Thursday, September 25, 2014


We all make assumptions that color our communications.  Recently I noticed some research that asserted that over 90% of recently married Americans had sex before their marriages.  While I don't find this surprising, I think it is surprising that so many people think that this is inevitable and even desirable.

I come from a Mormon culture where teens are asked to abstain until marriage.  A surprisingly high percentage of them do so.  I realize that this is definitely not in the mainstream of American culture.

So, what about those of us who have gay orientations?  While this is a question that hasn't really been answered well, some things are sure.  The idea that teens should be allowed to express themselves by having sex is definitely off the table.  I don't think the church should have a different standard based on orientation, in this instance.  Regardless of American or any other culture, I think this one is a given.

I'm pretty sure that there will be no temple sealings of same gender couples any time in the near future, and likely won't happen at all.  It would take quite a huge overturning of doctrinal understanding to effect any change in this aspect of Mormonism.  It would take even more work to prepare the members for any such change.  Such a monumental change is typically not how the Lord develops the church.  Rather, it's here a little and there a little, line upon line.  So if there were any such change, it probably wouldn't be some huge announcement.  And I feel any such change is unlikely to begin with.

I think many of the pundits who challenge the current stand of church leaders on this issue are bringing with them assumptions about the Mormon culture that wildly distort their understanding.  This may be particularly true among those disaffected, former members who have had unfortunate experiences with members or leaders in the past.

It's so very hard to recognize our assumptions, let alone to account for them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Both Wrong and Right

I was listening to a talk recently where the speaker mentioned the spirituality of Christopher Columbus.  The Italian explorer completely believed in his theory and felt that the spirit of the Lord supported it.  However, most political and scientific figures of his day felt his theory was wrong.  Here's the amazing thing.  The theory was completely wrong.  You see, Columbus believed that the estimates of the size of the world were too big, and it was possible to sail a ship from Spain to India.  However, that idea was rubbish.  The world was, in fact, roughly 25 thousand miles around, and there was no way the ships of the day would make it.  Despite the fact that he was completely wrong, the spirit may very well have moved him to go through with this plan.  Many people feel Columbus was the man referred to in 1st Nephi 13:12 on whom the Spirit of God wrought.  So even though Columbus was entirely wrong, what he did was the right thing to do.  That's a really weird sounding situation.

In reality, I think that the ministrations of the Spirit are more often about the rightness of our course of action rather than the accuracy of our theories about it.  In the days of the Nephites, many times the people wanted to reject the Law of Moses and move to a higher law, but they were reprimanded.  Even though it was known that salvation did not come through that law, they were expected to follow it until it was changed through proper channels and authority.  Finally after the resurrection of the Savior, that law was fulfilled and a higher law was given.

Back in the Roman Empire, the gospel was exclusively taught to the Jews for quite some time.  I'm sure many followers believed that there was something intrinsic about being Jewish in membership in Christ's church.  But it was not true, at least in the way they were thinking.  Still, until Peter received the revelation about preaching to the Gentiles, it was proper that only Jews could join the church.

When we try to impose our own philosophies as to why some policy is the way it is, we are often wrong.  Much more important is to know what we should do, how we should act.  Just because we receive some revelation that encourages us to do something, it doesn't mean we fully understand why we are to do it.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts," said the Lord in Isaiah 55:9.

Even if our ideas about the world are entirely wrong, if we follow the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord, we will be doing the right thing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I firmly believe that orientation is not something that we choose.  It's something that is simply a part of the circumstances of our existence.  Choices that we make have little to nothing to do with the orientation of our attractions.  Few people of any orientation choose who they suddenly have a crush on.

This is precisely why I don't think our orientations themselves are a part of our identity.  Our identity is made of the consequences of our choices, and we don't choose our orientations.  We can embrace things about ourselves that we didn't choose, and and the choice to do so makes them parts of our identities.  But we all have aspects of our selves that we didn't choose, and that we don't count as part of our identities.  I happen to have an extremely high number of moles.  Is that important?  Not to me (except that it makes me more prone to skin cancer, so I have to see a dermatologist more often).  I don't embrace it as part of my identity.  It's not something that I should ignore about myself, but it doesn't make me who I am.

When people claim that in order to be authentic, we have to embrace our orientations, that strikes me as somehow wrong.  I can be perfectly authentic without embracing my identity as a moley person.  I don't think moles make me bad, or even particularly unhealthy.  I didn't choose it.  So it's not part of my identity and I don't have to "own up to it" to be authentic, even though I don't ignore the fact.

On the other hand, I choose to be LDS.  I choose to work on strengthening my marriage and my family.  I work on becoming better at my occupation.  These are things I have to put effort into.  They make up large parts of my identity.  I would be utterly inauthentic if they didn't.  So if someone puts a lot of effort into their orientation, sure it will become an important part of their identity.  But I don't.  It takes no effort on my part to be attracted to guys.  If I continue to not put effort into being gay, it will still fail to be an important part of my identity, and I don't consider myself inauthentic.  That doesn't mean it goes away.  It's not something that I should ignore, or feel guilty about, any more than having moles.  But it doesn't have to define me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Don't Judge Me

How often do we worry that we are being judged?  I think it is a common feeling, and often it is justified.  However, I also think we are not always very good at deciding when we are being judged.  When someone holds us to a high standard, would that be considered judging?  It shouldn't be.  But we sometimes feel that way.  When parents have high expectations for their children, do the children think they are being judged?  They often do, but they shouldn't.  I think parents should expect their children to put forth good efforts in school.  For many children, holding high academic standards for them is also appropriate.  I don't think this kind of thing is being judgmental.

The problem is that sometimes we are judgmental.  And when someone reacts to the judging, they often reject the other stuff as well.  I think this plays into the fact that those who participate in homosexual relationships are also more likely to smoke, abuse drugs, have multiple sexual partners, and other risky behavior.  In rejecting the judgments of others, they also reject the standards that others hold.  LDS kids are taught to not have sexual relations before marriage.  I realize that it is not always easy, but a large number of youth live up to this standard.  However, those who have gay orientations are far more likely to reject the standard if they decide to pursue relationships with their own gender.  They reject the expectation of chastity which in their mind is connected to a straight orientation.  Children in public schools are commonly taught of the dangers of smoking, but upon rejecting standard straight relationships, people often reject other standard societal messages, like the warnings about smoking.  Then when others who love us question our behavior, we reply with "don't judge me," when the question may not have been about judgment, but rather concern for our well-being.