering in a misguided crusade to label homosexuality as a desire to defy social norms or bring about the destruction of civilization. Although not a Mormon, Mike Huckabee advocates a view eerily similar to that held by many Mormons.
I don't know if there is something mysterious in my DNA that makes me gay. I can't point to any particular experiences, influences or any other parts of my childhood or life up to today that molded me into a gay man. Quite frankly, neither can anyone else. And why exactly does it matter? I haven't heard a good reason yet.
I was born a Mormon, although there is nothing biological in my DNA to show that. Maybe there is some biological component to me being so drawn to Mormonism for so long, as well as the feelings of tribal attachment to it. I can't point to a vision or other monumentally historic event in my life that would count as the core experience or influence that led me to choose to be committed to the church for so long. (Because I no longer attend every week and don't believe in most of the core doctrines, policies and practices of the church, I don't fit the definition of what many people would consider "Mormon." Yet, I still consider myself Mormon because to do otherwise would be to deny an important element of my identity as a person.) So, is identification with my Mormon tribe or religious belief in general a choice or something more fundamental?
I have chosen not to attend weekly. I have chosen to disassociate myself with the church. I may detach completely from all aspects of institutional Mormonism. But it is part of me for the rest of my life. It may have caused me pain, but it isn't a disease. It isn't something I can simply remove from my being. I may choose to make it less important, but I cannot extract it--even if I wanted to. That is simply reality. And it doesn't matter whether it's biological, environmental or a combination of the two.
So, how is "being gay" any different that "being Mormon"?
A faithful Mormon (whatever that really means) would probably find it offensive to see sexual orientation compared to religious affiliation. That's their choice. When someone offended by this thinks about why they are offended, I simply ask them to consider the consequences of how the church's political involvement and views on homosexuality in general impact individuals and families in hurtful ways. Mormons of all people should be aware that choice and accountability go hand in hand. The church could be so much more than it is if it would cast aside its exclusionary cultural traditions in favor of listening to and including the souls it purports to value.