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


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.