Thursday, August 21, 2008

Satan, Sunstone, and Same-Sex Attraction

Here's a comment I wrote on the Sunstone blog:

Even within Mormonism, I don’t think we hear enough about Satan’s role in tempting those with same-sex attraction (SSA) to make it far worse a challenge in their life than it would be without his influence, especially in these modern times when the gay lifestyle/movement has gotten the upper hand on PR and lures SSA people in that direction. I don’t know if Sunstone-type people even believe literally in Satan and his demons anymore, but I do, and so do a lot of Mormons.

From my experience, I think we would be surprised just how much access demons have to tempt us, to whisper and suggest things to our spirits that can really mess us up if we heed them. I could tell stories about how my own devotion to Mormonism is largely based on having caught demons at their work in my own life and spiritual journey. I come from a family where the gift of discerning demonic activity is present. Our ancestor Heber C. Kimball saw one of the best-known open visions of demons in the church. Closer to home, when I had a sister struggling with bulimia, someone in my family had their spiritual eyes opened to visually see an actual demon ministering to this sister, feeding on her inherent weakness of self-esteem and goading her in this terrible vice. I imagine in today’s moral and cultural environment that millions of demons are swarming around people and whispering into their spiritual ears, “You are gay. You are gay. You are gay” and other temptations along those lines. Those with any inherent SSA weakness/disorder are the ones who take the bait. Those who feel they are 100% gay probably feel that way because these demonic messages have been so insistent and overwhelming, not because they really are created 100% permanently gay by God, which I personally hope does not ever happen.

So I’d like to see the whole SSA thing approached from more of a spiritual warfare perspective than I think it is in the church. I’d like to see the priesthood used more boldly to rebuke and cast out the demons who are riding people and goading them into this sinful lifestyle. I’d also like today’s gay movement to be recognized as largely the product of these whisperings to people as well. I think we need to be less secular and politically correct in our thinking and acknowledge that the gay movement is a key battleground in these times between those who kept their first estate and those who didn’t. I think Mormons have gotten too timid and/or skeptical about this stuff, with our obsession to appear normal to the world and be more accepted or our prideful quickness to embrace human knowledge and understanding and not have the faith to go beyond that. But it’s very real to me personally, even if you think the devil and his minions are just some kind of allegory or something. I’ve got too many real experiences under my belt to deny it, and personally I don’t think it’s possible to win this battle on an individual or societal level without more of a return of 19th-century-style Mormon faith instead of our watered down corporate-style Mormon faith of today or, more common among Sunstoners, what I would call secular/worldly Mormonism.

24 comments:

JennVan said...

Amen Brother! I'm glad to see that others are taking on the fight that many seem to accept as truth. Thank you for your comments.

indymartin said...

Right on. The devil is real and we need to throw political correctness out the window at the pulpit. When exaltation is at stake, there's no room for watering down the truth.

David T. said...

Oh boy, Chris, we need you here in Cali knocking on doors. Nothing like drawing the line in bold to get people's attention.

Quin said...

I totally agree Chris. I often wonder if this whole issue is just as much a test to see who among "His sheep" are faithful even when it isn't popular as it is about SSM. If the "bloggernacle" is any indication of reality, there's going to be a lot of prime real estate available in the celestial kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I can't echo these "attaboy" comments or the dogmatic self-righteousness tone that they radiate. I understand and respect the fact that you feel called to advocate for the church's position on homosexuality. At one level I actually applaud you for doing this, because I think it is a position that deserves to be represented. But the way you are going about it makes me sad. I know that you knew and admired Eugene England. I think he would not approve of the way you are speaking out. I think he would be happy that someone is advocating the idea that the current situation may well represent the Lord's permanent will on the matter, but I think he would be disappointed by the lack of grace and meekness that you are demonstrating. You seem to think that the stridency of opposing voices justifies you taking a hard-line approach, but I think it minimizes the power of your voice and leaves you making no redemptive impact. People who may have been influenced by a kind and reasonable voice have hardened their hearts against you and all you're left with is a small audience of dogmatic, self-righteous people egging you on. I think you need to be rebuked and that you need to spend some time thinking about how you've acted in regard to this issue and seeking the Lord's guidance on how you might speak with more redemptive influence if you really do want to make a contribution in this area.

JennVan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JennVan said...

I personally would like to see Anonymous take a stab at showing us how to be less "dogmatic and self-righteous" and better in speaking with more "meekness and grace" about this side of the SSA argument (against SSA) while being taken seriously. Its a line I've yet to be able to find someone who can do it. Those on the other side of the argument seem to think anything said different from their point of view is dogmatic and self-righteous. Or if we are not strong enough in our statements, they think that we think anything they do or say is ok and acceptable. I don't feel either one of those things and would like someone to share with me how to let people know that I don't think what they are doing is right or good but that they are still good as a person.

Quin said...

In the realm of opinions that really matter in life, Eugene England's shouldn't be in anyone's top 10...20...and the opinion of "anonymous" rebukers should rank even lower.

I have yet to see Chris declare his own gospel, or claim that he has the ability to redeem anyone. It's time we stopped catering to what the world or all the warm fuzzy people want and start standing up for what the Lord wants. His voice is rarely kind and meek when He describes what awaits those who choose to support sin rather than ruffle some feathers.

Anonymous said...

Quin, you reveal a lot about yourself by what you say and how you say it. You may have no regard for Eugene England and that's fine. I believe that Chris did have regard for him and that is why I brought him up. I may be wrong about that and Chris is free to correct me.

I believe Eugene was a great role model for discussing this issue with grace, meekness, and redemptive impact. I am impressed that he persuasively advocated for the idea that the current situation may indeed represent the Lord's permanent will.

Jennvan, I appreciate your apparent willingness to explore ways that this issue can be addressed more effectively. I have lots of ideas and thoughts that I need to gather, and I may choose to share more later. I did not intend to speak out on this blog, but I felt impelled to and I realize that I need to organize my thoughts better if I intend to communicate anything of worth.

Quin, you demonstrate a profound immaturity and lack of understanding, in my opinion. I never said that Chris is trying to proclaim his own gospel or that he needs to redeem anybody. That is a silly restatement of my sentiments.

To say that someone should seek to speak with redemptive impact is not to suggest that they need to redeem anybody. In my opinion, speaking with redemptive impact should be a distinguishing characteristic of meek discipleship.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Anonymous, I feel that I have already said and will continue to say the most Christ-like message of which I am personally capable: If SSA people want to work on resisting their temptation and staying in harmony with the gospel, we should love and accept them as much as humanly possible, even if they are still early in the process of repenting of sodomy or anything like unto it. I don't know what more I can say beyond that without starting to tolerate and enable the sin of sodomy, which I think many Mormons are, in effect, doing when they get too sympathetic and tolerant about this SSA situation.

I absolutely stand by what I said about Satan's influence with regards to SSA--he doesn't necessarily cause the feelings, but he takes advantage of them to create sexual and moral chaos in individual lives and in our society. Personally, I think any Mormon who can't see it in these terms is either not fully converted or is in denial. My impulse is to say what I think needs to be said and what I think not enough other people within alternative Mormonism circles are saying, and the chips can fall where they may.

Eugene England was a great guy, one of my heroes in Mormonism, maybe even the most influential personal mentor I've ever had, or at least in the top three. However, I still think he was prone to some worldly political correctness and some overly secular thinking at times.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I'm completely comfortable with your stance on homosexuality as you've articulated it your first paragraph. As I've said, I think it's a viewpoint that needs to be advocated for in alternative Mormon circles. If what you've written in that statement was all that you've said on the topic, I would have nothing further to say.

What I'm not comfortable with, and what disappoints me, are several other things you've said that are not as elegantly stated as that nice paragraph. I'm going to take some time to organize my thoughts and may be culling through some of your past posts here and on Mormon Matters to illustrate what specific things are disturbing to me and how I believe you've compromised your ability to speak constructively on this topic.

I will also point out several things that you've said that I think are great and expansive and helpful.

You're certainly entitled to say whatever you want and let the chips fall where they may. I'm just sad because I think you could have spoken with much greater impact if you had chosen to speak more carefully. And I'm not suggesting that you need to water down any aspect of your well-stated position. I'm all for you advocating for a "whole grain gospel" viewpoint in what you see a a worldly, secular, politically correct world.

I believe your stake in this issue is more personal than what you let on in most of your diatribes, and that it animates and colors your rhetoric in ways that you may not even be aware of.

Finally, I would like to say that I admire and respect you. I see you as a person with a bright mind and superb gifts of expression. I have benefited from many of your works. I simply would like to make a few points. I'll be content for you to take them or leave them and I'll be on my way.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Anonymous: Sure, if you'd like to take the time to analyze what I've been saying on this topic, I'm certainly open to that. I've been mostly doing quick responses here and there online to things I've read that have bugged me, so I'm sure I've left behind a trail of inconsistency, illogic, needlessly inflammatory remarks, etc.

I don't know if and when I'll have future opportunities to be an advocate on this issue or just tire of it and move on, but any refining I can do now in my outlook and ways of expressing it could potentially be useful later. And anybody listening in may also be preparing themselves for future discussions on this topic as well.

And yes, I do have a personal stake in this on many levels, from having witnessed the diabolical dynamics of SSA confusion and temptation up close to having close associates die of AIDS to feeling genuinely alarmed that our civilization has come to a point where we would actually think it could possibly be a good idea to thumb our noses at God by legalizing SSM.

Quin said...

Annonymous-

We all reveal things about ourselves by what we say and how we say it. However,I am sure you'll agree that meek disciples are not easily provoked by snarkiness, and are forgiving and long suffering rather than vaunting or puffed up.

For example, one would never expect to hear a truly meek disciple verbalize something as ironic as: "In my opinion, speaking with redemptive impact should be a distinguishing characteristic of meek discipleship." After all, meek disciples know where their own personal opinions and definitions of discipleship actually rank.

A meek disciple would be familiar with the established bounds of stewardship and authority, and would never rebuke anyone who is clearly outside of their calling.

A meek disciple would never stoop to invoking the name of another's personal mentor in an effort to elicit shame or contrition.

And certainly a meek disciple would never insist (even once, much less repeatedly)that they know how Chris can express his opinions more elegantly and in a more redemptive manner than he already has.

David T. said...

Anonymous,

Your treatment of Chris in your last entry is what we in the sales industry call the Kick/Kiss. For example:

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life which is amazing to me because you're such an incredibly intelligent individual!"

Quin, you demonstrate a profound immaturity and lack of understanding, in my opinion.

Don't underestimate profound immaturity and lack of understanding. They can be really hot qualities when up against an argument that's got no legs.

And seriously... I'm getting so tired of people throwing around the word "profound." It's making it so there's no profundity left anymore. Waiter! Check, please?

Quin said...

Hey, if you're going to be immature, best to be profound at it! But where I come from, the term "profound immaturity" is an OxyMormon. One cannot be deep and sagacious while being immature-unless that is what Christ meant about becoming as little children....?

At least I only owe the waiter for a kids meal. :-P

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks for being cool. Maybe we'll have to take any further dialogue offline.

I'm new to posting comments on a blog. (This is my first time.) And I can already see that I don't have the stomach for the "snarky" comments from the peanut gallery here. I feel no motivation to even begin making a point by point response to what your peeps have posted in the last 24 hours. I think it's time for me to exit stage right.

But, thanks, Chris, for your openness and general goodness. (No kissing, here, by the way. Can't have any of that same-sex kissing, can we?) I'm sincere in what I've said to you, and I hope you sense that sincerity even if some of your commenters do not.

I'm actually someone you know, but I'm not ready to shed my "anonymous" status yet...and may never be. At least we've had a small measure of dialogue is this cramped and crowded forum called a blog comment box. I'm content that I've been able to communicate what I have, and I am quite satisfied with your response.

My main point is that I think you are in a unique position to speak on this issue. If dialogue can help you refine your thinking and your message, I'd love to participate in that dialogue. I withdraw my rebuke and replace it with genuine respect for your willingness to listen and refine.

I'll make a decision over the next little while whether I want to take up further dialogue with you via e-mail and we'll see where it goes from there. It may even have redemptive results! :)

And I'll abandon all pretense of Christlike behavior when I say I think you've got some profoundly annoying folks frequenting your blog, and I'm left hoping you've got some truly cool friends in real life cause if this is what folks outside of the secular, worldly, politically correct scene are like, I'm not sure I want to hang out there. :)

Stay golden, Chris.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Shucks, guys, my first little flame war hosted on my own blog! I've been reamed out before in comments by people who don't like something I've said, but I don't think I've ever had my commenters start going after each other like this. It's kind of fun but also kind of worrisome.

And my blog stats have doubled in the past couple of weeks, so thanks to those who must be linking to my blog.

JennVan said...

I think we're seeing how strongly people feel on one side or the other of this very controversial topic. It can and has created some very serious problems in the church. Despite the "snarky" comments on both sides, I still agree with your original post and the strength of the argument.

Quin said...

Don't worry Chris, neither David or I are the type to revel in conflict and argument, and I apologize for my contentious responses.

Had anonymous indicated that this was his first blog post ever, my initial response to him would have been helpful and instructive on blog etiquette. I do not mention my lack of information as an excuse for my behavior, I am including it here in the hope that anonymous will see it and understand why his comments here were greeted the way they were and how his future comments anywhere on the net could be.

The fact that he withdrew his rebuke indicates to me that he does have a good heart and that he has already gained some valuable perspective, so the entire thing was not a total waste.

I believe there is a purpose to having many kinds of voices out here and that every personality doesn't have to be...should not be...exactly the same because each one speaks to different people. If we all spoke and wrote just like Eugene England, the message would only reach those who respond to Eugene England.

There must needs be different styles and timbres to sound in different ears and hearts, and as long as Chris is expressing himself in the manner that the Spirit encourages him to, changing to accommodate someone else's opinion would be a tragic mistake. (my personal opinion)

Quin said...

Something else occurred to me reading anonymous's last post and then jennvan's. In today's politically correct world, we've lost much of our passion. We've been lulled into acting passively and responding passively and it scares me more than the current social issues.

This does not mean that I'm advocating screaming fits and fanatical pulpit pounding by any means. But I fear that satan's influence has grown to the point where we've almost become emotional and verbal communist zombies of a sort, and the scriptures warn us about this in the last days.

Today's world promotes divine love as being tolerant and encouraging to everything as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else and makes people "happy" in the here and now. Such is a perversion of God's perfect love to all who have felt or experienced it, and I fear we have yet to see the worst of it.

JennVan said...

Great comment Quin. I support completely agree.

Christopher Bigelow said...

Quin, I appreciate and relate with both of your most recent comments. I sense a lot of lukewarmness and laying low in the church, and I think times are coming when we're either going to need to get hot or go all the way cold, including speaking up on issues that make us appear politically incorrect to those in the great and spacious building.

With all this gay marriage stuff and related issues, I feel like we're in a video game that is jumping to a new higher level of difficulty, making stuff like ERA look slow and easy by comparison...

Quin said...

I agree Chris...and like you, I do not wish to be spewed out or spewed upon either. Read an article the other day dealing with the parable of the ten virgins and had a sad realization-in that 50% of those waiting for the bridegroom don't get to attend the wedding.

I wish it was a video game so I could just shut it off and come back later when I needed a challenge. Sadly, the higher the level, the faster the enemy comes at you.

JennVan said...

Just FYI, I have worked in the marriage and family field for a number of years and even done some policy stuff and I have to say this SSA stuff scares me to death. There are some serious repercussions from it if it happens, not even just in the church but in our society and its already happening.
I'm also just flabbergasted at how this issue of SSA has seriously divided the church. I knew that the church would be sifted in the last days, I just never thought it would be about something like this. I think part of the problem that I've seen in talking to people about this is that heterosexual people don't realize how allowing gay marriage will impact them. They say, oh they can do whatever they want, let them have civil unions...it won't impact me. WRONG....Dead wrong. I attended at law symposium on how gay marriage could potentially impact not just the church but our entire way of life in the US. Talk about insane. It very likely would end that we would no longer be able to perform marriages in our temples.
I've also been surprised how "strong" the new supporters of gay marriage are. There are some people who have supported gay marriage for years but the new people joining the cause, they are really something else.
Here is a cool link from DN about an Education week talk about the gay marriage issue. http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700253111,00.html?pg=2