Monday, January 23, 2006

More on Homosexuality

Since I stepped in a pile of crap with my comments on "Brokeback Mountain," I thought I'd copy and paste here what I wrote for the book "Mormonism For Dummies" on the subject of homosexuality. This represents not only my own attempt to articulate the Mormon view but also comes pretty darn close to a complete statement of what I believe regarding homosexuality.

[begin quote]

Born That Way?

For Mormons, heterosexual procreation is a basic principle of the universe and an essential element of God’s nature. In addition, the LDS Church’s recent proclamation on the family (see Chapter 10) declares that gender is an eternal attribute of each person’s soul. When it comes to homosexual tendencies and gender ambiguities, Mormons see those challenges as symptoms of an imperfect, fallen world that the Savior will eventually heal.

In the meantime, the LDS Church says that homosexual behavior is a sinful moral choice rather than an acceptable lifestyle option or unavoidable part of someone’s personality. However, most Mormons recognize that some people — for complex reasons probably related to both temperament and environment — truly struggle with unwanted homosexual impulses. In the Mormon view, involuntarily feeling homosexual attraction isn’t sinful; acting on the temptation — or failing to resist it — is where the sin comes in. In addition, Mormon authorities frequently affirm that people must treat homosexuals with kindness and charity — in other words, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner,” as it’s commonly said.

Mormons don’t like to use the word gay because it implies acceptance of the gay cultural identity. Instead, Latter-day Saint authorities use terms such as same-gender attraction, which describes the temptation rather than the person. Although Mormons believe that God doesn’t allow people to be tempted beyond what they can bear, they understand that some battles may last an entire lifetime, with victory only gradually emerging after years of effort and resistance.

Overcoming the sin

In bygone times, Mormons were among those who tried to cure homosexuality via extreme measures, such as aversion therapy, shock treatments, and — perhaps most ill-advisedly of all — heterosexual marriage. Nowadays, however, Mormons struggling with same-gender attraction can usually get enlightened assistance from LDS-affiliated therapists. In general, these therapists help their clients reclaim what the Church teaches is their God-given heterosexuality. They try to help patients figure out where their gender development went off-kilter so that those people can rebuild a proper sexual identity. Some Mormons eventually overcome same-gender attraction enough to become successful heterosexuals, and some never do.

Several support groups are available for Mormons dealing with same-gender attraction, whether their own or that of a loved one. An independent group called Evergreen International (www.evergreeninternational.org) finds the most favor among mainstream Mormons, with LDS General Authorities often speaking at its conferences. Evergreen’s mission is to help individuals “overcome homosexual behavior and diminish same-sex attraction.”

However, some people remain in the Church while defining themselves as gay. In general, the LDS Church doesn’t discipline its members for having a homosexual orientation, only for acting upon it by engaging in any form of nonmarital sex. A few organizations and support groups cater to homosexual Latter-day Saints, including Affirmation (www.affirmation.org), which seeks to help gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Mormons come to terms with their identities.

Fighting gay marriage

Although Mormon authorities warn against any abuse or mistreatment of people with a homosexual orientation, the LDS Church formally opposes gay marriage. In fact, it has donated funds to support anti-gay-marriage campaigns and urges members to exercise their political muscle against it. Not since the LDS Church helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s has the official organization spoken out so prominently on a national social issue — and the fight’s only just beginning.

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Having said all that, I maintain that I'm alarmed by anything in our culture that could lead more people to accept, embrace, and even celebrate homosexuality as a valid, desirable lifestyle option. I think that to the degree we do that, God will withdraw his blessing and protection of our civilization, leaving us more open to threats like the barbarians who brought down the Roman civilization. If "Brokeback Mountain" helps us treat homosexuals with kindness and charity, that's good, but if it makes us think we should start enabling and celebrating homosexual relationships, I think it's bad.

5 comments:

Abel said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

The Mansexual's not afraid to hang it out there. Word up! I also loved the other stuff about "Backdoor Mountain."

Anonymous said...

We would appreciate your comments on our site promoting civil same-sex marriage rights from an LDS perspective. Thanks

www.lds4gaymarriage.net

Anonymous said...

As an ex LDS missionary who shared a flat with you for some time during our missions, who is now living with his same sex partner who is also a returned missionary, I found your comments sad, uninformed and islolationist. Just what I expect from church members.
Nice to catch up on what you are up to though, and glad you are happy and doing well.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Man, of course now I'm trying to wrack my brains to think who this last anonymous comment could be from... My guess is that your last name starts with an H? Or a G? Or a B?

Ah, hell, how would I know.