Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Gay Rights Paradox

I was asked to author a guest post on the Mormon Matters blog.

Those of you who are interested in reading it may find it here.

16 comments:

Christopher Bigelow said...

I will be interested to learn, one day, who is deceived: the Church or johngw.

Here’s a question about gay marriage: Say gay marriage is accepted by society (federal law trumps all the states, which is what I think will eventually happen). Say you have a 14-year-old Mormon boy who feels a mixture of attractions to both males and females, at different times. Or maybe he feels more attracted to other boys, overall, but also feels at least SOME attraction for females. (Kinsey taught that, for many, sexual orientation is fluid and can be quite different at 40 than it was at 20, depending on a person’s influences, circumstances, behavior, etc.)

If society says that a gay marriage is equally valid to a hetero one, what’s to stop such a boy from choosing to go the gay route, when he also could have chosen the hetero route? There may even be other subconscious reasons affecting his decision to go with the gay thing: not wanting to rear children, not wanting a woman to control him or boss him around, not wanting a traditional Mormon suburban family lifestyle, etc.

In other words, equalizing gay marriage will really confuse forthcoming generations, in my opinion. It won’t hurt existing marriages, but it will decimate future marriages.

I do acknowledge it’s possible that some people are truly 100% gay and really aren’t realistically accountable for their sexual choices; God is the judge of that, and if he can look upon the sin of sodomy with some allowance in those cases, so be it. But I don’t think the majority of people fall into that category. I think the majority of people who end up as sexually active gays did not resist it enough at key formative points, perhaps even at the level of fantasy/masturbation as young boys. After all, the more one entertains a certain temptation, the more it comes to define one’s identity.

J G-W said...

Welcome, Christopher!

I'm not sure why you left your comment here, rather than on the Mormon Matters blog, but that's OK!

I suppose you've summarized the crux of the anti-gay-marriage argument... The supposition that if gay marriage were legal, it would be so attractive to the majority of men -- who can't stand being "bossed around by women," as you say -- that marriage as we know it would come to an end over night.

I'm not sure that supposition is much supported by the results of legalizing gay marriage in the countries where it is now legal (which includes South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Canada). The pattern we see in places where gay marriage is legalized is that there's a rush to marry among the thousands of committed same-sex couples who had already been married in all but name for years. After that, relatively small numbers of gay and lesbian individuals continuing to get married. I'm not sure we're seeing any decline whatsoever in the percentage of the population marrying heterosexually.

But if you're aware of studies or statistics showing that heterosexual marriage is being "decimated" by this, I'd be interested in seeing them...

MoHoHawaii said...

John, I just wanted to leave a more "private" comment here thanking you for writing that article. I really liked it, and I like the way you are responding to the questions and comments that are following.

I know your current participation in the Church is not for the purpose of changing others, but over time it will have this effect.

J G-W said...

Mohohawaii - Thanks, as always. Yes, I'd rather have you comment here at "home," where I'm used to seeing you!

Anonymous said...

John, you are being fooled by Satan. Nothing that you say or do can alter where one will end up if one continues to follow this path. We are not born gay. I know that you have had dreams about what you are doing. Deep down, you know there is nothing good about this. Humans have no power to alter what is sin and what is not. I wish someone had stopped me before I went into my first gay bathhouse or my first gay encounter. This is not good. Satan pushes a young man into that bathhouse. Christ puts his hand on your shoulder to stop you from going in.

Andrew S said...

Chris, I just saw this part, and it didn't really make a lot of sense to me:

If society says that a gay marriage is equally valid to a hetero one, what’s to stop such a boy from choosing to go the gay route, when he also could have chosen the hetero route? There may even be other subconscious reasons affecting his decision to go with the gay thing: not wanting to rear children, not wanting a woman to control him or boss him around, not wanting a traditional Mormon suburban family lifestyle, etc.

In other words, equalizing gay marriage will really confuse forthcoming generations, in my opinion. It won’t hurt existing marriages, but it will decimate future marriages.


If we have an individual in such this case (bisexual, doesn't want children, etc., doesn't want traditional Mormon suburban family), then why should this individual be pressured to do something he doesn't want to do. If he is pressured into a marriage he doesn't want and children he doesn't want (hey, that's the scenario you set up), then I can't believe there would be benefit for any of the people he would be dragging along with him (wife and children) to force him to do what he doesn't want to do.

Equalizing gay marriage will not confuse forthcoming generations, then, and it will not decimate future marriage. After all, the legalization of gay marriage isn't what created the situation you have described (e.g., "not wanting to rear children, not wanting a woman to control him, not wanting a traditional Mormon suburban family lifestyle.") On the other hand, the legalization and equalization of gay marriage would allow such a person to truly have joy in his life rather than living a sham he didn't want.

THEN, instead of people who don't want to getting married to women they didn't want to marry, INSTEAD the people who will marry and rear children with their wives will be the ones who wanted children, who wanted families, who wanted wives. This strengthens marriage and family all around, not weakens it.

Unless, Chris, you want to suggest that your decision to marry, your decision to have a family, and so forth was not your decision from your *desire* but instead something you did as your *duty*. If you want to admit this -- to me, your wife, your children, the world -- then fine, but I think it would be a sad state of affairs.

re John:

I already commented on your post at MM...I still am very puzzled. It does seem to me *not* to be a paradox. Rather, one side is correct and one side is incorrect. So, I guess I am interested, as Chris is, to see who is deceived: the church or johngw. I'm wondering why you are still so involved with the church, then...does spiritual fulfillment require the church? Does Mormonism require the church?

J G-W said...

Anonymous - I've never been to a bathhouse, though I have been the first to admit (on this blog and elsewhere) that I have done things I'm not proud of.

Of course promiscuity harms us. Commitment, love, and intimacy within the framework of commitment, on the other hand, strengthens us. Love is a good thing.

I'm sorry to disagree with you, but of course people are born gay. I don't know how else to explain the experience of people -- like myself -- who never remember having anything but same-sex attraction; who wrestled and struggled and prayed their whole lives for change, but never changed.

God doesn't work through fear or coercion. In my experience, living one's life motivated by fear of hell leads to nothing but misery and tragedy.

I have tried, and continue to try, to live my life seeking out the positive. Turning to God, listening to the Spirit, enhancing love, respect, kindness, compassion, justice... That's what will bring us back home...

Anonymous said...

John
If you continue on this path, when you die it will not be a happy occasion. Search the scriptures and your heart. God said he would make it easy to see and feel the signs of what is right and what is wrong. When people do what they know is right, they will stop doing things they shouldn't and they will stop associating with people that they shouldn't. Be very careful that you do not die in this condition.
You know what you should do.
I realize that people are going to do what they are going to do but peace to you.

Andrew S said...

It's really like Anonymous just isn't listening...or is in denial of what J G-W has said.

J G-W said...

Andrew S - I checked my dictionary, and the definition it offers of "paradox" is:

"a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory"

That sounds like a good description of a gay man whose adherence to the whispering of the Spirit has led him both to affirm the goodness of his relationship with his husband and a desire to belong to a Church that is currently doing everything it can to undermine that relationship in the political sphere.

I just posted a comment on Mormon Matters that explains, from my viewpoint at least, why I feel it is important to remain committed to the Church.

Stephen said...

Christopher, I'm not really sure that either needs to be confused or wrong or deceived.

Andrew S said...

re John:

But the thing is you don't seem to be presenting such a situation. Because you seem to note several possibilities, the most notable of which is "the leaders of the church are capable of being mistaken." (comment 7). It is no paradox to stay with a church if you acknowledge the possibility that on this one issue, they are mistaken or that they are not ready (or the church on the whole) is not ready to receive further light.

Also, in comment 7 you say,

The paradox I have to stand in is similar in some ways to the situation of blacks who joined and remained loyal to the Church between 1857 (when Brigham Young instituted the ordination ban) and 1978 (when Spencer Kimball uninstituted it). You do the best you can, you have faith, and you stay close to your Father in Heaven, because sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps you going.

But this also isn't a paradox. For example, we could dispute the soundness of saying 'staying close to your Father in Heaven' requires being loyal to the church. Or we could show somehow that this action is logically acceptable and not self-contradictory (for example, if you allow that the inspired leaders can lag on this one issue...then there is no contradiction. Both people aren't right. One is "right" and the other is "wrong.")

So, I still dunno. Sorry if I should be posting this to MM instead of here.

J G-W said...

Andrew - I see your point... And no problem, we can talk here or at MM.

I was asked about ways to resolve the paradox, and I offered a couple of suggestions.

However, realistically, I have no way of resolving the paradox. I can't prove that I'm right. Yet, I know that the only way for me to go forward is to remain simultaneously loyal to my husband and loyal to the Church.

Someday the paradox will be resolved, one way or another. But we're still in a space and time where it isn't/can't be. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say... I don't want to just talk in circles here...

Andrew S said...

I don't think you have to *prove* you're right.

The paradox is in *beliefs*, not in reality and actions. I see no paradox, for example, if you are simultaneously loyal to the church and your husband, if you believe that the church leaders may be incorrect (or rather, not ready for further inspiration -- it seems a lot of this is a timing issue) on this issue.

I would think it would be paradoxical to believe that both the church leaders are correct and you are correct -- when you come to contradictory conclusions.

I hope you're seeing what I'm saying? It's one thing to say that the church leaders cannot change things at this time because the setting isn't ready (people aren't willing to accept this change at this time). But this still comes with a hope that perhaps in the future (or maybe never), people will be ready soon.

On the other hand, this isn't what the church leaders are saying, at least, not on this issue. Their tone doesn't seem to be, "I wish I had this inspiration, because I would love to have gay marriage be ordained, but I can't. I don't have the sign."

J G-W said...

Andrew - You are right, someone has to be right. But there's no individual salvation. I can't just go off and do my thing.

That's where faith comes in.

Anonymous said...

God doesn't work through fear or coercion. In my experience, living one's life motivated by fear of hell leads to nothing but misery and tragedy.

That's right. But there are consequences for sin. We are promised that we will not be given moe than we can bear but it is possible to stray into forbidden paths that can bring tragic and horrific earthly and eternal consequences.