29 November 2009

The Talk With Dad, Part One

Yes, this is word for word. Dad's in regular font, I'm in italics.

What does that really mean? I don't understand this when you say I am gay? You like boys better than girls, in simple terms?


Do you believe that was something you were born with?


It's not genetic.

Well, you know, the research on that is ongoing.

Yeah, I know, it's inconclusive.

Not according to every professional organization's report I have read

Yeah I read that stuff. It's inconclusive.

All of them are unanimous that there appears to be a genetic component. Nobody says it's absolutely indisputably programmed in the DNA, but the conclusion of everybody that has studied it is that there are definite indications of a genetic component to it.

Well the stuff you sent me that I read doesn't say that. It says they don't know whether it's in the home or genetic.

OK well I can send you more if you want, 'cause trust me, it's there

No, I don't need any more. It doesn't matter. What wolf are you feeding?

Tell me what wolves you see. I know the story of the wolves.

There's the dark side and there's the light side or whatever term you want to use. And homosexual behavior is abnormal. Sexually abnormal.

In your opinion.

No, it's not a question of opinion at all.

Then define normal.

Well, you have a normal distribution curve, and you've got got sexual activities, and you've got people at one end, and you've got people at the other end, they're eunuchs who don't have sex at all, then you have this large population in the middle that tends to be normal, and it's very consistent with the Lord's commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, and that's the first commandment, and people who are homosexual can't do that. And that's abnormal.

So you see the purpose of sexual activity as procreation?

No, I didn't say that.

It sounds like it.

That's the first commandment, they can't do that. There's a lot more to sexual relationships than having kids. There's passion, there's love, there's intimacy, all of that.

All of which exist in same sex relationships as well. It's a constant, it's existed throughout history. So I see it as normal.

Yes, you can do that, you can take that argument, you can take the distribution curve and make another distribution curve and say here are all the people that are eunuchs and that's normal, and you can take another distribution curve, and . . .

OK I guess the way I see it is it's not a question of normal as defined by a given culture. It's a question of is this a component of human behavior throughout history.

No that's not where I am.

Well that's how I see it. It's always been there, there's always been a portion of the population that is this way.

That's right, and there's always been a portion of the population that are pedophiles, there's always been a portion that are prostitutes.

Dad, that's a non sequitur. There's always been murderers too, but you can't say that because there's always been murderers and there's always been anorexia, that therefore murder and anorexia are morally equivalent.

Well I'm not saying that's wrong, I'm saying the analogy you use I could take and apply it to every form of behavior in society. And it would be equally valid.

But you're drawing a moral conclusion for two different types of behavior.

I'm not drawing a moral conclusion at all, I'm drawing a statistical conclusion. It's not moral at all.

But from the statistical behavior you're then saying one is normal and one is not.

No I didn't say "not".

You said it was abnormal, though.

No, I'm focused on your statement that homosexuality is normal because it's always been part of the population, it's always been there. I'm saying if you use that argument, then you can say that about any form of behavior, because there's always been murders, always been prostitutes.

So then we have to conclude from that that it's morally neutral.

No no no, I didn't say anything about that. I'm talking about behavior, not morality.

OK I understand. What I'm talking about is the orientation, not just the behavior

Well you can say the same thing about sociopaths.

Same logical error then, Dad.

Not in my view. The behavior's what I'm talking about. The morality is a matter of what man creates in his mind or revelation or what God has told us to do, what is moral or what isn't moral. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about behavior. And I'm saying that if you use the argument you use which is the argument homosexuals use, then any form of behavior can be normalized in that population group.

If you define normal as what people do, then yes, understood. I understand your logic and see the point.

Well it's not logic, or maybe it is. It's purely a function of behavior. So I have this normal distribution curve, I've got a group of people who are murderers, that's normal behavior among murderers.

OK, I'm taking a more expansive view. I see the range of sexual behavior, and I see a predominance of heterosexual behavior, . . .

Of course. If you lump everybody in that same normal distribution curve, not morality, let's talk about behavior. I've got a bunch of people who are eunuchs, and among them . . .

Understood. I'm looking at the whole thing and saying "where are the boundary lines for normal"?

Well, you'd have to say the sixty-eight percent in the middle.

And what's the source of that determination?

Just a normal statistical distribution of population.

So normal is what most people do?

Yes. And then you have standard deviations that go out . . .

Sure, I took statistics, I understand.

And then the same thing is true with alcoholism and any abusive kind of behavior, you have a certain percentage that do crazy things with their bodies, and you can do the same thing with sex. It's an argument that's been made for hundreds of years. So your "social behaviors" separate from sexual behaviors are not in the center part of the normal distribution curve, they'd be to one side.


That's all I'm saying. You belong to a small percentage of people, or you feel like you belong to a small percentage, or you do belong to a small percentage that would not be within the statistical realm of "normal".

As you've defined it, that's correct.

And that's fine. As long as you're willing to accept the consequences, both spiritually and otherwise of your behavior.

And I lived with the other consequences for long enough to know that I couldn't continue to do that.

That's fine.

So the answer to your questions is yes.

Yes you're willing to live with the consequences?


OK. As long as you're willing to do that, regardless of what they are at this stage of the game, we don't all know what they are, it's just like any choice. Maybe I see it in a different way. When we talked about it before, I believe that the scripture that says where much is given, much is expected, and I also believe that the more talented you are spiritually, the bigger the challenges you have. And you've been blessed a lot in your life. Far beyond what most people have been given. And it just may be you also then were cursed in some ways, because you know there are blessings and cursings, whatever you want to call it, but the challenges of your life are going to be equal to the blessings.


Good to be Free said...

A most interesting conversation. He tries hard to make a logical statistical argument about normal and abnormal behavior, but in the end he still draws moral conclusions that aren't based on statistics. He insists on using behavioral comparisons such as, murder and pedophilia. Why not use a comparison such as left handedness or polygamy? Both are "abnormal" behaviors, but don't carry such negative associations?

Ned said...

Fascinating. I'm so glad you two have persisted in keeping the dialogue going. Looks like you both learned much in this candid conversation.

Romulus said...

Mormons don't make up even a tiny fraction of the world population. They aren't normal.

boskers said...

I think you win when it comes to eloquence, Alan. :)

But you both have very strong arguments. I'd hate to get in the middle of that kind of wordplay dealing with generalities/logic/statistics/morals. I'd get chewed up and spit out. I get tense simply reading your discussion on your blog!

Thanks for making this conversation open to all. It's very interesting.

El Genio said...

This sounds like a horrible conversation to me. I'm so sorry things didn't go better :(

Urban Koda said...

I'm always in awe of those who can have a civil conversation with another person who holds a different point of view or perspective.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

Beck said...

I think this is wonderful! Anyone who can keep such a dialog going and not lose their cool and come to an understanding with hopes of future conversations, has my complete awe and praise.

Keep it going! Understanding comes, even if you agree to disagree.

TGD said...

I'm not entirely sure what the point of statistics was in the conversation but it seems to serve a purpose for your dad in how he is trying to process it all. Nothing wrong with that. It's where he is.

It does remind me a lot of what it meant to be Mormon myself. I.e. Imposing oneself and others to a defined standard wether it be moral ideas, behavior, appearance or otherwise. So, when venturing outside of that conformity there were consequences but only between those who saw that conformity as important. It doesn't have to be Mormon vs Gay. It could be Rich Mormon vs Poor Mormon or Single vs Married. Life is one big consequence because we make sure there are consequences.

I think the biggest mess we get ourselves into is thinking that we must put value judgments on consequences. If I never left the house because I was afraid of one of the possible consequences of doing so would be breaking my leg, then I would have to face the consequence of never enjoying life. But it's more than just taking a risk. So I left the house and broke my leg, good or bad? Neither. Because I broke my leg the consequence was expensive medical treatment and physical therapy. good or bad? Neither. Because of the consequence of physical therapy I met a really cute therapist and we started dating? Good or Bad? Neither. He turns out to be possessive and jealous? good or bad? Neither. We break up, good or bad? neither. It's just what happens.

Chester said...

It's good you're having a dialogue with your dad, but, contrary to what boskers suggests, I don't think your dad has a strong argument. It's more as TGD suggests - it's where your dad is right now.

That's generally how these conversations go: You learn more about how the other thinks. He learns that his opinions weren't at solid as he once thought. If you keep giving him an opportunity to talk through the issue, with enough time, he'll should come to a place where, on some level, he accepts you and your decision.

But let us be clear: There is no "meeting in the middle" on this issue. We're already in the middle, waiting for the other side to meet us there.