Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gay, gay, and more gay

The Gay Christian Network (GCN) classifies people of the gay persuasion as follows
Side AAA - believes that recreational sex with multiple partners is OK.

Side A - believes sex is only OK in the eyes of God in a committed, monogamous, same-sex relationship

Side B - believes that God calls gay Christians to celibacy.

Side X - (for "ex-gay") believes that we need to try to change our sexual orientation.
Like other attempts to classify sexual orientation, this system over simplifies things; for example, it is probably more of a continuum from Side-AAA to Side-X rather than four distinct classes, and it doesn't address a gay person involved in a heterosexual relationship. But, it helps me understand what my problem is with how the LDS church treats homosexuality.

GCN focuses only on Side A and Side B and eschews side-AAA and side-X. Most GCN members are Side-A; but, a significant minority are Side B.

I maintain that the LDS church focuses only on the extremes: Side-AAA and Side-X. Side-B is merely tolerated, but is not encouraged. If a member of the LDS church is involved in a same sex relationship then it doesn't matter if it is casual recreational sex with multiple partners or in a committed monogamous relationship. The result is the same - they are considered a lost sheep, and often as a lost cause. The church may even excommunicate the unrepentant thereby washing their hands of the sinner.

The ideal, in the eyes of the LDS church, is that we should all try to overcome our same sex attractions. The pamphlet God Loveth His Children states
While 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, others may not be free of this challenge in this life.
Implicit in this statement is that we should all be exercising faith to overcome our same gender attraction, while recognizing that some will not be successful (suggesting that most will).

Some might argue that 'overcoming' doesn't mean changing our sexual orientation; but, to be free of the challenge of same gender attraction means I'm no longer attracted to the same gender - i.e. I'm no longer a homosexual. I just don't see how this could be interpreted any other way. And, that is certainly how the majority of LDS members reading this statement would interpret it.

The question is often asked "what would we have the LDS church do, with regards to homosexuality, that it isn't already doing?" For starters, recognize that homosexuality exists in the LDS church - and that for most of us, no matter how hard we pray, at the end of the day we're still going to be gay. If mixed orientation marriage and celibacy are the only two viable options then formally recognize those - and give us a little assistance in making it work.

Instead, it feels to me that the LDS church is simply sticking it's head in the sand - covering its ears, so to speak, singing "la-la-la, I can't hear you." The party line is that any sexual relationship outside of marriage (between one man and one woman) is unacceptable. We're told that is the criteria, so now just work it out on your own - but you'll be in big trouble if the way you decide to work it out doesn't fit into those two options (MOM or celibacy).

Seriously, is it really too much to ask for a little help here? If God is truly telling our church leaders that homosexual behavior is always wrong, with no exceptions - is it really so unreasonable to expect them to go back to God asking how to help the homosexual saints? I don't know about others - but a pamphlet isn't doing it for me, especially a pamphlet that essentially tells me that its OK to be gay as long as I pretend to be straight.

I don't know why I am gay - if I was born this way or if it is due to environmental factors while I was growing up. But, I do know that I did not choose to be this way. So, why should it be so shameful? Why am I made to feel like I should be ashamed of who I am?

Additionally, just as a bank president who embezzles millions of dollars is not the same as a man who steals food to feed his family - neither is a man who is engaged in promiscuous gay sex the same as a man in a committed monogamous homosexual relationship. The church will treat the bank president differently than it does the man who is simply trying to feed his family - so should the church treat a gay gigolo differently than a man in a faithful relationship with his loving husband.


kevin said...

To me, the GCN's classifications look more like definitions of heterosexual viewpoints on homosexuality. Maybe it's the word "believes" that is throwing me off there. Or maybe because that's the perspective I'm looking from. I don't know.

But you're right, it is definitely overgeneralized. I guess Polonius was right: To thine own self, be true. It comes to a point where you can't be defined by somebody else- you must define yourself.

Alan said...

Dang I wish I had written this post. It is SO spot on. Some people encouraged me to send my Letter to Mom to the First Presidency. If I do, this post should go right along with it, Abe.

Bet THAT would ruffle a few feathers and we would be hauled into our stake presidents' offices so fast we'd get whiplash.

Grant Haws said...

"It feels to me that the LDS church is simply sticking it's head in the sand - covering its ears, so to speak, singing "la-la-la, I can't hear you."" - That is exactly how it feels. There is a party line and there's no crossing it. The problem is while they're tending the party line...reality is still going on over here. It's our lives that are being figured in the end, you've got to do what seems right for you...even if that isn't the answer that you were told you supposed to get.

Christopher said...

You uncannily quoted the conversation my wife and I had as we read that smug little pamphlet, "God Loveth His Children" together a while ago. I wish the church would say something more helpful, not just another "it's okay to be gay as long as you pretend to be straight, so we can pretend you don't exist."

Gaugh, it makes me so frustrated sometimes.

Sarah said...

Alan, Abe: bring on the whiplash; I think you should do it!

robert said...

I detest the concept of "overcoming" one's sexual orientation.

Anonymous said...

What is "recreational sex"? Does one sign up for recreational sex classes at the community center? I should hope that all sex gay men are having is pleasurable (that's kind of the point), so wouldn't all (consensual) sex be recreational? Worse still, does this imply that monogamous gay sex is not pleasurable?

The problem with labeling things Side A vs. Side AAA is that it doesn't really recognize that there is quite a lot of middle ground between going on craigslist every night to have anonymous sex with random strangers and going on dates with guys, getting to know them, and having sex at some point (prior to the whole commitment ceremony).

I think that too many guys who are just coming out--especially those from conservative religious backgrounds--feel like they either have to find a partner immediately (even though they've never dated other men and have zero romantic relationship skills) or their only other option is to be a total slut-bot.

Let me advocate Side AA. Have multiple sex partners over the course of your life (it makes for fewer regrets later on), but don't have as many sex partners as you possibly can, because that most likely won't leave you very satisfied (not to mention STD risks, etc). Go on dates with guys, get to know them, become friends, and have sex with them if you both want to and are attracted to each other. Keep doing this until you find someone that you really click with, and eventually one such relationship won't end and you will have found yourself a life partner. Many a serial monogamist becomes a plain-old monogamist when he meets the right person.