Oaks on Gays

Not to be out-gayed by T&S or M*, let me just say that there is a fantastic interview regarding Same-Sex Attraction over at the Church’s website. It deserves more than the mere link it received here. Public Affairs has seen fit to grill Elders Oaks and Wickman on homosexuality, the nature vs. nurture debate, same-sex marriage, civil unions, etc. Whether or not one agrees with every aspect of their views, it is surely signficant that Elder Oaks and Wickman were willing to go on the record with all this, and in such detail. I was particularly struck by how good the questions were that Public Affairs posed. The interview really covered all the hard questions, and didn’t sidestep any aspect of the issues, as my cynical self might have expected it to. I certainly hope this Q&A session is a harbinger of things to come. Wouldn’t it be great to read an interview like this concerning the Church’s views on evolution, the notion of “No Death Before the Fall,” or any number of other hot topics? Imagine the endless fodder for new blog posts in an otherwise burned-out Bloggernacle!

I encourage you to read the whole interview. Of the 1001 issues one might discuss after reading it, here are a random few that come to my mind:

1. More than even before, the Brethren seem to want to sidestep the Nature vs. Nurture debate and ground the Church’s opposition to homosexual activity in something other than a “position” on the causal factors behind homosexuality. I think this is a wise tactical move on the Church’s part. It would be nice if this serves to prevent bone-headed arm-chair analyses from Church members about the causes of homosexuality, and how their preferred causal theories are somehow mandated by LDS doctrine. If widely internalized by the Church at large, this approach will also, for better or for worse, probably make pro-homosexuality arguments relying on scientific explanations of homosexuality less persuasive among the membership. And thankfully, we probably won’t be hearing more of the Elder Faust view, circa 1995.

2. The Brethren seem unwilling to explicitly endorse specific therapeutic approaches to homosexuality. I wonder how the Evergreen folks feel about that. Also, there’s the acknowledgement of abusive therapeutic techniques. One wishes Oaks would have also made a regrettable acknowledgement of how BYU used to lead the way in implementing many such abusive techniques.

3. Oaks gives a nuanced view of the appropriateness of heterosexual marriage for homosexual members. Not reducible to a “Yes, they should get married,” or “No, they shouldn’t get married.”

4. There were several places in the interview where I can easily imagine the “unconditional love” issue might have been raised. It wasn’t, and thank goodness. I am so grateful that Church leaders don’t seem to want to jump on the Elder Nelson bandwagon!

5. The only part of the interview that leaves me slightly confused is Elder Wickman’s discussion of civil unions. Is Wickman opposed to same-sex couples having ANY of the rights that traditionally come with marriage, or is he only opposed to the full “bundle” of rights being had by gay couples (whether called marriage, civil unions, or whatever)?

Your thoughts?

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    Just noticed that Julie at T&S took the “high road” and directed all traffic on this topic to M*. No such policy here. Why should they get a monopoly on this discussion?

    Aaron B

  2. I’ve heard of sloppy seconds, what’s thirds? Unlike Julie, I thought a sidebar link was more than enough for this (done-to-death) topic.

  3. Aaron Brown says:

    Steve, while the topic of “homosexuality” or “same-sex marriage” may have been done to death, this interview really is noteworthy, I think, for the reason(s) I set forth above. Thus, it deserves a thread.

    Of course, if no one else agrees, then perhaps you and I can just argue ad nauseum about whether this post was a good idea or not, thereby creating a less-than-embarrassing showing with respect to volume of comments.

    Aaron B

  4. I was pleased that we managed to get through a lengthy interview on this topic without hearing the term “gender confusion”.

  5. Elder Wickman said:
    “What’s more, merely having inclinations does not disqualify one for any aspect of Church participation or membership, except possibly marriage as has already been talked about. But even that, in the fullness of life as we understand it through the doctrines of the restored gospel, eventually can become possible.”

    Does this mean that those who feel they are homosexual will have the opportunity to marry after this life?

  6. Steve Evans says:

    AB, a meta-meta-debate? I’m game!

  7. “The interview really covered all the hard questions,”

    While I mostly agree, one tough question they missed was whether gay mormons are expected to keep their problem mostly to themselves. I think that this is a very real expectation that many homosexuals feel in Mormon culture, and being closeted adds to the burden they must bear. If EO and EW think greater openness is ok, I wish they would have said so.

  8. Nice comments, Aaron. You’re the first to post actual comments on the interview, as opposed to just a link with an invitation to discuss. I think another tough question not touched on in the interview is the status of members who oppose the proposed marriage amendment (that the Church officially supports) or who support either civil union or full gay marriage.

    Elder Wickman is quoted in the interview as saying, “Decisions even for members of the Church as to what they do with respect to this issue [the proposed marriage amendment] must of course rest with each one in their capacity as citizens.” Of course, that’s true for any issue: the Church does not exercise temporal authority so the final decision on anything always rests with the individual. But does that mean they won’t be subject to various forms of formal or informal LDS discipline, such as being reprimanded by local leaders, being denied a temple recommend, or being dropped from employment at LDS employers such as BYU?

  9. Aaron Brown out-gayed? Not possible.

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    “the Elder Faust view, circa 1995″

    Cite, please?

    I was surprised than in this very good, very thorough interview, there was nothing about spouses married to those with SSA. Maybe it is their generation showing, but I was surprised that there was so many questions re “What if my son is gay?” and no “What if my spouse is gay?”

    I do think the interview was a very, very good thing for the Church, and I hope for more on other topics in the future.

  11. Julie, I hope for more of them too — but do we have any reason to expect any? I’d love to see more interviews, but SSA is such a hot topic with immediate political consequences that I worry this is a one-off event.

    out of curiosity, what other topics would you want to hear about? Since the Strengthening the Members Committee reads BCC regularly, voicing your preferences here might just do the trick.

  12. Julie M. Smith says:

    Well, Steve, like you, my hopes aren’t too high for any issue that isn’t currently in the press spotlight, but if Romney becomes a serious contender, all sorts of things could be in the spotlight. I suspect the top three with be polygamy, blacks/priesthood, and women/priesthood. Possibly abortion, stem cell research, etc. It may also be that the motivation here wasn’t so much “SSA is in the media spotlight” but “there’s a lot about SSA on the web and none of it reflects the church’s official position.” I don’t know.

  13. That’s an interesting read of the motivation. I wonder if it’s really so — if SSA weren’t in the spotlight, I personally doubt we’d have this interview, but you never know.

    Deep down, I wonder whether this interview really is the Church’s official position! I mean, it’s not canon by any stretch…

  14. Julie M. Smith says:

    Steve, everyone knows that the fourth horseman of the apocalypse is to ask whether something is really church doctrine. (The first horseman is comparison to Hitler, the second has something to do with fondue, and I forgot the third.)

  15. heh! the specter of fondue rides upon a cheesy pale horse.

  16. Eric Russell says:

    “I wonder whether this interview really is the Church’s official position!”

    Funny you should mention that Steve, I was just thinking about that. But the interview as a whole is given as the answer to the question of “What is the position of the Church on same-gender attraction and same-gender marriage?” on the church website. Certainly non-canonical, but about as official as you can get.

    But I think it’s interesting that this information was provided in this format. I mean, Oaks and Wickman could easily have drafted a document with much of the same information and then just released it under the name of the church. I’m sure it’s happened somewhere before, but this is the first time that I can think of that a Q & A interview was the medium used to release the church’s position on an issue. I wonder why this approach. Is it supposed to imply less formality and officialness?

  17. You can read my take here. File under “view on the interview from a gay Jew.”

  18. It was a good interview; I think Oaks and Wickman did an excellent job.

    I can’t say that I agree about a constitutional amendment, although I think they gave the best arguments they could for that position. I’d be curious to know what they would say (and this isn’t necessarily my position) about the idea that the state shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage, that it should be an ecclesiastical institution only. Actually, I know what they’d probably say. But I think an argument could be made, and the two came close to making it, is that once same-sex “marriages” are accepted at par that there is no such thing as a state-sanctioned marriage. What then? If the only legal “marriage” is a “genderless marriage,” as they put it, should the church have anything to do with it?

    I’m sure that there will be those who see bigotry in this interview. But I don’t see it that way and appreciate their willingness to openly discuss this difficult issue.

  19. Mark IV remarked, “I was pleased that we managed to get through a lengthy interview on this topic without hearing the term ‘gender confusion’.”

    Yes, that surprised me. But Oaks still insists that ‘Homosexuality’ is a verb and not a noun. The focus is clearly on what you do, not who you are. It seems to be the brethren’s way of saying that they don’t believe in homosexual orientation as an innate condition.

  20. Steven: I don’t believe that Elder Oaks intended to address the “innateness” question at all. Both Oaks and Wickman repeatedly stated that it is an issue for science and we don’t know. What they did affirm is that a prclivity or inclination is not sinful and that only behavior is sinful. They also stated very clearly, it seems to me, that gays are expected to control their sexual urges just as much as unmarried hetero-sexuals. Any other standard would be absurd within the gospel context it seems to me. Further, they affirmed something esential to the gospel — we can control urges and feelings and we don’t have to just surrender to any bodily urges we get. We are accountable precisely beause we have such control. I thought that the interview as honest and a very good thing.

  21. Aaron Brown says:

    Julie,

    The Elder Faust speech, circa 1995 is here:

    http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=7809

    The section I had in mind is the following:

    “There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so. Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. Our designation as men or women began before this world was. In contrast to the socially accepted doctrine that homosexuality is inborn, a number of respectable authorities contend that homosexuality is not acquired by birth. The false belief of inborn sexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.”

    I recall, back in the day, how Faust’s speech was used by many to bolster the argument that homosexual inclinations were not inborn. After all, “Faust said so.” According to a member of BYU Zoology’s faculty for whom I T.A.’d, a number of LDS scientists approached the First Presidency with concerns about Faust’s talk, and not long afterwards came a speech by Oaks, preaching more or less the same agnosticism on the “innateness” or “inborn” question that Oaks preaches in his recent interview.

    Of course, I realize that the Faust excerpt above can be read as ambiguous, since Faust doesn’t draw a careful inclination/act distinction. But that itself may be the problem. The speech can easily be read as a repudiation of the notion that homosexual inclination might be inborn (and often is/was so read). While I personally don’t have a strong view on the subject of the “innateness” or genetics of homosexual inclination one way or another, I think it’s good that the Church now makes the conceptual distinction between act and inclination, thus turning the question of the causality of homosexual orientation into a mostly irrelevant side show.

    Aaron B

  22. Julie M. Smith says:

    Thanks Aaron. I really like the way you articulated your last sentence.

  23. Does anyone know where I can find a gay discussion in the nacle? Cause, I just can’t find one.

  24. I’m sorry, but this grand distinction between “urges” and “behavior” misses the whole point that there is really no place for a homosexual orientation in a church whose focus, theology and soteriology revolves around and is dependent on heterosexuality. If the church really wants to bring the homosexual into the fold and create a special class of “celibates” in a society which is rapidly embracing homosexuality as a natural varient of human diversity, it needs to provide positive role models and make a place for such people at the institutional level, instead of comparing them to the disabled and reducing their uniqueness to “an inclination to sin.”

  25. Steven,
    That’s the crux, isn’t it? For the Church, heterosexual relations are sacramental, salvific, which means our approach to this goes beyond a bit of Deuteronomy mingled with Paul and strikes at the heart of Mormonism. That said, polygamy was once considered sacramental, salvific…

  26. John Mansfield says:

    “I’m sure it’s happened somewhere before, but this is the first time that I can think of that a Q & A interview was the medium used to release the church’s position on an issue.” Somewhere would be Section 77.

    A fascinating thing about this issue to me has been the inordinate attention given to a trivially small group. All the arguing for and against is largely carried out by people who aren’t and wouldn’t be affected by homosexuality one way or another. “What is the argument really about?” I have wondered. Dallin Oaks’ first response was a useful answer to my question.

  27. nonamethistime says:

    If the GAs were prevented from re-marrying when they become widowers, perhaps they’d have a little more compassionate understanding (as opposed to facile, unhelpful comparisons–come on–gays are handicapped now???!!!).

    As it is, they can’t wait to marry a fresh, relatively young (as young as their children, that is), virgin bride of 50+ within a year or two of their wives’ passing and yet they have the gall to tell homosexuals to wait until the afterlife so they can turn straight, when sex as we know it will most likely not even exist. Shame on them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. Chris Williams says:

    As a gay man who feels alienated from the church (and to a lesser extent some of my extended LDS family and friends) in part because of this issue, this little “interview” has done nothing to draw me closer. Few things frustrate me more than having people who have no idea what it’s like to be gay tell me how I should understand my own experience.

  29. This interview just floors me. Next time I call for the church leaders to speak out on some issue on which they have been reticent to speak, remind me of this interview. Who was it that said “better the world think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”? These guys are so off-the-charts insulting to our intelligence. Their answers to the questions are a strange mixture of condescension, arrogance, and ignorance. Summing up Elder Oaks’s take on things. Homosexuals are just like:

    {a} alcoholics
    {b} kleptomaniacs
    {c} the severely disabled

    but their self-identification based on their sexual orientation is no different than those who identify themselves as

    {a} Texan
    {b} redheaded
    {c} Marine
    {d} Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite

    The number of different groups slurred and put down by Oaks and Wickman in this interview is astonishing. And Wickman’s aversion to using the word “sex” borders on the bizarre. “Genderless marriage”? These guys show that they really don’t have a clue. I do give props to the unnamed Public Affairs person asking the questions, though. They weren’t softballs.

  30. Chris Williams says:

    I do give props to the unnamed Public Affairs person asking the questions, though. They weren’t softballs.

    I have a hard time believing that those questions weren’t thoroughly vetted before they were put before Elders Oaks and Wickman.

  31. I have a hard time believing that those questions weren’t thoroughly vetted before they were put before Elders Oaks and Wickman

    You’d think they would have had better answers then.

  32. Equality (#29),

    Since I spent a while on the M* thread making what I thought was a pretty good case for both the significance of and the sympathy inplied in Elder Wickham’s analogy between a gay person and his handicapped daughter, let suggest that your reading is slightly off. EO did not say that “homosexuals are just like…the severly disabled.” What he did say is that, just as his severely disabled daughter experiences an emotional and/or physical condition that prevents her from marrying (and thus enjoying the pleasures and comforts of a sexual relationship), so too does a gay person–assuming they accept the perspective of the church regarding obedience to what are held to be divine dictates about sexual behavior–suffer from a “handicap” that prevents him or her from enjoying the pleasures of a sexual relationship. Obviously, if you don’t think one’s sexual life ought to conform to the statements of church leaders, then this analogy is perfectly ridiculous and carries no weight. Why I think it’s important though is that, if you are a gay man or woman, or the parent of a gay man or women, are you are in the church and believe in the church and want to stay in the church, then this analogy–which, I think, implies that there is no shame or “evil” whatsoever attached to being gay, no more than Elder Wickham’s daughter should feel as though her unfortunate fate in ANY way negatively reflects upon her personal worth–is tremendously important. It basically says, “Yeah, unfortunately some people’s physical and emotional states are probably going to have to oblige them to forgoe marriage in they want to stay faithful to the commandments of God. That sucks. Don’t you dare even begin to suggest that they should feel at fault for that. That’s their lookout. Take care of the beam in your own eye, buddy.”

    Of course, as I also said at M*, this implication, if I am reading it correctly, would be massively more persuasive if you actually gay and/or at least celibate men and women occupying public positions in the church so as to exemplify it. And unfortunately, I think we’re probably years away from that.

  33. Rosalynde says:

    Chris, although I certainly can’t claim to know anything about what it’s like to be a gay LDS man coming out to friends and family, I well recognize the frustration and anger that come from listening to someone who embodies of all the sorts of privilege that I do not telling me about myself. When I was in college, nothing could bring me to tears of rage faster than a GA talking about my womanly nature. A decade and a half into my own challenge, I now recognize that rage as a legitimate beginner’s response.

    What I’m wondering is, do you really think your objection is to the messengers, or is it most fundamentally to the message itself? I found that when I heard women saying the same things about women ex cathedra, it didn’t help matters at all; I was still enraged. I finally had to come to terms with the fact that the Mormon concept of authority isn’t based on experiential knowledge, it’s based on revealed knowledge. As angry as it made me, it really didn’t matter whether or not the GAs had ever experienced life as a woman (or a gay man, or whatever). The two are not fully discrete, of course, and I firmly believe that greater understanding and familiarity and sympathy for the gay experience on the part of GAs will facilitate the revelatory process. But in the end, it’s not about whether or not they feel our pain, it’s about whether we accept their authority to speak for God.

  34. Chris Williams says:

    Rosalynde,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my post.

    And you are right. I object to the message more than the messenger. Indeed, I’ve been engaged in a discussion on my blog with a married gay LDS man who basically takes the same approach as Elder Oaks in discussing homosexuality and it frustrates me. It frustrates me because while I think Elder Oaks just doesn’t know, I think my blog interlocutor should know better. So, yes, it’s the content that troubles me, not the relevant experience of the person delivering the content is really only a secondary issue.

    That said…

    You wrote: But in the end, it’s not about whether or not they feel our pain, it’s about whether we accept their authority to speak for God.”

    For men who reportedly speak for a kind and loving God, it seems to me that it ought to be about both.

  35. Rosalynde says:

    Argh, you know what, the end of that last comment came out much more preachily than I had wanted. Chris, I’m sure none of what I said was news to you; sorry for being so condescending, and I wish you and your famkily all the best things.

  36. Steve Evans says:

    FMH Lisa (#23), perhaps we should have some kind of round table on the topic? I’m just not sure we’ve yet plumbed the depths.

    RAF, while the implications of this interview are very interesting if fleshed out to their fullest extent (as you’ve suggested), I see no real evidence that the authorities who gave this interview intend such far-reaching consequences. Rather, I see their replies as being very focussed on immediate responses to at-hand situations rather than policies or guidelines for homosexuals in the Church. That’s part of my reluctance to view this interview as anything more than a public relations act or modest policy shift at most.

  37. Chris Williams says:

    Rosalynde, so apology necessary. Thanks for your post and the dialogue.

  38. Chris, is it a valid possibility in your view that even a “kind and loving God” strictly forbids some things and simply expects obedience to His word? Or, in your view, to be a “kind and loving God,” must God take an I’m okay, you’re okay approach and never condemn anyone or any kind of behavior? If you do believe that God can and does forbid some things (i.e. if you believe that “sin” can and does exist) then how does your view deal with the idea that this concept of sin is going to rub some people wrong no matter what? Assuming that you do believe God can and does designate some things as sin that we must avoid or repent of in order to live with Him again (and I have no basis for thinking that you do take this view, but just for the sake of discussion), I am guessing that you would maintain that the homosexual sex act would not and could not be considered sin in the eyes of God. That is fine, let us just focus on whatever it is that you would consider sin in the eyes of God. The people engaging in such acts (that actually constitute sin in the eyes of God) are sure to feel put off, angry, and/or frustrated that God’s prophet and apostles are admonishing the Church against such behavior or actions or that their behavior is being labeled as against the will of God. How do you resolve this dilemma in your view? Can or does God forbid certain things as “sin” and does the fact that the people engaged in those things feel indignant about this fact invalidate God’s designations?

  39. john f. (#38): I believe and kind and loving G-d does strictly forbid some things. I would expect that a kind and loving G-d might even condemn sex between two men or two women — if it was for self-gratification alone and not for intimacy. By that I mean, it is, to me, unlikely for G-d to have created men who love other men and then would condemn them for doing so, or to limit that love in a way that other love is not limited. However, I have always understood the Leviticus passage to refer to men who prefer women but who have sex with men merely for base gratification. That, to me, is consistent with the other passages surrounding it in Leviticus.

  40. Mike, that is a fair answer with regard to the homosexual sex act. Do you have a view as to the larger question though? Let’s take those who you mentioned who engage in the homosexual sex act “for self-gratification alone” (although we could have this discussion with regard to any other thing that we believe God has condemned as sin and not necessarily with regard to homosexual sex). People engaging in this will likely feel enraged or frustrated that God views their behaviour as sinful, and even moreso at the prophets who deliver this message to them. Can the indignation of people actually engaging in sin — indignation resulting from the message that God does not or might not accept their actions — reverse the mind of God about what is sin? Can the indignation itself be a reason to conclude what is or is not sin? Any definition of sin is bound to get some class of people up in arms by virtue of the fact that they act or want to act in contravention to whatever God deems as sin.

  41. Julie M. Smith says:

    “By that I mean, it is, to me, unlikely for G-d to have created men who love other men and then would condemn them for doing so”

    Where does this leave you on pedophiles and rapists?

  42. “Where does this leave you on pedophiles and rapists?”

    Or home-schoolers?

  43. Is home schooling argued to be genetic — or a sin?

  44. 41

    Where does this leave you on pedophiles and rapists?

    Beautiful, Julie. It only took 41 posts for the pedophile/rapist connection to homosexuality to rear its pretty head. Do you even realize how ignorant and cruel you sound with this comment? Do you even comprehend how hurtful such a comment is to homosexuals and their families? Do you really not have the cognitive ability to distinguish the vast chasm that exists morally between a rapist and a homosexual? I am not sure whether to pity or scorn you. Pity if you really are so ignorant. Scorn if you know the difference but are so callous as to raise this absurd point (for the umpteenth time here in the glorious bloggernacle environs) despite knowing better.

  45. Is home schooling argued to be genetic — or a sin?

    john f, Carlton is demonstrating the absurdity of Julie’s comment by posing one a connection that he finds equally ridiculous. But somehow I think you knew that.

  46. But Equality, Carlton’s attempt at the ridiculous doesn’t work because his chosen example doesn’t fit into the class of things that Julie referred to, i.e. behaviors that are argued to be genetic but are nevertheless seen as “sin” by many or most people, even though the perps can theoretically argue, as did Mike, that “it is, to me, unlikely for G-d to have created men who love other men [i.e. people with a certain genetic predisposition] and then would condemn them for doing so [acting on their genetic predisposition].”

  47. Equality, your 44 is not really an appropriate response to Julie’s 41, I think. It seems to me that Julie was responding to Mike in the context of my larger question to Chris in my 38 and 40. The question is about whether a class of people’s indignation about the fact that God might consider some certain thing sin and as strictly forbidden to be normative as to whether it really is sin or not. Any designation of sin or forbidden behavior as being against the will of God will anger the subset of people engaged in such behavior. Mike’s response was to say he felt it unlikely that God would create someone a certain way and then still hold as sin acting in the way that person was created. Julie responded with a valid counter-point based on Mike’s resort to the argument of “God creating a person a certain way.”

  48. Chris Williams says:

    john f.,

    For the sake of argument, I can agree with you that God can call something sin and those who engage in that sin might be enraged by that.

    Feel better?

  49. Um, guys, Julie wasn’t comparing gays to pedophiles or rapists. (Have you read any of the 3000+ posts on homosexuality in the nacle? This is Julie we’re talking about; she doesn’t do that s***). Rather, she was pointing out a flaw in the argument by using a _separate_ example.

    The argument as made was: “unlikely for G-d to have created men who love other men and then would condemn them for doing so.” In other words, God gives us our sexual desires; therefore all sexual desires are acceptable.

    Julie pointed out the flaw in that reasoning, by noting that there are at least some cases (e.g., pedophiles) where this broad-brush logic simply does not work. Given those cases, it is incomplete to simply say, God gives us our sexual desires; therefore all sexual desires are acceptable. It’s obvious that some sexual desires are _not_ going to be acceptable, whether we think that they’re genetic or cultural or whatever else.

    Therefore, any argument that homosexuality ought to be acceptable — and such arguments can certainly be articulated — should start from some point other than “all of everyone’s sexual desires are God-given and therefore fine.” As Julie has noted, that starting point is too broad.

  50. (In fairness to Julie’s critics, she should have been a little more clear about her point, given the potential for confusion with a negative and harmful stereotype.)

  51. john f,

    My response was entirely appropriate. Julie’s use of the rapist/pedophile is standard tripe from the right wing and from religious zealots who use it to smear homosexuals. It’s SOP and I think you know it. Don’t try to hide behind sophistry and semantics. The idea encapsulated by the shorthand Julie used is that if homosexuals are innately predisposed to be attracted to members of the same sex and can therefore justify their “lifestyle,” then pedophiles and rapists (and, if you ask Professor Wilkins at BYU Law School, people who want to marry their goat) can simply say they were “born that way,” too and then we’ll all have to recognize their “perversions” and give legal protections to them. Her words were “code words” and I for one am sick of seeing it. And I won’t stand silently by and let it pass without comment.

  52. kaimi,

    you are confusing sexual desires and sexual orientation.

    and, yes, i was surprised to see this from Julie.

  53. Chris, I’m not sure what you mean by asking me whether I “feel better”? I assume you are implying that I am somehow not discussing this in good faith. But I see that you agree that people’s indignation about having been designated as engaging in sin or sinful behavior does not dictate to God what He thinks constitutes sin.

  54. mayan elephant says:

    Kaimi,

    what julies said was – “Where does this leave you on pedophiles and rapists?”

    and this was in no way pointing out a flaw in an argument, it was a flaw itself in any argument. sure, we have all seen the comments in the nacle about pedophilia, and generally they are all offensive. if i recall it goes a little like this: if we accept gay folks its the “slippery slope” to accepting pedophilia. and generally, that argument is proposed by a tbm or apologist and generally its up to some satanic/slothful/sinning/un-tbm to discredit the absurdity of the argument as most tbm’s and nacle moderaters would never ever ever disagree with such a generalization.

    the problem is, julie is dead wrong in the association. an equally applicable question would be “where does that leave you on drunk drivers, bank robbers, murderers, perjurers, embezzlers, etc?”

    julie makes me sick. and anyone that would defend her homosexuality/pedophile/rape association is equally ridiculous.

    if she cares to defend herself, perhaps she could get on here and give us the documented facts about pedophilia. she may want to start out learning that most predators are men preying on girls. so, perhaps heterosexuality is actually the slippery slope?

    and, dont get me started on the tolerances for real pedophilia in the history of the mormon church. after all, that topic is absolutely forbidden, given that there are facts to review, and not just one line idiotic associations of crimes with uncrimes.

  55. Christ, also, my comment was a response to your invocation of the idea of what a “kind and loving God” would or could deem sinful in 34. So I guess my broader question is still up in the air: does God cease to be a “kind and loving God” because what he deems sin enrages, frustrates, and/or saddens some class of people engaging in that particular sin. This question is actually bigger than the debate about whether the homosexual sex act is a sin in the eyes of God. It was sparked by your invocation of a “kind and loving God,” as if such a being would not designate as sin something that could hurt some class of people’s feelings.

  56. 55: Did we drive you to start cussin’, john f? :-)

  57. So I guess my broader question is still up in the air: does God cease to be a “kind and loving God” because what he deems sin enrages, frustrates, and/or saddens some class of people engaging in that particular sin

    john f, you make a classic mistake here: how would one know what God “deems sin”? Are the opinions of apostles and seventies on social topics equal to the word of God? Is Oaks speaking for himself, the church, or God? Are these indistinguishable in your mind? I think we could turn this question on its head. I ask you: is it reasonable to put your trust in men who spout ignorance and hatred? The question is whether the words of these men stand as evidence that, in fact, they DO NOT speak for God. Methinks the more they speak, the more obvious the answer to this question becomes.

  58. Sorry, Equality, your 51 again entirely misses the mark as a rhetorical matter. You are too willing to obfuscate by projecting on Julie things you attribute to “standard tripe from the right wing and from religious zealots who use it to smear homosexuals.” In so doing you can all too conveniently avoid and ignore the issue of this sub-discussion that I was interested in pursuing with Chris, to which Mike responded, to which response by Mike Julie specifically responded. You succeed in derailing the discussion of the isolated point and casting anyone who does not agree with your view of the homosexual sex act as bad people, but you place yourself outside the actual topic of discussion (for this sub-point).

    My feeling is that a sub-text of the interview that has been mentioned above by Russell and Aaron B. is that whether something is genetic or not is completely beside the point in the question of whether God considers it a sin or not. I think Julie’s simple sentence went to that point, which, as noted, Aaron already pointed out with his observation in # 21 that the interview seems to turn “the question of the causality of homosexual orientation into a mostly irrelevant side show.”

    Pedophilia and rape are both argued by some to be genetically caused. But this argument is completely irrelevant as to whether God deems either a sin. Mike’s statement, however, legitimately results in Julie’s question, since Mike seems to view the genetic nature of homosexuality as normative for whether God considers it a sin.

  59. Julie M. Smith says:

    /kicks over hornet’s nest and then leaves computer to make lunch for children

    Kaimi in #49 is right. I think everyone who had something lovely to say about me already knew that, but I realize that it is therapeutic to attack someone else instead of acknowledging the weakness of one’s own position* and I’m happy to provide that service, so carry on.

    *Absent modern revelation, I think support for homosexual activity–even gay marriage–is a fairly easy position to defend. But the argument that if God gave someone a sexual desire, God wouldn’t condemn them for acting on it is pathetic, in any framework. You can do better than that, folks.

  60. Chris Williams says:

    john f.,

    My apologies for calling into question the good faith with which you entered conversation with me. As a now out gay man with a deep Mormon past, I walk into fora such as this feeling defensive. It struck me that the gist of your question was, “Hey, Chris, aren’t you really just pissed off because you’re a homosexual and you don’t want to accept that God isn’t going to let you act on it?” You were, of course, more polite than that, but that’s what I read. To the extent that your question was distorted as it passed through my defensive filter, I apologize. I’ll assume that you enter dialogue with me about this issue–which touches me in the most personal way it can–in good faith.

    But I also must confess some puzzlement over your questiong my use of the term “kind and loving.” I used it specifically in response to Rosalynde’s comment that whether or not an apostle felt our pain was not the issue–the issue is his claim to God’s authority. I’d like to think that a special witness of Christ was fully capable of “feeling our pain”–and that ability to show empathy is to me, a child of God, every bit as important as his claim to authority.

    Here’s what that doesn’t mean–that said apostle has to give me a pass or let me off the hook if my behavior or life choices come into conflict with church teachings. Not at all. What it does mean is that what I feel from Elders Oaks and Wickman in this Q&A is not love and empathy. I brought my voice to this discussion to say simply this: I am a gay man and a Mormon (in name if no longer in practice or belief) and this attempt to explain the church’s position has only deepened my alienation from a Church that I gave my life to and that I believed could help me overcome the burden of being gay. It has furthered my alienation from a church that provides answers that ring hollow or do not describe my own reality, my own truth, my own experience with homosexuality. It is yet another example of the church telling me how I should feel and understand about my sexuality that just doesn’t work.

    I’m not a class of people, john f. I’m an actual person, and, yes, my feelings are hurt. But they’re not hurt so much because the Church (and in the interest of full disclosure, I do not belive the LDS Church and God are the same thing) tells me that something I desire to do is sinful, but because the Church can’t seem to find a way to speak to me with any compassion or understanding.

  61. Julie, what “modern revelation” are you referring to? I haven’t heard of such a reveleation. Rather, I hear modern church leaders rest their arguments on scripture, primarily the Bible, on traditional teachings, and on simple assertions. Many people assume that the Proclamation on the Family is a revelation, but I don’t think church leaders have claimed that.

    (BTW, I want to join those defending Julie against silly attacks that misunderstand her completely valid points.)

  62. My feeling is that a sub-text of the interview that has been mentioned above by Russell and Aaron B. is that whether something is genetic or not is completely beside the point in the question of whether God considers it a sin or not. I think Julie’s simple sentence went to that point,

    Sorry, john f., I’m not buying what you are selling. You’re trying to tell me that of all the specific examples in the entire universe of possible specific examples that Julie uses to make her point that whether something is genetic or not is completely beside the point, she pulls out “pedophiles and rapists” in a discussion about homosexuality. What a coincidence that these code words are the ones she chose to use.

    And your assertion that “some” argue pedophilia and rape are genetically caused is absurd. “Some” might argue that there are Quakers living on the moon, but that fact is hardly salient to any serious discussion on astronomy.

    And don’t try to shift the blame to me for derailing the discussion. I think we should have a rule for the Bloggernacle, something like a corollary to Godwin’s Law, that no one bring up “pedophilia” and “rape” in any discussion on homosexuality. Seems to me that comparison is what derails the discussion.

    To the larger point: you are correct that Oaks and Wickman do not want to talk about the “cause” of homosexuality. Why is that? Perhaps because the “cause” is the same “cause” as heterosexuality. And if so, then that leaves them open to the charge of discrimination. Now, if they want to argue that God is a bigot and that God desires that homosexuals be discriminated against, then they are free to make their case. That was, after all, the position that many leaders of the church took with respect to people with dark skin of African descent. They should at least be honest and up front about it, though.

  63. mayan elephant says:

    “Pedophilia and rape are both argued by some to be genetically caused”

    yeah, and some people blow their minds out in a car while waiting for the light to change. so what.

    you are sick, john f. and the fact that you subscribe to that argument of genetic association of crimes and hate enough to tolerate it rather than refute it, puts you in the very camp of people that would use it to justify their murders and other crimes. also, you would use “some” folks argument to justify your own bigotry and association with someone as shamelessly bigoted as oaks.

  64. Chris, assuming that God does view the homosexual sex act as sinful, how should God’s prophets communicate that so as to avoid making you feel more alienated by the Church?

  65. Wow. Deja vu.

    I’m afraid Equality and Mayan Elephant are serial offendors on the shrill “You’re saying homosexuals are just as bad as pedophiles and rapists, you despicable bigot!” front. I don’t know what it is, but when they see the word pedophile their brains turn off.

    I can’t find the Messenger and Advocate thread where we went through this, but it’s pretty much exactly the same. It’s all very predictable. And depressing.

  66. Chris Williams says:

    john f., one thing they could do is recognize that my homosexuality is about far more than wanting to commit “the homosexual sex act.” (Which one is that, by the way?)

  67. mayan elephant says:

    tom, and arent you special for sitting on the sidelines while other make the association about pedophiles and homosexuals.

    plan to see me around again when the topic comes up. because there are few in the church that are willing to go against the association, despite the ridiculousness and offensiveness of it.

  68. Julie M. Smith says:

    Re #61,

    Ed, that’s a fair question. I was using “modern revelation” as shorthand for “what Church leaders teach” and not “a document.” So perhaps I should have said: “Absent what current church leaders teach . . .”

    Equality writes, “in the entire universe of possible specific examples that Julie uses to make her point that whether something is genetic or not is completely beside the point, she pulls out “pedophiles and rapists” in a discussion about homosexuality”

    I honestly can’t think of any other sexual practices that (1) some people think have a biological basis and (2) are [almost] universally condemned. I don’t know who you are are what you know about me, but if you read pretty much anything I’ve ever written at T & S, you’ll find that I’m not a tool of the far right social agenda. I usually wish the far right would leave the rest of us alone and go play baseball or something.

  69. re 63, Mr. Elephant, I don’t think that you’ve been reading this discussion very closely. Kaimi has made the exact same point that I am making with regard to Julie’s invocation of that comparison. To wit, Mike was in essence stating that a genetic predisposition, i.e. how God created a person, could be normative in determining what is or is not sin. But this cannot be a normative criterion from a logical point of view based on the obvious example of pedophilia, which is argued to be a genetic predisposition. Despite the fact that God created pedophiles that way, the fact of their genetic predisposition is not normative of whether their behavior in accordance with that genetic make-up is sin or not. The issue is genetics and what role they play in the definition of sin, not a slippery-slope argument leading homosexuality to pedophilia. If you do not understand the use of the pedophilia example in this discussion by this point, then you are willfully ignoring what it is really being used for and that is obvious to at least this reader. I am guessing that an objective reader, even one who supports the homosexual sex act, will acknowledge the rhetorical use of Julie’s comparison in this larger argument of the intersection of genetics and sin.

  70. re 66, Chris, it is your view that the interview does not acknowledge that your homosexuality is about more to you than the homosexual sex act? I wasn’t getting that from the interview. Maybe you could elucidate?

  71. Mayan, it’s not an association. Using two words in the same conversation does not denote anything about the relationship between the two words. People who are paying attention and thinking don’t need to hyperventilate at the very sight of the two words on the same page. The first time somebody suggests that pedophilia and homosexuality are on the same moral plane, you’ll see me objecting vociferously. This was not done here, nor will it be, I’m sure.

  72. Chris Williams says:

    Well, as one who “supports the homosexual sex act,” (I think–again, I’m not sure which one we are talking about. I also support the heterosexual sex act for those who enjoy it) I can say that I understood the point Julie was making, regrettable as it was in the way in which she made it and as much as it made me cringe when she did.

    This might be another way that the Church (in this case, the people who comprise it) could ease the sense of alienation that gay people feel. Be a little more sensitive in selecting your analogies. Because Equality is also right: the association is frequently made in the most virulently homophobic way by those with serious theological and political axes to grind.

  73. re 62, Equality, see Kaimi’s comment above. You are misreading Julie pretty strongly here. Pedophilia is an activity, although arguably genetic, that noone in their right mind would say is justified just because of the fact that it might be genetic, i.e. that God made pedophiles that way. That is why Julie used that and rape as her counter-point examples. What they show is that Mike’s premise is invalid as a criterion for what can be or is not sin.

  74. Chris Williams says:

    70–

    john f, the emphasis over and over and over is on sinful behavior–i.e., sex. If same-sex attraction (remember, “homosexuality” is off limits in LDS discourse about, um, homosexuality) is a condition akin to alcoholism or obesity or whatever, then we all we need to do is control/curb/repress the desire to engage in abberant homosexual sex. But what makes me gay is not wanting to have sex with men. What makes me gay is wanting to love another man and to express that love in all of the ways that husbands and wives express that love to each other.

    The emphasis in LDS treatments of this issue is always on controlling sexual activity. Ok, but what about the fact that I just want to be in love with a man?

  75. re 72, the fact that Equality is correct that in other contexts some people have argued that homosexuality is linked directly to pedophilia actually has no bearing on how Julie was using it, and, knowing that Equality is a smart guy and that he is familiar with sound rhetoric, it is also obvious that Equality sees this point right now. Having you, Chris, voice your view in agreement of how Julie was using the comparison should certainly tip Messrs. Equality and Elephant to a reasonable assessment of what is going on in this discussion. At least I would hope so. But I suspect that Julie’s example, though entirely valid as a rhetorical point in the context of the discussion at hand, and also easily identifiable as not being used how Equality and Elephant are saying, simply provides too easy an opportunity for Equality to criticize the Church as right wing bigots and religious zealots. It makes a substantive discussion about any other point difficult, but at least they get their point across.

  76. Chris wrote remember, “homosexuality” is off limits in LDS discourse about, um, homosexuality

    I didn’t get the memo on that. Are you saying this because of the GAs’ use in that interview of the term “same gender attraction”, which use has been much maligned here and on the other lds blogs discussing the interview? The way I see it, the GAs’ use of the term “same gender attraction” was an effort to do precisely what you are demanding Chris, i.e. to show an understanding that your homosexuality is about more to you than the homosexual sex act. Is this unfounded? If their use of this term is oriented to that end (of trying to show their acknowledgment that your homosexuality is about more than the biological sex act, as Kristine put it), then why take offense at that term? Do you want homosexuality referred to as something more than the sex act or not?

  77. re 67, Mr. Elephant, if I understand correctly, you aren’t in the Church.

  78. I think the pedophile/rape issue has been discussed enough. We’ve all had our say on that and I have nothing further to add on that. john f., on the point about the terminology employed by the church, I think the criticism is that in refusing to use the words homosexual or gay or lesbian as nouns, the GA’s are intentionally sending a message that they do not believe such persons exist. Instead, they are “people who call themselves” homosexual the same way someone might “call himself” a Marine or a redhead. The language the GAs use demonstrates fundamental misunderstanding of the issue and is born either of ignorance or obstinance. Which do you think it is, john?

  79. Lunar Quaker says:

    “I honestly can’t think of any other sexual practices that (1) some people think have a biological basis and (2) are [almost] universally condemned. I don’t know who you are are what you know about me, but if you read pretty much anything I’ve ever written at T & S, you’ll find that I’m not a tool of the far right social agenda. I usually wish the far right would leave the rest of us alone and go play baseball or something.”

    Julie, as you know, there is a big difference between conclusions based on popular myth and conclusions based on a preponderance of evidence. The only people that make the homosexual/pedophile connection are those associated with the far right religious agenda. Those are the people that originated this argument. No credible scientist or psychologist thinks that pedophilia has a biological component.

  80. Chris Williams says:

    john f,

    First of all, I demand nothing of the Church. I left the Church. The Church can do and say what it pleases. And if they don’t miss me and the other gay men and women who leave, there’s nothing I can do about it.

    But, yes, you have missed the memo. Elder Oaks, in his 1995 article, very clearly stated that the terms gay, lesbian, homosexual should never be used as nouns. They should only be used as adjectives to describe a condition. The use of the terms “same sex attraction” or “same gender attraction” are not intended to convey to me that they understand that my sexual orientation is about more than the sex act. It is intended to convey that it is not intrinsic, that it should not be central to my identity, and that I should recognize it as a temporary condition (even if “temporary” is my whole life). These terms are not used to convey to me understanding and empathy that my orientation is social, psychological and emotional as well as sexual.

  81. mayan, john f. just called you a nonmember. I guess that means he need not address any substantive arguments you might make. You are now officially a nonentity. Let the shunning commence!

  82. re 78, Equality, as you know, I don’t buy into either of the choices in your artificial, forced false dichotomy. I see the GAs’ attempt to use “same-gender attraction” relatively uniformly as an attempt to acknowledge that homosexuality is about more to homosexuals than engaging in homosexual sex.

  83. Chris Williams says:

    john f., perhaps you should ask a few other homosexuals how they feel about the use of the term.

  84. Chris Williams says:

    john f., perhaps you should ask a few other homosexuals how they feel about the use of the term. Most of us just prefer to be called “gay.”

  85. re 81, my comment (#77) to Mr. Elephant was in response to his (#67) in which he stated that he would always stand up against people linking homosexuality to pedophilia (although no one here is doing that, as you, Mr. Equality, full well know) because noone else in the Church will. He stated:

    plan to see me around again when the topic comes up. because there are few in the church that are willing to go against the association, despite the ridiculousness and offensiveness of it.

    This is vague enough to be read as Mr. Elephant implying that he would be a lone voice from within the Church to make a stand against this position (which noone here is taking).

    Please, Mr. Equality, do not act like anyone here except you and Mr. Elephant are trying to avoid substantive discussion, at least of the point about how Julie was using the pedophilia example. From your comment 78, it looks like Chris’s comment was enough to make you think again about harping on the deliberately inaccurate representation about how Julie was using that example.

  86. re 83, Chris, that is exactly what I did in my 76: I asked you how you view the GAs’ use of the term “same gender attraction” and whether that was, in your view, an acknowledgment that your homosexuality is about more to you than the homosexual sex act.

    And the interview, it seemed to me, emphasized that it was the homosexual sex act that is sinful in the eyes of God and not the rest of what it means to be homosexual as a genetic predisposition.

  87. mayan elephant says:

    not in the church. you got it. but some of the folks in my house still are. and lots of other family. so, my response was really meant to imply that the churchfolk are a common source of the “then what about pedophiles i dont mean to say they are the same i am just saying that if you say yes to homosexuals then what about pedophiles i am not saying pedophiles are the same thing i am just saying that some people do say its the same so its fair to ask what about pedophiles” argument, where i prefer to argue against that sort of idiocy. and being in or out doesnt affect my position on the bs of it all.

  88. Chris Williams says:

    86–

    john f, where did they talk about the “rest of what it means to be homosexual” in the interview?

    The problem from my perspective is that homosexual attraction is viewed as intrisically bad, which is why acting on it is sinful. I think for most of us, gay or straight, it is nearly impossible to separate out the various components of attraction so neatly and then assign them into “acceptable” and “sinful” categories and in a way that doesn’t over the long term do damage to one’s psyche. If Elder Oaks or Elder Wickman can explain to me how that’s possible, I’d be most interested in listening. Because in my own experience, it didn’t work. Even having never acted on my attraction, I felt horrible about myself for feeling it.

  89. That’ll teach me to take a long lunch. I come back to BCC after 3 hours and all kinds of bizarre stuff has happened.

    To john f. (#40): I wasn’t writing specifically about “the homosexual act,” although I realize it’s a fine line. There are a host of sinful acts in the Five Books of Moses. Of all the sins in the Five Books of Moses that people commit every day, why is the twenty-second verse of the eighteenth chapter of the third book, a verse that is the second shortest of all verses in the chapter and one of the shortest in the entire Five Books of Moses, of such concern over all the others?

    You also write, “Can the indignation of people actually engaging in sin — indignation resulting from the message that God does not or might not accept their actions — reverse the mind of God about what is sin? That would be up to G-d to decide, not me. I can’t imagine G-d’s mind being “reverse” due to human indignation. But my interpretation of the verse is different than yours. To me, it says, “If you lie with a man as with a man, that’s not a sin. If you lie with a man as you’d lie with a woman, that is a sin.” Whatever your interpretation is, if it works for you, that’s fine. Don’t commit that which is a sin. But don’t give this sin greater importance than any of the hundreds of other sins in the Five Books of Moses, and don’t forget that it is G-d who judges and metes out punishment, not humans.

    To Julie M. Smith (#41): Where does this leave you on pedophiles and rapists? Hello, Julie, wake up! In case you don’t know this, pedophilia and rape are crimes of violence which use sex as a weapon, crimes which prey on those presumed to be weaker in order to make the criminal feel stronger, crimes that have victims.

    Homosexuality and heterosexuality are terms used to describe consensual intimacy (which may or may not include sex), whether within or outside marriage. Neither has a victim. There are both homosexuals and heterosexuals who are celibate. Just as a heterosexual is a person who is attracted to the opposite sex, and just as a heterosexual remains a heterosexual even if she or he never has sex, the same is true of a homosexual. In their finest forms, homosexuality and heterosexuality both can create a marriage and a family.

  90. Very enlightening and tolerant Mr. Elephant. It seems, though, that you still haven’t read this discussion, otherwise you could in now way claim that anyone here is linking homosexuality to pedophilia.

  91. Chris Williams says:

    86–

    Also, john, you asked me how I felt about the term, but you apparently are dismissing it as valid and going instead with how you feel about what Oaks and Wickman said.

    Okay.

  92. Mike, I appreciate your comments to me in your 89. What is your view, however, of the larger point that has been discussed here since you made your comment, i.e. that the notion that God making someone a certain way (their genetic make-up) is not a criterion upon which to base or determine what can be or is not sin. When you argue that God made homosexual men to love other men, therefore you cannot imagine God being intolerant of them acting on that genetic make-up, Julie’s counter-point is valid: what about pedophiles. If pedophilia is genetic, then that still does not justify acting on that genetic pre-disposition because everyone agrees that pedophilia is a sex crime, and also a sin (or at least, most of those who believe in God believe that pedophilia is a sin).

    In your response to Julie, you pointed out that pedophilia is a sex crime — a violent act that uses sex as the method. But that still does not address the context in which Julie used the example: if it is genetic, then God made them that way.

  93. Elephant (54), you’re overreacting. I’ve never made a slippery-slope argument, and the suggestion that I’d endorse or defend such an argument is really funny. I’ve consistently argued in the bloggernacle against slippery slope arguments; in fact, I’ve probably been one of the most consistent bloggernacle voices against slippery-slope arguments. You can see complete posts of mine on the topic at http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=490 and http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=1339 ; there are dozens more instances of comment discussion (as in the comments to http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=1330 ) where I’ve criticized slippery-slope arguments. I know what a slippery-slope argument is; I find such arguments very unconvincing in most contexts (including the same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage context); and I’ve got three years of extensive bloggernacle paper trail to prove it.

    I didn’t read Julie’s comment as a slippery-slope one; if I had, I would have happily told her she was wrong. Her own explanation in 59 is the one that makes the most sense to me.

    However, her analogy was unfortunately chosen because it brings with it association with other problematic arguments. So I’m with Equality (62) that it’s the sort of thing that should be avoided in this kind of discussion.

  94. re 91, Chris, please don’t start into that. Until now, you’ve been a reasonable discussion partner. What would make you say that I have dismissed your answer? Here’s how it went down from my perspective: after I asked you your view in my # 76, you chided me in 83 and 84 for not asking a homosexual how he viewed the use of the term. That was the entire point of my 86 — to point out that I did ask and that you were acting, for some reason, like I had not asked or thought to ask.

  95. Whoa nelly! Everyone settle down, I hate to close posts and ban people. Mayan Elephant, you’re been especially out-of-line with direct name calling (“you make me sick”, etc.). Please cut it out. John F., you don’t exactly stand without offense here either — please try to dial back the reactionism.

    For those who feel unable to take things slowly and approach this topic in a friendly, Christian way, then maybe this thread isn’t for you. Go outside! Explore the wonders of nature! Go get some ice cream. But friends don’t let friends blog angry.

  96. re 79, Mr Quaker wrote No credible scientist or psychologist thinks that pedophilia has a biological component.

    Is this true. Does anyone have any insight on this? My understanding was that there are credible arguments that both pedophilia and rape are genetic predispositions.

    If it is true that noone that is credible is making these arguments, as Mr. Quaker asserts, then Julie’s comparison would not be germane. But that is not the basis on which Equality and Elephant were objecting.

  97. Chris Williams says:

    Here’s how it went down from my perspective:

    In 80 I explained why the term is not desirable from my perspective. In 82 you explain to someone else why you think it works. In 83/84 I suggest you ask a few other gay people (aside from me) how they feel about it. In 86 you explain to me how you felt like they do convey understanding about the depth/breadth of the homosexual experience, including the use of the term. You did not ever address or acknowledge any of my points about why it doesn’t work for many of us.

    But I’ll retract 91 and let’s proceed. This has been a good discussion.

  98. I typed 82 before I saw 80 (likely I was typing 82 at the same time you were typing 80). I didn’t understand your 83 and 84 as telling me to ask other homosexuals besides yourself; it seemed like you were saying: why haven’t you even thought to ask homosexuals what they think about it — despite my 76.

  99. Chris Williams says:

    Water under the bridge…

  100. I don’t think pedophiles choose to be attracted to children any more than heterosexuals or homosexuals choose to be attracted to adults of the opposite or same sex. Personally, I can’t imagine changing my orientation towards young children any more than I can imagine changing it towards men. I don’t think it’s known whether pedophilic inclinations come from nature or nurture (or both), but that’s beside the point.

    Julie’s reference to pedophiles was a perfectly legitimate reducto ad absurdum pointing out the flaw in one of Mike’s overly simplistic arguments, nothing more. Mike, in comment 89, has answered the question well about why we need to treat pedophilia differently from heterosexuality and homosexuality: because pedophiles have victims. Since homosexuality doesn’t create victims in the same way, it is still an open question why same sex partnerships would be so offensive to God.

    Can we stop attacking Julie now, and reading into her comment all sorts of things she didn’t intend?

  101. But that is not the basis on which Equality and Elephant were objecting.

    Well, it partly is, as my light-hearted, non-angry, point about Quakers on the moon was meant to demonstrate. As I said, though, I think it best to move on from the pedophile/rapist point/counterpoint as others have also suggested, not becuase I concede the point but simply because I think it is a case of having fully argued and briefed the objection and there being no new ground to cover on it. Yet you keep going back to it (see, e.g., your #92).

    Steve, I appreciate the call for more light and less heat, though I must say that what you have experienced on this thread from my friend mayan elephant is really quite tame. You haven’t seen him get angry. The mayan who has pisted here today has been quite soft and cuddly. Just ask Guy murray. Or Geoff B. Or Blake O.

    I think I’ll go get some ice cream now. Thanks for the suggestion!

  102. Chris Williams says:

    Speaking of ice cream, I have to go to the gym now. John, if you want to pick this up later, I’d be happy to.

  103. I think John F. has been quite civil. Equality, if this is the tame side of your friend, then it is obvious that this is a forum where he isn’t particularly welcome.

  104. Chris or others who may be comfortable speaking from a “gay” perspective:

    Why do you prefer to be called “gay” and affirmatively prefer not to be referred to as “having same sex attraction”?

    It seems the argument may be: if you *are* gay (vs. experiencing same sex attraction) then God created you gay and God wouldn’t have created you gay while at the same time forbidding you from truly being gay (meaning to act gay–love, commit to and have sexual relations with another gay person) or that would be cruel or wrong, etc.

    Does that reflect your position? If not, what is my version of your hypothetical argument missing?

  105. Equality, I wouldn’t like him when he’s angry? well, let’s nope there’s no hulk-outs.

    As for ice cream, I recommend Cherry Garcia. Gays and straights alike praise its creamy goodness!

  106. The obvious reason behind using the term “same gender attraction” over the other terms would be to avoid the bad connotation that some would attribute to them. For many, homosexual and gay are inherently pejorative.

    Plus, “same gender attraction” sounds more politically correct. =)

    In an attempt to avoid substantive discussion, I wonder how many times the Snark will comment on discussions about this topic, before it becomes guilty of beating a dead horse?

  107. john f. (#92): Pedophilia, rape, murder, arson, battery, theft — all are violent crimes, all with victims. Yes, G-d created everything in the universe. But because those who commit crimes may have been created by G-d with a propensity for these acts (something that is not known for sure) is of little concern to me — those who victimize others should be judged for their crimes. In all of those cases, the victims suffer a grave loss, either of self, or dignity, or property, or all of the above. But I don’t think Elders Oaks and Wickman, or for that matter, anyone else here but you and Julie, were discussing the commission of violent crimes.

  108. Steve Park says:

    I’d love to see the brethren do a similar interview on Iraq and the War on Terror in general. While I might have a hard time agreeing with some of their positions, it’d be great to have it on record. Since it’s more of a political issue (with far greater ramifications than whether or not Las Vegas can reroute water from the church’s land), I doubt we’d ever see such an interview.

  109. Pete (#104): I doubt that you would like to be characterized as “experiencing opposite-gender attraction.” It’s clinical and dehumanizing. So how else would you describe your condition to others?

  110. Aaron Brown says:

    The only thing more irritating than a far-right lunatic who thinks that homosexuality and pedophilia are somehow morally equivalent, is an unhinged gay activist who can’t interpret the mention of homosexuality and pedophilia in the same sentence as anything other than an act of hateful bigotry. Julie’s argument is conceptually very easy to understand, just as John F.’s and Kaimi’s elaborations have been.

    But throwing a melodramatic tizzy-fit of overblown indignation is fun, so I don’t want to begrudge anyone their enjoyment of that.

    I have little doubt that there are those (including some in the LDS Church) who have utilized pedophilia and homosexuality in their arguments in offensive ways. But there may be important insights to be had by comparing the two pheonomena in limited ways that don’t constitute hateful declarations of moral equivalence. If certain participants in this thread would actually attempt to engage the arguments, it might be easier to take their moral outrage and pious
    posturing more seriously. (But even then, probably not).

    Aaron B

  111. Mike, the point was to question the reasoning behind your straightforward statement that “it is, to me, unlikely for G-d to have created men who love other men and then would condemn them for doing so.” It seemed like you were saying that genetics could be a basis for determining what is or is not sin. I believe that is why Julie brought up the example, and not in the interest of conducting a discussion on violent crime per se.

    It sounds like you are saying that genetics is a basis for determining what God does not declare as sin if the result of the particular genetic predisposition doesn’t interfere with anyone’s rights. If a genetic predisposition interferes with someone else’s rights, then it doesn’t matter that it is genetic — that God made them that way — it is still sin forbidden by God. In other words, genetics is not irrelevant in a certain scenario but can be irrelevant depending on the outcome. Is this a type of ends-based reasoning as an approach to determining to what extent genetic predisposition can be seen as a normative criterion in discerning what constitutes sin for God?

  112. john f. — I am not saying what G-d considers a sin. G-d can make those decisions without any help from me. I just want to live my life — judged by G-d, not by others.

  113. I get banned for comparing un-named GAs to W, but you guys leave #107 up?

  114. Hey, Aaron, did you just call me “an unhinged gay activist”? I’ve never been called all three in the same sentence before, or been called an activist at all. Unhinged, on occasion. Gay, on occasion. (I’m gay all the time, just not called gay all the time, since it’s superfluous.) “Unhinged gay activist” — cool!

  115. But Mike, you seemed to be saying that you thought it was unlikely that homosexual activity could possibly be a sin given that God created you as a man who loves other men. It seemed to be a statement about what can legitimately constitute sin that is strictly forbidden by God (a concept you said you believe in) based on a genetic reality.

    My observation from the interviews was that a sub-text seemed to be, as noted by Russell and Aaron, that genetics is an irrelevant factor in discussing what is or is not sin. As Latter-day Saints, we believe that living prophets and apostles can communicate to us what God views is or is not sin. Therefore, there is relevance to discussing your view of a genetics-based approach to what might legitimately constitute sin. The Latter-day Saint view, as you well know, is that the same way that the material in Leviticus comes to us as the will of God on what is or is not sin, living prophets and apostles continue to do that today. Since you seem to accept Leviticus, albeit with a relatively unique interpretation of its prohibition on homosexual intercourse, I was wondering if you viewed God’s logic behind Leviticus as conveyed to us through God’s prophet at the time, as genetics based in the way you described in your initial comment.

  116. Mike, I think Aaron was referring to Equality and Elephant who were misconstruing Julie’s counter-example in the discussion with you. My guess is that he was not referring to you at all.

  117. Aaron Brown says:

    Actually, I had a couple other folks in mind, Mike, not you, but I suppose I could review all 114 comments and assess whether I think it applies to you or not.

    Alas, I don’t have the time, as I’m busy coming up with clever, hurtful one-liners to hurl indiscriminately and my other ideological foes in the Bloggernacle.

    Aaron B

  118. Aaron – Drat.

  119. If he was referring to me as an unhinged gay activist, I must admit that, along with Mike, that is a first. Been called lots of things in my life. never an unhinged gay activist.

    Steve, you must be clairvoyant. Cherry Garcia is my favorite ice cream. But the new Marcia Marcia Marshmallow is a close second.

    But throwing a melodramatic tizzy-fit of overblown indignation is fun, so I don’t want to begrudge anyone their enjoyment of that.

    True enough, but I think I did a little more than that. And I also think that sometimes, even when people are not intentionally using language to hurt others, they ought to be made aware of the effect their choice of words might have on someone.

  120. Lunar Quaker says:

    Is this true. Does anyone have any insight on this? My understanding was that there are credible arguments that both pedophilia and rape are genetic predispositions.

    Then I think you need to do some research, my friend. You won’t find any credible arguments for genetic predisposition to pedophilia or rape. In contrast, there is near consensus in the scientific community that homosexuality is an innate sexual orientation just like heterosexuality. A BYU professor has done research that supports this.

  121. D. Fletcher says:

    And the dialogue goes on and on.

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said by others here (both John and Chris, dear friends of mine) and much more eloquently.

    I don’t think this recent interview was particularly enlightening on the subject, but I’d like to add my little bit to the dialogue.

    No one ever mentions love. Love between two men, or two women. It’s always sex — the sex act itself, which is going to be grotesque to someone, either homo- or hetero-.

    But love is the key. I myself can’t understand why God would want to limit love, to limit a connection between any two adult people who felt it. I *can* understand the limits placed on love between an adult and a child, because I think it could be misunderstood, and undermine emotional growth (of the child).

    But two adults who find each other in the world — it’s a kind of miracle, particularly when they want to commit themselves eternally. Why does it matter (or why does God care) what their gender is?

    Although this isn’t mentioned in the interview, I do feel that the Brethren would be very unhappy if I chose to make another man my life’s companion, even if we were celibate and never actually touched. Because this would set an example that the Brethren don’t want set, the example of two men who love each other. And I’m limited to even speak of this kind of love, the love I feel for other men.

    This limit on love, on my kind of love in particular, bothers me a lot. It isn’t the same as being tempted to drugs, alcohol, or even sexual promiscuity.

  122. Mr. Quaker, thank you for your reply, but you will not be offended if I decline to accept the word of an anyonynous internet poster on this issue.

    Does anyone else know if noone credible is saying that pedophilia might be a genetic predisposition? Or can you substantiate you statement, Mr. Quaker, by more than stating that I need to do more research?

    I am willing to believe this. I personally don’t have a large investment in Julie’s pedophilia example, except to the extent to say that it was valid given the premise that credible voices are making the argument that it might be genetic.

  123. john f. — I don’t recall using a genetics-based approach. If I did, that’s not what I meant. I agree with Elders Russell and Aaron if they said that genetics is irrelevant in determing what is or is not a sin. Still, I do believe G-d created me to be who I am. Also, what I wrote about Leviticus 18:22 is not original. It’s a possible interpretation I’ve heard many times since as far back as Sunday school when I was 12 or 13.

  124. Mike, thanks for your response. So your statement “I do believe G-d created me to be who I am” does not imply a genetics component? I admit that, based on the similar statement you made in your initial comment, I inferred a genetics-based approach to what can legitimately count as sin.

  125. D. Fletcher — I used the word “love” but I used it in a link in comment #17. Can I be your friend?

  126. john f. — No, I did not mean to imply a genetics component. I meant to imply a G-d component, or more accurately, that my creation and all that I am is attributable to G-d.

  127. D. Fletcher says:

    HaHa, sure, Mike! I’m Chris’s… uncle-in-law. And I’m sorta related by marriage to John F. too!

    I’ve just read your letter — lovely! I hope it’s read in the spirit that it’s given.

  128. Mike, at the risk of infuriating the spectrum of anonymous posters here, I should point out that a God component that does not imply a genetics argument solicits Julie’s counter-example of what to do about the pedophile to the same extent or perhaps even more than a behavior-based genetics approach. That is because, even absent the argument that pedophilia might be genetic that Mr. Quaker says noone credible is making, the pedophile can also say “my creation and all that I am is attributable to G-d.”

  129. By the way, D., I thought you brought up an excellent point. You mentioned love and that the brethren would not approve of even a non-sexually-active union of two people of the same gender. I am not sure that I agree with your conclusion about what the brethren would accept or reject about such a union. But it raises the interesting question: As a hypothetical matter, would homosexuals who care one way or the other what the Church believes about homosexuality be more content with a solution that allowed a non-sexually-active union? Or would that also be viewed as intolerant, bigoted, etc. (all judgments that seem to be based on the assumption that God does not or cannot view homosexual sex as a sin).

  130. john f. — We’re going around in circles here. Yes, I believe we are all created by G-d. And G-d created the person who becomes a pedophile, though I doubt that G-d created him or wants him to be that way, but that part doesn’t matter. I do not believe G-d intends for us to victimize each other and commit crimes against each other, even if there is the possibility that some were created with a criminal predisposition. No matter how G-d created us, I believe we were expected to show each other love and respect, and to honor each other, not victimize each other.

  131. D. Fletcher says:

    I don’t know the answer John, though I have brought this example to the table many times before, and no one ever comments on it. If I were to love a quadriplegic man, so sex is physically impossible, would this be a sin? How about if I married this person in Canada? Still a sin?

    Of course it is. The sin is in the love, not just the physical behavior, though the Brethren aren’t saying so.

    And I just can’t see the sin in it. I can’t see it, I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with it. Unlike other sins, say, addictive behaviors, I don’t see loving another man as hurtful in any way, either psychologically or socially. I do think there might be some hurtful consequences to us because of the Church and society’s opinions of us and our “grotesque” ways. But for ourselves, our “secret” love is as empowering and fulfilling as any heterosexual marriage, perhaps even moreso for being unusual.

    Of course, I can’t seem to find this partner… (sniff)

  132. #106, I think that another reason for using “same gender attraction” might be that the use of the word “gender” is then in line with the way that it’s used in the family proclamation– which is a little out of step with standard usage. I think it’s also a euphemism since using the word ‘sex’ very often would bother some people.

  133. john f. — on your note to D. Fletcher, when you say “would homosexuals care…” Everyone is an individual with individual thoughts and beliefs. Not all Mormons think alike, not all gays think alike, not all members of Kiwanis think alike.

  134. Mike, what would your reaction be, as a homosexual who apparently cares what the Church thinks, to allowance of non-sexually-active unions between two individuals of the same gender based on the premise that God views homsexual sex as a sin but the Church still wants homosexuals to have love as discussed by D.?

  135. Mike, I think your answer to 130 is just fine, and I agree with it. I was more interested in discussing the abstract principle which does not seem possible. I take it you are fine with the inherent contradiction in the position you take. That is fine as well, since we all take incoherent and inconsistent positions on any number of things in our lives.

  136. re 131, interesting insights D.

    You wrote, Of course it is [sin for a gay man to love another man who is quadriplegic and therefore no sexual activity is possible]. The sin is in the love, not just the physical behavior, though the Brethren aren’t saying so.

    Unfortunately, I can’t agree with this assessment. I do not believe that the leaders of the Church view the sin as being in the love; rather, I take them at face value when they say that the sin is in having sexual intercourse with another person of the same gender.

  137. john f. — If you will allow me to do a bit of rephrasing, “based on the premise that the Church believes that G-d views homosexual sex as a sin but the Church still wants homosexuals to have love as discussed by D.” — I would be okay with the allowance of non-sexually-active unions between two individuals of the same gender. I don’t think it’s fair, but I’m still okay with it. My relationship with my husband is based on love. We spent hundreds of dollars and months filing forms with the government of the Province of Ontario in Canada and then flew to Toronto to get married because we love each other, not because we wanted to receive a license to have sex.

  138. D. Fletcher says:

    Really John? If I married Chris in a ceremony in Canada, but remained celibate (and said so), what do you think the Brethren and my Stake President would do about that? The public ceremony alone would be enough to do me in. (Sorry to drag you into this Chris). :)

    I can’t speak about being gay now, even though alone.

    Nope, I don’t think the Church wants gay people, celibate or not. Truthfully, I don’t think people believe me (in my celibacy) — they think I must be doing something.

    I’ll never tell.

    ;)

  139. D. I wonder if that’s true. What if you entered into a non-sexually-active civil union? I think that’s a grey area. Based on what the Church has been emphasizing and especially based on this interview, it seems to me that the touchstone is homosexual intercourse. If it was a non-sexually-active union, I’m not sure that the Church would condemn it. I think you are right that there might be some doubt as to whether the union actually is non-sexually-active, mainly because of the natural tendency for people to be skeptical about that sort of thing.

  140. john f. — Buckley’s stake president told him he assumed we were sexually active because we are married. Since Buckley has been in the bishopric several times before, he told the SP that they both know the SP is not allowed to ask any married couple about their sex life.

  141. greenfrog says:

    D wrote:

    But love is the key. I myself can’t understand why God would want to limit love, to limit a connection between any two adult people who felt it

    Me, neither. Everything I understand about God and love suggests exactly the contrary.

    Hence my annoying lawyering elsewhere on this issue.

  142. D. Fletcher says:

    John, there are too many hypotheticals to make any sort of positive analysis. Notably, this kind of hypothetical (two men in love, but not sexually active) didn’t come up in the “interview.” I found that interview surprisingly skewed toward people having to deal with gays in their lives, like their straight LDS parents.

    I think the Church could take baby steps toward recognizing gay unions, and one of those would be, let gay people talk about their problems, even over the pulpit. If I’m celibate and alone and trying to live the commandments, it sure would be nice to get some support for my struggle, real support. And the next step is to tell gay couples that they can continue to attend Church and fill callings (like organist!) even though they won’t receive “exaltation” and they won’t be able to do Temple work. I think a lot of gay people would return to the fold under these conditions.

    Mike, you’re Buckley’s significant other! Congratulations on your marriage! And I think your situation is a significant step for the Church — I hope we continue down that line.

    greenfrog, there’s not one annoying thing about you. There are a few online posters I can say I truly love, and you’re one of them.

    :)

  143. I hope that I don’t offend too many folks around here with what I’m about to say–especially the likes of D., whom I believe to be one of the most (if not *the* most) intelligent and refined commenters arts.

    I think “love” can be more illusive than we’d like to believe. As one who has suffered from a depressive panic/anxiety disorder of sorts plus other personality distortions, one of the most difficult burdens that I ‘ve had to bear is the seemingly never ending battle with codepndency. It is only in recent years (now that I’m a little older) that I’ve been able to recognize the difference between genuine love and a depency born of mental/emotional deficiency.

    Now I do not want to suggest that Gays are not capable of genuine love–I believe all human beings are. It’s just that (and this is where I’m likely to offend the most) it is quite plausible that same sex attraction is a mental/emotional disorder of sorts. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to support the idea that homosexuality is “healthy” because of genetic predisposition–though I *do* believe that genetic predisposition can have everything to do with the developement of mental/emotional/physical/etc. deficiences/disorders.

    That said, whether are not one’s affections are “genuine” (or a mix of genuine and non) doesn’t lessen the burden that comes of such feelings not finding fulfillment. In fact, I believe that some “illusory” affections can cause greater heartache than the genuine.

    Now that I’ve thoroughly affended some (sorry!), let me say (with the clear understanding that my assumptions are just that–assumptions) that I don’t feel to judge anyone who carries extra burdens because of such deficiences. What I do resist is the tendency for the gay culture in general to justify homosexual behavior by a darwinian model of sorts. I don’t by it–not yet at least.

  144. “on the arts.” (in my first paragraph)

  145. mayan elephant says:

    Can a pedophile go on a mission? Can a rapist be baptised? Can a pedophile be a bishop? Can two pedophiles marry? Can a rapist be sealed in the temple? Can a pedophile attend byu? Teach primary? Assuming of course, they are just pedophiles and not sinners.

  146. D. Fletcher says:

    Hi, Jack! Hey, thanks for the nice compliment.

    I do disagree with you about the homosexual impulse being some kind of mental disorder. I think it is a behavioral aberration which is certainly perfectly normal for a species which exhibits every kind of variable behavior.

    But just as a hypothetical — suppose homosexual desire is some kind of emotional deficiency, built-in since birth or a very young age. The heterosexual population certainly exhibits plenty of emotional deficits, as you yourself have experienced. Why deny homosexuals their right to experience some intimacy, even if there’s little chance of fulfillment?

    I’m not offended by your remarks, and I find them interesting, but I do think you’re labeling things by gut instinct, not a very good analytical method.

    I think any statistical analysis will probably show that gay people who “come out” and connect up with other gay people will be healthier and happier, and I don’t see any reason they shouldn’t be encouraged to do just that.

  147. Jack — love is love, whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual. Buckley and I have known each other for nearly ten years and have been happily married for two. I’ve done my share of reading on codependency, met Melodie Beattie, etc. (I had a partner who died of cancer almost twenty years ago. Codependency is a necessary evil when you have a loved one whom you know will literally die if you don’t care for him, and out of a four year relationship, two of those years were spent doing regimens of chemo and radiation therapy which we both knew would inevitably end with months in and out of the hospital, and his death. I loved him completely nonetheless, even though at the end a codependency developed that accompanied our love.) I know that it can be hard to know when you’re having a healthy relationship if you’ve gone through this. After ten years with Buckley, helping to care for his daughter from his first marriage, welcoming her husband and now our granddaughter, and feeling a love for Buckley that has only grown stronger and deeper through the years, I can tell you that this is true and abiding love, not a facsimilie or likeness. Some of our family members look to us as the model couple and ask us for advice on having a healthy marriage. We know what love is and what it ain’t. This is love.

  148. Based on many of your recent comments, many of you are assuming that the love between two gay men is similar to the romantic love between two heterosexuals. If that is true, why are the vast majority of male homosexual relationships so short-lived? Why do so few gay men value sexual fidelity (as opposed to emotional fidelity)? And why is mental illness more prevalent among people who are homosexual? (It’s not because of the stigma. A study performed in the Netherlands, where practically no stigma exists, revealed similar rates of mental illness.) I’m sure many homosexuals long for a committed, loving, intimate relationship the same way heterosexuals do–but why do such relationships seem to be so much more elusive?

  149. D. Fletcher says:

    Perhaps you could cite your source for the statistic of more prevalent mental illness among homosexuals? I don’t believe this to be true.

    As to your other questions, I personally believe that when society adopts a model of morality for gay people (such as legal marriage), they will adopt this model to the same extent that straight people adopt it.

  150. As to your other questions, I personally believe that when society adopts a model of morality for gay people (such as legal marriage), they will adopt this model to the same extent that straight people adopt it.

    William Buckley thought that the experiment, at least, should be tried.

    Hmm, my last comment is gone. Don’t know if it was censored or just blipped by wordpress failures.

  151. mayan elephant says:

    my mormon family is full of hetero divorces. hmmmm. all my married brothers are on #2 or #3. my parents have multiple divorces. These include temple divorces too. to date, there are no homo divorces or seperations. so, who is devaluing marriage?

  152. Chris Williams says:

    Hey, I know I went to the gym and all and the discussion moved on, but I just want to point out that I brought up love WAY back on #74 when I wrote: Ok, but what about the fact that I just want to be in love with a man?

    How about a little credit? :)

  153. Chris Williams says:

    104–

    Pete, I prefer “gay” because it does not have the clinical, dehumanizing quality of same gender attraction or same sex attraction (as Mike pointed out) or even homosexual. Also, none of these clinical words encompasses the social-emotional coponent of homosexuality. Gay doesn’t really either, but it doesn’t focus exclusively on the sexual or gender component. Finally, it allows me to identify with a community, just as “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saint” does for many of you.

  154. Re: Rivkah (#148)

    What makes you think that male homosexual relationships are any more short-lived than most heterosexual relationships? What reason have you to believe that gay men value sexual fidelity any less than heterosexual men? What studies can you site that show a greater prevalence of mental illness among gays than among heterosexual (and if such studies exists, is there any reason to believe that there’s a causal effect between homosexuality and mental illness)? Please don’t make such claims without providing supporting evidence.

    Personally, I’m skeptical that trends of sexual infidelity, short-lived relationships, and mental illness are any more prevalent in the gay community than in the straight community.

  155. Jack, #142, Both D and Mike provided excellent responses to your queery about the possibility of homosexuality being a mental disorder. I would like to add mention of an important study made in 1957 by Evelyn Hooker, whose findings have been replicated by many other researchers. She took a sampling of homosexual men and an equal sampling of heterosexual men, all matched for age, IQ, and education, and who were functioning normally in society. These were evaluated for psycological adjustment without revealing beforehand their sexual orientations. When the data was evaluated by the experts there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of psycological adjustment, nor could the evaluators determine which individuals were gay and which were straight. You can read about the study here.

  156. John, you have been pleading for someone to engage you on the topic of sin in connection with genetics. OK, perhaps I do have one thought on that subject. But let’s shift away specifically from genetics. After all, is there really a body of persuasive evidence that a rape is primarily the result of genetics? Let’s just say that God made everybody and we like to think that God doesn’t make any junk.

    The argument goes like this: God made me gay, so obviously he shouldn’t object to me falling in love with someone who is the same gender and eventually having sexual intimacy together. Obviously God cannot consider this a sin.

    But then someone asks, Yes, but God also made people who commit crimes like rape and child molestation. These people are His creation too, but obviously God doesn’t condone such henious crimes even though God is responsible for their being and made them who they are.

    I would respond that we are not just talking about the odd serial killer here. We are dealing with a significant portion of the human population, possibly as high as 10%. The fact that God’s creation includes a portion, between 3 and 10%, that is homosexual, in all races, nationalities and cultures, suggests something more significant than a birth defect, abberation, or mistake on the part of the Creator.

    To my mind, there is something deliberate and purposeful going on here. LDS theology has not addressed this remarkable phenomenon of God’s creation, nor does this recent PR statement from Oaks and Wickman. Can the rational mind really believe that God creates these millions of beings (who discover they are homosexual, not choose to be), but then declare that acting on their second-strongest God-given drive to be inherently sinful?

    Forget about the rapists and pedophiles. We have an elephant in the room.

  157. someone who's staying out of special files says:

    The comparison of homosexuality or heterosexuality and pedophilia is spot-on. They’re all sexual orientations given by god or biology. Lunar Quaker, you don’t know WTF you’re talking about. The causes of pedophilia are less studied and way less understood than the causes of homosexuality. But to say there’s no biological component is stupid. Go read the DSM. Do you honestly think that someone chooses at the age of 10 or 12 to spend a lifetime getting flustered by cub scouts in knee shorts, be the focus of paranoia and witch hunds, and not ever be able to tell anyone at all about it without poisoning every relationship with suspicion and doubt?

    Every sexual orientation has different levels of social acceptance, from a lot to a little to none whatsoever. Acting on the impulses of any sexual orientation can be a sin. The LDS church states that acting on any homosexual impulse is always a sin. Does that upset you? Go cry me a river. Acting on any pedophilic impulse will land you in prison and everyone will hate you forever. Jesus Christ said it would be better never to have been born. Imagine spending a lifetime knowing that any sex with the person of your choice would send you to prison and to hell while everyone in the world cheered about your fate.

    Chris is all in a tizzy because gay is only a verb and not a noun. Well, read through the comments above and you’ll see plenty of gay defenders doing the same thing with pedophilia by declaring that an orientation, a biological condidtion, a noun is the same thing as rape and violent crime and creating victims. Pedophilia doesn’t make victims. Molestation does. That’s why the comparison to rapists doesn’t work. Rape is a verb. A rapist is not someone who wants to rape. A rapist is someone has has raped someone else. Anyone of any sexual orientation can be a rapist. A rapist can’t serve a mission or be a bishop or anything else. A pedophile who doesn’t act on his impulses can.

    I don’t think the law or the LDS church should change to make pedophiles feel accepted. The standards are clear. Don’t sin. Get married if you can, don’t if you can’t. If you ever cross the line from temptation to sin, you’re out of the church and into prison. I just wish all the gay mormons would take a break from moaning about how hard their lot is sometimes. It could be worse.

    Could god give someone a sexual orientation that had no possibility of fulfullment now or ever? Well, he created me.

    someone who’s staying out of special files

  158. We cannot look to nature for answers to moral questions. This is a fallen world, not the world as God would have it. Our biology is imperfect, the bodies that house our spirits are imperfect. There are aberrations of all sorts, which cause all sorts of challenges and degrees of suffering. God didn’t make us the way we are, nature did. Our parents had sex and a unique mixture of DNA that randomly recombined during gametogenesis came together in an egg, which divided and began development, which was subject to all kinds of environmental influences, which further complicated things. Then we were born and our parents and our society had a go at shaping us, screwing us up in some ways and making us stronger in others. The resulting animal body of ours has all kinds of unholy natural instincts and urges and all kinds of deficiencies and aberrations. The nature and incidence of those urges and aberrations are irrelevant to the question of what God expects of us, of what will lead to happiness in the end. It’s the job of prophets and the Holy Ghost to teach us those things, not our bodies.

  159. I share that view Tom.

  160. Steven B,

    Yes, both D. and Mike offered a sincere, unruffled, and thoughtful response to my comment.

    Of course, the challenge with blogging is that it’s next to impossible to prove one’s position on so complex an issue in a “chat” enviroment.

    In response to you, Steven, regarding the 1957 study–The question that comes to my mind (as one who has read many studies having to do with mental/emotional disorders though I am, by no means, an expert) is, how does such a format prove that SSA is or is not a disorder? It only demonstrates that both groups had no significant psychological differences. It seems to me that the real question is, does sexual orientation have a psychological component and, if so, to what degree does that component determine a difference in orientation.

    That said, while the APA no longer considers SSA a mental illness, it has yet to be verified by reliable sourses that SSA is strictly a darwinian phenomenon. Therefore, rather than decending into the ugly realms where SSA is considered a by-product of sin only–a ridiculous proposition–I opt for the idea that “deficiency” is the only reasonable position that one (such as I with limited reasoning capability–I’m no greenfrog) can take who is caught betwixt the pronouncements of prophets and the ambiguous data regarding the origins of SSA.

  161. Jack, et al: I just want to say that I’m 49 years old now, and I had never heard the terms “same-sex attraction” or “same-gender attraction” until I started reading LDS blogs about a year or so ago. To the non-LDS world, there is no such thing as same-gender attraction. There is heterosexuality and homosexuality, straight and gay, whatever, but the use of “SSA” to describe this “condition” is an LDS linguistic construct that is yours and yours alone. According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, “heterosexual” means “of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward the opposite sex,” and “homosexual” means “of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex.” According to Healthline.com (a link I followed from the Merriam-Webster site), homosexuality is “enduring [i.e., long-lasting] emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to individuals of one’s own gender.” (I couldn’t find a similar listing for heterosexuality — perhaps they assumed people knows what is means, which would be “enduring [i.e., long-lasting] emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to individuals of one’s opposite gender.”) To the non-LDS world, they are naturally occurring just like (and in about the same proportions as) right-handedness and left-handedness.

  162. Brent Hartman says:

    Message 157 finally hits on a little bit of truth. The perverts in NAMBLA make the very same arguments as the gay and lesbian community. When biblicalsexuals question the arguments of the gay and lesbian community, then they are condemned for intolerence. Yet the gay and lesbians do the very same thing to pedophiles. How is the pedophile’s argument any less valid than that of the gay and lesbians? If the pedophile’s argument is invalid, then wouldn’t that bring into question the very same argument made by the gay and lesbian community? If sexual attraction is with us a birth, then it seems like any sexual attraction could use the same argument.

    I also see the pro-gay side condemning others for a lack of statistical information without providing any of their own. Seems like both sides are guilty of relying on anecdotal evidence. Here’s an article that should feed both sides of the debate.

    http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2004_Facts_and_Fiction_about_Homosexuality.html

  163. mayan elephant,

    It is the job of inspired oracles to teach us that life is eternal even though our mortal bodies are subject to the powers of entropy and will ultimately cease to function. This, too, sounds preposterous to many folks.

    Mike,

    I didn’t know that. It’s a small world I live in most of the time. I do, however, believe the term to be useful in that it isolates the phenomenon from a person or group of people to which the more common terms are typically applied.

  164. Brent Hartman — NAMBLA, gee — how did you know what that is? Did you know that the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual, even when you mathematically adjust for the difference in the sizes of the heterosexual and homosexual populations? And that heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles can prey on children of either sex? Pedophilia is a violent physical and psychological crime against children, the most defenseless of hmanity, the ones we most strongly need to protect. Anyone who commits a sexual act with a child (or even thinks about it), and any defender of the “rights” of such pedophiles is the same in my book. Pedophilia destroys the lives those who are most precious to us and who most need our protection, and the idea that you or whoever that other commenter was would try to justify criminal acts against children is despicable and disgusting. The fact that you would attempt to use the name of the Almighty and an LDS blog to drum up support for those who practice this predatory criminal behavior that scars its victims for a lifetime is the absolute lowest thing I have ever heard. Anyone who who commits this crime deserves the harshest of punishments from our criminal justice system, and will receive the harshest of judgments from our Creator. In my mind, someone who would seek to defend these bottomfeeders is no better than they are and deserves the same punishment.

  165. greenfrog says:

    …The resulting animal body of ours has all kinds of unholy natural instincts and urges and all kinds of deficiencies and aberrations. The nature and incidence of those urges and aberrations are irrelevant to the question of what God expects of us, of what will lead to happiness in the end.

    Love isn’t an unholy natural instinct. …whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

    It’s the job of prophets and the Holy Ghost to teach us those things, not our bodies.

    It is the job of each person to become like Christ. It seems to me that the instruction I get from the Church leaders on this topic is entirely contradicted by the Holy Ghost.

    And, for whatever it may be worth, perhaps those who are prepared to reject the learnings they receive from their “bodies” might reconsider. I’m not aware of any idea, even the most abstracted and spiritual idea possible, that can be had without a physically embodied mind to create and hold it. Every notion, every idea, every memory, every sensation, every emotion, every concept — whether we label it spiritual, carnal, exalted, debased, abstract, or concrete — exists only in a body, as a result of a body, as a part of a body.

    If your blood chemistry changes, so, too, do your thoughts, ideas, notions, emotions, sensations, conceptions and understandings.

    We can’t not learn from and in our bodies. All we can do is acknowledge that we do, or decline to acknowledge that we do.

  166. We can do more than that, greenfrog. We can determine whether or not what we are learning from and in our bodies may be sanctified.

  167. Brent Hartman says:

    Mike,

    I’m awed by your reading comprehension, but that’s to be expected on an LDS site. Thanks for your comments! :)

  168. Brent, that insult is uncalled for. Just because Mike misread you doesn’t make it OK to be a jerk.

    Greenfrog: Love isn’t an unholy natural instinct. …whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

    Of course, you’re right. I never said that every natural urge is unholy, just that we have a variety of unholy natural instincts and urgres. The point being that just because an urge is natural doesn’t mean that God is OK with us acting on it.

    It is the job of each person to become like Christ. It seems to me that the instruction I get from the Church leaders on this topic is entirely contradicted by the Holy Ghost.

    If that’s your experience, then believe and do what you think is right. I believe you’re wrong, but that’s the way things go.

    And, for whatever it may be worth, perhaps those who are prepared to reject the learnings they receive from their “bodies” might reconsider. I’m not aware of any idea, even the most abstracted and spiritual idea possible, that can be had without a physically embodied mind to create and hold it. Every notion, every idea, every memory, every sensation, every emotion, every concept — whether we label it spiritual, carnal, exalted, debased, abstract, or concrete — exists only in a body, as a result of a body, as a part of a body.

    This gets into complicated questions about interactions between spirit and body and how much of what we consider to be us is spirit and how much is body. But it says nothing about my point. If we believe the prophets we can’t believe that the way to know what God wants of us is to look at what we want to do. Many, probably most, men have a natural urge to mate with women who aren’t their spouses. So what? That doesn’t mean it’s not sinful.

    You can make a case for why we should disbelieve the prophets regarding homosexuality, or for why having homosexual relationships is not a sin. But that people have a natural urge to do so is irrelevant to the question of whether or not it’s sinful.

  169. Brent Hartman says:

    I agree, Tom, that insult was uncalled for. I mean, when he implied that I was part of NAMBLA, that was kind of crossing the line.

    Oh….wait…you were refering to me…sorry!

  170. Brent Hartman says:

    I was just wondering if anyone knows of any examples within the history of the gospel, from Adam on, that homosexuality was viewed with acceptence by the Church of God? Is there anything in the scriptures? What have all the prophets taught? What are the pro-gay LDS basing there arguments on? I thank you in advance for your responses.

  171. Hartman,

    Your statement that “the perverts in NAMBLA make the very same arguments as the gay and lesbian community” shows a stunning lack of familiarity with much of what the gay community actually says. Yes, certain radical arguments could be extended to cover all sorts of other groups. No sh*t, sherlock.

    However, there are also all manner of arguments that support the rights of adult gay couples, and that are also sufficiently circumscribed that they do not support the arguments of groups like NAMBLA. The mainstream gay rights movement is interested in securing of rights for consenting adults; that obviously doesn’t apply to pedophiles.

    Dale Carpenter recently wrote at Volokh.com on a similar note, criticizing a First Things article that makes the same mistake, this time on the gay-rights-inevitably-lead-to-polygamy front (see http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_08_13-2006_08_19.shtml#1155831813 ):

    George, a prominent natural-law theorist and one of the best public speakers I’ve seen, understands the radical argument for gay marriage. It claims, as he notes, that “love makes a family” and that making any legal distinctions among people who love each other is unjustified. The love-makes-a-family ideology — which also marches behind the more individualistic “families of choice” banner — does indeed entail the recognition of many forms of relationships, including same-sex couples and polygamous/polyamorous groups, since all may love each other. George concludes that this love-makes-a-family premise “is central to any principled argument” for same-sex marriage.

    George thus mistakes the most open-ended argument for gay marriage as the one necessary argument for gay marriage. . . .

    So while George understands the most open-ended argument for gay marriage — the “radical” one, as he and Rauch refer to it — it does not appear that he has taken the time to understand more careful and restrained arguments for gay marriage, like those advanced by Rauch himself. (George acknowledges not having read Rauch’s excellent short book, Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America.). I have tried, much less elegantly than Rauch, to make a similar limited and cautious case for gay marriage on traditionalist grounds. There are many, many others who have done so as well, going back to Andrew Sullivan’s pathbreaking article for The New Republic almost two decades ago making a conservative case for gay marriage. I won’t repeat the substance of these arguments here, but suffice it to say they do not easily lend themselves to support for polygamy; they certainly involve more than saying simply, “love makes a family.”

    As for the rest of your comment (“there’s no way to distinguish between gay-rights arguments and pedophile-rights arguments”), it’s the typical slippery-slope nonsense that often comes up in these kinds of discussions.

    Extreme, slippery-slope arguments were used forty years ago to oppose court cases striking down anti-miscegenation laws. “Oh no, courts are saying that whites can marry blacks, now there will be no limits, this inevitably leads to pedophilia and polygamy.” The argument was garbage then, and it’s garbage now. Not all slopes are slippery. It’s entirely possible to draw principled lines that allow for recognition of gay couples, without opening things up for pedophilia, etc.

  172. Does this discussion’s definition of pedophiles mean only those who actually molest children, or does it include even those who are sexually attracted to children but don’t do anything about it? How would you change your sexual attraction to children? Is it possible? I thought #157 was very pertinent to this discussion. Homosexuality and pedophilia are both dealing with sexual attraction on one level. Yes, acting on pedophilia is obviously wrong, and awful, but there is a level where they are comparable. Obviously not on all levels.

    Those who are pro-homosexual shouldn’t defend their position by saying their sexual attraction to the same gender is innate (be it from genetic or environmental or natural causes) and therefore should be sanctioned by men and/or God, because then any innate characteristic of a person is justifiable. I’d pick a better argument, like you can’t prove that it’s hurting anyone or anything, and it can have every similarity to a heterosexual relationship except gender. But I’d stay away from the “innate sexuality is always okay” argument.

    “By that I mean, it is, to me, unlikely for G-d to have created men/women who love children and then would condemn them for doing so”

    Of course, the original above statement meant love in the sense that includes sexual attraction, so assume it means the same thing here. Maybe you would say that pedophiles do not want to have a relationship with children, they just want sex, but then how would you know? You can’t say anything about it because you’re not a pedophile. How do you know what they feel and want?

    But blah blah blah.

    To me what this all comes down to is there is no reason on earth not to accept homosexuality as a viable orientation. The only reason a loving God would condemn it is if it hurt us in the long run, in the eternities. He would rather have us do something hard now than deal with damnation in the long run because he loves us. That’s not something I can prove, but it’s something I believe.

  173. Brent Hartman says:

    I have a very simple mind, as ya’ll have pointed out, so let’s keep this real simple. Is it, or isn’t it, the gay position that sexual attraction is something you’re born with and not something you choose?

    What makes one man’s sexual attraction a perverted choice, and another man’s sexual attraction a natural orientation? What’s the basis for natural orientation?

    I always thought the scriptures, and the words of ancient and modern prophets, was a pretty good way to find out what God thinks.

    What do the scriptures and the prophets say? Can anyone give me any references that support the gay position?

  174. Aaron Brown says:

    “Is it, or isn’t it, the gay position that sexual attraction is something you’re born with and not something you choose?”

    There’s no such thing as “the gay position,” Brent. For that matter, neither is their “the black position,” “the Jewish position,” “the Female position” nor “the Straight position” on most issues. There are many, many positions held by all sorts of people on all sorts of issues. Which means that if you want to engage this topic intelligently, you need to develop a little bit more sophisticated view of things.

    “What makes one man’s sexual attraction a perverted choise, and another man’s sexual attraction a natural orientation?”

    I’m sorry, but this question suggests you’re simply out of your depth, Brent.

    Aaron B

  175. Brad Kramer says:

    With all this talk about polygamy and PM I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the rather glaring misrepresentation from the interview. I was decidedly un-impressed that Elder O tried to pass the responsibility for plural marriage from JS to BY. BY “had it revealed to him?” Sure, by JS! I guess that fits better with our current campaign to convince the world that we’re a bastion of traditional families. It makes it sound like our founding prophet had a traditional marriage with his beloved Emma, the Church had a subsequent, aberational period of wierdness under Young’s tutelage, but then we returned to being the gatekeepers of the values of western civilization, and lived happily ever after. To be quite honest, I was very disappointed in Elder Oaks here. I have a strong testimony of both the restoration and the divine callings of the current leadership — Elder Oaks is honestly my very favorite if I had to choose just one. But you’d have a hard time convincing me (since I refuse to believe that a man as brilliant and lawyerly as Elder O misspoke here) that this was not a deliberate prevarication.

    Disappointing… Doesn’t shake my faith, but disappointing nonetheless.

  176. Brent Hartman says:

    Thanks for answering the questions, Aaron. You certainly have a strong position. How can I argue with the facts you’ve put forth? All I ask is that you give just a couple scriptures that support homosexuality or gay marriage.

    I also realize that I may be out of my depth, but hey, that’s my choise. :)

  177. Halcyan #172, “To me what this all comes down to is there is no reason on earth not to accept homosexuality as a viable orientation. The only reason a loving God would condemn it is if it hurt us in the long run, in the eternities.”

    And gay people would be hurt in the long run, how? By having loving, nurturing relationships? Or would the sex cause irreparable damage? Is there any rational basis for the taboo?

  178. Tom #158, “We cannot look to nature for answers to moral questions. This is a fallen world, not the world as God would have it”

    For centuries religious leaders have objected to homosexuality on the grounds that it is contrary to nature. It is the reason given by Paul in his condemnation of homosexual activity. Similarly, Spencer W. Kimball called homosexuality the “Crime Against Nature.”

    But then, the data begins to come in, indicating that homosexuality appears to be a natural manifestation of creation, appearing in many species, and among all segments of humanity.

    Whoops.

    So now gay people are told that we live in a fallen world, where anything that is natural is flawed and imperfect; clearly not what God intended. Therefore, homosexuality, being natural is also part of this degenerate world and cannot possibly be considered part of God’s plan for mankind. Damned if you are, damned if you aren’t. And this seems to be the direction that Oaks and Wickman are headed.

    Under the “fallen world” model, we can pick and choose what is moral and what is not; what is benign and what is cancerous, just like we do with scripture. People with black skin used to be considered cursed, but now are seen as part of the grand diversity of humanity. President Hinkley even strongly counseled church members, “It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.”

    Homosexuality, of course, is NOT to be considered “diversity” but rather tragic abberation, a burden to be carried, a disability. Forget that the homosexual “condition” manifests itself as a naturally occuring phenomenon of human existence, just as left-handedness or skin color, or race.

    If we hold that we are the creation of Nature and not God, and arbitrarily assign what is diversity and what is disability, then, given the current position of the Church on homosexuality, we can ONLY view gay people as disabled.

  179. Jack (#160), you asked about the Evelyn Hooker 1957 study:

    The question that comes to my mind . . . how does such a format prove that SSA is or is not a disorder? It only demonstrates that both groups had no significant psychological differences.

    No, the tests did not simply demonstrate that both groups had the same degree of pathology, rather, the results placed two-thirds of the heterosexuals and two-thirds of the homosexuals in the three highest categories of psycological adjustment. In other words, the majority were mentally healthy, and nothing indicated that one group was “saner” than the other.

    . . . does sexual orientation have a psychological component and, if so, to what degree does that component determine a difference in orientation?

    There are a few studies which show differences in physiology, such as finger length in women, which seem to indicate a physiological component, but most studies would point to the brain as the primary contributor. Hence the twin studies. The best compilation of material I know on the current state of the scientific investigation into homosexuality is here.

    . . . I opt for the idea that “deficiency” is the only reasonable position that one can take who is caught betwixt the pronouncements of prophets and the ambiguous data regarding the origins of SSA.

    The word “deficiency” implies a lack of heterosexuality, which is entirely true, but it also implies the person has no sexual attractions, which is completely false. The problem is that gay people have the “wrong” orientation, at least in the eyes of the church.

  180. There are quite a few comments in the queue right now. Most have to do with the pedophilia argument.
    Suffice it to say (and without going into the nuances of the various arguments), pedophilia* is an absolute evil. No parsing required. Pedophilia and other varieties of sexual attraction may stem from the same genetic stew, but the comparison ends there. A pedophile who acts on his attractions, and a homosexual who does the same are in utterly different leagues, even if you consider homosexual behaviour to be a sin.

    I realise that no-one seems to be making the counter argument, but there are a bunch of comments in the queue that are circling round and round what is an obvious conclusion. It’s probably not worth us going in to vet them all. Sorry.
    *I realise too that some unfortunate people may have unwelcome pedophilic desires but nevertheless not act on them. I realise that some people consider that scenario to be not much different from a person having unwelcome homosexual desires. But again, in my mind, the outcome for acting on each respective desire is so utterly divergent, that it hardly bears mentioning. It is the outcome of “sin,” not its source that is important.

  181. Steven B.: For centuries religious leaders have objected to homosexuality on the grounds . . .

    I don’t care.

    So now gay people are told that we live in a fallen world, where anything that is natural is flawed and imperfect; clearly not what God intended. Therefore, homosexuality, being natural is also part of this degenerate world and cannot possibly be considered part of God’s plan for mankind.

    That’s not my argument. My argument is simply a counterpoint to the argument that since homosexual urges are natural, it can’t possibly be contrary to God’s will that people act on those urges.

    There are two parts of my counter argument:

    1) Natural does not necessarily mean God-given when we live in a world that is fallen, i.e. not as God created it. This may be an idiosynchratic view on my part, but a world full of suffering and pain due to faulty biological processes only makes sense to me if I consider it a fallen world, in which not everything that is natural is directly willed by God, even if it is God’s will that we experience mortality in a fallen world.

    2) There are plenty of examples of urges that, like homosexuality, are natural and unchosen and which, if acted on, put us in direct opposition to God’s plan for us as taught by prophets, whether we consider the urges God-given or not. The urge to have pre-marital and extra-marital sex is natural and unchosen, but God, through prophets, has proscribed such acts because, in the context of the Plan of Salvation, they harm us. Pedophilia is the most extreme, obvious example of an arguably natural, unchosen urge which both believers and unbelievers recognize as either contrary to the will of God, or just plain wrong to act upon.

    In order to keep making the argument that since homosexuality is a natural, unchosen urge, acting on it is not contrary to God’s will, you have to deal with those arguments, the second one being the strongest. There are other arguments to be made, I’m sure. That one is a bad one.

    Under the “fallen world” model, we can pick and choose what is moral and what is not; what is benign and what is cancerous, just like we do with scripture.

    No. What is moral and what is not, what we should do and not do to progress to eternal happiness is taught by Prophets and the Holy Ghost. The propriety of an act can be judged by how it will affect our progression in God’s plan. According to that plan, exhaltation is only obtained by men sealed to women and women sealed to men. The Law of Chastity exists to steer men and women toward that ideal.

    You can believe or disbelieve the Plan as taught by the LDS Church. You can accept or reject the prophetic authority of LDS leaders. It’s a matter of faith. I can certainly understand why the non-believer doesn’t see anything wrong with participating in homosexual relationships.

    Homosexuality, of course, is NOT to be considered “diversity” but rather tragic abberation, a burden to be carried, a disability.

    If one believes that God cares what we do, then urges to do things contrary to God’s will, no matter what their nature, would have to be considered negative.

    The good news is that God is merciful and will take into account the (mostly random, in my opinion) lot we’ve been given as He judges us.

  182. re Tom’s 181, again, well said. I share that view.

  183. Brent Hartman says:

    Here’s some interesting comments made by John Mark Karr in an e-mail exchange with Michael Tracey.

    Tracey: “You told me once that your mother tended to raise you as a girl. This must have had a powerful effect on your developing sexuality – confusion maybe?”

    John Mark Karr: “Michael, I will not discuss my sexuality as if it is a psychological disorder,”

    “I am trapped in a world that does not understand,” Karr wrote. “I can understand people like Michael Jackson and feel sympathy when he suffers as he has. . . . I do think that he is sexually attracted to certain children but could never divulge this.”

    It appears that John Mark Karr doesn’t view his deviant sexual attraction to children as a psycological disorder. It seems like I’ve heard this argument before. I wonder if he will use the same argument in court, or maybe he’ll use the, “hey, the animals do it”, defense.

    And finally, John Mark Karr sure put the final nail in the coffin of the “slippery slope” argument. We can finally lay that flawed bit of logic to rest.

  184. Whether or not one agrees with every aspect of their views, it is surely signficant that Elder Oaks and Wickman were willing to go on the record with all this, and in such detail.

    Going back to the topic of the original post (since, it seems to me anyway that despite the efforts of some to stop the insanity, this thread continues to beat the pedophilia/homosexuality connection frist raised by Julie and first decried by me to a bloddy pulp): why do you think the church chose this sort of unorthodox method for communicating its message. Why were Elder Oaks and Wickman chosen? Why not President Hinckley (if it’s a health issue, why not President Monson)? Why not have a real reporter ask them the questions? Why not have a video feed?

    To raise some other substantive questions: someone mentioned that Oaks was a bit disingenuous in stating that polygamy started as a revelation to Brigham Young, downplaying Smith’s role. This is reminiscent of President Hinckley’s explanations to Larry King that polygamy started when the saints moved west, and is consistent with the church’s correlated efforts to remove any reference to polygamy from depictions of the life of Joseph Smith. Is there a concerted campaign to misinform or leave a false imnpression with people about Joseph Smith and polygamy? If so, why? Is this the kind of behavior we expect from our church leaders who expect us to be completely honest in all our dealings wioth our fellow man? What do you think of Oaks’ insistence that there is nothing ironic about the church’s opposition to gay marriage given the church’s former condemnation of monogamy and support for polygamy?

  185. Tom, I share your world view, and agree with what you have said, in theory at least. Unfortunately, what we observe when dealing with centuries-old prejudices, both inside and outside of mormonism, is a picking and choosing of what prophetic council should apply. On the matter of marital relations, for example, religious leaders ignore the prohibition of divorce given by the Saviour Himself, but hold tenaciously to select verses from the Holiness Code of ancient Israel prohibiting homosexual activity as still applicable to modern societies (but then ignore the associated death penalty). It just smacks of long-held societal bias, not divine inspiration.

  186. Re: 177

    “And gay people would be hurt in the long run, how? By having loving, nurturing relationships? Or would the sex cause irreparable damage? Is there any rational basis for the taboo?”

    Well, I would consider it rational if you consider faith rational. They would be hurt in the long run because they wouldn’t be able to create, wouldn’t be part of an eternal marriage, as outlined in the Plan of Salvation. That’s a long long run, obviously, but better to plan for the future I would think. It in effect damns them because they wouldn’t be able to progress as far as they would be able to otherwise. On an extremely simplistic and base level, God is good because he creates. Satan/evil embodied/The Dark Side is bad because it ultimately destroys and damns. Anything that keeps us from progressing is not good for us, and God does not want for us, even if it helps in the short run. Then comes the argument that how do you know that homosexuality will hurt us in the long run, and then we get back to what I said at the beginning: because of faith in this restored gospel and its modern revelation from prophets. So maybe our disagreement is about the truthfulness of that modern revelation. Which really is hard to discuss because it can’t be proven or disproven.

    But that’s my take on it.

  187. Re: 186

    “[Gay people] would be hurt in the long run because they wouldn’t be able to create, wouldn’t be part of an eternal marriage, as outlined in the Plan of Salvation . . . It in effect damns them because they wouldn’t be able to progress as far as they would be able to otherwise.”

    Using your logic, the current church policy for homosexuals damns homosexuals because it encourages them to be celibate, and therfore not be engaged in “creation.” Church leaders likewise discourage opposite-sex marriage for homosexuals, further keeping them from progressing in the Plan of Salvation.

    If gay people are damned anyway you look at it, what is the harm in allowing them loving, nurturing same-sex relationships? And what is it about homosexual activity that would make any difference either way according to your criteria? Again, if we apply your logic of the importance of moving along the Plan of Happiness, wouldn’t loving, committed, same-sex relationships for gay people provide a good “trial run” to the real thing? If God is going to fix all these disabilities anyway in the next life, I would think that a little practice in the here-and-now would go a long way towards “planning for the future.”

    “So maybe our disagreement is about the truthfulness of that modern revelation. Which really is hard to discuss because it can’t be proven or disproven.”

    Which is why I appealed to logic.

  188. The purpose of life here isn’t to try out everything that God does, though we do get that opportunity if we marry and have children. It’s to give our will to God to become like him.

    “…wouldn’t loving, committed, same-sex relationships for gay people provide a good “trial run” to the real thing? If God is going to fix all these disabilities anyway in the next life, I would think that a little practice in the here-and-now would go a long way towards ‘planning for the future.'”

    A “trial-run” isn’t necessary for exaltation. Christ’s Atonement will make up for any lacking of experience that we couldn’t fit in or have in this life. The way to become like God is to love like God does, which may or may not include marriage or committed relationships. He asked us to not have sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman. I’m just hoping he really does know best. Believe it or not, this is actually a hard issue for me, too.

    “Using your logic, the current church policy for homosexuals damns homosexuals because it encourages them to be celibate, and therfore not be engaged in “creation.” Church leaders likewise discourage opposite-sex marriage for homosexuals, further keeping them from progressing in the Plan of Salvation.”

    The Plan of Salvation is eternal. Those that don’t have marriages in this life though no fault of their own will get the chance in the next phase of our existence. We’ll have plenty of chances for creation after the resurrection. Not having a family or marriage now isn’t damning anyone unless it’s because they don’t want one out of rebellion.

    Thanks for having an unheated discussion with me.

  189. I’d just like to thank Ronan for making an important point in comment #180.

    I realize that the homosexuality/pedophilia comparison has been discussed ad nauseam, but I would just like to add my $0.02.

    Pedophilia and homosexuality are fundamentally different. Pedophilia is rooted in self-gratification; there is typically no desire for a romantic, emotionally committed relationship with a child, nor is such a relationship a possibility. If a pedophile acts upon his urges, it inevitably leads to abusive behavior.

    Homosexuality, on the other hand, is not merely about the selfish satisfying of sexual urges. There is a desire for emotional intimacy and commitment. In the case of homosexuality, this desire can be met, and real, lasting relationships can result.

    Given the differences between homosexuality and pedophilia in both desire and outcome, I don’t think comparisons between the two are valid. Each may be characterized by urges that are innate, but the same can be said of heterosexuality.

  190. Chris Williams says:

    157–

    I haven’t been in a tizzy for several days…

    Terminology is a side issue to this discussion for the most part, and it seems that even faithful Latter-day Saints who support the Church’s position on homosexuality don’t always follow the Church’s lead on language and terminology.

    But it is clear to me that the LDS Church uses the terms it uses in an attempt to keep homosexuals marginalized–and this interview with Elders Oaks and Wickman illustrates that rather nicely.

    Mike is right — it is a peculiarity largely found in the Mormon world.

  191. Rosalynde says:

    Chris, I haven’t been following this discussion, but I saw your name on the comment sidebar and jumped in, because I want to ask you a question.

    You may be right that a majority of the general leadership wants to keep gays marginalized, in the sense that they don’t want the committed-relationship gay model to be seem like the only, the inevitable course for gay members. I think we (that is, believing members generally sympathetic to the church but conflicted about this issue) ought to take it on good faith, though, that they feel constrained doctrinally on this point, and the marginalization stems primarily from that constraint, not primarily from a failing of Christian charity (though there may be some of that, too, in individual cases; I don’t know.) I’m very sympathetic to the argument that the Brethren need to do more than just marginalize the committed-relationship gay model, though, that they need to promote actively and sympathetically a viable alternative gay subject position in the church.

    Here’s my question, though: if the Brethren are willing and able to do that—work to make a loving and supportive space in Church structure and teaching for gays, in the way that they have for singles—and assuming that that space will require celibacy, do you think there are any gay men or women who will step up to the plate and make a go of it? The bloggernacle is not a very representative slice of Church membership, but those gay men who participate here seem either to have lost faith in the Church’s truth claims, as you have, or to be simply unwilling to live celibately, like MikeinWeHo (I’m not condemning this; I have no idea how I’d respond in his place). In other words, I’m not sure it would do much good for the leadership to work for the goal of a fully-integrated gay Mormon identity, if there aren’t any gay Mormons who want to wear it. Maybe it’s a matter of “if we build it, they will come.”

  192. Steven (#185),
    I see what you’re saying, but in the context the Plan of Salvation as taught by the LDS Church, with exhaltation consisting of eternal increase that can only be achieved by mixed-gender partnerships, the proscription of intimate homosexual relationships makes sense as a way to steer people toward the ideal and away from things that will make the ideal more difficult to attain. Point being, the way I see it, the LDS proscription of homosexual acts and relationships doesn’t fit the mold of a reactionary proscription motivated by repugnance or prejudce. Rather, it’s the loving guidance of a God who wants His children to have what He has.

    Of course, it’s possible that the mixed-gender partnership model of exhaltation is a case of mistaking the norm for the ideal. It’s possible that the LDS prophets were never inspired at all. But my belief is to the contrary.

  193. Chris Williams says:

    Rosalynde:

    I think there are many, many gays who would give it a go. I think many gay Mormons leave the Church only after trying to hang on for a very long time, and they often leave because they feel like there just isn’t a place for them–partiuclarly when they get no maningful support from their church leaders. If there was a place for them in the Church, both literally and figuratelively and that didn’t require that they deny the gay part of their identity, I think you’d be surprised by how many would stay or try to stay. And the Church would be richly blessed by their talents and service.

  194. D. Fletcher says:

    Chris is right, Rosalynde. I said upthread that even if the Church welcomed gay people back to the fold without promising exaltation, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of return missionaries who would tearfully return, for the benefit of all concerned, I think.

    I don’t know about the celibacy thing. I actually think enforced celibacy in this world is the source of a lot of problems of mental health, and even harm (I’m thinking primarily of priests in the Catholic church).

    And the difference between a single, celibate gay person and a single, celibate straight person who can’t find a good relationship, is that straight person has the potential for fruitful sex, i.e., hope; the gay person has none.

    Still, I soldier on in the Church, celibate but actively seeking the possibility of “hope.”

  195. Julie M. Smith: If you’re still out there, I want to say that I only saw the one comment without the context of other comments you’ve made on other parts of this blog or other blogs. I have just gone back and re-read many of the nearly 200 posts, and realize I may have jumped the gun. I apologize if I misunderstood your comments (because I had no context), and then went on to demonize you for it. Feel free to write to me personally and we can discuss it without any name-calling okay? Again, my sincere apologies.

  196. Julie M. Smith says:

    Mike Kessler:

    I appreciate your words. Apology accepted. I should have known better than to toss off in a half dozen words would could only be adequately explained in about 50.

  197. #161: Jack, et al: I just want to say that I’m 49 years old now, and I had never heard the terms “same-sex attraction” or “same-gender attraction” until I started reading LDS blogs about a year or so ago. To the non-LDS world, there is no such thing as same-gender attraction. There is heterosexuality and homosexuality, straight and gay, whatever, but the use of “SSA” to describe this “condition” is an LDS linguistic construct that is yours and yours alone.

    Members of the LDS Church do not deserve credit for coining these terms. “Same-sex attraction” and “same-gender attraction” are terms that can be found in dozens of books and scholarly articles (see here, here, and here for a sample of sources). Both terms can be found on the APA website.

  198. MikeInWeHo says:

    Wow, I go away for the weekend with my family and almost 200 comments pile up here. What a surreal thread this is. I read all of them and kept saying “Huh???!”

    re: 191 Isn’t this already the case? Hasn’t GBH explicitly said that celibate gays are welcome in the Church? I agree that it won’t work and it’s completely different than for single heterosexuals, though. Under the status quo, not just sex is disallowed gay members, so is dating, romance, etc. It’s a hopeless, depressing place to be. No wonder there are so very few D. Fletchers hanging around. (Hi, D. Fletcher! …thanks for your great comments)

  199. D. Fletcher says:

    Hi, Mike! Nice to see you. Er… read you.

    ;)

  200. D., every time I see you commenting, it reminds me that I still have your copy of “Garden State” (notwithstanding the fact that I also own a copy). Each sentence you write is added torture to my soul! Why not visit sunny Seattle, so you can get this DVD back?

  201. D. Fletcher says:

    I can’t afford to go to Seattle, not anytime soon. But by the way, somebody’s borrowed my Godfather set, I can’t remember who.

  202. Rosalynde says:

    Chris, thank you for your response; I’m very heartened by your assessment, and it seems that you would be in a position to know. I fervently pray that the general leadership of the church will have their minds and hearts prepared to discern the will of the Lord on this matter; and I fervently hope that my fellow gay believers will show their faithfulness to be stronger than the cords of desire. I think this issue will test all of us to our capacity.

    D., you are a glorious and irresistibly lovable exception to many schemes! And praise heaven for you. (Despite the fact that your purchased “Garden State”—did you like that movie?!)

  203. D. Fletcher says:

    Hi, Rosalynde! You know, I stay in the Church because I know there are people like yourself, people that I love that love me in return, and want only the best for me (and don’t sneer or act condescendingly because I’m gay). I suppose there are people outside the Church that I might feel the same way about, if I knew them. But why turn away from those people I already know?, like Rosalynde and Steve and Chris and greenfrog and Kaimi and… the list is endless.

    You’re my peeps.

    :)

  204. D. Fletcher says:

    And now for something completely different: I do feel some anger about this interview. I admit that I continue to be chagrined about the Brethren’s opposition to gay marriage.

    The Church/Brethren don’t want gay people. Gay people don’t want the Church (usually). This seems pretty win-win to me.

    And yet, the Brethren continue to try and stop gay people who are outside the Church from marrying each other, from having the ‘rights’ of adults to love and be loved and to cast their lots together.

    Yes. I’m angry about this, and I really wish the Church/Brethren would simply stop making any statements about it at all. Excommunicate all potentially gay people to get them out of sight, but don’t step on people’s rights where it’s really none of your business.

  205. Chris Williams says:

    198–

    MikeInWeHo, I think Rosalynde is describing something different than GBH’s perfunktory “all are welcome, including the so-called gays and lesbians.” I think she’s talking about the Church making an effort to include and support and honor its gay members. And I think many gay people would respond, even with a continued requirement of celibacy. It may be too late for many gay Mormons now (for many, faith in the Church collapses in the process of coming out to oneself and others), but not all. And for gay Mormons who are coming of age now, how wonderful it would be for them to be supported and affirmed rather than have their sexuality characterized as an affliction or an addiction.

    At least that’s how I understood Rosalynde.

  206. Justin (#197) — Members of the LDS Church do not deserve credit for coining these terms. “Same-sex attraction” and “same-gender attraction” are terms that can be found in dozens of books and scholarly articles…

    My apologies. It is true that I never heard these terms before I logged onto an LDS blog, and have never heard them used outside LDS circles. I’ve never heard them used at any house of worship I’ve been in except for LDS wards, but I can’t say I’ve been to a lot of others besides LDS wards and either Jewish or gay-affirming houses of worship. I realize now that that leaves a whole host of other places that the term might be used. (For example, most of our heterosexual LDS couples with whom we socialize don’t use the term SSA. Let’s face it, it doesn’t come up in normal dinner conversation.) You are right — just because I have only heard the terms used in LDS circles doesn’t mean it was invented by the Church or is used only by the Church and its members. Though I resent the use of the term because it is dehumanizing, once again, my apologies for saying that it is an LDS linguistic construct.

  207. MikeInWeHo says:

    Mike,

    Very similar terminology is used by the Evangelicals, in fact, the LDS got it from them. My sense is that they often use even more patronizing and insulting language than this (and this is plenty bad enough). Am I the only one who finds the GBH quote (“so-called gays and lesbians”) remarkably offensive? So-called??!! Bottom line: Rightly or wrongly, most gays find this language offensive, dehumanizing, and repellent. Imagine if he said “so-called African Americans….” or “so-called Jews” or referenced Catholics as “so-called Christians.”

    D. Flether is correct as usual. There is evidence upon evidence that the leadership does not want gay people in the Church, unless of course they essentially cease being gay people in any meaningful way. It’s completely understandable why the vast majority of us leave Church activity (often along with our friends and families). A more interesting question is: Why would any stay?

  208. D. Fletcher says:

    MikeInWeHo —

    Maybe you’ll just have to come back to New York to hear my Sacrament Meeting talk (on September 17, 12:30 pm at the Stake Center) to hear my thoughts on “why I stay.”

    :)

  209. Some might stay if they believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and therefore this really can be the only true Church, as far as priesthood authority that is binding in the eyes of God is concerned. With this belief, they might also ascribe inspired/revelatory leadership to the current Prophet and Apostles and therefore believe that God designates homosexual activity as sin. Based on that belief, although aware that the cross they bear is difficult, they might stay and press forward with the faith that the Church leaders appear to be urging that they will be able to enjoy all the blessings that a child of God can possibly obtain if they resolve themselves to obedience here. Absent such a faith, however, I agree that it would be very rare for a homosexual to choose the Church as their preferred venue for worship.

  210. Left Field says:

    Mike, I see your point about so-called. The term is often used to mean “falsely called.” But it can also be used simply to mean “as commonly called,” with no implication that the referenced term is being used improperly. (See dictionaries for examples)

    In this particular case, I think President Hinckley is using the so-called gays in the second sense, simply as a marker of a colloquialism.

    I’m a half century younger than GBH, and in my experience at least, merry was the primary meaning of gay until some time in the ’70s. That also corresponds to the time that people quit naming their daughters Gay, and we quit using Gaynotes as the name of a primary class. Also in my experience, the current meaning of gay did not lose its colloquial quality until some time in the last few decades.

    I suspect that the modern use of the term still retains an informal colloquial feel for many of the older generations who grew up with the original meaning.

    General conference is an occasion that would normally call for more formal language. The term homosexual would probably feel more formal to President Hinckley, but it also comes across as somewhat harsh and clinical. President Hinckley opted to use gay, which is the currently accepted term. But I think because to him, the term probably has an informal feel, he added so-called indicate that he is using the commonly-accepted term, despite its informality.

    That’s my take.

  211. MikeInWeHo says:

    D., are you going to record your talk or have it transcribed? Pete and I get to NYC all the time (he basically commutes), but not that weekend. I suspect many in the Bloggernacle would love to hear your talk. Please make it available to us somehow. Maybe we can even generate some advance online buzz and pack the house (kinda like Snakes On A Plane– well, hopefully your talk will be better than that!)

  212. D. Fletcher says:

    Ha, Mike, actually, I don’t know what I’m going to talk about at all. They said I could talk about “music,” which I could do, of course, but maybe I’ll just give my standard “there’s a real need for service” talk.

    Any suggestions, I’m all ears.

  213. Chris Williams says:

    D, Sept 17 is the one year anniversary of the the beginning of my journey out of the closet. Maybe I should come hear your talk.

  214. Chris Williams says:

    210–

    I think he used “so-called” because the Church quite explicitly discourages the use of the terms “gay,” “lesbian,” and “homosexual.”

  215. D. Fletcher says:

    You’re welcome Chris, of course. Maybe you should write it for me?

    ;)

    P.S. First talk for me in… 18 years, I think. When I gave one last time, it was in January, 1988 — just prior to my 30th birthday, which I mentioned.

  216. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 214 While I appreciate Left Field’s charitable interpretation, I think you’re right, Chris. And that’s exactly what is so repellant. Essentially, it’s trying to semantically erase an entire subculture. Reminds me of when Israel’s enemies insist on calling her The Zionist Entity. Same kind of thing. The ultimate objective of the Church’s position on homosexuality is clear: In Zion there are no gay couples, no gay subculture, no self-affirmed gay people. There might be some celibate people “struggling with SSM” and even fewer “healed” people now heterosexually married. There’s no way you can logically get around that. Thanks, but they can keep their vision. Sounds hellish to me.

    Maybe you should come out in your talk, D., and let everyone know that you’re obeying the LoC while you wait for your eternal companion (whoever he may be!) : )

    ps) Congrats on coming out, Chris. Hope it goes well for you. I’ve been ‘out’ for almost 1/2 of my 41 years, and have never regretted it for a moment. Most of the time, I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet.

  217. D. Fletcher says:

    Hmm. That’s doubtful Mike. My talk should not be… all about me. It’s just going to be a standard LDS talk.

  218. Tom Thumb says:

    Position of the Church on opposite-gender attraction — the magic of search-and-replace reveals hidden messages in The Interview.

  219. MikeInWeHo says:

    Fun. Reminds me of the argument Arnold makes to his mother (“Imagine the world the other way around…”) at the end of Torch Song Trilogy, although I doubt many here saw that movie. Bummer.

    These strings on SSM, juxtaposed against the ones about the Mideast conflict, reveal something similar: Certain conflicts are unresolveable, even hypothetically. The two sides hold entrenched differences in fundamental ways, view history differently, and feel their very existance is threatened by the other side. The best that can be hoped for is some kind of detente. Gay couples will feel welcome in the Church about the same time the Israelis and Palestinians agree to share Jerusalem.

  220. I was very disturbed by two comments made by Dallin Oaks. 1) he imagined parents would tell their gay children that they might not be expected to have extended stays in their home or expect to introduce their gay child to their friends in a public setting. 2) “discrimination is never a good arguement.” Frightening that these words would be uttered by an apostle.

  221. D. Fletcher says:

    (Something I wrote over at T&S that I just realized has some pertinence here, since I was asked “why I stay.”)

    I analyze my own actions every single day of my life. Why do I stay in the Church? despite being a complete misfit and having serious misgivings about the purported origins of the Church.

    I stay because of a combination of factors I’ve observed over my life — a deep “spiritual” power is only one of these (and I’m not sure I’ve ever felt it). I stay primarily because I like what a belief in the Church makes people become, and I’d like to be one of those. I struggle between feeling mistrust in a Church that would have me transform myself (like there’s something wrong with me!) into a spiritual being, and knowing that “transformation” is exactly the point.

    For two separate periods in my life, I stopped attending for a time. In both cases, I ended up feeling quite lost. Have I been brainwashed since my birth to feel this? Nonetheless, returning to the fold has alleviated real depression, because it is where I’m safe and embraced.

    Some people have suggested that living Church principles is a courageous act, because they’re so difficult, so demanding. I actually disagree. The Church/Gospel is a survival guide, providing rules of comfort and ease in this very difficult and stressful mortal life. Obeying the Commandments makes life easier, not harder.

    And I have felt spiritual presence, though perhaps in little details more than the “big vision.” Fathers tending their babies in the foyer and giving heartfelt blessings and confirmations. Bishops who started out as awkward speakers suddenly revealing wisdom and grace over the pulpit. Busy career women making time to throw successful ward dinners, and teach supremely fulfilling Sunday School lessons. The level of service in our Church is quite remarkable — I’m often amazed to note the people who show up to “clean” our building, including retired executives with $100 million in their bank accounts.

    All these little details of my Church-going life that I’ve observed have each made me want to stay and contribute what I can. And one more thing… I live alone and I don’t have children. I like to see the children, to hear them laugh (and cry), and I imagine that the Church is only beginning to influence their lives, to transform them into spiritual beings, so that the journey ahead will be rich, fulfilling, and marked by grace.

  222. Thanks D. Fletcher for your comment. I was really touched by it.

  223. Steven B wrote (#181): “[according to the church], homosexuality, of course, is NOT to be considered ‘diversity,’ but an aberration, a burden to be carried.”

    Homosexuality reduces the likelihood of reproductive success and, like other conditions that hinder reproductive success (infertility, endometreosis, PED, etc.), is necessarily considered a disorder. Though many homosexuals identify strongly with their condition, like deaf persons, homosexuality, like deafness, is properly considered a disorder even if the person desires no treatment.

    Several commenters suggested that the church opposes committed celibate same-sex relationships but that is contrary to fact. Many of us grew up in wards where women living together and caring for one another were active and comfortable in church. And while I didn’t personally know any situations like these involving men, there would surely exist life-long male roommates somewhere who do the same thing. I do think it obvious, however, that church leaders would discourage unmarried couples who are sexually attracted to each another from living together. A heterosexual man whose wife was in a medical center for years would be discouraged from living with another woman, even if they promised celibacy, if the leader assumes they are sexually attracted to each other. (Exceptions to living with, for example, his mother or daughter because sexual attraction not assumed.)

  224. “Homosexuality reduces the likelihood of reproductive success and, like other conditions that hinder reproductive success (infertility, endometreosis, PED, etc.), is necessarily considered a disorder.”

    Welcome back to the land of the living, Matt! Good to see you’re still kicking it, old-skool. Of course you realize that characterizing homosexuality as a disorder is far from a neutral or inoffensive thing, and no doubt you did so deliberately. I guess the characterization is correct if the proper framework for evaluating sexuality is through the (narrow) lens of reproductive potential. There’s a claim to be made in that respect, but I suspect you’d agree that there’s a lot more to human sexuality than propogation of the species, and it’s this “everything else” bit (such as interpersonal relationships and other such minutiae) that matters so much to many.

  225. Steve, it’s good to be back!

    I agree there’s more to sexuality than reproduction, just as there’s more to eating than nutrition. That fact doesn’t change the biological purpose of sex or eating, however, or mean that conditions that impair reproduction or nutrient absorption aren’t medical conditions.

  226. Steve Evans says:

    Matt, I’m not really arguing against your bio/medical framework, I’m just saying that even if within such a view you can view homosexuality as a “medical condition,” such a characterization isn’t necessarily the most relevant or helpful one. It does, however, seem to be one of the more inflammatory ones, which is why you prolly used it…. (grin).

  227. Steve, this characterization is relevant and necessary to refute Steven B’s claim that it’s wrong for the church to view homosexuality as a burden and not merely “diversity.”

  228. Julie M. Smith says:

    “such a characterization isn’t necessarily the most relevant or helpful one”

    There’s no use pretending that anyone can come up with a neutral analogy for homosexuality but given that, I think you should actually do the legwork to refute the notion instead of just writing it off as inflammatory. Sure, in this environment, it is inflammatory, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. Tell us why you think it is wrong. I think it is very useful, if unpopular.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] For those of you who have a life, you might not have noticed that the “Bloggernacle’s” collective heart rate was recently set aflutter by a candid interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy, on the subject of Same Sex Attraction (SSA).  Two of the Bloggernacle’s tent pole institutions, Millennial Star and By Common Consent, eagerly tackled the subject and logged a whopping 445 and 221 comments respectively.  Like Ether at the end of the final Jaredite battle, I “go forth” (Ether 15:33) onto the now silent battlefield to wade through the carnage… [...]

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