Hobosexuality

Here I go sticking my finger in a hornet’s nest. Comments will be moderately moderated. No vulgarities, cursing or ad hominem will be tolerated. I do intend to let opinions show, but this is not going to be a 4chan extension…

Let me say first off that I have not participated in any political campaign for or against same-sex marriage in any legislation. Likely that is because it hasn’t really come up as an issue where I vote.

Why I use the word “hobosexuality” is that, as this is the time of Internet 2.0 I can create new meanings for words that are in very limited use as of now. Were I compiling a dictionary or encyclopedia, the entry for “hobosexuality” in my book would look something like this:

Total abandonment of faithful relationships, widespread promiscuity and disregard for marriage, as is indicated by the divorce rate (esp. “no-fault” divorce) and the relative proportion of couples and singles having a regular sexual partnership and/or having children out of wedlock. “Hobo” -part here means that you wander around from one partner to another like a hobo wanders around geographical locations, often with no apparent purpose or plan.

Hence, I call what has been variously called “sexual revolution” or “sexual freedom” by the name hobosexuality, because it indicates the complete lack of persistency.

Why I’m bringing this up is that I see homosexuality being discussed much the same way any other liberal/conservative flash point; like this: The louder you make your opinion known, the more valid you and your yes-men think it is. But does that really reflect reality?

At any rate, it seems that for one reason or other, there are people, who feel or even know by experience that they can not enjoy a “normal” sexual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. I have no idea why this is, any more than I know why some people have very bad arthritic pains at very young age; some never seem to mature sexually;  some are born with a defect that will cause them to have asthma and so on and so forth. The short answer would be, that it is all a part of our mortal life, how we are tested on this Earth (see Abraham 2:25). We all have weaknesses and faults, none of us was born perfect, and we all will have to experience the death of the mortal body.

I have been told by numerous people, that you can’t compare same-sex attraction with anything else. I say, that because I don’t have real experience, I can’t really say. Have you had my troubles? I think you will find it very difficult in the end to be convincing in the argument that you can not compare. I would say that mortal weakness is mortal weakness, and how we experience it is individual, but the nature of the weakness is universal. We all have a promise, that we will one day be restored in a perfect body — and it will be up to us to mold our mind/spirit so that we can appreciate it. We can not do it without our Savior Jesus Christ. Not one of us!

I read in Ether 12:27 that the Lord gives us weakness. Why we bear a certain burden is an unanswered question, and we can all come to our own conclusions by study and prayer. We have the channels of revelation open, unless we shut them ourselves. But remember what the Lord told Paul when the Apostle had asked to be healed?

How can we expect homosexual persons, who can not have a marriage complete with a healthy sexual relationship, remain celibate all their lives? Just the same as how we expect heterosexual persons, who haven’t found a mate, remain celibate in their mortal life. The price of discipleship is obedience. The promise is, that we will not be punished for having been unsuccessful in finding a suitable mate.

The thing that I most fervently wish to point out is, that a homosexual relationship is not really all that different from any other adulterous relationship between persons, whose marriage has not been sanctioned by God. However, I often hear people of my faith, among others, berate and castigate homosexuality and homosexual relationships in quite overwhelming ways (just the same as I hear some others berate and castigate the LDS Church for expressing an opinion against SSM). And based on my understanding, it doesn’t matter all that much who you’re messing around with, if you are in violation of the law of chastity. I don’t know that the Lord has reserved any special condemnation to same-sex relationships. In the Bible passages most often cited, homosexual acts seem to go along with all other acts that are in violation of the commandments of God. IMHO, nothing further needs be said. Wrong is wrong.

Should the law of the land recognize same-sex marriage as legally equal with traditional marriage, it would not really change the fact that the Lord has not instructed us to teach a different law of chastity to persons with same-sex attraction.

As I understand it, a part of the idea was always that Churches can keep their own definitions, and that most of the LGBT people don’t much care either way. Perhaps that impression is wrong? The question pointed out by those who put their weight against legalizing same-sex marriage is, “is the next step to start suing churches that don’t sanction same-sex marriage”? As I understand it, unless the church in question is a recipient of government funds, government has no authority to dictate to it how it defines marriage. Again, perhaps I am wrong? IANAL etc..

Questions I would like to ask proponents of same-sex marriage:

  • Why is domestic partnership — where it is equal to marriage in all other regards except that it’s not called marriage — not enough? Is that word “marriage” really so magical to you or are you trying to “force” the opinion of others to comply with yours?
  • Is it your plan to drive the churches that defend traditional marriage to courts so that they can get nothing done with lawsuits flying like bullets in the “Battle of the Bulge”? The way different movements in America have gone gives some positive exceptions to litigiousness, but they are few.

I also would like to plead for sane reasoning from all sides. By shouting past each other we can not come to any constructive results, but only create bad blood. My main argument is, that we should concentrate on our own weakness more than that of others.

If I have said something obviously wrong here, please tell me. I am really not trying to speculate about the origins of same-sex attraction nor about obscure legalistic points. I just want to be a good neighbor; I have lived in an apartment in a house owned by a gay man. He also lived in the same house, and I saw he was a good man, who was humble about his own weakness, and thus was very good at empathizing with others (perhaps that was one reason that made him shun traditional male roles — he couldn’t play the tough guy).

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Posted in Mormonism, Politics, Religion
18 comments on “Hobosexuality
  1. I appreciate your anguish.
    I am a high school teacher in Korea.
    Myself, married, with kids:

    Delivering some exam prep materials to another class, in between periods, I asked one of the purest-looking, most humble students, there: What’s your greatest difficulties, these days?

    “Internet Addiction,” he says. “Any solutions?”

    “Solutions? Yeah,” I said, off the top of my head, “look at your life, your very living, itself, through Heaven’s eyes… (been listening to The Prince of Egypt too much, while driving in my car).

    In a rush to get back to my own class before the bell, I threw a sincere glance and a heartfelt smile at him, on my way out; hoping to shore-up a remark that could so easily come across as a silly platitude…

    more:
    http://climatization.wordpress.com/power-to-resist/

    Our world / Our Promise
    http://homeostaticism.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/our-world-our-promise/

    • velska says:

      This one had gotten caught in my spam filter. To be honest, it looks a lot like spam, too. But it has no offending stuff, so I’m approving it because I don’t want to shut anyone up.

      The links are to blogs where rev. Sun Myung Moon is treated as a hero/model, and they’re just as pro-Unification Church as I’m pro-LDS (yes, surprise! I am!). Some good ideas there, too; don’t underestimate the goodwill of others even if their beliefs don’t rhyme with yours. There are many good people in the world, in all religions and among those without any religion at all. See the good!

  2. Carson N says:

    Hello, I have come from afar to comment! Let’s see what we have here…

    How can we expect homosexual persons, who can not have a marriage complete with a healthy sexual relationship, remain celibate all their lives? Just the same as how we expect heterosexual persons, who haven’t found a mate, remain celibate in their mortal life. The price of discipleship is obedience. The promise is, that we will not be punished for having been unsuccessful in finding a suitable mate.

    Remaining abstinent until you find the right person to have a committed relationship with is a far cry from a guaranteed life of celibacy. This is about gay people marrying, isn’t it? That means that the gay people who want to get married have already found who they want to be with. If you put them into the same category as heterosexuals who have not yet found anyone to marry, you’re comparing apples and oranges. Whether or not people (gay or not) should remain abstinent before marriage is an entirely different subject, and being openly gay does not preclude anyone from agreeing with you on that subject.

    The thing that I most fervently wish to point out is, that a homosexual relationship is not really all that different from any other adulterous relationship between persons, whose marriage has not been sanctioned by God.

    Fine, you have a religious belief that God said homosexuality is bad. Not everyone believes in your particular version of God (not even all believing Mormons), and obviously that cannot be used as a reason for legislation. I don’t quite understand what you’re saying about the “marriage” between persons with “adulterous relationships”. By definition, adultery is a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Whether or not you believe a god sanctioned it is simply not good enough when we’re talking about legislation.

    In the Bible passages most often cited, homosexual acts seem to go along with all other acts that are in violation of the commandments of God. IMHO, nothing further needs be said. Wrong is wrong.

    The same part of the Bible condones slavery and genocide, too. It’s important to realize that the Bible is like a Swiss Army knife. You can use it to back up any point of view regardless of how crazy or enlightened it is. “Wrong is wrong” is a black and white assertion that can be used by anyone on any side of the argument. Bigotry is bigotry. Hatred is hatred. Homophobia is homophobia. Grenades get lobbed both ways.

    Should the law of the land recognize same-sex marriage as legally equal with traditional marriage, it would not really change the fact that the Lord has not instructed us to teach a different law of chastity to persons with same-sex attraction.

    In other words, it won’t change what the church teaches and what you believe. Well it certainly won’t force the church to change anything. However, the church has responded (albeit really really late) to the progressing moral zeitgeist of society in the past. Besides, you wouldn’t have to change all that much. You can still pile the shame for masturbating on both gay and straight youth. You can still require both gay and straight youth to remain abstinent until marriage. You can still require no dating until 16 years of age.

    Why is domestic partnership — where it is equal to marriage in all other regards except that it’s not called marriage — not enough? Is that word “marriage” really so magical to you or are you trying to “force” the opinion of others to comply with yours?

    That doesn’t seem like the right question. I think a better question is: What is it about gay marriage that threatens straight marriage? Why are you so adamant that gays don’t get married? What is all this defensiveness really about? Does it really all come down to “my god said so”? Is that all there is to it? Is there no other reason? Not even a reason why “God” might say so? Why do you suppose your god said so? Any reasons? Or is that it? He said so, discussion over. If all you have is “God said so” then who are you talking to? Who are you debating with?

    Is it your plan to drive the churches that defend traditional marriage to courts so that they can get nothing done with lawsuits flying like bullets in the “Battle of the Bulge”? The way different movements in America have gone gives some positive exceptions to litigiousness, but they are few.

    “Defending traditional marriage”? From what? Honestly from what? The whole country turning gay? Is that it? From homosexuals that want to have deeply committed and productive long term relationships? From gay people wanting to do the most conservative and pro-family thing the gay movement has ever done? “Defending traditional marriage” is a euphemism. As long as the church actively fights against gay people’s (not even gay Mormons, gays everywhere!) desire to get married, you can expect them to fight back. That shouldn’t be surprising.

    Sorry if I came on a little strong there. I kind of wish we could just talk face-to-face, that way the tone of my voice would reveal that I’m not on some kind of rampage or anything. I used to believe as you did. I found it increasingly difficult to come up with tangible reasons against homosexuality besides my conviction that God had decreed it unholy. I mean, I saw the gay pride parade stuff and I didn’t like the promiscuity that the gay movement seemed to espouse all the time, but through several conversations with other people later on I slowly learned not to paint all gays with the same brush. To make a long story short, I stopped believing in God for other reasons, and then suddenly there was really nothing left to justify my anti-gay opinions. Maybe I projected some of that on you a little bit, but I’d honestly like to know if you have anything against homosexuality besides the belief that God said it was bad.

    • velska says:

      Hi, I think you missed my central idea little bit.

      To try to put a really fine point on it, at the same time I am defending the right of our religion to teach that God has not sanctioned same-sex marriage, I’m asking some defenders of “Traditional marriage” why homosexual relationships have been reserved for such a special condemnation when usually in the Bible the passages where (it is interpreted that) homosexuality is condemned, you have just as strong condemnation for fornication, adultery, oppressing the poor etc…

      I may have not quite gotten my idea across.

      But really, what I’d like to see is the secular state not using the word “Marriage” at all, but leave such stuff for the churches to sanction or not. I have always understood marriage as a covenant or alliance between God, man, woman and society. It is not the society’s place to dictate to anybody their relationship with God.

      And, anyhow, the sanctity of marriage was discarded, if not before, with “no-fault divorce” after extra- and premarital casual sexual relationships became almost the norm. Or do you agree that if I was chaste before marriage (after my baptism, at least) and have never sought a partner other than my wife since connecting with her on a spiritual/psychological level, I’m a freak? Many people do.

      I don’t think I’m standing quite where you think I was. However, looking at how some movements have handled their business, state-sanctioned gay marriage will lead to conflicts about the rights of churches to sanction them or not. They will be accused of violating constitutional rights or something, IANAL anyway.

      But actually, yes, now that I think of it, I do cling to what I believe to be revelation from God: “God created man in his own image, man and woman created he them.” Or, if you like, “marriage between man and woman is sanctioned by God.” As for me, I’m waiting for a revelation, not a revolution…

    • velska says:

      Oh, yes, I was going to say that you can always email me, if you want to go on a more personal level and feel more comfortable that way. I will never publish anything I receive by email unless I have a specific permission, or in a form that renders identifying any persons or places impossible.

  3. Carson N says:

    Ugh, stupid blockquote tags.

    — you’ll see that I fixed that blockquote tag so that only the quote from my blog shows as a quote. Wasn’t that your intention?

  4. Carson N says:

    Thanks for fixing that. I agree with you in that I think the church should take a consistent non-political/legislative stance on issues like adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. I think the biggest issue, or at least the reason why this has blown up, is that the church stepped over that line. Basically, if all that people have to bring to the table is this belief that God arbitrarily said so, then I think they should at least keep it within their own community of believers, because this is a non-argument.

    The second big issue though is the actual teaching against homosexuality, regardless of whether the political line has been stepped over. The political involvement of the church has made this second issue highlighted of course. But one main point here is that homosexuality is a core, integral part of many people. It is something they cannot change about themselves, just like I can’t change the fact that I’m attracted to the opposite sex. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a reason to completely tolerate homosexuality, because you might be able to say the same thing about psychopaths. However, the key here is that homosexuality is not damaging or hurtful to others. In fact, it can be just as fulfilling and healthy as any heterosexual relationship. Statistics about AIDS, et cetera, should be looked at the same way you might look at statistics about race and economic divides, being very careful to not confuse correlation with causation. Gays getting married is a big step forward out of this sort of San Francisco gay orgy community that unfortunately has been in the past one of the only outlets available.

    Or do you agree that if I was chaste before marriage (after my baptism, at least) and have never sought a partner other than my wife since connecting with her on a spiritual/psychological level, I’m a freak? Many people do.

    I’m also a freak in that respect. I do think fornication is different than adultery in that there isn’t a betrayal. I believe faithfulness to your spouse is paramount for a healthy marriage. I do not believe that fornication is next to murder, and I think teaching such things is immoral. I think there is a wide range of completely irresponsible fornication to responsible fornication, and that range is not solely based on physical protection. The irresponsible kind can have very very bad life-long consequences. The risk of this alone is a good enough cause for anyone to avoid it or at least be extremely selective and careful about it.

    But actually, yes, now that I think of it, I do cling to what I believe to be revelation from God: “God created man in his own image, man and woman created he them.” Or, if you like, “marriage between man and woman is sanctioned by God.” As for me, I’m waiting for a revelation, not a revolution…

    Life would be simpler if gender were always so clearly binary like that. Unfortunately it seems God doesn’t have 100% consistency here. What does God have to say about the corner cases? Why does God keep fumbling up the orientations? Is it a test? If it is, then we are clearly failing that test.

    • velska says:

      Yes, well, there are many, many issues with us humans that are really, really complex; practically all issues are too complex for any black-and-white definition when you start scratching the surface rhetoric.

      I am of the opinion that as far as the Church saying that leaders hope members to support Prop8, for example, it’s just taking a moral stand. That there are issues involved–several of them–that are quite complex when studied more carefully doesn’t change the fact that AFAIK, there is no authorization to change the “male and female” thing.

      Let’s say that murder is always wrong. I would say it is. Anyhow, who defines what is considered murder? It seems quite a few people (especially people of color and people with mental illness are overrepresented) end up on death row, convicted of murder, after a drunken fight, where even the law of Moses acknowledged that you are not a murderer if you didn’t intend to kill. I’m pretty sure in those days, too, people could drink too much wine and get a little heated while intoxicated…

      What I’m saying is that as it is, the teaching is, that all sexual relationships outside marriage are immoral. However, we do acknowledge things like you mention that premarital relations are not as serious as adulterous ones. Or, naturally whether you’re sealed in the temple; whether you confessed voluntarily or “confessed” after getting caught. If you are deemed unable to take full responsibility, you are not expected to make covenants, and are treated with a greater leeway in your behavior. But for some people the word “gay” is such a red flag.

      What has gone overboard in some campaigns is the way that some LDS members have argued their case. I have heard/read some quite unfortunate comments that have been very strident, and not at all loving. And, at those, the target of condemnation has been same-sex attraction–not even behavior, but the attraction itself. That we should definitely not have to witness.

      I would say that it is still debatable whether homosexuality is hurtful/destructive. I would say, that it will be difficult to see until there are large populations, where homosexual relationships are fully tolerated and encouraged to the same degree as heterosexual ones. In the current climate, we sometimes make false assumptions and think correlation=causation etc. just because there are so few to go by, relatively speaking. Plus the gay-bashing culture of many fraternal organizations (would you call a sorority a “fraternal organization”, by the way? 😉 ) may be causing some of the negative stuff we associate with homosexuality. But I also don’t think it’s okay to say “you just have to accept you’re gay” to a 13-14 year-old guy who’s wondering why he feels some attraction to another male. Sexual curiosity is a part of growing up, and it’s natural to be wondering sometimes. Not all do to the same extent — we all are different!

      I agree that many of us are failing the test of how we treat the “corner cases” as you put it. There are so many issues like fair division of labor and distribution of wealth where it is very difficult to decide exactly what is right in many situations, but the fact remains, that as long as we have the poor among us, we won’t be a Zion society.

      And, of course, this life is a test! And it’s important to remember that in this test we don’t have access to all the knowledge we had available to us before, and will have afterwards. Here, it is just this one moment. How do I decided to treat my neighbor at this particular moment.

      And the whole Eternity is right here in those little moments. We need patience, patience and patience. We do have the promise, that all things unfair will be made up to us in the Atonement, that it covers and heals all innocent suffering as well as our sins. The only precondition is, that we do not shut the Savior out of our own hearts. With him, all things are possible.

  5. Carson N says:

    That there are issues involved–several of them–that are quite complex when studied more carefully doesn’t change the fact that AFAIK, there is no authorization to change the “male and female” thing.

    Authorization from God, you mean? Let’s see… I’m trying to reach across this believer/unbeliever gap here (and I commend you for your level-headedness when in a discussion with an unbeliever like me – I don’t see that a lot, and it’s refreshing). I don’t think that corner cases mean that we should abolish men/women restrooms and other such things, but I do think that even if there isn’t a clear place for them, they shouldn’t be told that what they desire is evil if it really isn’t. When I think of evil, I think of things that damage and hurt human beings right here and now. I don’t respect a belief in a god who would require that human beings suffer unnecessarily in order to reap reward in an afterlife. That kind of belief system is ripe for abuse.

    When I was a believing Mormon (not too long ago), I believed that God would ultimately reward people for being excellent to each other and that all the rest was just details. I believed that all the extra stuff was just about helping us fulfill our goal of being excellent to each other. I later came to realize that maybe half of it is about being good people, and the other half is about exclusion. It’s about shunning the evil outside world and those who do not share our beliefs. It’s about Bruce R. McConkie and Boyd K. Packer. It’s about taking some sort of noble stand against a perceived vile wickedness, putting on your armor and sword and becoming a warrior against those who disagree. The merits, scientific or otherwise, of opposing opinions will not — cannot — be considered at all, because you see these men speak on behalf of the all-powerful creator of the universe and must not and will not ever be questioned.

    I would say that it is still debatable whether homosexuality is hurtful/destructive. I would say, that it will be difficult to see until there are large populations, where homosexual relationships are fully tolerated and encouraged to the same degree as heterosexual ones.

    I disagree that it is still debatable, or rather it is about as debatable as whether or not left-handed people should be allowed to play professional sports. They might insert an interesting dynamic into the system, but other than that what is the debate even about? Surely you’re not worried about them not being able to procreate? What is it that worries Mormons so much about gay couples? All this rhetoric about defending the family. From what? From people who want to have families? I honestly think there is nothing there except this ingrained belief that God said it and therefore there simply must be a mysterious good reason, because as we know God’s ways are higher than ours, right? You have to understand how weak that sounds. It’s a blind belief. People think that their beliefs have to be respected simply by virtue of the fact that they are beliefs. They’ve run out of reasons for justifying the belief and now it is simply a declaration that we need to be tolerant of their intolerant beliefs. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Where is the substance? As a believer I would have been ashamed to not have anything else to back it up.

    I see it as an unfortunate consequence of a religion setting itself up as having figured out the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, the answers to all questions, and then suddenly finding itself in contradiction to reality. No, there must be a reason! God must have a really really good reason for this! From the time I was born I was trained to listen to what the prophets said and follow and believe them unquestioningly (well you can question but only as long as you get the right answers).

    Wow, look at me rambling on. I need to go to bed.

    • velska says:

      Authorization from God, you mean?

      That’s the core of it. I don’t like to compare the “priesthood for all worthy males” thing, but actually that is a model of how it should happen: At a time when there isn’t a great public pressure mounting on Church leaders to give statements that agree with popular views. Someone on Times&Seasons said that it’s one of the signs of the leaders being human.

      Humanity means behavior that we could categorize as infantile if we get to reason it coldly. In the heat of the moment, we usually don’t think rationally and unemotionally.

      … [T]hey shouldn’t be told that what they desire is evil if it really isn’t. When I think of evil, I think of things that damage and hurt human beings right here and now.

      That’s just where our horizon may not be at the right distance. The scriptures do talk about “enduring to the end” a lot, and with my chronic illnesses, I feel I know a little about enduring. I don’t think that I exactly deserve them, either, what with all the pain and experiences of helplessness that weren’t the results of my choices (we come to the justice/fairness issue there).

      … I believed that God would ultimately reward people for being excellent to each other and that all the rest was just details…

      Here we come to definitions. Apparently “ultimately” means rewarding people here and now, not someday, somewhere? Fact is, quite a bit of what you hear from Prophets today (let’s not bring up the “how much, percentage wise” question and concentrate on the core) is not directly from God, but from the culture they grew up in. IOW, they are actually “philosophies of men” but also sometimes even worse; they are the “unthinkingness and knee-jerk reactionness” (if you permit me to invent an expression I haven’t seen anywhere?) of men. That is true for all prophets, dead or alive. They have and will pick up things from surrounding culture and only change their views after clear directives they strongly believe to come from God.

      And I think that’s how “belief” or “faith” is more or less defined: You can not present empirical evidence to convince those who disagree. The only thing is to pray for ourselves and others to find the truth and be humble about telling what our belief/faith is. Belligerence and condemnation has no place in that discussion, but the culture seems to have taken a turn to a more aggressive, combative, strident etc. direction in that the most popular shows tend to be those that strongly mock those, who think/believe otherwise, one way or the other.

      It’s not much better, either, if one’s mockery sounds more intelligent than the other guys’, IMO.

      …[W]hat is the debate even about? Surely you’re not worried about them not being able to procreate? What is it that worries Mormons so much about gay couples? All this rhetoric about defending the family. From what? From people who want to have families?

      The question there is: What kind of families, based on what; and how does it affect the right of believers to follow their convictions? I think it’s more hurtful to send death threats and vulgar/offending messages (in one way or the other) to people who defend their beliefs, than to say, that “I don’t think we should be doing that as of now.” And, perhaps, by doing that, define “marriage” as something between man and woman. Does it actually stop any gay couple from having the rights of inheritance, support and care decisions any more than “not being married (to each other)” doesn’t give me a word in the care decisions of my sister. And I mean a situation where domestic partnership or whatever you call it is otherwise equal to “marriage” before the law; I feel that we sort of have a “prior art” case if you like–if someone wanted to trademark the word “Marriage”, who would be the one who used and defined it first?

      I don’t mean to be smart-alecky, just reminding about how we define other words in courts… (Only Bayer can call it “Aspirin” is one of those–try selling your own concoction as “Coca-Cola”!)

      People think that their beliefs have to be respected simply by virtue of the fact that they are beliefs.

      Well, exactly. People on both sides think the same way: Just because I/we/the majority believe differently, you have to change change what you mean by the word or ordinance. It’s not as if the latest scientific evidence has cleared all hindrances from understanding the affects of nature/nurture question (epigenomics, microbiomics, etc., anyone?). I’m not just throwing words around; these actually are things that strongly influence our gene expressions, so that “inheritance” of personal traits (such as sexual identification/orientation–I don’t know of any evidence that it is all about your physical body, which you can not control one way or the other in any case) is anything but clear.

      In other words, “we live in a deterministic Universe, where all of our actions are immediate and predetermined reactions to ours and others’ previous actions” and we have no choice about it. Thus, I have no choice whatsoever to choose what I believe in… and we’re both on the same side of the real argument: “Because that’s what feels right to me.”

      I see it as an unfortunate consequence of a religion setting itself up as having figured out the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, the answers to all questions, and then suddenly finding itself in contradiction to reality.

      I’m purposefully being dense here, when I ask: “Do you know and understand, and have you evaluated with scientific understanding, all the evidence and their conclusions about the question?”

      It sounds like you have pre-determined that some of us, who think that “Marriage” should still be defined as a union between man and woman, are categorically on the side of evil or at least on the wrong side and, by virtue of being “wrong”, their opinion/belief is inherently evil.

      BTW, If you throw in the “Polygamy” argument that I hear so often, you still have the union defined as a union between man and woman–even if there ends up being more than one wife, as Abraham and Jacob had. We do have a precedent pretty far back, if we are to believe the Bible. Plus in the articles where “same-sex-marriage” in earlier ages (like in France in the 16-17th century) “sanctioned” I haven’t seen any evidence that they’ve been called “Marriage” rather than just a legal contract to share their property and other such rights, such as domestic partnership.

      Mind you, “Domestic Partnership” or something like that, also takes care of people like some friends of mine, who have been living and sharing together for years with no sexual relationship whatsoever, and who don’t want to advertise themselves as a “married” couple, implicitly meaning a sexual relationship and a homosexual one at that (that may be considered old-fashione by some). Not that there is something especially wrong in homosexuality itself (other than being outside a man-woman union), but they just don’t want to give the understanding that they have a sexual relationship. Is that so wrong? That they are of the same gender does not play into the equation at all for them, they just don’t have any other “immediate family”.

      Actually, I guess there is the gist of it. We should discuss what alternatives we have for defining non-sexual relationships that are only about the rights usually bestowed by family such as property/inheritance rights and care decisions. What if my daughters, who share an apartment, end up staying together without ever marrying or something? Are they implicitly in a sexual relationship? AFAIK, incest could play into the equation there.

      You see, I’m trying to give reasoned arguments on behalf of tolerance of the beliefs of others. I do not consider you my enemy, nor do I go around throwing stones at people on either side.

  6. Carson N says:

    That’s just where our horizon may not be at the right distance.

    I get that idea (though I don’t believe it anymore), and I disagree with it being used as an excuse for making one’s mortal life unnecessarily miserable. There is a point at which too much of the consequences are pushed to a posited afterlife. You’re told to actively make your life miserable, not for the sake of others and not for any tangible benefit in your life here, but for some intangible benefit promised in the afterlife. This isn’t about refraining from temptations to commit sins that have a tangible, damaging effect on yourself and/or others, this is purely about the afterlife. Enduring to the end with chronic illnesses doesn’t require you to sabotage yourself and to suppress your ability to make yourself whole at no cost to society for some intangible reward in the afterlife. I could go on here about how I dislike the “endure to the end” message regardless of where it is applied (as long as the “end” means death), but that is a completely different tangent, hinging mostly on whether you believe you will survive your own death.

    And I think that’s how “belief” or “faith” is more or less defined: You can not present empirical evidence to convince those who disagree. The only thing is to pray for ourselves and others to find the truth and be humble about telling what our belief/faith is. Belligerence and condemnation has no place in that discussion, but the culture seems to have taken a turn to a more aggressive, combative, strident etc. direction in that the most popular shows tend to be those that strongly mock those, who think/believe otherwise, one way or the other.

    This is a fascinating subject for me, and I’ve thought about it a lot. I agree that belligerence and condemnation builds walls where instead we could build bridges, and I think society probably leans too much on the side of contention. However, I think there is some pragmatism in both approaches. It is true that presenting empirical evidence doesn’t get through the heads of many people, and this is because of their carefully grown biases which cannot be broken down easily. This takes a lot of work for very little if any reward. If a person will look at clear, calmly presented evidence and actively ignore it, then the cost/benefit ratio of winning them over becomes too high (unless this person is very close to you). Marginalization can be a very effective tool, and I think the tool itself is neutral. You cannot reason somebody out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into, but you can create an environment where racist or homophobic positions are marginalized and where ridiculous untrue assertions are aptly ridiculed. You may say, “but who decides what is ridiculous and what is not?” Sure, that is the big question, but I don’t believe the question itself need imply that we shouldn’t draw the fuzzy line somewhere. The church loves to draw that line, and I think it’s on the wrong side of this particular one.

    I think it’s more hurtful to send death threats and vulgar/offending messages (in one way or the other) to people who defend their beliefs, than to say, that “I don’t think we should be doing that as of now.”

    Oh absolutely. Sending death threats to someone because they think homosexuality is evil is supremely ironic and disgusting. It’s not even understandable to me why someone would have that kind of reaction, and I think it’s despicable whenever and wherever it happens. The two different things don’t even compare. Nevertheless, I think the message that homosexuality is evil is a damaging and immoral message.

    Re: the term “marriage”
    Aside from the legal and social support (things which I don’t know too much about), the other thing the term “marriage” brings is a loss of the stigma surrounding gay couples. Everything about what they do is just like a marriage except for this state-sponsored stigma. Allowing them to call it a marriage doesn’t cheapen your own marriage, whereas the opposite can be true with brand names, which is the reason for those laws.

    People on both sides think the same way

    No, I don’t think so. I, for example, do not think you should respect my beliefs simply based on the fact that I believe them. If I give a faulty argument, I would rather it be soundly refuted then and there. Additionally I don’t expect you to accept an assertion of mine if you do not feel I have reason, evidence, or logic on my side or if I have not adequately backed it up. I’m not disturbed or uncomfortable when you contradict something I said because I do not feel like you have an obligation to respect my beliefs regardless of how asinine they might be. You seem pretty reasonable, and so if you reacted strongly against something I said, I’d probably re-examine my statements a bit to make sure I’m not out of line.

    It sounds like you have pre-determined that some of us, who think that “Marriage” should still be defined as a union between man and woman, are categorically on the side of evil

    I get the impression that you feel that this is an unqualified assertion coming from me. Let me try to clarify and give my reasons. I think that preaching that homosexuality is just SSA and is not an integral part of a person flies in the face of scientific evidence and is psychologically damaging to gay people who are trying or will continue to try to change. I believe it is an immoral teaching, taught by people who may have good intentions. I also think that gay married couples do not differ from hetero married couples in any way that is meaningful to society, and that insisting that they call their union something different promotes an unnecessary, state-sponsored stigma. They enjoy the same level of affection, the children they raise are not deficit in any way, and the relationships are just as stable and well-adjusted. I think that many genuinely good people can be on the side of “evil” depending on the issue, and that many times this is a result of inculcated religious beliefs that by their very nature are not answerable to any amount of contradicting evidence.

    Re: polygamy
    In a lot of ways, hetero marriage is more similar to gay marriage than to polygamy. Remember that gay marriage isn’t about traditional stereotypical men marrying each other. The relationship can have the same dynamics. There are two people involved, and they are fully devoted to each other (ideally). Introducing a one-to-many relationship into it presents an entirely different kind of relationship.

    I really do appreciate your thoughtful responses here. From your comments I think you are a reasonable person who is not quick to be defensive or judgmental, which is admirable. I honestly wish there were more people like you on the believer side, and I can only hope that my writing gives a similar impression.

    Now back to my homework.

    • Velska says:

      I get that idea (though I don’t believe it anymore), and I disagree with it being used as an excuse for making one’s mortal life unnecessarily miserable. There is a point at which too much of the consequences are pushed to a posited afterlife. You’re told to actively make your life miserable, not for the sake of others and not for any tangible benefit in your life here, but for some intangible benefit promised in the afterlife.

      I’ve been thinking how to put this in an understandable and concise way (as you’ve seen I have a tendency for verbosity).
      What I’d say, that if the above is your understanding of the teachings of the LDS Church (and that means Pres Monson etc. and those who know what the Church is about), I’m not surprised your faith is wavering.

      When you talk about “intangible benefit[s]” it makes me wonder what the tangible ones are if you let your urges run loose?

      If you listen to the General Conference from these past years, what they’re telling us is to be kind, considerate and reasonable — civil, at least — with those who disagree with you; to remember that we have taken the name of the Savior upon us, and it is his example we should strive to emulate in loving our neighbor (and, or perhaps even especially, the stranger also if you remember the Good Samaritan parable) as ourselves; to be humble enough to see our weaknesses and work to overcome them instead of pointing to others’ weaknesses to excuse their own misbehavior; to be honest, chaste, virtuous etc..

      And if you think Eternal Life begins somewhere beyond the veil, I’d like to point out that this very minute you’re reading this is part of your Eternal Life. I am very sorry that it hurts someone when I say that I, along with many others, think that an exclusively homosexual libido is an exception (no matter how natural it is! Punching a disagreeable person in the face is also very natural, but certainly not something we should “embrace” and “celebrate”); it’s a weakness, in a manner of a “personality disorder” to put a fashionable-sounding name to it. It doesn’t mean that I or most LDS people I’ve talked with think less of people who fit the definition, but we think it is a difference, an “attribute” of their mortal lives. Each one of us have some sort of a “personality disorder” if you start testing and digging our reactions, because there is no such thing as an average person. (The “average person” has always been just a theoretical concept that gives some medium/median/average attributes of a set of persons.) Those disorders or weaknesses are a part of what we are. We may have a “weakness” — a condition which affects our reactions to various stimuli — that we know very well we’ll not overcome in this mortality, but we have a promise of a resurrection where those mortality-related shortcomings of our abilities will be fixed.

      I’ve mentioned elsewhere, that I’m an alcoholic. It’s been quite a few years now, since I’ve ingested anything alcoholic, save a prescription cough syrup perhaps, but I am an alcoholic, and I know what my reaction to alcohol will be, and all long term studies show that I can’t expect to ever be a “normal” person in that respect. I have lost several buddies, who felt uncomfortable with me after I “got on the wagon” and they didn’t invite me to their parties any longer. My drunken excess was easier for them to bear than my sober presence (perhaps people are afraid that a sober person in a party feels judgmental about those who drink even moderately, and they are aware that I will have a much clearer memory of their drunken excesses).
      Wouldn’t you say, then, that that’s an integral part of who I am? And don’t you think I know that when I’m not present in their happy hours bar crawl after work (a drink per bar, say) they will not only talk shop that I won’t be hearing — which leaves me at least partially outside the work team — but they’ll most likely talk about me and how I’m too persnickety for for their taste — “how’s one or two drinks gonna hurt anyone?” — and don’t you think they also make sure that I also hear that they think I’m not “normal” and Almighty only knows what’s actually wrong about me.

      And if we go to the fact that yes, taking a couple of drinks will give me pleasure. There is the reality that the feeling of intoxication from alcohol brings me immediate pleasure and emotional relief — I really like it better than I liked some controlled substances I tried years ago and decided I’d rather get drunk than high and/or start hallucinating. According to the logic of most people outside LDS circles that I know, I would be “happier” if I just went with the buddies and had a couple of beers. It’s fine for them to say that, when they go home to their families (mostly to just sit there watching TV) after a couple of hours of relaxation. They just don’t realize that for me it would not only mean another 20,000 brain cells destroyed, another relationship disaster and an expensive tour crawling the bars till they either throw me out in the street or arrest me for something I’m likely to do when I am in that state. But at least I would have “embraced” and “accepted” that “that’s just what I’m like and there’s nothing I can do about it.” And I need to add a disclaimer that I don’t mean that alcoholism is the same as SSA, just that refraining some behavior may bring some pain, but I’m just saying it’s not necessarily right that a teenage boy feeling some attraction to some other boys gets the message that he should just accept that he’s gay (his sexuality is far from mature at 13 or 14!) and “celebrate” it. I’ve had several people confess that they’ve tried having sex with same sex partners, and then going back to what society sees as “normal” without making a great fuss about it either way. And some of them still have that hankering, but they feel that having a “normal” family life is preferable to what they experienced in their teens or twenties. Of course, I’ve known people, who say that they’ve never felt any attraction to the other sex — but I also know several people, who have never found anyone they felt they could settle down with, regardless of gender.

      The biggest problem is, that there is such a high clamor in the society today for messages about extreme behavior and weird reality shows that are all enhancing the message that you have an “inalienable right” to do what the hell ever seems to bring you immediate pleasure. You don’t even have to talk about “Eternal Life” if that bothers you; just in this life there are so many choices that are between two lesser evils, and we absolutely must work as a society to create an environment where we can have the next generation grow up with some values and rules. I’m sorry, but as we’ve seen, even the money market works only if a basic trust exists that others play by the same rules as we do and are willing to commit and keep their commitments. Integrity doesn’t come by telling a kid that “anything goes” means just what it says: “Anything goes, there’s no right and wrong.” But if you don’t pay your phone bill your phone service will be discontinued. If you don’t pay your mortgage the foreclosure is where you end up. If you don’t keep your promises, people won’t trust you.

      What I was saying all along was, that the society is breaking up, and human relationships, especially those that include a sexual relationship, do not work if we don’t have rules we can trust. And society can only work if we have at least half way sane families bringing up kids who realize that their actions have consequences. And the deterioration was greatly accelerated by the so called sexual revolution, which turned things on their head by saying that if you’re a faithful monogamist and your spouse is and has been your only sexual partner, you’re a freak! Such a person knows nothing about life, and has missed out on the best things in life, according to that message.

      How about then a father, who has brought up five adults in a home with two parents (just that one mother and one father nurturing them, with some help from relatives, friends and neighbors), who come with their spouses and children to family reunions, where we try to get to know each other betters; who has tried his mightiest to makes sure that denying an immediate pleasure from little children some times is much more loving than not denying it; who has tried not to be the “boss” in the home as much as a counselor who instructs them about choices and their consequences — occasionally saying “no” when he’s known that the children don’t realize and can’t handle the consequences yet (think driving a car alone on a highway at seven); who has made his relationship with mortality clear; who has learned to admit being wrong and apologizing to his children as well as his spouse; who is retired but spends a lot of his time volunteering in Church and society; who can say that if Death knocks on his door (think Monthy Python’s Meaning of Life”), he’s not afraid and he knows the last thing he said to his children and spouse is something affirming and loving?

      I’m sure the above is very idealistic and few can actually say they’ve achieved that state — but I do know such granddaddies, but I can assure you, that any professional sociologist or psychologist would say that those kids are much more likely to be happy and fulfilled than those “omnigamy” kids, who aren’t quite sure who sleeps with whom and don’t have any adults whose affection and trust they could say they have. It’s really not so much about what we get from this life as it is about what we can contribute to society. When societies break, you get chaos (think the Jacobeans in the Book of Mormon or Taliban in Afghanistan).

      I’m sure you get my drift. And my drift is also that it doesn’t matter how tolerant the society is about exclusively homosexual persons and their sexual behavior, from the point of view of the majority such people will never be “normal” in the sense that most people use the word. Face it; it just is “different,” and that’s why many people are wary in that respect. Homo Sapiens Sapiens is still a pack animal by instincts, and as King Benjamin says, as a natural man (or woman) will always need to patiently strive against their natural urges. Some things that are extremely difficult or even impossible to me seem to come naturally to others. We are all individuals; even identical twins are distinct personalities!

      Just as my choices about alcohol both seem to bring negative consequences (how this society fears natural consequences!), we often have situations, where the choice is not between good and bad, but about the “lesser evil”.

      Anyway, I can understand you in a way, sure. And I actually agree that we should let gays get married in churches that will do that, but those, who don’t shouldn’t be forced to accept the marriage concept that is against their convictions.

      Ergo, I advocate the view where the State has just a sort of a “fusion of two entities” contract that two people enter. If they wish to be “married” they can go to whatever priest will bestow that status to them. Thus, any church can, within its own sphere of influence, can have their own view about their membership status, for example. Just as the D&C states, we (the LDS Church) don’t want to control people’s property rights or tell them how to live, but we don’t have to consider such members, who behave against our standards, as members in full standing with full rights to work within the Church structure. When your Mormon neighbor tells you that your hair is too long, it’s her/his opinion, not the teachings of the Church. And even a lot of stuff that you can read in the Miracle of Forgiveness is Spencer W. Kimball’s opinions about things more than a “revelation from God” or “official doctrine of the Church” — any more than the 1966 edition of Mormon Doctrine should be considered such that we should consider binding to us. Interestingly, the take-home message for me from Miracle of forgiveness was that sins can be forgiven but it takes some patience and sometimes painful work to overcome the temptations. We really don’t need to make our lives miserable — there’s enough opposition to just being honest in this society where money buys you both luxury and court decisions along with laws that favor the richest one or two per cent.

      (“Trickle-down” was as much a fable as was “Mission Accomplished” in 2003 — wealth has certainly trickled up with the cut of the richest 2% growing considerably and the middle class and the poor workers have both lost the race with inflation. But that Economics, and that doesn’t get ratings and frothing-in-the mouth gunslingers attending your speeches.)

      At least I often pray in the spirit of “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” or “Lord, I believe — help thou mine unbelief!”

      Because I know that alone I am nothing; I must open the door when the Savior wants to come in and heal me — and he does!

  7. Carson N says:

    Wait a minute. I don’t understand why you still pound on the straw man that believes homosexuality is right and okay just because it’s natural. I don’t believe that straw man is right in saying that either. It is so easy to knock him down because you can bring up any kind of crazy health-damaging thing that happens to be a natural urge for someone.

    I’m sorry, but you’re not going to hear the easily-defeated argument of “hey it’s natural so it’s good” argument from me. I’d like to actually move past that, because it’s not true. Are we there yet?

    Let’s get to the real issue that I’ve been trying to get to: homosexuality may have “natural” in common with alcoholism, psychopathy, and other self-destructive or socially harmful tendencies as well as a host of harmless natural predispositions like empathy, leadership, introversion, shyness, etc. However, homosexuality does not do harm to oneself or others, unlike alcoholism. Whenever you strike down the “natural = good” straw man, you completely ignore the real argument. Unless you can demonstrate how homosexuality is harmful without resorting to “my god said so”, then that belief deserves zero respect. The fact that homosexuality IS a natural and unchangeable part of many people only compounds the amount of unnecessary damage done to those who believe fully in the teaching that it is immoral and evil. This leads to suicide in several cases.

    In the case of alcoholism, drinking takes a very clear toll on your life. Your life as well as others’ lives suffer when you drink too much, and this is a direct result of consuming too much alcohol. Surely the alcoholic’s suffering does not purely come from the social stigma of being an alcoholic. When you stop drinking, the urges are still there but the quality of live improves. Homosexuality, on the other hand, does not inherently come with these downsides any more than heterosexuality does. Used irresponsibly, it is at worst just as bad as irresponsible heterosexuality (except there is no risk of pregnancy, arguably making irresponsible heterosexuality worse). When a strictly homosexual person refrains from loving in the way that he/she is naturally inclined, there is no improvement in quality of life as a result outside of having the privilege of not being completely rejected by their community and family.

  8. Velska says:

    I think you have exhausted your arguments with:

    Unless you can demonstrate how homosexuality is harmful without resorting to “my god said so”, then that belief deserves zero respect.

    Any straw men were built by you in this exchange. I don’t think I’ve tried to argue that practising homosexuality is harmful on the level of, say, alcoholism. I have defended my right to think that Churches and communities should have the right to their own way of defining marriage. And I repeat that as far as I’m concerned, civil law might leave the word completely out — it doesn’t look like the great majority really appreciates what marriage means (commitment, trust, fidelity) any longer.

    BTW, when churches, who do not wish to include SSM in their definition of marriage, expressed their concern that they’ll eventually lose their freedom of religion the way the debate is going, the SSM advocates declared that “hateful”, “bigoted” and “homophobic”. Your above argument is exactly the one that would eventually be used to overturn freedom of religion, unless “marriage” is left to the churches who still care about it.

    Don’t you think that it does hurt a reformed alcoholic to lose old friends (as he thought of them) just because he doesn’t drink any more? How about those, who never mature sexually, they’re not hurt by this? And a schizophrenic, who a great deal of time is right up there with you and me, but who can’t hold a job or have normal relationships, because any medication either doesn’t work or has terrible side effects, such has no human feelings?

    Anyhow, although I apparently deserve zero respect, I will do my best to show more by not insulting you further with my clearly insane religion and let you bask in the happiness of your new and purely logical one.

    And lest you wish to argue about that: You have nothing more than speculation that long-term disappearance of traditional families will not prove societally harmful. That is just so much wishful thinking. Actually, it already is proving to be so — but it’s not so much because of same-sex relationships for now, as it is because marriage has been thrown out with the so-called sexual revolution and no-fault divorce. In consequence, most children experience the breakdown of their families — which time and again has been demonstrated to be psychologically harmful.

    If the quote at the top of this comment represents the height of your reasoning, please don’t bother to write any more. I think that horse has been beaten to death by you and numerous others.

  9. Carson N says:

    Anyhow, although I apparently deserve zero respect

    Woah there, let’s not make this personal. Let’s distinguish between beliefs and the people that hold them. Surely anybody who claims they can distinguish the sin from the sinner should be able to make this distinction as well.

    I don’t think I’ve tried to argue that practising homosexuality is harmful on the level of, say, alcoholism.

    I’m not really accusing you of putting them on the same level. I’m accusing you of putting them in the same category. I can understand an argument comparing two things in the same category, even when they’re not on the same level. I’m saying that alcoholism is in the “inherently bad for you” category whereas homosexuality isn’t (or at least would need to be shown to be). If they were both in that category, but just on different levels, I wouldn’t complain.

    I have defended my right to think that Churches and communities should have the right to their own way of defining marriage.

    Churches, sure. I’m not arguing that churches should be forced to perform gay marriages. In fact I strongly oppose the idea of forcing churches to perform gay marriages. I think it would be a terrible and tragic overreach of the government. I’m not sure what you mean by communities though. Should communities have the right to decide whether a minority group has certain rights? How is this to be decided? By majority vote?

    You have nothing more than speculation that long-term disappearance of traditional families will not prove societally harmful.

    Why would extending marriage to the gay minority cause any traditional families to disappear?

  10. Velska says:

    When I say communities, I mean communities, and any recognized State is a community of sorts. If the majority of community members vote in a ballot, then the community has decided. That is how we do all of our laws, although most of them go through our legislative representatives. We have a representative democracy, which in large populations is a more effective way of getting things done.

    Anyway, I stick to the belief, that God intended Marriage to mean a union of a man and a woman. I don’t think SSM is good for society, and long time studies will bear it out, once it is politically correct to make such findings… as of now, I can imagine a lynch mob forming around a sociologist, who says that there are harmful side effects. Long time experience in sociology is, though, that it will be detrimental to families.

    And I stick to my right to believe that way, too.

    But my point was, to begin with, that “Marriage” was thrown out the window a long time ago. Now, I believe that the only point in SSM is for the GLBT community to make an “in your face” statement to the squares.

  11. Carson N says:

    The U.S. is not just a simple representative democracy. It is a constitutional republic, thereby placing checks on the power of the majority of the population in order to prevent tyranny of the majority. You cannot simply say that the community has voted and therefore it is settled. Obviously not, since it is under judicial review. Would you vote to toss out the pesky judicial branch of government because they do nothing but get in the way of the majority? What happens when you’re not in the majority?

    You believe that studies will eventually bear out that SSM is bad for society, but this is based solely on your belief that God said it. You certainly have a right to hold that belief, as others have a right to believe that God wants infidels dead. For me, I’m inclined to believe what the evidence is already saying.

    • Velska says:

      You cannot simply say that the community has voted and therefore it is settled. Obviously not, since it is under judicial review.

      Well, if this were the other way around, would you not be griping about frivolous lawsuits and “why can’t they just accept that that’s what the majority wants”? Are you sure about that?

      For me, I’m inclined to believe what the evidence is already saying.

      Are you saying that you think society in general has gone the right way in the last 40 or 50 years? (I remember most of it, so I have some anecdotal as well as sociological knowledge about what has happened.)

      I am glad that it seems that the general society is less likely to lynch blacks or beat gays — I’m less glad about the fact that our daughter’s high school graduation class had only one other student, who had both of her natural parents sharing the same address with her. Beside our daughter, that is.

      Would you vote to toss out the pesky judicial branch of government because they do nothing but get in the way of the majority?

      I’d say that it would be much better, if judges were not elected by ballot nor appointed by elected partisans. That only produces judges who are for sale or who are ideologically inclined to decide cases in a certain way (think Thomas, Scalia, Roberts). Judges should be appointed by a panel of judges based on experience and expertise, not by political expedience. (That panel of judges sounds to me a bit like the ideal government presented in the Book of Mormon.)

      Judicial branch should truly be independent of the executive or the legislative — naturally judges are obliged to obey the laws, but I’d have thought that goes without saying for most decent people.

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