25 February 2007

From Whence All Info Flows

don't suppose there be any harm in askin'

“Basically, this is the LDS church's position on homosexuality:

“Homosexual relationships will lead only to misery and despair.
Gay marriage is very very bad. No, make that very very very bad. [Emphasis mine.]

“You're welcome to try change-oriented therapy, but chances are it won't work, so we don't officially condone it.

“Marriage is probably a bad idea, and basically I wouldn't risk my daughter on one of you, but if you find someone who's willing to take you, then go ahead. Good luck. Just don't blame us when it doesn't work." - Master Fob

Master Fob is being sarcastic when he summarizes, “Marriage is probably a bad idea…,” but I think he hits the nail on the head. The church’s opposition to gay marriage and promotion of celibacy is rooted in the church’s lack of understanding of homosexuality.

Actually, I don't think the church really understands anything about homosexuality. Sure, they go on and on about how it's evil and how it leads to bestiality. They say it is caused, or at least spurred on, by masturbation. They refer to it as an attraction. They say it is rooted in pure selfishness. They say it can be cured with marriage. Or by playing baseball. Or by electro-shock therapy. They say gay youth just need to "fool around" with girls. They say homosexuality is merely an adjective and excommunicate anyone who uses it as a noun. They say it can’t be cured with marriage. Nor by electro-shock therapy. Nor by going on a mission. They refer to homosexuals as "gay." They say a self-identified homosexual can remain in the church if he remains celibate. They say they are not experts on this subject. They say it can't be cured, usually. They say some people will struggle with same sex attraction all their lives.*

This information was given with the best of intentions but it wasn‘t gathered in good faith. They make their best guess and try to squeeze all new information into old understanding. When they say “we don't understand these things,” it means their hearts aren't open enough to hear the answer. Perhaps they haven’t even asked the question. Maybe they don’t want to ask.

If science hasn’t yet figured homosexuality out to their satisfaction then perhaps they should look elsewhere for answers.

*Some people say they will be same sex attracted and struggle with the church all their lives.


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14 February 2007

So Romeo

and now for the wisdom of someone with no such life-experience

I’m hardly the most experienced person on this topic but here goes: Gay relationships are different from straight ones. Shocking to hear, I know. Think about who takes out the trash, washes the dishes, and sends out thank-you notes in a “traditional” relationship. You know exactly who to assume is doing each. I know from personal experience that few “traditional” relationships actually do things the traditional way. I know this because the church encourages home life to be composed of a loving dad who is not a tyrant and a loving mom who is not a harpy.

Successful families are encouraged to influence youth in the ward to behave like them. A good father leads the scout troop. A good mother leads the young womens’ classes. I’ve seen these examples all my life and been told to model myself after them. All the while I knew I was different and thought the teachings are only for straight couples.

But these behaviors aren’t invalid, are they? I may not know who will be taking out the trash but I know I’ll listen to his doubts and concerns. I have no idea who will wash the dishes but I know I will be faithful to him. I’m not sure of the proper etiquette for thank-you cards but I know he’ll be my best friend and closest confidant.

In theory, anyway. I don’t have even the faintest whiff of a role model to base this on. Instead I am twenty-five and a relationship-virgin. I get to learn this all from scratch. I didn’t get to practice. No dates in high school. No stolen kisses between classes. No modestly dressed social dances.* Not a single opportunity to figure any of this out. Not for a gay man. If you’re straight you are expected to have learned this. For a gay man, any one of the aforementioned activities would result in immediate disfellowship followed by excommunication.

So Romeo, wherever thou art, what am I supposed to do if I ever meet you?

*Actually, I hate dancing.


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Why am I Inactive?

and what do I plan to do about it?

The reasons are twofold. First, I'm not an argumentative person, per se, yet I get angry when some random RM gets up in priesthood meeting, assails the "gay lifestyle," and is only encouraged to do so. He is only be speaking to the truth he knows… yet, why not just testify the rural farmers in northeast Mongolia aren't farming correctly? Some things are hard to relate to because they are hard to relate to for a straight guy living in Provo.

Second, I may feel that I am worthy to participate but the church doesn’t think so. Monogamy is as monogamy does, I say, but the church REALLY doesn’t agree. The church has stated that, celibate, a gay man may continue in full fellowship in the church. The church has also expanded the concept of celibacy to include dating, holding hands, and even talking to other homosexuals. What unbearable loneliness!

So it isn't that I've "violated" the law of chastity, I haven’t. It's that I fully intend to.

How can I not? Is companionship not a basic human need? Are we not designed to find our better half and marry that person? If the Law of Chastity covers any and all expressions of love, how can I ever hope to be a complete person?*

My challenge in life is to fall in love and be allowed to hug him. Is that not the most pathetic thing you have ever heard? A hug is an insurmountable obstacle. What life have I lead to be brought to this. How can I want to be a part of this? How could anyone?

*And why must I rely on question marks so heavily?


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08 February 2007

Who Will Hear It?

the silence is screaming

A Mission President once told me a testimony can never be based on logic. That to convert a soul with the logic of men means that the next man to walk by with new logic can re-convert them to something else. Study of Mesoamerican culture is interesting but can only be, at best, a supplement to “what we know by the spirit.”

To this end the church routinely belittles sciences that stand contrary to church doctrine. This is entirely understandable and probably a natural element of religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also maintains the slightly-contrary idea that education itself is one of the most important reasons to be on Earth. By no means a true “contradiction” but an unusual observation. It is natural to expect that the learned might develop beliefs that do not align with church ideals. “Deviant thinking” is a natural result of the church's emphasis on education and, from this, conflicts arise.

One might expect that the “soft sciences” would be most prone to conflict as they are focused on human behavior. Human behavior is the primary domain of religion and nearly every social study seems to justify or validate something the church stands opposed to. When the church chooses to cling tightly to select reports from the psychological community to defend it‘s policies it creates a battlefield. And battlefields host only conflict

The psychiatric community seems like an odd place for the church to hang its hat. Many sciences have made erroneous claims at times;* and surely certain, modern scientific theories are one experiment away from being negated, but I’ll say that no single science has made more ridiculous claims than the psychiatry. I'll save the discussion as to why for some other time but let me mildly suggest that everyone sees themselves as The Normal Standard by which all others are judged. Someone you know not a fan of communism? Well you are. So they must be crazy!

The idea of "soft science" is simply that of all the science and scientific experiments therein, nothing that relies on the human psyche is remotely repeatable. Repeatability is a major component of scientific analysis. Without it the psychiatric community relies on an average result over many years of behavior and the averaged findings of similar studies to reach a median of what mankind is and should be.

In its short history psychology originally classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. After all, the original researchers were straight, well-adjusted socialites and couldn’t comprehend homosexuality. "I cant understand it" equaled mental disorder. Over the years as more people probed the topic and more information was gathered and averaged the psychiatric community had to reexamine it’s position. It not only removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders but stated there was never enough evidence to have classified it as such in the first place.

Yet the church clings to the old ways, the old thoughts. There are researchers today who honestly agree with the old estimations. But the psychiatric community as a whole finds no basis that homosexuality is a source of mental unhappiness or even that is could possibly be chosen.

Still the church clings to the old ways, the old thoughts.

Remember that at one time the church had solid scriptural basis reasons to believe blacks would never, ever hold the priesthood as mortals. At one time the church had solid, scriptural reasons to believe women could never, ever speak in sacrament meeting. At one time the church had solid, scriptural reasons to believe non-whites could never, ever enter the holy temple.

Scriptural basis are flexible, it turns out, and gospel that was once used to condone certain popular thinking simply doesn’t anymore.

The scriptural basis for the condemnation of homosexuality is notoriously nonexistent. Most come from a book that means nothing (Leviticus) and an apostle that who uses the word “natural” in such a way that one might assume he's worried that heterosexuals are turning away from their true desires.**

It is easy to see such scriptures getting used to justify a fear and resentment of homosexuality. Every evil act in human history has been justified by one scripture or another. I'm pretty sure the Koran doesn’t demand it’s readers kill everyone but there are a few groups who seem to think it does.

Humans are frail creatures and we seek guidance from the divine to know just what our purpose is. To this end God selected prophets to lead us and a few of them wrote it all down. A scripture without a guide is about as useful as a ship without a rudder and for a time God withdrew this guidance from the earth. It was a dark age.

But it is only dark until dawn and when God once again selected a prophet to lead us the spiritually-dehydrated masses drank it up as you might expect. This prophet was commissioned to write new scripture and expound upon the older ones. A rather unique thing happened. God also asked this prophet to bring forth a new, ancient record. One composed contemporaneously to the traditional Bible but written exclusively for these, latter-days.

Not one of these modern scriptures mention anything relating to homosexuality. The prophet who brought it forth never mentioned homosexuality. Can silence speak louder than words? In the four Standard Works, written by dozens of prophets, relating hundreds of teachings, in tens of thousands of verses reside a possible eight mentions homosexuality.

The silence is screaming. Who will hear it?

*the earth is flat, Africans are the missing link, women’s brains don’t posses the power that men‘s do…

**Paul may have been condemning Roman Institutionalized Pedastry.


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04 February 2007

Defining the Definable

but since I am a virgin by any measure...

I wonder if I should just leave the Church on principle. It would be easy, I think. I simply confess my homosexuality to my bishop. Would he move to excommunicate me? Could they excommunicate a virgin homosexual? At the very least I would be summoned to a disciplinary council. They would make wild accusations against me and I would simply refuse to comment on my personal sex life. Sans corporeal evidence I would likely be disfellowshipped. A change in membership status that lasts for one year.

An unrepentant homosexual who refuses to comment on his sex life; It is here I make my stand.

They demand I go to social services but I refuse. They seek evidence against me. They ask those closest to me but there is be no witness to an act that never occured. Does someone come forward and lie? To save the church from a filthy homo, will someone claim they saw me do something? I desperately want to love and be loved in return. Do I have the self-control stay a total and complete virgin until the trial is over? Can I sacrifice just a little more happiness to stand as a martyr before friends and family?* Is that what I really want?

After the 'council of love’ I would be free to pursue some measure of comfort in my personal life. Knowing that I was expelled from the Mormon church by an unjust trial would cement two things that are sometimes shaky. First, the church is indeed imperfect. Second, it is run by mortals bound by their own prejudices and learning of the day.

*In my fantasy scenario my family receives notices I mail them reading, "You are cordially invited to attend the excommunication of a faithful Mormon."


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02 February 2007

Contents Undercover

and contents under pressure.

Still closeted, I've begun to wonder what it would take to prevent my friends from rejecting me when they find out I‘m gay. Try as I might, I can't conceive a more pointless endeavor. Nevertheless... maybe one of them needs a kidney. If I gave them mine would that be a final proof of goodness? Is that friendship on a grand and fantastic scale? Could such as an act prevent them from rejecting me? Or would it merely force them into a closet once I leave my own? There they would be concealed, never able to express their own feelings; trapped by insurmountable feelings of guilt. The guilt of feeling uncomfortable around me. I never wish The Closet on anyone. It’s exactly what I am trying to escape. Oh, irony, why wont thou forsake me!?

I stand by my opinion that these are good people. I haven’t surrounded myself with friends who openly hate what I truly am. These friendships are good ones. They are people with whom I hold the deepest respect and admiration. Friends I feel I could share almost any secret with.*

If they leave me there is one school of thought that it will be “they were never really your friends." The truth is my secret is overwhelming and not everyone can handle it. I've read stories of parents who divorce when a child becomes terminally ill. It is not to say that they don’t love each other and of course both love the child but otherwise good people will crack under pressure.

A pressure I don’t know how to relieve in advance.

*If I finally tell them it will only be because I value their opinions on so many topics.


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