01 October 2009
With this post I am inaugurating what I'll call The Bullseye Series, in which I will shamelessly borrow and pass along what I consider particularly insightful, prescient, succinct, accurate, and/or wise commentary gleaned from elsewhere in the blogosphere.
Today's first installment in the series comes from a commenter over at the Mormon Matters thread discussing Bruce Hafen's speech to Evergreen. I've edited the comment slightly to correct technicalities and emphasize key points.
Elder Hafen’s remarks have several ethical problems. First, like all Church leaders who speak on the topic he reduces homosexuality to physical acts / attractions. Second he is willing to speak for, and in place of the other. These two are closely related.
It's amazing to me that it needs to be said over and over again that homosexual folks are [simply] seeking to forge the same trusting, interdependent, spiritually and emotionally intimate relationships that heterosexuals are. Homosexuality and heterosexuality will always both be about far more than sexual acts. They are both about being in a relationship.
Hafen won’t allow gay people to describe their own lives and the meaning of their sexuality because he believes he already knows it. For him the institutional discourse of the LDS Church has far more meaning and descriptive power than the lives and experiences of gay folks. This is what makes gay rights exactly the same as other civil rights struggles: it's a clash between  an empowered group believing it has the right and authority to define the meaning and nature of another group’s being [and (2) the target group which objects to and disagrees with the empowered group's erroneous and harmful definition and the misuse of that definition to keep the target group in an inferior position.]
During women’s suffrage men continually defined women as irrational and intellectually inferior. Throughout the ugly history of slavery and Jim Crow, whites continually asserted that the nature of blackness was to be violent, dumb and lazy. In both cases religious arguments were brought in to justify prejudice. The same exact structure is found in the remarks of many LDS Church leaders [about homosexuality].
I just don’t see where Christian / Mormon ethics and theology allow us to use difference for the sake of degradation, or allow us to assert that we have the power and authority to definitively speak about the meaning and nature of someone else’s existence.
Compassion, empathy, and love are born out being in genuine relationship with others. They are not [and should not be accepted as simply] a veneer applied to our remarks as we assert our power and redefine the experiences of others to meet our own needs.
Posted by Rob at 7:32 AM