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Sex and Sexuality? Mormon liberal outrage need not apply

March 4, 2012

Since the Mormon Bott-gate on race (or even more cleverly, Bott-ulism) and Joanna Brooks are both pretty popular in recent days and weeks, why not have a post that synthesizes the two to break ground on a different subject? The Daily Beast had a piece covering Joanna, upon which the second page had some comments from BYU Pol Sci professor Ralph Hancock:

“Joanna’s position on gay marriage is irreconcilable with the church,” Hancock tells The Daily Beast and Newsweek. “Latter-day Saints are adaptable, and of course there is diversity within the Mormon Church, but it is hard to conceive of calling anything Mormon that relinquishes the importance of sexual difference and procreation in the big, eternal scheme of things. Joanna is unreservedly confident that all ethical and religious truth must be on the side of acceptance of homosexuality. I think that’s a nonstarter. I don’t want to sound harsh or cruel, because I want her to remain Mormon, but she must choose between being a gay-rights proponent and being a Mormon.”

Now, I don’t mean to just broadly equate all issues together — race, gender, sexuality, etc., — but I think the more relevant issue is the penchant to be absolutely sure about the essential nature of any one teaching or doctrine to Mormonism. Is it hard to conceive of anything Mormon that relinquishes the importance of sexual difference?

The one thing that I’ve seen from ex-Mormon responses to Bott-gate (as opposed to faithful Mormon responses, especially) is that instead of either congratulating the church for denouncing racism (or insisting that the church could go further in denouncing it), there seems to be an emphasis instead that points out that Bott just reveals something that can’t really be denounced without also denouncing rather institutional, “official” statements. To call it all speculation and folklore is to call statements from Prophets, First Presidencies, etc., speculative. You don’t condemn the former without gutting the latter. (P.S., massive thanks to chanson for collecting these article, and even more in her latest Sunday in Outer Blogness because I surely wasn’t paying as close of attention to all the responses as she has been).

Or, as Jack puts it:

…if you really want stuff like this to not happen, if you really want to protest someone or something, the place to nail your theses is not Randy Bott’s office door. It’s 50 N Main St., Salt Lake City. Tell your leaders that it’s time for answers, and if they don’t have answers, then perhaps it’s time to admit that the church’s past policies concerning blacks were sinful and wrong, and apologize. Other religions have repented of their past racism. You can, too.

The issue, as many people throughout the discussions have also discussed, is that even if we conclude that, in contrast to Brother Hancock’s position on gay marriage, that it is not “hard to conceive of calling anything Mormon that relinquishes the importance of [racial] difference in the big, eternal scheme of things,” at the very least we have to ask more difficult questions: as John G-W mentioned in comment to my last post:

You really have to deal with the much more fundamental problem of How do Mormons discern any religious truth at all?

Which, for whatever it’s worth, I think that thoughtful members are willing to say that shifting the discussion to this question should be a no-brainer, if it can get Mormonism out of that hairy “fundamentally racist” spot that some others would like to castigate it to.

…but asking what is doctrine in Mormonism may not necessarily get us anywhere.

But that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about how instead, it’s absolutely certain that it is hard to conceive of calling anything Mormon that relinquishes the importance of sexual difference and procreation in the big, eternal scheme of things.

Apart from a few posts here or there analogizing to women, everyone else is practically silent.

As Chino Blanco said in Facebook commentary to the opening link I presented:

In a just world, Ralph Hancock would be the next Randy Bott.

Ah well.

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One Comment
  1. OK, here’s the thing… I don’t think anybody should relinquish the importance of procreation in any scheme of things, eternal or temporal. Procreation is important in any human scheme of things.

    But the truth is, not every human connection, not every family necessarily procreates. Every family does not need to procreate in order to accomplish the schemes of the Almighty. In fact, I would argue, it is specifically part of God’s design that some of us should definitely not procreate, because he has other callings for us.

    Every member of the human family is part of a body, in any Christian understanding of things, “the body of Christ.” And we are not all eyes, or all ears, or all hands, or all kidneys.

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