13 February 2010

Chat Follow-up

Recently I had a private chat with a blog reader who asked lots of questions. I couldn't answer them all during the chat, so I will follow up here. I know this person reads the blog and I thought it'd be valuable for others to comment on the questions too.

Why is it that homosexuals think that if they aren't acting on their homosexual feelings that the only alternative is misery and often, suicide? There are lots of individuals that live celibate lives of meaning and worth....are they lonely? sure. do they long to have the blessing of family life? sure.

I think you've got the cart before the horse here. An "alternative" is not the same as a result. I don't know any gay person who says to themselves "Well, if I can't act on my feelings then my only other choice is a miserable self-inflicted death."

Every gay person I know wants exactly the same things you do: love, acceptance, companionship, intimacy, security, the happiness of caring for someone who cares for them. Misery and suicide are not exclusively a gay person's "alternative" to this, they're just a more likely natural consequence when any person regardless of sexual orientation is denied those basic needs by their society or culture--or their religion. I submit to you that it's all the more perverse when that denial is inflicted by a religion in the name of preserving those very virtues which the gay person seeks for their own life just like everyone else, and inflicted solely because of a characteristic that person did not choose and can't change.

If homosexuality were acceptable to the Lord he would have made it clear to us or to His prophet.

With respect, this is basically the "if man were meant to fly God would have given him wings" argument. It assumes that God has already told us everything about everything. It's the same belief Nephi goes after with such vehemence when denouncing those who say "We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! "(2 Ne. 28:29) The 9th Article of Faith says we believe God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom. So how can we possibly say he's already told us everything that is and isn't "acceptable"?

For a century prophets and apostles preached the most awful racist tripe as eternal gospel. Why didn't God correct them immediately? Why did we have to wait till 1978 for Him to tell us just how wrong those prophets and apostles were? Maybe it was because prophets up to that point and the Church in general just weren't ready to hear anything that contradicted their prejudices, but at that point society and the Church had progressed to a point where the Church could accept the new instruction? And maybe we're seeing the same pattern now play out with God's gay children? You can't say flat out that that isn't true. The best you could say is you're not sure. Personally I think any social trend that favors equality of treatment under the law and understanding & tolerance of all of God's children is good and I can't imagine why God wouldn't look with favor on it.

My big issue is that the genitals of two men do not function like the genitals of a man with a woman...and that to have a family...you need a man and a woman. two men can't make a baby or have sex in a manner that seems like the method we were created for.

This assumes that genitalia alone determine what is theologically or psychologically "correct" or "acceptable," that physiology is the sole criterion for what makes a family. In short, it's only a "real" family when the couple can have their own natural children.

A closer examination of history belies that. For centuries marriages were all about property and inheritance. Infertile couples are not legally barred from marrying. Adoptions make families all the time; indeed, by Mormonism's own doctrine, many of its members are "adopted" into one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Do you question the legitimacy there because the adopted children may not be literal biological progeny?

All relevant American professional associations who deal with homosexuality in a professional or clinical setting agree that it is a "normal variant of human sexuality" and there's plenty of evidence that gay marriages can be just as happy and stable as straight ones, with just as many benefits for the kids--of which there are thousands. So with due respect, to cling to the idea that genitalia alone are what make a "real family" or "real marriage" is to ignore much of the real world and its rapidly accumulating experience.

I don't think every person with homosexual feelings should remain celibate...nor do I believe that all of them should marry...but I do think that there are probably mixed orientation marriages that make it work....is it difficult? I imagine it would be...but many, if not most heterosexual marriages are difficult at times if not more...does it mean it isn't worthwhile?

Your first two sentences seem to contradict the popular LDS line that gays should remain solitary and celibate their whole lives. And I agree, in this area where we simply don't know the full picture, I think everyone must seek their own inspiration and answers.

As to mixed orientation marriages, well, I'm qualified to answer this because I've been in one. And the answer is that there is no one right answer. Some MOM couples make it work, and I have tremendous admiration for their dedication and commitment. But I have yet to see one that makes it work without significant and in some cases almost insurmountable challenges and difficulties, which I believe outrank virtually every other challenge a marriage could face. And like I said, I've been in one and faced all those "normal" challenges. I can't speak for others, but for me, the factor that made it so difficult, and the factor you're ignoring, is that there was always a gnawing knowledge deep down inside that I didn't belong there. I couldn't give myself completely. Just by being there I was fundamentally dishonest with her. She deserved better. Dishonesty can kill a marriage. I'm sure this was one of the reasons why the Church finally stopped telling its gay members to just get married and the gay would go away.

I can also tell you that for me, just the thought of being married to the guy of my dreams is in many ways more deeply satisfying and makes me happier than the reality of the straight marriage ever did. That's a very strong indicator of what is right for me, at least. Others' mileage will vary, and I will respect their choices just as I expect them to respect mine.

Hope this helps.


boskers said...

Very sound arguments, Alan. Thanks for the read.

Joe Conflict said...

I'll testify to your statement about dishonesty ruining a marriage any time you want me to. I lied, deceived, whatever you want to call it for 11 years. Big, Big mistake. Life really didn't prepare me for a solution.

Romulus said...

I love it when people who don't understand try to tell us how to live and how we feel.

Mike said...

Very well said!