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.


good tune


-L- said...

Science changes views pretty routinely because the goal is to incorporate new information and re-evaluate conclusions along the way. It's not (as my mom thinks of it) completely reversing everything we once "knew" based on the latest contradictory study. It's progressive.

The LDS church works similarly in part, but doesn't often get the same latitude because it claims to be led by God. But God doesn't micromanage. So, again, changes haven't been a reversal of previous revelations as much as a progressive refinement and clarification. Whether one believes this will depend largely on their disposition toward the church in general (i.e. I can put all of your examples into this context, but others who dislike the church would never accept it).

Somewhere on a meta level to this work in progress is the whole scriptural and prophetic revelation doctrine. You can't really separate it from the church, and it means that living prophets are the ones who get to say what the scriptures say and what the doctrines are. In that broader scope, there's not really much silence on the topic of homosexuality.

I think sometimes we fail to hear things because of silence and sometimes we're just deaf.

P.S. I really like your blog. It's very thought provoking. I feel kind of bad about my initial comments seeming negative, so I just wanted to emphasize that I appreciate your writing.

Gay BYU Student said...

There's a lot in this post that resonated with me. But I can also see where -L- is coming from, and understand that when it comes to religion, everything and anything can be explained away. You do, however, point out some disturbing (and humorous) inconsistencies in church doctrine.

Joseph Smith may have been silent with regards to homosexuality, but the church definitely is not. So unless you believe that Joseph was the last prophet, it's kind of a moot point. The idea that God holds different generations to different standards is not a new concept either (remember the Law of Moses?)

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I like your blog and your thoughts. Very insightful. I'm not sure where I stand with regards to the church - it's kind of a work in progress, but I enjoy your viewpoint.