Sunday, December 16, 2007

Born Into Emptiness

We have to be really careful with analogies. Too often we try and teach with analogies in the wrong circumstances. Sometimes metaphors can really enhance a lesson, but far too often people in the Church will use an analogy incorrectly in their attempts to understand and explain homosexuality. I think that my Bishop is such a person.

Weeks ago he compared my suffering to the suffering of blacks in the Church before Temple and priesthood opportunities were offered to them. He meant that the Church just didn't understand homosexuality yet, but that it eventually would. When I took it to mean that Temple blessings would one day be offered to same-gender couples, he immediately backed off the analogy saying that it was way different. Same-gender relationships will never be ok.

Today he used the new popular fat girl analogy. The church doesn't expect anything more from me than what it expects from any single person. It's like the fat girls in the church who, through no fault of their own, can't get a date or marry, and therefore can't have sex. Ok, so I can do what single people do, then, and (despite my fatness) do my best to attract someone that I like, hold hands, kiss, court, and ok I'll stop there because we can't get married. Sexual abstinence is fine, but that's not what they are asking. The Bishop was quick to say, "Ok that's not a good analogy either. You can't be romantically involved with a man." Ok. Celibacy.

There is no analogy in the Church for celibacy. (unless you can think of one, in which case, do share).

Clearly homosexuality in the Church is its own circumstance. It just doesn't compare to anything else; it is its own ballgame, with its own rules. The problem is, too many people are trying to write the rules, and too few are actually trying to play the game. (did you like how I hit the message home with that nice baseball analogy)

20 comments:

Therapevo Ydata said...

Remember that you are one who is trying to write the rules too.

There are set rules that prophets from the past and the present have said. They tell us that homosexual relations are an "abomination" or something like that. Those are the rules right now. They might change and they might not (I don't believe that they will ever change and I have no hope that they will). Everyone has to follow what the prophets have said because they are the ones who receive doctrine for the whole church and "write the rules" if you want to look at it that way.

"Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don't go astray ... he leads the way."
*Good advice from a primary song

Peter said...

I'm glad you caught the irony of my flawed baseball analogy.

If you're going to quote a scripture, you should quote the whole thing. "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev. 20:13).

Are you going to kill me if I marry a man, ydata? That's what the prophet Moses said should happen if I have sex with a man, or something like that.

Clearly the only rules worth following are the rules that come from God to us in our specific day (and I'll argue circumstances. Abraham and Nephi understand this principle). Granted, the rulers of our day still teach us that gay sex is wrong, but I feel they send mixed messages that stem from a lack of understanding on the subject. That was the intent of this post: to show how the analogies that they use to justify their position don't work.

You are welcome to disagree with me, but please share with me heartfelt convictions and not brainwashy generalized statements. In the mean time, I'll ask my God what I should do, and I claim the right to follow what He tells me.

[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

There is no analogy in the Church for celibacy

I have also found that to be true.

My situation is not like blacks and the priesthood, fat/unnatractive girls, mentally and/or physically handicapped people, or old spinsters.

The church just cannot wrap its collective head around this, and at the same time keeps pretending they understand.

Are you going to kill me if I marry a man, ydata? That's what the prophet Moses said should happen if I have sex with a man.

Yeah, lots of people in the church would have been put to death for -cursing your parents
-rounding the corners of your head/beard
-eating shellfish

I ate shellfish last night. Shrimp and scallops. Sooo delicious.

Clearly the only rules worth following are the rules that come from God. I'll ask my God what I should do, and I demand from you and others the proper respect allowing me to follow what my God tells me.

Yep. Sounds good to me.

Therapevo Ydata said...

I would never kill you if you married a man. I would still support you and be your friend, but I would not agree with your actions. Everyone who knows me personally knows this to be true.

I am just curious why you do not consider these "heartfelt convictions," but rather "brainwashy generalized statements?"

Peter said...

Ydata,

I'm not going to lie, referring to your comment as a brainwashy generalized statement was kinda immature of me. I apologize for such a charged response to your comment and I hope it didn't bother you too much.

The comment didn't read (to me) as heartfelt belief in part because of this statement: "Everyone has to follow what the prophets have said" To me that seems to be very general and very externally focused. A heartfelt belief to me would be, "I have been blessed by following the prophet" or "When I follow the prophet, I have found that my life is better" or "I believe that following the prophet will bring ultimate happiness" or even, "I know that following the prophet will make your life easier." Those are statements of testimony. Saying that everyone must do something sounds more like preaching. There are other things I didn't like, for example the use of an emotionally charged yet undescriptive word like "abomination" or something like that.

Also, I used the word brainwashy because the lyrics to "Follow the Prophet" conjured up images of little children chanting over and over "I will do whatever you say." Maybe I'm weird like that.

Calvin said...

Granted, the rulers of our day still teach us that gay sex is wrong, but I feel they send mixed messages that stem from a lack of understanding on the subject.

I almost want to list every recent statement about homosexual relations by Church leaders, but I won't-- so just pretend I did. If that's what you'd call a mixed message, I'd like to see an unmixed one!

You're entitled to personal revelation. I would just be very cautious if what I thought was personal revelation was implying that God was secretly going behind the backs of all the prophets to tell me the truth.

About analogies, though, I agree. I got pretty upset a couple of weeks ago when my mom brought up the "single sisters" analogy. It just isn't same, at all.

draco said...

I never went to primary.

I guarantee that my mother and the majority of my extended family would think that that song sounded brainwashy- especially since the song says "follow the prophet" 54 times- not counting additional verses.

I'm going to avoid arguing and instead say something about brainwashiness, just because it's such fun word to say :)

My mom told me that when I joined the church, she felt like I had been brainwashed. I of course thought that she was being ridiculous. She pointed out that usually brainwashed people don't know that they've been brainwashed- that's part of the brainwashing process. Anyhow, I understand perfectly why so many people think that the Mormon church is brainwashy. We're taught not to question authority EVER. We're taught not to ever look at anti-Mormon materials (my Mom would say because they reveal the falsity of the church). Some Mormons won't let their children play with children of other faiths. Mormons try to convert people. If you have revelation contrary to church doctrine, you're expected to summarily dismiss it. The church proclaims absolute truth and infallibility. During testimony meetings, everyone gets up and says the same thing. If we have doubts we are taught to go to authorities or to pray about them to make them go away. We harp on other religions for believing in things like the Trinity and saying "We don't understand it- that's just the way it is and you have to believe it" - but we say the same kind of thing- "We don't understand why blacks couldn't have the priesthood- that's just the way it is and you have to believe it."

We have statements like this: "He {Satan} wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to speak against their leaders and to do their own thinking."

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."

Ward Teachers Message, Deseret News, Church Section p. 5, May 26, 1945

So can we at least understand why people think that we are brainwashy sometimes? I think we as church members need to show that we can think for ourselves and avoid the appearance of following blindly- we'd still have plenty of opposition, but at least we'd have more people who are more tolerant and understanding of our faith.

Peter said...

As if the original 10 verses of the song aren't enough, there are additional verses to the song "Follow the Prophet." Here are my favorite 3:

NEPHI was a prophet. He chose to obey/All of the commandments, that the Lord did say./Nephi was courageous, valiant, and true./What the Lord commanded, he would go and do. (Chorus)

Then came the Restoration. JOSEPH sought the Lord./He restored the fullness of the Savior's word./The Book of Mormon teaches all that we must be/To come unto the Savior; the Gospel is the key. (Chorus) [I just love how the syllables and beats don't match up in that one]

President Hinckley is our prophet; his words are from the Lord/When we heed his council, we are in accord./Be Grateful, True, and Humble; Be Prayerful, Clean and Smart/He says that we'll be happy; just take the "B's" to heart.

draco said...

Sorry- that didn't have much to do with the original post, Peter. I think most of the analogies are stupid, too. Today we learned about how dating is like missionary work.

Abelard Enigma said...

too many people are trying to write the rules, and too few are actually trying to play the game.

A sports analogy in a gay Mormon blog??? What were you thinking :)

I think a better analogy might be, everyone is trying to tell us how to play chess, but we're all playing parchesi.

If I could offer up my $0.02 on the subject. Personally, I think we all have the "what" down. We all know what we are supposed to do. And, I don't agree that we're getting mixed messages on what we are supposed to do. What I see people struggling with "how" they are supposed to do it.

I agree with [əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟], our situation is "not like blacks and the priesthood, fat/unattractive girls, mentally and/or physically handicapped people, or old spinsters". Our situation is unique and has it's own challenges.

But, I also think we, the gay Mormon's, are not doing an adequate job in articulating our situation to our leaders and the rest of the membership. Yes, they don't get it, they don't understand. But, can we really expect them to understand? I'm not even sure I fully understand it. So, we have a bishop coming up with lame analogies - at least he is trying to understand, he is trying to put it into terms he can grasp, something he can get his arms around.

Perhaps we need to put our collective gay heads together to come up with some sort of analogy, parable, allegory, simile, metaphor, or something to help people to understand what it's like to be gay and Mormon.

Peter said...

Thanks Abelard. You're right, we need to help them to understand us. I'm thinking about analogies. What do you all think of just explaining it by comparing it to straightness.

My same gender attractions are just like your different gender attractions. They are not uncontrollable, but if someone asked you to never date, flirt with, or associate with girls, you'd find it hard to do, right? What if you were asked instead to start dating men, or to even marry a man? What would it be like to you?

I think those are valid questions I'd like to ask my Bishop. Is that fair? Does the analogy work? I used the analogy on my roommate, and his response was, "Oh no, you can't say that. It's way different because girls aren't repulsive like guys are." Obviously he didn't get the point.

Josh said...

I think that the picture illustrates your point very well. :)

Abelard Enigma said...

It's way different because girls aren't repulsive like guys are.

That comment would almost be adorable if it weren't so pathetic.

I like your analogy; although, I think your roommate illustrated a problem with it. Some people are so repulsed by the very thought of male intimacy that they can't get past it to understand the point you are trying to make. The idea that some people experience that same level of repulsion at the thought of male-female intimacy is beyond their ability to comprehend.

Although, I think you should try that out on your bishop and report back how he responded. Did he 'get it', or did his reaction mirror that of your roommate?

Plus, I think we need to come up with something more innocuous that doesn't have any elements to it that will bother people to the point that they miss the big picture.

drex said...

I've tried to use the "what if you were asked to date a guy?" question on straight guys before, and it almost never works. First of all, they just can't put themselves in that situation, mentally. The response is almost always something like, "But they wouldn't ask/tell me to do that, so that's a dumb example."

playasinmar said...

I like the analogy of black people getting full fellowship but that's because I dislike the notion the church will never bend on this issue.

The idea that this issue is the one they'll never change their minds about.

Just like all the other issues they would never change their minds about.

Until they did just that -- change.

Truly, the only thing constant is change.

Neal said...

Change is what modern revelation is all about. That's why we need it, and that's why we need to follow the counsel of the Brethren in our day and time. We're held accountable to it.

The Word of Wisdom was originally not given as a commandment. It was a guideline. It says so right in the beginning of section 89. But in a General Conference just after the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, the Bretheren proposed and then asked for a sustaining vote by the membership that the Church accept it and uphold it as a commandment. This would be a token of our love for the Lord and as a differentiating mark upon us as His people. The vote was sustained. Priesthood power to bind on earth as in Heaven was invoked. Now the W of W is a commandment, and we are held accountable for living it like any other commandment. The Saints at the time of Christ were not accountable for living this law, but we are in this dispensation.

Likewise, other changes may come down from the Brethren, and we have an opportuinty (and duty) to accept and sustain them as well. They have spoken clearly on the subject of homosexual behavior in our day, and that is the standard by which we will be judged. The inconveniences involved are a test of our faith, "...we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them". It all comes down to this - is it "Thy will be done", or "MY will be done"?


Regards,

Neal

draco said...

"...other changes may come down from the Brethren, and we have an opportunity (and duty) to accept and sustain them as well."

Unless you don't believe that what the Brethren say is from God. (Gasp!) Oh- wait! I forgot:

"He {Satan} wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to speak against their leaders and to do their own thinking."

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe..."

So I don't need to think for myself- that's a relief!

Wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo (creepy brainwashy music)

Haha- sorry Neal, just giving you a hard time. I really do appreciate your comments and enjoy hearing your perspective on things. It's necessary to hear and consider all voices and opinions. I guess my new profile picture just makes me feel... for the first time... (whispers) wicked.

Neal said...

"Unless you don't believe that what the Brethren say is from God."

That is a stickey wicket of a whole different sort, isn't it?

"I guess my new profile picture just makes me feel... for the first time... (whispers) wicked."

I can't wait to see that show! :-)

playasinmar said...

I love the spooky music that plays whenever Neal posts.

Neal said...

MoTab is spooky?!?

:-)