Thursday, August 27, 2015


"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


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.