Saturday, June 25, 2011

IQD: More Insights

I'm making some real progress with In Quiet Desperation.  I've got some other thoughts here, here, here, and here, if you're interested.  It's got some pretty amazing nuggets of wisdom in it that, in spite of my flippant and bipolar attitude towards same-gender attraction and homosexuality, seem to make sense in my brain and help me gain some perspective, at least in the moments directly after my reading.  I'd also like to add a caveat that I intend no offense to my gay readership.  We are all given over to making our own choices and the circumstances which lead others to make different choices than me are their business and I have no place in offering judgment.  These are my musings and my musings only; if they help others, great.

Chapter 7 of Ty Mansfield's section deals pretty exclusively with Romans 1, a part of scripture I admit I knew nothing about before reading IQD.  I read it before reading Ty's commentary and it kind of made me feel a little bit sheepish.  Verse 27 reads:

And likewise also the men... burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

I had a few thoughts about this verse.  One, I can't help but ponder if those of us, gay and straight, who behave recklessly receive "in [ourselves] that recompense of [our] error which [is] meet," in the way of unwanted pregnancy, STIs, and emotional heartbreak.

Second, I hate the phrase, "that which is unseemly."  Unseemly means inappropriate or improper, but to me and to many of those like me, our desires don't seem improper or inappropriate.  I know that lots of bad things don't seem "unseemly" to lots of people, like Jackie Gleason's wifebeating or Hannibal Lecter's fashionable fleshsuits, but even so, I hate hate hate being denigrated for a desire that seems so natural.  Alright, moving on.

Verses 11 and 12 helped win me back a little bit:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  

Without being too irreverent, I long to see you too, Paul.  I'd like to know how I can be a little more like you, so that we can be comforted together by our faith.

I'm impressed by Paul's love for the faithful Romans; he wants to bear their burdens and share in the joy of the Gospel with those who share his faith.  That's the goal of the stakes of Zion; we are drawn together by our mutual faith and try to bear one another up, at least in theory.  It's also the goal of missionary work.  It's called serving a mission for a reason, because missionaries are intended to serve the people of the world, not to coldly and emotionlessly convert them.

If you read Romans 1 in its entirety (and you should), you'll find, as Ty did, that homosexuality is mentioned and alluded to in but a few verses amid a much larger framework of chastisement.  It is one flower in a garden of spiritual insights, and yet, Romans 1 has been the scriptural guidepost for homosexuality and little else.

As Ty eloquently points out, homosexuality is but a manifestation of the sin of pride, of placing your own desires ahead of the Lord's, and as such he hopes that "Romans 1 will cease to be a theological stick used to beat those who experience same-gender attraction and will instead become a way by which each child of God, regardless of what trials or attractions he or she experiences, may gain a deeper and broader perspective that will enhance their worship of our Father" (163).  He continues: "If the devotion we should be giving to God and others is misplaced, then we are committing idolatry, and this idolatry is the principle underlying Paul's discussion on the worship of God" (164).

Tonight, I had a good conversation (two of them, actually), with a few friends that illustrate this point well, I think.  In the first place, my friend said that one problem he has had with going to church is the constant emphasis placed on hard, fast rules and on the restraint of agency that those rules cause.  Anyone who has experienced a midnight curfew or a facial-hair infraction at a church school knows what I'm talking about.  He spoke of the admonishment parents receive to teach correct principles, then allow others to act on them, giving poor decisions a moment of reproof followed by an increase of love afterward.  Wouldn't it be nice if some of the church organizations followed that advice?  Perhaps those struggling members would feel that increase of love, rather than the constraint and reproof often plaguing members of the church.

The second conversation followed Paul's advice and Ty's explication a bit more closely.  My friends and I were talking about how backwards it is that the deeper we get into our doctrine, the more we see the mistakes we and others are making, rather than seeing the good they're doing.  In that respect, by learning more about the Gospel and without viewing it through the charitable crucible of Christlike love, we doom ourselves to censure and vilify others, a trait that Jesus Himself found deplorable.

Romans 1 can be used to crucify the queers of the world, or it can be used to purify our own thoughts and make our own actions more in line with the will of the Lord.  We can view it as a spiritual whip with which we lash sinners, but in doing so, we commit the sin that it warns against by ignoring our own spiritual weaknesses in favor of satisfying our "righteous" indignation at the sins of others.


  1. I can't pin this directly on your blog; chatting to Jehova's Witnesses in the week might have had something to do with it; but I got my Sunday suit out of the wardrobe tonight. It's hanging on the back of the door. I haven't made the final decision whether I'll be attending in the morning. I'll definitely be waking up in time and I'll see how it goes.
    No matter my choices in life I never want to stray too far from my spiritual core. I always want to know my saviour. I sang some church hymns today. I pretty much always have a hymn in my head. It's just that today I verbalised the words. It felt good.

  2. @Anonymous:

    I hope you end up going. I have no idea how I'd reconcile my feelings with church and homosexuality, but I hope I'd still have the desire to keep going.

    But, like I said at the beginning of the post, I'm in no place to decide what's best for other people, so be realistic and honest with yourself and you'll know what you should do tomorrow morning.


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.

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