Yesterday I went to Priesthood Leadership in the afternoon and the adult session of Stake Conference in the evening. Prior to that, I attended another leadership meeting on Thursday evening. This afternoon we'll be attending the general session. Overall the meetings have been good and I've been uplifted, and I'm looking forward to being uplifted again this afternoon.
However, I have a pet peeve that I want to get off my chest. I don't know how it is elsewhere in the church, but in my stake there is a proclivity to bash men while putting women up on a pedestal. We are constantly reminded how the visiting teaching percentages are much higher than home teaching. This week they were focusing on the youth program, and they talked about how the young women's program is much more organized than the young men.
It is true that there is a disparity in programs run by men compared to those run by women. What they fail to mention is that there are fundamental differences in the programs that can explain the disparity other than men are pigs and women are angels.
- Visiting teachers can make phone calls and even mail letters and count it as a visit. Home Teachers can only count physical visits.
- With focus on women not working outside the home in the church, women, in general, tend to have more time that they can devote to their callings than men.
- In the Aaronic Priesthood programs, there is more of a focus on having the youth plan and lead the program rather than having adults organize everything. I'm not saying that young women don't have this focus. But, I believe, it is stronger focus for the young men. Young Men adult leaders are continually reminded that Deacon and Teacher quorum presidents have the keys - not the adult leaders. And that the adult leaders role is to advise and counsel, not to lead.
I'm not trying to imply that women leaders should run things more like the men. I'm just saying that there are fundamental differences in the programs, so comparisons are meaningless (apples and oranges). Maybe it's just because I like boys, but, I tend to have more faith in my fellow brethren than what I hear preached from the pulpit.
In our leadership meeting on Thursday, they also touched briefly on same sex attraction. First they talked about mental illness (e.g depression, schizophrenia, etc.) and then segued into same sex attraction. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive, but that kind of bothered me.
They discussed the causes of SSA. Apparently, many men have SSA because of sexual abuse from their childhood by an older male; and, many women have SSA because of sexual abuse from their childhood by an older male. Evidently (at least what they explained), when a boy is abused by a male he reacts by wanting to become intimate with other boys; but, when a girl is abused by a male she reacts by rejecting all men and only wants to associate with girls. Again, perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but I was bothered by this over simplification of SSA and its causes. Plus, I don't think the cause matters. For me, what is important is what I do about it in the here and now.
I will say that I was impressed by the Stake Presidents admonition that we need to have more compassion and understanding for those that have SSA. For both the mental illness discussion and the SSA discussion, he was telling the Bishops that they shouldn't just focus on the actions of members, but they need to take into account the possible cause of their actions. He explained that there may be other factors driving them to their actions other than they are just making bad choices. Perhaps this is why he was lumping mental illness and SSA together because his advise and counsel to the Bishops was the same for both. (although, it did tend to come across as SSA being a form of mental illness caused by childhood abuse).
He also explained that many people with SSA want to be faithful church members, but they feel guilt because of their feelings and attractions which drives them away from the church. He said that we need to make sure they understand that the feelings and attractions are not sinful. I almost wanted to stand up in the meeting and shout "Yes! I'm a fag, but I'm a good faithful church member just like the rest of you!". Well, I didn't really want to do that, but it would have been funny to see everyone's reaction if I had.