Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

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SilentDawning
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Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Apr 2021, 19:29

The article goes into how a Mormon therapist has been excommunicated due to publicly expressed views about sexuality that are inconsistent with church teachings and leaders' counsel.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mormon-sex-t ... 21431.html

I thought part of what she said was good -- that masturbation shouldn't be considered a sin, that pornography should not be considered an addiction, to name two things.

Again, the article says she was excommunicated because she was publicly outspoken about her opposition to sex-related church teachings, not for holding the beliefs herself or for what she says during her practice. I found the latter qualification interesting.

Comments welcome.
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Arrakeen
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by Arrakeen » 22 Apr 2021, 20:43

This is the first excommunication of someone I had heard of before. I actually found a lot of her articles helpful at the start of my faith crisis and actually reached out to her practice at one point for some mental health/faith crisis recommendations around the same time I joined this site.

Personally, I think the only time someone should be excommunicated for teaching different beliefs or opinions is when they are a leader (bishop, stake president, seventy, etc) and they are trying to pass of their teachings as official church doctrine. Excommunicating others for having a voice that opposes the views of leadership makes people like me with different views feel like there really is no place in the church for the unorthodox.

I would be interested to see how other LDS therapists react. I had one bishop at BYU who was a therapist and when teaching the law of chastity said he was not concerned by masturbation, and in most cases pornography use was not an addiction. He was pretty orthodox on other issues.

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SamBee
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by SamBee » 23 Apr 2021, 03:38

The big P can end up becoming a major addiction for some people. A friend of mine who was in the book trade once went to buy the library of someone who had died - thousands of volumes of such material, so for some people it is a problem.

Its widespread presence online is changing our societal dynamic. It definitely promotes promiscuity over steady relationships and long term marriage - which we can see around us. My former therapist has told me it affects adolescents heavily now - she has teenage girls who are clients, and they complain they are being pushed into more and more experimentation and extreme behaviors which are depicted in these films, which they try out, regret and don't enjoy. Their boyfriends even complain they don't look like the stars of these films and their bodies are different (I'm not going into detail, but let's just say we are all different shapes and sizes, and appearances, and have irregularities... Which are not reflected in the industry). This leads to a lot of confusion, body dysmorphia, self-hatred, STIs etc.

The industry also doesn't reflect the social aspects of courting, affection and long term commitment.

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SamBee
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by SamBee » 23 Apr 2021, 04:44

While not a lifelong ban, the withdrawal of a person's membership by church leaders amounts to the harshest punishment available for a member of the faith.
I'm going to quibble about this. Excom is bad. But there is a level above this. You can be banned from all church buildings... We have someone in our area who is banned from them. I don't think his case was properly or fairly handled, but he is severely mentally ill (plus diagnosed) and potentially dangerous. (I've met him and can vouch for this. I ran into him by accident and talking to him was like walking in eggshells. I don't like to judge, but he is difficult, and he's also physically big.)

At the other extreme, we have a sister who comes to our ward who is lovely and takes part in activities. I didn't know until last year but she is excom'd. She told me her story, and if I had my way, I'd bring her back in. She appears to have been the victim of rumors. I don't know both sides of the story but her behavior in the time I've known her has been exemplary.

Edit to add: I've split this off into its own topic see here -
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=9994
Last edited by SamBee on 23 Apr 2021, 08:13, edited 1 time in total.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Apr 2021, 05:55

My understanding of this is that she was not ex'ed due to her beliefs and therapeutic practice, rather it was because of public opposition to leaders. I think in recent years the church has made it fairly clear that we can't go around saying the leaders are wrong - even if they are. I agree with her, I also don't believe masturbation is a sin (although there is a point where it can supplant other normal expression of sexuality; I don't believe pornography is an addiction in the same way alcohol, drugs, and tobacco are (my licensed psychologist member daughter explains it as a compulsion as opposed to an addiction and the treatment for compulsions is entirely different) but I do believe that one can spend so much time viewing porn that it affects their life functions; and I agree gay marriage should be legal although I don't believe churches should be forced to perform or recognize them. The difference in Ms. Helfer and me is that I don't go around publicly teaching what I believe from the pulpit or otherwise. I think I am free to express my ideas in private conversations, perhaps even with church leaders as long as I am not saying they are wrong about their beliefs (and I have spoken privately with my SP on gay marriage and on pornography).

We're mostly only hearing Helfer's side of the story here, as usual. I'd like to know what she was saying that drew the ire of the leadership.

As side notes, I do think withdrawal of membership was probably too "harsh" and I wonder why her former stake, where she hasn't lived in 18 months, carried this out. I know you can't just keep moving around to run away from church issues, but it's been a while since she was there and it doesn't take that long to put these things together and her offense would seem know to be against a whole other set of leaders (unless it's the top leadership she's spouting off about - but even then, why not her current stake?).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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nibbler
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by nibbler » 23 Apr 2021, 06:12

Arrakeen wrote:
22 Apr 2021, 20:43
Personally, I think the only time someone should be excommunicated for teaching different beliefs or opinions is when they are a leader (bishop, stake president, seventy, etc) and they are trying to pass of their teachings as official church doctrine. Excommunicating others for having a voice that opposes the views of leadership makes people like me with different views feel like there really is no place in the church for the unorthodox.
Yeah.

I keep hearing there's a place for people at church but, "You can stay but you gotta keep quiet." is not a real place.

As mentioned in the other thread, this one generated some anger so that's going to bleed through in this comment.

Rather than call out the faith of people that leave, how about growing a pair and coming up with enough faith to overcome your own insecurities about your doctrines. To modify a quote, if the doctrines are true they cannot be harmed.
I'm not running away. Im already gone.
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Over43
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by Over43 » 28 Apr 2021, 14:36

It has been a millenium since I have posted. Anyway, I believe the Big P (as it has been designated) is available for addiction. I work in the public sector and more than one person in our area has been either severely reprimanded or terminated due to Big P use at work. Not during work hours, but individuals coming in in the very early AM to involve themselves in pornographic movies. they did not want to be discovered by their spouses. (Obviously that did not actually workout.) A friend let me know that his son in law was fired from a job because he spent all night watching Big P (at home in this case) and did not have the umpff to get to work.

I am not an expert on addiction, but I believe if a behavior is disrupting your family life, marriage, or career, etc. Then regardless of the behavior (drug use, booze, Big P) you are probably looking at an addiction? Maybe someone with more knowledge on the subject will helpout with that. However, I have heard people around church meetings, on BYU-I campus, yada, yada, describe Big P as a bad habit. The mental health rpofessionals I work with, in fact, chuckle at the "New Drug" take on the porn problem. They suddenly are not chuckling when one of their kids gets caught surfing X sights.

Now, the psychologist (I am sure with good intentions) began publicizing ideas that juuuuuust do not mesh with church ideas. Had she kept her thoughts and ideas within the bounds of her practise then this would not have become such an issue, if at all. I do not think she was wrong, but she appears to not wanted to have backed down. As we have seen in recent years the Big Ex is right around the corner. I really believe that this is unfortunate.

So, after a millenium that is my take.

P.S. Thanks for giving me a phrase I can use in mixed company!
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SamBee
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by SamBee » 29 Apr 2021, 04:20

There definitely are people for whom the Big P can become an addiction, it's a question of how many. Some people have spent an obscene amount of money on it (pun intended) or time. I think it can definitely warp your appreciation of other people especially if you get into dating. We see the pendulum effect in many areas and this is one - the world makes it too freely available now, and accepts its culture.

Many people who are involved with it end up binge watching it can become an obsession.

Like eating disorders, it is something tied in with your natural needs, so it doesn't quite fit like some other supposed addictions can.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Apr 2021, 06:05

Psychologists will tell you that pornography is not an addiction but can be a compulsory behavior. There is a huge difference. There are no competent psychologists who will tell you differently (and most of them are competent), hence the support Sr. Helfer had from her colleagues, church members and not. This is also what worries psychologists and other therapists in Utah - they know this to be proven fact as well, but how much can they talk about it publicly now that one of their own has been ex'ed for publicly saying so even though psychologists regularly publicly acknowledge it. There is still an element in the church that eschews science in favor of puritanism or pope-like infallibility of religious leaders. Also, the whole idea of porn being an addiction is almost purely a Mormon idea - it's not a "thing" in the mainstream or even other mainstream religions or churches.

That said, that does not mean that porn can't be harmful to some, just like gambling or other compulsions may be harmful to some. Viewing porn occasionally does not an addiction (or compulsion) make and the church has tended to blow it way out of proportion (a form of Jedi mind trick).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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SamBee
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Re: Excommunication Regarding Outspoken Sexual Matters

Post by SamBee » 29 Apr 2021, 07:25

DarkJedi wrote:
29 Apr 2021, 06:05
Psychologists will tell you that pornography is not an addiction but can be a compulsory behavior.
Psychologists go with prevailing trends, in this case sexual license. As I always remind people, they used to class being gay as a mental illness, now they class homophobia as one. All to do wth societal fashions. Promiscuity used to be classed as satyromania and nymphomania, now you're classed as abnormal if you don't lean in that direction, and marriage is almost seen as aberrant. Soap operas and music push that message too. So I don't even see their claims as very scientifically based.

I've seen and heard evidence that the Big P is indeed an addiction for some people. Even if we see it as a "compulsive behavior", that sounds like a bit of a euphemism for borderline addictive behavior in this case. The problem is that the LDS use the addiction label too widely.

The wide free availability of the Big P online ensures that certain aspects are well hidden. Twenty years ago, some people spent serious money on it - that's a sign of addiction, as is the amount of time some people spend with it. (You're talking hours and hours here in some cases.) So there's a difference between someone who occasionally sneaks a peak at it, and someone who is spending thousands of dollars or hours on it. Lockdown isn't helping.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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