Wednesday, August 1, 2007

God Loveth His Children

I just read the pamphlet, God Loveth His Children, that seems to be generating some amount of controversy in the gay Mormon community. To be honest, I didn't have the same negative reaction that others had when I read this pamphlet. Is it perfect? No! Is it better than anything else we've seen to date? A most definite Yes!

Actually, the part of the pamphlet that bugged me the most has nothing to do with same sex attraction. On p.8 it states:
Someone wisely said that if we plant a garden with good seed, there will not be much need of the hoe.

Personally, I think it should read "Someone dumbly said ...". As a gardener, I've learned that the amount of cultivation needed in a garden has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the seed you planted. Cultivation is controlled more by the quality of the soil in which you planted your seed and the amount of soil enrichment you do (both before and after you plant your seed). What's odd is that the rest of the page talks about the need of spiritual nourishment and filling our lives with positive influences - which is analogous garden cultivation. It would have been better to just leave out that first sentence entirely. The rest of the paragraph stands on its own quite well.

I do understand the reservations that some have with a few of the statements. For example, on p.9 it states:

It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion.

The way I interpret this is that I shouldn't go around wearing a rainbow tie and calling everybody 'sweety'. But, it is, unfortunately, ambiguous and could be subject to a wide range of interpretations. I do have some stereotypical gay traits; for example, I do not like sports. I make no apologies for my disdain of sports and have subtle (and some not so subtle) ways of letting people know that I'm not interesting in talking about sports. Could someone construe this as 'flaunting my homosexual tendencies'? Perhaps.

I'm also curious about the following statement on p.3-4

... many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality.

What exactly does it mean to 'overcome same-gender attraction'? Are they saying that these people are no longer attracted to those of the same gender? Or are they simply saying that they have it under control? And they say many have achieved this, where's the proof? I served my mission in Missouri, so 'show me'! Personally, I believe that anyone who claims to have overcome homosexuality probably started out somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale and have only managed to emphasize their heterosexual tendencies enough to overshadow their homosexual tendencies. Some of us don't have enough heterosexual tendencies to accomplish this regardless of how much we pray, fast, read the scriptures, etc.

I think it is worthwhile pointing out some things that the pamphlet left out (thankfully). For example, there is no mention as to the cause of homosexuality (unlike some earlier writings suggesting that homosexuality is caused by a father's inattentiveness with his children and/or masturbation during teenage years).

I'm also thankful they left out any discussion on how we should identify ourselves. Personally, I feel that how I choose to identify my sexual orientation is my own business. The church should not dictate to me how I should identify my sexual orientation any more than they should dictate how I should identify my ethnicity or my hair color. If someone chooses to associate negative connotations with words like 'gay' or 'homosexual' then that is their problem, not my problem.

I was encouraged with the following statement

Many questions, however, including some related to same-gender attracts, must await a future answer

It goes on to say

... even in the next life

however, it still leaves open the possibility that some of our questions will, eventually, be answered in this life.

For our single gay brothers and sisters, I was also encouraged by the following statement on p.4

As we follow Heavenly father's plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God's children may find join in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children.

Although, I would like to know the scriptural basis for such a belief. Just because it's published by the church doesn't mean that this pamphlet has the same weight as scripture. I am disappointed that there is virtually nothing to comfort those of us in mixed orientation marriages. After reading this pamphlet, I feel like I'm not supposed to exist.

I'm also a little bothered by the statement on p.9 which says:

Neglecting these positive influences and withdrawing from the Church because of discouragement, perceived rejection, or a sense that you do not belong can only hurt your spirituality and your desire to control your actions.

It goes on to say:

Some people with same-gender attraction have felt rejected because members of the Church did not always show love. No member of the church should ever be intolerant.

It seems to me that they acknowledge the rejection that some have felt is very real - there is nothing perceived about it. Also, what is being done to communicate to the membership at large that intolerance towards people with same-gender attraction is not becoming of a good latter-day saint? On p.12 it states "It is helpful to visit with your bishop and other priesthood leaders ..."; but, for me personally, that ain't gonna happen until I feel more assurance that I'm not going to be judged and/or rejected simply because of unwanted attractions. And, hearing the youth say "that's so gay" and other members blaming homosexuals and same sex marriage for all of our social ills isn't giving me that assurance.

Bottom line, I feel this pamphlet is a positive step forward. It is a good tool for a Bishop to use when counseling someone with same gender attraction (certainly a lot more positive than telling them to go read "The Miracle of Forgiveness").

Anyway, this is just my $0.02 on the topic. My opinion and 50¢ will buy you a newspaper.

12 comments:

J G-W said...

"I am disappointed that there is virtually nothing to comfort those of us in mixed orientation marriages. After reading this pamphlet, I feel like I'm not supposed to exist."

I've been wondering about this... How do all you gay married Mormon men feel about what seems like a trend toward emphasizing celibacy for those who are gay?

Sean said...

celibacy is a part of life, however it is not generally forced upon us - usually its just a period of time within our lives.

but once you've found your sweetheart (male/female)it would seem like common sense to marry - gay or straight. but to force life long celebacy? that part i'm a more than a little uncomfortable with.

However, i do disagree whole heartly with promiscuity (which is the flip side celibacy). Love and marriage is that wonderful middle ground.

that's my opinion anyway. and i reserve the right to adjust or amend or even throw-out, as i attempt to gain further light and knowledge.

drex said...

I think that they probably didn't discuss MOMs because they couldn't come to a consensus on what to say. With the supposedly high statistical probability of an MOM failing, I can understand the lack of emphasis. They were likely trying to avoid making marriage appear as a 'fix' for homosexuality, or to make it the blanket suggestion to all gay members of the church. Those of us inclined to marry will likely do so without the added pressure or encouragement, but I share your sentiment that we really ought to have some sort of something from the church on it. That would be nice.

J G-W said...

I suppose one way of looking at it is that the brochure did not actually say what was said in the Oaks/Wickman interview last year... That you should not enter into marriage with a member of the opposite sex if you do not feel a "great attraction" toward him/her. But there did seem to be an underlying assumption in the brochure that the focus for people living with SSA would be on learning to cultivate happiness and service even while living a life of singleness.

Kengo Biddles said...

I'll comment on this part:

... many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality.

What exactly does it mean to 'overcome same-gender attraction'?


Could what you, me, Beck, -L-, and shortly Drex have done be qualified under that category? I think so. (Apologies to other married mohos that I haven't listed.)

Abelard Enigma said...

Could what you, me, Beck, -L-, and shortly Drex have done be qualified under that category?

That's a very good question. Is that what they meant? I don't know. Or were they truly saying that many people have gone from gay to straight? I hope it's the former, but I fear it's the latter.

Max Power said...

Someone wisely said that if we plant a garden with good seed, there will not be much need of the hoe

There won't be a need for $15 hookers either.

Am I the only one who read that like a 12 year-old would and laughed at the word "hoe"?

Abelard Enigma said...

Am I the only one who read that like a 12 year-old would and laughed at the word "hoe"?

Uh, can't say that I read it like that. But, now that you mention it - that's pretty funny :)

salad said...

Max, I totally would have read it like a 12 year old...I have no shame

Ron Schow said...

Abelard

I am generally in agreement with what you said here.

**********
Personally, I believe that anyone who claims to have overcome homosexuality probably started out somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale and have only managed to emphasize their heterosexual tendencies enough to overshadow their homosexual tendencies. Some of us don't have enough heterosexual tendencies to accomplish this regardless of how much we pray, fast, read the scriptures, etc.
******

I get the impression from reading the blogs surrounding Northern Lights that most here would echo this sentiment and a friend of mine who attended Evergreen for one year tells me most guys at Evergreen feel the same (he attended with a male group). In other words, they all generally accept the persistence of SGA. Only the Evergreen affiliated therapists and David Pruden and their web site talk about "transitioning out of homosexuality." The recent Church News article doesn't even seem to describe people who have lost their SGA, just those who are managing it within Church guidelines.

So what does "overcome" mean here? It seems to me it is a much better word than "change" or "transition" which is used a lot by Evergreen affiliated spokespersons. We often in the Church use "overcome" in connection with sin. I think this is a logical way to interpret the pamphlet sentence. Since the pamphlet makes clear that "acting" on SGA is the sin and that "Attractions alone do not make you unworthy" then it seems to me that
consistently "overcoming" any sinful actions coming from SGA would be the meaning of "overcome" whether or not someone is married. Just being married by itself wouldn't be enough to say someone had "overcome" SGA.

It would be nice if it actually said "consistently avoid any sinful actions coming from SGA in mortality" instead of "overcome SGA in mortality. " That would make it clearer.

However, when they go on and say "others may not be free of this challenge in this life" it seems they are saying the challenge of it is all gone when they talk about "overcome" but for others the challenge persists.

I think it would be interesting to use one of your little surveys to ask these questions of those with SGA who are on your blog.

***********
I am in an MOM and active LDS and the challenge of SGA is all gone for me.

I am in an MOM and active LDS and the challenge of SGA is still an issue for me.

I am a single MOHO and active LDS and the challenge of SGA is all gone for me.

I am single MOHO and active LDS and the challenge of SGA is still an issue for me.
**********

I think a focus on MOHOs (active LDS with SGA) would be the best sample group for the survey.

Do you think this wording would work? On the question of bi or gay, it would be interesting to make that part of the survey (maybe via HH Scale position 0-6) but I'm not sure if you can do that with a single set of survey items with the format you have.

Abelard Enigma said...

I am in an MOM/single MoHo and active LDS and the challenge of SGA is all gone for me

Hmmm, if the challenge of SGA is truly gone from someone, what is the likelihood that they are hanging out in the Mormon queerosphere?

Polling is an interesting idea. But, the poll widget in blogger is pretty simplistic. I'm not sure it would be the best tool to use. But, this does give me some idea's for other polls in the future.

Ron Schow said...

My assumption would be that there are a huge variety of reasons LDS persons would come onto a blog site (see Mr Fob's recent discussion of why people visit his blog). Those past the point of being challenged with SGA could certainly have an interest in the discussions here.

In any case, I would certainly find a survey along these lines to be interesting even though there is bound to be an unknown sample selection bias and even though it will only tell you something about those who visit this site.

Thanks for your interesting post on the new pamphlet.