18 December 2009

Hello Mr. Bigelow

Dear Mr. Bigelow:

Welcome to my blog. I'm actually glad you found it, because now we can continue our conversation in a format and location which will get lots of ongoing visibility.

By now it's clear to you where I stand on the subject of homosexuality and marriage equality. And it's clear that you are nearly as far opposite as could be imagined. That's fine. Anyone who states their position clearly, with logical and rational analysis, evidence to back up their claims, and respectful consideration of other viewpoints will be welcome here. I apply this same standard to myself, so you need not fear any ad hominem attacks from me. I apologize in advance if any of my questions below come across as disrespectful or combative. I have tried hard to avoid that and to be respectful, while at the same time stating my questions and thoughts forthrightly.

All that said, I'll now respond to your blog post and your reply to my comment there. I have put your statements in italics and responded to each of them in turn. Since the comment function on Blogger has some limits, I'll invite you to send any responses to me by e-mail, and I will promptly post them on the blog. That way readers can comment on our statements separately. All right, here we go.

1. Homosexuality is "one of the most dangerous issues of our generation, with the potential of dividing our society as catastrophically as the slavery issue did back in the nineteenth century, if not more so."

Why do you consider it dangerous? Dangerous to what? Do you really believe it will generate armed conflict within the United States before some general consensus can be reached? What "more so" do you foresee that is worse than actual civil war?

2. Same-sex attraction and its difficult dilemmas are real, but they're not the world’s hardest challenge or even harder than some challenges within straight marriages, though some make it sound like mixed-orientation marriages are "absolutely unreasonable and undoable."

Please explain which challenges within straight marriages are more difficult to deal with than the homosexuality of one spouse, and on what evidence you base your claim.

3. "Today's gay identity is a huge deception, and it sets off many of [your] last-days alarm bells" and "from a Mormon viewpoint, the emergence of the gay movement is clearly a sign of the times."

Please define "today's gay identity" and explain how it is a "deception." Please also explain why you believe "the emergence of the gay movement is clearly a sign of the times."

4. "At some point we Mormons will have to withdraw from society when society becomes wicked enough to try to shove homosexuality down our throats, which [you're] sure will eventually happen with even more gusto than when society pressured us to end polygamy."

Please explain what you think will be the tipping point at which this will happen, and how you think the Mormons will--or could--"withdraw from society" thereafter. Gay marriage is the law of the land already in numerous countries where the Church has many members and temples (Canada, Spain, and others), and I don't hear of any mass exodus of the Mormons from there.

5. The Church was wrong to endorse "Salt Lake’s ordinances spelling out special protections for those who’ve chosen to pursue their gay inclinations." Its support "counters what some apostles have said" and you "seriously doubt" the Church's move was "based on revelation."

This one puzzles me. You are obviously keen to toe a very conservative Church line in so many ways, but when the Church itself states an opinion different from yours, you say the Church is wrong. Please explain why this should not be construed as indicating you will support the Church only when it agrees with your opinions.

Please explain how an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is a condition and not an action, is both unnecessary and a "special protection" as opposed to an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on the conditions of race or gender.

The Church took a very public position in support of these ordinances. There is no way it would have done this without President Monson's approval. You point out that it contradicts what some of the apostles have said. Please explain why this should not be construed as acknowledgement that there is disagreement amongst the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve over this issue, and if so, why we should not therefore conclude that the matter is not yet settled even within the ranks of those sustained as prophets, seers and revelators.

You "seriously doubt" that the Church's support for the Salt Lake City ordinance was "based on revelation." Please explain why, if you are right, you believe the Church took this action without any revelatory guidance, and why your statement should not be construed as an admission that sometimes the Church makes statements and takes actions which are not inspired or revealed but rather based on individual leaders' decisions or even political calculations. And if so, how are we to tell the difference when the Church itself doesn't make the distinction?

6. "The phrase 'God's gay sons' makes it sound like you think God purposely created them that way. I don't think he created someone to be gay anymore than he created someone to be an alcoholic or a pedophile or a shoplifter or any other mortal weakness/compulsion. Mortal life includes flaws for us to overcome through the atonement, and we're not meant to celebrate our flaws and embrace them as our identity."

Please explain why the condition of homosexuality is a "flaw", how it can be "overcome through the atonement," and why it is equivalent to alcoholism or pedophilia.

7. "I've never heard your quote about gayness being a "core characteristic"—do you have a reference for that?"

In an interview with two members of the Church's Public Affairs staff in August 2006 about homosexuality and which has since been published on the Church's Web site, Elder Lance Wickman of the Seventy, speaking on behalf of the Church with Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve next to him, stated that one's gender (euphemism for sexual) orientation was a "core characteristic".

8. "It is absolutely possible for one gay person to try to "recruit" or seduce someone else into gayness and be successful doing so, especially in a person's younger years when sexual identity and orientation are still fluid. I have heard many people say that they became gay through trying out the sex and enjoying it, not because they felt attracted exclusively to their same gender prior to experiencing gay sex."

Please explain your basis for this belief and identify, as much as you can without breaching confidentiality or privacy, the "many people" you've heard say this and what they actually said. Please explain why it is not possible that these people enjoyed it because they were innately gay already but perhaps didn't realize it, rather than that the experience "converted" them.

9. "If the Church ever says it's acceptable for people to give in to their gay inclinations, then I'm going to go ahead and start giving in to my inclinations to, for example, enjoy intoxicants once in a while, which I naturally would like to do but don't do because it's not in harmony with the gospel and because its unholy and impure, which also applies to gay sex."

Straw man fallacy. Please explain what you mean by "giving in to gay inclinations". Please also explain why you believe alcoholic drinks are "not in harmony with the gospel" and are "unholy and impure." How do you reconcile your statements with the fact that Joseph Smith and other general authorities regularly drank alcoholic drinks throughout their lives, including the Quorum of the Twelve who used wine when taking the Sacrament in the Salt Lake Temple until early in the 20th Century?

10. "While homosexuality is more complicated than most vices, it's still at heart a vice to be resisted, not someone's real identity that can provide eternal happiness, even if some temporary earthly companionship and sexual gratification can be found in living gay."

Please explain the basis for your belief that the quality of homosexuality itself is a "vice to be resisted."

11. "This whole gay argument is really about something deeper: Is our society a secular society in which humans are the ultimate authorities and we should do whatever we feel like doing, or are we a god-fearing society that wants to find out God's will for us and obey? I see the fight over gay rights becoming an unprecedentedly intense focal point for that deeper struggle in our society, which is why it's so alarming to me. It's going to make the fights over abortion and the E.R.A. look like child's play in comparison."

Please explain your perspective on the Savior's commandment to render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's. Please also explain what kind of government you believe the United States should have in light of the two alternatives you have stated.


I look forward to your responses.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

Alan, I'm not going to lie, if I were you, I wouldn't be taking the time to address these out-dated arguments. This guy doesn't have any real compassion or concern for us. Maybe I'm wrong.

Re: #5
You better believe the brethren are divided on this issue, with two apostles leaning on the side of gay rights, and three in passionate opposition. I've learned in talking to some friends who were involved with some discussions between church reps and gay rights reps that the night before the ordinance was discussed by city council, the brethren had a spirited, long meeting in the Temple. Their discusion was on whether or not the Church should support the ordinance or simply "not oppose" it. A significant difference, and one ultimately decided on by the 12 and First Presidency.

They decided to support nondiscrimination. Get on board, cause this isn't the last of those types of decisions.

I suppose saying that isn't revelation is no different than me saying their support of prop 8 isn't revelation. It isn't, and I'm sticking to that.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Re: #4: "At some point we Mormons will have to withdraw from society when society becomes wicked enough to try to shove homosexuality down our throats..."

The irony of this claim (and it is not the first time I've heard it) absolutely kills me...

Mr. Bigelow, please consider the following:
1. Today's LGBT movement is not trying to force straight people into gay relationships but seeks only to live in harmony and equality with straight people like yourself.
2. Straight people like yourself want gay people to enter into straight marriages (and pretend to be straight in a myriad other ways).

I ask you, who's shoving what down whose throats?

Another threadbare argument, this one in #6: "I don't think [God] created someone to be gay anymore than he created someone to be an alcoholic or a pedophile or a shoplifter or any other mortal weakness/compulsion."

Again, Mr. Bigelow, please consider the following:
1. Alcoholism, pedophilia, and kleptomania are disorders/diseases associated with inherent negative effects and measurably successful treatments.
2. Homosexuality is neither a disorder nor a disease (according to both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association). It is not associated with any inherent negative effects or any measurably successful treatments. (See APA press release--August 5, 2009: "Insufficient Evidence...")

Therefore, comparison of these two types of conditions is logically invalid. Apples and oranges, so to speak.

Re: #9 (along the same lines of #6, above): "If the Church ever says it's acceptable for people to give in to their gay inclinations, then I'm going to go ahead and start giving in to my inclinations to, for example, enjoy intoxicants once in a while, which I naturally would like to do but don't do because it's not in harmony with the gospel and because its unholy and impure, which also applies to gay sex."

Mr. Bigelow, you basically state that if the Church allows gay people to "give in to their inclinations" (i.e., have gay sex), then you should be able to "give in" to yours, which would mean enjoying the occasional intoxicant (not quite sure what that means, but I'll take it).

However, by your own reasoning, I could say this: If the Church allows straight people to "give in to their inclinations" (i.e., have straight sex), then I should be able to "give in" to mine, which would mean having gay sex.

Thank you, Alan and Mr. Bigelow, for facilitating this worthwhile discussion. I respect you both.