Lust, Pornography, and the LDS approach to Sexuality

Sex is complicated. Why we engage in it is a matter of emotion, psychology, hormones, genetics, pop culture, high culture, low culture, spirituality, love, lust, and destiny (or not). I tend to be skeptical that there is one true approach to it, but I can think of several unhealthy approaches (heck, I embody at least a couple). In our church, where belief in something like celestial sex is common (even though it is of murky doctrinal origin), I tend to think it is even more complicated. The traditional Christian approach of general disapproval of sex is more consistent, as is the modern amoral outlook. It’s appropriate (even necessary) for us to argue for and to seek a position between those two, but church members tend to adopt aspects of those approaches instead of figuring out our own path. Generally speaking, we tend to approach sexuality as if it is the most important thing on earth and, therefore, we should know as little about it as possible.

Over conference, there were two talks that focused on issues of sexual immorality in particular. Elder Holland’s Saturday afternoon address and President Monson’s Saturday evening address both referenced pornography and both offered advice regarding controlling lust (along with subsidiary issues). What I write today is going to draw on both talks, but my purpose is to get one point across that neither addressed directly. As I’ve said before, I think our discourse on sexuality is drowning in useless euphemism and misdirected effort. So, I’m going to be blunt and explain what neither of these great men were explicitly stated (although it is implied in both talks): Orgasm is not the end of your creation. [Read more...]

Primary General Presidency News Conference

The New Primary General Presidency

We just got finished attending the press conference for the new Primary Presidency. A few photos are below, as well as a few bits of information from the Q&A session we attended.
[Read more...]

Gender Roles Are Eternal (unless …)

There I was, sitting in the Hauser Hall basement, typing a seminar paper, minding my own business, when “Josh” burst into the computer lab. Josh was a single, LDS 1st-year law student, and I was a married LDS third-year, so we didn’t really know each other that well. But we did have some friends in common, and would see each other periodically at LDSSA meetings, so he recognized me when he walked in the door. He seemed strangely agitated, like he was in possession of some juicy piece of gossip he needed to get off his chest. He saw me, and promptly approached my cubicle.

“Oh my gosh, something so funny just happened!” he exclaimed. “I have to share it with someone!”

“What?” I replied.
[Read more...]

Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour

I first encountered Joanna Brooks during freshman orientation week at BYU in 1989–she was sitting on a table in the checkerboard quad recruiting for the Student Review, swinging her feet and looking like a pixie with her freckles and short, dark hair.  She quickly gained a reputation on campus for being articulately outspoken on various social issues, and I admired her from afar.  But I didn’t get to know her until my junior year, when both of us took a certain contemporary literary criticism course from a certain feminist professor. On the first day, I spotted her a few seats down (her hair was longer then–super thick and shiny),  and knew this would be a class to remember. And I was right.

I’ll spare you the details of the wild, semester-long romp through Kristeva and Cixous and Jaggar (drop me an email if you want to hear about the bra burning). Instead, let me tell you about the groundbreaking multi-state event that Joanna is spearheading this month: Our Voices, Our Visions: A Mormon Women’s Literary Tour. Better yet, let Joanna tell you about it in this mini-interview we had recently: [Read more...]

Living with Depression, Part IV: Everything Else, For Now


Welcome to the fourth installment of our conversation about clinical depression amongst nine BCC permas. Parts I, II, and III can be found
here, here and here. If you haven’t already read the series overview, please do so before proceeding. If you’re experiencing symptoms of clinical depression, contact a health care professional without delay.

The introduction to this series estimated a half-dozen posts over the space of a few weeks. But after consulting amongst ourselves, in high Shakespearian style, we’re opting to make this post the last one for the time being. There’s still so much to say on this topic–we’ve only just begun, really. But we’re finding the conversation to be as exhausting as it is exhilarating, and it seems best to take a breather.

So. Rather than spreading our remaining share-able dialogue across a few more posts, I’ve combined it into one. The conversation begins on the subtopic of treating depression, and segues into a discussion of gender issues relating to depression.

[Read more...]

Provo, 1991

WARNING: This is a story that admits that some men, even Mormon men, are interested in having sex with women, and that some BYU students don’t keep the Honor Code. If these facts bother you, then don’t read this story; you will not enjoy it.

I wrote this for a writing class  in 1995. At that time I was inactive but recognized that my Mormon background would be interesting to my classmates.

I saw Ellen at a party in November of 1991, and she glowed with a dark and dignified sexuality. Jameson , a former roommate of mine, was throwing a 1960s-themed costume party at his house. Most of the guests wore thrift-store Woodstock cliché to match the Grateful Dead oozing out of the speakers in another room. Ellen stood tall over the kafkans and macramé in an A-lined gogo-styled minidress with a geometric black and white pattern. A matching scarf neatly pulled her strait brown hair back, except her bangs, which hung low over dark, small eyes made darker with makeup. She wore the white knee-high boots like she had born in them.  She looked, well, cool. In a room full of undergraduates hyper with the illusion of social release and the faint but palpable hope that the faded bell-bottoms and the pretense of being stoned might reveal something interesting in them that J. Crew and earnest discussions abut the Gulf War did not, Ellen radiated honesty. Her costume seemed to reveal something true about her rather than masking her identity. There was no trace of self-consciousness about her at all.

Of course, it is now impossible to look at that moment with real objectivity; the filter of the years between now and then and our common experience undoubtedly warp and color my memory. The truth is that I cannot remember Ellen ever being self-conscious about anything. We were once caught sunbathing nude by a National Park ranger, and she showed no sign of shame, defensiveness, indignation, or even titillation. The ranger’s over-polite request that we put clothes on seemed to strike her with the same moral force as a reminder to not feed the bears. Standing across the room at the party in her Nancy Sinatra boots, she may have exuded more complex and highly manipulated emotions, but if so, they are lost as I place that event in the context of our lives together. [Read more...]

Living with Depression, Part I: Recognizing Clinical Depression

Welcome to Part I of BCC’s mini-series about depression. If you haven’t already read the series overview, please do so before proceeding.

In this post, our group members introduce themselves by describing how they came to recognize depression as a problem in their life. Depression is an untidy concept, and our semantics reflect that. We use the term to describe a vast spectrum of emotional and mental states, from mild and temporary situational distress to severe and abiding pathology, and even with the help of diagnostic parameters it can be tricky to distinguish between the “normal” depression of human experience and the mood disorder called clinical depression.

[Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #1

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 10

Chastity and You

During World War II two soldiers, Tom and Vince, were off duty for six hours in a small French town. Both were in their early twenties and were morally clean. They sauntered about the streets in the dusk of the evening and then stopped for some food in a dimmed-out eating place. Two girls were seated at a table nearby and smiled at them in a friendly way. Before long, the girls came over to their table and started a simple conversation in broken English. Tom and Vince did not give them any encouragement and the girls finally left the eating place. However, as they arose to leave, one of the girls handed Tom a card with an address and telephone number on it. [Read more...]

Bloggernacle Classics: The R-Rated Movie

Bloggernacle Classics, a Continuing Series

It is time once again for the young students of the Bloggernacle to open their notepads and prepare for study, as I present the second installment of my fledgling series, Bloggernacle Classics.[1] You may recall the first entry revolved around the exploits of BCC’s own Aaron B., who has recently returned from the ranks of the Emeriti to grace BCC’s screen on a more regular basis. Today, my subject matter is the R-Rated Movie. However, the purpose here is history, not doctrine; therefore, the pros and cons, the virtues and evils, of R-rated movies will not be reviewed.[2]
[Read more...]

Police Beat Roundtable XX

The XXieth installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, and here.

This week: GST, SB2, KJ, AG and SE duke it out.

On Saturday an unexpected skydiver landed in the north end zone bleachers during the Stadium of Fire and caused considerable damage to the metal bench. A 19-year old visitor sustained the brunt of the impact. The victim complained of sore arms and legs.

Adam: Told you you shouldn’t have ditched the MTC, Elder. [Read more...]

Ranking Sins — A Poll

In the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave his hearers a higher law.  In verses 22 and 23, we read (KJV): 

 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt  not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 

Then, a little later in verses 27 and 28, we read: 

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

[Read more...]

The Arms of the Priesthood

MMiles is a long-time participant in the Bloggernacle and a participant at Segullah. We are honored to have her as our guest.

“Brandon says he’s learned the importance of serving others through his Church membership. He notes that giving meaningful service is one of the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. ‘Scouting is the activity arm of the priesthood,’ he says.”

The February New Era arrived today sporting a pristine boy scout, backpack and all, prepared for a hike and perched on a large boulder. It’s the cover for the feature story, “Scouting: A Pillar Supporting the Priesthood.” At the heart of the article is the third page, a showcasing of scouts of varying ages, explaining how they find scouting and the priesthood work together. The opposite page briefly details the history of how the church chose BSA as its match.

1911 Church leaders decide that Scouting, with its spiritual background and cultural ideals, has great appeal.

And so, in 1913 the Church and BSA were married. It’s like a match made in heaven! The boys learn to serve, how to be a missionary. They gain knowledge, and build camaraderie. But, as we all know, scouting has its drawbacks: the lawsuits, extraordinary expense, extraordinary amounts of time, and its failure to adapt to modern needs, arguably unlike the Young Women’s program (unless you count video gaming).

However its biggest failure is stated plainly in the article itself, ironically one of the very reasons for which it was chosen to be the lifelong partner with the church—cultural ideals. [Read more...]

Black Holes and Mars and Venus

If you came to this post because the title led you to think this would be something cool about science by Steve P., you are out of luck.  Instead, it is a riff on John Crawford’s post from last week entitled The Black Hole. Crawford explains convincingly how our tendency to just throw up our hands when it comes to understanding male sexuality is unproductive. We apparently are content to stumble along thinking that every single man on earth is just a hunka hunka burnin’ lust, so what are ya gonna do about it?  It’s really no mystery why we continue to struggle with the same problems over and over, with no measurable progress.

[Read more...]

Eden: Hebrew Bible Back Row 2

Many readers will remember my Back Row series on the Doctrine and Covenants. I wanted to continue writing about the scriptures connected with Sunday School, but the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is far more complex than the Doctrine and Covenants, and I’m just an interested amateur. So I’m calling in reinforcements. This week, I’m joined by Kiskilili from Zelophehad’s Daughters, as well as Ronan, John C., and Kristine all from BCC. (Because the documents are all complicated and in some ways different, this series will focus on Hebrew Bible texts discussed in Sunday School, with Pearl of Great Price and JST texts referred to when they are of interest for the Hebrew Bible but not placed at the center of attention.)

JNS: This week’s Back Row discussion focuses on Genesis 2-3, the Hebrew Bible reading for the fourth Sunday School lesson this year.  Here, we’re asked to talk about one of the most-interpreted narratives in human history, the Adam and Eve narrative.  To get things started on the right note, I’d like to make the popular point that the narrative is about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. [Read more...]

The Black Hole

This post will likely make you uncomfortable. I know that I am going to be uncomfortable writing it. [Read more...]

You Make the Call: The Gospel as a Weapon Edition

Suppose that you are faithful Latter-day Saint who lives in a part of the world where there are few members of the Church, and everyone knows each other–or knows someone who knows those you don’t. A small, close-knit network of several 3rd and 4th generation families and their children, minimally impacted by converts and migration.

Suppose further that your spouse is a very well-respected member of the Church–generally regarded as a highly spiritual person, faithful to temple covenants, magnifies callings, has friends in lofty local leadership positions, and serves in the ward otherwise in ways that demonstrate to all observers that he is an honest, loving, faithful Latter-day Saint, husband, and father. Suppose, however, that the truth is, your spouse is a monster who uses the gospel as a weapon to demean you, to malign you, and to compel you into submission in all areas of life. [Read more...]

Book Review: Women of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is a fairly intimidating source of scripture as it was produced thousands of years ago by a culture that is greatly foreign to our own. The strangeness of the Old Testament text and cultural milieu is likely particularly potent for women who approach the text. Among the few things that we can say with confidence regarding the culture of Ancient Israel is that it was misogynistic. Therefore, Camille Fronk Olsen’s recent book Women of the Old Testament is best considered as a good introductory text to help teachers, particularly those interested in applying scripture to women’s lives, tackle this very difficult work.
[Read more...]

Caption This MormonAd

The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.

Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning: [Read more...]

Virtue, revisited

At the beginning of 2009 I published my most inflammatory post ever–the one about the church announcing the addition of an eighth value to the Young Women Personal Progress program, Virtue. I took the press release, which invited parents and leaders “to teach the doctrine of chastity and moral purity to help each young woman to be virtuous,” as an indication that the church and the Young Women program particularly were aiming to put a special emphasis on chastity. [Read more...]

Police Beat Roundtable #19

The nineteenth installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

This week: an Advent treasure for you all, as we are joined (at various moments) by GST, Matt Page, “Brunhilde”, Ken Jennings, and Aaron Brown. Ronan also joined us, but his profane comments were all left on the cutting room floor (foreshadowing, perhaps, the fate of England in Group C).

From a window in Chipman Hall, a male student exposed his buttock to two University police officers who were in the area on foot patrol Nov. 30 at 11:22 p.m. A female student who witnessed the incident identified the suspect and a $300 citation was given.

Brunhilde: Which buttock? [Read more...]

A Holiday Visit to Sodom and Gomorrah

Nothing like an all-destructive act of divine carpet bombing to kindle the holiday spirit. I actually debated putting off the conversation to a less celebratory time, but time, it seems, is the one luxury which we currently lack. You see, it turns out (so I’m told, by people who really seem to know what they’re talking about) that God destroys societies that embrace and normalize homosexual relationships. Since we appear to be on the brink, as a civilization, of making precisely that mistake, I figured better safe than Sodom. So, let’s get to brass tacks: why did God destroy the cities on the plains, and what might it all portend for a society (ours) where the gay agenda is spreading and taking root like a crop of rainbow dandelions? [Read more...]

Twilight: harmless fun or dangerous fantasy?

A (slightly edited) conversation I recently participated in:

  • I have now spoken in person to three adult LDS women who have seen this movie in the past 36 hours.  They just gush about it, you can’t get them to shut up, and they all plan to see it again within the week.  What am I missing? Also, all three commented at length and favorably about the amazing bod of some guy in the film.  Turns out he’s 17.  Adults in their 30s lusting after underage teenage flesh, how creepy is that? [Read more...]

Girlfriends and girlfriends

Would you allow your teenage daughter to attend a sleepover hosted by her friend who recently self-identified as lesbian? [Read more...]

Goodbye Women’s Research Institute

Had I not been raised Mormon, I suspect that I would not have majored in English literature.  I like nonfiction more than novels, but literary criticism offered me women’s studies and a vocabulary through which I could think critically about how my Mormon culture prescribed gender roles that I found constricting.  Being able to grasp a historical perspective on the evolution of gender was liberating to me, because this understanding gave me an expanded psychological capacity to choose how I would live my life.  I appreciated that I found a place that was willing to take women’s experiences as serious objects of study, thus making significant experiences that were often under-valued.   [Read more...]

The Secret Gospel of Mark Revisited

In 1941, Morton Smith spent two months of meditative seclusion at the monastery of Mar Saba, about a dozen miles southeast of Jerusalem. Three years later he would be ordained an Episcopalian deacon, but eventually he informally left the clerical life for that of the scholar, quipping that he was giving out cigars because he was no longer a Father. 17 years after his first visit, in 1958 (the year of my birth), he returned to the monastery as a 43-year old professor of history at Columbia University. This time he did not observe the monastic life, but was come as part of his research into old books in monasteries in Greece, Turkey and the Holy Land. [Read more...]

Elder Scott Hits Me a Week Later

BCC friend and guest-blogger-at-large Kyle M returns with a post that reads like a journal entry from EFY. Enjoy!

Man, the Spirit always speaks to me when I least expect it. I was sitting in Elders’ Quorum on Sunday, just like I do every Sunday, and a member of the EQ presidency was in charge of the lesson, just like on most Sundays. The quorum was split into small groups, and we were discussing different conference talks, with the expectation that each group would later give a synopsis to the whole quorum. [Read more...]

Acquiring Spiritual Guidance

Elder Scott’s recent General Conference address, To Acquire Spiritual Guidance, begins on a somewhat ironic note. After noting that in times past if one sought guidance they would turn to mentors or advisors, the current technological information overload means turning to others for advice can be a very risky proposition. Rather than bemoaning the death of trust, we should welcome the excuse to turn our eyes upward for inspiration. Elder Scott seems to be saying that human interlocutors will always be inadequate and that we will be better served by seeking to commune with the Lord directly. [Read more...]

Affirmation v. Evergreen

I don’t know whether it was by coincidence or intentional, but Affirmation and Evergreen both held their annual conferences in SLC yesterday, thus resulting in an opportunity to compare and contrast their two divergent approaches to the issues surrounding homosexuality in the Church. [Read more...]

P.S. What are you wearing?

So the other day I tossed off this post about teaching our girls (okay, “our children, especially daughters”) the importance of modest dress, and then I promptly went off to play with my three-year-old (who was respectably clad in an oversize t-shirt and long pants) and subsequently spent the rest of the day de-cluttering and reorganizing the toy room. I didn’t re-visit the post until late that afternoon, when I was not remotely surprised to learn that aforementioned post had generated more feedback than usual. More than usual for me, I mean. Most of what I post doesn’t provoke much of a response. When I post on a topic like modesty, however, it is guaranteed that the same arguments will get trotted out and re-hashed ad nauseum in the comments section. At first I felt a little guilty for writing something so predictably inflammatory and then abandoning the thread to pursue my own selfish interests, but as I read what everyone had to say, the guilt completely dissipated and I felt that, if anything, I had served the greater good by letting nature take its course and thus prove my satirical point more effectively than I ever could have, had I taken the time to formulate thoughtful responses to everyone’s arguments. [Read more...]

Teaching modesty to our youth: ur doin it rong

Silvia H. Allred, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, had an article on modesty in the July 2009 issue of the Ensign. In the sidebar, “Teaching Modesty to Our Children,” Sister Allred wrote the following:

Girls might not recognize that the physical display they create when they dress immodestly affects boys more than it does them. Help children, especially daughters, understand that attracting someone of the opposite sex solely by physical means does not create a lasting relationship.

[Read more...]

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