Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Category: teh gay (page 2 of 4)

A mixed-orientation marriage that works?

So there’s this gay guy, right? And he’s Mormon, and married to a woman. Sadly, not as uncommon as you’d think.

But the story of Mr and Mrs Weed is a bit different because they both knew going into the relationship. He’s come out of the closet to tell their story.

I guess the premise of this post is to share that not only am I homosexual, but I’m also a devout and believing Mormon. And that I’m very happily married to a woman, and have been for ten years now.

And for the first time, we’re talking about it publicly.

So he’s gay. She knew about it. But they’re in love, have three kids, and a working relationship in which they both seem very happy, including a functioning sex life.

This story has garnered a lot of love among Mormon women on Facebook. Friends of mine are saying

  • I loved this xx
  • Very very very cool.
  • I think he is a hero.

I can see why they’d think that because his story is tremendously affirming for the beliefs of Mormon women, two core beliefs in particular:

  1. Gay people ought to abstain from gay sex for the entirety of their lives, and this is proof that it can work!
  2. Sex isn’t very important to a relationship. Why should men get to have the kind of sex they want, and why won’t my husband quit bugging me about it?!

So you can imagine the Facebook fury when I tell them that this is a terrible idea, and I give the whole thing ten years.

Am I a hater? No, I just realise that sex is important, and while you may be able to bury yourself in the kind of lifestyle you think you should want, a lifetime is a long time not to be getting the kind of sex you really really want. It’s a setup for cheating, and then he’d be the bad guy for a) having gay sex, and b) cheating.

Sure, it can be pulled off, and I hope they do. But how does it sound to you? Let’s just say there was a church that only allowed gay people, and you really believe in it, although you’re straight. If you really really tried, could you find a nice person of your own gender that you liked and respected, and maybe even have sex, even though you know you don’t find that kind of sex appealing? You probably could, especially if you regarded it as a sacrifice of faith. (And if you believed that God would fix everything in the life beyond.) But acting contrary to your orientation is just that — acting.

The Mormon angle is bugging me, too. They’re making this decision because, yes, they love each other and want a family. But they also believe the Mormon Church is the One True Church, and it’s telling him that gaysex is wrong, and that he should abstain. I’m a big believer in informed consent, but it needs to work all the way around; they know what’s going on with each other, but they’re not aware that the church is — frankly — a mess of men’s opinions, built on lies. If this man came to realise that, the anguish might be considerable. Or not, if he felt lucky to have been with his wife, which he well might. But you need to know, you know?

He writes movingly about God’s love for gay people:

I want you to know that God loves you, and that even though you are attracted to people of the same gender, you are a completely legitimate individual, worthy of God’s love, your family’s love, and the love of your friends. You are no more broken than any other person you meet. You are not evil. You are a beautiful child of God.

This would be news to the God of the Bible, who couldn’t stand gay people, won’t let them into his kingdom, and has commanded that they be killed. But I guess since Mr Weed has come this far, he’ll believe in whatever kind of god he needs to. Theism is so often projection and wish-fulfillment.

Another sad thing: despite the author’s best intentions, this will be used as a stick to beat gay people. “Hey, this guy can do it. Why can’t you?” Mixed-orientation LDS marriage is one of the tragedies of the Mormon experience, and this may tip a few people to try it. (It should be noted though that the author doesn’t recommend this lifestyle for everyone.)

Maybe they can manage it. I really hope they do — we don’t need more unhappy relationships. At this stage, he’s a data point. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. My hope is that they can keep it together, or at least work together and remain friends, when he moves on to his real sexual orientation in his early-to-mid forties.

UPDATE
Another thing: Notice how he talks about ‘authenticity’, and claims that by having an LDS lifestyle, he’s being authentic to himself.

No, you’re being authentic to the Mormon Church. I’ve written before about how Mormonism is so all-consuming that Mormons often conflate their own goals, desires, and even their identities with that of their religion, so much so that when I insult the church, they think I’m insulting them. This is another manifestation of that.

Gayvoice: Is it real?

There’s a new study that claims that people can detect gayface with 80% accuracy. But I’m not satisfied with it — when you dig down, the study really says that some people can get up to 80%, but everyone as a whole scores 57%, which starts to look a lot like random chance.

What about gayvoice? Lots of people are certain they’re gayvoyant, and they give a lot of plausible explanations for the voice — gay people use extra sibilance that serves as a socio-linguistic signal, and so forth — but I think that’s getting ahead of the game. Before we try to explain gayvoice, we have to make sure it’s real. As a starter, I’ve set up a quasi-scientific experiment.

The concept is simple. I’ve pulled twelve samples of male voices from episodes (chosen at random) of Dan Savage’s wonderful Savage Lovecast, where people call up and ask Dan for sex advice. The podcast is publicly available, so one presumes the guys in question consented to having their voices out there. Each of the guys identified as either gay or straight (but not bi or trans), and I’ve chosen a bit of their call that I think gives enough to get a feel for their voices, but not enough to give their orientation away.

Guess which guys are gay, and which are straight. You’ll see how well you did at the end of the test, and I’ll post the overall results in a couple of weeks.

<a href=”http://goodreason.polldaddy.com/s/gay-or-straight”>Click here to take the quiz.</a>

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domain: ‘goodreason.polldaddy.com/s/’,
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Just one catch: At the moment, the poll does not work on Safari — it doesn’t let you see the audio clips. Apparently the new version of Safari has broken a few different poll sites. Use a different browser.

If you’re curious about gayvoice, people have studied this a bit.

  • Benjamin Munson is on the forefront of the research [ 1 | 2 (pdf) ]
  • Uncle Cecil of the Straight Dope has treated it.
  • So has the Economist.
– – – – – – –
UPDATE
It’s been about a week, so I’ve put some results after the jump.
The way to read this chart: A green bar is the right answer, so when the green bar is on top, most people got it right. 
The upshot: People picked gay voice correctly only half the time. Looks like random chance to me. You’d actually have done better if you’d assumed everyone was straight.
This doesn’t mean gayvoice isn’t real though. It just means these test-takers couldn’t tell from these samples. And there might have been a lot of confounding variables.
  • The samples weren’t long enough, or of high enough quality.
  • The speakers were listeners to the Savage Lovecast, and might have had more-gay friendly attitudes, which might have affected their speech patterns.
  • This means they might have been more willing to accommodate to the person they were speaking to (viz, Dan, a gay guy).
  • Talking about your own sexual problems might make you speak differently.
  • Just because the general public can’t pick it doesn’t mean it’s not real. What about other gay guys? I didn’t do a breakdown that way, but it would be interesting.

Obviously, there are ways of speaking which are considered stereotypically gay, but from this test, they don’t seem to be reliably detected by most people. “More research is needed.™” Thanks to all to took the test. 
Also, a shoutout to Polldaddy — there are lots of polling services, and I tried them all, but theirs was the easiest and most helpful, especially when embedding audio clips. Try them for all your polling needs.

How I first realised I was straight

Lots of people say that sexual orientation is pretty much determined from birth, and you can’t chose it or change it. I’m willing to accept that there’s an element of choice and circumstance in who we’re attracted to, and nobody’s 100% hetero or homo, but I think I can say I’ve always known that I’m a straight guy. My moment of realisation occurred in first grade.

My Year 1 class was a tough place. I had a really sadistic teacher, and this was poison for a “pleaser” child like me. I wanted to do well in school, escape the wrath of Mrs Allen, avoid this one kid named Chad who hated me and wanted to pound me, and try not to feel powerless.

There were lots of kids in my class, but this one girl Paula was a newcomer. I noticed her appearance in class matter-of-factly, as just another kid. I distinctly remember one day working at my desk (probably with crayons, a brand new box of Binney-Smith Crayolas with 64 colours and the electric sharpener in the box). All the other kids were doing their thing, too, working in groups, or moving about the room. And then Paula walked past my desk, and said off-handedly, “Hey, Lover-boy.” And kept on walking.

What made her say that? She couldn’t have meant anything by it; it was probably one of those crazy things kids say all day long. Yet its effect on me was crystallising. It was as if a droplet of boiling hot oil had been dropped into the pool of water in my deepest self, spattered and swam, and made me dizzy. I felt confusing desires and weird attractions. I felt drawn. In that moment, I knew: I liked girls and I wanted their attention.

I don’t remember seeing her again — the tape cuts out at that point. But when people say they “always knew” they were gay, I believe them. My girl-likingness was always in me in supersaturated form, waiting for some kind of seed around which to coalesce. I don’t think I chose to be a straight guy.

Public square

There’s this phrase that I’m hearing that’s heading for my bin. Every time I hear it, the speaker is bullshitting. No, it’s not “states’ rights”. It’s “public square”. As in “religion has a role in the“.

‘Religion has a role in public square’, says Rick Santorum

Or “we’re being excluded from the”.

Backstory: Professional Christian and growing pain Kirk Cameron decided to air his opinion on gay people.

“I think that it’s… it’s… it’s unnatural. I think that it’s… it’s detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

Okay, so he has the right to that opinion. And other people have the right to their opinion of his opinion.

In response to the comments by Cameron, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued the following statement:

“In this interview, Kirk Cameron sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character. Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.”

And:

Christopher Rice, novelist
“Kirk Cameron says marriage was defined by God in the Garden of Eden. No response from Cameron on why the world isn’t full of talking snakes.”

Roseanne Barr, actress-comedian
“Kirk or Kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech. so is Rick Warren. Their peers r killing gays in Uganda.”

Josh Charles, actor
“I know Growing Pains was only a TV show, but I have to think both Alan Thicke & Joanna Kerns must feel they failed as parents tonight.”

Zach Braff, actor
“If Kirk Cameron hates gay people, why was he best friends with Boner?”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, actor
“The only unnatural thing about me being gay is that I had a crush on Kirk Cameron until about 24 hours ago.”

Alan Thicke, actor
“I’m getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can’t be expected to explain everything.”

Cameron, for his part, is appealing to his right to speak in the good old P.S..

“I should be able to express moral views on social issues,” he said, “especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.”

What he means, of course, is that he should be able to say whatever he wants with no consequences. No one should be allowed to criticise his viewpoint. We’re silencing him because he’s frightened of our disapproval, poor petal.

He concluded, “I believe we need to learn how to debate these things with greater love and respect,”

Keep in mind, it was he who referred to people’s lives and relationships as “detrimental, and ultimately destructive”. Reminds me of this cartoon.

And now I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever heard the phrase “public square” by anyone other than a smarmy religionist who was trying to explain why their superstition and irrationality should be taken seriously in civic discourse. Nope, don’t think so.

Why I engage

I had an online discussion (or perhaps a “run-in”) with a Mormon guy who I disagreed with on some issue. The issue isn’t important (gay people). What was interesting was his way of dealing with the disagreement. His response was essentially: I don’t expect you to agree with me. I’m a Mormon. You’re an ex-Mormon atheist. Our worldviews are too different.

Now I think this is a cop-out. I’m very open to hearing other views, and if they’re based on sound evidence and logic, I’ll even change my mind. But his “different worldview” view allowed him to miscast my reasons for not accepting his argument. It wasn’t that his reasons or his argument weren’t good ones; no, no. It was that I wasn’t open to change, or that our views just weren’t reconcilable.

I think this is projection on his part. While reason and evidence would change my mind, I seriously doubt that it would change his. He’s the one who is immune to reasoned argument because reason isn’t how he arrived at his religious opinion. And if he tries to use secular arguments, they’ll be hollow because they’re not his real reasons. He’s just using them to justify his religious reasons. He hauls out the secular reasons when he’s talking to secular people, but if those arguments are faulty, it won’t affect him at all. He’ll just shrug and keep believing.

I mentioned the discussion to an ex-Mormon friend who knows him, and to my surprise she said essentially the same thing: What did you expect? He’s a Mormon. He lives in Provo, for crying out loud.

I find this baffling. Here I am on the blog, and a lot of readers probably agree with things I write because, after all, we can’t read everything, and we like to pick things to read that make us feel good about our worldview. (Or I do.) But I’m also happy to engage with readers who disagree, and in fact I hope I get a lot of them. I learn a lot more that way, and it’s more interesting. But I feel like I’m standing on a chasm, shouting to ideological opposites.

Is there any point to discussing things? (Have I done any good on the blog today?) Or are we doomed to be divided into two camps that can never understand each other because of our different worldviews? I don’t think so. I think there’s a point to engaging in the Great Debates for two reasons.

First, people do change their views. I have, quite a lot, and I’ll do it again. Engaging with others is my way of saying that maybe no one’s beyond hope. Okay, maybe an online discussion won’t change the committed, in which case I’ll still keep arguing and discussing because I’m not trying to convince the committed — I’m trying to convince uncommitted bystanders.

The other reason I engage is that if I’m wrong about something, I want to know about it. How is it that I can say so confidently that there’s no evidence for the Book of Mormon? that that arguments for gods are uniformly awful? Because I’m here on the blog, and anyone who wants to can tell me something I don’t know, and I’ll consider it and change my mind if necessary. It’s not just meme propagation. It’s my continuing education.

Education in reverse

Aren’t you glad you’re not a kid going to a private Christian school in Perth, Australia? Because if you were, you’d have assignments like this:

Gay sex ‘sickest of sins’

CHILDREN have been asked whether homosexuality is “the sickest sin” in a school assignment.

The homework given to 14 and 15-year-olds at Armadale Christian College, also also points them to bible quotes describing homosexuality as an “abomination”, and describes “coming out of the closet” as “open sinning”.

Way to go, Christians. Imagine you’re 15, trying to figure out what your sexuality is, and you get handed that as homework. High school students are already cruel enough about ferreting out the gay kids in their midst, without the teachers piling on.

Another question asked what God said about homosexuality and pointed to Bible quotes for the answer, which called it an “abomination”.

The assignment also stated that homosexuality was a “compromise for the need to be loved and accepted”, resulting for many from “low self-esteem (and) gender emptiness”.

Also on the assignment was: “Many people say that homosexuality is an inborn trait. Is a person born greedy, jealous, malicious, gossiper, slanderer, thief, child abuser, serial killer?”

Because being gay is just like all those other things.

I managed to procure a copy of the actual assignment (PDF), and yeah, it’s pretty much the standard anti-gay stuff that gives Christians a hate-on, plus Bible scriptures.

Homosexuality
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…” (1 Corinthians 6:9)

Preliminary Thoughts

1) What is homosexuality?

2) Is homosexuality a new practice? Why do we hear so much about it now?

3) What are some reasons people give to justify homosexual practices?
a)
b)
c)

4) Why are some people tempted with homosexual feelings and others are not?

5) Are feeling and temptations wrong, or do they become wrong when we do something about them (James 1:12–15)?

6) Is there a limit to the power of any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)?

7) The subject of homosexuality is confusing because everyone calls it something different.
• Is homosexuality a physical or genetic disease?
• Is homosexuality “the sickest sin there is?
• Is homosexuality “natural” for some people, being an inborn trait (Romans 1:26–27)?
• Is homosexuality a legitimate “alternative lifestyle” (Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4)?

8) Most people seem to have no idea how homosexuality can be a temptation to anyone. Therefore we are not very helpful to a person who is struggling with the temptation (cf. Galatians 6:1–2; Jude 22–23). Maybe that can change if we understand a few general things about homosexuality.
• God makes every person unique (Psalm 139:13–16; 1 Corinthains 12:12–27). He may be different, but God does not make him “gay” (James 1:13).
• Homosexuality generally has little to do with sex. The sexual involvement with another person of the same sex, is a compromise for the need to be loved and accepted.
• Some inborn factors may contribute to the development of homosexual attractions, but these are not sufficient to make a person homosexual (James 1:14–15; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
• Factors which lead to each person’s struggle with homosexual attraction are different, but certain stages are common to many—low self-esteem, gender emptiness, gender attraction, sexual attraction, homosexual reinforcement, homosexual identity.

What Does The Bible Say?
1) Is homosexuality a new practice (Genesis 19:1–29; Judges 19:1–28; 1 Kings 14:24; 15–12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7)” Is there anything new (Ecclesiastes 1:9–10)?
2) What did God say about homosexuality under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13)?
3) Many people say homosexuality is an inborn trait. Is a person born greedy, jealous, malicious, gossiper, slanderer, thief, child abuser, serial killer (Mark 7:20–23)? Why would people say that homosexuality is inborn?
4) Is homosexuality a “natural” practice (Romans 1:26–27)?
5) Is homosexuality against God’s law or sanctioned by it (1 Timothy 1:8–10)?
6) Homosexuals advocate “coming out of the closet” and being open with their lifestyle. What does the Bible say about such open sinning (Isaiah 3:9)?
7) Men try to lessen the severity of sin by softening its description. The Bible does not describe homosexuals/lesbians as “gay” or living an “alternative lifestyle“. How does the Bible describe such people?
• 1 Kings 14:24—
• 1 Corinthians 6:9—
• Colossians 3:5—
• Jude 7—

8) What two things does 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 teach us about homosexuality?

9) Those who oppose homosexuality are often called “homophobes” or “gay bashers“. Some people really are—but how would you desribe a caring, concerned Christian who wants to help a person overcome his struggle with homosexuality (1 Corinthians 13:4–7; James 5:19–20)?

Practical Solutions

1) Can a person who is engaged in homosexual practices remain in that condition? What much he/she do (Ephesians 5:1–14)?

2) Does God care about our struggle? What are some practical ways that God gives to overcome this temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)?
• How did Jesus overcome temptation (Matthew 4:1–11)?
• Who can we turn to for help (Philippians 4:13; 1 John 4:4)?
• How must we respond to the devil’s temptation (James 4:7)?
• What activity helps us as much as anything (Philippians 4:6–7)?
• What do we need to try and master (Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5)?

3) After you rid yourself of this practice, what must you do to keep worse sins from returning (Luke 11:24–26)?

4) How is the church to respond to a practicing homosexual who repents (2 Corinthians 2:3–11)?

5) Do you have a closing thought?

Maybe some parents at ACC wouldn’t mind having this assignment plopped down on their child’s desk, but I suspect more than a couple would. And people in the wider community should definitely be concerned that high schoolers are being exposed to the hateful teachings of the Christian bible — subsidised by tax dollars, no less. Remember, this is happening not in the American South, but in good old secular Perth WA, today. It can happen here.

If you want to write your own answers for this assignment, give it a go in comments.

A chat with Dallin H. Oaks

I was talking to Mormon apostle Dallin H. Oaks just the other day, and for some reason, we started talking about gay marriage. He was able to clear up a few things for me.

Dallin H. Oaks has elaborated on these ideas from time to time.

Why get married? A straight guy reflects…

I have an announcement: Ms Perfect and I are engaged! I proposed on Christmas Eve, and amazingly she said yes, despite knowing me for years.

Members of my family were pleased. At last, our relationship would have legitimacy! (No, they didn’t say that. They said, Have the wedding in winter so we can come to Australia in summer!)

Before the engagement, we lived in delicious sin as a committed couple, ready to spend the rest of our lives together. Now, post-engagement, we’re living together as a committed couple, ready to spend etc. No difference, really. So why did I decide to do this? It’s not like we had to get married. Besides the ring, some photographs, and a certificate, things won’t be noticeably different. And as Dean once said, secular atheists don’t need marriage. But I could think of a few reasons why I might want to be married.

It’s a party. Okay, we can always have a party. But not one as theatrical. Or cinematic. So it’s something.

Okay, next reason. It’s a narrative of how your life is supposed to go. You grow up in your middle-class suburban home, watching movies with weddings and thinking, “This is the goal.” That’s not very good either, but we’ll add it to the pile with the other reasons.

Having children out of wedlock would be a stigma, but that’s only an issue for a few more years, as all the people who think this will assuredly die off soon. So let’s move on.

How about this: It’s a way of making your relationship public and real. Well, what about now? Aren’t we already public and real? And yet…

It’s like I don’t really have a reason at all for wanting to be married, not a reason anyway. But all the little reasons add up, plus an urge that says, “This is what I want to do. With her.”

As I weighed up my reasons for marriage, I found myself (not for the first time) considering the situation of gay guys and gals, and wondering why they might want the same thing. I also reflected on the reasons people had for denying them marriage.

Why do they need marriage? say the Moral People. Why don’t gay people just live together? Well, we ‘just’ lived together, and it was lovely. But I decided I wanted to do it ‘for real’. What if someone had come and told me we couldn’t, because their god disapproved? And since theism is massive projection, they mean ‘because they disapprove’. I’d tell them to get bent, and I’d hope any gay couple would do the same.

Well, we’ll give them a civil union, the Moral People continue, but we won’t call it marriage. Isn’t that good enough? What’s the difference? Well, is a civil union a marriage? I’d say no, it’s not. So what is a marriage? A marriage is where they say “It’s a marriage.” If they don’t, it’s not. And that matters to me.

And I guess that takes us to a Big Reason for marriage. Marriage is the way our society confers favour and approval on relationships, and some of us — however iconoclastic and rugged we be — desire it. We want the whole thing, cake and ring and all, however silly and clichéd that is. Religious conservatives (ever the tribalists) know something about societal approval too, and they oppose gay marriage because they don’t wish to confer societal approval on those types of relationships.

At least, I think this is what’s going on. I have no idea if this is what goes through the mind of a religious conservative or not, though, because strangely not once in any of the many discussions I’ve had on this topic has one of them ever said this. They come up with log-stupid arguments about reproduction, polygamy, or incest, but they never say ‘I can’t stand them and won’t have them in the club’. Either they’re ashamed to admit that’s the real reason, or I’m totally off-base. But I don’t think I am.

How lucky I am to be a straight guy, able to marry the straight girl of my dreams. How unfair that not everyone can have what comes so automatically to us.

Uchtdorf tells ’em what they want to hear

That was quick.

Mormons may not know until the hereafter what causes same-sex attraction, but “God loves all his children” and expects everyone to do the same, an LDS Church leader said Sunday.

While the message — delivered to more than 200,000 Utah Mormons — may not seem significant, the messenger was.

As second counselor in the governing First Presidency, Dieter F. Uchtdorf is one of the highest-ranking leaders in the hierarchy of the nearly 14 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the thorny topic of whether same-sex attraction is inborn.

Ain’t that sweet?

But what qualifications does Uchtdorf have to address whether SSA is inborn? None — he’s just a mystic. No, he was sent to ‘Save the Sale’. Church doctrine changes when it looks like it’s going to affect the bottom line. Hating on homos made good business sense in the past (and thus good doctrine), but it’s been playing increasingly poorly as of late. Answer: Downplay Packer, so Uchtdorf gets to be the good guy.

“Many questions in life, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life,” Uchtdorf said. “Until then, the truth is, God loves all his children, and because he loves us, we can trust him and keep his commandments.”

Have you ever noticed how that ‘wait until the next life’ thing gets played a lot?

Some audience members welcomed Uchtdorf’s approach, which seemed more consistent with the church’s position.

“It seemed fairly close to the line we’ve been getting lately — the idea that the practice is sinful, but homosexual tendencies are acceptable within the church as long as people don’t act on them,” said Jennie Pulsipher, a Mormon who watched the regional conference via satellite at her east-side Salt Lake City stake center. “He also emphasized that [gays] should be treated lovingly as children of God.”

Hear that, gay people? Mormons will treat you like humans, as long as you never have sex for the rest of your fucking life. Sounds like a deal to me.

What’s it going to take?

Boyd K. Packer takes another opportunity to deride gay relationships as ‘Satanic’, ‘wrong’, ‘wicked’, ‘impure’, ‘unnatural’, ‘not worthy’, ‘immoral’, ‘basically wrong’, and ‘evil’.

In part:

We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes and counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the Gospel must be wrong. In the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.” Some suppose that they were “pre-set” and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.

O what an objectionable old man. Too bad he isn’t just someone’s embarrassing elderly uncle. There are millions of LDS faithful who believe him reflexively, and will help him to legislate for his private prejudices.

This isn’t a one-off, by the way. Boyd Packer was saying this stuff back in the 90s.

There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right.

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.

I knew he was saying these things back then, and I disagreed with it. But I didn’t see it for what it was. I thought it was an inspired leader giving his own misguided opinion. I figured that in a few years, this kind of rhetoric would work its way out of the system, and give way to a more enlightened mindset. A more liberal, tolerant mindset. A mindset more like the one held by… wonderful enlightened me! (More than once, I threw out a shoulder patting myself on the back during those times.)

What I didn’t realise was that I was a very slim minority in a very conservative church. I felt like I was holding down the liberal fort, but the rest of the church was continually working on goals I didn’t like. The leaders were actively working to undermine values I prized. They were fighting against the validity of gay relationships in Hawaii. They’d fought against equal rights for men and women. Before that, they’d fought against equality for people of African descent (but I was rather younger then). Each time, I and the other liberal Mormons I knew were bothered by it, to be sure. But then we all hit the spiritual snooze button and refused to wake up. I stayed in a church that despised members like me. I didn’t leave. And this haunts me now.

Why wasn’t overt institutional prejudice enough for me to quit? What would it have taken for me to realise that this church was committed at its core to inequality? Well, I believed in the church, had a testimony, and I thought these policy stances, though objectionable, were temporary, and would change in course of time. I think it might be the same dynamic that keeps people in abusive relationships. You keep getting hurt, but you make excuses, tell yourself it’s not that bad. And you stay for the next round.

If you’re a committed Mormon, and you have no trouble with prejudice, then you’ll do fine in the church. Keep it up. I’m not writing this for you.

But if you’re a Mormon who’s feeling a bit alienated and unsure about this latest Packerism, consider that this is just another piece of evidence for the LDS Church’s all-too-human origins. Its policies and practices reflect the thoughts and prejudices of its leadership and its membership at the time. And even if you don’t share these prejudices, remember that as long as you’re a member, they do what they do in your name. You are donating your time, money, and numbers to an organisation that is actively working to undermine your values.

If you decide to stay in, like I did all those years, I understand. But I can also tell you that it’s good to wake up and live a life that’s more free of internal conflict. The LDS Church has their issues that they’re dealing with. You don’t need them to drag you down. Your values are better.

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