A MESSAGE TO ALL HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE AND A LETTER TO MY MOTHER

A MESSAGE TO ALL HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE

Another 17 year old boy named Jack Denton Reese committed suicide on April 22 in Mountain Green, Utah after being bullied for being feminine and/or gay, the day before his boyfriend Alex Smith spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced.  The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film, “Bullied.” Alex did not even know that his boyfriend had already killed himself the day before the panel convened. “You’ll always be remembered,” wrote a close friend on the mortuary’s guest book. “I know you’re looking down on us all right now, telling us all to be ourselves no matter what people say or how harshly they judge. I know it because that’s all you wanted. I love you, Jack. Love forever in our hearts. You’re amazing just the way you are.” And “I remember Jack when he was in our ward and when he would pass the sacrament,” reads another entry. “What a handsome and dedicated young man!” Jack attended Morgan and Weber High schools. On April 27, Weber High students attended class in their Sunday best in Jack’s honor.

Although I am not personally so affected by personal attacks on me (at least I do not let it show), my heart bleeds and my soul aches with severe pain and extreme anguish when I read these stories; and the tears come gushing out.  Jack and his boyfriend Alex are so cute, cuddly and adorable and innocent looking, that it hurts me all the more and makes the intense pain unforgettable.  It almost makes me want to go out and kill those dam f$&%ing bastards who did the bullying (and I do not care if you pardon my French or Not). I am simply baffled and hurt, and cannot believe that this innocent boy is no longer with us and that his gorgeous and awesome presence will no longer be around for us to see him grow up to be a man.  I don’t just cry, but I bawl every time that I look at his beautiful and flawless face.  How can anyone in this cruel world, possibly want to hurt or tease, or ridicule or in any fashion bully this most wonderful and adorable boy.

It is my greatest hope that those who provoked this beautiful child to kill himself and cause so much pain to his equally gorgeous boyfriend, that they suffer the pains of hell and degradation that only a vengeful God in all his wrath and fury can unleash to their miserable souls.  May they rot in hell and in endless and eternal torment with gnashing of teeth and the pains of eternal damnation and May a Just God grind their souls into the oblivion of “outer darkness.”  God the Father says that I must forgive them, but He, God, does not have to forgive them and it is my wish that he not forgive them as he says he does not have too.  Oh how exquisite and endless will be their pain and no man will know the eternal torment of these dammed souls, only those assigned to the awful pit of hell and the internal endless lake of fire and the smoke that ascends up forever and ever, only they will know the eternal anguish of that dark and horrible place.  Give them all you got Lord God and do not hold back one iota of your eternal wrath, even the endless wrath of almighty God the Father who is quick and powerful and slow to hear the cries of the wicked.  I personally never want to see them again or hear their hatred and prejudice and bigotry and cruel remarks again.

I may have to forgive such people but I do not have to forget and I do not have to wish for God to forgive them either and I certainly do not, hell no!  I may even be commanded to love such individuals but I do not and will not love, condone, or in any way accept their evil actions and intentions for which they will suffer for all of eternity.  God did not say that I could not hate and loathe their damnable behavior for which he God will never forgive or give pardon to.  Christians say “Love the sinner but hate the sin” and that is exactly what I am doing here and I am no hypocrite either. (Thanks for letting me vent).

MY LAMENTATION:

My, my, my how I cry, cry, cry and say why, why, why and want to die, die, die and I hope you sigh, sigh, sigh when you nod good bye, bye, bye to the kid who die, die, die died.

IT’S PRETTY “LAME” ALRIGHT, ISN’T IT?

I will never forget the story of Jack Reese and his boyfriend Alex Smith.  Just another Gay Mormon boy child whose candle went out to soon like a candle in the wind, even before we got to know the beautiful baby or even say good bye!

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SAY TO WHOEVER MAY BE INTERESTED:

My comprehension of my own life is that I am a truly wise person; I know this because I have been told by many that I have the gift of discernment and the bible says that all who have the gift of discernment especially at a young age, and I did at the ripe old age of 10 years old, are truly those individuals that will not only have wisdom but will be wise indeed AND NOT BE CONFOUNDED.

A MESSAGE AND LETTER TO MY MOTHER IF SHE WERE PRESENT

So in conjunction with that I wish to say to my Mother, if she were still alive; and she is not:

Hi Mom its Robin Lee Johnson here, your second oldest son who grew up like the oldest because I was the only boy amongst my siblings after my older brother passed away.  I have wanted to tell you that when you clapped your hands over your ears, and yelled at me at the top of your lungs: “Shut the F%$#@ up!!, and don’t ever speak to me about this again” when I tried to tell you that I was being repeatedly and forcibly molested at the ranch; you really hurt my feelings and made me think that you did not love me or even care about me at all.  Not only that, but you did not protect me, and so I was repeatedly molested again and again after that and raped also.  There was no use telling you, because you would not listen to me in the first place.  I learned to be helpless because I was being forced to do something I did not want to do, and no one was there to help me, not you Mom, or Dad either.  Only Cassie my little 5 year old sister tried to help when I asked her for her help, but failed also, in the end, because he viciously threatened and scared her away.  I was hurt badly and still bear the deep emotional wounds of your actions (and lack of appropriate actions) to this day, some 40 years later!

Because I was emotionally damaged for your lack of intervention on my part, I hold you responsible for many of my emotional problems and mental illnesses with their accompanying years of psychological as well as physical pain.

I can only imagine how you would react to the news that I am a faggot, queer or homosexual.  Would you react the same way as when I tried to tell you I was being molested by an ugly 52 year old man when I was just 10 years old?  Would you support your only surviving son, out of the 14 boys that you conceived but never got to raise?  Or would you just hate me for being gay and therefore show to me that it was wise of the Lord to not let you raise my other brothers because in all likelihood some of them would probably be homosexual also.

You were there for my older sister when she got raped at gun point and also for my two younger sisters when they were molested by that “Hell’s Angel” character; and you did all in your power to bring them to justice including court trials in which I even testified at when I was just 12 years old.  Why did you try and help them and not me?  Are you that different in your treatment of girls over boys or are you so homophobic that the very thought of me being with another male disgusted you to the point of holding back your love from me in my greatest time of need?!?

In any case, I forgive you only because I have the capacity to do so, and God has commanded me to do so.  But until I die, I will always wonder if you will accept me for who I am when you know the truth about me; that I am gay as hell!  I always figured that it would be Dad that would reject me for my sexual orientation and even want to go out and shoot me in order to put away that filthy faggot!

Daddy did not really support me being gay, but at least he did not reject me either.  He did not understand me being gay and I suspect that he does not even understand the homosexual people at all, not the slightest clue; because like the Mormon Church, he does not give it the time of day, because he has always believed that homosexuality was simply evil.

I do not blame my Dad for his attitude, because he was taught this attitude by the Mormon Church and other so-called Christian organizations and people.  My Dad was not sophisticated enough to be able to tell when someone was wrong or right, especially not in social and family issues or even matters of the heart.  He was simple, yet he agreed with those he chose to agree with and would say: “to hell with everyone else.”  My Dad even told me that he was angry with the Church leaders, who he said had no right to excommunicate me like they did and that he felt that they were wrong.  In that way I did get some support from my Dad, but I do not know if it was more or less that he usually disagreed with Church leaders anyway, or if it really was just supporting his son over the Church.  Either way, I am glad that he said what he said.  In a lot of ways my Daddy was cool and a somewhat fair man, but a poor man just the same; poor financially and spiritually.  I love my father, so don’t get me wrong, he never tried to destroy us with words like my Mother was always trying to do to us kids.

Also don’t misunderstand me Mom; and think that I do not love you, because I do; and I am not taking Dad’s side over yours either, it is just that you are the one that failed me when I was always loyal to you.  This is something that you did not understand, like the day you permanently exiled me from your life and told me to “get the F@#$%& out of my house, and I hope the door hits you in the ass on the way out too” when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school.  You were the one that got me put in a foster home because you fought with our Landlord about my sister not doing the dishes, and then you, because of your pride, threw our butts on the street, not because the landlord said we had to go, but because you were angry.  And when I tried to inquire as to when I could move back home, after you and my younger sisters had moved back home already, and you asked me first before I could open my mouth, “So when are you going to move back in son” you threw me out of the house because I answered “I don’t know…” (You did not let me finish, either!)

You did this because you thought, I was not sure that I wanted to move back home, because like usual, you did not let me finish talking, for I was trying to say: “I do not know, when do you want me to move back in, because I am ready at any time to move back in, but it is your call.”  Mom, you have always been the boss, no one in this world tells you what to do, that is why I answered the way that I did.  But you assumed that I was going to say something like: ‘I don’t know if I really want to move back in’ and thus you figured that I was not being absolutely loyal to you.

Quite ironic when you think about it though, isn’t it?  The fact that you were the one that was not loyal to me on several occasions and I was never disloyal to you ever.  So if you threw me out of the house when I was a minor child, and did not give me a chance to explain myself, all because I did not answer a question of yours exactly the way you wanted me too, then I can only imagine what wrath you would pour down on me when you discover that, God forbid, my son is queer!  I for one fear your wrath, more than the wrath of Almighty God.  I ask for your forgiveness mother, in advance, if I have offended you in anyway; for you always said that we were a reflection upon you, and that whatever we did either complimented you or were an embarrassment to you.  I can only hope that you are not embarrassed by me because I am gay!

Your Loving son Robin Lee Johnson!

A GAY PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD FAMILY

The Proclamation of Robin Lee Johnson and his own life experience.  I believe that all gay people are valid human beings who have the God given right to marry the person who they love and as long as they are monogamous and keep the law of chastity which they are doing by being married, they should have all of the 1,049 rights and privileges that comes with being married.  This is the first and foremost belief I have.  I have someone that I wish to marry right now and I do not think that I am sinning because I am not able to get married right now due to the fact that it is not legal in Oklahoma right now.  I am hopeful that a federal law is enacted to force all states & commonwealths, territories and so forth in the union of the United States of America, to allow marriage of all of its citizens.  And now for my formal long overdue Proclamation to the world and to myself and my boyfriend and his and my family that is an adaptation of the one on “The Family” from The LDS Faith or Church.

A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD

 Robin Lee Johnson formerly of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

WE, Robin Lee Johnson and George Allen Circle and all gays of the CITY OF MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA, DO solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS gay, LESBIAN or straight—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit sons or daughters of heavenly parents, and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender orientation or the sexual identity, and transgender identity is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose and all are acceptable before God and the host of heavenkkk and Jesus Christ and even the devil agrees.

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and also ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships and gay couples to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families and gay couples as well as transgender couples to be united eternally in bonds of holy matrimony and other unions and bonds as well also.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to “Adam and Steve” as well as “Mary and Martha” pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and husband or wife and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth and to adopt those children who are orphaned remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation and surrogate motherhood as well as Invetro-fertilization are to be employed only between men and men and women and women, lawfully wedded as co-husbands and co-wives.

WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed and scientifically supported and so classified. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan of joy and happiness for all of his children.

HUSBAND and husband or wife AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, be accepting of all gay relationships and sexual identities and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Gay Husbands and Lesbian Wives—pairs of mothers and pairs of fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations and for loving all gays everywhere in the world and transgender people as well.  No matter what someone’s sexual identity, orientation or attraction are, love and respect should rule the day.

THE FAMILY is ordained of God no matter what the make up of that family might be. Marriage between two men or two women is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by their fathers or their mothers who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in gay family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages in all the gay families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities including gay parades and gay pride day and celebrating the lives of gays and lesbians everywhere. By divine design, gay fathers are to preside over their families and lesbian mothers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and mutual respect and caring and kindness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life, joy and happiness and protection for their families. Gay Fathers and Gay Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, gay fathers and gay mothers are obligated to help one another as equal gay partners in their respective homosexual relationships. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support, love and kindness when needed, even from straight neighbors and friends of gays.

WE WARN that you individuals who  do violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities in these gay unions will one day, stand accountable before God and Christ. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family and gay relationships will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets as well as psychologists and scientists.

WE CALL UPON gays and lesbians and transgender people  who are responsible gay citizens and gay officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the gay and transgender family as the fundamental unit of society and gay and lesbian and bisexual & transgender communities around the world & universe.

From Gays and Homosexuals in the United States, Robin Lee Johnson and George Allen Circle and all transgender people and bisexuals and Questioning and Gay Supporters and especially Mormon Gays!

Get it straight, don’t hate, and just be full of love if you want to go to heaven above!!!!!!!

Mormon Moment Series on poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

Ahhhhh! The smell of fresh, juicy, slightly wrong Mormon blog posts. It must be Sunday!

I have been doing a series of posts related to Mormon and Post-Mormon issues that seem to be *hot* this year. With more and more people interested in Mormons, and now the change in rules for when male and female missionaries are allowed to serve, the Bloggernacle keep heating up! So, if you missed the first posts in the series (because I was a slacker and wasn’t cross posting) here is your chance to catch up. If you have been catching them on my blog, you will notice they are a little different. Thanks to Kevin who suggested that I should include the topic of the post in the title, and not jsut which post number it is. Ahhhhh, aren’t friends great for helping you see your blind spots? I am glad I have so many friends looking out for me.

I am using the same introduction for each post, both because I think that it helps keep them uniform, but also so I don’t have to try to come up with 20 ways to say the same thing!

What this series is about:

If you are Mormon, you are probably sick of hearing about the Mormon Moment. There are so many people who are suddenly interested in Mormon culture, and there are lots of Mormon bloggers that are cashing in and sharing their stories. Some of the stories end up being kind of silly, but if you are simply trying to get people to read about what is important to you, the Mormon Moment is one way to draw people in.

I do not want people to think that I don’t respect the bloggers whose posts I am sharing. All of them are good bloggers, and most of them write about Mormon topics all of the time. I have no doubt that they would have shared these thoughts and stories at some point, but as one friend told me the other day, “in the race to the election, bloggers are pushing hard to attract new readers before the Mormon Moment is gone.” So, to help you, I sifted through hundreds of posts to share the ones that I still remember. (This group of posts are nowhere near a complete view of Mormon bloggers. All of the bloggers are either Mormons, post-Mormons, or write about Mormon issues, even when it isn’t election time.)

So, what have you missed?

Mormon Moment Series – Part One – Mormon Mind Control?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Two – Ayn Rand and Quirks in Mormon Culture

Mormon Moment Series – Part Three – Modesty, Perfection and Secrets

Mormon Moment Series – Part Four –Why can’t we seem to say what we mean?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Five –Fasting For Followers!

Mormon Moment Series – Part Six – Who is a Mormon?

While it is not officially part ofmy Mormon Moment Series, please take a minutes and check out this post about Mormons, Masterbation, and the story of a teenager driven to attempt suicide, because of his wet dreams.

But for the Grace of God….

This post is about a teen suicide attempt and some of the actions that led to it. The language is not vulgar, but it is specific. Please read only if, it is emotionally safe for you. A few days ago, I sent an email out to several family members and friends about a post on the Mormon Therapistblog. It deals with a sensitive subject, so please understand that this particular linked post is not g-rated, although it will not include any explicit language either. If you are uncomfortable with discussions about sexuality, masturbation, how to teach adults and children healthy sexual attitudes, or the negative impacts of shame, I suggest you skip this post, and not click onto the linked article.”
You can go here to read the entire post, including the responses from TBMs who are supportive of Mormon Therapist’s view, who also explain how the email about this young man touched their lives, and the lives of their children. This is a bold stand from all sides, as Mormon Therapist boldly proclaims, “Masturbation is not sinful behavior in of itself nor is it a transgression.”
We live in a time of great turmoil, and out youth especially need to love and support to deal with a variety of challenges. From masturbation to Coke, homosexuality to the age of sister missionaries, the church is changing or softening on a number of important issues. I believe that we need to support those who are members of the church, who continually ask questions and look for answers. I also believe that current and former members need to find common ground, in as many areas as they can, and work together on those shared goals. Almost every post-Mormon still has family or friends who are members of the church. Almost every member of the church knows someone who has left, been kicked out, or is inactive. While there are very real hurts on all sides, I believe that coming together and being the chance we want to see in our own lives, the lives of our family members, and in the lives of all of the children we love, can make that change a reality.
Whether you are celebrating General Conference today, or are in mourning because of it, there are always ways to find a little common ground, a little place of friendship, a little piece of shared light. We do not have to change our minds about our belief or lack thereof. What we can do is put the first brick into creating a bridge, that will help span the gap between us, and the children and youth who need to know that it gets better, no matter what your sexual orientation or habits!

One last link. If you have a talent to share, leave a comment, and you could be the lucky winner of a pair of pearl stud earrings!

Do you believe in Priesthood Blessings?

In the July 2012 edition of the Ensign, there is an article by Elder Dallen H Oaks. http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/07/the-importance-of-priesthood-blessings?lang=eng&query=blessings+comfort
In the article, he talks about the different kinds of priesthood blessings. For this post, I would like to focus on Blessings of Comfort or Counsel. The article describes them this way:

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for various purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip.

Blessings given in circumstances such as I have just described are sometimes called blessings of comfort or counsel. They are usually given by fathers or husbands or other elders in the family. They can be recorded and kept in family records for the personal spiritual guidance of the persons blessed.”

Part of the article is also very specific that blessings of comfort or counsel, should be requested by the individual receiving the blessing. So, I am curious about your experiences with blessings of this type. Since many people who were raised in the church are likely to have had a number of these blessings, I am curious which of these statements fit your experience:

I have never had a blessing of the kind described above.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it helpful in making a decision.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me peace and acceptance of a situation.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me strength during a difficult trial.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised me that happened.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific but still helpful with a coming school year, decision, or endeavor in my life.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised to me that did not happen.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that the contents of the blessing brought guilt or feelings of discomfort.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific and unhelpful with whatever I was struggling with.

Every (or almost every) blessing I received was at my request.

Some of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were inspired, and I felt increased influence of the Lord as a result.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, and most of them brought an increase in faith.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, but most of them did not bring an increase in faith.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and did not have much impact on my testimony.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and negatively impacted my testimony.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and decreased my faith.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and led to me completely losing my faith.

I tried to include the variety of experiences I or friends have had, but I am sure I missed some questions. What would you have added to the list?

I realize that many people will have had a variety of experiences that fall into several categories, so I doubt that many people will have only one answer. I can say that I have both had blessings that brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and impacted my testimony in a negative way. I have also had profoundly strengthening blessings, that gave me hope in the middle of difficult trials, and the specific promises of the blessings which happened afterwards, to be an important part of my testimony as an adult.

I am curious about specific experiences that were definitive in your life. For me, during a particularly difficult period with a husband (who I am no longer married to), I requested a blessing from my step-father. The specific information about the needs of my children, and the supports that I should look for as I moved forward to protect myself, were extremely helpful. The fact that my mother took notes while the blessing was being given, and I had those notes to go back to, helped me to keep the promises of the blessing in the forefront of my mind. I have never had an actual recording of a blessing, but until I read this article, I hadn’t realized it was considered appropriate to do so. It is something that I will think about, and consider in the future when I am requesting a blessing.

So, what is your experience(s) with receiving blessings of comfort or counsel? Have they ever helped you, or did they feel like words that were just being said?

Have you ever recorded a blessing either with a recorder of with someone taking notes? If you did, were recorded blessings more helpful than blessings which you did not have recordings for?

Do you find blessings that are specific or more generalized more helpful?

If you have had a blessing that felt like it was simply a priesthood member exercising unrighteous dominion, did you request that/those blessing(s)?

While the main thrust of this post is to talk about experiences receiving blessings, but for those who have given them, at some point,is there anything that you do to prepare for giving this type of blessing, and if you have done specific preparation, do you find it makes a difference in the kind of blessings you give? Were there blessings you gave that you did not feel came from God?

Put on your own oxygen mask first

A while ago, we had a medium-sized crisis involving one of our kids. One of the first thoughts that raced across my mind was “Just when I finally thought I had my act together — now this!!” Then I immediately caught myself. Would I rather it happen while I’m drowning in three other crises? Or when I feel like I’m in a position to let everything else slide for a bit while I focus on my child’s problem?

Meanwhile, my husband jumped up to the plate as well, and we both found solace and emotional replenishment in each other’s arms while dealing with the problem.

This incident came to mind when I read the following comment:

Excuses like the kids would want me to be happy that adults use to justify their divorce (news flash your kids dont give a damn if youre happy. Kind of like how you dont give a damn what they think about the divorce. Funny how that works).

Sure, most kids (being, by definition, immature) don’t consciously care much about other people’s happiness. But having the emotional and physical energy to deal with crises (as well as with day-to-day parenting) is not something you can fake or simply conjure up by force of will. It’s the parents’ responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for their kids, and it’s the adults’ responsibility to figure out what they need to do to create that environment. It is the couple that knows whether their marriage is a source of comfort and solace or whether it is a source of additional stress, hindering the parents’ efforts to focus on their kids’ needs.

When people say that no-fault divorce is destroying the family, I take issue with that personally — because if it weren’t for no-fault divorce, I probably wouldn’t have the happy family that I have today. I remember thinking that if the point of restricting divorce is for the sake of the kids, I shouldn’t have even had the six-month waiting period for my no-fault divorce. If a childless couple has already decided to call it quits, the last thing you want to do is insist on giving them another opportunity to bring a child into this picture. Of course, even for couples with kids, if they’ve decided to split amicably, it’s not necessarily in the kids’ interest to insist on turning it into a fight.

Now, I know that the defenders of traditional marriage will say that the point is that if they create more obstacles to divorce, maybe the couple will choose not to divorce. Because that’s what a stress family needs: more obstacles. (Aside: A historian studying Victorian-era illegitimacy told me that there was a high rate of cohabitation and illegitimacy due to one or both partners being unable to obtain a divorce from an earlier union.)

Studies on kids’ “outcomes” have shown that kids whose parents stayed married do better than kids whose parents are divorced. But if these studies are used to tell people that they need to stay together “for the kids” (and they are used for that, consistently), then the fact that some of families in the “married” category actually didn’t even want to split up is a major factor that should not be glossed over. The only relevant studies are the ones that specifically compare outcomes of families where the parents wanted a divorce (but decided to stay together for the kids) to the outcomes of families where the parents divorced and cooperated in child rearing. And, to be credible, such studies should be free of major funding conflicts of interest.

Sometimes I get the impression that people who want to “defend” (heterosexual-only) marriage don’t really think very highly of marriage, even straight marriage (see this recent critique of straight marriages where the spouses are in love with each other). Personally, I think marriage is a commitment rather than a prison, and — even though it represents some amount of work — on balance it is a comfort and joy rather than a punishment.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: Mother’s Day Edition!!

Today is one of the most significant and dreaded holidays on the Mormon liturgical calendar: Mother’s Day! Wheatmeister posted a poll about the best gift for Mother’s Day (but neglected to include women’s health care as an option).

If anyone here doesn’t know what a Mormon Mothers Day service is like, read Steph’s experience or have a look at what’s on the program at the Abbottsville Fourth Ward!! (Followed up by how the Mothers Day should end.) Or see this amusing comic:

And if you think that image is not a fair characterization, read this post by a faithful, active Mormon woman. I’ll give you a teaser:

When we arrived, he asked my husband to come in and speak with him first. So I assumed that my husband was getting the calling.

To my surprise, after I was ushered into the room, the bishops counselor extended a calling to me. He explained that it was church policy to obtain the husbands permission before his wife even found out about the calling.

When my husband remarked dubiously that this is the first time hed ever encountered such a policy, the counselor said (somewhat defensively) that they had been instructed to do it that way by the stake president. According to him, its part of an ongoing effort to help the brethren step up to their responsibility to preside in their homes.

[…]

I was sitting in the pew after Sacrament Meeting, and a brother in the ward came up to our row. He said hello to me, and then promptly turned to my husband, to ask if it was all right if I substituted in his primary class next week.

Wow. Scenes from a bizarro parallel universe that I’m very glad I don’t live in myself. On the other end of the spectrum, Hawkgrrl wrote a great talk on how to honor mothers, and I like this (non-LDS-related) mother-daughter project.

After Mother’s Day, the biggest topic this week was public interpersonal disputes. Ralph Hancock has made some new ripples. Simon Southerton responds to FAIR’s response to his work. And apparently the Maxwell Institute was going to go after John Dehlin (and maybe thought better of it…? Either way, the debate is a must-read for fans of flame-roasted popcorn…). Speaking of John Dehlin, he’s looking for your stories of leaving the faith for a new podcast series.

The world is still talking about Mitt and his Mormonism. The latest story was Mitt’s past as a bully — people are debating whether it’s unfair to judge Mitt-the-adult for stuff he did as a kid in High School. Mr. Molly wrote a good analysis of the CoJCoL-dS’s recent video on political neutrality.

I also have some links about Obama’s statement in support of gay marriage, but I’ll put them in the comments of Alan’s post.

In church news, everyone’s favorite stake president takes on the Big Bang. Scott Carrier’s new book Prisoner of Zion looks interesting!! Does the church need to repent? We have a bit of a point-counterpoint on converting people to and from Mormonism. The Book of Mormon: finally in Hebrew (against the orders of the CoJCoL-dS). Daymon found family search rife with errors. And in funnies of the exmo reddit, let’s play play a game of “what’s wrong with this picture?”

In exmo community, Sulli is making and discussing a transition that is very familiar around these parts:

Many of those former bloggers would fade away. They would disappear, posting less and less until they had all but quit blogging completely. Some blogs just disappeared. There one day and deleted the next with no explanation. Others would post good-bye posts where they would explain that they had moved on and were choosing not to blog anymore. I always wished that they had kept blogging. I wanted to see what happened after someone got over everything and was able to move on. What happened after Truman walked through the door at the edge of the world with the exit sign next to it? I always felt that what happened after getting over it all might be more important than what brought them to that point of moving on in the first place…

For you, I will post a small sample of the former-Mormon blogs who have written about other subjects entirely this past week: teaching kids about cultural differences, sticking to a budget, quitting a bad job, contemplating cairns, writing, plus a few exmos discussing related topics like Humanist morals and Glenn Beck.

It’s true that people in this community tend to move on and typically go through long periods of not thinking about Mormonism at all. On the other hand, we have a constant stream of new people. I added six new sites to Outer Blogness just this week — look at this one, or meet Gabe (who also posted his story on Atheist Underworld). And not everyone fades away — there are plenty of exmo bloggers I’ve known for years. At Sunstone this Summer, I’ll finally meet (in person) runtu, who was a charter member of Outer Blogness from its beginning back in January 2006. So, Andrew, stop worrying!! :)

OK, exmos sing it with me!

Make new friends, but keep the old — one is silver and the other gold

Actually, that reminds me of a little problem I wanted to mention: Since Chino moved, he has not had time to keep the headlines, TV, and Radio features of this site updated. I keep meaning to keep them updated myself, but I’ve found that — given my IRL responsibilities — I have just about enough time to keep up with Outer Blogness (and this column in particular), but following the news, videos, and podcasts in real time so that I can keep our news feeds timely is somehow one thing too many. Note: I still have a bunch of emails to write (after I’m done with this column) regarding plans for Sunstone, and I’m really going to eventually get around to the server upgrade that I kept promising a while ago (though that may end up waiting until after Sunstone). Anyway, if there’s anyone out there who keeps up on the LDS-interest news who’d be willing to help keep the media feeds here at MSP updated, I would really, really, really appreciate it. To get you started, here’s a video about polygamy in Bountiful, and a hilarious Colbert video about America’s favorite right-wing painter!!! (Colbert is so naughty…)

Have a great Sunday, and don’t forget to call your mom!! 😉

“Not in some sissy way”

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been out of Mormonism so long that I can hardly remember what it was like. Yet it’s in there — deep in the bowels of my brain — perhaps built into the foundation of my personality.

Since my kids have gotten old enough to enjoy Legos (which I love!) — and since now I’ve been enjoying some Minecraft adventures with them — I caught this message involuntarily popping into my thoughts:

Once there was a little boy named Jamie. He had some great friends, but his greatest friend was his mom. Not in some sissy way. She was just different than the other moms. While they were busy going to her fashion shows and bridge parties, she was home with him. They would go on bike rides and hiking and have long talks. She was the best football player on the whole block! At least, that’s what the other guys said. They wished their moms were more like her.

Now, I’m not going to sing you the rest — perhaps you recall, it’s a song about a boy whose mom dies. But the above-quoted paragraph is the part that really stuck with me — it’s the part I remember from my childhood.

Sure, guys-who-just-wanna-be-guys are people too, and deserve to have their stories told. Yet, I suspect that the point to the above is rather that the writers don’t want the males who are sensitive about their masculinity to just tune out when they see that this is a sentimental story. So they throw in a gratuitous jab at “sissies”. And at women who like hanging out with other adult women. Not that there’s anything wrong with moms who play bridge or go to fashion shows, it’s just that they’re not quite as deserving of un-sissy-like love as moms who stay home to play football with their sons.

The problem is that boys on their way to becoming manly men aren’t the only kids in the audience. Try watching it from the perspective of a girl who’s being constantly told in a million subtle ways that her worth is determined by how pleasing she is to the males in her life; that the boys have exciting dreams and ambitions, whereas her interests aren’t much more than a plus that makes her potentially cute or useful.

Now if you’re a girl and you love American-style football, that’s great! Personally, I can hardly imagine anything more boring (at least anything that takes place outside the 3-hour block). So, as a kid, I kind of had difficulty relating to this filmstrip. Of course, I also find fashion and bridge uninteresting, but to me it said that what made those other moms inferior was that they had their own friends and their own interests. Yet, my own mom was a faithful, stay-at-home Mormon mom, and she absolutely had her own friends and interests. To me, that’s a big part of what made her a fantastic mom!

Now that I have my own kids — two sons, ages 8 and 10 — I’m happy when I can find common interests with them, so we can enjoy doing something fun and creative together. I’m also happy that I have my own life, my own friends, and my own hobbies and interests (some of which, perhaps, my children will someday share). And they can feel free to love me in a “sissy way” or a non-sissy way or however they like!

Did any of the rest of you have similar memories or reactions…?

The Economic Role of Mothers

A Dec 2011 APA study is making its way through the news suggesting that mothers who work part-time are happier and healthier than stay-at-homes and full-time mothers, and they make good parents. A good summary of the study can be found here. Regarding the “mommy wars” or the debate in white feminist circles between working mothers and stay-at-homes, a simple middle ground seems to be part-time work. (The reason I say “white” is because in many communities of color, not working full-time is not an option for economic reasons.)

One of the researchers of the study, Cheryl Buehler, notes that:

  • A mother’s economic role is central to family life, and it supports her well-being and her parenting,
  • Work offers mothers real important opportunities and resources to minimize social isolation and enrich their social development and well-being,
  • It gives mothers tools, ideas, and strategies when raising a child.

I think we’re seeing how, in this economic recession and growing atmosphere of inequality, a “mother’s economic role” often means “the fact that a mother needs to work so that ends can be met.”

A policy hope is that from research like the APA’s, companies will start to offer more part time and flexible work arrangements, and also think about benefit packages for part-timers, since more part-time work benefits the economy, families and individuals.

I’m not going to mince words: Mormonism’s “Proclamation on the Family” is classist. It begins with an idealistic premise that certain “roles” are meant for certain genders, when it’s obvious for many families that a certain amount of income is required to meet those roles.

“That’s so Mormon”…? Dan, no!

Recently, a reader wrote to Dan Savage with the following suggestion:

I’ve decided to start saying “that’s Mormon” instead of “that’s gay” and encouraging my friends to do the same. It’s more accurate and plus it gives shit to a group of people who have extremely backward views about homosexuality.

Dan replies:

  • A Mormon kid in high school would wind up hearing “That’s Mormon” ten thousand times a day if your proposal caught on, LDS, while a Mormon adult would rarely if ever hear the expression.
  • Mormon kids, of course, have the family support so many gay kids lack and they’re not committing suicide at greater rates.
  • And you know how Christians get off on feeling persecuted.
  • teachers and school administrators wouldn’t hesitate to confront kids who used the expression. The exact same school officials who turn a blind eye to casual-but-harmful expressions of anti-gay bigotry
  • So I will allow it.

How is this idea wrong? Let me count the ways:

#1. Are you against bullying? or are you simply against people you can relate to being bullied?

As I discussed in Is anti-bullying education possible?, it appears that a lot of bullying is a cultural phenomenon — and kids can learn not to do it. (Even if up until quite recently childhood bullying has been seen as inevitable in our culture.)

Sure, it’s easy to say to kids “Don’t bully this kid — that other kid is even more of a loser, bully him!” It’s hard to persuade kids just to leave less popular kids alone. But this is not a situation for doing what’s easy, it’s a situation for doing what’s right.

#2. “Mormon kids, of course, have the family support so many gay kids lack and they’re not committing suicide at greater rates.”

As I said in the comments of my bullying education post, I think that having supportive parents makes a huge difference. However, it doesn’t turn bullying into a minor or trivial problem for the kid that gets bullied. I don’t think suicide rates should be the only measure of the harm of bullying, but, for example, some recent gay teen suicides I’ve read about were kids who actually had supportive parents, but killed themselves anyway.

#3. “it gives shit to a group of people who have extremely backward views about homosexuality.”

I’m sure that the blame for anti-gay bullying can be be placed squarely on the leaders of various churches, including on the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS. But, as noted above, those perpetrators aren’t the ones who will suffer if kids are bullied for Mormonism. And even if the Mormon kids themselves were entirely to blame, does that call for “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”? Is that the kind of ethics we want to teach our kids?

#4. “And you know how Christians get off on feeling persecuted.”

Yep. And what do you think you get when you fight hate with more hate?

If there’s hostility between Mormons and gay people, we have nothing to gain by throwing fuel on that fire. And I can hardly think of anything more counter-productive than creating real evidence to back up the (usually ludicrus) claim that the Mormons are the victims in this struggle.

#5. “teachers and school administrators wouldn’t hesitate to confront kids who used the expression. The exact same school officials who turn a blind eye to casual-but-harmful expressions of anti-gay bigotry”

This one is the closest one to being half-reasonable. But teachers have enough to deal with. And for the past century or two in the US, various authority figures have had a less-than-stellar record of keeping kids from bullying each other for all manner of things that kids should never be bullied for.

Personally, I recall being bullied for being nerdy and unpopular and for having various social problems, but not specifically for being Mormon. But others report having been bullied for being Mormon. That shouldn’t happen.

Young people across the board — including in the most socially conservative denominations — are dramatically more likely (than previous generations) to be accepting of their LGBTQ peers. This trend didn’t come about by gay kids picking fights with kids from religious families. It came from positive visibility. If the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS are teaching hateful messages, let’s reject the hate, and encourage kids to respond with reason and friendship and understanding instead.

SAHMs: Who’s got your back?

Parents invest more time and money in their kids than ever, but the shocking lesson of twin and adoption research is that upbringing is much less important than genetics in the long run.

There are so many things wrong with Bryan Caplan’s reasoning outlined in this article. I think the first and obvious is that — even if extreme tiger/helicopter parenting is probably not a good idea — it doesn’t automatically follow that the opposite extreme is better.

But there’s another point that I’ve been trying to put my finger on ever since I read that article a couple of weeks ago. It’s that — by the same logic — staying home to raise your kids full time is a complete waste of time. And this recommendation is coming from Deseret News which is run by the same church that teaches that moms need to sacrifice their career ambitions to be at home for their kids. Thanks, Deseret News, for letting us know just how much you guys value women’s time and talents!

Since some of my very earliest blog posts I’ve been arguing that (contrary to popular myth) the feminist movement benefits SAHMs. When a woman has the option of supporting herself and her kids (if necessary), then she has more leverage in her relationship, even if she never takes that option. If a husband isn’t the one thing keeping your kids from starving, then bye-bye abusive husbands!

And then there’s the question of status and respect. Plenty of women (and even men) who have the talents and opportunity (or potential opportunity) to earn money and respect in the business and professional world choose nonetheless to stay home with their kids instead, demonstrating that homemaker is not just a role that one settles for but is a role that has value.

I recently read (via clobberblog) an interesting article giving some historical perspective on these same points. Read the whole thing, but let me just highlight a couple of quotes:

Contrary to myth, The Feminine Mystique and feminism did not represent the beginning of the decline of the stay-at-home mother, but a turning point that led to much stronger legal rights and working conditions for her.

Domestic violence rates have fallen sharply for all wives, employed or not. As late as 1980, approximately 30 percent of wives said their husbands did no housework at all. By 2000, only 16 percent of wives made that statement and almost one-third said their husbands did half of all housework, child care or both.

Most researchers agree that these changes were spurred by the entry of wives and mothers into the work force. But full-time homemakers have especially benefited from them.

From 1975 to 1998 men married to full-time homemakers increased their contributions to housework as much, proportionally, as men whose wives were employed.

Contrast this with the 1950’s, an era so often held up as an idyllic time for motherhood:

Typical of the invective against homemakers in the 1950s and 1960s was a 1957 best seller, The Crack in the Picture Window, which described suburban America as a matriarchal society, with the average husband a woman-bossed, inadequate, money-terrified neuter and the average wife a nagging slob.

Meanwhile, modern books are making it clearer and clearer that there’s no sharp dividing line between career women and stay-at-home-moms. Middle-class mothers these days (and fathers too!) typically sacrifice some career advancement for their kids and sacrifice some potential kid/family time for their careers. So, as I’ve argued in my series on women’s conflicting interests, the following is the wrong model: