Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Busy

I have not been posting lately.  Sorry about that.  It's just that I've become much busier than ever before and don't have as much time to spend writing blog posts or reading blogs.  When life lightens up a little I hope I can find the time to write more.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Overreaction

When some people are opposed to a book or movie, if they overreact and make a big deal of it, they just serve to promote the book or movie they opposed.  I am worried that the same thing is happening with Kim Davis.  Think of how it must feel to be her.  She is expressing a view that, twenty years ago, was held by a majority of Americans.  Suddenly she is accused of hate crimes for holding that view.  She feels persecuted, and what's more, she feels persecuted for doing what she feels is right.  It provides fuel to those who quote Matthew 5:10, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

When people exaggerate the seriousness of her crime, it tends to add fuel to the fire rather than mend things.  It would not have been hard to accommodate her, and allow an assistant to issue the licenses.  But now things are out of hand.  Those vitriolic posts and comments that accuse her of obscene bigotry are adding fuel to the fires of hate and intolerance themselves.  The "I'm going to make your life miserable until you change your mind" plan is not a very effective one.  A much better plan would have been to accommodate her, and let people feel she was being insensitive and immature, rather than belabor the point and make her a martyr, a rallying point for those with whom you disagree.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Born That Way

I know people who have a genetic variation that makes them different.  They are color blind.  They were born that way.  Have you seen the viral video of the guy who gets special glasses and can discern colors he never could before?  It's fascinating and wonderful.

Now, what about sexual orientation?  Suppose it could be fixed by some special hardware like the glasses.  What does that say about orientation?  Would it be right to round up all the gay oriented people and give them the hardware so they could be normal?

I think that the "born that way" premise is not a very good argument to make.  It's fraught with unintended consequences.  Another such consequence is that this kind of argument is often used to justify behavior rather than take responsibility for behavior.

Maybe the whole dialog needs to change.  I know I didn't choose my own orientation, and I don't think it's going to change any time soon, but that doesn't mean my orientation controls me.  I can take ownership of my own traits and make my own decisions.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Volunteer Response Bias

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Statistics can be no better than your source of data.  Go to any statistics teacher at any school and ask about volunteer response surveys.  They are among the most common surveys yet have among the worst bias of all surveys.  Bias, in statistics, means that the sample does not accurately represent the population that is being studied.  A volunteer response survey asks people to volunteer to be a part of the survey.  However, only people who feel strongly are likely to respond, and they will encourage friends to respond, many of whom share similar views, making their opinions vastly over-representative.

For example, if CNN ran a survey on their website on whether or not GMO food was good for you, natural-food-nuts would quickly pounce on it and get their friends to do so as well, while most of the population would not bother.  The results would be very skewed and not at all representative of the population's view, even if it got huge numbers of respondents.

With that in mind, the results of the gay Mormon survey are out.  It was a classic case of a volunteer response survey.  I saw it circulating among a certain circle of friends, and I warned those who asked me about it that it was going to produce skewed results because of the way it was being run.

Imagine that you are a former member of the LDS church who was in a so-called mixed orientation marriage, but you got divorced and then excommunicated, or possibly had your name removed from the records of the church.  You are already public about it, and relish the opportunity to make yourself heard.  Not only that, but you have friends in similar situations so when you get the survey, you forward it to all these friends and you end up with huge participation from this portion of the population.

Now imagine that you are a faithful member of the church in one of these mixed orientation marriages.  You aren't public about it because you are unsure how people in your ward would respond.  You don't have lots of friends within the gay community.  Firstly, you are much less likely to come across the survey; and secondly, even if you do, you are less likely to fill it out.  You definitely won't be forwarding it to all your friends in mixed orientation marriages, because you don't know who they are.  You are in the closet.  You aren't making noise.  This segment of the population gets vastly underrepresented due to the nature of volunteer response surveys.

To me it was inevitable that the survey results would show that the participants predominantly left the church and failed at these mixed orientation marriages.  The bias was clearly pointed that way, regardless of the size of the survey or the actual divorce rates (or excommunication rates) of the whole population in question.  The sample does not accurately represent the population being studied.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

It's Not Fair!

I think we, as human beings, are wired to value fairness and equity.  When my kids notice anything that strikes them as unequal, the complaints start up again.  "It's not fair!"  "He got more than me!"  We, as adults, are often still doing it.  The 99% movement motivated it's masses with a similar war-cry.  It's a normal human bias.

It shows up again when I hear, "If there was a God, he wouldn't let so many people suffer more than others."  It's an insistence that any perfect being would be fair and equitable.  But all this assumes that the purpose for life is being content.  I rather think life is a crucible, a test, an opportunity to grow.  In order to learn math, we have to do homework and take tests.  We have to be challenged to grow.  It has nothing to do with equity and fairness.  Math tests aren't fair, they are challenging.  They are frustrating.  And sometimes we fail.

What kind of a teacher would allow a class where people can fail?  What kind of a teacher would cause so much discomfort and frustration among their students?  Well, a good one.  If we think of life, of God this way, I think it becomes clearer.

"Why does my orientation have to be gay?  It's not fair!"  Well, it can be challenging, but that just means the teacher feels this is the challenge I need in order to progress, in order to grow and develop.  The teacher trusts me to work on this particular subject.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Becoming

"You can be anything you want if you just put your mind to it."  So goes one of the most depressing phrases in common belief.  If you happen to be 5 foot 7, you cannot be an NBA center, regardless of how much you put your mind to it.  You can practice a bunch and become very good at basketball, but it's near impossible to be an NBA star (unless your name is Spud Webb), and there is no way you'd be a center.

We all have some kinds of physical limitations, but we are remarkably adaptable.  We can learn many different skills.  We can become good at almost anything we put our minds to, but we still have limitations to what level of excellence we can achieve.  And we can't change our stature by willing it to be so.

Similarly, we can't just change our orientations by willing it.  No matter how much one may wish not to have a gay orientation, it's like your height.  It's not going to just change.  However, you can increase your love for those around you.  You can develop and get better at social skills.  You can work on healthy relationships with people of both genders, and of all orientations.  There is so much that we can take time to develop, we don't have time to fret over the things we can't change.

We can become so much -- we can become more like our Father in Heaven.  That's a worthy goal.  Don't lose sight of it by worrying over what we can't change.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Outliers

I was talking with some friends who brought up the possibility that the church might sever its ties to scouting.  They talked as if there were an organized push to attack the church.  Personally, I think they have been reading too many posts by uber-conservative friends who share articles employing scare-tactics to push an agenda.  There is not some big anti-religious force behind the so-called gay agenda.  I know many people who have gay orientations and none of them have any designs to attack religion.  I did make an attempt to redirect their fears in a more healthy direction.  I think their fears are largely unfounded.

But there is a kernel of truth in their fears.  There are those who are trying to attack religion, and the LDS church in particular.  Once things settle down and normalize, there will be a few people, outliers from the main body of opinion, who will unite with those who attack faith and try to do the precise things that my friends fear, and which mainline opinion says will not happen.  In particular, will the gay marriage ruling be used to attack the church?  Of course it will be.  It's only a matter of time before some outlier from normal mainline opinion tries to use the ruling as grounds to attack the church legally.  Most judges would dismiss such attacks as frivolous, because they are.  But there will be a judge somewhere that rules against the church and the issue will escalate.  My hope is that we will have a reasonable enough legal establishment to prevent such attacks from progressing far.

Some day that may change, though.  But I don't think that day is imminent.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Friends of Scouting?

I've always had a few gripes about the scouting program within the church.  First, it's expensive.  Scout camp fees, badges, uniforms, books, equipment, and more tax ward budgets, and even with fundraisers, the families of scouts often have to lend extra financial support.  Then, on top of all this, we run "Friends of Scouting" campaigns to raise money, not for our own boys, but for the BSA corporate structure.  Each council has paid executives who need this money to fund their paychecks and run their offices.

Second, the path to eagle lacks flexibility.  Most of the merit badges you need are not negotiable.  While some, like personal management and physical fitness can be seen as valid life skills, others like camping, environmental science, and swimming don't appeal to all boys, and don't seem necessary in a program preparing boys for missionary service.  With all the merit badges available, why are there so few electives in the path to eagle?

Third, there is no equivalent program for girls.  Girls camp may be a fun program, but it lacks the structure, award system, activity opportunities, leadership training, and general recognition of the scouting program.

Fourth, the international church doesn't have the same program.  A majority of church membership lives in areas outside the BSA's footprint.

Finally, the scouting program's requirements for leadership don't perfectly match the church's.  I've read of active temple attending members who happen to be gay being called as scout leaders and having their assignment shot down by the scouting program at the council level.  Yes, it's a rare circumstance, but a small problem can still sting.

Now, the scouts have done something interesting.  They remedied my fifth concern, but in doing so they broke faith with church leaders by voting when they were absent.  That might open a can of worms, because now the church is reviewing their relationship with the scouts.  I don't see the vote itself as a deal-breaker between the church and the scouts, but if the review starts considering other concerns like those I've listed, the overall picture might incline leaders to sever the relationship.  It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Do MOMs Fail?

What if a husband or wife in a traditional marriage has a gay orientation?  The failure of many of these so-called "mixed orientation marriages" or MOMs have been a popular topic for those write about gay issues.  For some, the existence of healthy MOMs is an affront to their opinion, and they have to relegate these claims to either "they must be lying" or "they are a weird exception and not relevant."  Ironically, these are the same arguments used for years to discount stable same gender relationships.  For others, the possibility of healthy MOMs give rise to unrighteously judging those who have gay orientations who are not in or do not desire to enter MOMs.  The problem is that we have no good way of measuring how many stable MOMs there are -- because any data is subject to social desirability bias (see this article for examples of this bias).

Regardless of this, there are definitely many MOMs that fail.  I wish to examine these.  First, some of them fail because of deception on the part of a spouse -- a gay man lying to his fiance or even to himself about his orientation, for example.  The other spouse can feel distress due to the deception and that can disrupt the trust in marriage and lead to failure.  It doesn't have to, but it often does.

Second, a gay oriented spouse might get married to hide their nature or in an attempt to change their orientation.  That's not a particularly healthy reason to get married.  When the orientation fails to change, if the couple has not developed a healthier relationship, their marriage will almost certainly fail.  However, even though the reason to marry may have been flawed, if the couple did develop a more healthy relationship in the intervening time, the marriage might still succeed.

Third, a gay-oriented spouse might find that they simply don't have the self control to avoid cheating, betraying their spouse.  That kind of betrayal can be destructive to marriage, of course.  But such lack of control exists among marriages between heterosexual partners, too, and can lead to just as much failure.

Fourth, a couple in a MOM might go through the normal stresses in a marriage, but they might blame the trouble on the gay orientation and not address the real source of the problem.  That, in my opinion, is the most tragic reason for a MOM to fail.

There are undoubtedly many other reasons for such a marriage to fail that I haven't listed, but these are probably the most common.  Understanding the common reasons can help a couple avoid the pitfalls and give couples a better chance of success.  Again, this advice is for those who desire to have a successful MOM.  There are certainly those who do not desire such a marriage.  In this case, it would be irresponsible to enter into a MOM.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Basis of Romance

An interesting article explores the nature of romantic love and come to some interesting conclusions.  For example, older individuals tend to have more satisfactory romantic relationships.  When looking for reasons for this, they found the following:
It has been found that older individuals perceive their spouse as warm during both disagreements and collaborative tasks and report high marital satisfaction. Older married couples have fewer marital conflicts than younger counterparts, although they report that erotic bonds are less central in their lives. Companionate love, which is based upon friendship, appears to be the cardinal feature of their lives. Overall, intimate relationships in old age are harmonious and satisfying (Berscheid, 2010; Charles & Carstensen, 2009)
The author makes the distinction between romantic intensity and romantic profundity.  The former is characterized by sexual excitement, fiery passion, and the like, while profundity is more centered on calm assurance, friendship, peaceful connection, and the like.

This kind of distinction is good for all couples to understand.  For me, a profound romantic relationship represents a maturity in the relationship that is characteristic of the most stable couples.  It's the qualities of my relationship with my wife that I most value.  Also, it is available for a man such as I who is attracted to other men rather than women, even in a traditional marriage.  The article makes the point that "excitement" is possible, and even desirable, in a profound romantic relationship.  The true love of long term romance is not characterized by fiery passion, but calm assurance.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sacrifice

Imagine if someone believed they had to kill their children to be obedient to God.  We'd think they were insane zealots who lacked the ability to reason.  But we view Abraham very differently.  Of course, human sacrifice was more common in his day, but he knew it was wrong, having been nearly sacrificed himself when he was younger.

Thomas S. Monson told a story in a talk a few years ago of a young man named Benjamin Landart who was extremely accomplished on the violin.  Just as he had auditioned into a prestigious orchestra, he was asked to serve a mission.  The only way he could afford to do so was to sell his violin.  He took a day and played the violin all day long, and then sold it.  I love music, and the story was painful to me.  How could he just give up something he loved so much?  It seemed unreasonable to me that he would make such a sacrifice.  But fifty year later, he claimed that the choice to sacrifice something he loved so much to serve the Lord was one of the best things he ever did.

Should he be persecuted for making such a choice?  Surely many people in society today would want to take him to task for making such a sacrifice.  But his sacrifice ended up anchoring his life in service and blessing him.

In this community I often hear (or rather read) criticisms of the sacrifices of others.  Why would any gay-oriented man choose celibacy and stay in the church rather than seek out a relationship with another man?  Why would a man and woman choose to get married despite one partner having a gay orientation?  How could anyone sacrifice so much?

Personally, I don't find it much of a sacrifice, especially when I am so blessed with my family, my wife and children.  But so often others don't understand.  They see my situation as somehow making an unreasonable sacrifice.  But true love always comes from sacrifice.  We love those for whom we sacrifice.  Parents sacrifice for their children and that cements their love.  If marriage doesn't include sacrificing for your partner, it won't last through the challenging times.

One of the reasons I am anonymous is that our current culture ridicules the sacred and sanctifying sacrifices that are made that bring me closer to my God and closer to my family.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poor Arguments

Okay, I'm back to the poor arguments that people use.  First, let's go to arguments from the church and its members.

They argue that gay marriage is wrong because it doesn't lead to children or eternal families.  But I know people who can't have children, yet their marriage is supported by the church -- they are even sealed in the temple.  Also, I know a man who is married to a widow who was sealed to her first husband.  They cannot, therefore be sealed in the temple.  Their marriage cannot lead to an eternal family.  But the church seems to be okay with their marriage.  So the arguments against gay marriage don't really hold up in general.

Then we have the arguments in support of gay marriage.  There is a general feeling that we can't expect people to be chaste; that marriage is primarily based on mutual attraction; and that marriage is primarily for the benefit of adults, while children have little to do with it.  These arguments aren't really new with gay marriage, but they stem from the "free love" movement that pervades western media driven culture.  And I feel the arguments are wrongheaded.

It's hard for me to get behind a side in an argument when these kinds of faulty reasoning are used.  I don't want my support for the church to be linked to the poor arguments.  I don't want my support for gay marriage to link me to the arguments typically used to support it.  It's problematic.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Picking and Choosing

It's tempting to pick and choose parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For example, many people pick out those few passages that vilify homosexuality and ignore other parts that would temper it.  But it's just as easy to pick out only the temperate parts and ignore the rest.  I hear the word "love" tossed around as if it was the new catchword like "synergy" was to motivational salespeople.  The word eventually becomes meaningless.  People on both sides of the debate seem to ignore the whole gospel, preferring to pick and choose the parts that support their philosophy.

To the woman taken in adultery, it's true that Christ told the people that one without sin should cast the first stone, but He also told the woman to go her way and sin no more.  He recognized the purpose of mortality to be a probationary time where we make mistakes, choose poorly sometimes, and get hurt, but that we can improve, develop, grow, and progress.  The accusers somehow thought that our mortal condition was for them to pass judgement.  Sorry, guys, but judgment comes after the resurrection.

Speaking of judgment, the passage "judge not that ye be not judged" is also taken out of the context of the whole gospel.  We definitely have to make judgments.  Pastors (bishops) are even called to do so to protect their flocks.  But it's easy to pick only the part of the gospel that we want.  "Don't judge me if you're a Christian" is just as bad as "Choose ye this day whom ye shall serve" when taken out of the context of the entirety of the gospel.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Decision

My thoughts on the recent Supreme Court decision to extend gay marriage to every state are complicated.  First, while my religion may hold homosexual relations to be spiritually harmful, not everyone's religion expresses the same view.  As the 11th article of faith says, "let them worship how, where, or what they may."  So that aspect of the decision sits fine with me.

Secondly, the laws of several states are designed to refuse to recognize certain marriages performed in other states.  It's fundamentally problematic.  Those state laws definitely needed to be struck down.  If one state doesn't issue drivers licenses until age 18, that doesn't mean that they refuse to recognize the drivers licenses from states that issue them to 16-year-olds.  Same idea for marriage.

But, just like drivers licenses, states fundamentally set the rules for marriages within their borders.  That's the reason the Edmunds-Tucker Act only made polygamy illegal in the territories of the US.  (That act had less to do with polygamy and more to do with just disenfranchising the church.  It was never meant to be used against any other group, polygamous or not.)  So this ruling carries a serious change of philosophy about the separation of federal vs. state powers.  I'm not as happy about that aspect of the ruling.

It's a mixed bag, but I think it's more positive than negative.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gender Roles

Throughout my education, I've been taught that gender roles are social constructs, and aren't an inherent part of us.  That belief makes it hard for me to understand those who are transgender.  The drive to express a particular gender seems weird to me.  If gender roles are purely social constructs then gender dysphoria is a social issue, not biological -- somehow not an inherent part of people.

But as I read more of those who experience this, I start to wonder.  Maybe there is something fundamentally inherent about gender roles.  In fact, the writings of transgender individuals helps me better accept and understand the Proclamation on the Family, which claims that there are primary gender roles and responsibilities.  Somehow our gender roles are an inherent part of us and not purely social constructs.

I have to go work on changing my universal paradigm now.  I'll be back later.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Differences

One of the challenges in astronomy is that we can look at the universe from only one point of view.  For example, we can't see what the Andromeda Galaxy looks like from the other side.  Even our view of our own galaxy is very limited.  It makes it hard to decide what facts are universally true and which are only products of our point of view.

When we interact with others, we have the same kinds of problems.  I don't know what it's like to be you.  I don't know your thought processes.  I only know what the results look like to me.  Just like astronomers, we tend to assume that the way things seem from our own point of view is typical of the universe  We figure that other people probably have thought processes similar to ourselves.  But that's not necessarily true.  Here's a video from one of my favorite youtubers that explains how gender issues helped her understand this point.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Accepting Yourself

An interesting phenomenon is the concept of accepting yourself.  I understand what it is supposed to mean -- that we have to acknowledge our own limitations and not become discouraged because we are different from other people.

I know somebody who is naturally gifted at word play, and can compose beautiful poetry with ease, while I'm not that way.  I have to accept that it will take me much more work and time to get good at poetry, and that if this other person also puts forth effort to improve, I will likely never be as good a poet.  Refusing to berate myself for not being as good at poetry is accepting myself.  I'm okay with that.  However, believing that because I'm not as good at poetry, I'm a lesser person, or somehow incomplete; that's unhealthy.  But so is deciding that because someone else picks up poetry with ease while I struggle, that I'm just not good at poetry and should never write poetry.

How many people feel that they are just not a math person, or have two left feet, or can't carry a tune?  How many of us define ourselves by our supposed limitations?  That's not accepting yourself, but rather lying to yourself.  Everyone can learn math, or how to dance.  If tone deafness were real, there would be a sizable portion of Chinese people who couldn't speak.

So I watch with care when someone with a gay orientation "accepts himself" (or herself).  I wonder what they mean.  They might have the healthy mindset, where they accept that while they may be different, they refuse to berate themselves for it.  Or they might start defining themselves by limits -- the giving up of hopes and dreams because of feeling incapable of choosing their own destiny.

I look back at my life and realize how often I've defined myself by my limitations -- how my life could have been more enriched if I had just realized that I was far more capable than I believed myself to be.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Who Defines Us?

Who gets to define us?  When Mark Twain wrote one of my favorite books, Roughing It, he described the Mormons in a very humorous way.  I thought it was very funny when I read it.  However, for a large number of people, this was the only description of Mormons that people had, and they believed him completely.  The whole book was satirical, and ridiculous things happened like a buffalo climbing a tree.  Most people didn't believe a word of it, except what he wrote about Mormons.

I think things like this are why church leaders have been very careful about the church's image.  Of course, some will see it as sweeping the dirt under the rug.  But the purpose of the leaders is primarily to define the church and what it stands for.  They are tired of letting others define it.

So what about gay-oriented Mormons?  I don't think the church has done a very good job of defining what that is like.  They have generally floundered about in the dark trying to figure out what was going on, generally allowing those who have left the church to define the experience.  This is pretty disturbing to those of us who haven't left the church.  It's one of the reasons I feel I have to stay hidden, I have to stay in the closet.  If I come out, I will be defined by those who left the church.  

It is difficult to communicate your own definition when others already have a different preconceived notion.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Justice vs. Mercy?

I've often heard in church about the conflict between justice and mercy, and how Christ reconciled them.  But as I was reading through sacrament hymns today I noticed the phrase "where justice love and mercy meet" and realized a very important thing.  Without love, there really isn't justice or mercy.  I was reminded of first Corinthians thirteen:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
And I thought to myself that without charity, justice becomes cruel sternness and mercy becomes callousness.  But if both are extended with the pure love of Christ, they can work together for our good.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Do You Mean by Homosexuality?

I think one of the big hindrances to having meaningful conversations about homosexuality in the church is the different definitions people are using.  It makes communication difficult.  Let's look at some of the definitions of homosexual and related terms.

The first sense of homosexual (or gay or lesbian) denotes an orientation, or predilection.  In this sense, homosexuality has likely been around for as long as there have been humans.  It's not something people choose -- very few of us get to choose our crushes, it just happens.  Under this definition, I'm definitely homosexual, or gay.

It could refer to a sexual relationship.  In this sense, the participants don't even have to be homosexual in the first sense; they just have to participate in the relationship.  Many members of the church use the term "gay lifestyle" to refer to this, which leads to serious problems in communication with those who use "gay" in the first sense.  Under this definition I am not homosexual.  But then under this definition I would be considered heterosexual, because I have a heterosexual relationship; yet that's not my orientation at all.

A third definition of homosexual is the social construct of an identity based on orientation.  In this sense, homosexuality is not something innate but rather our culture's way of framing the orientation. Many people have a hard time differentiating this from the first definition.  A good clarification can be found here.   Gay anthropologists don't find our concept of a gay identity more than 150 years ago.  There is solid evidence of gay orientations and homosexual relationships, but they don't look anything like our gay/straight dichotomy (and not even a Kinsey-scale-like continuum).  Please note that this does not mean there is no gay identity.  It simply means it's part of our cultural framework, not innate biologically.

I think an awful lot of confusion is sown by people conflating or mis-using the different definitions.  Culprits can be found on both sides of arguments, as people dogmatically argue their points without disclosing the definitions they are using or inquiring after the definitions of those to whom they talk.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celebrating Multiple Zeros!

Since our society uses base ten numbers, we celebrate small multiples of powers of ten, in other words, it has zeros in the number.  This is post number 200 on my blog, which one of those numbers with multiple zeros, so it's time to celebrate!  I've written a lot and probably repeated myself somewhat on this blog, but that's not going to stop me from repeating even more.

For those who are newer and don't want to dredge out past posts, I think a brief introduction and recap is in order.  I'm a *mmpfsle* year old male member of the LDS church who happens to have a gay orientation.  When I was about twelve years old I found myself being attracted to boys, but I never let others know.  I dated girls in high school and college, but it was just for fun -- like hanging out with friends -- rather than romantic for me.  I went on a mission and found it to be a wonderful and fulfilling endeavor, but it didn't change my orientation.  I wasn't sure that I expected it to do so, but I wasn't ruling it out.  Anyway, I figured I would eventually get married, but it would probably be a while before that ever happened.  When to my surprise, shortly after returning from my mission I did find this girl that drew my attention.  I didn't exactly know what to do about it, never having fallen for a girl before, so it took a while but we eventually married in the temple.  Let me assure you that she was in-the-know, so to speak, about my orientation.

Now we have been married for a good number of years, and have a good number of children.  It seems to me that my situation can't really be all that unusual, but then again, maybe it is.  Since those of us in my situation have no incentive to come out and share our orientations, but rather fear the repercussions of others knowing about us, the number of people like me is entirely unknown.

I remember as a teenager that sometimes I would fear that I wouldn't be able to stay in the church.  I didn't know of anyone like me.  I only heard stories of those with gay orientation who left the church.  It would have been nice to know, as a teenager, that I wasn't so alone, that others have walked this path before.  I'd like to do that for others, but so far, I've only felt comfortable to come out anonymously on this blog.  I still feel intimidated by possible repercussions of admitting my orientation publicly.  Maybe someday that will change.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Perfect Salad

What is the best ingredient of a salad?  Everyone might have a different answer to that.  Someone might think the lettuce, or tomatoes, or bacon bits, or even the dressing is their favorite part.  Now suppose the salad was entirely made up of your favorite part; a salad entirely of bacon bits, tomatoes, or dressing.  That would be a terrible salad.  It wouldn't even be a salad at all.

Just like a perfect salad, in order for the church to be perfect, it needs a variety of types of people.  If the church were entirely made up of one kind of person, even if it were your favorite type of person, it wouldn't be perfect.  Members who have gay orientations make up an essential part of the church and it behooves us to be more welcoming to them.  The church can't be perfect without them.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Expectations

When my children have expectations, and those expectations are not fulfilled, there are problems.  Sometimes they get upset, angry, disappointed, or feel that they have been unfairly treated.  But often I think the problem is more in the expectations than the situation.

Everyone has expectations of all kinds.  I grew up with the expectation that I would serve a mission.  I was able to do that, so that expectation was fulfilled.  I had expectations about my occupation, and was able to work out that to fulfillment, too (actually, I lowered my expectations, and that didn't work out, and opportunities arose to meet the higher expectations).  I had expectations to be a father, to have my own kids.  I wondered if that one would ever be fulfilled because I was attracted to boys rather than girls.  I dated girls often, but that felt like hanging out with friends -- nothing romantic.  I again lowered my expectations -- thinking that I might just have to marry a girl who I had a tough time being romantic with.  And if that was the case, I was going to get schooling done first, including grad school, before I entered that situation.  But again, my lowered expectations were not what happened.  Rather, my higher expectations were met.  I love my amazing wife and we have a largish family.

So what am I trying to say?  Maybe we don't need to lower our expectations.  But also, it's not good to be too fixated on our expectations or it can lead to trouble, disappointment or frustration.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Except if You are Gay

Marriage can (and should) be challenging.  That's true of all marriages.  In fact this article has a great list of challenges that people often don't realize are a normal part of marriage.  However, it is written with a "regular" marriage in mind, a marriage between people with straight orientations.  I want to look at the advice from the view of a so-called mixed orientation marriage.  If at any time you catch yourself thinking "this is true except if you are gay" then you might be holding a dual standard, expecting more from a marriage if one spouse's orientation is not aligned with the other.  That's not healthy.  Let's look at the ten points from the article.

1.  Marriage doesn't complete you.

This is battling the myth that Hollywood portrays about marriage.  Marriage is not a union of two half people who need to be together to be whole.  It's a partnership of whole people.  If one partner's orientation is gay, this is still good advice.  In fact, this is one of the main reasons why getting married to "cure the gay" doesn't work.  So don't expect marriage to fundamentally change who you are.

2.  You won't always feel attracted to your partner.

The problem with this fact is that many in mixed orientation marriages will blame this on orientation, despite the fact that it is a perfectly normal in all marriages.  How often have I heard "I thought we could make it work because I sometimes thought I felt attracted, but I couldn't keep it up all the time; it was because I am gay."  There's an expectation of more in a marriage than real marriages have.

3.  You won't always like your partner.

It's sometimes easier to like your friends, who you aren't around all day and night than it is to like your partner, who you have to put up with all the time.  That's a normal part of marriage and will not be different if one partner has a gay orientation.

4.  Being in love is a stage of a relationship that doesn't last forever.

Infatuation only takes a marriage so far.  If it's easy to fall in love, it's just as easy to fall out of love.  It's just a stage, not a permanent situation.  In fact, the article points out that "if you didn't have an infatuation stage, it doesn't mean your relationship is doomed! Some people have it and others don't, and there is absolutely no correlation between having an infatuation stage and the success of a marriage."

5.  Love can grow with time and effort.

Basically, this says that in a heterosexual marriage, the love you start with is not all you have.  Love is something that grows when you sacrifice your time and effort into helping it grow.  This is true of everyone, regardless of orientation.

6.  You don't have to feel love to give it.

Sometimes you have to show love for your spouse when you don't feel like doing so.  This is some of the sacrifice that all married couples make.  For a gay-oriented spouse, it's no different.  It doesn't mean that your marriage is worse because of different orientations, but that your marriage is normal.

7.  Sex is a sacred act of giving and receiving.

It's not just a fun fling, but a sacred part of the marriage relationship.  In particular, the author says that healthy sex is not "something you use to gain approval, validation or security."  This advice is especially true in a mixed orientation marriage, where the temptation to misconstrue sexuality is ever present.

8.  Marriage is a crucible designed to help you grow.

Again, we have to avoid the temptation to say "except if you are gay, in which marriage problems are all due to orientation mismatch."  This dual standard is not healthy.  Marriage is the beginning of a great challenge, like climbing a mountain, that offers great rewards for those who put in the right kind of effort.  And this is no different for those of a gay orientation.

9.  Your first blueprint for intimate partnership informs how you approach your marriage.

Basically we learn from our parents.  This is sometimes harder in a mixed orientation marriage because we didn't see our parents struggle with our own problems.  But we can learn from seeing their success and failures.  Examples of courtesy and love can be followed, and unfortunate cases of abuse and dysfunction can be recognized and carefully avoided.

10.  Life with young children is stressful.

Adding another member to the family will complicate relationships.  You have to somewhat prepare yourself for this upon expecting children, regardless of orientation.  Be ready for strains on your relationship.

Overall, any marriage relationship is both a challenge and a blessing.  But it takes work.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Don't take it personally.

Early on in General Conference, there was a decided focus on the importance of marriage and family.  Many in the gay Mormon community felt attacked.  But I don't think the messages were intended to be anti-gay.  Rather, I think there is good evidence that these values are eroding away before our eyes.  Consider, for example, this article from CNN which demonstrates the changing view of marriage in the developed world.  If we successfully de-family the population, will we be better off? The leaders of the Church don't believe so, are worried about what is happening.  That's the reason for the focus on marriage and family in general conference.  I think it's important to look at the big picture and not allow ourselves to take what is said personally.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Traditional Family Values

As I watched general conference, I would occasionally check on the reactions from the gay community.  Almost universally, people were upset about the focus in the early sessions on strengthening the traditional family.  In addition, many were upset that there wasn't a talk somewhere that specifically spoke to them, that addressed homosexuality.

But I'd like to look at what the focus on traditional family values actually does.  I would say that any family member that withholds love and acceptance from a child, brother, or sister for any reason is not following the council of the leaders of the church.  The conference talks make it clear that we are to always extend love to our family members.  Those who reject their children due to sexual orientation harm their families, and this often leads to youth homelessness and suicide.  The church can take a stand by promoting family values and love in the home.  So I welcome messages designed to strengthen the family.

I wish all gay oriented members of the church had grown up in a family that, like mine, communicated unconditional love.  I never doubted that my family would love me regardless of my situation.  I still haven't admitted my orientation to my family, but their love for me was never in question.  I never felt as if rejection were a danger.  Disagreement, lack of understanding, these kinds of issues would certainly had come up if I had ever come out of the closet.  They are definitely there for other issues.  But they would never withhold love and acceptance.

That's the nature of a strong traditional family, and it is (or at least should be) the backbone of the church structure.  Other family situations (single parent families, for example) can certainly have love and acceptance, but they can be supported in the church by being surrounded by strong traditional families.  So those traditional families need to be talked about, need to be nurtured, need desperately to be encouraged during general conference.

So please don't be offended when the leaders of the church talk about supporting the traditional family.  They are trying to make things better for everybody.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Love Those You Serve

I recall in the MTC, the president pointed out that there were surely those among us who were there because their girlfriend would only marry a returned missionary.  He pointed out that this was okay, as long as it led to missionary service, because by serving as a missionary, they would develop love for the people they served.  As missionaries sacrifice for others, they learn to love and value them.

Throughout my life I've found that to be true.  When we sacrifice for others, we develop strong love for them.  Parents sacrifice so much for their children, it's not surprising that parental love is often so very strong.  When I have opportunities to serve members of the ward, I really feel stronger love for them.

I think the same is true for spousal love.  True love is built on sacrificing for one another.  For many people, the initial reason to sacrifice is born of their infatuation for each other.  In cultures past, arranged marriages didn't necessarily have that infatuation, but couples would sacrifice for each other for cultural reasons, and in so doing would develop strong bonds of love for each other.

I think one of the reasons marriages often fail is that one or both of the spouses fail to truly sacrifice for the other.  When the infatuation wears thin, as it sometimes will, have they sacrificed and built the bonds of love that will carry them through?  If one partner expects to be repaid, so to speak, for what they've sacrificed, then it wasn't really a sacrifice, it was a bargain.  But two people willing to sacrifice for each other truly have the capability to develop a lasting and almost magical marriage.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Important is Marriage?

The leaders of the Church often talk about the importance of marriage.  But what does the data actually say?  Well, this article seems to imply that marriage is very important to the rising generation.  In particular, stable families in the US are strongly connected to upward mobility, educational success, and general economic well being for families with children.  The fact is not lost on me that the importance of marriage seems to be more significant to children than to their parents.

While there are many examples of children raised by single parents that turned out fine, so to speak, it's also true that lack of two parents is statistically associated with a number of social, educational, and economic problems.  For me, that's the big message, and the divisive debate about gay marriage is largely a side show, distracting us from the real breakdown of marriage, the real attack on the family.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Missing Message

Church leaders have a message for the youth of the church.  It's about chastity and the bounds that need to be adhered to.  It's about boys and girls.  It's not about boys and boys.  There is just an injunction forbidding anything like that.  No message.  No advice.  No narrative.  That was my experience as a youth.  I didn't have any problem following their advice about girls.  I wasn't attuned that way.  I think Church leaders understand that when youth are left without the message, they don't have direction.  That's the reason for their message to the youth.  But it's not the same for all youth, and it's not very well tailored to many of our youth.  They don't get good direction for their lives, and that tends to lead to more trouble.

We bloggers can share our experiences and opinions, but that's just what they are -- experiences and opinions.  They don't form a good set of solid advice like the straight-oriented youth of the church get.  It's easy to think that "the rules don't apply to me" when it seems like they were written for someone else.  But this "I'm beyond the scope of the rules" attitude can be a dangerous view to hold. It's better to adhere to the rules as well as possible, given personal circumstances.  But I would certainly appreciate Church leaders being a little more proactive about this issue.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Defiled

In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Christ teaches his disciples:
Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (verses 18-23)
I think what is being taught here is that external circumstances are not what defiles people in the eyes of God, but the choices that they make -- that which comes from within.  Orientation is something that you don't choose.  We don't choose who to have crushes on.  However, we do make choices about developing relationships, and we are accountable for those.  Our choices can defile us.  If we choose to rebel against God, His commandments, or His representatives, that can defile us.  But our attractions, our natures, our circumstances -- these things that go into us do not defile us.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

To Fully Love

I think people tend to be somewhat naive when they talk about fully loving someone, or loving someone in every way, or completely loving someone.  What they usually are referring to is to love someone because they are sexually attractive.  "Other kinds of love are nice and all, but for my love to be complete, they have to be an object of my sexual attraction."

When I talk about true love of a spouse, it's the kind that endures even if something happens that renders one spouse unattractive to the other; the kind of love that doesn't view the other as an object of affection, but as a person with whom to work on eternal relationships.  I don't need a spouse to love me in ALL ways, because that would imply if I was disfigured, sick, or aged poorly that my need would thereafter be unfulfilled.  I don't wan't a wholly-enamored-puppy-dog, but someone who willingly commits to working with me on developing an eternal family.

I truly love my wife.  It's true that I'm attracted to guys, but that doesn't change my love for my wife.  I have never seen her as an object of affection, but as a person with whom I work on an eternal relationship and family.

I have been told by some (who do not know me or my wife) that it is unfair to her for me to be married to her because of my orientation, and that they feel sorry for my wife because her husband doesn't lover her "in all ways" (as if that were even possible).  In turn, I feel sorry for those who value their own worth based on being the object of someone's infatuation, because someday that will fail and love will depend a choice of their partner to ignore the lack of attraction.

Maybe I view it as a product of our misogynistic society, or our over-sexualized culture, or something else.  I don't know.

Regardless of the reason, true love is not something that happens to you, it's a choice.  That's what I want in a spouse -- someone who chooses me and someone whom I choose.  True love.  And that's what I have found.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Priestcrafts

In the second book of Nephi, 26:29, it states "He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion."  For me, this is the litmus test of whether I think that advocacy has gone too far.

There have been a couple of prominent members in disciplinary councils, lately, and everyone keeps focusing on their personal convictions.  But I think they miss the main point.  Each of these people has very distinctly tried to set themselves up as the light to which we should be looking.  And while earlier on, these people attempted to seek the welfare of Zion, over time that position changed.

As an outside observer, I am sure I don't know all of the details in the disciplinary councils, but if this is a case of people setting themselves up for a light to get gain and praise of the world, I fear that more severe judgments might not be surprising.  I feel sorry for those that have been put in the difficult position to have to render judgement.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Press Conference

When I blog, I often blog several weeks ahead and then wait a while to blog.  So this will be old news by the time my blog post gets read.  Still, I thought to comment.  It seems to me that the purpose of the news conference was mainly to clarify the position of the church, not to announce anything new.  The church has publicly supported housing and employment rights regardless of orientation.  So this is not new, just trying to clear up what the stance was.

I suspect that most of the members don't even know the stance of the church.  Most people don't know of the church's stance in the past.  So the press conference will be very helpful for the membership of the church, and that was likely one of the primary purposes.  Another purpose was, of course, to reiterate the desire to strengthen the free exercise of religion.  This is, again nothing new, just clarifying the position of the church for those who were not aware.  Evidently not many people were aware, as evidenced by the reaction of the press who thought the position was new.  So the press conference was, indeed, needed.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Family

Growing up, I would sometimes fight and argue with my siblings.  I disagreed with my parents, and showed an unfortunate amount of disrespect.  But I never had any reason to doubt my parents' love for me.  While they do not know my orientation, their love for me would not diminish if they did know.  I can't imagine how it would feel to be disowned by family, since I can't imagine my parents doing that.  It breaks my heart when I hear about others in such a situation.  As a parent, myself, I can't imagine anything that would cause me to reject one of my own children.

One of the things that always interested me was how many sources claimed that homosexuality was caused by some kind of family dysfunction, yet I knew that wasn't true for me.  My very stable family probably helped me cope with the conflicted feelings experienced by a young Mormon with a gay orientation.  I feel very grateful for such a great family, and hope my children feel my love for them.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

True Love

Children usually don't recognize the sacrifices people make on their behalf.  I don't think it's their fault.  They aren't really in a position to see the larger picture.  But parents and guardians often make very significant, sometimes lifelong sacrifices for them.  That's true love.

I have a friend who has given up a majority of life goals because their spouse has special needs and requires huge sacrifices.  That's true love.

I have often heard that "you love those you serve," and it certainly has been so in my life.  Love follows service and sacrifice.  The more opportunities I have to serve and sacrifice for someone, the more love I have for them.

I think that's true of marriage, too.  A marriage based on sacrificing for each other, serving each other, listening to and learning from each other -- that's a marriage that is likely to bring happiness and endure.  That's a marriage that shows true love.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bias (Part 2)

Last time I talked about some of the problems of selection bias in statistics, in particular in studying gay Mormons.  So how can the effects of this bias be lessened?  I think there are several ways, but they are difficult to pull off.

There needs to be a way to get a cross section of the population.  Let's suppose our population of interest is the adult men in the church.  One possibility might be to make a random selection of wards within the population of interest (say, members living in the US) rather than recruiting people online or other such highly biased method.  Anonymous surveys passed out in Elders/High Priest quorums might be appropriate, but care should be taken.  Make sure that the questions on the survey are worded to encourage the kinds of honest answers that are relevant.  For example, "I consider myself to be (a) gay (b) bisexual (c) heterosexual (d) same-sex attracted (e) other" might not be a good question, since many men might interpret their identities as heterosexual, despite being a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey scale.  A better way might be a survey that first assures them of their anonymity, explains the purpose for the survey is for a trusted organization (like, perhaps, LDS social services) to gain accurate information in helping to guide the youth of the church, and asks them if they have ever found themselves attracted to members of the same gender, regardless of the way they define their orientation.  There's probably even a better way to word the questions.  I'm just shooting from the hip here.  But the wording of the question has to assess attraction, not identity, if it is to be a useful measure for answering the kinds of questions for which we want answers.

This kind of survey would require a lot of trust from church leaders, possibly working with LDS social services or some other entity within the church.  But without this kind of data, I'm afraid the results are not very strong.  They may have merit for the portion of the population that is likely to respond, but still fail to generalize to the church as a whole.

Getting good data is always a difficult task, and data about a cultural taboo (sexuality is often a taboo subject within Mormon culture) is particularly hard.  But until we have good data, we have to regard any results with an appropriate level of skepticism.  Too many times throughout history, faulty data has led to some very poor decision making because of selection bias.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bias (Part 1)

When I say "bias," I'm not talking about personal bias.  I'm talking about selection bias.  It's the bane of statisticians all over the world.  It gets into your data and makes all the results suspect.  It's notoriously hard to prevent.  Let's say we want to do some research on domestic violence.  We want to recruit a large representative sample of the population.  Well, one of the most infamous forms of bias is volunteer response bias.  Those who have a bone to pick will be far more willing to be part of the sample than others.  If we allow them to, they will hijack the data and make all the results meaningless.  Yet for so many studies, even those published in large peer-reviewed journals, this kind of thing often happens.  In my example, if I were trying to recruit a large sample, those who had very strong feelings about domestic violence would be the first to turn in surveys and share it with their friends.  Even if my forums for disseminating the questionnaire were unbiased and universally available, this bias upends my results.  However, if my main forums for disseminating the survey are primarily viewed by those with interest in domestic violence issues, the bias compounds.  Would my resulting data be useful?  Sure.  But it would not be a good representative sample of the whole population, and I would have to take that into account when interpreting the results.

I have reason to believe that there are a large number of Mormon men who are attracted to other men, who also have been sealed to wives to whom they are committed.  They do not identify as gay, nor do they frequent forums where these issues are discussed.  They have told nobody about their orientations, sometimes not even their wives.  Why would they need to bring it up?  They might feel threatened by the gay rights movement and so largely ignore anything to do with it.  They might only rank a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey scale.  These people are a very important demographic and we have absolutely no idea how big it is.

Some people will say that this group can't be very big, because few people could pull that off.  To this crowd, I say "Wake up and smell the coffee!"  I've met people who feel the exact same way about coffee.  There's no way a whole group of people could eschew morning Java and still function normally.  Or teen sex.  It's naive, they think, that a church teen program could actually expect to convince a majority of its members to wait until marriage before sex.  Sorry, but despite the doubts, it is currently happening within the Mormon church.  So I think it's possible that the silent gay-oriented Mormon population could be very much larger than expected.

So what of this recent study on gay Mormons and marriage?  It's useful as a research tool, but I think it's naive to infer results about the general population using the study.  There's way too much chance for selection bias.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why the Church Cannot Support the Gay Rights Movement

In the 1960s and 1970s, the sexual revolution (or "free-love" movement) was in full swing.  The idea was that two consenting adults had a right to sexual relations regardless of previous societal customs of marriage fidelity and laws against adultery and fornication.  This flew in the face of most of the religions of the time, and still does today.  The movement was a particular affront to the LDS doctrine of the Law of Chastity.

The gay rights movement, by attaching so closely to the "consenting adults" argument is bound tightly to the free-love movement.  Like it or not, gay rights and free love are intertwined enough that to argue against free-love is to argue against gay rights.  The Church is completely set against the free-love arguments, and as such, is bound to be against the gay rights argument, too.  The Church will not budge on the Law of Chastity.  As long as people view gay rights as an argument about consenting adults, the Church will not be able to change its stance.

Some people try to tie this issue to the revelation on the Priesthood, which expanded the blessings of the Priesthood to those of African heritage.  But that revelation did not conflict with any fundamental doctrines of the church.  In fact, it was consistent with the pattern that had been set anciently of exclusiveness followed by expansion.

So how does the Church address gay rights?  First, there is an attempt to extricate gay rights from the sexual revolution.  The Church-preferred term of "same gender attraction" is an attempt to detangle the two movements.  The focus on individuals and traits is very different from the focus on sexual permissiveness that the traditional gay rights movement has espoused.  In the Church's official page on the subject, this focus is clearly visible.

For those who advocate change in the Church, please be aware than any suggestions that in any way curtail the importance of the Law of Chastity cannot be favored by church leadership.  The leadership will follow the example of Christ when he was confronted about the woman taken in adultery.  He did not condemn the woman, but rather than condone her behavior, He encouraged her to change the behavior.  The Law of Chastity is one of behavior, not of identity or predilection.  

So,as long as the gay rights issues can be separated from free-love, the Church can take a stand for rights, and does.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Do Marriages Fail?

It has been said time and time again that marriages between gay and straight partners are unlikely to succeed.  The reason, most people believe, is because of incompatibility.  In fact, even among straight partners, incompatibility is often cited as the reason for a failed marriage.  However, recent research points to a different conclusion.

After studying the behaviors of many couples over long periods of time, some scientists are coming to the conclusion that kindness and generosity are the principle indicators of marital success.  It's not just purposeful acts of kindness that we're talking about here, but actually showing interest in our partner's interests, whether or not we feel the same.  For example, when one spouse comments on an event, what does the other spouse do?  If the other spouse's reaction is usually to actively follow up positively, then the marriage is likely to succeed, regardless of other factors in the marriage.  If the other spouses reaction is typically to ignore or belittle the remark, then the marriage is likely to lead to dysfunction or divorce.  (See an article about this here.)

Okay.  Now let's apply this research to a so-called mixed orientation marriage.  If each spouse is actually interested in and supportive of the other, the marriage will likely succeed.  That can be difficult if one spouse doesn't want to know about the other's orientation.  If one spouse expects the other to suppress their orientation rather than allow open and honest communication, success in marriage is going to be much more difficult to achieve.  On the other hand, if one spouse insists on making the other uncomfortable and ignores their concerns, that will similarly make success unlikely.

So what if a marriage has picked up some of the bad habits?  There's always hope.  If one spouse takes initiative and models kindness and generosity, the other will usually pick up on the patterns and marriage can improve.  Kindness begets kindness, as is often said.  Most people are trying to do the right thing, and most people don't want their marriages to fail.  A spouse who looks for the positive motives in the other's behavior is more likely to react with kindness, even if they disagree.

I think that most of these unsuccessful mixed orientation marriages fail not primarily because of incompatibility, but rather due to uncharitable behavior that builds up over time and develops into something that looks like incompatibility.  Ironically, neither companion may recognize this, as both fully intend for their marriage to work.  They may truly love one another.  But without kind, supportive behavior, success becomes difficult.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Body Art

I'm a guy who is attracted to guys.  I can't help but be impressed by a trim young man who keeps healthy and fit.  But I don't understand why these young men often deface their beautiful forms with body art.  In Mormon theology, our bodies are gifts from God, temples which our spirits inhabit and in which we commune with the Holy Spirit.  Tattoos and piercings are not in harmony with the respect we owe our God for gifting us these mortal bodies.  And personally, I think it's terribly ugly.  It turns out that I'm not alone.  Although it's looking at guys' views of tattooed girls, this article examines the man's point of view.  Men think women without tattoos look more attractive.  But women with tattoos look more sexually promiscuous, and are therefore easier to approach -- remember guys usually have a big fear of rejection.  

Despite my gay orientation, I still think like a male.  To me, guys look more attractive when they haven't got tattoos or piercings.  And I think like a Mormon, sexual promiscuity is not an attractive trait.  The culture that grew around the gay community, though, encourages body art.  It's one of the reasons I never identified as gay when I was growing up.

In general, as a church, we need to teach our youth whose orientations are gay that they do not have to follow the culture that has grown around the gay community.  Drinking and smoking, body art, promiscuity, these things are not a necessary part of a gay orientation.  Following the advice of the prophets is still the best way to live, even if you don't fit the mold of the ideal Mormon kid.