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


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.