Trial of Faith

The latest Dialogue, 40/2 (Summer 2007), hit my mailbox on Friday. You can see a summary of contents here, and subscription information is available here. I thought I would try to summarize briefly one of the pieces, by John Donald Gustav-Wrathall, under the caption Personal Voices, entitled “Trial of Faith.”

John is gay and has lived for 15 years in a committed relationship with his partner. He previously left the Church, but he has since recommitted to his LDS faith. He begins by talking about visiting his parents’ ward with them, and of how the topic of homosexuality came up in GD class, accompanied by substantial ignorant, painful commentary, and of how glad he was that his partner had not come with him that day. This article is an exploration of his attempts to find a middle path that works for him, between the extremes of rejecting the Church and rejecting his partner (initiated by a spiritual experience he had at the 2005 Sunstone Symposium).

A 2006 survey of 165 gay men and women with an LDS background reports that 62% classified themselves as “inactive,” 16% as excommunicated, 8% as having joined other religions, and 24% considered themselves non-religious.

The author briefly surveys four possible approaches to the issue. One would be to allow gay members to have relationships without excommunicating them. This was advocated in 1978 in a pamphlet by Clay Jenkins, one year after the founding of Affirmation. This possibility has been rejected by both the Church leadership and the majority of the LDS rank and file. A second possible approach is the search for effective reparative therapies, represented by the founding of Evergreen International in 1989 and the publication five years later by Deseret Book of Born That Way.
An unfortunate byproduct of this approach was the one-time counsel for gay men to get married as a way for them to “get over it.” The experience of time suggests that these approaches simply don’t work, unless one had at least some attraction to the opposite sex (being bisexual or in the middle of the Kinsey scale) to begin with. In the face of overwhelming evidence that reparative therapy doesn’t work, the Church has turned most recently to the third approach, that of encouraging celibacy. A fourth approach is a “mixed orientation marriage,” where the marriage is entered into with full disclosure of one spouse’s orientation, and with little expectation that that will change. (The one example of this that he discusses still ended in divorce.)

Most LDS gay people are bifurcated between those who have reconciled themselves with their sexuality (who would argue for the first position) and those who view it as evil (and typically embrace one of the last three positions). John is in the process of working out a middle way, which he characterizes as a “waiting” or “growth” position. He spends several pages describing how renewing his faith has actually resulted in a much deeper connection with his life partner, which at first seemed counterintuitive to him.

He then discusses the Oaks/Wickman interview articulating the Church’s recent swing away from reliance on reparative therapy and towards celibacy. They acknowledged that the situation is not qute the same as that of a single heterosexual person, for whom marriage is a possible future option, but nevertheless defended the Church’s current position. John questions the aptness of a comparison with someone who cannot marry due to severe mential or physical disability (such as total paralysis). Very few would opt for what seems to be the only option available, which amounts to a life of “great loneliness.” Shortly after leaving the Church, John actually explored the realities of living a life of celibacy, spending a summer with a group of Catholic monks in France, one of whom he had met on his mission. Each of the monks in private conversations told him that it would be very unwise to commit oneself to a life of celibacy because one was running away from his sexuality. Such a motivation would not suffice over the very long haul. Rather, one had to feel called to celibacy. The monks were also of the view that it was a calling for a relatively small number of people. After much study and prayer with the monks, it became clear to him that celibacy was not his calling in life.

John acknowledges that he is not sure how his life choices might have been different had the Church’s contemporary policy of supporting gay individuals in celibacy had been the policy 20 years ago, when being gay was still considered a choice and the orientation itself was perceived as evil. But he feels that it was necessary for him to leave the Church for a long period of time in order to experience divine love after the spiritual damage he experienced in his youth.

Gay people seek intimate relationships not just because they live in a sex-saturated society, but because they seek and crave the same emotional intimacy that heterosexual couples seek. “We seek and enter into intimate relationships, not because we are gay but because we are human.” Gay people too have to resist temptations, and learn such qualities as honesty, fidelity, selflessness and compassion. He perceives his relationship with his partner as fitting what he learned growing up and attending church, and he sees this relationship as a gift from God.

He finds that his love for the Church and for his partner increasingly have become significantly intertwined. He could not reject either and maintain his integrity. While he agrees that celibacy has the potential to be a possible path for some, he suggests we should seek for ways to encourage and commit to fellowship with those who are not able to commit to celibacy.

John says that a friend gave him an old battered copy of the BoM that he found at a garage sale, partly as a joke. He read it, and prayed. He used to argue against the notion that homosexual conduct was sinful, in a spirit of self-justification, but he realized that he certainly was a sinner, no matter the details of what was and wasn’t a sin. So he simply prayed for forgiveness and opened himself to doing whatever God asked of him. Although this was a scary prayer–for perhaps God would require him to leave his partner–he felt an assurance that God would not ask him for more than he had the capacity to give, that God would prepare him for it, and that whatever it was would be based in love. He simply had to let go of his expectations and learn to place his trust in God. The important thing, he realized, was to trust God and to listen, without rationalizing, justification or defense. We must listen to the Spirit and follow what we hear. The point of discipleship is to become what God would have us become. And just as self-justification drives a wedge between us and God, so does condemnation of others.

To assume that we must ostracize gay people or they will not repent shows a lack of faith. How will gay people be able to seek a relationship with the Spirit and repentance if they are driven from the Church where the Spirit resides? And if our negative views of homosexuality derive simply from cultural conditioning, will not our driving away our gay brothers and sisters be judged the more grievously at the last day? Debate is pointless; we all need to repent of our own sins and invite and encourage others to enter into the same path. He is not suggesting that the authorities abandon the rules or the difficult decisions they must make. What is important is how we deal with and treat one another. For John, a growth-oriented approach focuses more on loyalty–to each other and the cause of the Church–than on perfect conformity. In the early Church, Joseph had tolerance for shockiingly different points of view, but very little for disloyalty.

As long as our straight brothers and sisters have no interest in lifelong celibacy, rather than condemning gay Saints for their unwllingness to commit to it, we need to celebrate and support decisions to embrace and live as many of the principles of the gospel as possible. We especially need to embrace those who make the very difficult decision to attend meetings regularly and participate in worship in places where previously they have experienced alienation, rejection, and denigration. Even with the limits of excommunication, a rich spiritual life is still available in attendance and participation with the Saints.

[Please note that this is my attempt at summarizing a 30-page essay in a single blog post so as to pique your interest in the actual essay itself. Obviously I was not able to recreate all of the nuance of his experience and argument as he recounts it.]

Comments

  1. we need to celebrate and support decisions to embrace and live as many of the principles of the gospel as possible.

    Amen.

  2. I am getting seriously concerned that my three-year subscription to _Dialogue_ must have expired, since I have not received this issue.

    I have heard this story, though, from a gay friend. I am so glad that _Dialogue_ is publishing accounts like this one. I was out of town during SLC’s celebration of the founding of “Affirmation,” but I have read the starkly difficult but beautiful address Connell O’Donovan gave at it and hope that it will be more widely available soon.

    I learned recently that a young man I grew up with counsels gay BYU students. I was so proud of him when I learned his approach, which is, “If you choose to stay in the Church, I will be with you every step of the way. If you choose to leave the Church, I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

    I asked a gay friend what he would like to hear from the Church and was struck at the answer–something like, “We welcome you into the Church if you want to be here, but if you do choose to live a homosexual life, this is not the best place for you. We will never turn you away, but we also release you with our love and blessing.” No talk of excommunication, obviously.

  3. OOps. I once again failed to look at which name was on the commenter’s space. I (Margaret Young) wrote that last post (#2), not my husband (Bruce Young).
    I need to remember that our home computer also includes him. Sorry.

  4. Kevin, as usual you have provided a good and thought provoking post undoubtedly inspired by the wonderful essay by John Donald. I concur that as followers of Christ we must be accepting of all regardless of sexual orientation and in fact that we have added duties to be accepting and supportive of those challenged by such issues. There is, of course, also the position that God has asked homosexuals to face a challenge that those who are heterosexual don’t – the challenge of remaining chaste and celibate throughout life. We could add that apparently God asks the same for many hetersexuals. However, I concur that it is more consonant with love and commitment to our gay brothers and sisters to support them in living the gospel as far as they can.

    I see some issues that arise from the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach you appear to advocate here. I for one doubt that any particular behavior (as opposed to orientation) is fated or impossible. I am hetersexual and no therapy and no commandment could make it otherwise and I believe that for some gays their sexual orientation is just that firm also. However, I am not fated to have sexual relations with any given individual or at any time. I could remain celibate — though it would be a supreme challenge I will readily admit.

    Neverthleless, it is this last fact which suggests an amendment to the proposed position: let us support our gay brothers and sisters as far as they are willing and urge them to be willing. Yet it is this last admonition that is missing altogether. Here also is the challenge: how can we urge them to be willing to give up on an active gay relationship consistent with the view you suggest? Or are you claiming that it is just beyond them to be willing? If so, how do you know?

    Here is the greatest challenge I face in adopting what you suggest — there is a kind of fatalism in the suggested approach. I don’t suggest that gay men marry to solve their problem; but there are two gay men in my close family who have married, had children and remained not only faithful but also happy (and they are well-along in life at this point). Life isn’t over for them so that could change — as it could for us all because we are all works in progress. However, I reject a blanket condemnation of gays marrying hetersexuals. Who can say that it won’t work for some?

    The best evidence we have suggests that sexual orientation is more firm for some than others and that many that we identify as gay (or who self-identify as gay) are in fact bi or quite capable of being hetero by choice. There is a continnum of “gayness-hetersexuality” according to the best evidence I have seen with individuals falling somewhere along that spectrum. It is the assumption that all gays are just fated and have no choice that I believe is the problem. It is a false assumption in my view. I am not saying that some may not have such firm orientation that it is not possible for them to have a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex; rather, I am sayng that we cannot simply generalize. Moreover, the real issue is: who can say who can make that choice and live by it unless they try? Perhaps someone who has done their level best and failed could say that — but then knowing that one has done one’s level best is also a challenge.

    Moreover, for any coherent position must make sense we must also be able to apply the directive to un-married hetero-sexuals who, for whatever reason, are or remain single. We cannot say, for instance, it is fine for gays to have relationships outside marriage but not for heterosexuals. However, I believe that is precisely what most gays suggest — or get rid of the ban on gay marriage. John Donald doesn’t appear to me to be saying that. He is saying, as I read him, that gays are like everyone else in that they sin and they have challenges in keeping the commandments. However, it seems to me implicit in this position that we must say that homosexual conduct is not a sin and that we shouldn’t teach that it is contrary to God’s plan for us. That is the difficult part. The Church’s position remains clear: homosexual conduct is contrary to God’s plan for us. However, homosexual orientation is not against God’s plan any more then being a heterosexual who is single is contrary to God’s plan for us to the extent such facts are beyond our choice.

    So as I noodle this through it becomes more difficult to approach simply at all. We cannot say that it is fine if a single person wants to have intimate relations now and then because she is human and having such relations is just part of being human. A part of what the gospel is about is to bring our human-ness into subjection to God’s plan for us so that we master our bodies rather than being mastered by them. Nor can we say that gay sexual activity are ordained of God.

    So is the suggstion that we not excommunicate folks for homosexual conduct? Never? Only when they have been endowed? Only when they have been married and violate the marriage covenant?

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    To be clear, the post is in its entirety a summary of John’s Dialogue article. While I am sympathetic to what he says, it is ultimately his essay, not mine.

    John acknowledged that homosexuality exists along a scale, and that reparative therapies might work for those with some bisexuality (the bit about those in the middle of the Kinsey scale was my interpretive gloss on what he wrote), so I don’t think there is a disagreement there, although I suspect both he and I are substantially more sceptical of the efficacy of such therapies than you are.

    I personally disagree with you about gays marrying heterosexuals, unless there is prior full and frank disclosure. We just have too much sad experience that this is a disaster waiting to happen. If I found out that my daughter married a gay man unawares because some bishop told him to do it, I would go and punch the bishop in the nose. (Well, I’m being dramatic, but let’s just say I would be royally pissed, and rightfully so.)

    I know we also disagree on the subject of gay marriage. I personally wish that such were available, because it would provide a mechanism for allowing gay people to enter into committed relationships and remain in full fellowship in the Church. I personally would not push the Church to simply allow sex outside of marriage, but not having marriage available as an option severely constrains the possibilities.

    Under the existing circumstances, of course the Church isn’t going to countenance sex outside of marriage (and I would not suggest that it should), and since marriage is not at present an option for gays, then it’s either celibacy or name removal or excommunication (or reparative strategies, which I put little stock in). But if I were a bishop who had to deal with this issue (perish the thought), and if I had a member of the congregation like John who wanted to remain engaged in the life of the Church, I would do everything in my power to make him–and his partner–feel welcome and at home in the congregation (subject to the strictures of excommunication, which would be beyond my control), and I would communicate to the congregation that they were welcome and to be accepted as parishioners.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Did you guys see the comic on p. 73 of the current Sunstone?

    Frame 1: A guy sitting in front of his computer, pondering: “Hmm…How can I generate traffic & comments on my LDS-themed blog?”

    Frame 2: “Ah…Let’s Write about gay marriage!!!” [begins typing]

    Frame 3: The computer goes “DING! You have 627 comments” and the guy goes “Wow!”

    Frame 4: [With a mischevious look] “Now here’s my take on apologetics and evolution!” while the computer beeps a “sigh.”

  7. Kevin: to be clear — in both instances in my family there was a clear knowledge before the marriage of sexual orientation challenges. I agree that it is better that such orientation issues are fully disclosed. You also know that if we’re going to be fair, then all of these kinds of issues ought to be discussed by those contemplating marriage — any kinks or strange attractions ought to be discussed openly. That is a pretty tall order. Even heterosexual couples rarely achieve that level of self-awareness and transparency. Further, in many instances gays don’t know how strong their orientation is or how strong their need or urges are until later in life. That makes it much more challenging. Many of these “gays” who married weren’t sure they were gay or that they weren’t far enough along the continuum that they couldn’t be happy in a heterosexual relationship until long after the knot had been tied.

    I guess all such instances call for refusal to judge and willingness to grant a ton of slack.

    However, that doesn’t change the prospect for self-control. However,t honesty and openness in marriage are always good for relationships. What about those who are somewhere on the continuum of orientation short of firm homosexuality and have a choice? Can we be so sure where folks are if they never give it a shot? I guess I’m suggesting something like C. S. Lewis that the only realist about sin that ever existed was Christ because he never gave in to sin. The rest of us give in way before it was impossible to resist. Do we teach that giving in is fine? I just don’t see anything in your approach to allow us to say essentially that gay conduct is sinful and that one is best served by working on not giving in to gay sexual urges. Your position on marriage seems to imply as much. If gays are married, their relationship is — what? — morally and legally on par with hetero-sexual marriages? It seems that at least your own position entails that there is nothing sinful or inappropriate about gay sexual conduct and the Church would be best served by adopting that view. Is that right? Do I get your view correctly?

    If that is your view, how do you reconcile it with the view that single heterosexual members must abstain? I guess that some of the reasons that I disagree with your stand on gay marriage are implicit in my questions.

    You also misunderstand what I say about reparative therapies — which I never addressed. I am talking about individual accountability and choice. Any view that says that controlling human sexual choices is impossible so we ought to just give up and hand out condoms at church is not consistent with the gospel message as I understand it. It serves to recognize that we have a choice and my point was simply that while there may be little choice about orientation, there is choice about conduct. (Elder Oaks states something similar and I don’t think many people liked it; but I believe it is important and essentially correct).

    Finally, I would like to believe that there are enough saints-in-the-making among us that your suggestion as to how to treat a gay person and partner in your ward would be widely accepted. However, given your stand on gay marriage I think that I wouldn’t lose sleep about the prospect of becoming a bishop. On the other hand, you could have simply published in Sunstone and you wouldn’t have to go public about your stance on gay marriage to avoid being made a bishop.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Ha, ha, I’ll have to remember if they ever try to call me as a bishop [and my beard and colored shirt defense doesn't work] to turn the discussion to gay marriage. (g)

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    BTW, Blake, I didn’t hear it myself, but I’ve heard that you did a fantastic job on your NPR interview. Congratulations and kudos!

  10. My two cents worth:

    I think we place too much emphasis on membership to the unfortunate exclusion of simple fellowship. Too many of us seem to think that only those who are members or “progressing investigators” should be with us as we worship. In my view, although we could create dozens of more narrow categories, we have four general options for attendance in our meetings and fellowship:

    1) “Fully committed members” – holding temple recommends and striving to live every aspect of the Gospel to the best of their ability.

    2) “Partially committed members” – sporadic attendees not holding temple recommends and struggling or unable to live some basic standards expected of fully committed members

    3) “Progressing investigators” – people who are serious about their efforts to decide on future membership and exhibit that commitment by attending church regularly and meeting basic expectations of membership

    4) “Committed non-members” – those who want to worship with us but have no intention of becoming “members in good standing” and future temple recommend holders

    I see someone who decides to remain in an active homosexual relationship but wants the fellowship of the Saints in this final category, and I see this final category as the ultimate test of our acceptance of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. How willing are we to accept a habitual drunk as our pew mate? How willing are we to embrace a homosexual couple in our meetings – understanding that they might never be baptized and join our membership ranks? How willing are we to tolerate the smell of tobacco from the pew in front of us? How willing are we to have a Baptist or a Methodist or a Catholic or a Jew or a Muslim worship at our side if they are open about their unwillingness to be baptized? How willing are we, sinners in our own way, to worship alongside sinners in a different way – understanding that they might never enter category #1, but willing to love and serve them even as they remain in category #4.

    IMHO, if we as fully committed members lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its fullest, much of this conversation would be irrelevant – since we would be willing to love and worship with those we are addressing and let them work out their own issues as we strive to work our ours. In a nutshell, I wish we could separate fellowship from membership and fellowship all.

  11. BTW, I think I just wrote the basic outline for my next talk.

  12. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 10 Oh here we go, gays being lumped back in with the drunks again. Next up: drug dealers and pornographers!

    Fantastic post, Kevin. I suspect, however, that there will be very few John Donald’s out there until the excommunications cease. It’s simply an untenable situation for most.

    Your comment “Even with the limits of excommunication, a rich spiritual life is still available…” made me cringe. I get the sense that liberal Mormons try to resolve their own discomfort with the status quo by minimizing the significance of excommunication. It’s as if subconsciously you want to say to your gay brothers and sisters: “Excommunication is no big deal! Now come sit next to me on the pew!”

    This will never work in the vast majority of cases, all good intentions aside. Excommunication is way too symbolically significant. Just think about all it entails and communicates!

    Not one teaching needs to change in order for the excommunications to stop. Would it not be better for a gay Mormon to struggle with these very difficult issues within the community of the Church?

    Some say “They still can, and should, even after excommunication!” The evidence is clear: This is not occurring. We leave.

    IMO, excommunication should be reserved for individuals who actively fight the Church or teach false doctrine. Does an LDS lesbian who finds a girlfriend really rise to the level of “extreme situation” ? (“Extreme situation” is how the Church’s web sites describe when excommunication is used).

  13. Mike, I know this is an emotional issue. Perhaps I phrased it badly, but my point was that we need to stop denying someone the ability to worship with us based on their willingness to live the same standards we live as members. I tried to say that all of us are sinners and we shouldn’t let “types” of sins keep us from accepting anyone who wants to worship with us. Yes, I lumped you with drunks, but I also lumped myself with you and those drunks. I tried to say that we shouldn’t use any of the commonly used reasons (like drinking and smoking and sexual orientation and official religious affiliation) to deny anyone fellowship. I apologize, sincerely, if that didn’t come through very well.

    As for the issue of excommunication, I believe it should be used only for someone who openly fights against the Church. I never addressed that in my comment.

  14. BTW, Mike, you said exactly what I meant to say when you wrote, “Would it not be better for a gay Mormon to struggle with these very difficult issues within the community of the Church?” I simply expanded that statement to those others whom we tend to exclude – like drunks and smokers and those who refuse to consider changing denominations and don’t even want membership.

  15. Sorry, I meant to say in #13 that “we need to stop denying someone the ability to worship with us based on their willingness to live the same standards we live as Temple Recommend holding members.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Mike, FWIW, if I were gay I would not try to be celibate, and accordingly I would voluntarily leave the Church. But I would still love the Church and be interested in it, from afar. In short, I would basically be you. But I admire John for his willingness to continue to worship with the Saints under these circumstances.

  17. Amen, Kevin, and I believe that we would have more people like John if we as the church membership collectively weren’t so judgmental and offensive about their choices. Based strictly on my own experiences and discussions with gay members and non-members (which are extensive), I believe that many of those we drive away because of how we treat them would stay in one capacity or another if we changed our attitudes and practices.

  18. MikeInWeHo says:

    Many of us would love to come back if things changed. You summed up my situation in #16 very well, Kevin. One very cool thing about the Bloggernacle is that it decreases the distance for people in my situation. I admire John, too, although his ability to tolerate the tension required to attempt to find a ‘middle path’ seems unique.

  19. Matt W. says:

    One issue I think is problematic is that frankly, some single straight people do have absolutely no hope of being married. They are ugly or fat or have 2 children, or all of the above.

  20. Matt W. says:

    Gay people seek intimate relationships not just because they live in a sex-saturated society, but because they seek and crave the same emotional intimacy that heterosexual couples seek.

    While the rest of this article is compelling, I question this.

    I am emotionally intimate with my Dad, that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with him…

    Is sex with my wife really increasing my emotional intimacy with her?

  21. Matt,
    If you feel the same way about your Dad as you feel about your wife, there are other issues at work here.

  22. Matt W. says:

    HP: what are you implying? :) removing sex and desire for sex from the equation, do you not love your children and want the best for them just as much as you love your wife and want the best for her?

    I guess I am not sure how we are defining emotional initimacy here. Perhaps that’s all you were implying.

    I guess I worry that we have put physical intimacy on a pedastel, and we are thus being shortsighted and distorted.

  23. I think Blake had once suggested that he could imagine the Church’s changing its discipline procedure so that gay members in committed relationships like civil unions or same sex marriage would not be excommunicated, but would have certain privileges restricted, like participating in temple ordinances. (My apologies, Blake, if my recollection is incorrect.)

    While this would ascribe, at best, a “second class” status to such relationships and individuals, it would be less hurtful than excommunication to our gay brothers and sisters, in committed relationships, who wish to worship with the Church at large. Those who wish to engage in sexual relationships with multiple partners would be subject to the same potential discipline as heterosexuals.

  24. There is a great temptation within the community of gay Mormons I know who are trying to be faithful, to rationalize what the church may do in the future to justify questionable relationships today.

    Whether excommunication or disfellowship from the church is best for someone who breaks the law of chastity (gay or not), is an interesting question. But I can easily see how any mixed messages regarding the status of gay relationships as acceptable could have immediate consequences in the behavior of many gays who would otherwise manage to be faithful.

  25. MikeInWeho says:

    re: 24 L’s argument only makes sense if we assume that a significant percentage of gay Mormons stay in the church and “manage to be faithful.” That does not appear be the case. My impression is that the majority of us drop away long before excommunication becomes an issue. It’s hard for me to see how anyone, regardless of their view on the topic, can convincingly assert that the status quo vis-a-vis gays in the Church is somehow the best that we can expect. The rate of gay Mormon suicide puts that argument to rest.

    It’s interesting how this discussion is affected by one’s perspective, though. I don’t know any active, chaste gay LDS. But I sure have encountered many ex- and inactive gay members, and the occasional “my-bishop-knows-and-looks-the-other-way-are-you-single?” gay member as well.

  26. Matt,
    I love my wife more than I love my children. I don’t feel a twinge of guilt in saying that.

  27. Re: 25
    What I wrote was not an argument, exactly, but rather commentary on the many gay Mormons who have stayed in the church and who are dealing with the issue. I know many active gay chaste LDS. It’s first-hand experience.

    Regardless, I haven’t suggested that the status quo is the best we can expect, but nor would I attribute blame to the church for gay Mormon suicides. It’s a complex and very heart-wrenching issue that doesn’t lend itself well to over-simplifications such as this.

  28. I don’t see it as impossible that the Church could, without any fanfare, change its position on excommunication of gay members. That kind of shift has already happened with regard to other behavior that the Church formerly regarded as being in the category of automatic excommunication.

    I do think it’s already happening on an individual basis. As Mike points out, there are some gay members who are just not telling, and their bishops aren’t asking. I don’t know if this is a better situation, and it certainly isn’t a permanent one, but it at least keeps more gay members with us, which IMO is an improvement.

    Kevin, after seeing pictures of you, if you were gay you’d have to make a lot more changes than leaving the Church, or you’d get nowhere. Sorry dude. (Maybe you could bring back the fro?)

  29. Is sex with my wife really increasing my emotional intimacy with her?

    If not, you’re doing it wrong.

  30. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 28

    It’s easy to imagine the Church quietly adopting a don’t ask/don’t tell position over the next decade or two. I believe some SPs have already done just that, but off the record. The Catholics and most Evangelical churches have taken this position. Being gay only becomes a disciplinary concern with them when it involves their leaders, teachers, etc.

  31. I could see that happening. We allow people who “break their baptismal covenants” in many ways to stay on the records of the Church, as long as they don’t actively preach against the Church.

  32. Is sex with my wife really increasing my emotional intimacy with her?

    If not, you’re doing it wrong.

    Yes, while #22 says we should worry about putting physical intimacy on a pedestal, he also seems to imply physical intimacy adds nothing to a relationship (if I’m understanding him correctly). Of course the physical part of a marriage isn’t the most important thing, but are my wife and I weirdos for feeling like it is something that strengthens our relationship? I don’t think so.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    If I were a bishop, I think I would, quietly and informally follow a don’t ask/don’t tell policy, as Mike describes, and my sense is that he is correct that in some areas such an approach is already informally followed.

  34. Eleanor's Papa says:

    re #20 – I’m surprised that Matt challenges John’s statement that gay people seek intimate relationships and not merely sex. Gay men and lesbians experience their sexual orientation the same way that straight people experience their respective sexual orientation — we are attracted to some but not all members of one sex, act on that attraction with few or none, develop intimate relationships, and frequently form families. Matt’s heterosexist assumption is as myopic as assuming that straight women must be inferior because they are attracted to men in the same way that Matt is attracted women.

  35. Eleanor's Papa says:

    oops, typo at the end of #34, it should be “… that Matt is attracted to women.”

    Or should it be “…that Matt is attractive to Julie as well some other misguided straight women and gay men”?

  36. jj: you are not weirdos, of course. You are actually consistent with the Church’s current teaching on the subject:

    Sexual relations within marriage are not only for the purpose of procreation, but also a means of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual ties between husband and wife.

    From “Gospel Topics” @lds.org

  37. Let’s not get personal EP, we don’t know if anyone, misguided or not, actually finds Matt attractive.

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