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Choosing sex over God


Nick Galieti, a guest-poster at Millennial Star, wrote a post responding to the recent post at The Atlantic entitled “Choosing Love or the Mormon Church.” In his response, he reframed this choice more starkly: really, LGBT (or SSA) Mormons are choosing between sex and God.

This post is mostly a summary or encapsulation of a lot of LDS thoughts regarding the SSA experience from the past few weeks (e.g., one should challenge dominant narratives as to LGBT being a core identity vs. one’s agency and choice being core, and one should challenge dominant narratives of a permissive and unbounded love vs. a narrower definition of love), so I won’t go into detail there…although I will say, if you can manage, that the comments also had a few additional points and arguments.

I wrote the following comment (edited lightly so that it makes sense off the site), as an ambassador from the other side, Team Sex:

A part of me really appreciates what the LDS church is trying to do here. I mean, even as this post lays it out pretty starkly, I understand. Mormonism is intensely heteronormative — realistically, with the accumulation of theology being as it’s been, there’s not really a way to get around the idea, as Meg has pointed out, that Mormonism is a religion celebrating a procreative heaven, and so far, God has not deigned to be creative enough to define procreation in any terms outside of our earthly biological concepts. (Not that I can speak — how dare a mere mortal claim to be above God?!) Mormonism as a religion has set very strict standards, and it wouldn’t dare to compromise on those standards even if it could elevate some more folks lives by demanding a rigorous monogamy (against their supposed nature) instead of an absolute celibacy (against their supposed nature).

It seems to me though, even as someone raised in the church, that I didn’t and don’t have a lot riding on the identity of being a “child of God”. It didn’t mean much positive to me, and instead was implicated in a lot of anxiety, depression, and negative affect — and that was when it triggered any response at all. I understand that for other people, things are different. Other people hear the word “God” and to them, that’s an actual being with which they can (or even do) have a relationship. But for me, the word God was how I exemplified the LDS concept of the “stupor of thought”.

To people [at Millennial Star], I chose sex over God. I perceived there would be more benefits to me and more room for growth to me to go with something tangible like that than something intangible like God. I accept my fate, whatever it may be.

But I agree that for me, for my personality type, it would probably be easier to be celibate. I often think that if this relationship doesn’t work out, then I might do just that. And here’s a few reasons why:

If I were celibate and not in a relationship, as the Law of Chastity demands, then I wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with a person whose personality is so different from mine…whose desires are very different from mine, and whose way of thinking about things is so very different from mine.

If I were celibate and not in a relationship, as the Law of Chastity demands, then I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to serve someone who seems to frustrate even my best attempts because my instinctual response to serve are in ways that *I* would appreciate, not ways that *he* would appreciate.

If I were celibate and not in a relationship, as the Law of Chastity demands, then I wouldn’t have to be humbled by the fact that although he experiences this same mismatch, he certainly works much harder at trying to figure me out and meet me on my level than I do at trying to figure him out and meet him on his level.

If I were celibate and not in a relationship, as the Law of Chastity demands, then I wouldn’t have such a personal and tangible evidence of a non-family member (because familiarity can often breed contempt…or at least make you take things for granted) loving me first and loving me even when I didn’t consider myself all that lovable. If I were celibate and not in a relationship, as the Law of Chastity demands, then I wouldn’t be struck with the poignant message that this love is a gift, but even as a gift it demands a response, and that response is one that I must freely choose to give, and one that I actually have to work at.

I understand that for many, companionship is so highly desired, and solitude is anathema. For me, solitude is cherished. It would easier for me to be alone, and maybe that’s the gift God gave me to deal with my “challenge” of SSA.

But I can’t help but feel that for me to take that easy way out would also be missing something important that I am being given the opportunity to learn while in a relationship that I would never have to the same extent, degree, or magnitude elsewhere.

There is no sax in the chapel…@Wheat & Tares


Long time, no see, folks. I have been really busy at work, but now that my projects have settled down, I have been really busy paying attention to my other hobbies…I’ve been able to get back into fencing, but I’ve also been able to get back into arranging and recording video game cover music. Here’s one of my latest pieces:

As I was thinking of a video to go along with this, I actually stumbled upon an idea that actually seemed somewhat notable…and so I wrote about it at Wheat & Tares. When we analogize the various members of the church to different instruments in an orchestra, how inclusive is this, really?

Well, it turns out that if the church is compared to a symphony orchestra, then it’s true that many instruments are valued, but not all of them.

The orchestra may not need only piccolos, but it *never* needs an electric guitar. If you want to play electric guitar, you have to find something other than an orchestra. A saxophonist may sometimes be invited to play with the orchestra, but only if he can conform his sound to that of a french hornists, or only if his conductor is picking musical selections from composers who wrote saxophone in with the orchestra.

In this way, a metaphor for inclusion can actually imply exclusion.

Hopefully, if you have time, you’ll check out my song or my post (or both???)

Yes, there are no gays in Mormonism’s Heaven


Mike Cammock recently wrote a guest post on Gina Colvin’s blog KiwiMormon turning a question into the assertion that  There are no gays in Heaven. As he discussed the infamous church policy towards those in same-sex relationships and their children (which the church rapidly seems to be elevating in terms of importance and value), he wrote:

Mormonism’s insistence that “practicing homosexuality” is sin, especially within the bonds of a loving committed monogamous relationship, is indicative of a theological reality that Mormon leaders clearly believe, but never directly articulate: There Are No Gays In Heaven.

This seemed obvious to me, but from Mike’s post, it looks like he is not convinced. (And by not convinced, I’m not discussing whether he should be convinced that there are no gays in Heaven…but he seems not convinced that in 2016, Mormonism believes that there are no gays in Heaven.) So, at several places in the post, he seems to minimize LDS attitudes, beliefs, and policies toward homosexuality. For example, he says:

As I contemplated and “ponderized” this history I realized that my present uncertainty regarding the church’s stance on homosexuality stems from my religious tradition’s recent history on the wrong side of social change.

and

Equally problematic is the recognition that the church has been driven to address the issue of homosexuality, not out of a desire to explore our own theological inconsistencies, nor out of the need to engage the hard question of whether our own bias and culture may have us at odds with Christ. Instead we have arrived in this heated debate driven by the fear that our institutional status quo may be at risk.

Throughout the piece, it appears that Cammock believes that Mormonism’s views on homosexuality are not driven by theological considerations, but are rather axiomatic. He also seems to imply that the only reason Mormonism is so committed to these beliefs is because of its political commitments. There is an implicit message in the post that if the church really underwent a deep theological investigation, it would come to different conclusions.

I don’t think this is correct.

Read more…

Opposing families in defense of The Family


Over at Times and Seasons, Julie Smith wrote a great post “A Rhetoric of Indirection”, wherein she discussed her misgivings over the LDS church’s increasing emphasis of “The Family” as its centering anchor for doctrine. From her post:

But. I feel that the church I joined was one where the swimmers ate carefully and exercised hard in order to win their races. The by-product of that was nice-looking bodies, by which I mean thriving families. Yes, families were huge–literally and figuratively–in the church I joined. But that was the result of a rhetoric of indirection; it wasn’t the result of a direct focus on The Family. I feel like the church I am in now is one where the swimmers are obsessively trying to look good in skinny jeans. And they–by which I mean “we”–are not only not looking so hot these days, but we are going to lose our races. This emphasis on The Family is going to do us more harm than good. And it is starting to feel like idolatry to me. It often feels in church settings as if The Family is more important–more emphasized, more loved, more fussed over, more worshiped–than God or Jesus Christ. And anything that doesn’t mesh well with The Family–be it an older single member or a child raised by gay parents–needs to be ignored or banished so as not to interfere with The Family.

This week, Rosalynde Welch wrote an article in response questioning whether the difference between Julie and herself might instead represent a sort of “chicken-and-egg” problem with respect to family or individual primacy.

From Rosalynde’s post:

Read more…

Technical Plateau


I have noticed a recurring pattern in my life, and it bugs me that this seems to be happening to me in so many places.

It is a plateau of my technique or expertise in a given area where I come to realize more fully my limitations as an amateur, or my ignorance as an outsider.

What does this look like?

When my boyfriend challenges me to a game of Connect Four, I enter it thinking this is a battle of reactions. He goes, then I analyze what he must be trying, then I go. I’m thinking about laying down traps, and outthinking his. My boyfriend crushes me several times. He says, “You’re not following the optimal path.” Even without having studied anything, I know, vaguely, that I should stick to the middle. But I don’t want to learn optimal paths. Even though this is a solved game, I don’t want to play it as if it’s a solved game.

In chess, it looks like a friend crushing me several times. He tells me, “Well, you have pretty good reflexes, and decent tactical thinking, but you should really study on openings and defenses. Here you started with what looked like so n’ so’s opening, but then you did something very unconventional, so I was able to come in here and here.” He tells me about his development as a chess player, studying openings.

I have no idea who so n’ so is. I’m just playing the game, trying to think a couple moves in advance — but certainly not with an entire game played out in my head.

In fencing, it looks similar. My coach says, “You are pretty athletic, and good at responding, but you don’t have discipline. And you should study tactics” I know it. My footwork is terrible. Watching myself in videos is cringeworthy, even when I win.

But I just want to fence! I know the drills are necessary, but I just want to fence freely!

I wanted to learn how to draw, but the pain of drawing junk stopped me every time. (Maybe next time will be different?)

I started playing music again, and I got to a place where my sound started sounding good enough to me for me to continue.

And yet, here I am with the plateau again.

Read more…

Reasons not to resign from Mormonism


In light of the latest drama in Mormonism regarding the updated policy on apostasy (and the barring of the children of a parent in a same-sex relationship from receiving a name and a blessing, being baptized, and so forth), a lot of people have finally decided to resign. There’s a lawyer on r/exmormon who says that he’s processed over 1500 resignations since the news.

And then there’s little old me who is still on the rolls. Is it time to resign?

There was a great article at Feminist Mormon Housewives discussing why one might stay in the church — even though they don’t attend and have no intention on attending in the future. Just a couple of reasons from the article:

VOICE: I only get to resign once. If resigning is the way I choose to use my voice, I am effectively choosing to make it silent forever after. This is the last thing I get a voice on. Storming out of the room feels good, but it also means I am now out of the room. And they will not follow me and ask me to clarify my position. They will be shocked for a second, and then I will simply cease to be an issue.

THE SLOW BURN: On the other hand if I stay on the records, I am forever a thorn in the side of the local ward with my existence, whether or not I go to church. They have to send me home and visiting teachers; they have to wonder what happened and why I don’t come. Somebody has to have the uncomfortable job of reaching out to me, in every place I live, and with every change of leadership. Every time this happens I have an opportunity to tell someone IN the church how I feel, if I want to. I can certainly decline to engage, if I’m not in the mood. But it leaves the door open to continue to have a voice with the local members and leadership of the church. I’m not ready to close that door.

That being said, I’m not sure if I agree that all of these (or even most of these) apply to my situation, or that I would want them to.

Read more…

Things to be shocked about


In life

There are some things to be shocked about, and

some things not to be shocked about.

*

When the Mormon church created this policy,

where they confirmed same-sex marriage as apostasy

I assessed that was something that was expected, and

some thing not to be shocked about.

*

When the Mormon church created this policy,

that would also apply to the children of a parent in a same-sex relationship

At first,

I felt that was some thing to be shocked about.

But then,

I realized this was some thing to be disappointed about, but

some thing not to be shocked about.

Read more…

Preserving Heteronormativity in the LDS Church


If you aren’t keeping up with Mormonism right now, then your venture into many progressive Mormon sites might appear something like:

Troy walks into room with pizza...to discover that the room is on fire

What’s the fire this time? The LDS Church has modified its policies to make being in a same-sex marriage apostasy.

“What’s the big deal with that?” you might ask. After all, Mormonism has not been known to be friendly to gay people in same-sex relationships.

Well, one thing that’s new is that by defining being in a same-sex marriage as apostasy, disciplinary action is required. It is not something that is at the discretion of local leaders.

…but that’s not all. Check out this image regarding the children:

A natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.

A lot of people are far more upset about this language regarding children than anything else.

Read more…

Does the LDS Church Lie to Its Members?


Over at Worlds Without End, Brian Whitney discusses whether or not we should say that the LDS church has lied to its members. His post is an analysis of history, and more importantly, of historiography — how has history been studied by the church and its agents?

In particular, Whitney describes a complicated relationship between factions that would support a more “heritage” approach, and those who would support a more academic approach. This “Heritage vs History vs Propaganda” model is expounded upon by Lindsay Hansen Park in her participation on Mormon Matters’ recent episode (which also features Brian Whitney, along with Jon Grimes, Emily Grover, and of course, Dan Wotherspoon.) [I caveat: I still have yet to listen to this episode, so my apologizes if I mis-summarize what Lindsay intended. {Although I must say…this caveat has a great deal of relevance to my thesis for this post.}]

From the Worlds Without End post:

So, what happened? Simply put, the non-professional historians won the narrative contest. The didactic approach to telling history remained favorable to the academically-grounded attempt at objectivity and socially-contextualized history. People don’t like “messy,” and that includes our church leaders who were all raised on the same Seminary and Institute curriculum that promoted the Essentials in Church History approach. Borrowing from Lindsay Hansen Park, as a religion we remained more enamored by our “heritage” than our “history.” Perhaps nothing underscores this better Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was distributed by the church in 1996 to its adult Sunday School classes—a 150-page throwback to Essentials in Church History.

Then the Internet happened.

While the church is, without question, paying the price for promoting an overly-simplified “heritage” approach to history, I don’t think the motive was based in intentional deceptiion; rather, I think the disinclinations towards academic approaches to history were based in sincere love for the church and a desire to protect it. Many, including President Packer, felt that advertising our flaws was tantamount to handing our critics information on a silver platter that they could manipulate against us. I believe that the leaders of the church who were reticent towards candid historical examination were not so because they had some sense that the church was built on lies, but instead because they sincerely believed it to be true; and that they distrusted the historian’s craft that tended to remove the spiritual aspects of the faith that were (and still are) viewed as vital to building and maintaining a testimony. I have no doubt that, in their eyes, they were not suppressors of truth as much as they were being the dutiful watchmen along the tower.

We are paying the price for willful ignorance.

– See more at: http://www.withoutend.org/stop-weve-lied-to-church/#sthash.7E6yykDr.dpuf

I am amenable to the basic idea here: lying implies intentional deception, and there are plausible narratives where that intention is not there.

Read more…

Critiquing Mormonism: Past, Present, and Future


There is a blog post at Outrageously Sensible where the blog’s author Scott discusses why he stays in the church. As often happens with these sorts of blog posts, the author describes several reasons why he thinks people leave the church, and he summarizes them in subheadings of past, present, and future:

1. They can’t reconcile the past.

When people come to find out that the history of the church isn’t as stark white as they thought it was in primary it can really take a toll on their testimony…

2. They  can’t reconcile the present.

The church has come a long way but to some they haven’t come far enough. People become at odds with the way the church operates currently, especially in relation to social issues…

3. They can’t reconcile the future

They don’t hate the church but they can’t see themselves continuing to live it. Priorities shift and views are altered that inhibit them from continuing forward…

At his blog, he goes in further about those three reasons, but please read there for the detail. When he provides his own reasons for staying, he addresses — at least in part — the reasons for leaving he had just set out.

I like that he separates the reasons in terms of past, present, and future, because I have often noted that faith crises and transitions can have different bases. And I think it can be difficult for those having faith crises in one area to identify with those having faith crises in another area.

So, when Scott challenges the foundation of having a faith crisis for Mormonism’s past, I am not too bothered by it, since historical issues weren’t my issues. However, I think the weaknesses in Scott’s post is that his reasons for staying focus on “present” and “future” aspects — but he does not adequately address that the “present” and “future” aspects of Mormonism may be what is pushing people away!

Read more…

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