Sunday in Outer Blogness: Deep Thoughts Edition!
By now you’ve probably heard about how BYU did a sexual-orientation survey in which ‘Gay’ was not among the options. Well, the both the Abbottsville 4th Ward and the Cultural Hall improved on this groundbreaking research technique!
Remember the tax-dodging Mormon rancher from last week? Well, Adult Onset Atheist researched some facts on his history — plus his ranch is now the center of some sort of Wingnutapalooza.
This new book argues that there is no scriptural reason not to extend priesthood ordination to all worthy Latter-day Saint women, which is unsurprising considering all the female prophets. And on a practical level, sometimes the family advice from the lay (male) leaders can be inappropriate. Here‘s an example:
In my personal interview, the Bishop asks me if there is any major sin in my life that I havenâ€™t repented from.
I told the truth. I told him that I had had experiences with women before, and I repented years ago with a different Bishop, but since then, it had happened a few times after, and I never repented of that. So Iâ€™m dying inside, waiting to find out my fate. Waiting for him to tell me what I canâ€™t participate in anymore, waiting for him to tell me I canâ€™t be a childrenâ€™s leader anymore, and most of all knowing we will probably have to postpone my marriage until he decides Iâ€™m â€œfully repentedâ€.
Despite all of that, the questions that followed my admittance of that â€œHORRIDâ€ behavior took me by complete surprise. First I was asked how many females. I responded truthfully. Then I was asked how many times. I responded truthfully with an estimate. And hereâ€™s the kicker, he proceeded to ask me if I had an orgasm during any of those times. I said no. I didnâ€™t answer the question truthfully, I just said no. I didnâ€™t want to answer the first few questions, but the third question made me realize the more I told, the more questions I was going to get. The more details he was going to want to know.
I was so embarrassed he asked that. It was such a terribly awful moment of shame. I had lied to the Bishop. If I had told him the truth, how far was the conversation going to go? I felt awful for lying.. I felt like I probably jeopardized my relationship with God. It was subconsciously a turning point for me because WHY IN THE WORLD DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER? ESPECIALLY IF I HAD AN ORGASM. Why do you need to know the details? Why do you have to know every little experience of my life?
I look back now and think about how SICK that entire conversation was. Why couldnâ€™t it have stopped when I admitted the sin initially?
Meanwhile, the faithful arguments against female ordination show an embarrassing lack of self-awareness, as usual:
According to the article, actions like those of Ordain Women are foolish and dangerous for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that â€œsameness is the enemy of happiness.â€ While I rolled my eyes at how the position misses the fact that equality of opportunity doesnâ€™t automatically result in sameness of experience, I did a facepalm at even larger implications in the statement.
So often in Mormonism, sameness is promoted as the foundation for happiness. The church wants to convert everyone in the whole world, wants everyone to believe the same things and behave the same ways, hearing standardized lessons in uniform meetings every Sunday in nearly identical buildings. Deviations from orthodoxy are both threatening and punished. Correlation, standardization and uniformity are deliberate and explicit goals.
It’s especially frustrating because LDS doctrine is so difficult to pin down! Dorothy Hatch Ward explained that commandments are arbitrary, like that that one about facial hair. Coincidentally, this week’s Old Testament lesson is all about commandments that are worse than arbitrary. And in this week’s Book of Mormon lesson Alex tackled Moroni’s promise:
If the Holy Ghost works the way that Mormon scriptures claim it does, then praying about any one of those things should bring about a good, confident feeling of warmth. The most common explanation I’ve heard from Mormons for some of the less glamorous facets of the church is “we don’t understand it, but we know the church is true, so we can take it on faith.” Has anyone ever gotten up in fast and testimony meeting to proudly declare that he prayed and received a testimony that the need for the priesthood ban was true?
Somehow, bizarrely, Mormonism has managed to teach its people to ignore its advertised method of determining truth when the method becomes inconvenient.
And now for a little philosophy!
A walk along the beach led to inspiration. A masterpiece of art Led Joseph to reflect on Humanism. JohnnyM discussed the importance of questions, especially to learn about others. Seth Payne argued that it is wrong to mock religious belief (sorry Diane). And Heather collected some inspiring quotes.
Sometimes contemplation leads to action. The environment that our lives depend on is in serious danger — instead of just getting depressed and giving up, there are practical improvements we can make. Jen gathered good advice for people in mixed-faith marriages. And let’s hear from a married lesbian on why we need marriage equality:
And what’s going on in our lives this week? Some Easter treats brought back memories for Insana Dee. Monica wondered whether it’s reasonable to celebrate her amicable divorce. Knotty recounted meeting her husband on a porn site. Aerin is enjoying life. And Littlemissattitude finished reading Harry Potter!
Well, at least for one afternoon the BYU survey did include “gay, bisexual, transgendered” [sic] as a possible option, once someone informed them that the word “orientation” requires more than one possibility.
If they’d stuck with that first change, it would have been great to shed light on the identity disjunction going on in the Church. But I guess somebody else probably reminded everyone that the central issue is not how many Mormons are identifying as “LGBT,” but that there’s no homosexuality in Heaven, so earthly identities are ultimately irrelevant.
Sadly, the end result is proof that the logic of late NARTH ex-president Dean Byrd who routinely argued that “heterosexuality is the only true orientation” is alive and kicking. I know that many would like to think that we’ve moved beyond the days of reparative therapy because Mormons now march in Pride parades, but given that the Church intends to use this survey to form its future policy, this is not a good sign. Unless Mormon millennials really are more progressive…
“What is your orientation?” with choices of “Struggling Hetero,” “Not struggling Hetero” and “Not struggling LGBT” kinda puts an emphasis on the problematic “struggling” element… so I can see why they ultimately went with the simple “Do you experience same-sex attraction?” The cogs turning are so transparent to anyone who’s been following the Church closely on this matter, lol.
That is a good point.
And perhaps they’re not interested in hearing from people who identify as gay.
From this survey, it looks like the problem they’re trying to solve is the straight members’ perception that the CoJCoL-dS is wrong in its treatment of people who are LGBT (or same-sex attracted, or whatever). Finding out how to better serve the non-heterosexual members is clearly a secondary concern, at best.
This assumes that they don’t actually believe their own logic about hetero being the only true orientation. I think they still can’t commit to words like orientation or gay, despite dabbling with them in PR contexts. If they formally give Saints an option to identify as LGBT, then they have to work with that reality from now on, and it’s much more comfortable/conventional to stick with what apostles have already drawn up…Oaks’ attraction/behavior distinction; Holland’s “eternal identity, not gay identity”; and Packer’s “using gay is dangerous, b/c it leads people to believe they really are gay.”