Monday, May 16, 2011

Same-Gender Attraction? A Young Adult Mormon Perspective

I was sitting in my class on the family and we were talking about gay marriage.  I was actually really looking forward to the class on Thursday for that reason, even though a few days ago I posted about how much I was dreading it.

We were talking about nature versus nurture and whether or not gays were "born this way."  One girl politely said that she didn't understand how someone would choose a life like that, which to me implied that she didn't think it was a choice, and another girl countered by saying that we all have a choice, a comment which confused me a little.  Did she mean that we all have a choice whether or not to yield to temptation, or that we all had a choice of what we should let tempt us?  I decided to be brave and try to clear the air a little bit.  

I raised my hand and when Brother R. called on me, I said that "my cousin" was an active member of the Church who also was a non-practicing gay and he and I had lots of conversations on the matter.  For simplicity's sake, I'll just tell the story from my point of view, rather than that of "my cousin," as I did in class.

I told them that I never knew a time of my life that I didn't feel attracted to other men, even as a child before those attractions were sexualized at all.  I said that even though I felt occasional attractions to really unique and special girls, I never really felt a whole lot of drive to kiss them or anything, like I did with men, and that those feelings seemed to be prevalent throughout every stage of my life.  I also acknowledged that I know some people who through sexual abuse, curiosity, or other means may have developed homosexual tendencies in life, rather than acquiring them innately.

And yet, I know that no matter the source of the temptation, sin is never justifiable.  Just as a man born with nymphomania directed at women shouldn't use that as an excuse for sleeping around, so should gay people keep their covenants as well.

(For the record, I know there's a lot of back-and-forth happening on this blog.  Some days I feel mad that I can't be gay and some days I feel like I never would want to break my covenants.  Don't point it out, I already know it's going on.)

Regardless, my comment seemed to placate the class a little bit.  The subject moved to the Church's stance on gay marriage.  A few weeks ago, there was an article in Deseret News, a church-owned newspaper, on the leadership of the Church coming out (take that, terminology!) in support of equal rights among partnered gays regarding hospital visitation, next-of-kin, and taxes, among other things.  I raised my hand again and asked Brother R. why this was, after all of the moral, unofficial support the Church gave to Proposition 8 in California.  His answer confused me; he said, "The Church will always believe in equal rights for everyone.  We believe in agency and we want to allow that agency to all of God's children.  But we draw the line at marriage, a sacred, religious institution from God."

I don't know, maybe it's the 24-hour Vegas sex marriages that some BYU students undertake or the better-than-half divorce rate among married couples or the scores and scores of shotgun weddings that go on all over the world every day, but I kind of feel like the sanctity-of-marriage ship has sailed a long time ago. If that's the battle platform, the Church doesn't really have a leg to stand on.

Is it just the word?  Would the Church support "legal domestic partnership" or "gayrriage"?  (Why don't we call it a commitment ceremony?  That way, when Adam and Steve are on the way to the courthouse, we can say that they're being "committed.") What about gay marriage (or whatever it would be called) among people who believe in God and don't believe that their actions are sinful, and who would like to be married in a religious ceremony?

I don't want to mislead.  I fully acknowledge the right of the Church to only marry people who follow its rules and covenants and I would never expect the church to perform a sealing for a gay couple.  I believe, as Elder Oaks has said, that freedom of religion and speech are being taken away from churches and religious people all over the world.  Political correctness says that we as Mormons can't talk about anything we believe, in case someone might get offended.  And I do believe that we as Mormons need to guard against that.  We can't excuse sin or condone its practice, nor can we support sin in sacred places like temples.

I am just a little confused about what I see as double-talk among the Church leadership.  I don't understand why the Church supports equal rights and unofficially campaigns against it at the same time. It's not enough to shake my faith or anything (at least today), but it doesn't rest well on me. Thoughts?

Also, Brother R. said to me after my first comment that I might gently suggest to my cousin that he not identify himself as gay, but instead say that he deals with same-gender attraction.  Again, is it just the word choice?  Because to a man who suffers from "same-gender attraction" like me, they're one and the same and one just sounds a whole lot more pretentious.

Word choice, man.  The Church is all about it.


  1. Maybe it is in the word choice, and maybe they are all hypocrites. Is that what you believe?

    For me, I know my language shapes the way I see my world. I know from psych classes (i.e. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis), but I know more fully from seeing this play out in real life. The words I speak become the things I believe, whether it's about myself, the situations around me, or the people around me.

  2. I don't buy into the doom and gloom paranoia that religious freedoms are mysteriously disappearing all over the world. Are there countries where severe limits to religious freedom exist? Yes. The Middle East, North Korea, and many others come to mind. But with some of the recent political uprisings in the Middle East, we actually have a chance for some of those countries to gain (or lose) some additional religious freedom. I think it's fairly likely you could see Christians in Egypt with fewer restrictions.

    But that is neither here nor there. It seems that the church's idea of religious freedom in this country is that no one should criticize them for their beliefs. But this is America and if you take a position that some people believe to me morally reprehensible (prohibiting gay marriage) you can bet that they are going to call you out on it. There's a big difference between advocating for change and forcing it on an organization. And guess what? I have yet to see a single instance in the last 60 years where the church's religious freedom has been impinged. The church never had a problem prohibiting interracial or black marriages in the temple prior to 1978. Gay marriage has been legal for over 10 years in the Netherlands, yet the church continues to operate a temple and perform marriages in that country without any problems. And of course, it's not just the Netherlands, there are several other countries, and several states here, all with temples in them that continue to operate without a hitch.

  3. @El Genio
    I agree that there is a flavor of paranoia among members of the Church regarding religious freedom, but one can't really deny that political correctness sometimes encourages silence with regard to controversial topics.

    If I might explain, I was in a class once and we were debating the morality of gay marriage. A friend of mine who is not LDS spoke up early in the discussion, sounding that she did not feel like homosexuality was moral, but she couldn't justifiably censure a person for something she believed that the other person didn't believe. As such, she was for gay marriage.

    Her argument sounds like a pretty tolerant viewpoint, and yet, because she didn't believe that homosexuality was moral, she was vilified by many in the class, and their reactions were far less temperate than her original argument. As such, she was much less inclined to participate the next time we had a discussion.

    From my viewpoint, the gay-sympathizers in the class took her opinion and projected their distaste of it into a distaste of her as a person. Their tolerance of gay people led to an intolerance of religious people and that is the plague that I see happening.

    I don't believe that the legal rights of religion are being threatened, but in this one case, my friend's tolerance for another's choices only bred intolerance.

    Also, I recognize that religion and religious people aren't known for their tolerant attitudes and as such, my friend may be an exception to a rule, but I calls 'em likes I sees 'em, and as I sees 'em, religion is the new homosexuality; something to be quiet about or even a little ashamed of.


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...