Can Love Be A Bad Thing?

The following must not be interpreted as petition to the Church. It’s simply a summary of some thoughts I have had that I would like to hear other perspectives on. Criticisms are welcome, but let’s keep it respectful, compassionate, and understanding.

 

This post isn’t about marriage. It isn’t about sex.


It’s about love:  something that we all desire, crave, yearn, seek, and strive for. I have, and so have you.

Love comes in different forms: the kind that we have for a friend, a brother or sister, our parents, or for a fellow human being — which can develop into the very pinnacle of love; namely romantic love.

Romantic love is not sex. Neither does it necessarily involve or lead to marriage or sex. It’s that feeling of being captivated by another human being and caring for them, as well as expressing our emotions for them verbally or physically, often in a non-sexual manner such as holding hands, embracing, caressing, and innocent kissing: behaviour that is appropriate, according to LDS tradition, even between a couple that is not yet married. In other words, it’s not like loving your mom.

It’s not unheard of for people to live their entire lives and, if they never enter into marriage, never go beyond the non-sexual displays of affection that I just mentioned. Contrary to what some may think, most human beings are capable of living and functioning without sex, without suffering any “damage.” I’m not sure, however, that the same would be true for all who desire and yearn for romantic love, but are denied that opportunity. Can you imagine life without love? If you are not currently in a romantic relationship, you probably have it as a hope or are always on the lookout for an opportunity, even subconsciously. Right?

I’ve tried to think of an example of love that would be considered evil or immoral, unless it’s incestuous or between an adult and minor. When it comes to two consenting adults, I can’t really think of any examples of “immoral love” that aren’t somehow based on sex or deceit (such as an extramarital affair). A sexual relationship between two unmarried adults is immoral. Sex is, in this case, sinful. But is their love also a sin?

Look at the picture above. If the two people were of the same sex, how would you feel about it? Would you feel differently about it? Would you see their behaviour as immoral and something to be avoided? Why or why not?

This “compromise,” if you want to call it that, will not satisfy all. It will not satisfy those who demand no less than equal marriage status within the Church, heterosexual or homosexual, as well as Church-sanctioned homosexual relations; neither will it satisfy those who believe that two members of the same sex who even sit together like that couple in the picture are treading down a wicked path. The term “compromise” is, actually, misleading in my opinion, because the way I see it, the Church would not be compromising anything in regards to the doctrines or policies related to marriage, families, or the Law of Chastity. The only thing that would change would be that heterosexual and homosexual members of the Church would truly be held to the same standards of chastity and morality outside of marriage. That would mean that a couple, such as depicted in the photo, sitting on a bench on BYU campus or outside the Tabernacle, would face no disciplinary action for their innocent display of romantic affection — whether heterosexual or homosexual.

We know that we have a problem in the Church with homosexuals feeling alone, ostracized, without real purpose, and some even resorting to suicide.

Would acceptance of non-sexual same-sex relationships within the Church help to ease the burden of those who struggle and help them to remain in the Church?

What if gay members of the Church were truly held to the same standards of the Law of Chastity when it comes to expression of love and dating relationships?

What, if anything, would the Church be sacrificing or compromising on in order for gay members to be able to date openly in the same way as heterosexual couples without facing discipline?

Why is/isn’t this a good idea?

Comments

comments

52 comments for “Can Love Be A Bad Thing?

  1. May 26, 2009 at 3:56 am

    I can basically already hear some of the others.

    “The reason handholding, embracing, innocent kissing, etc., is OK for heterosexual couples is not *JUST* because they are chaste, but because those relationships have the potential to become celestially sanctioned. Homosexual relationships will never have that, so one shouldn’t even humor people to create what will ALWAYS be destructive relationships.”

    end role play.

    personally, I would ask, why are we so insistent upon keeping gay people in the church? I find myself so perturbed and disturbed by a line:

    Would acceptance of non-sexual same-sex relationships within the Church help to ease the burden of those who struggle and help them to remain in the Church?

    OK, so helping people decide not to kill themselves…makes sense. Helping them realize that they aren’t complete wastes of matter that are in direct contravention to everything God ever designed…makes sense. Helping them to stay in the worldview that would bring them such pain when we know and they know that things will never get better? I don’t even get that.

    I probably shouldn’t post this comment, because I’m too emotional about it, but I will. Basically, the church has a very stringent theology on this issue. It is very hopeful to think that things will change (and to propose this reasonable proposal that, as you say, isn’t really a compromise because it *should* make sense)…but this is where hope goes to die.

  2. May 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

    But Andrew, what about those members of the Church who are gay — even openly gay — and yet have a strong testimony and have a sincere desire to stay in the Church? Not all gay Mormons want to leave it.

    I agree with you, Andrew, that even if this “compromise” were to become a reality (which I doubt will happen anytime soon), it’s not enough. Homosexual couples would still be “second class” for the reasons that you stated.

    However, realizing that change isn’t going to happen overnight — and perhaps never will happen in terms of marriage equality within the Church — would this not be a step forward that both sides could live with for the sake of progress and allowing gay Mormons to at least experience SOME love in their lives without being kicked out of BYU or ostracized by their Mormon friends?

  3. May 26, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Gay couples aside, which I know is the point of this post but I think misses a more poignant and less over-discussed topic, yes. Love can be, and often is, a bad thing. Particularly romantic love which, as practiced by the general populace, does not often include real selflessness.

  4. Holden Caulfield
    May 26, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Andrew S–“personally, I would ask, why are we so insistent upon keeping gay people in the church.”

    I’m glad you did post this. I gather examples of statements like this and show people when they ask me why prop 8 had such an affect on me and my family. The sad thing to me, Andrew, is that you are not alone in your sentiments.

    “the church has a very stringent theology on this issue”

    I’m thinking the church also has “very stringent” views on love.

    As to the original post, I am glad that some members understand that the standard is not the same. We endlessly hear shallow, incorrect statements from church leaders that the standard–celibacy– is the same for gays and heterosexuals. They apparently think it is all about sex, not about love.

    Any compromise, however, wouldn’t work for either the church or gays. The church wouldn’t stand for any measure of acceptance of “the gay lifestyle” and gays want the second-class stigma removed from them. I am amazed when any gay person, other than the few who live celibate, remains active in the church.

    For members like Andrew, the fact that almost all gays leave the church must be considered a “win, win”.

    “Helping them to stay in the worldview that would bring them such pain when we know and they know that things will never get better?”—-Have you ever even talked to a gay person? Pain is being gay and living in a world with people like you who wish gays didn’t even exist, that they don’t deserve to exist, where people want you to return to living under the rock where you came from. Pain is having your parents tell you to move out and they never want to hear from you again (unless you somehow change from a duck to a chicken). Pain is becoming a gay activist so your Mormon (Christian) mother and her friends will see you on television and in the newspaper so your mommmy can no longer tell her friends that you died and that’s why you don’t come around (Connell O’Donovan).

    At least there are no calls for burning gays until dead or burying them alive, as was done in prior cultures.

  5. May 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

    “…romantic love which, as practiced by the general populace, does not often include real selflessness.”

    You’re right about that, SilverRain. I probably should have mean it clear that romantic love does not automatically equal real, selfless love. But for the sake of discussion, please assume that I meant this post to be about true, selfless, pure, romantic love (as well as casual dating where the goal is to find such love). That’s what I had in mind when I wrote it.

  6. MH
    May 26, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Holden, I just want to point out that Andrew is an atheist, but as a former mormon, he represents pretty well a mormon thought process.

  7. Holden Caulfield
    May 26, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Thanks, MH. It talked like a duck, walked like a duck, I wrongly assumed it was a duck.

  8. Craig
    May 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    So, if we follow this compromise to a reasonable next step, we would be perfectly accepting of a man and a woman who choose to cohabitate as long as they didn’t have intercourse? I think not.

    Remember, if a man lusts after a woman in his heart then he has in essence committed the act (Matt 5:28, D&C 63:16). We could substitute “man” for “woman” in that passage just as easily. Lust is a natural part of “romantic love” and romantic love could not exist independently (see “When Harry Met Sally for detailed explanation). That we control that feeling during courtship doesn’t make it go away.

    I don’t think there is any wiggle room here without a radical alteration of church doctrine. This is not akin to “blacks and the priesthoood” which, like integration of the military, is trotted out as an example of society “moving forward”. You don’t get to choose your skin color, and, despite all the writing and trumpeting to the contrary, I believe that homosexuality is a BEHAVIOR, and an be controlled. In other words, it is a choice. I was born with a mean streak a mile wide, yet no one is going to stick up for me if I act “naturally”, so I have to learn to cap my mean streak and be kind in situations where I would really enjoy causing a little hate and discontent. That is my challenge, I am happy I don’t have “same-sex attraction” to deal with as well.

    The battle lines are being drawn, and this is a wide front. Do not give up an inch of ground, it will not be appreciated or regained.

  9. May 26, 2009 at 9:26 am

    “So, if we follow this compromise to a reasonable next step, we would be perfectly accepting of a man and a woman who choose to cohabitate as long as they didn’t have intercourse?”

    Why would/should it suddenly be acceptable for a man and woman to cohabitate? This “compromise” wouldn’t change the Law of Chastity. Heterosexual cohabitation, along with homosexual cohabitation, would continue to be a violation of the Law of Chastity, just as it is now.

    “Do not give up an inch of ground, it will not be appreciated or regained.”

    What exactly would we be giving up?

  10. May 26, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I suppose it is hard for me to assume that. Selfless and believing love would never indulge in—nor ask the object to indulge in—sinful behavior. Assuming a person with same-sex attraction believes that homosexual acts are sinful to the extent of being willing to abstain from them based on that belief, why would they accept the limited indulgence of them through dating/hand-holding/so-called “chaste” kissing (particularly with the often-demonstrated difficulties of limiting romantic expression)? I think it is not a plausible scenario you set out. One can’t spend the same money one saves.

  11. May 26, 2009 at 9:58 am

    To put this into perspective, how would we view the exact same scenario you set out (verbal and “chaste” physical expression of romantic love), but substitute in people already married to other people?

    I believe the term “emotional affair” would be fully applicable to this case.

  12. May 26, 2009 at 10:03 am

    That’s where “deceit” comes into play, which I mentioned in the post.

  13. May 26, 2009 at 10:04 am

    re 4:

    Any compromise, however, wouldn’t work for either the church or gays. The church wouldn’t stand for any measure of acceptance of “the gay lifestyle” and gays want the second-class stigma removed from them. I am amazed when any gay person, other than the few who live celibate, remains active in the church.

    For members like Andrew, the fact that almost all gays leave the church must be considered a “win, win”.

    “Helping them to stay in the worldview that would bring them such pain when we know and they know that things will never get better?”—-Have you ever even talked to a gay person? Pain is being gay and living in a world with people like you who wish gays didn’t even exist, that they don’t deserve to exist, where people want you to return to living under the rock where you came from. Pain is having your parents tell you to move out and they never want to hear from you again (unless you somehow change from a duck to a chicken). Pain is becoming a gay activist so your Mormon (Christian) mother and her friends will see you on television and in the newspaper so your mommmy can no longer tell her friends that you died and that’s why you don’t come around (Connell O’Donovan).

    I think I’ve been completely misunderstood. As was mentioned, I’m an former member. Secondly, the part of my post above “end role play” was just that, a role play I could hear feasibly said by some other members. So, thirdly, the stuff that’s below “end role play” was meant to be taken in contrast to what I was role playing above.

    I completely agree with your first paragraph down to the amazement to gay members who stay. In fact, that is why I ask why people are so insistent on keeping gay people in the church, because there will be *no* workable compromise.

    In your second paragraph, let me qualify my actual position. I don’t believe in the church’s divinity or whatever. So to me, if the church is not working for someone, if it is limiting them, if it is hurting them with malicious doctrines, then that person should leave. So, in a church where we recognize that compromise is unlikely or possibly even possible, I *do* think people should leave and find happiness. That is why I ask why people are so insistent on keeping gay people in the church, because they are essentially insisting upon the second-class status of those people, on the prescription of a life devoid of love — even romantic — and I don’t see how that is reasonable. At best, I’m at a loss to TheFaithfulDissident’s comments about faith in comment 2…that is the weak point here.

    I do not wish gay people “didn’t even exist,” and I did not say they “don’t deserve to exist” or they should “return to the rock they came from.” In fact, to me, asking for someone to stay in the church — even when they know just as well as I do that any compromise is unlikely — is to resign themselves to a life of rejection of themselves, of consignment to a doctrine that they do not exist, shouldn’t exist, and should return to the rock they came from. Sorry, I normally don’t have such a bitter view of the church, but that is what I feel. For gay members to rise up, assert that they do exist and that they deserve to exist, I think they must shun the toxic theology and toxic church organization that would willingly keep them down.

    We should not be on opposite sides here. Although I bet I do risk some moderation action if my comments get too far out of line.

  14. May 26, 2009 at 10:08 am

    re 10:

    I predicted an argument like this.

    I guess the question is…why is dating/hand-holding/chaste kissing 100% chaste for heterosexual couples, even if they never marry or cross any lines, but why is the very same behavior considered “limited indulgence of…sin”?

  15. May 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

    If same sex attraction in itself is not a sin (as the Church seems to say), is same sex love a sin?

    Is “being in love” for a gay person sinful, even if that love doesn’t go as far as being sexual? If yes, then how is it different for heterosexuals?

    If no, then what’s the problem?

  16. May 26, 2009 at 10:15 am

    #14 Andrew, that’s exactly my question. Why is it different?

  17. Holden Caulfield
    May 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Andrew S-Thanks for re-posting. After work, I’ll re-read your posts in a different light.

    Yesterday, we had the missionaries over for dinner. At one point in the conversation, one of the missionaries said “That’s so gay”……wrong time, wrong place for that Elder. After I went off, one of my sons said “Dad, you look for things like that.” He’s probably right.

  18. Ray
    May 26, 2009 at 10:58 am

    “So, if we follow this compromise to a reasonable next step, we would be perfectly accepting of a man and a woman who choose to cohabitate as long as they didn’t have intercourse?”

    Yes, we would, and we do – and we’ve done so for a long, long time.

    1) I knew an engaged couple in a stake where I lived who, for legitimate reasons, lived in the same house. They had separate bedrooms and kept the Law of Chastity to the letter. They were not disciplined in any way, and they should not have been. “Co-habitating”, in and of itself, is NOT a sin in ANY way – and the Church has never treated it as such.

    2) Extreme example that might seem silly at first, but: Roommates in college (even, gasp, BYU) “cohabitate” all the time, the vast majority of the time with people of the same sex. Since there is no inappropriate sexual activity happening, it’s no big deal.

    3) Older, unmarried sisters or friends have lived together without causing a stir for as long as there have been unmarried sisters and friends. Many of these arrangements were cover for homosexual relationships when they were prosecuted and stigmatized, but many were not. Many were simply rent or mortgage sharing arrangements between friends who needed companionship in their old age. They “co-habitated” without any problem, because there was no inappropriate sexual conduct involved.

    The current Church stance is much better than the former stances, but it still is a double standard. I believe strongly in having the same standard for all, so homosexual unmarried members should be able to do anything heterosexual unmarried members are allowed to do without receiving censure or discipline or even nasty looks. The Law of Chastity should be interpreted and applied evenly for all, with no distinctions based purely on sexual orientation. Currently, as this post points out, that is not the case.

  19. Cowboy
    May 26, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Should homosexual members of the Church be permitted to engage in non-sexual romantic relationships? I would have two responses:

    Homosexuals) Andrew is right, and I would take it a step further. Why should a reasonably intelligent, confident, and self reliant adult feel any form of subordinate obligation to first get permission from a Church to seek out their own course of happiness, which truly has their best interests in mind? If homosexuals want to pursue their own relationships, they can do so. They can also choose to believe whatever they would like. The only cosequence is membership in a Church which will marginalize them for emotions they seem (though, I’m no biologist) to have no control over.

    If the issue is personal incompatability with faith and orientation then I might advise them do that which maximizes their best interests. If that means going to heaven, then do what that takes. If it means pursuing relationships and throwing caution to the wind, do that.

    Church Members) If the Church is going to accept homosexuals to pursue romantic relationships, then why would we feel any need to draw the line with sex and marriage? After all, in a pure sense aren’t those behaviors supposed to be just physical outgrowths of an inner commitment/feeling? This argument sounds to me like a house divided against itself.

  20. May 26, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Good points, Ray, especially about cohabitation. I have a good friend in the Church who was/is openly living common law — so that he and the mother can raise their son together — and is an active Melchizedek priesthood holder. I don’t know the details and I’ve never asked because it’s none of my business, but I’m pretty sure it’s due to some very complicated immigration problems he was having that prevented him from being allowed to marry.

  21. brjones
    May 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Andrew S, I have also often wondered why gays would want to remain in a church that is no friend to them. I understand that some people believe in the divinity of the church but also feel the need to be true to their inner feelings, but I think people need to realize that that is one of the doctrines that makes up the church. If the church is indeed true, then homosexuality is indeed wrong. Let’s say LDS homosexuals were able to convince church leaders to change the church’s position on homosexuality or gay marriage, how would that be acceptable in a church that is supposedly led by divine revelation? The fact is, within the context of the church, homosexuality is wrong, whether the church and its members are accepting of homosexuals or not. Having the policies changed to accomodate a certain group doesn’t seem to be a viable solution for anyone. And just so I’m not misunderstood, my sympathies are with gays in the church. I just feel terrible that they continue to come back for more abuse, when they’re never going to get what they want, which is to be accepted by mormons. It will never happen.

    That said, I think it’s worth noting that there are a number of past core practices and doctrines in the mormon church, such as polygamy, that were at least as entrenched within mormon doctrine and culture as the position on homosexuality is now, that have long since been jettisoned. Consequently, I would not be at all surprised to see the church change its position on gay marriage and even homosexuality 50 years down the road. And anyone who would argue that that would NEVER happen is simply ignoring history.

  22. Cowboy
    May 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    It should also be recognized that while modern society (LDS) has embraced all races, particurly as one person here has noted that race is not a choice and therefore not comparable to the current situation with sexual orientation, that at one time a somewhat loosely held notion by even top level Church officials – though never canonized, was that ones race and circumstances inherited by birth in mortality was directly related to some level of righteousness in the pre-existence. In other words, though we say race is not chosen, as though non-causcasion skin is still something to be abhorred – just involuntary therefore non-punishable, at one time it was percieved as the expression of choices (though said choices are not even known in mortality) made in an unconcievable way in an unknown time. Now we have been enlightened enough to know that such notions are just silly, and therefore we reject superstition and folklore. I can concieve of a near future, just as BrJones has speculated, where we will be even yet further enlightened to know that sexual orientation is an innate part of our biological make-up, which will then be interpreted to represent an intrical part of our pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal identity, and that our current beliefs just represent the best thinking that 21st century thinking could surmise to justify the “marriage ban”, which serves a mysterious but temporary purpose of the Lord, where in all due time the ban will be lifted after the purposes of God have been fullfilled (yet, still a mystery), and all worthy couples will be permitted to enter the temple and participate in the ordinances of the house of The Lord without respect to sexual identity.

  23. May 26, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I agree, Cowboy. I’m not sure whether I can conceive it being in the “near future,” but I tend to think we’ve only scratched the surface on this extremely complex issue.

  24. Cowboy
    May 26, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    By near, I meant within the fifty year allotment provided by BrJones.

  25. Cicero
    May 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    “the very pinnacle of love; namely romantic love.”

    Ehh….?

    That’s a rather shocking demonstration of the degeneracy of our generation. It used to be accepted that romantic love, or Eros, was a lesser love. And that the greatest love was Agape, or selfless love, also known as charity, the pure love of Christ, ect.

    Romantic love is connected to sexual attraction. This is why demonstrations of romantic love are acceptable between a mix couple (if restrained), and not wise between a same sex couple. Not because it is a sin, but because it encourages feelings that can lead to sin. Sexual attraction towards a person of the same sex is a temptation to sin, and wisdom suggests that we should avoid actions that though innocent in themselves might increase that temptation. (Which is a reason such acts between people married to others is not tolerated).

    Interestingly, many of these physical signs of affection are not limited to romantic love. John the Beloved for example rested his head on Christ’s chest. Once signs of physical affection denoting Philos (brotherly love) or even Agape were not uncommon among men. They are still common among women. It is a sad thing that such actions have been sexualized when between men- and worrisome that even between women it is being sexualized. It’s sad because it leads to the idea that intimacy can only come with romantic love- which leads to the nonsense that romantic love is the “pinnacle of love”.

    Perhaps someday, if we manage to suppress the current hedonistic celebration of homosexual romance and sexuality, physical signs of affection between men will once again not necessarily carry romantic overtones.

    Ironically, men who are attracted to men will probably still be wise to avoid such displays. Thus hetrosexual men will be the ones resting their heads on a male friends shoulder.

    I suppose that’s not very fair. But then I long ago abandoned the idea that God cares anything about fairness.

  26. dmt
    May 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    I’m not persuaded by the argument that the Church’s position on SSM parallels the issue of blacks and priesthood, and that the Church will eventually be “enlightened” and reverse course in the manner that Cowboy cynically lays out. The priesthood ban’s muddled origins, the varied, non-canonical (and often ugly) attempts to explain it, and the quiet advocates for its recission at the highest levels of the Church are all absent here.

    The Church’s primary internal argument (as opposed to the arguments it offers to defend its position on Prop 8 to an external audience) is the doctrine eternal family, which is far more central to and entrenched in LDS theology than the former explanations for institutional racism were/are. None of the priesthood ban explanations come nearly as close to clear, canonical status as the Family Proclamation does. Nor is there the slightest evidence at any significant leadership level of a Hugh B. Brown figure softly agitating for reconsideration of the Church’s policy on immutable gender and same-sex attraction.

    While the Church is still fumbling for a means of engaging its gay members at a practical level, I don’t see any source of pressure to back down from its stance from a doctrinal angle. That’s where the polygamy parallel breaks down. The Church is far removed from the 1880’s and the unrelenting pressure that it faced from the government. Has the Church readjusted its prior teachings on polygamy? Sure, but it did away with polygamy with a knife to its throat and had to adapt doctrine to new realities — and there are enough elements of polygamy loosely floating around that it’s impossible to declare the doctrine completely tossed overboard.

    My impression is that while the Church is seeking some sort of acceptable accomodation with gay members, there are lines that it will not cross or compromise. Is its current requirement that gays remain celibate unfair or a double standard? Absolutely, and it’s heart wrenching to see gay members and their families work through the issues within the framework the Church offers. It traps them in a difficult situation that I can’t begin to imagine. My heart goes out to them for their pain.*

    But the Church doesn’t seem inclined to reach out much further than that, and ultimately I’m not sure that it should be required to do so. For the reasons that brjones points out, it’d be a real problem to radically adjust clear doctrine for the sake of accomodation. There’s simply no framework for gay relationships within the LDS gospel. I’d say that women will begin receiving the priesthood (something for which a framework *does* exist, both historically and within the temple) before the Church moves much further towards a doctrinal solution that would be acceptable to most gays. How far can the Church go before compromising too much of its theology and undercutting its own authority in the process?

    *And much more importantly, for what comfort it may offer, so does the Savior’s heart.

  27. May 26, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    SilverRain
    May 26th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Gay couples aside, which I know is the point of this post but I think misses a more poignant and less over-discussed topic, yes. Love can be, and often is, a bad thing. Particularly romantic love which, as practiced by the general populace, does not often include real selflessness.

    Well said. That takes us onto an entirely different topic, but one that would make a good post.

  28. Cowboy
    May 26, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    DMT:

    I agree that the implications of accepting Same Sex Marriage is huge right now, but most of the consternation concerning the LDS position on the Priesthood ban did not surface until about the 1950’s, that’s just about the time it was becoming a social issue in the US broadly. While we have the entire history of the Priesthood ban behind us as something to analyze we *may* be in the preliminary stages of the similar movement regarding sexuality. Obviously my prediction was cynical, but partly for reasons you mention but fail to thoroughly address in your response. The family is the central focus of Church doctrine and belief, and yet in our own substantiated history that doctrine has been wrenched into an unrecognizable contrivance far removed from the fundamental model *revealed* by the Church’s founder and his high ranking and intimate successors. If we can so quickly abandon polygamy, an ideal which has very little historical support – which is why I think it hasn’t been completely thrown out, then why can’t they radically adjust it further to again appease the social demands the Church must compete with. You yourself see to indicate that polygamy only seems to survive because of it’s prevalence in Church history, to which I agree.

    The Church has recently had to soften it’s position on the Nephite heritage belonging to Native Americans because science has demonstrated the absoluteness, though I admit not the completeness, to be far from true. They pulled away from an entrenched tradition on plural marriage, only to now market a brand of marriage which was one time considered to an aberration, without so much as blinking an eye to the inconsistency with current scripture and tradition. If geneticists are able to determine a bona fide genetic link to sexual orientation and homosexual emotion, I think the Church will have no other choice than to eventually embrace them into the fold. If so, precedence says they will offer very little in the way of explanation other than it was part of Gods mysterious ways, change the policy and then do their best to act as though this issue had never existed.

  29. May 26, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    DMT:

    You are right about how difficult it will be for the LDS to adjust its theology to incorporate any principles that can bring gays and lesbians fully into your fellowship. The Community of Christ struggles mightily with issues of incorporating those with same sex orientations fully into our fellowship, and our theology only tries to worry about family life in the physical realm.

    But consider that you claim to know less about HOW family life relates to life “before” and “after” our physical existence than you claim that such family life DOES relate to the “before” and “after”. There can be hope for new revelation about the HOW that would preserve the claim of family importance and still allow full participation in that eternal family life on the basis of full gender and sexual orientation equality on earth as well as heaven.

    “If any of you lack wisdom….”

  30. May 27, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Re: romantic love

    “That’s a rather shocking demonstration of the degeneracy of our generation. It used to be accepted that romantic love, or Eros, was a lesser love. And that the greatest love was Agape, or selfless love, also known as charity, the pure love of Christ, ect.”

    Cicero, you’ve misunderstood what I meant here. I apologize if it wasn’t clear in the post, but let me clarify here. I’m talking about the kind of love you (should) have for your spouse or significant other. It’s pure, it’s selfless, you only have their best interest at heart — AND it’s romantic because it’s different from how you feel about your mother or your neighbour. So the type of love one has for a husband or wife is “degeneracy?” Aren’t we always praising that type of love in the Church?

  31. May 27, 2009 at 5:47 am

    apparently, the love you have when you do your good turn daily is superior to the love you have for your husband/wife.

    FD, your degeneracy is showing :p.

  32. dmt
    May 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Cowboy:

    I agree that we’re still in the relatively nascent stages of addressing gay concerns, but I think that the differences from the priesthood ban example preclude any assumption that this issue will chart a similar course, for the reasons cited above. For most of its life the priesthood ban was an obscure, peripheral issue. I believe David O. McKay hadn’t even heard of it until he was an apostle on a visit to the South Africa mission. The Civil Rights movement certainly forced it to move to the forefront. But I think a key distinction to make is that the priesthood ban did not touch on core issues of the gospel (unless, of course, you were black). Removing it did not require a fundamental shift of doctrine — it simply opened up the existing doctrine to a wider range of people. SSM touches a deeper nerve, one that would force a reevaluation of what eternal families mean (and by extension, eternal progression via the family unit). That’s a central facet of the gospel, and one that is much more difficult to address.

    I disagree with your assertions that 1) LDS marriage doctrine has become completely unrecognizable from the pre-Manifesto era and 2) the Church can issue a similar about face on SSM in response to societal pressure.

    First, LDS doctrine remains very much open to the possibility of polygamy. We just might have to wait longer to institute it. In view of polygamy’s apparent open-endedness, I’m not sure that the Church’s doctrinal reversal in 1890 is quite as dramatic as it appears.

    Second, the societal demand that the Church to change its stance on SSM is nowhere near the levels brought to bear on it for polygamy. The Church went kicking and screaming into monogamy. The language of OD 1 strongly suggests that the Church could choose either 1) drop polygamous marriages or 2) get completely shut down, which does no one any good. I can’t imagine anything similar occuring in today’s legal system and absent any legal pressure, the Church has very little incentive to give in to societal demands. It didn’t on the priesthood issue – by 1978, much of the societal pressue was gone as people gave up on budging Mormons to change their stance.

    I think that the Church is already making moves to agree with scientific understanding of homosexuality based on genetics – but I disagree that it will matter. Genetic predisposition will be seen as a cross to bear in mortality, but the Church can still maintain its position on the eternal gender of the soul.

    FireTag:

    I agree that the HOW is important, and I don’t preclude the possibility of receiving further light and knowledge on the nature of eternal families. I simply think that it’s highly unlikely to expect it. I can see the Church eventually moving towards some sort of equality solution by allowing gay couples on a temporal level, but never on an eternal one.

  33. Cowboy
    May 27, 2009 at 8:10 am

    When was the last time you read in any modern Church literature, or heard in a talk from any general authority, during the last ten, twenty years any language that addresses polygamy as a continued belief or Eternal principle. The only comments I am aware of are PR posturing. In other words it is only addressed when the issue has been pressed by reporters, in which case the response has been, “oh, we don’t do that anymore”. I am not aware of any literature associated with the family oriented marketing that emphasizes the fact that not only can families be together forever, but they will continue in the accumlation of offspring and spousal relationships. Instead they push the palatable notion that the nuclear family of the 1950’s is the ideal, without any mention of what the doctrine is, or rather they present monogamy as the doctrine, and leave us each to our own private interpretation based on the mass of data and mixed signals available. Their silence on the matter including the defensive PR stance suggest to me that the Church is not interested in maintaining this feature, but they just can’t bear the cost of cutting it off altogether.

  34. May 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    #14, #16—Because such things aren’t 100% sexless, even if they are in line with the law of chastity. Depending on circumstances, it may not even be 100% chaste. As any bishop knows full well, the line is easily crossed. Why take chances? I know that counsel suggests it better to avoid any behavior that encourages sexual reactions before marriage. If that is kissing or hand holding, than that applies on a case-by-case basis. (Search for “sexual feelings” in lds.org, and you’ll get a taste.) That is a rule for heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. I think “romantic” carries with it the notion of “sex”. I can hold the hand of and kiss my daughter without sexual feelings, but if I cannot feel the same towards a person I’m not married to and have no intention of marrying, I really ought to avoid it. Even if I intend to marry that person one day, it should be strictly limited.

    #18 Ray—how does one interpret the “same law”? Does it mean that homosexuals should be able to cohabit with members of the same sex, or opposite sex? Because I know that BYU has very stringent views on nonfamily opposite-sex people cohabiting. I also know that, as a missionary, we were not allowed to baptize opposite-gender cohabitants, even if they were in separate rooms and bathrooms and had never breached the law of chastity with each other.

  35. May 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Re 34:

    so do you think that the law of chastity as it is currently observed needs to be more strictly monitored. For example, you say, “such things aren’t 100% sexless,” yet any heterosexual couple can do all of those things without anyone batting an eye. You say, “it may not even be 100% chaste,” yet for heterosexual couples, no problem. There are just as many chances there too, but no one cares. Even on a case-by-case basis. So, do you think that all couples should be barred from hand-holding/dating/chaste-kissing just to be on the “safe side” because you can’t divorce romantic from sex? Or do you actually think that all the heterosexual couples doing these activities have full intention of marrying?

  36. Nick Literski
    May 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    #32:
    The claim that “gender” (really meaning biological sex in the proclamation) is eternal has nothing to do with sexual orientation. As a gay man, I don’t for a moment think I’m female, nor would I ever want to be female. I am a man, who happens to be sexually and romantically attracted to men. That’s all there is to it, and I happen to like it that way.

    As you’ve suggested, I suspect we will see the LDS church go through a period where married, monogamously-intimate same-sex couples can be in full fellowship, but are not allowed to be sealed to one another “until the lord sees fit to reveal further.”.

  37. May 27, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    re 36:

    The problem is that as you hint, the LDS definition of gender is confused. I mean, people already think that gender = biological sex, and so from there it’s easy enough for people to think that gender = sex = orientation

  38. May 28, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Gender is a totally different matter. I did a post about that a while back.

  39. May 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    “without anyone batting an eye” But I showed how general church counsel DOES “bat an eye” at similar heterosexual behavior. (If you did the search I suggested.) The entire point of the laws of God is that they are self-monitoring and that their consequences are natural. It is a large jump from discussing how a law of God ought to be followed and how it should be enforced by man. Hence why the question regarding chastity is simply “do you live it?” It is generally left up to the individual to determine what that means in accordance with gospel teachings.

  40. May 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    As a technical member, but an inactive and closely-bordering-on-never-returning one, I believe that I am still welcome to comment here regardless. If not, I apologize. I recognize and respect that Mormons view their religion as true and sacred so if I offend, please know that I do not mean to. I am just very curious about Mormons and their views. And in case anyone ends up wondering, I am an agnostic.

    My questions go beyond most of what is said here, albeit very interesting for me to see how Mormons really view gays.

    My question is: WHY is gay sexual activity sinful/wrong/inappropriate? I know that the general LDS answer is that “only marriage between a man and a woman is sanctioned of God.” But, as someone who does not believe that statement and who is not threatened in any way by gays OR their sexual behaviors, it only seems to be an outright aversion and even disgust of gays and their “lifestyle”. Personally, I feel that private institutions, Such as the LDS church and others, should be allowed to include and dis-include whom they so choose (and I especially feel for those who are gay and in the church but don’t know how to deal with all that goes along with that). But what bothers me is that the Church put a lot of emphasis on Prop 8 in Church meetings (the last time I attended it was talked about from the pulpit in each of my three classes – I live in CA) when not only is there is a separation of Church and State in our country but I’ve also read that the Church claims to be politically neutral. Why does the church feel that it is OK to deny someone the right to marry for LOVE, OUTSIDE of the church? No temple marriages for gays? Fine. But this is a civil union so these people can have the same rights as other married couples. Isn’t this similar to when interracial marriage was illegal? Yes, my hope is that gays will not be 2nd class citizens anywhere, but I know that that is wishful thinking for now. Basically what I feel is that most churches SAY that it’s about the definition of marriage, but really it is because they don’t like the gay lifestyle and “agenda” – whatever that would be.

  41. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I agree completely, Sundance Kid. I think the Church would say that this issue is so important they have decided to get actively involved because it is a moral issue at its core and that this is a battle for morality that, if the church loses, will lead to more and more losses and the loss of god in america and eventual death and destruction, etc., etc.

    But that is just my opinion on why the church is involved.

    I think that gays should be allowed to be married. What is the harm?

  42. May 28, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Dexter: Then can you answer me why the Church feels that it is a “moral issue”? That’s the crux of what I don’t understand. Why would allowing gays to marry ultimately lead to the loss of God in America? Is God so feeble an entity that if gays were to marry He’d abandon His children? Not the God I would follow. That’s why I feel that this isn’t a “moral” issue – it’s about not liking gays and being uncomfortable about what they do in the privacy of their lives. Aren’t we all created in the image of God? The Church wouldn’t abandon or marginalize a person with a physical or mental disability – which is supposedly one of the unfortunate side effects of mortality. The answer to that being that being gay is a choice? Well, ask any gay person who suffers persecution and discrimination if they are choosing for all that to happen to them, and that if they could they’d just eschew being gay.

    I just don’t get it.

  43. Dexter
    May 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I dont agree with it, either. But the church definitely views (whether they admit it or not) sex outside of marriage between homosexuals as worse than sex outside of marriage between heterosexuals. The word “unnatural” is often used to make it sound so much worse. But the fact is, homosexuality is natural. People are born with it, or develop it at a very early age through no choice of their own. Some animals are homosexual. It is natural. I think many members feel that it is contagious or something. Many used to feel that way. They also point to scriptures saying homosexuality is terrible and Sodom and Gomorrah and that homosexuality caused the fall of Rome, etc., etc.

  44. May 29, 2009 at 2:34 am

    #40 Sundance Kid: “I’ve also read that the Church claims to be politically neutral.”

    One of the greatest misconceptions is that the LDS Church is politically neutral. It’s NOT! It’s PARTISAN neutral. To say that we are politically neutral is extremely misleading, and yet we only have ourselves to blame for it because I hear Mormons saying all the time that the Church is politically neutral. There is a subtle, yet huge, difference between political and partisan neutrality. So that is how the Church is able to get so involved in Prop 8 without technically violating it’s own rules of being “neutral.”

    You can find more on LDS Newsroom.

  45. May 30, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Thank you, TheFaithfulDissident. I had heard both and was indeed a bit confused.

  46. Ray
    May 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Sundance Kid, the Church’s current view on homosexuality is that it is natural but that homosexual activity outside of marriage is sinful, just as heterosexual activity is natural but wrong outside of marriage.

    There is a very good discussion about this generally in the thread on the CA Supreme Court decision, and the actual Church statement is linked there in one of Nick’s comments. I would suggest reading that thread to get a good overview.

  47. jon miranda
    June 7, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Ray:
    If SSA will not exist after this life as the First Presidency says in God Loveth his Children, then that suggests that homosexuality is not natural.

  48. Ray
    June 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    jon, that depends totally on how you define “natural” – especially if you are trying to argue that anything that is natural is good – that something that is “not natural” is “not good”. That kind of definition is hard to reconcile with Mormonism, imo. (“natural man” and “enemy to God” and such)

    Again, the Church’s current position is that homosexuality is biologically natural for many people – but that such activity is wrong regardless, just as many other things are natural but wrong. Other arguments might have more current traction, but “it’s unnatural” just doesn’t fit the Church’s own statements now.

  49. Brjones
    June 7, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    #47 – I agree with this assessment of the church’s current position on homosexuality. I’m curious for those of you who are believers: regardless of whether or not same sex attraction is naturally occurring, it has long been held within the church (as with many other religions) to be an “abomination” in god’s eyes, and if I recall correctly the scriptures state as much. This goes to the point that Dexter made earlier, which is, the church, or at least mormon culture, views unmarried homosexual sex as much worse than unmarried heterosexual sex, regardless of whether the attraction in each situation is equally natural. As an example, I know of many people who have been involved in sexual activity to some degree or another outside of marriage. In many instances those people were given minimal punishment and little to no subsequent ecclesiastical monitoring. I have a hard time believing that if someone confessed to their bishop that they had been involved in sexual activity with someone of the same sex that they would receive anything similar to that. That’s not a criticism of the church, as I have always believed that each bishop, SP, etc., should have the discretion to deal with the particulars of the situation presented to him. My point is just that although the church has definitely made strides in terms of what CAUSES homosexuality, I don’t know that there has been much movement among the church or its members in terms of judging how bad homosexual activity is when compared to heterosexual activity. It seems it is still considered much worse.

  50. Ray
    June 7, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I agree, brjones, that it is considered worse by most people who don’t approve (inside and outside the Church) – unfortunately, I believe, because homosexual activity is what “they do”, while heterosexual activity is what “we do”. Imo, the degree of sin involved is directly proportional to the covenants in place for each person – meaning extra-marital sexual activity of almost any kind is worse than pre-marital sexual activity of almost every kind. That’s not the way it’s seen by a lot of people, however.

  51. onika
    July 28, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    You asked if it’s wrong to show romantic love for someone as long as it doesn’t lead to sex.

    I don’t think you describe romantic love accurately. If there were no sexual feeling it would be platonic love and the affection expressed would be no different than you would show any of your friends and family. Romantic love (worshipful admiration) is intended to lead to sex, which is the highest form of affection and worship because that person is God to you.

    This question should answer your question: If it’s so innocent, is it wrong or immoral for a married person to romantically love someone other than his/her spouse as long as they don’t engage in sex?

  52. Pumpkin
    October 29, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    My response to Sundance Kid:

    There is much more to the reasons of why homosexuality is wrong in the eyes of the church and its members. Everything that is done in the church is done for families. The belief in eternal families and procreation. The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth which has never been rescinded. That cannot be done in the unit of a same-sex couple. They are capable of raising children, but they cannot have children together. And no I am not saying that the church endorses same-sex couples to adopt children. So therefore even if you do not believe in God’s sanctions, understanding the church’s doctrine on families and procreation is important. Secondly, it is the understanding that children need both a mother and a father and both needs of the children are fulfilled by having both a mother and father. If you understand the church’s position on families it may be easier to understand their position. Which also answers why the church would put a lot of emphasis on Prop 8 even in meetings. It is considered an attack on the plan and an attack on families. Children have the right to be raised by mother and father. Which is why the church stated that they have no problem with same-sex couples having “unions” and rights, but not to define it as marriage which is limited to man and woman under God- whether you believe that or not. That is the position of the church. Furthermore the separation of Church and State is commonly misunderstood and misinterpreted. The separation of Church and State is so that the State does not control the church. The founding fathers came from nations where government was always mixing in and telling the church’s what they could or could not do and also claiming one church as THEE church. It does not mean that religion has no place in government or that religious people have no place voting on measures that they feel are immoral or wrong because of their religious standing. A church has every right to discuss political and state matters in its congregation. The state however, has no right to tell a religion what it can and cannot do. And by your own words you feel that any group should have the right to include or not include who they wish. As for the church caring about same-sex marriages outside of its religion is also the concern for religious freedoms being in jeopardy. If SSM became legal than any religion who did not teach that doctrine and did not include that in it, could be in violation of someone’s “legal” rights and therefore allowing the state to step in and FORCE a religion to change its doctrine.

    The church will never change its doctrine on this either. The arguments about blacks and the priesthood don’t work in this debate. The priesthood as given in the Old Testament was only originally given to the tribe of Levi and was “denied” to everyone else. God being the one who chooses who and when a people are given this power decided the same for blacks as he did for the other tribes of Israel.

    And whoever said that the church backed off about the Nephites being Native Americans. Where would you be getting that from? Because science says that their DNA isn’t Jewish?? If that is the case that would be because they aren’t from the tribe of Judah, but that of Manasseh.

    My question is: WHY is gay sexual activity sinful/wrong/inappropriate? I know that the general LDS answer is that “only marriage between a man and a woman is sanctioned of God.” But, as someone who does not believe that statement and who is not threatened in any way by gays OR their sexual behaviors, it only seems to be an outright aversion and even disgust of gays and their “lifestyle”. Personally, I feel that private institutions, Such as the LDS church and others, should be allowed to include and dis-include whom they so choose (and I especially feel for those who are gay and in the church but don’t know how to deal with all that goes along with that). But what bothers me is that the Church put a lot of emphasis on Prop 8 in Church meetings (the last time I attended it was talked about from the pulpit in each of my three classes – I live in CA) when not only is there is a separation of Church and State in our country but I’ve also read that the Church claims to be politically neutral. Why does the church feel that it is OK to deny someone the right to marry for LOVE, OUTSIDE of the church? No temple marriages for gays? Fine. But this is a civil union so these people can have the same rights as other married couples. Isn’t this similar to when interracial marriage was illegal? Yes, my hope is that gays will not be 2nd class citizens anywhere, but I know that that is wishful thinking for now. Basically what I feel is that most churches SAY that it’s about the definition of marriage, but really it is because they don’t like the gay lifestyle and “agenda” – whatever that would be.

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