SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

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turinturambar
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SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by turinturambar » 08 Nov 2013, 18:16

I understand that same-sex marriage is a controversial topic, and that LG BT issues are equally controversial. It is important for me to discuss these issues because they are directly relevant to my ability to remain an active member of the church.

I am concerned about a trend I’ve seen in the church over the past five or six years. I may be overreacting or overly sensitive about it, so I want to run it past the members of this site. I grew up along the Wasatch front in northern Utah. There is a long tradition of seeing the outside world as us versus them, of viewing societal trends as adversities heaped upon the heads of the saints. This attitude is reflected in the words and behavior of not only rank-and-file members, but also leadership of the church. This can be described as a bunker or siege mentality. (wiktionary defines it as “An attitude of extreme defensiveness and self-justification based on an often exaggerated sense of being under persistent attack from others”) This mentality is motivated by fear. An important part of my faith transition has been the rejection of fear and shaming as motivators in my spiritual life. Don’t get me wrong. The church does have legitimate enemies, and individuals and groups who do evil things are out there. I just think that the persistent attack is greatly exaggerated.

I believe that same-sex marriage has become a proxy for all the perceived threats to the church. This is highly misleading and quite unfair. It is almost as if same-sex marriage is trotted out as this evil, awful bugbear that is waiting to devour our marriages and our children. There has also been perceptible change in tactics by the church in its opposition to same-sex marriage: instead of marshaling its forces to defeat laws that allow for same-sex marriage in each state, it is characterizing its stance as a fight for religious freedom. The Q 15 may be privy to prophetic knowledge that this issue may become a major challenge to the church. I am skeptical of that.

In any case, all of this energy focused on preventing gay marriage, and on protecting our marriages and children from the effects thereof, creates an environment in which it is difficult to have a meaningful dialogue about compassion and understanding for LG BT people both inside and outside of the church. Both fighting against gay marriage and having compassion for gay people is a complex stance that is difficult to achieve.

In my life journey, my thoughts on the subject have changed dramatically. I spent my 20s and 30s in reparative therapy to make me straight so that I could marry a woman. At that time I saw people in gay relationships in two categories: those who send and did not know the law of chastity, and those who knew of but could not keep the law of chastity. As the full consequences of a life without companionship have settled on my mind and my heart, I have become much more understanding and compassionate. I understand now that sexual orientation is not a choice amenable to the exercise of moral agency, and is therefore impervious to change efforts. I believe that those who have been able to diminish their same-sex attractions and marry heterosexually were probably bisexual to begin with. I believe in and support the law of chastity. However I do not believe that God wishes for people to suffer the demoralizing effects of decades of celibacy, lack of companionship, and inability to have a family. This is why I am in support of same-sex marriage. I do not, however, discuss this at church and I only talk about this with individuals who are interested in hearing about the topic.

As I consider the canonized scriptures, the words of latter-day prophets and apostles, and the Proclamation on the Family, and also consider my lived experience, is very clear to me that there is much about sexual orientation and our understanding of post mortal life that we do not know and that has not been revealed. We do, however, have covenants to bear one another’s burdens and to love God and our fellow man. I am very concerned that the continued emphasis on a siege mentality surrounding gay issues is harming LG BT people in the church and out of the church, and is preventing us from becoming a Zion people.
What do all y’all think?
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

(New Testament | 1 Corinthians 13:2‎)‎

Curt Sunshine
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Nov 2013, 18:42

Yep. I couldn't have said it better.

To be a bit pithy, one of my favorite quotes about the decline of marriage is a simple one:
Homosexuals aren't threatening the sanctity of marriage. Heterosexuals have taken care of that very well already.


Fwiw, there is an article in multiple major newspapers right now about how it was four Mormon senators that provided the swing votes on the ENDA legislation that was passed and now is going to the House. Interestingly, two of those senators were Republican - including Orrin Hatch. (The sad part is that three Mormon senators, all Republicans- voted against it.) The article also mentioned the Church's open support of the corresponding state bill in Utah and its subsequent passage.

I think the Church is trying to draw a line between gay marriage and civil rights based on sexual orientation - continuing to oppose the first but supporting the second. I wish we would back away completely from the issue of gay marriage, since I don't see any threat to straight marriage in it, but I am glad we are encouraging equal treatment of homosexuals in other areas.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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SilentDawning
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Nov 2013, 20:02

I am very confused about this issue. I live in what has become a celibate, heterosexual marriage without physical attraction or expression, although I am not gay. It has been very difficult, a source of deep angst. Yet, I could do something about it through divorce if I chose to, so my suffering is not as stratified as others who are gay.

But I have a sense of what it is like for people with SSA to be married to someone who is not a suitable sexual partner for them, or who must live without hope of healthy sexual expression (my wife has relapsed into vaginismus again, in case anyone wonders my background). That is simply a preamble and my attempt at partial empathy.

But to the point -- your question was whether the church's attitude toward Same Sex Marriage is perhaps overblown, and exaggerates threats to the family and the church. I think that is true -- but only to a point.

As a person who lived in Canada for 40 years, I have seen the impact full legalization of gay marriage does to the family. There is a national gay marriage law, and gay culture is very open there. The part that bothers me is that the gay population is constantly trying to take control of the schools, promote gay lifestyles among teenagers, and even has people come into the schools to promote gay lifestyles, says one of my friends who is a teacher's aid in an Ontario elementary school. Parents aren't even aware of these visitors, they said....There is also persecution of people who do not agree with same sex attraction and lifestyles and marriage. They are labelled homophobic, and the culture slaps down people who inadvertently express their disapproval openly and with civility.

I find that when the pendulum swings in this direction, the prevalence of pro-gay attitudes becomes a form of discrimmination against heterosexuals or those with right wing Christian values.

As much as I have compassion for Same Sex Couples and individuals, the example Canada has set bothers me. When I lived there 10 years ago, It irritated me when I am there that I am somehow labelled as strange or socially unacceptable because during the period I lived there (before the Internet and StayLDS opened my mind), I did not agree with that lifestyle.

Some will argue that its just, as gay people have experienced similar persecution throughout history. That is a valid point, but the example of Canada still bothers me.

I am in favor of a society and system that has true tolerance and acceptance. Acceptance of gay marriage without persecution of heterosexuals, and acceptance of heterosexuals without persecution of homosexuals.

I don't know if any society is capable of hitting the balance right on the head, but the Canadian example is the only reason I can give in favor of the church's defensive stance against Same Sex marriage -- to prevent what appears to be a slippery slope that could eventually interfere with their ability to practice the religion they believe so strongly.

And notice I said 'They" and not "I".
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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QuestionAbound
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by QuestionAbound » 09 Nov 2013, 09:33

Don't know if this will help, but...

In my very limited experience with any LGBT's, I have found them to constantly be "on the offense".
Even a routine, neutral conversation about say, our children's new toys for Christmas, will turn into how "everyone is out to get 'them.'"
You know how TBMs will find ways to bring religion up in conversation? My experience has shown me that LGBTs do the same thing...but in a way that allows them to vent or attack. And sometimes...they fight mean. :wtf:

In fact, I invited a bi-sexual woman currently living with a lesbian over for a playdate with her kids from her previous marriage. lol. She was great to talk to and we had an enjoyable time until...until she launched into how the deep south is not accepting of her lifestyle. Yep...she moved to the Bible Belt and was feeling like an outsider. We spent the remaining visit going over her anger at "everyone else". She suddenly wasn't this delightful woman that I was getting to know. She was showing a very ugly side. That was a long visit, I must say.

But I wonder...
Would legalizing their lifestyle make that any better?
Would "accepting" them make it any better?

To relate this to something else...I am so very glad that the civil rights movement took place. I truly am. But I also see how even now (again, remember that I am in the deep south), those who live around me are still "angry" about their past...and their perceived future...and their present state. It's like they can't win.

Would the LGBT community follow suit? Would we live forever hearing about the LGBT "past" and their hard struggle to be accepted? Would we have a LGBT history month? By the way, we homeschool as some of you know and we skip Black History Month. Not because I don't want to learn about black history, but because we can learn about contributing black members of our society in our regular course of history. In my area, the world seems to stop for the month of February and everything is focused on Black History. The schools even stop teaching their regular curriculum in favor of specialized instruction. Would we see the same for LGBT? How many school months could be taken up by such instruction?

Anyway, I don't know the answer, but to echo Silent Dawning's response...it isn't going to be pretty for a long time....no matter what happens.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Nov 2013, 11:03

1) Please, let's not talk about "their lifestyle". First, that stereotypes an entire group according to one narrow perspective. It is exactly what anti-Mormons do, and what political parties do, and what many hardcore conservative members do - marginalize an entire people by focusing on an extreme sliver of a diverse population. For the majority of LGBT people, their lifestyle is exactly like the dominant heterosexual lifestyle, with one obvious detail difference only.

2) It's one thing to not like what appears to be an obsessive focus on a group's difficulties, but when those difficulties are real and historically painful . . . It's no different than the Mormon persecution complex: based on real historical persecution, but over-applied right now. Yes, we (Mormons) need to get over our past, but, collectively, we still obsess over it - so we can't blame others for doing exactly what we do. In fact, in some ways, this forum acts as a safe place for individuals to do the exact same thing - to vent about past and current "abuses" / painful experiences due to their "unique lifestyle". In that way, we are them, and it's good to remember that.

3) It's more than a little ironic for Mormons to talk about another group as "on the offense". Just saying. :P

4) Most importantly, this post is addressing a personal concern of a valued participant who has experienced members of his own religious community using him, generally unknowingly, as a scapegoat for the ills of the world - and I also have heard the same thing happen in congregations I've attended. LGBT people did NOT cause a decline in the moral fabric of our society, and they are not the primary threat to the sanctity of marriage we face today. Straight people constitute 90-98% of the population, depending on which estimates are used. It's that MASSIVE majority that are the primary cause of the issues being blamed on the gay population. The straight "lifestyle" is not being attacked by LGBT people; it is imploding from within, if it is falling apart. LGBT people simply want the right and the ability to succeed or fail collectively and individually in the same way straight people are able to do so, a right and ability they have lacked - and that is very, very different than being seen as a poster people for the evil, sins and problems of the world.

That last point is the focus of this post - why we, collectively, use one group of people in a stereotypical way as a proxy for the evil in the world. We do it, and it's wrong - and it's exponentially wrong when it encompasses the diligent, dedicated, faithful, sincere, active member of our own community who is painted with the overly-broad brush we are using. It's no wonder that group of people is highly sensitive to it and many in that group lash out at it. As I said, we (Mormons) do the exact same thing - and we haven't been killed, attacked and discriminated against for being Mormon recently anywhere close to like they have been killed, attacked and discriminated against for being LGBT.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Thankful
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Thankful » 09 Nov 2013, 14:42

Thank you Ray. Amen.

Turinturumbar (I'm sure I spelled that wrong)-you are right. SSM has becomd our "go to" evil scapegoat. And I think it's wrong. I'm sorry for the suffering you have endured and continue to face daily.

Friends, I have some very close gay friends and family members. They are all different from one another, just as not all "straight" people are the same. Please don't use so broad a brush to categorize a whole group.

One of of my best friends (a former roommates from BYU ) lives with her partner/girlfriend/"wife"." They are raising a daughter. You know what we talk about when we get together? Life. No hidden agenda. We talk about work, our kids, our health, our joys, our heartaches. She is no threat to my marriage or my son, and nor is her wife.

My brother-in-law is gay and in a very long term and stable relationship. (SSM not legal where they live.) His partner is in every way my son's uncle too. My son has known both uncles since the day of his birth. These family members HELP my marriage and strengthen my family. They give time and love and service to us. They are invested in our well-being. And they have more time to help their nephew, having no kids of their own. They strengthen out family.

I get frustrated and angry when I hear people talking about SSM hurting families. That's not my personal experience.

Turinturambar and Silent Dawning, I'm sorry you both find yourself in situations where your intimacy is limited. I can imagine that would be hard.

I don't buy that there is no place for homosexuals in the "plan of salvation." We just haven't figured things out yet.

Thankful
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Thankful » 09 Nov 2013, 15:01

P.S. I read somewhere (maybe Mitch Mayne? I can't remember) about Matthew 19:12. It talks about "eunuchs" born so "from their mother's womb." The Bible Dictionary defines "eunuchs" as "emasculated men" given trusted positions and "employed to watch over harems" (presumably because they were less threat, as they were not sexually involved with women).

Now we tend to think of eunuchs as simply castrated men. But here Jesus explains that some men have been BORN eunuchs. Sure some children are born with ambiguous genitalia, but were there enough of these (and did they make it known to others) enough that they would be a whole class of people? Could Christ have been referring to a different quality in eunuchs than their genitalia? Was he saying that some men were BORN who are naturally not "into women"? It could be.

Christ mentions that "eunuchs from birth" may not necessarily marry. But he does not condemn them.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Nov 2013, 16:16

That passage is the best scriptural argument against the idea that people can choose their sexual orientation completely by force of will, and it would help if everyone understood it. We now know it scientifically, as well, and the Church itself now admits it in the official statements, so it's frustrating to hear members still make the nature vs. nurture argument - which, at the core of it all, probably is the foundation of the issue turinturambar and others face.

It's easy to attack something that is different when it is viewed as a conscious choice - an active rebellion - an intentional sin. Mistaken, in this situation, but easy.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Ann
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Ann » 10 Nov 2013, 00:10

Ray Degraw wrote:
LGBT people did NOT cause a decline in the moral fabric of our society, and they are not the primary threat to the sanctity of marriage we face today.
Very true, I think. We've made a hash of it. It would be nice if LDS people who disagree about same-sex marriage could AT LEAST give each other this.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

Roy
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Re: SSM as a proxy for evil in the world

Post by Roy » 10 Nov 2013, 16:51

I have a great example of this. In SS there was much discussion on the school sponsored "Day of Silence" and how horrible it was that the school was pushing gay rights on our kids. I raised my hand and talked about how my 5 yr old daughter had been teased by her cousins for adding ketchup to her beverage (she says she likes it, and she does drink it) and how that had hurt her feelings. I said that if I were a school administrator, I would see it as a bullying issue. That we, as a school, want to resist an environment where kids need to be afraid of people finding out that they like to drink ketchup, or are adopted, or "such and such" for fear of being bullied. I see it as a day to take a stand against bullying.

I find it instructive that a whole room of people seemingly felt that an anti-bullying event was actually an attack against them and their values.

As for being the source of evil - I thought that was the liberal media??? :D

Seriously though, to demonize a minority and then justify denying civil rights to that minority is certainly a slippery slope.

As much as Mormons have been persecuted in the past, I don't believe that I have ever been denied a right for being Mormon.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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