True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Homosexuality in Masonic Lodges?

The purpose of this article is not to discuss homosexuality, nor really, to discuss the possibility that there may be gay men in lodges. That written, is would be silly NOT to note something fairly obvious: given that 2% of the population is gay, and no lodge asks if a candidate is gay, we must assume that there are gay men in the lodges.

Of course, the corollary of the above argument may be true. Homosexuals are not exactly welcomed into most lodges, and if an openly gay man showed up at the west gate asking admission, I would not be at all surprised if at least one member of the lodge would not cast a black cube. Masons are men and products of our culture, after all.

I am not going to ask you to think about whether you would blackball an openly gay man, nor ask you to consider not casting a black cube on a gay man (ok, that last isn’t entirely true). Of course, the issue here really isn't homosexuality, its just an example, because the issue here is whether or not we should be projecting OUR morality and value set(s) onto other people.

Freemasonry teaches us, among other issues, that we should be tolerant and charitable to others. What I am going to suggest is what we, as masons SHOULD be doing about the issue.

Lets say this year, the candidate proposed for Junior Warden was revealed as an active gay man. Lets say for the sake of argument that he is a pillar of the lodge, always ready to lend a hand, is a voice of reason, leads Masonic education in the lodge, and is otherwise the very embodiment of what we look for in a Mason.

Then you find out he is gay. Would you vote for him to serve as the Junior Warden of your lodge? Would you vote for him to serve as MASTER of your lodge? If not, why not? Think carefully here, because as Masons, we are taught the value of tolerance and are taught that we are each to apply the tools of Freemasonry to ourselves.

Christianity teaches that homosexuality is a sin… but Christians are also taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. Christianity teaches many things, but Masonry, as we keep telling the objectors and other pinheads, is not a Christian based organization. It is not a religion at all. It is a fraternity, as we all know, of men with a faith in g-d, however we each, individually, know and define him in our lives.

A fundamental (sorry) tradition of Freemasonry is that we do not push our religion on others in lodge. So how can we apply our understanding of a book translated from a language that has no word for homosexual into the lodge? How do we apply our morality?

This has much larger implications for the lodge, for our lives and our community. I chose this instant example because it is one that we have certainly experienced, or thought about, or talked about. How you apply your morality to your life is important, because it defines the Masonic edifice you are erecting.

How you apply your morality to OTHER people’s lives also defines you and that Masonic edifice.

Would you deny a man the opportunity to learn and grow from a Masonic experience, a man who is otherwise just and true, because of one aspect of this life, an aspect you personally do not agree with? If you would cast a black cube on a gay man, knowing he was gay, or vote no for a brother (because yes, he is a brother) who was nominated as an officer in your lodge because he was gay, what other action would you take to enforce YOUR morality, your understanding, your version of truth on others?

Lets step away from the issue of homosexuality for a moment, because its really not the focus here. What if the candidate was living with his girlfriend and their child? Would you cast a black cube then? What if the candidate had lived with his girlfriend for years, and then married her just before petitioning for the degrees, would that change your vote?

What if the man were participating in a totally legal enterprise where you lived? Lets say he owned a restaurant with a bar in it. Some brothers feel that selling alcohol is immoral. Would you cast a black cube for a man because he sells alcohol?

This is an important question, not because of the instant issue, homosexuality, alcohol, living in “sin”, because the issue isn’t these things. The issue is you, my brother, it is each of us, in the silence of our conscience. Honor and integrity is what you do when no one is looking.

We are each called to act in a just and upright manner, in our several stations before g-d and man. EACH of us individually. We are called to circumscribe our passions, desires, prejudices, each of us. No where in Freemasonry are we tasked with circumscribing each OTHERS passions, desires, prejudices.

I have stated often, its not about me changing them, it’s about me changing me. Here is a perfect case of that, and the question is, what will we, each of us, do when confronted with something we don’t like or agree with in our lives? Will we judge it? Well, we can’t avoid judging, its our values based lives that require it.

Judging, however, does not mean imposing sentence. As Masons, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, who, as created by one almighty parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other.

If a man, who is otherwise qualified, is blackballed or a candidate for office in our lodges is voted down who is otherwise qualified, ready, willing and able, because of something in his life we disagree with, how are we helping him, aiding him, supporting or protecting him? Would we not be failing him in doing so?

As I noted above, I am not here to advocate homosexuality, nor, frankly, to condemn it. It is not for me, but then, I wasn’t born gay… and no one can seriously think ANYONE would CHOSE to be homosexual, any more than someone chooses to be blonde, or brown eyed, or short, or tall or… it is what it is.

We need, each of us, in our growth as Masons, to apply the tools of the fraternity to our own rough ashlars, assist our brethren in perfecting their ashlars, and refrain from applying our tools to their work. That is a great task set before us… and frankly, most of us have enough to do with perfecting our own ashlars without judging others…

You see, its really, really easy to judge someone else. The difficult part is in judging ourselves… that’s why many spend so much time judging other people and so little time judging themselves. We however, are Masons. We work in stone, and the work, while rewarding, is difficult.

This then brings us to the subject of Masonic Morality. But then, that’s another blog topic for later.



May the blessing of heaven rest upon you and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.

28 comments:

giovanni lombardo said...

I am against gay in lodge for the same reason I am against co-masonry.
It is not a matter of genitalia, but of mind.
Since in Italy we work on energies, we cannot arouse and sublimate them to work to the glory of the GAOTU.
I had a sad experience with a gay Bro. who then became WM. The first year he was quite controlled, then he stormed, acting like a primadonna. It was a luck he changed lodge.

Cora said...

What I am going to suggest is what we, as masons SHOULD be doing about the issue.

That's assuming there *is* an issue. Which for me there isn't. A Brother is a Brother; gender and sexual orientation don't come into it. I don't buy the "sin" theory and believe it is an inherently flawed argument to apply to freemasonry, as freemasonry is not a religion, nor should it be governed by the dogma and doctrine of any particular religion.

But for the sake of the question posed, let's assume I accept the "sin" theory. Let's assume for the moment that I consider it to be a sin, and that I find it morally repugnant. Is it then for me to interfere with this Brother's life? No, it isn't. I can be here for him when he needs my Brotherly support and guidance, but I cannot make his decisions, walk his path for him.

Freemasonry is about perfecting our own stone, not that of others. If we try to interfere with another's work, we hamper their progress, as it must come from the heart and must be carried out accordingly.

Marcus said...

Good points, all. My problem is the acertation as fact that Homosexuality is not a chosen path.
Admitedly there are genetic issues at work in many, and in many, much more pronoumced ways. We would agree I think that everyone is a product of thier experiances and environment. So I have trouble in having to decide just who is a Natural Homosexual, and a decided Homosexual. Do murderes, thieves, the people without moral compass; are they born that way too, some misplaced Gene somewhere? If we find they are, will you blogthat they should be admitted? I doubt it, I mean radical Islamist's are taught from early childhood, their first breath, that it is right to Kill Christians. At some point, if one can not make a basic choice to be "Good", and therefore be eligable to be made better, isn't something lost?
There are many, many, ex-Homosexuals, that made the change after finding God. I made changes after finding God.
So, untill yoiu can prove to me that thier is this third "virtual gender" I would want them to make a choice towards what keeps our species alive, before allowing them to influence others on moral or spiritual nature.
My fears Left aside.

Tom Accuosti said...

I wasn’t born gay… and no one can seriously think ANYONE would CHOSE to be homosexual,

Bro. Theron, this statement gives the assumption that you could believe that there is something inherently wrong with homosexuality. Otherwise, this has been a rather good article.

My question, which I believe gets to the root of this, is when did sexuality - or living arrangements, or any number of other things - become tied in with Masonic morality?

Anonymous said...

Simply put, someone else's orientation is no one else's business, just like someone's personal interpitation is no one else's business. It is said to think that bigot Masons are still out there.

Homophobia is a brain illness.

BC 2006

Theron Dunn said...

BC;

Did you actually read the post, or did you jump from the title to the comments section? NO ONE advocated bigotry, or claimed any existed. I used an example we are all aware of, and your own bigotry and lack of tolerance is showing just a bit.

Some brothers have been taught that homosexuality is a sin. The bible teaches its a sin. That's hardly bigotry, but their reality. I am not here to defend that, but to make a point USING that issue... sort of like a parable, only not.

At the end of the article, I made the point:

As I noted above, I am not here to advocate homosexuality, nor, frankly, to condemn it. It is not for me, but then, I wasn’t born gay… and no one can seriously think ANYONE would CHOSE to be homosexual, any more than someone chooses to be blonde, or brown eyed, or short, or tall or… it is what it is.

We need, each of us, in our growth as Masons, to apply the tools of the fraternity to our own rough ashlars, assist our brethren in perfecting their ashlars, and refrain from applying our tools to their work. That is a great task set before us… and frankly, most of us have enough to do with perfecting our own ashlars without judging others…

You see, its really, really easy to judge someone else. The difficult part is in judging ourselves… that’s why many spend so much time judging other people and so little time judging themselves. We however, are Masons. We work in stone, and the work, while rewarding, is difficult.


Its not about me changing them, its about ME changing ME.

We need to keep this in mind in lodge. Morality is not about what people do with consenting adults in private, its what we do to and for society that shows our morality.

We are to be just and upright men, not flaming bigots or privacy police, snooping in each others bedrooms.

In the next few days, I will be posting on Masonic Morality, what it is, what is should be in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"I am against gay in lodge for the same reason I am against co-masonry.
It is not a matter of genitalia, but of mind.
Since in Italy we work on energies, we cannot arouse and sublimate them to work to the glory of the GAOTU.
I had a sad experience with a gay Bro. who then became WM. The first year he was quite controlled, then he stormed, acting like a primadonna. It was a luck he changed lodge."

This is what I am reffering too. It is clearly a bigoted post, spin it any way you like.

BC 2006

Luke said...

Theron thanks for the wonderful post. I'll let you know in December how an Indiana Lodge reacts to electing a gay WM.

Also, BC the post you're refering to is a comment by a third pary...and neither of your posts made it clear that you were separating Theron from being painted as a bigot.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious ... what in the hell does that picture have to do with your post? Why would you have a picture of a black man, with a S&C on one side and an "All-Seeing Eye" on the other and your speaking about homosexuals and the Craft? What necessarily are you implying? A very distasteful picture for the topic of your article.

H.Abiff

Theron Dunn said...

Br. Abiff;

Would you have the same objection if the man were a white man? Or an Asian? Or an Hispanic? or...

I am not implying anything. My point in carefully selecting that image was to show a man, between the square and compass and the all seeing eye of g-d, that is, coming under the influence of both.

Bowing his head to the sovereingty of both, and raising his hands in supplication.

Period.

If you read my article, you would see that it really wasn't about homosexuals in lodge, but about the predeliction of some to attempt to impose their morality on others.

If a brother does not believe homosexuality is moral, then he should not participate in it. If a man feels consumption, brewing or sale of alcohol is immoral, then he should not partake of those activities.

Nothing more was meant, and nothing less.

I am a mason, not a hatemonger. Blacks, whites, asians, arabs, greeks, Russians etc etc can be homosexual, it is not restricted to any one race... no matter what that fool Ahmadinajad might say.

Thank you for posting, however. Do you have any comment on the content of the article?

Anonymous said...

They say that "a picture says a thousand words...", but which words? If it were any other race ... I would've had the same question. I just would've expected to see . . . maybe a picture of two gay guys or something; or rather ... the Rainbow Flag. If one was to read the title and look at the picture only ... naturally, one would presume that it's referring to homosexuality within black lodges and focuses the attention to a subculture as oppose to the entire culture of Freemasonry.

In regards to your article... I agree wholeheartedly. I believe that it was well written and you raise quite a few valid points.

H. Abiff

Anonymous said...

Fraternal Greetings Brethren,

A most wonderful set of ideas on this topic!

I am a young Freemason, soon to be Master of my Lodge. I think it is imperative that if masonry is to grow and flourish in the next generation, it must address issues like these, because the issues are alive and well in the society around us.

From our Masonic origins, it is almost certain that there were men of all 'persuasions' involved in building; be it operative or speculative.

I am firmly of the opinion that intimate personal matters are best not discussed at lodge, be they religion, politics, finances or most especially our 'love-lives'.

If Masonry is universal and relevant to Modern Society, it must address issues of respect, tolerance and Brotherly Love which lie at the heart of this issue.

Sexuality of a candidate is not the issue, but rather the goodness of the Moral teachings of Masonry, and our ability to communicate these lessons to him.

I have sat in Lodge many times with men whom I know to not fit the mould of 'normality', and I have found greatness in their characters and in their hearts.

Your Fraternally,
Bro. Thomas
Sydney Australia
(and incidently I am not heterosexual)

Olympus911 said...

My grandfather was a Mason. He was very proud of this fact. As a kid and as a teen, my grandfather would never answer my somewhat pestering questions about what it was all about-- he would only smile, tell me that he thought I would be a good Freemason when I was grown and that he felt that I would be welcomed and embraced if I ever wanted to join.

He told me no one would ask me, but that I could always go and let them know that my grandfather was a Freemason and that by simply asking, I would be welcomed.

I have no way of knowing if my grandfather did know that I was gay. My initial thought is no. But I do know that I am nearly 30 and despite a genuine desire to know more and a sincere appreciation for what you discuss about becoming a better person and helping the community, I have never once attempted to reach out-- due completely to a fear of not being wanted because I am gay.

I can tell you I did not make a choice. Being gay was as out of my control as being male, having fair skin and curly hair.

I suppose my question of "How can I be a Freemason" has always been more of a "Can I be a Freemason if I am gay". Being gay is not something of which I am ashamed, nor is it something that I feel makes me bad person. While it is not something I try to force upon people or "shove in their face"-- it is also not something that I hide.

I was glad to see this conversation. It definitely made me wonder if perhaps that bond with my grandfather could be somehow reconnected despite the fact that I am homosexual. Should anyone be willing to converse with me further on this matter, I am sincerely longing to find out if I could have a place within the brotherhood.

SeekingLight said...

For the last 2 years I have discovered many of the people I associate with are Masons. Studying these men for a long time, their lives exemplify character, service and the building of community. I want to be like them. For two years I have reflected on joining the Brotherhood of Masons. I am an openly gay man partnered for over 10 years and I have fear about being rejected. None the less, I have sumitted my petition to the local blue lodge. I appreciate this discussion especially the thoughts and feelings expressed by Olympus911

Thank you

BroSecy said...

First of all, very good article, Theron.
Speaking to Olympus911 and SeekingLight, as the Brother from Sydney already illustrated, he is a gay Mason. I too am a gay Mason. My advice to both of you is to go for it.
There are two main initiatives when electing or rejecting a candidate for Masonry. #1, is this truly a person who will be conformable to the precepts of Masonry, and (although never voiced aloud) #2, what would the community at large think of Masonry if we allow this person to join. So, for example, if you are a genuinely good person, but have a reputation for being a crook, your chances of getting in are slim. The Lodge, afterall, does have an image to maintain.
I have gone over my state's Code and Constitution several times, and am yet to find the first reference to homosexuality.
I remember the man, whom later became a Brother, that first interested me in Masonry. We would speak at length about the wonders and beauties of Masonry. Finally, one day, I asked him how I too could become a Mason. He breathed a sigh of relief and said, "I thought you'd never ask." He then proceeded to explain to me that I had to ask instead of being asked. He knew that I was gay, so I sort of confused me that he was trying to interest me into joining. I asked him what was Masonry's view on homosexuality. His simple response was "There isn't one."
He was also the first person to explain to me that there is a difference between Masonry and Masons. While Masonry doesn't have a problem with homosexuality, many Masons do. He suggested that I not be too public about it, but also, not to lie about it if ever confronted. I have kept by that code and have done just fine.
A few Brothers in my Lodge know that I am gay, a few more speculate that I may be, and the rest are clueless. For the time being, I intend to keep it that way.
Some of our members think that I should come out entirely, that it would be a good learning experience for the Lodge in the diversity of Masonry. As of yet, I don't think that is a good idea, but then again, maybe I'm being over-cautious. Being an officer in my Lodge, I fear loosing my position if the wrong people were to know. I keep telling myself that once I have become well seated in the Lodge, I will probably come out. But even after being in the Lodge for 8 years, being an active member the entire time, and being Lodge Secretary for several years, I am still not at that comfort level yet.
Becoming a Mason is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has truly changed who I am for the better, which is its intended purpose. I would encourage anyone, regardless of your orientation, to not let that stop you from petitioning. And if you're rejected, repetition. A rejection is not the end of the world.

JC said...

I find it a little mind boggling that a one would say it is a choice to be gay. It is well-known that in many parts of the world the ostracization that comes with being gay goes from being rejected by family members to murder depending on the community. I can no longer imagine that one would choose to be gay any more than anyone reading this chose their sexual orientation. When did you choose to be straight? Do you remember the exact moment? To accept and truly have unconditional love and to convey it to EVERYONE should really be the focus. How can you convey it to a group if they are ostrasized before you learn anything about who they are? Seems to me that the approach to be taken when "dealing" with the news of a "brother" that is gay or may be gay, would be LOVE, COMPASSION, ACCEPTANCE. Isn't that what the Fraternity is about? I am not a mason, although, I would like to be one.

terri said...

This is the best article on the subject of gays in freemasonry that I have read. Kudos to the author.

To the anti-gay commentors, all I can say is congratulations, you are in the political bed with the most intolerant people in the world.

max said...

Jesus said in "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:11-12)......

I am born a gay male my goal in life is to spread the word.......


"Whoever does not close his ear to the lamentations of the miserable, nor his heart to gentle pity; whoever is the friend and brother of the unfortunate; whoever has a heart capable of love and friendship; whoever is steadfast in adversity, unwearied in the carrying out of whatever has been once engaged in, undaunted in the overcoming of difficulties; whoever does not mock and despise the weak; whose soul is susceptible of conceiving great designs, desirous of rising superior to all base motives, and of distinguishing itself by deeds of benevolence; whoever shuns idleness; whoever considers no knowledge as unessential which he may have the opportunity of acquiring, regarding the knowledge of mankind as his chief study; whoever, when truth and virtue are in question, despising the approbation of the multitude, is sufficiently courageous to follow the dictates of his own heart, - such a one is a proper candidate."

Luis Nascimento said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jcTOPbro8 said...

I would like to know, as a gay man, how I would go about becoming a Freemason. It is something I have wanted to do for years. However, here, Colorado, the two lodges I reached out to ran and vanished as soon as my being gay became known. Sad, but, true.

BroSecy said...

If you have turned in a petition to this Lodge, then you are committed to them. Keep calling. If you haven't petitioned them yet, you can always try another Lodge.

BroSecy said...

All I can say is keep trying.

Jim Vose said...

I am the son of a Past Master, and have long thought of becoming a Mason like my father. My memories of him as a Mason are still as clear to me today as they were when I experienced them. When my dad passed away, I was given his Past Masters pin which I have framed along with his photo. I look on this almost daily and remember always what a great man he was. He knew of my homosexuality and this never seemed an issue when we spoke of me joining the Lodge. He would always tell me, when you are ready you will know and then you will come to me. Saddly this did not happen until after he had passed. I have know, just prior to finding this blog, subbmitted a request to be concidered for membership in the Masons. I am partnered for the last 21 years, and since June 2008, when it was legal, have been married. I hope the lodge I apply to has an open mind to this issue, as I strongly feel that it is not who we choose to sleep with, but how we represent ourseves in the community that truely matters.
Thank you for a great blog on this "issue".

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Caroline Querinius said...

I am openly a woman. I had no choice in that when I was conceived. At times this has indeed stood in my way of being successful in my career. Lodges state than men become masons. Can I become a mason or should I not divulge my gender?

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