Put on your own oxygen mask first

Divorce Family Marriage Parenting

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.

377 thoughts on “Put on your own oxygen mask first

  1. Seth @ 193

    [Cohabitation:] Its done because people dont want to be tied down to the choice of their lover, and want to be able to separate with minimal fuss if it doesnt work out.

    If a marriage goes sour beyond repair and you want to get away, no one wants to be stuck with the paperwork or associated costs, sure. But people don’t go into marriages or cohabitive relationships with the expectation of them souring. If they knew they’d sour, they never would’ve entered the relationship. I take that back — some people do enter such relationships, and think that marrying rather than cohabitating will somehow fix things out of a false sense of security, because of this idea that marriage is somehow better than cohabitation. Personally, my partner and I have been cohabitating for 5 years, and marriage is still not on the table. Sure, when our state legislature passed same-sex marriage earlier this year, there was some discussion, but my partner basically said: “Get married? To you?” =p

    Really, I think that when it comes down to it, the reason most religions are against cohabitation is because of the sex. In Mormonism, you have the whole “eternal marriage” theology, but that aspect is cerebral since we’re on Earth. Sex represents the carnality of the matter, and once people start having sex outside of marriages (and are happy and enjoying life), the rest of theology quickly falls apart. This is not to say that being pro-sex means you have to be anti-marriage, but there’s no reason that being pro-marriage means that all sex must occur in marriage, unless there’s a bunch of other baggage you want to maintain (like gender roles, and required family structures, etc).

  2. @199 Holly:

    It’s interesting that Seth says things like

    Ive been exposed to people like you a little too much for this kind of unhinged anger to really personally offend me.

    When the “classic perpetrator script” you describe, that he’s using, is intended to create unhinged anger.

    It’s designed to reduce people with legitimate pain and grievances to raving lunatics, by dismissing their concerns, stonewalling their arguments, and using such bizarre un-logic that it drives one mad trying to comprehend it. And when you stay lucid enough to unravel the unlogic — like Feathertail did on Seth R’s post on MSP about his mission, or like you did in the post you quoted @197, he simply ignores it and moves on.

    The reason he uses this script is because in Mormon culture, and to a lesser extent in places influenced by it like MSP, the tone argument is considered a valid reason to dismiss someone. Abuse victims (and institutional abuse victims) have triggers Seth R doesn’t have, so he can say things that set them off without coming across to nonvictims as anything other than dense.

    It’s like he crushes your foot under his chair leg at a dinner party, and everyone else sees you scream and swear all of a sudden while he just tipped his chair back for a second. Then he feigns ignorance as to why he’s always surrounded by crazy, screaming people.

    It may be going to far to suggest that he does this on purpose, but I think it’s pretty convenient how the way things are set up right now lets him dismiss and marginalize his and his church’s victims. I also think it’s an extremely terrible idea to let him comment on MSP at all, because at best he’s “contributing” apologetic non-arguments for LDS church positions and at worst he’s making it an unsafe place for survivors of LDS church-directed or -enabled ecclesiastical abuse.

    Which, you’d think the exmormon community would be more concerned with helping them recover than in giving a clueless TBM another platform from which to condemn everyone different from him.

  3. WRT the main discussion, the driver of one of the town buses once yelled at me and my significant other for fifteen minutes straight about Jesus, and Hell, and salvation, because when she told me earlier that day that we’d go to Hell if we didn’t get married I told her I didn’t care.

    I wonder if it would’ve affected her rant if she’d known that we weren’t having sex, because my significant other is asexual.

  4. Taryn @202–thanks. I’m glad someone else can see this stuff too.

    Chanson @196 Encouraging young people in their early 20?s (with little relationship experience) to marry people theyve known for perhaps a few months shows profound lack of respect for what a serious commitment marriage is.

    Jumping into marriage also disrespects the other person. It says I care more about what my parents or my ward or my God(s) think than I care about being sure this is the right choice before locking you into a commitment that will affect your entire life.

    Been thinking about this. I tried to make a similar point, but this makes it more effectively.

    The classic Mormon approach to children also seems to show a lack of regard for children and their welfare.

    Considering how many statements have been made over the pulpit that couples should not delay having children, considering the sermons that used to be delivered about the necessity of having large families because spirits need physical bodies, considering that a large family still seems to be a mark of righteousness and a small family is viewed as sinful selfishness, to the point that 25-year-olds who have been married for two years will be hounded by relatives about when they’ll finally start having kids and couples with two kids will be asked when they’re having another (as if that’s anyone’s business), it’s not surprising that Mormons still reproduce early and often.

    Utah County has one of the highest rates if not the single highest rate in the country of babies paid for with Medicaid. The irony of people whose political views condemn those who rely on “government handouts” themselves relying on government handouts to pay for the births of their children is pretty rich. It seems selfish not to wait until the parents can A) afford prenatal medical care more easily and B) provide for the child more fully.

    I know plenty of Mormons–including family members and friends–who had more children than they really wanted or could comfortably raise because they felt pressured to do so. The concern was not for the child; the concern was fitting into the world and the overall culture. Doesn’t seem too child-centric to me.

    I was a teenager when I first heard the term “babylust.” It was used to describe a woman who kept having child after child, because she liked babies but not children. One of my friends confided matter-of-factly to me that that was a real problem in his Mormon marriage. “My wife only really likes our kids when they’re babies,” he said. “Once they turn about four, she’s not really interested. Whereas I like them a lot more now that I can interact with them in more ways.”

    I have another friend who rarely sees his six children because he has to work such long hours to support them. He never wanted that many children, but his wife insisted. And now she admits that it probably would have been better not have so many, that six really is too many for them. But she was from a family of six and had said her whole life that she wanted six kids and was not going to settle for less.

    How selfish is that? How disrespectful to the basic idea of what it means to be a parent?

    So if Seth really has “such a hard time finding any societal discussion of children that isnt couched entirely in adult-centered paradigms, with adult fulfillment as the primary overriding concern,” maybe it’s because he’s spending too much time listening to Mormons talk about families, where a genuine if not universal concern is having a large family soon enough after marriage that you appear as righteous as you ought to be.

    Alan @201 But people dont go into marriages or cohabitive relationships with the expectation of them souring.

    I agree. Neither cohabitation or even just plain dating are primarily about having a built-in exit strategy–or if they do, that exit strategy is still pretty problematic. Even after things go sour, it can be really hard to admit it and to decide to do anything about it, regardless of how many official external commitments have or have not been made. After all, “breaking up is hard to do,” as more than one pop song has informed us.

    There are different kinds of commitment, and the commitment of loving and investing in some one and seeing them every day is genuine and profound, regardless of what sort of official commitment you have or haven’t made or how finances are involved. Even when you know you’ve got to break up because things just aren’t working, IT’S HARD AND PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO DO IT. Breakups have a pretty high recidivism rate–people getting back together to give it one more try.

    So the claim that cohabitation is always or even primarily entered into because it makes an exit easy errs not only on the motive but on the reality of what people experience when they do break up.

  5. I thought the linked conversation with Feathertail went just fine for me. So your example is a bit lost. As for who is purposefully winding up whom in this discussion – I think that’s a matter of debate.

    Alan, maybe the carnality angle plays well for some Mormons, but it doesn’t play well for me. I long ago decided I thought the “Boyd K. Packer” approach to the Law of Chastity was unhelpful and obscured more than it illuminated about human sexuality. For me, I view sex as something that’s simply too potent to enter into casually. It messes with people emotionally to such an extent that you simply can’t do it with someone without a huge level of existing commitment (which marriage was ideally supposed to be providing).

    Chanson, thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I have a couple responses.

    I would dispute that cohabitation is just another gradual step or rung on the ladder of commitment that people ought to take before getting married. At a certain point, it’s time to take the plunge or not and there aren’t really degrees between that plunge. I see sex as far too emotionally intrusive to be undertaken by people who are not committed to each other. With sex, there is no “try before you buy.”

    I’m also not clear on whether you view co-habitation as acceptable because it preps for marriage, or if you consider co-habitation acceptable as a destination situation in its own right.

    One thing I would ask however, is – what exactly are couples supposed to learn about each other by co-habitating that they couldn’t learn about each other through simply dating that is going to help them have a more successful marriage? I’m not asking you to provide personal examples if you don’t want to. But I don’t really see what sort of useful data the co-habitation period is actually going to provide.

    Also, as a general response, I consider it a fallacy to try and justify co-habitation by appeal to bad marriage practices. Even if there is no shortage of bad marriage practices, that still doesn’t constitute a valid argument for cohabitation.

    Your final point about people marrying too young is valid, but it’s valid for different reasons than I think you have in mind.

    The only reason that age 20 is currently too young to get married is because we, as a society, are disempowering and infantallizing our young people. We are turning our teenagers into ten year olds, and we are turning our twenty-somethings into teenagers, and our thirty-somethings into twenty-somethings (“failure to launch” anyone?). 20 year olds have always been capable of taking on full adult responsibility and marrying competently. It’s just that our society doesn’t allow them to and encourages them to prolong their adolescence into the college years.

    Which brings up another big modern social problem – but that’s probably best saved for another debate.

  6. Seth @205 But I dont really see what sort of useful data the co-habitation period is actually going to provide.

    And yet, it does appear to be useful indeed. As I already mentioned @109:

    The various statistics about cohabitation on the whole tend to show that engagement cohabitation is more likely to lead to a marriage that does not end in divorce.

    So if your real goal is minimizing divorce instead of, say, policing sex, as Alan suggests, it might be a good idea for you to start advocating cohabitation at least after engagement and before the actual ceremony.

  7. For what it’s worth, my wife and I lived together for a few years before tying the knot and we’re currently in the longest-running relationship in my immediate family. We both value our marriage as a component of how we present ourselves as parents to our kids, but we’d all (both us and our brood) find it laughable to suggest that mom and dad’s many premarital relationships/flings/disasters have much relevance to anything other than being a part of our personal journeys.

    I remember offending the first girl I ever had sex with (after my mission) by laughing during the deed. I laughed because I couldn’t believe that our rutting had somehow been built up in my mind as a stargate to celestial wonders. It’s sex, for crying out loud. The birds and the bees do it but it takes a hominid with an oversized brain to suggest it’s too dangerous to try outside the bounds of the tribal mating regulatory framework du jour. Come to think of it, the only time I ever got in trouble with sex is when it was bought. Word to the wise, if a beautiful Danish girl ever tells you she needs a place to stay, don’t kid yourself that she also likes you for your sparkling wit.

  8. chino, I do love the way you show up and just drop a nice concentrated dose of realistic common sense into the mix.

    I fear that sounds sarcastic but it’s completely sincere. that was the perfect comment at this point. thanks.

  9. Just sounded like solving the problem by trivializing something special to me.

    “It’s just sex.”

    Three words that sum up what’s screwed up about our modern society.

  10. Statistics which I noted appear to be hotly disputed.

    Hotly disputed–by you.

    anyway, even if the stats aren’t yet conclusive, if your real goal is indeed reducing divorce, you should at the very least keep an open mind about engagement cohabitation, and seriously consider the possibility that it might indeed have a strengthening, stabilizing effect, even if you can’t see it yet.

    If your real goal is indeed reducing divorce and not, say, policing sex.

  11. Holly
    Since Mind Reading is in vogue, there are lots of people (and if this thread goes on much longer, those people will be like the sands of the sea) who can see this stuff too.
    But it’s not worth the bother to play Seth’s game.
    However I’ve been highly entertained, at how you can take Seth’s game with his rules and way outplay him.
    Bravo.
    But I’m unhinged, so what do I know?

  12. @211

    “Its just sex.

    Three words that don’t actually appear in Chino’s comment, so you can lose the quotation marks, Seth.

  13. @208 Seth R

    They’re disputed for the same reason global climate change is disputed, and that you’re arguing your viewpoint at all: People having their identities invested in one side of a discussion being correct.

    It’s extremely disingenious to claim to care about statistics or facts at all, when the reason you hold and advocate your viewpoint — if you’re like most Mormons — doesn’t have anything to do with them. When any statistics or facts you discover that contradict your viewpoint are “disputed” simply because they do. Why not just jump straight to the real reason, which is that you don’t believe cohabitation is a good idea for anyone regardless of their lived experiences because an old man you revere as a prophet said so?

    Whereas on the other hand, people are choosing to cohabitate with people they love for perfectly rational reasons to them, and if they thought that it’d be better for them and their soulmates to get married they would have done so. But this isn’t an acceptable train of thought to you, so you have to impugn their motives and talk about what people would do if they “really” loved each other. Or say stuff like “I don’t really see” why they don’t do things your way, when they’re saying why they don’t do that and it’s their decision to make.

    This sort of crap goes over well with the TBM crowd, but not so much when you’re talking to the people whose motives and intelligence you’re questioning.

    You do and say stuff like that, and basically put down everyone who chooses to live their lives different from you just because they do so, and then you act all surprised when people explode in anger at you. It’s like they just came out of a church where their whole lives people with the power to hurt them or constrain their actions told them shit like that as an excuse for not caring about what they’re going through, or something! And when someone from that church does it to them again it brings back all the helpless rage and frustration they felt back then.

    I’m not saying this for your benefit, because frankly, Seth, you’re a dick. I’m saying this to explain why it’s a really bad idea to let you get within shouting distance of any exmormon community. We already know Mormons think we’re bad people, who don’t love each other and aren’t committed to each other and only do things for selfish reasons. Some of us nearly killed ourselves when we came to believe those lies about ourselves. We don’t need to hear them again, especially from someone so dense and self-centered that he doesn’t care that he and his church have that effect.

  14. @211, “It’s just sex”

    That’s what you Mormons say about same-gender relationships. “It’s just about the sex.” Or what my Institute teacher said about gay marriage: “It’s all about the money.”

    Keep lying to yourselves and telling yourselves it’s about anything other than love. You have to, because if you ever stop you’ll realize what horrible monsters you are.

    Chino’s comment was also about uncommitted sex, specifically an experience with same which he considered a bad idea in hindsight, but for goddess’ sake you had to tear down cohabiting couples and impugn their love and respect and commitment. Because no one is allowed to love except Mormons.

  15. @213–

    thanks, Suzanne. I’ve received quite a few PM, cheering me on and commiserating about… certain unfortunate traits exhibited by someone I’ve been conversing with.

    I don’t know if I agree with Audre Lorde that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I think they probably will dismantle his house. they just might not help us build another we really want to live in.

    But until we get to the dismantling stage, it can be rewarding to take the master’s tools and whack him, good and hard, on the head with them.

    it’s not difficult to out argue Seth because he is so lazy about paying attention to what he’s already written and so reliant on mindreading and feeble psychoanalysis.

    It gets old eventually, but I do think it’s worthwhile to reveal what he’s really about.

  16. Holly, I don’t really care about your own personal echo chamber any more than I imagine you care about anyone else’s.

    Oh, and Chino’s quote:

    “Its sex, for crying out loud.”

    Which is saying exactly the same thing as “it’s just sex.”

  17. Its extremely disingenious to claim to care about statistics or facts at all, when the reason you hold and advocate your viewpoint if youre like most Mormons doesnt have anything to do with them.

    Oh heavens, Taryn. You should have seen him trivialize evidence and so forth on this thread:

    http://mainstreetplaza.com/2012/06/22/two-interesting-news-items-mormons-secret-and-maxwell-institute-shake-up/

    This exchange was classic:

    Kuri @65 Well, what reason is there, other than faith in the Book of Mormon, to think that Zarahemla ever existed?

    Seth @66 Faith is all the reason you need.

    For all sorts of things.

    When it comes to the Book of Mormon, he says things like “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” (Same thread, @81.) This is one of the things I’ve tried to point out in this thread–see, for instance, @109. And he offers a dodge like this:

    Seth @110 Is change the subject a standard operating procedure you have taped to your computer monitor or something Holly? Last I checked, we werent talking about faith claims at all.

    Like I said, @198:

    Its not just that he fails to craft a coherent position. Its that he doesnt even try.

    Taryn @215 Why not just jump straight to the real reason, which is that you dont believe cohabitation is a good idea for anyone regardless of their lived experiences because an old man you revere as a prophet said so?

    It’s nice to have someone make this move on him, and ascribe to him what, the more you consider things, really does seem to be his actual motive. it’s particularly nice given that he wrote

    Seth @145 Admit it Holly, youre just trying to derail this into a discussion about why God allows suffering.

    So, admit it, Seth: Taryn’s completely right that you dont believe cohabitation is a good idea for anyone regardless of their lived experiences because an old man you revere as a prophet said so.

    Admit it.

  18. Seth @119 Holly, I dont really care about your own personal echo chamber any more than I imagine you care about anyone elses.

    but here’s the thing, Seth: I don’t go to someone else’s echo chamber and start shrieking. I demonstrate my indifference to those echo chambers by ignoring them unless they somehow impinge on my life in some way that makes them impossible to ignore.

    But here you are, spending a good chunk of your Sunday, when you could be with your wife and kids like a righteous Mormon patriarch, screaming into someone else’s echo chamber, showing just how much you DO care.

    I’m hanging out with people I like in a forum pretty much designed for people like me. You’re hanging out with people you go out of your way to demonstrate your disrespect for.

    And you’re hanging out with them, on a SUNDAY, instead of the Mormon family you claim to value so much.

    Just sayin’.

  19. @219 Seth:

    No. Flat no.

    You don’t get to accuse anyone else of living in an echo chamber. Not as a Mormon. Not when your church excommunicates people for publishing books that reveal unflattering parts of its history, and then its apologists turn around and act like “of course everyone knows about the Book of Abraham issues, it’s only weak-minded saints who don’t”.

    Not when you make “faith” into a reason to believe in archaeological claims in the absense of archaeological evidence, and then turn around and cite studies to prove the social science claims that you accept on faith.

    Not when you think only one kind of loving relationship is okay, and attack everyone else’s just because they aren’t the right kind.

    Those insults you throw out? Stop hitting yourself.

  20. Taryn, Holly claims to still be a member of record as well.

    So I guess your critique applies to her as well, correct?

  21. @224 Seth

    Way to rub it in about belonging to a church culture which forces people to remain “in the closet” about their doubts, and prevents them from voicing concerns to the people around them because they’ll be ostracized for disbelief or even heterodoxy.

    Is this your way of confirming that your presence here is just a thinly-veiled pretense for pushing “emotionally damaged” people’s buttons? Or is change the subject a standard operating procedure you have taped to your computer monitor or something, Seth?

    You’re a bully and a coward, and one of the many reasons your church isn’t true.

  22. Taryn, Holly claims to still be a member of record as well.

    So I guess your critique applies to her as well, correct?

    A few things.

    Taryn @222You dont get to accuse anyone else of living in an echo chamber.

    do I accuse anyone of living in an echo chamber?

    I don’t. You use the term, and I repeat it because you use it. But I don’t accuse anyone of living in one.

    If I don’t accuse anyone of living in an echo chamber, how can her criticism apply to me?

    And ever so conveniently, I don’t have to feel indicted by her criticism of the church because, as I explained @189 and repeated @197

    The organization of the church is separate from the members, in the same way that the US government is separate from the collective citizenship of the US.

    In the same way that you can criticize the US government without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can criticize the actions of the LDS church without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter how much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of immoral or misguided church policy is an attack on all Mormons.

    In the same way that you can critique and call attention to weaknesses and flaws in the ideology guiding the US without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can critique Mormon doctrine (which is pretty fluid anyway) without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter who much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of silly Mormon beliefs is an attack on all Mormons.

    As for this, from Taryn’s comment

    you make faith into a reason to believe in archaeological claims in the absense of archaeological evidence, and then turn around and cite studies to prove the social science claims that you accept on faith.

    In this conversation, it applies to you and you alone.

    btw–how’s the family, Seth?

  23. Taryn, my point is you really don’t know what kind of Mormon I am. I’ve done my best this entire conversation to keep my remarks about general concepts of divorce, cohabitation, and things like that. With a couple of exceptions, I think I’ve managed to do that – in spite of relentless and extreme provocation from Holly. I haven’t asked Holly how her family is doing. I haven’t threatened her career. I haven’t said her husband should divorce her and that her children would be better off without her. I haven’t said anything about you personally either (though you richly deserve it with some of the things you’ve said recently).

    I’ve tried to keep this on the issues. It’s Holly who has insisted repeatedly on making this a personal confrontation. There hasn’t been a single comment she has made in this thread that hasn’t been taunting and obviously designed to provoke an angry personal response. I suppose the two of you are hoping I’ll slip up and get myself banned here or just get tired of the barrage of insults and leave.

    I don’t think I’ll give either of you the satisfaction. Here’s to many more blog threads.

  24. @227 Seth

    As Holly established @199, your comments are alternating between indirect emotional abuse, victim-blaming, and prying and prodding for weakness on the one hand, and feigning niceness and rationality on the other. The object is not to conduct an actual discussion, which is why you change the subject whenever your bullshit’s called out. It’s to victimize others, and make sure that you seem more reasonable than your victims so that they will suffer social consequences and you won’t.

    It’s sort of like how the LDS church goes out to ban others’ families and then clutches their pearls when a few meetinghouse windows get broken the day after the vote. We’re supposed to be horrified that people are mad at you for being a civil asshole. Because aggression is totes okay so long as it’s passive-aggressive and doesn’t use swear words.

    I tried that pearl-clutching thing on a queer-friendly messageboard back in my TBM days, after the Prop 8 vote. Didn’t get me too far.

  25. @227 Seth

    Incidentally, I’m not trying to make you “slip up” so that you’ll get banned. But considering how pretty much everything else you’ve said about others’ motives has been projection so far, I think it’s really telling that you accused me of that, even though it makes zero sense.

  26. Taryn, weren’t you the one who told Andrew over at Irresistible Disgrace to “go die in a fire” just because he lets me comment over there?

    Weren’t you the one in another recent thread here on MSP condemning the moderators for allowing me here?

  27. No, *thank you*, Ms. Welker. Seth’s schtick cracks me up but it wouldn’t be possible without a volunteer from the audience willing to play along. It’s a hoot, for crying out loud.

    Back in the day, my wife used to get worried about me wasting time tilting at Mo Defense League trollsters, but as one half of a committed couple that’s been having the same sex for nearly twenty years, she came to understand that this is our fight, too.

  28. S. N. 213 reflects my thoughts as well. Earlier today as I was checking some sources for something I am writing I came across this statement by the psychologist Leon Festinger. “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your source. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” Guess who I thought about when I read that.

    The thing I notice over a number of different threads for the last couple of years is that you really can’t have a discussion with Seth. Instead, you end up discussing him–just as I am doing now. And his response is to act absolutely amazed and puzzled that anyone would say such a thing, since he has been on topic all along with convincing compelling arguments supporting his position, and it is you that has been rude, off-topic, and muddled headed.

  29. Parker, would you do any better on a blog hostile to your opinion where you are being constantly barraged with insults and not sure what to respond to first?

  30. Seth @227 Ive tried to keep this on the issues.

    Oh, absolutely. That’s why @193 was crappy psychoanalysis of me instead of a response to an answer you said you wanted @188.

    Its Holly who has insisted repeatedly on making this a personal confrontation. There hasnt been a single comment she has made in this thread that hasnt been taunting and obviously designed to provoke an angry personal response.

    Really? check out @6, @8, @10, @14, @22, @24, @34, @35, @37, @44 (that one is even directed to you), @47 (also directed to you), –and that’s just the first page! There are more on the second, third, fourth, and fifth page–too many to list!

    I havent asked Holly how her family is doing. I havent threatened her career. I havent said her husband should divorce her and that her children would be better off without her.

    No. But you suggested that you had no need or obligation to have empathy for me or for anyone you disapprove of. You said that I didn’t love my family in the way you think I should. You wrote stuff like this, @145

    Ive been on enough atheist message boards to know that 9 times out of 10, if an atheist brings this topic up, its going to derail the conversation completely and about 7 times out of 10 that was deliberate on the part of the atheist who brought it up.

    You accused me of highjacking the thread, and then refused to talk about anything else but this highjack. You know, ’cause I’m the angry atheist who wants to derail things and you’re the calm believer who has “tried to keep this on the issues.”

    You justify YOUR insults and glibness and contempt by writing

    @170 Those are problems that deserve harsh language. But harsh language is most certainly, well harsh. And its going to steamroll over a whole bunch on nuanced differences between people in the population its targeting. I dont know how you can avoid that other than just not having convictions that matter at all.

    And, as I’ve pointed out, you make all of this a personal confrontation because you make other people’s sex lives about YOU.

    I dont think Ill give either of you the satisfaction. Heres to many more blog threads.

    Gotta admire someone who’s so committed to interacting with people he thinks are “unhinged” that he sticks around just to deny them “satisfaction.” Yeah. That’s indicative of a healthy psyche.

  31. Seth @233

    Parker, would you do any better on a blog hostile to your opinion where you are being constantly barraged with insults and not sure what to respond to first?

    An honest and straight-forward suggestion: keep it on the issues.

    It would be really nice if you could “keep it on the issues” you yourself have raised. For instance, I would still like a response to this, @189

    Homosexuality is not a set of concepts divorced (heh) from real human beings. Unlike Mormonism, It is not and never was a set of verbal texts that can be read on their own, without reference to specific human behavior. Homosexuality exists as a concept because it describes actions and emotions and sensations that real human beings feel.

    Whether or not we have always had the concept of homosexuality, the world has always included gay behavior. It is as old as humanity. It has been punished and vilified and accepted and promoted and winked at and ignored. Many societies have prospered despite an embrace of homosexuality. Its not going to go away.

    But Mormonism could go away. Religions have died out in the past and may yet die out again.

    Similarly, divorce exists because its a practical necessitybecause sometimes people make foolish decisions, and our society has decided that its better to give them various options for correcting those mistakes.

    Mormonism is not a practical necessity. Its not the answer to a mistake. MORMONISM IS AN INVENTION OF JOSEPH SMITH. It did not exist before 1830. it is separate from human beings in ways that homosexuality and divorce never were.

    There is not an official gay organization that all gays donate 10% of their income to. There is not a monolithic Church of Divorce that people join once they become divorced. Divorcees dont listen to talks every six months by decrepit old gits who tell them why they should look down on others who arent divorced, and how they need to go out and convince other people to get divorced too, and how divorce is going to save the world from really terrible evils.

    The organization of the church is separate from the members, in the same way that the US government is separate from the collective citizenship of the US.

    In the same way that you can criticize the US government without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can criticize the actions of the LDS church without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter how much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of immoral or misguided church policy is an attack on all Mormons.

    In the same way that you can critique and call attention to weaknesses and flaws in the ideology guiding the US without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can critique Mormon doctrine (which is pretty fluid anyway) without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter who much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of silly Mormon beliefs is an attack on all Mormons.

    This is especially true given that Mormons themselves sometimes criticize the actions of the the church as something separate from themselves and are bugged by doctrines they find troubling and do not internal. GIVEN THAT MORMONS RESPOND TO AND TREAT AND DISCUSS THE CHURCH AS SOMETHING SEPARATE FROM THEMSELVES ON MANY OCCASIONS AND IN MANY WAYS, I GET TO DO THE VERY SAME THING, BECAUSE HEY! AS I ALREADY POINTED OUT, I AM MORMON!

    I would like an answer to that particularly since YOU ASKED FOR IT @188:

    Anyway, you havent really said anything about why its OK separate the Mormon from the Mormonism in your mind, but not OK to separate the divorcee from the divorce, or homosexual from homosexuality, or whatever else. Why is it OK to attack the issues on one subject without regard for the people behind it, but not OK on another?

    So ignore any and all taunts, and try to do what you say you’ve tried to do, which is “keep it on the issues.”

  32. @228 Because aggression is totes okay so long as its passive-aggressive and doesnt use swear words.

    Yes. It’s really nuts the way one bit of profanity and actually expressing unhappiness or disagreement seem so intolerable in Mormon culture.

    Elouise Bell has a great essay on the toxicity and dishonesty of Mormon passive-aggression masquerading as niceness. Can’t find it on line, or I would link to it.

  33. Your 189 didn’t introduce any distinctions that mattered Holly. That’s why I ignored it in favor of other discussion. It doesn’t matter if Mormonism was invented or not. Divorce was also invented at some point. But even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t matter.

    We’re talking about deeply held ideals that people hold close as a part of their core identity. Mormon belief qualifies as that much.

    You still haven’t really explained why it’s OK to attack someone’s deeply-held ideals and maintain that you’re not attacking the person themselves in the case of attacks on Mormonism, but not OK on other things that are important to people. Why can I not make the same distinction between the people and the issues that you do?

  34. And let me get this straight – are you saying that if I had been divorced, you would be A-OK with me saying the exact same things I’ve said in this thread?

    Does that mean you’re OK with other testimonials from people who have been a part of a controversial issue and are now speaking out against it? Or do you simply dismiss them as being “blinded” or “in denial?”

  35. Oh, and this, from Seth, @227

    Taryn, my point is you really dont know what kind of Mormon I am.

    You’re the kind of Mormon who thinks sex is too “special” to be had anywhere but in a monogamous officially sanctioned marriage.
    You’re the kind of Mormon who thinks divorce is wrong and people who get divorces are selfish and worthy of your judgment.
    You’re the kind of Mormon who completely ignores Christ’s command not to judge.
    You’re the kind of Mormon who objects to gay marriage.
    You’re the kind of Mormon who thinks that there “are problems that deserve harsh language” and your cruelty to others is justified by your “convictions. ”
    You’re the kind of Mormon who insists that “faith is all the reason you need. For all sorts of things” and “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” to defend his own positions but demands and discounts evidence for any position that contradicts his.
    You’re the kind of Mormon who claims he has “tried to keep it on the issues” when he actually works pretty hard to derail every conversation he takes part in.

    You’re the kind of Mormon who writes @193 “I have my own words to thank for how I am perceived” and then writes @227, “you really dont know what kind of Mormon I am.”

    I think we have a pretty good idea what kind of Mormon you are, Seth.

  36. Your 189 didnt introduce any distinctions that mattered Holly. Thats why I ignored it in favor of other discussion.

    Oh, OK. So that’s how it works.

    Here I was thinking that “keeping it on the issues” involved responding to what people actually say.

    Glad to know I was wrong.

    Well, Seth R, you haven’t said anything that I think matters, so I’ll just ignore what you have said in favor of other discussion as well.

    And I hope others will take the same approach with you as well.

    Chino @231 You’re welcome. Glad to be of service.

    Parker @232 this Leon Festinger sounds interesting. Does he say anything else relevant to this conversation?

  37. “It doesnt matter if Mormonism was invented or not… Were talking about deeply held ideals that people hold close as a part of their core identity. Mormon belief qualifies as that much.”

    For what it’s worth, I’ve watched Tommy Davis (Anne Archer’s son) make this exact same argument in defense of Scientology before walking out of an interview because he was offended at the mention of Xenu.

    And for the record, if Mormonism was invented, it matters a lot. Or should I tell my folks it’s OK to start sending Monopoly money to SLC because, hey, somebody invented it, so it must count for something?

    Anyway, carry on with the veni, vidi, flevit routine. It’s precious.

  38. And for the record, if Mormonism was invented, it matters a lot.

    Yeah. It does. It matters a lot.

    veni, vidi, flevit routine.

    Had to google that. Pretty great.

  39. @239 continued

    You’re the kind of Mormon who wants others to take his faith really seriously and says that he’s here “posting to point out that the believing position is not ridiculous and unfounded” and then actually has the audacity to insist “It doesnt matter if Mormonism was invented or not,” a ridiculous assertion if there ever was one.
    http://mainstreetplaza.com/2012/06/22/two-interesting-news-items-mormons-secret-and-maxwell-institute-shake-up/comment-page-3/#comment-104049
    You’re the kind of Mormon who raises the issue of whether his beliefs are ridiculous, then gets indignant and offended and hurt when the people he’s raised the issue with say, “Yeah, actually, that does seem pretty ridiculous.”
    You’re the kind of Mormon who insists that “deeply held ideals that people hold close as a part of their core identity” deserve the utmost respect if those beliefs are Mormon but that “deeply held ideals that people hold close as a part of their core identity” deserve nothing but ridicule if those beliefs involve some sort of painful rupture with religion and you dismiss them with statements like “there really wasnt any point talking with them until theyd gotten over their emotional exit story enough to actually engage in rational thought again.”
    http://mainstreetplaza.com/2012/06/22/two-interesting-news-items-mormons-secret-and-maxwell-institute-shake-up/comment-page-1/#comment-103933
    You’re the kind of Mormon that people think Mitt Romney is.

  40. I’m glad you got a chuckle. Mostly, I just wanted to give you gals a heads up about how the “I came, I saw, I cried” routine works with us Mormon men. It’s usually our next-to-last defense before this one: When cornered, we’ll make an awful admission (like, say — just for example — admitting the possibility that everything we’ve spent our lives defending is just a steaming pile of bunkum). Once we’ve made that admission, we figure it’ll force y’all to stop pressing the point and start worrying about how to soothe our male anxiety.

    For some reason, y’all aren’t doing that and it’s perturbing.

  41. When cornered, well make an awful admission …. Once weve made that admission, we figure itll force yall to stop pressing the point and start worrying about how to soothe our male anxiety.

    Hmmm…. Maybe like this, from Seth @193?

    There is no self-superiority in me saying this. Ive got my own problems and Ive never once claimed that my problems are not as big a deal as yours or anyone elses. I dont consider my set of virtues superior to that of others. Nor do I consider my set of defects to be less of a personal liability than others.

    Yeah… funny, how that wasn’t very convincing. Funny how not one single sentence seemed sincere. Maybe that’s why no one has felt compelled to let up.

    Because normally, I do drop EVERYTHING to assuage male anxiety.

    After all, that whole helpmeet thing is what we girls were put on this earth to do.

  42. Hi folks — I’m now blogging at y’all from sunny Minneapolis!!

    I’m about to go jump in a lake with my kids, but I just wanted to say sorry that — right after telling people to knock it off with the attempted mind-reading — I decided to get into the game myself @196. Then I hopped onto a plane so I couldn’t follow up…

    I have a few points I’d like to respond to, but since I’m a little rushed, let me start by quickly responding to one (I’ll come back later):

    I see sex as far too emotionally intrusive to be undertaken by people who are not committed to each other.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that the people in question are not having sex with you.

  43. I found this interview with Michael Cobb, author of Single: Arguments for the Uncoupled, interesting:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/156241/the_power_of_being_single

    If marriage and couples are supposed to be this magic bullet, and your relationship is the thing that is supposed to define and make the world for you, thats putting an enormous amount of pressure on that relationship. This book is not against couples its really against the primacy of the couple, the anxious over-importance of the couple that actually makes couples fail because you cant by definition make a whole world out of one other person. If you try, youre shrinking your world and your existence in the hope its going to cure everything. It creates a lot of distress and at the same time its invalidating your other experiences you had when you were by yourself, when you were dreaming up other kinds of associations you might have.

  44. That is an interesting point. I remember from way back a song where he sang, “She belongs to me.” And another that went “He’s mind–he’s really mine.” (At least those are traces of lyrics that bounce around in my head.) I wonder what the effects are of this “ownership” position. And the Church seems to have adopted it in particularl as a sexual exclusivity as though that is the natural order of things. It may be the civilized order of things, or a particular society’s order of things, but it isn’t inherently and obviously natural (as in fact the Church argued at one point in their pre-1890 history). I’m not advocating a free sexual license, but I am thinking that this sexual proprietorship, as though it is a moral position, advocated by the Church has to put kinks and strains in a relationship based upon it–not to mention individual behavior as well.

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